Wednesday, February 25, 2009

565 Days and Counting

It started as a joke.

The famous EVK4 SuperBlogger a.k.a. the SF Sailing Examiner wrote an article about the 2010 Pacific Cup, 500 days until the Pacific Cup. I decided to have a little fun at his expense, and to mock the whole idea of dreaming of a race that far ahead in the future, by writing 576 Days until the 2010 Laser Masters Worlds.

Frankly it was a hurried cut-and-paste job, using EVK4's article and just changing a few words here and there. For example, I particularly enjoyed changing EVK4's romantic description of sailing to Hawaii into a more ironically "romantic" description of Laser racing in England in September. His "warm weather getting warmer every day, beautiful sunsets, amazing rainbows..." became my
"cool weather getting cooler every day, beautiful showers, amazing fogs..." And so on.

Just a bit of harmless fun between two bloggers.

Then things got started to get weird.

A few days later I receive an email from the International Laser Class Association (ILCA) office asking if they could put a link to my 576 Days post on their website. Of course I agreed. What's weird about this is that the ILCA website is a very official serious class website, packed full of official serious information for official serious Laser sailors. There are links to offical serious pages about all the serious major international Laser regattas and guidance on how to apply for entry to them, and links to information about class rule changes, and all that official serious class business stuff.

They don't normally do links to unofficial unserious blogs written by crazy old Laser dudes pathetically trying to be funny. But they did link to my 576 days drivel. Wow. I felt like I'd been anointed the official blogger of the 2010 Laser Masters Worlds. Yikes!

And then things got even weirder.

I began to think... always a dangerous move. What if preparing for a Laser regatta that is 576 days away isn't as silly as I first thought? What if I really did make the 2010 Worlds my major focus and worked out a program for the next 18 months to enter that regatta better prepared than I have ever been for a Laser event before? What would I have to do?


Any ideas?

Friday, February 20, 2009

Confessions of a Serial Polluter

I take it for granted that sailors are "for the sea" in the sense that we care about the waters in which we sail, and that we want to keep our oceans and coastal waters clean and free from pollution for our own benefit and for all the wildlife that live in those waters. So kudos to Scuttlebutt for bringing our attention this week to this list of ways to avoid Non Point Source pollution courtesy of an organization called Sailors for the Sea.

Aaarrggh. Another damned list.

The list reminded me at first of those irritating lists being circulated recently in the
socio-networky-blogo-sphere such as the BBC's Top 100 Books or Top 100 Places You Must See Before You Die that always come with a request that you put X's against the items you have read/visited/whatevered and forward the list to your 25 best socio-networky-blogo-spherical "friends" so that they can do the same and so on and so on ad infinitum. I never take part in these latter day chain letter time wasters, but instead usually leave a snarky comment such as "How can you have a list of Top 100 Books without including Captain Underpants and the Preposterous Plight of the Purple Potty People?"

Where was I? Where am I? Oh yes, the list of how to avoid creating NPS pollution and killing the oceans. This seems like a worthy cause so I thought I would see how I am doing with Sailors for the Sea's recommendations. The easiest way to do this seemed to be to group the items into categories according to how well I am doing.

2 items didn't apply to me. Of the rest I think I can claim that I am doing a good job on 8, making an effort but could probably do better on 3, and am a miserable failure on the remaining 7. Geeze, I never thought of washing my car on the lawn and I don't even know what a "bioswale" is!

Here's my list. How are you doing?

PS Please do not forward this list to your
25 best socio-networky-blogo-spherical "friends".
    Doing a Good Job
  • Dispose of household hazardous materials—antifreeze, paint, oil, etc.—properly, NEVER down the storm drain as the chemicals will end up in a water system.
  • Compost your food. By keeping it out of the trash cycle—parts of which can inadvertently become caught up in runoff and end up in our ocean—you create earth-nourishing mulch
  • Let mowed grass clippings remain on the lawn where they can serve as a source of nutrients and reduce the need for fertilizer, and reduce erosion that, in turn, slows runoff
  • Collect fallen leaves and begin or add to a compost pile to create nutrient-rich mulch, reducing the need for fertilizer
  • Situate sprinklers so the water lands only on the lawn, not the driveway, street, or sidewalk
  • Reduce, reuse, and recycle in order to limit the amount of items entering our trash cycle
  • Sweep sidewalks rather than hose them
  • Keep your cars in tip-top shape, being especially mindful of oil and antifreeze leaks

  • Making an Effort but Could Do Better
  • Avoid using pesticides and chemical fertilizers: favor instead organic compost, mulch or manure, which are free of pollutants
  • If using fertilizer, test the soil’s pH to ensure proper use and amount. Never fertilize if rain is expected, as much of it will wash away into a storm drain rather than absorbing into the ground
  • Use native plants for landscaping as these require less water and fewer pesticides

    Miserable Failure
  • Switch to low-phosphate cleaning supplies
  • Invest in bioswales that capture rainwater runoff before it enters the sewers, and improves water quality by filtering it
  • Volunteer to label the storm drains in your neighborhood to inform your neighbors that storm drains flow directly to our lakes and rivers
  • Keep storm drains free of litter, leaves, and other debris that can easily end up in our waters. Whenever possible, install screens over them
  • Take expired medicines either to a pharmacy or hazardous waste source for proper disposal
  • Wash your car on the lawn, so that the grass can filter some of the runoff phosphate, or, better yet, take your car to a commercial car wash that is set up to capture and recycle the water several times before sending it to the sewer system for treatment
  • Join Sailors for the Sea and help us reduce NPS:

    Not Applicable
  • Schedule regular inspection of your septic system—every 3 to 5 years—to ensure proper operation and avoid leakage
  • Always pick up after your dog

Wednesday, February 18, 2009


So I write a blog about sailing. Big deal! The real action today is "live blogging" while actually sailing. Time and time again I read sailors' blogs about their upcoming plans to sail around the world/ race across the Pacific/ dump their job and sail to the Caribbean... and they always promise to "live blog" from the boat.

Most of them never follow through.

I wonder why? Maybe the technology defeats them. Or sea-sickness. Or perhaps they are having way too much fun drinking rum and singing sea-shanties and getting naked with the crew to have any time for "live blogging"?


Because with Twitter and Facebook and iPhones and Barackberries and all that stuff, you would think it would be easy to inform your 3178 closest "friends" that you were sailing the ocean blue with your trophy wife while the aforementioned 3178 "friends" were sweating away in their cubicles worrying about whether they were going to be forced into early retirement and whether they would have have to find new ways of financing their weekend sailing habits.

Apparently it's not as easy as it sounds to be such an ass.

But sometimes I do hear from sailors while they are actually sailing. Usually it's some cryptic message like, "XYZ is definitely drifting today." And I get this image of XYZ holding the sheet in his teeth and the tiller between his legs while furiously thumping away at his Crackberry with both thumbs. No wonder such messages are usually so short. Of course if he's using Twitter to inform the world about his awesome sailing adventure then he's limited to 140 characters per message anyway. I think. What do I know? I don't Twitt.

I don't imagine that I'm going to be live blogging from my Laser any time soon. But if I could, and if I did, this is what I would have twittered about yesterday's sail.

Gorgeous day.


Light northish wind.

Beating up towards Barrington.

Practiced a few roll tacks.

Why am I so bad at roll tacks?

Uh oh. Wind died.

Still no wind.

Long way back to the ramp.

There's a wind line over there.

Here it comes.

Now it's from the west and still light.

Beating towards Warwick.

Hmmm. Smoke on the windward shore is going straight up.

That's not a good sign, is it?

Wind died again.

Still no wind.


Anybody know the number for Boat US?

There's a fishing boat a mile or so away, over by the Bristol shore. Maybe he'll give me a tow?

I see a wind line.

Here it comes.

Time to head back to the ramp.

Woo hoo. I can sail a Laser standing up.

In 3 knots of wind.

While Twittering.

Aren't I awesome?

Uh oh. Wind died again.


This is the second day it has done this. Maybe Stuart Walker could explain why.


Here comes the wind.

Thank god.

I'm back at the ramp. Cancel that call for a tow. Thanks anyway.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Anti-Social Bastard

It would seem that I am an anti-social bastard.

How did I come to this conclusion?

Well, I took a look back at my somewhat embarrassingly titled post 100 Days at Sea which actually chronicled my 94 days of Laser sailing last year. I wanted to do an analysis of those 94 days, where I sailed, what kind of sailing I did, etc. etc. to see if I felt like making any adjustments in my priorities for sailing this year.

What I discovered was that of those 94 days...
  • 50 were days spent sailing by myself

  • 44 were days sailing with other people.

For what it's worth the 44 days of sailing with other people broke down into...
  • 27 days of racing

  • 7 days of formal sailing clinics

  • 6 days of practice with one other boat

  • 4 days of practice with a group of other sailors.
So it seems that most of the time I'm an anti-social bastard who avoids other sailors and just goes off and sails around on his own.


Is it true?

Well, not exactly. Even though I sail a single-handed boat I do enjoy the camaraderie and banter with other sailors before, after and even during the racing or practice. It's just that I wasn't all that good last year in seeking out opportunities to sail with other like-minded folk and so, in the quest to achieve 100 days of Lasering in the year, often the easiest thing to do was to hitch up the trailer and go off somewhere for a blast on my own.

In the process, as I've mentioned before, I did develop an appreciation for the peace and solitude of being the only sail on a bay on a weekday afternoon. I was able to focus on some of the minutiae of my technique and work on them at my own pace. And I was able to choose when, where and how I sailed with no need to take anyone else's views into account.

Yeah. Pretty anti-social I guess.

So one of my aims this year is to change the balance of my sailing to do more group sails and informal practice with other like-minded souls. The signs are good...
  • I made contact last year with two groups of Laser sailors who get together to practice at the same time every week, one on Tuesday evenings and the other on Saturday afternoons. On the assumption that those groups are still active this year I aim to join in with them as soon as they start their sessions, and sail with them as often as I can.

  • My son shouldn't be quite as busy this summer as he was last year. As far as I know he is not planning to chalk up any more degrees, sit for any more major exams, sell or buy any more houses, or give birth to any more babies in the next six months. So I'm hoping he will want to come out for some more two-boat practice sessions with me like our awesome outing from Third Beach Newport last fall Fat Boy and Little Man.

  • Even better, I finally found an actual practical use for Facebook. Some bright spark has started a Facebook group for Laser sailors in our district. And another bright spark has started a discussion thread in that group about creating a Laser practice group to meet up at various sites around the area for informal practice and point-to-point sailing. Terrific!

So that's four ways I can avoid being so much of an anti-social bastard this year.

But today I think I'm going to head out for some solo practice. See ya.

Monday, February 16, 2009

I Made The List!!!!!!

A few days ago I wrote in North Rocks about how North Sails had recognized my astonishing victory in the Lake Whippersnapper Galactic Laser Championships last year by sending me a very snazzy Racer Hat, but had not chosen to list my amazing feat on their Victory List website along with the winners of less well known events such as Key West Race Week, the 12 Meter North Americans and the Newport-Bermuda Race.

I indulged in a bit of whining accusing North of discrimination against small boat sailors. Hey, I won that regatta with a North Sails sail even if I wasn't allowed to buy it directly from them,
because of the byzantine organization of the Laser sails supply chain.

But now I feel bad for rubbishing North Sails because today I received a very nice email from a lady in the North Sails Marketing Department congratulating me on my "sailing success during 2008" and announcing that they have now added my name to the Victory List.

And so they have. Woo hoo. I made the list.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

576 Days until the 2010 Laser Masters Worlds

Every year, the world's greatest sailboat regatta is held at a different location. The race attracts over 400 sailors ranging in age from 35 to over 65. Some of the fastest sailors in the world participate. Though it is a World Championship Regatta, for many of the entrants it is a vacation, a chance to sail somewhere new, an opportunity to meet up with old friends from around the world and have fun by totally crushing them in the races. The regatta is known as the Laser Masters World Championship, a.k.a. The Fun Worlds, to differentiate it from those boring regattas for the much-too-serious Laser sailors under 35 who are not allowed to enter the Masters. In 2010 the Laser Masters World Championship will be held at Hayling Island in the UK from 13th to 19th September.

It seems a little early to be preparing for a race that starts on September 13, 2010 but it isn't an easy regatta to get ready for. First of all you have to meet the stringent Masters Worlds qualification requirements for your country. Then there's the task of finding out when on-line entries open and making sure you sign up in time to secure a place. Last but not least you need to start working on honing your Laser racing skills.

And yes, there's the training. You are planning on racing almost every day for a week on a Laser sailing on the open ocean in potentially heavy winds. You need to know the boat backwards and forwards and be able to execute every maneuver with your eyes closed. You have to know how the boat sails in a variety of conditions that probably don't exist on your home waters. You need to be able to know and trust that you are prepared physically and mentally to deal with world-class competition in all conditions.

But mostly, you need time to really appreciate what you are about to do. Sailing is an inherently romantic activity and sailing in a world championship in the UK in September is the absolute best example of that romance. Cool weather getting cooler every day, beautiful showers, amazing fogs, perfect drizzly sailing conditions: sailing in the UK has everything. The anticipation builds and builds and then is amazingly surpassed by the experience. I have never met anyone who has not sailed in the UK who would not not do it again.

To start this incredible journey, the first step has to be taken. If you will be over 35 when the regatta starts, decide to enter. Start preparing your training plan. The race is only 576 days away, the preparation is beginning.

Related Posts
2008 Laser Masters Worlds - Australia
Flags Are A Flying
As Big As The Promise
My Dreams Are A-Dying
How Many Times I Have Fallen
Never Fail to Fail

Original inspiration for this post provided by 500 days until the Pacific Cup by the SF Sailing Examiner a.k.a. the EVK4 SuperBlogger.

Friday, February 13, 2009

North Rocks

Last month I wrote about the North Sails Victory List, a list on the North Sails website where the say they will honor every sailor who came in the top three in a regatta last year in North America using their sails. And they even promise to send a free hat to any of these worthy sailors.

But, dear reader, everything is not what it seems. There is not a single Laser sailor on that list, even though 99% of North American Laser sailors use North sails. And for that matter there aren't any Sunfish sailors either, even though 100% of Sunfish racing sails are made by North.

So I got angry. I got so angry that I sent North the details of my crushing victory in the Laser regatta on Lake Whippersnapper last year using the web form kindly provided on their site at the Get your free hat! link. When nothing happened I did it a second time. And both times I clicked on the box that said "Please add me to the Victory List".

Every day since, one of my first tasks at the computer has been to check the Victory List. Hands trembling with excitement, I clicked on the link to the Victory List every morning. Sometimes I did it before breakfast. When would my name appear?

Never, it seems. No mention. Not yet anyway. Pure discrimination against sailors of little boats.

Then this week a small box arrived in the mail from Annapolis, US postage 3 dollars and 4 cents. Inside was a nice letter from THE NORTH SAILS TEAM saying "Thank you again for adding your name to our Victory List."

Hmmm. Nice touch guys. I especially like that "again".

Also in the box were...

  • a flier about North Gear such as flip-flops and something called a "camp shirt"

  • some publicity material about the Open Bic

  • an ad for North Sails Racing Rules seminars

  • a DVD with a promotional video for North Sails

  • a North Sails sticker

  • an orange card about NorBucks whatever they are

  • three large gold discs with the North Sails logo, which I thought at first might be the mysterious NorBucks but which turned out to be chocolates wrapped in gold paper

  • and.... a rather elegant tan-colored North Sails racer hat. The hat. The very special hat only awarded to winners of regattas using North Sails sails.

I got my hat!!!


North Rocks.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

99 Bottles

Maybe it was because I owned up to my lack of motivation to go sailing in Blah!

Or perhaps it was a result of all the advice and encouragement I received in response to that post. Thanks guys.

It could have been that after two months since my last sail enough time had elapsed that I had recovered from my 2008 overdose of Laser sailing and that I was ready for another fix.

Or, more likely, it was because yesterday really was a perfect day for sailing. Warmest day we have had for weeks, maybe months. The temperature almost touched 50. The wind was light but not a drifter. Perfect weather to tempt a lazy old geezer back on to the water.

So I went sailing. Took my Laser over to my favorite boat ramp in Bristol and hacked around Upper Narragansett Bay for an hour or so. Just trying to make sure I still remembered how to do it.

Man, it felt good. I hadn't forgotten how to sail, but I had almost forgotten many of the reasons I enjoy sailing so much. Out in the fresh air, the feel of the breeze on my face, the sounds of the boat slicing through the water, the sunlight glinting on the water,
the smell of the sea, the feeling of peace and solitude being the only sail in sight.

My mind started wandering to all of the vague ambitions I have for sailing this year, how to practice more effectively, how to be better prepared for racing mentally and physically, all the little jobs of boat maintenance I want to tackle, all of the subjects I want to blog about...

One down. Ninety nine to go.

I'm back.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Sailing Forums

I used to enjoy reading sailing forums. In fact I was once an active participant in a couple of such forums under a fictitious name. I had a lot of fun stimulating vigorous discussion by pretending to be a cantankerous old codger who always took a contrary view to other folk on the forums. But I upset some of the powers-that-be who didn't appreciate my sense of humor and who didn't know that the real me is a warm, cuddly, lovable, cantankerous old codger, and so I killed off my alter ego. Irony is wasted on some folk.

The famous EVK4 Superblogger, also now the San Francisco Sailing Examiner, recently published an article on How to make fun of a sailor. Come to think of it, making fun of sailors is something I've been doing for years, here on Proper Course, in my previous life as a forum contributor, and of course in real life. I think I make fun of myself more than anybody else, so nobody should feel that I'm not fair in my teasing, mocking and humiliation of fellow sailors.

So who should I make fun of today? How about sailors who use sailing forums?

Sad to say, the forum of a certain single-handed Olympic sailing class is so bland and repetitive these days that I rarely bother to look at it any more. You will see what I mean from this sample of recent posts and threads on the forum (paraphrased to make them even more thrilling than the originals.)

1. I am so excited. I just traded my 1973 boat for a 1998 boat. Aren't I awesome?

2. How do I paint a boat purple?

3. I have a flat tire on my dolly. What should I do?

4. I weigh 80 lbs. Am I too light for this boat?

5. I weigh 320 lbs. Am I too heavy for this boat?

6. I just bought a sail that is smaller than the standard sail for the boat, has a cap where the standard sail doesn't, and has a line where the standard sail doesn't. Have I made a mistake?

8. I just bought a [insert name of totally different boat that nobody has ever heard of]. Can anybody on this forum tell me how to fix the doohickey to the squabrangle?

8. It's too cold to sail today. Just saying, in case you were interested

9. Back when I ran the class there were twenty times as many members, I knew them all by name and sent them presents on their birthdays, there was free beer at every regatta, the winds always blew at 15-20 knots, and every sailor was above average. Just saying, in case you were interested.

10. I just discovered that you can tack by pulling the tiller towards you as well as pushing it away from you. Anyone else noticed that? Aren't I awesome?

Sailing forums are so 2008. Do you agree? Blogs are so much better. No sailing blogger would ever write about such lame topics as making a Laser out of snow or the legal status of some obscure atoll. If anyone ever does you should make fun of them unmercifully.

By the way, if you are a Facebook user, check out the new group How to make fun of a sailor. Please join the group and leave a suggestion on the wall on how to make fun of sailors.

What sailors should I make fun of next?

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Five Reasons Not to Sail an Iceboat

Thanks to Aaron Freeman of The Stern Scoop for good advice: "If you have never sailed an iceboat, don't."

And five good reasons why are...

1. You may lose your job, your spouse and all respect for the softwater sailing that you enjoy so much.

2. You will never again look at the instruments on the mast when they read 10.2 knots and think to yourself “Yeah... we’re really gettin’ some now”.

3. You will have to stifle your yawn as the relatively super expensive boat that you PHRF race slowly accelerates up to walking speed under full canvas.

4. You'll have to get used to not sailing with a crew large enough to fill two big booths at Chili's.

5. Another thing that might be tough for the softwater bigboat guys is the DN only has one sail and it is only a 60 square ft piece of Dacron -- so you might have to tell your local sailmaker to ummm... you know.

Aaron, of course, has his tongue firmly planted in his cheek while writing the above, originally posted in Confessions of an Iceboat Addict. This tale of iceboating is on The Stern Scoop, the house blog of Annapolis Performance Sailing, one of my favorite sailing vendors. As house blogs go, this one is pretty good with an interesting mix of product reviews and accounts of the staff's real life sailing experiences. Check it out.

For more iceboat action, check out the recent posts on Manfred's blog, Regatta, Sailracing, Sailing, DN, Dinghies, Yachts, segeln, windsurf, Segeln + Sailing, Regatta & Cruising Berichte über´s segeln, Empfohlene Lektüre: Speeds & Smarts, monatlich von Dave Dellenbaugh. (I know Germans like long words but that is ridiculous.)

Monday, February 09, 2009

Snow Laser

Photo ©: David Beer
Shamelessly stolen by me from Yachts and Yachting

Looks like my UK Laser friends are suffering from winter as much as I am.

Sunday, February 08, 2009

Holy Mackerel

In case you can't read the small print, the blue and red lines are monthly US job losses in the last two recessions in 1990 and 2001, and the green line is the current recession. The green line is not a projection. It is actual data.

Houston, we have a problem. A really really big problem.

The sky is falling. I might as well go sailing.

Saturday, February 07, 2009

25 Things - Tillerman Revealed

1. I hate things like this because they force you to reveal too much about yourself.

2. When I was a kid I had an embarrassing incident.

3. I once had a crush on someone.

4. I have a real, but minor, flaw.

5. I have a major flaw but it is really a major virtue.

6. I had a mean nickname when I was a child.

7. Years ago I won a major honor for a certain achievement.

8. I once met a celebrity.

9. I suffer from a small adversity, but I overcame it in a funny way.

10. I just thought of some random thing that I could add to this list.

11. I admit that I always identified with that weird ancillary character on that popular TV show.

10. There is something about me that is genuine and poignant.

13. I want to express heartfelt thanks to my family for just being there that time.

14. There is a line in a certain song that always makes me cry.

15. You really don't want to know about that drug thing.

16. I could tell a story about how I stood up to authority, dwelling on descriptive details that would help it not seem like I was making myself out to be a hero even though I really am.

17. There was that time when..... no, it's too painful to tell.

18. I was the 13th man to walk on the moon.

19. One of these is completely made up.

20. I wanted to call my firstborn son Barack Hussein but my sensible, rational wife wouldn't let me.

21. There is a story that appears to expose my inept parenting while in fact highlighting my kids' precocious brilliance.

22. I wish I owned a unicorn.

23. My parents ought to be mentioned on this list.

24. I have a skill that I am proud of and I acquired it in an unexpected way.

25. There is a certain location that is my favorite place on earth.

Friday, February 06, 2009

Oh no no no

I've always loved this interpretation of Rocket Man by William Shatner. I'm wondering whether I should record myself reciting a slightly different version of the song dedicated to The Tiller Man? Oh no no no.

I packed my Laser on the trailer yesterday
First warning signal ten a.m.
And I'm gonna be high as a kite by then
I miss the land so much I miss my wife
It's lonely in these waves
And I'm getting wet in all this spray.

And I think it's gonna be a long long time
Till splash down brings me round again to find
I'm not the man they think I am at home
Oh no no no I'm the Tillerman
Tillerman hiking off his socks out here alone.

Rhode Island ain't the kind of place to raise your kids
In fact it's cold as hell
And there's no one here to raise them if you did
And all this science I don't understand
It's just my job seven days a week
A tillerman, a tillerman.

And I think it's gonna be a long long time...

Thursday, February 05, 2009


Of all people, Adam Turinas of Messing About in Sailboats has "tagged" me in one of those incredibly annoying chain letter tag games. You know those scams where you have to do something or the chain will be broken and you will have bad luck for seven years and die of cancer before midnight and poor little Emmy Lou in Tennessee will never have her wish come true or whatever. Researchers have concluded that 43.27% of all Internet traffic is wasted on such trivia.

Doesn't Adam know that I am a serious blogger and would never stoop so low as to join one of these games? Doesn't he know that this blog is for real articles of interest to serious sailors such as grammar quizzes and posts about the legal status of obscure Pacific islands?

Apparently not.

Adam's tagging thing is something about posting the 4th picture in the 4th folder from the 4th month of the 4th year of the 4th computer from the left in the 4th office in the 4th building... Who are these people that organize their photos so neatly? Folders by month by year? How anal!

Anyway Adam admitted he cheated and found a picture of his beautiful wife sailing a Topaz at Club Colonna in Antigua. For a while I thought I would upstage him and post a picture of the Tillerman sailing a Topaz at Club Colonna in Antigua. But that would be too obvious and I hate being obvious.

So instead I cheated too and chose a picture of me that betrays one of the dirty little secrets of sailing major regattas: there's almost always a lot of frigging waiting around. Here is me, all psyched up and ready to rock and roll at the Laser Masters Worlds in Hyannis in 2002. (I'm pretty sure it was before the 4th race of the regatta.) It looks like there's no wind and we're being held on shore, so there I am relaxing with a good book (about Captain Cook as I recall, the 4th book I had read that week while waiting for wind) sitting on the chair I won for coming 4th in my age division in my 4th year sailing in SANJL.

Now I'm supposed to tag four unlucky souls who have to do the same exercise or you know what will happen to the aforementioned poor little Emmy Lou. But I don't approve of these tag games so I won't.

Bah humbug.

Wednesday, February 04, 2009


Sunday was a perfect day for sailing but instead I went for a run.

That's not quite one of the ten things I said I will never write on this blog. But it's close.

What's the matter with me? Sunday was a relatively warm (for New England in February) day, with winds around 10-12 knots, and they were racing just down the road in Newport. Perfect for sailing. So I went running?

I seem to have lost my passion for Laser sailing. Temporarily I hope.

I don't really know why, but I suspect it's a side-effect of my attempt to sail my Laser on 100 days last year. I only got to 94 but it seems to have left me with little ambition to do any more Laser sailing for a while. I'm all Lasered out.

I guess I shouldn't be surprised... but I am.

It's not that I didn't use to enjoy Laser frostbiting. I sailed in the cold. I sailed in the snow on days when I had to chip ice off my boat before I could rig it. I even won the Ironman Trophy at my old frostbiting fleet in 2002 for sailing more races than anyone else in the fleet that season. I was a frostbiting fanatic
, the craziest of the crazy, the hardest corest of the hard core. We even chose the location of our new home in Rhode Island partly because of its proximity to Newport and the Laser frostbiters there.

Maybe I'm not all Lasered out. Maybe I'm just a wuss. My excuses for hardly doing any frostbite racing in the last three seasons are varied and numerous. We were moving house. I hurt my back. I hurt my toe. It's too windy this weekend. It's not windy enough this weekend. My grandson is getting christened today. We are babysitting my granddaughter today. I'm sailing in the Dominican Republic and Australia and Florida this winter so I don't need to sail in the cold. And so on. And so on. Pathetic really.

But last Sunday I had no excuses. Other than I just didn't feel like it.

Will my passion for Laser sailing return with the spring? Is there any cure for this malady? Am I getting old or just turning into a wuss? Am I all Lasered out or just lazy?

To paraphrase another of the ten things I said I will never write on this blog,
I don't find Laser sailing exciting enough any more so I am going to... what? Sell my Laser and buy new running shoes?


Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Be the Editor

One of my favorite sailing bloggers, Carol Anne of Five O'Clock Somewhere, occasionally helps all of us amateur writers with advice on grammar and punctuation, such as her recent rant about Assault on apostrophes. I'm a bit of a pedant for getting such things right myself, though I'm sure I make some mistakes every time I put ten thumbs to sticky keyboard.

So for those of you who fancy yourselves as sticklers for style, ultraists for usage, and gurus of grammar, try out the following test, originally published as Red Pencils Ready? on the NY Times website...

Find the problems of grammar or usage in these passages from recent final editions of The Times. Of course, there are many ways one might try to improve some of these sentences. But for this quiz, I’m focusing on what I see as clear-cut errors in language use."


1. Manny Ramírez also fits the description of a future Hall of Famer without a team, but his situation is different. Ramírez, 36, is still one of the best hitters in baseball and is hoping for a multiyear contract that will pay him about $25 million a year. He could have signed by now, he just wants a more significant paycheck to do so.


2. The proportion of adults reading some kind of so-called literary work — just over half — is still not as high as it was in 1982 or 1992, and the proportion of adults reading poetry and drama continued to decline. Nevertheless the proportion of overall literary reading increased among virtually all age groups, ethnic and demographic categories since 2002. It increased most dramatically among 18-to-24-year-olds, who had previously shown the most significant declines.


3. Purchased by investors at the height of the real estate boom in 2006, the management’s conversion plan appears unrealistic about meeting its sales and revenue goals, one lender is quoted as saying in court documents in the lawsuit between the owners. That lender, Apollo Real Estate Advisors, could begin foreclosure on Thursday if the owners do not resolve their internal dispute, one group of investors says in the court papers.


4. It remains difficult to tease out which disabilities come from the illness as opposed to the I.C.U. stay, but scientists are beginning to worry about the effects of simply being in an intensive care unit … They have been particularly surprised by how quickly patients had lost strength. Now, it looks like what was lost may not completely come back, even years later.

“We are in the infancy of trying to figure this out,’’ Dr. Morris said.


5. MOSCOW — The feud between Russia and Ukraine over natural gas prices and transit fees has left large swaths of Europe without heat. Yet, what is baffling is that the dispute has always seemed overly technical and easily resolved, if there was the slightest desire on either side. After all, both countries stand to profit from selling fuel to Europe.


6. The novel’s pseudonymous author, Pauline Réage, kept her identity to herself until 1994, when she revealed herself to be a French journalist, editor and translator named Dominique Aury. The translator also went by a pseudonym, Sabine d’Estrée, whom some literary sleuths long suspected was Mr. Seaver, though he never admitted to it.


7. Senate Democrats are watching to see if Republicans keep their amendments relevant. One proposed Thursday by Senator David Vitter, Republican of Louisiana, was viewed by Democrats as a way to torpedo the bill with antiunion language. The amendment was defeated easily, 59 to 38 — an outcome that illustrates the new Democratic muscle.


8. “We did not choose but it was chosen for us that we would come together at this moment,’’ said the Rev. Alisa Lasater, the pastor of Capitol Hill United Methodist Church. “If we want to be the heart of our community, we need to learn to see into each others’ heart.’’


9. Lately he [Mark Driscoll, pastor of Mars Hill Church in Seattle] has made a concerted effort to tone down his language, and he insists that he has delegated much authority, but the heart of his message has not changed. Driscoll is still the one who gazes down upon Mars Hill’s seven congregations most Sundays, his sermons broadcast from the main campus to jumbo-size projection screens around the city.


10. BOSTON — The only company charged with manslaughter after a woman died in a Big Dig tunnel collapse in 2006 has agreed to pay the state and city $16 million in exchange for the charge being dropped.


Just to make things a little more challenging, the author also included one passage that looked all right to him, "to test for what we call “itchy-cursor syndrome” — the editor’s urge to make changes even if no change is needed."

See how many you can spot before checking the answers promised for tomorrow (Wednesday) on the NY Times website.

Monday, February 02, 2009

Palmyra Atoll

The topic for today's Maps on Monday feature is Palmyra Atoll, located in the North Pacific at 5° 53′ 0″ N, 162° 5′ 0″ W.

Palmyra Atoll has the unique status of being the only incorporated, unorganized territory of the United States.

"Incorporated" in this context means "a specific area under the jurisdiction of the United States, over which the United States Congress has determined that the United States Constitution is to be applied to the territory's local government and inhabitants in its entirety (e.g., citizenship, trial by jury), in the same manner as it applies to the local governments and residents of the U.S. states. Incorporated territories are considered an integral part of the United States, as opposed to being merely possessions."

"Unorganized" means that the United States Congress has NOT enacted an Organic Act to formally set forth its system of government.

There are currently no incorporated organized territories but there have been thirty or so in the past, when this status was typically the prelude to full statehood.

There are several non-incorporated organized territories such as Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands.

And then there are a bunch of non-incorporated unorganized territories, mainly uninhabited islands.

But Palmyra Atoll is the only "real" incorporated unorganized territory, putting it essentially in the same legal category as US flag vessels at sea and the grounds of US diplomatic missions in other countries. Isn't that interesting?

Sunday, February 01, 2009

Lady Bug

EVK4 of EVK4 Superblog and Polka Dot Racing Team fame sailing Lady Bug ahead of the whole fleet in yesterday's Three Bridge Fiasco on San Francisco Bay.

Credit to Zen of Zensekai II - By Sea for the photo.