Saturday, April 30, 2011


There was nothing to watch on the TV yesterday except a service at some church in London attended by that dreadful Windsor family and assorted showbiz nonentities... so I went sailing. The wind was steadily building through the day from the south-west, and by the time I hit the water it was around 10-15 knots gusting somewhat more. I chose to launch from the newish boat ramp at the end of Annawamscutt Drive in Bristol that gives access to the west side of Mount Hope Bay (aka My Bay).

I have to say this is one of the swankiest boat ramps I have ever seen. There's a a 60-foot-wide concrete ramp with two floating courtesy docks and oodles of parking space, and it is designed to be accessible to boaters with disabilities. It was built in the depths of the Bush Great Recession at a cost of around a million dollars. Apparently the money came from the Federal Aid in Sportfish Restoration fund through a tax on boat fuel. Thank you motor boaters for paying for ramps for Laser sailors. Thank you Rhode Island for spending federal aid on something useful to me for a change.

In retrospect this isn't the smartest place to go sailing when the breeze is coming from the south west. The wind on the west side of the bay could only be described as nasty - shifty, gusty, all over the place. Every few seconds there would be huge changes in direction or speed or both. I was constantly making adjustments when sailing upwind. Ease, hike, bear away, head up, bear away, hike less, hike more, ease, trim... Not to mention that there were some of those slam dunk headers when you are hiking hard out and the boat tips over to windward and your body goes in the water and you just hang there half-submerged for what seems like an eternity but you know that staying in the toes straps with the boat heeled over will eventually work and the boat will naturally turn off the wind and the long pointy thing will point straight up again. I guess it was good practice, but I'm not sure what for.

Of course the cause of the nasty chopped-up wind should have been obvious to me.

With the wind in the SW or SSW, all the breeze in this corner of the bay is coming off the land, and, even worse, it is being disturbed by that big lump in the bottom corner of the chart, aka Mount Hope. It's not a mountain by any means. The name comes from Montaup (meaning lookout place in the Pokanoket language) and it was once the site of a Wampanoag village where King Philip used to hang out. It's only 209 feet high but it sure was messing up my wind yesterday.

The plan for my second sail of the Spring was to work on boat-handling. Try and achieve some measure of competence, maybe even fluidity, in tacks and gybes and simulated windward and leeward mark roundings. God I was awful. My gybes were not too bad. Never once wrapped the sheet around the transom which is always a good sign. But my tacks were clumsy and uncoordinated. And my mark roundings were slow.

Now I remember why I first took up frostbiting all those years ago. When I didn't sail from September to May, I was always very "rusty" in the Spring. It would take me weeks to start sailing properly again. I'm definitely rusty this year.

The first regatta on my list of Regattas That I Will Need Good Excuses Not To Attend is tomorrow. Maybe I can use the excuse that I'm too rusty? On the other hand, perhaps thrashing around Newport Harbor with 50 other rusty sailors might help me get rid of some rust? It's a conundrum.

This post is sponsored by King Philip's Magic Non-Corrosive Non-Toxic Non-Flammable Non-Hazardous Natural Rust Remover. Warning: wear rubber gloves, eye protection, and cover all bare skin. Do not ingest. Do not inhale. Do not use near naked flame. If spilled on skin then immediately immerse whole body in 50 degree salt water for two hours.

Friday, April 29, 2011

Wednesday, April 27, 2011


Regular readers of this blog will know that I love to go sailing alone on my Laser around the local bays. Sometimes things go wrong. Sometimes things break. Lately I've been asking myself what I should be wearing or carrying with me on my Laser to deal with emergencies that might arise. What do I need to get myself home safely if something bad happens?

I partly addressed this question a couple of years ago with my Top Five Tips On How Not To Die On Your Laser. Perhaps the most important of these were to wear a life jacket (or buoyancy aid), and to wear a wetsuit or drysuit if the water is cold.

One of my top five tips was to sail with a friend. But often I break my own rule. I like the freedom to go sailing on my own without having to persuade a sailing buddy to go with me. I like the freedom to sail for as long as I want to where I want. I just like sailing on my own.

So what extra precautions should I take when going for a long sail in my Laser on the sea on my own?

I thought a good starting point to answer that question would be to use the Vessel Safety Checklist that Bonnie of Frogma wrote about at Introducing the Relatively New (And Entirely Excellent) Paddlecraft-Specific Vessel Safety Check Form! The US Coast Guard have long had a safety checklist to be used for larger vessels, but in conjunction with the American Canoe Association they have recently developed a checklist more appropriate for canoes and kayaks, probably in response to the growing statistical overrepresentation of canoes and kayaks in fatal boating accidents.

Yeah, yeah, a Laser isn't a kayak but I think this list could be a good starting point. Let's see if we can adapt it for a small single-handed dinghy. I'll give my opinions, but please feel free to add stuff in the comments.

1. I take it as given that the boat should be in good working order. No frayed lines. No obviously corroded fittings.

2. And we've already discussed being dressed properly for the conditions, including wearing a PFD.

3. High visibility clothing. Great point. It is hard to see a person in the water if they are wearing dark clothing. So I always remember to wear my bright yellow PFD and an orange hat when sailing alone.

4. VHF radio. Ahah. I think this is the most important thing I need to add. If something breaks and I'm totally unable to sail, and I'm a mile or two offshore, and god forbid maybe in the middle of a shipping channel, I need to be able to call out the emergency services to come and rescue me. I'm thinking also that it wouldn't be a bad idea to have a radio that I can carry on my person, not under a hatch on my boat. My worst case scenario is being separated from the boat and not being able to swim back to it. Not likely I suppose but it's as well to be prepared. There is also the possible scenario that the boat has turtled and I'm injured or too tired to be able to right it. Not much point having a VHF radio inside the hull in that situation.

Any recommendations on a portable, floating, waterproof VHF radio?

5. Cell phone. Something else that I ought to carry with me on the boat. Partly as a backup to the radio, and also for the scenario where I have to go ashore on some beach that may only be two miles away by sea from my launch point, but thanks to the unique geography of Rhode Island, it could be thirty miles away by road. That's when I need to call my wife to come and act as taxi driver. I guess it would help if the cell phone were waterproof? Any recommendations?

6. Compass/ GPS/ Chart. I can see a compass being handy if one of those sea mists sweeps in from Rhode Island Sound and I get totally disoriented to the way home. But do I really need GPS and charts for Laser sailing?

7. Paddle. Could be handy if it's totally impossible to sail home (e.g. broken mast.) I guess I could use one of those "praddles" that Opti sailors use. But how would you mount it or store it on a Laser?

8. Sound signal. Whistle? Horn? I've never believed much in whistles. Don't think you can hear them very far. But an air horn to use in the fog just before being run down by the high speed ferry to Nantucket? Maybe?

9. Navigation lights. Oh geeze, now we are getting serious. I haven't imagined getting into a situation where I was still out after dark, but I guess it could happen. Should I have a flashlight I could shine on my sail so I don't get run down my some massive coal carrier? It reminds me of one of Michael Green's Coarse Sailing stories, but I guess it's a simple precaution.

10. Flares. Now this is getting seriously serious. Do kayakers really carry flares? Should the crazy old geezer sailing alone in a Laser carry flares? In what situation would I conceivably use one?

11. Sun protection. I always lather up with enough SPF+++ to last me all day. Actually a more useful safety measure for me might be to carry a spare hat rather than a spare tube of sunscreen. This old head doesn't have much natural protection on top these days.

12. Food and water. I always carry a drink and an energy bar or two when I go for a long sail. I guess it wouldn't be any more trouble to carry a little more for the eventuality that my departure from civilization might be longer than expected?

13. Personal ID on operator. This is a good one. Always helps to identify the body I suppose. Or at least to be able to call my wife and say they've found me and I might actually recover. Actually I keep thinking I should carry some ID when I'm running too in case I have some medical emergency on the trail. Don't they make wristbands with IDs? I should do this.

14. Float plan with someone on shore. Another good one. I always tell my wife where I'm launching from and what time I expect to return. But I never put it in writing. Should I? And maybe I should be more specific about my expected route. It would help any rescuers to know whether I was 5 miles south or 5 miles north of my start point, I suppose?

15. Contact information fixed to craft. I had not thought of this before, but I guess there is the scenario where the Coast Guard or someone finds an abandoned Laser a couple of miles offshore or washed up on some remote beach and wonders what happened to the skipper. Do they launch a massive search operation or is he tucked up at home in bed already? I should do it.

16. Emergency kit. The paddle-craft checklist suggests first aid kit, knife, repair kit, fire starter... Fire starter? Oh geeze, this is starting to sound like that TV Survivor program. But maybe a first aid kit wouldn't be such a bad idea. At least enough stuff to staunch the bleeding next time I nearly chop off my finger. And what kind of boat repair kit would you need in an emergency on a Laser? All I can think of is a few pieces of spare line and a big roll of duct tape.

OK. What am I missing?

This post was sponsored by who did make a contribution to the Tillerman Laser Sailing 2011 Campaign and Tuesday Night Beer Fund (TLS2011CATNBF). These folk do a nice job of promoting boating safety and, if you are in the USA, you can obtain your boating license from

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Uranus Here I Come

I am a late adopter. I'm always one of the last to catch up with the latest trends.

The Laser came out in 1971. I didn't discover it until the early 80's.

Blogging took off in 1999. I didn't start doing it until 2005.

I don't have a smart phone (yet). I think it's because I would feel slightly intimidated to have a phone that's smarter then me.

For the last year or two I've been thinking about taking up half-marathon running more seriously. I ran my first half-marathon in 2007 and did a couple last year. I keep thinking it would be cool to get my fitness level up to a point where I could run half marathons on a regular basis. Maybe do one in each of the six New England states in the same year?

I recently discovered that there is an organization called Half Fanatics for people who are half-marathon crazy. They even have criteria for advancing through the various levels of Half Fanatic starting with Neptune (2 half marathons within 16 days) through Saturn (4 half marathons in different US states in 51 days) to Vulcan (sorry - unattainable.) That sounds like fun. I think I would like to be a Half Fanatic.

My training to be a Half Fanatic hasn't started well this year. It seemed like I was picking up successive coughs and colds from my grandkids all winter. I would run for a few weeks then have two weeks off and have to go back to square one again. But now I'm focused on building up my distance week by week to be ready to run a half marathon later this summer. One of my sons has even sorta kinda promised to follow the same program.

After that, the sky is the limit. Maybe I can squeeze in those 6 half marathons in 6 states in the last 6 months of the year? I think that would qualify me as a Uranus level Half Fanatic. Woo hoo!

Of course I'm behind the trend again. According to this report the half-marathon has been the fastest growing road race distance in the United States since 2003. Damn. I'm already 8 years behind the times. Again. What's new?

I wonder how many more years I should wait before I get a smart phone?

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Treatment for Crabbiness

Dr. B.K. Frogma
Brooklyn Hospital for the Wonderfully Insane
Brooklyn, NY

Dear Doctor Frogma:

RE: Mr. P.C. Tillerman

Thank you for referring Mr. Tillerman for treatment. This is our report.

Reason for referral: Patient was exhibiting bizarre behavior including "trying to be funny on Facebook and instead being intensely annoying." Referring physician made initial diagnosis of Male Pattern Crabbiness and recommended treatment with a Dinghy Fix.

Physical assessment: Patient is a male, right-handed, heterosexual Caucasian who claims to be aged 62 but appears to be much older. Patient is in poor physical condition, moderately obese, lacking muscle tone, but otherwise in reasonable health considering his advanced age.

Psychiatric assessment: Patient is suffering from irrational fears of bending or breaking his "mast" as he refers to it. Scored 7.4 out of 8.0 on the Legge Crabbiness Personality Assessment Test indicating a diagnosis of Stage 5 Crabbiness (usually terminal).

Treatment: On Friday April 22, patient was transported to our Fogland Total Water Immersion Facility. Patient was observed to be capable of rigging a Laser dinghy with average dexterity in spite of his lack of recent practice at this task. Patient was then treated with a Dinghy Fix and observed from the shore. Conditions were 10 knots of breeze, air temperature 50 degrees, water temperature 47 degrees. Patient was observed beating, running, reaching, tacking and gybing for approximately 60 minutes. Patient's ability to perform these tasks was average to mediocre, probably because of his poor physical conditioning and "mast" complex. While reaching across the river, patient was observed catching rides on the waves during which he exhibited signs of mild delirium including vocalizing whooping noises.

Post treatment assessment: Following restoration of blood circulation, patient was re-assessed and scored 6.3 out of 8.0 on the Legge Crabbiness Personality Assessment Test indicating some modest improvement.

Further treatments with Dinghy Fixes twice a week for six months are recommended. A full recovery from Crabbiness is unlikely given the advanced state of the disease, but it is possible that the subject will be able to achieve sufficient remission for him to be released from your institution. In the meantime, suspension of Facebook access is recommended.

Thank you again for asking me to see this unusual patient.

Sincerely yours,

S.A. Konnet, MD
Kirby Center for Crabbiness Treatment
Tiverton, RI

Attachment: Patient's chart.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Laser Sailing on San Francisco Bay

This post was sponsored by the Alcatraz Swimming Team Reunion Dinners Society. No masts were broken in the making of this video.

Happy International Pixel-Stained Technopeasant Day

Happy International Pixel-Stained Technopeasant Day!

You did know that April 23 is International Pixel-Stained Technopeasant Day, didn't you?

Honestly, I didn't make this up.

According to Wikipedia which is never wrong....

International Pixel-Stained Technopeasant Day is a commemoration declared by author Jo Walton, held on April 23 and first celebrated in 2007, in response to remarks made by Howard V. Hendrix stating that he was opposed "to the increasing presence in our organization [the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America] of webscabs, who post their creations on the net for free". The purpose of the day, according to Walton was to encourage writers to post "professional quality" works for free on the internet.

The name of the day originates from the assertion by Hendrix that the "webscabs" are "converting the noble calling of Writer into the life of Pixel-stained Technopeasant Wretch."

I'm sure all my fellow bloggers will identify readily with the description of ourselves as "pixel-stained technopeasant wretches."

This is our day!


This post was sponsored by the Union of Pixel-Stained Technopeasant Wretches Local 251. No pixels were lost during the writing of this post.

Friday, April 22, 2011

A Bold Tack on to Port

We racing sailors all know the scenario. We make an ugly start to the race and within seconds we are gasping for air as the boats around us leave us in their wake. I'm doing it in boat #77275 in the photo in yesterday's post. Once you slip back from the front row you just lose more and more ground on the other starboard tackers as you are slowed down by the dirty air from their sails.

Most of us know that the only solution is to make a bold tack on to port, duck a few transoms if we have to, and then to find a lane with clear air further to the right. But when to do it? That is the question. Do you tack as soon as you realize you are in trouble, or do you wait?

I am spectacularly bad at making this decision so I was excited to see that the May 2011 issue of Sailing World that magically appeared in my mailbox this week has addressed the issue. Thank you, thank you, thank you Sailing World.

Actually Sailing World has two articles on the topic from two experts, Ed Baird and Steve Hunt.

On page 62, Ed Baird says...

Rule No. 1 after a weak start is to get on the opposite tack... If you get on to port as soon as you can you'll find you stop losing to the fleet... Sometimes it seems that there's nowhere to go if you bail out. But... holes often open up after you've been on port for as little as a length or two... Don't give up if you're not first off the line. Make your exit choice immediately.

And on page 65, Steve Hunt says...

It's often best to be patient shortly after a bad start and wait for an open escape route. If you tack and have to sail deep ducking a lot of boats, it's hard to make up that distance.

(My emphasis in both quotes.)

Hmmm. I'm glad we cleared that up.

This post was sponsored by the Instituto dos Vinhos do Douro e Tachas Corajosos ao Porto. No port was drunk during the writing of this post.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Mid-Atlantic Mediocrity

Today's photo from the Tillerman family archives is of the Mountain Lakes Sailing Association Sunfish fleet racing one Sunday morning, apparently in some year before the invention of color photography. Although actually I think it's from the dim, distant days of the early 1990's. It's not clear to me why my family has so many black-and-white photos taken in that era but it might have have had something to do with my sons wanting images that they could manipulate in the high school darkroom. At least, I hope that's what they were doing in the high school darkroom. I didn't ask too many questions.

I have written before about this fleet at Sunfish Fleet 17 and Goose Poop Beach Sailing Club, so I'll try not to repeat too much of what I wrote there, but you will have to excuse me if I ramble on. We old people love to tell stories about the good old days.

Mountain Lakes, by the way, is in New Jersey and was where I used to live from 1988 to 2007.

The photo is taken just after the start of a race on a day when, quite unusually for this lake, the wind appears to exceed 2 knots. The start line was always set across the narrowest part of the lake so the race officer could sight the line from the beach (where the photographer appears to be standing.) The club does not have a race committee boat or a safety boat; indeed motor boats are banned on the lake. Note also that (at least in this epoch) hardly anybody in the fleet seems to be wearing a life-jacket. Them were the days.

Did I mention the lake was narrow at this point? This created the interesting tactical situation that the whole fleet usually set off on starboard tack towards a shore that was only a few hundred feet away and, as a result, those sailors who started at the pin end of the line would be bleating for room to tack only a few seconds after the start. Of course everyone in the fleet was fully cognizant of all the intricacies of Rule 20  (or Rule 43 as we used to call it in those days) and the whole fleet would tack away from the shore in perfect harmony with only a few T-boned Sunfish and hardly any naughty words. It was Sunday, after all.

It looks as if son #1 (the blogger formerly known as Litoralis) is in the lead. That's him on the far right of the picture with the sail number ending in 49. To windward of him in 49732 is one of the experts at sailing on this lake, Jaro Mesicek. I suspect he gave Litoralis a run for his money in this race.

The sailor in 29401 is Jay Eveleth, the godfather of junior sailing in this club for many years. When I retired from real work in 2000 I spent the next three summers on this lake helping Jay run the summer program for juniors.

And there I am in 77275, buried as usual in mid-fleet, eating bad air from at least three other boats. Why I didn't tack away for clear air in that huge gap that appears to be available is a mystery to me. My brain starts functioning in weird ways once the start signal sounds and I don't always remember what Stuart Walker and Ed Baird and Dave Perry wrote in all those books I own.

I don't yet appear to have entered my flowery hat period.

I sailed with this club for about 15 years and never did master the boat or the lake, although I was very intense and committed to improving my skills and finishing as high as I could in the season series. There were only a dozen or so regular racers but I hardly every managed to break into the top five in the overall results.

At nearby Hunterdon Sailing Club they have a Force 5 Regatta called the Millard Fillmore Regatta. Millard Fillmore was (apparently) America's most mediocre president and the prestigious Millard Fillmore trophy is awarded not to the winner of the regatta, but to the sailor who finishes in the exact middle of the fleet. I was the Millard Fillmore of Mountain Lakes.

But it was fun. I feel very nostalgic about all the summer Sundays I spent racing there and hanging out on the beach with all the fine folk in Sunfish Fleet 17. This year is the 100th anniversary of the founding of the town of Mountain Lakes, and the sailing club is holding a special Centennial Regatta on the July 4th weekend to celebrate. I might just have to go back for that.

This post was sponsored by North Jersey Lakes Goose Management, Egg Addling, Fence Installation and Poop Removal Company. No geese were harmed in the making of this blog.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Blogging from the Nursing Home

The rallying cry for this blog is "Cheat the nursing home. Die on your LASER!"

But what if I don't cheat the nursing home? What am I going to do to amuse myself when I'm stuck in that awful home with all those bloody old women?

Hmmm. Blog. I hope.

Setting an example for a whole future generation of nursing home bloggers is 92-year-old Sarah Howard who has been blogging recently from her nursing home in Spokane, Washington. Judging by the charming and touching stories on her blog, Sarah has led a full and interesting life, and has met a number of famous people on her travels. Sarah even has a Facebook page from which I discovered that, like me, she comes from England originally.

Like my mother, who is about the same age as her, Sarah seems to have very vivid memories of events that happened many decades ago. It's the short term memory that goes first (at least in my Mum's case.) Before you dip into her blog, let me just warn you that Sarah can be amazingly frank and direct in expressing her views. But I guess you earn that right once you make it to 92. And her language can be a little salty at times, but that won't bother all the sailors who read my blog.

So for your reading pleasure, here are a couple of gems from Sarah, Proud and Tall. There is this delightful tale of a dinner party with some friends in 1959 or 1960. And you might enjoy this inconsequential story about a trip to Mexico with a friend back in the 1940's. Sarah, with her usual beguiling modesty, even apologizes, "Hark at me rabbiting on about unimportant things. It happens when you get old."

Don't apologize Sarah. I hope I can write such entertaining tales when I am 92. Keep on blogging, dear.

This post was sponsored by the Shady Pines Home for the Violently Senile. No old ladies were harmed in the making of this blog.

Floridian Freethinker

In November 2000 the eyes of the world were on Florida.

Who would win the nail-biting challenge?

Would it be the guy who had been on the scene for the last eight years? Or the relatively untested new upstart?

Every day it seemed like there was another new twist in the story. Would the winner really be decided by a bunch of judges? Surely not?

And I was there. Right in the thick of the battle. Fighting to make history.

Yup. That's me, sailing on the US team in the 2000 Sunfish Worlds in Sarasota, Florida. What did you think I was talking about?

It was my third (and last) Sunfish Worlds. I had also competed in the 1996 Worlds in Boca Chica in the Dominican Republic and the 1997 Worlds in Cartagena, Colombia. It was the latter two events that introduced me to the fun of travelling overseas to international regattas. Hey, I don't think I would ever have thought to visit Colombia if it hadn't been for the invitation to compete in the Worlds. But I'm glad I did. Cartagena is a fascinating city. Well worth a visit.

Earlier in that same year, 2000, I had sailed in my first Laser Masters Worlds in Cancun, Mexico. Subsequently I got my international regatta fixes by doing Laser Masters Worlds (instead of Sunfish Worlds) with memorable trips to Australia and twice to Spain. And Cape Cod, but that's not very foreign. And England, which is foreign I suppose, but not to me.

I don't remember much about the sailing in Sarasota. I remember I didn't win. I also remember that the host club seemed very friendly, and informal, and welcoming. We have debated here before the difference between sailing clubs and yacht clubs. This place is neither. It is a "squadron". Sarasota Sailing Squadron. What a splendid name! Apparently it grew out of the youth sailing program of the Sarasota Yacht Club in the late 1930s, and was established by young adults who could not afford the higher dues of the yacht club. Hmmm. Sounds like a familiar story.


I am wearing a flowery hat in that photo.

Is that the same flowery hat I was still wearing five years later in the photo in yesterday's post?

Knowing my habit of wearing the same sailing hat every time I go sailing until it is too old or too worn or too dirty or too smelly to use any more, that means I wore the same hat every time I sailed for at least five years, and probably more.

Eeeew. That's disgusting. Especially as I never wash my hat except to rinse it occasionally in the sea when it gets too sweaty.

I wonder if that is the reason that most of my hair dropped out in those five years?

Tomorrow I will delve even further into the past and post another picture of a younger me for you to laugh at.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Laser Tack Fail

Been there. Done that.

Bearded Marxist

I sometimes have fun on Facebook by posting outrageously extreme statements about my politics or my religion in my profile. For a while I was a religious follower of the Flying Spaghetti Monster. And I see that my political views are currently "Kenyan Mau Mau Marxist Anti-Imperialist". I had almost forgotten.

Before I was a KMMMAI I was a Bearded Marxist. For some reasons that is a popular insult for right wingers to hurl around. I never did quite understand why bearded Marxists are worse than cleanshaven Marxists.

For the record, I am not Kenyan, I am not a Marxist, and I don't have a beard. But about six years ago I did experiment with growing a beard. It didn't turn out to be a very impressive beard. There are hardly any photos of me with a beard.

But I was browsing this morning on the website of the Carolina Yacht Club which is hosting the Laser Atlantic Coasts at the end of this month. And there was a link to Great Photos From 2005 US Nationals at Wrightsville Beach. Hey, I was at that regatta! I wrote about it at Heavy Air Fear. So I idly followed the link which led me to a lot of photos by Rob Jones on something called SmugMug. And as I browsed through them I found a photo of someone who looked vaguely familiar.

Wait. Is that me? OMG! With a beard? And a flowery hat? Apparently it is.

I must have been going through my flowery-hatted bearded Marxist phase.

Perhaps I will make this Nostalgia Week and post some other old photos of me for you to laugh at.

Friday, April 15, 2011


After all my serious posts this week about such weighty topics as the Sailing World Cup and ISAF Rankings, I thought you would all appreciate a picture of sailboats to end the week.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Greece? Belarus?

It has become popular among certain American politicians to claim that if their particular magic fix for the US economy is not enacted immediately, then the USA will end up just like Greece. I don't know why they always choose Greece. Maybe they don't want to upset all the Irish-American voters by using Ireland as an example of economic disaster? Maybe Iceland is too obscure?

Whatever the reason, "We'll end up like Greece!" seems to be the equivalent of the parental warning, "You'll shoot your eye out!" Greece has become a synonym for "really really bad".

Well, the future of the US economy may still be in some doubt, but one thing is clear: the state of US Olympic fleet racing is already pretty dire. The latest ISAF World Sailing Fleet Racing Rankings have just been released. The histogram below shows the countries ranked by the number of top three ranked sailors they have in all nine Olympic fleet racing classes.

OMG. The USA is ranked as level with Belarus and... Greece.


I have attended several Laser Masters World Championships with the letters USA proudly displayed on my sail. I have sailed in several Sunfish World Championships as a member of the US team. Whatever it says in my passport, when it comes to international sailing I am an American. And I must admit I am ashamed to see my adopted nation ranked so low.

The richest nation in the world with over 300 million people and 12,000 miles of coastline is no better at sailing than tiny Greece with 11 million people? What is going on?

OK. OK. I guess Greece does have a fine maritime tradition and a fairly long coastline. So I guess it's not too awful for the United States to say, "We're no worse than Greece."

But Belarus? Now this is getting ridiculous.

Landlocked Belarus. Made up country that was part of the former Soviet Union. Tiny Belarus. There as many people living in Los Angeles as in Belarus.

That is pretty sad. We competed with the Soviet Union in every sphere of human endeavor for decades. In space, in science, in sport. We raced them to the moon. We won the cold war.

And we did all that so that one day we could say that in sailing, "We're no worse than Belarus"?

What is wrong with US Olympic sailing? Why is our ISAF ranking so low?

Greece? Belarus?

Wednesday, April 13, 2011


Congratulations to the gold medal winners from New Zealand at the recent Sailing World Cup event, the Princess Sofia Trophy in Palma. Jo Aleh and Bianca Barbarich-Bacher won the Women's 470 event and Sara Winther won the Laser Radial gold. This is a very good set of results and bodes well for a strong showing by the Kiwi ladies at the Olympics next year.

The video above is not of Kiwi sailors. It actually shows one of the Spanish sailors, Lucía Pres Yllera, sailing her Radial at Palma. Woo hoo!

The photo at the top of the post is not of Kiwi sailors either. It is actually of sheep in New Zealand. Apparently a lot of New Zealand jokes are about sheep. I found some of these jokes on the Interwebs and I didn't think they were at all suitable for a family-oriented blog like this one. So have a good laugh at the photo instead. Or not.

People from New Zealand are, of course, extremely popular in the USA and many people here are rooting for them to do well in the Olympics. Americans feel a certain bond with other countries who escaped from the rule of the dastardly British and who, like them, speak a dialect of English with a strange accent. It's so much easier than trying to understand the French.

This post was sponsored by the New Zealand Lamb Marketing Board who would have made a generous contribution to the Tillerman Laser Sailing 2011 Campaign and Tuesday Night Beer Fund if only I had found a family-friendly joke about sheep that was actually funny.

Vive la France!

Congratulations to the French gold medal winners at the recent Sailing World Cup event, the Princess Sofia Trophy in Palma. Nicolas Charbonnier and Jérémie Mion took the gold medal in the men's 470 (with Pierre Leboucher and Vincent Garos in second place) and Manu Dyen and Stéphane Christidis won the gold medal in the 49er class. This is an excellent set of results and bodes well for a decent medal haul by the French sailing team at the Olympics next year.

The video above shows highlights from most of the medal races at the event. The photo at the top of the post is not of Charline Picon who won silver for France in the women's RS-X; it is of another famous French sailor, Brigitte Bardot (taken a few years ago, I believe.)

The French are, of course, extremely popular in the USA and many people here are rooting for them to do well in the Olympics. All Americans are eternally grateful for the vital assistance from the mighty French military machine during that little spat with the British Empire back in the 1780's. After all, without that French aid, people in America would still be speaking English.

This post was sponsored by Les Filles de l'Empire Français Nouvelle-Orléans Chapitre L'Equipe Pétanque who would have made a generous contribution to the Tillerman Laser Sailing 2011 Campaign and Tuesday Night Beer Fund if only I had asked in better French.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Brits on Top Again

Congratulations to all four British gold medal winners at the recent Sailing World Cup event, the Princess Sofia Trophy in Palma. Ben Ainsle won the Finn class, Iain Percy and Andrew Simpson won the Stars, and Paul Goodison won the Lasers. This is an excellent set of results and bodes well for a huge medal haul by the British sailing team at the Olympics next year.

The video above shows the medal race in the Lasers. For once, the medal race really did decide all the medals. Going into the race, only two points separated Goodison, fellow Brit Nick Thomson, and Aussie Tom Slingsby. At the first windward mark, Goodison was in the lead with a good few boats between him and the other medal contenders. After a safe run, he loosely covered his two rivals on the second beat and that was enough to win him the gold.

This post was sponsored by the Daughters and Sons of the British Empire, Rhode Island and Providence Plantations Chapter, Ladies Cricket Team who would have made a generous contribution to the Tillerman Laser Sailing 2011 Campaign and Tuesday Night Beer Fund if only I had asked more nicely.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Common Folk

I haven't done any frostbiting this winter, but I'm still on the fleet email list. Yesterday I received an email with the usual exhortations from our fleet captains to come out and race this weekend. They say the weather will be sunny... if it's not cloudy. The winds will be 5 knots... or maybe 10-15... or perhaps even 20. There might be showers... or maybe not. (Somehow I think these two dudes could have great careers as weather forecasters. They are never wrong!)

And they ended up their encouragement with this sentence, "Get out and enjoy the best sailing of the year before the common folk start crowding up the harbor once the water temperature cracks 50."

"Common folk"?

Are they accusing me of being "common folk" if I don't come out and race this weekend?

Fighting talk.

Or is it? What's wrong with being common folk?

I come from a family of common folk, working class types from the Midlands of England. I'm only two or three generations removed from farm laborers and domestic servants. I've always been proud to come from common folk. My political sympathies have always been, and still are, with the common folk.

And yet the implied jibe in that sentence still carries a sting.

Don't we all have a yearning to be a little "uncommon" in some way or other? To be something or do something that defines us as individuals, that makes us distinct from the herd, the common folk?

I've led a pretty conventional life in most ways. Was a good student in the 50's and 60's. Didn't join my contemporaries in protests or riots. (Though I did once shout some bad words at Harold Wilson's motorcade as he sped by.) Married a good woman in the 70's and stayed married to her. Worked for the same company for almost 30 years and earned a pension. (Those were the days, eh?) Very boring person really.

About the only unusual thing I've ever done is Laser sailing. I know it must be strange to choose to be a Laser sailor because many of the readers of this blog, most of whom are boaters themselves, abuse and ridicule me for being a Laser sailor. We Laser sailors sometimes feel it's a big deal that over 200,000 Lasers have been sold, but even if that means there are 200,000 Laser sailors out there, that's still only about 0.003% of the world population. We are very uncommon.

And then only a small proportion of those Laser sailors will choose to sail when the water temperature is in the low 30's and the air temperature is in the 20's and you have to chip the ice off your boat before you launch it. Those Laser frostbiters are very uncommon folk.

I used to be one of those very uncommon folk. And then there was the year I won the Ironman Trophy in my frostbite fleet for sailing more races than anyone else that winter. How strange is that possum? I was the uncommon of the uncommon of the uncommon that year.

So, yeah, I guess the fleet captains are right. This year I didn't frostbite. That makes me just one of the common folk.

Next winter it will be different. I will sail in the winter. I will be uncommon folk.

What about you? What do you do to be uncommon?

Saturday, April 09, 2011


From the ages of 10 to 21, exams were some of the most important events in my life each year. Exams to get into the right school. Exams to win the right to take more exams. Exams to get into the right university. Exams to get the right job.

They seemed important at the time, but I think a lot of the pressure I felt was self-imposed. Would my life have been much different if I hadn't taken them so seriously? Probably not.

After graduating from college, I didn't need to take any more exams. But I still had that recurring examination panic dream for many years afterwards. The one where you are about to take an exam and you realize you haven't prepared for it, you know absolutely nothing about the subject matter, you're going to fail, your life will be over... and you wake up in a cold sweat.

Working for a living had different pressures, different tests. Job interviews. Major presentations. Performance reviews. But I don't recall ever having the same nightmares about those events.

I discovered sailing in my early 30's and it has always been a splendid form of relaxation for me. A chance to escape from the hassles and challenges of work and forget about them for a while. It's amazing how mentally refreshing an afternoon of Laser racing can be. Physically exhausting but mentally refreshing. I would go back to work on Monday morning -- arms covered in bruises from capsize recoveries -- ready for another week of the grind.

So why would I want to take exams about sailing? Wouldn't that take away the very essence of my pleasure in the sport? God forbid I should start getting those dreams again, only this time about sailing exams.

But, after retiring from the corporate world, I decided to work as a sailing instructor and my new employer insisted that instructors had to be properly qualified by taking the US Sailing Small Boat Level One Instructor Course (USSSBLOIC). Course? Did I say course? Don't be fooled by the name. This is a four day continuous exam.

There are 600 pages of material to study before the "course". Then, during the "course" you are tested and assessed on swimming, sailing skills, safety boat operation, knots, classroom presentation skills, running land drills, running water drills etc. etc. not to mention good old-fashioned written exams on what's in those 600 pages (pass grade 80%).

Don't get me wrong. You learn a lot on USSSBLOIC. But don't kid yourself. You are being assessed by the instructor for pretty much every minute of the four days of the "course". The toughest part of the "course" for many of the students was safety boat operation. Many of us had done a fair amount of sailing but had hardly any experience driving a powerboat. I mugged up online about how to do all the safety boat maneuvers that are tested on the "course" and somehow muddled through the practical test. It's pretty important if you think about it. Parents don't want to come to collect little Bonnie or little Joey from sailing lessons only to discover that the sailing instructor ran them over with the safety boat and chopped off their legs with the propeller.

So I aced USSSBLOIC. Then, for reasons that escape me right now, the next year I voluntarily took the US Sailing Small Boat Level Two Coach Course (USSSBLTCC). This is about how to teach performance boat handling and racing skills. And it's the same deal as Level One. Written tests. Practical tests. Continuous assessment. And somehow along the way you learn a lot too. I won some sort of nominal prize for scoring top of my class in the written test, but I almost failed the practical test because I had to sail a boat with a spinnaker in 25 knots and I had never sailed a boat with a spinnaker in my life before. Scary. Fun but scary.

I also had to pass First Aid exams every year while working as a sailing instructor. I guess that's pretty important too in the event that you forgot what you learned on USSSBLOIC and accidentally chopped off little Bonnie's or little Joey's legs.

So, on balance, I suppose some exams in boating are a necessary evil. In fact, boater safety exams are mandatory to obtain a boating license in most US states and Canada. Regulations do vary from state to state. For instance in Rhode Island, all those born on or after January 1, 1986, are required to pass an approved boater education course before they legally may operate any vessel powered by a motor of more than 10 horsepower, and anyone operating a personal watercraft, regardless of age, must have passed an approved boater education course. It's all about safety again, and not having some untrained idiot chopping off little Bonnie's or little Joey's legs.

The good news is that you can take many of these safe boating courses and exams online. For example there is this boating exam site and this boat license site. And if you live in Canada there is this boating exam site too.

This post was sponsored by who did make a contribution to the Tillerman Laser Sailing 2011 Campaign and Tuesday Night Beer Fund (TLS2011CATNBF) and they did ask very nicely.

Friday, April 08, 2011

Chicken on Friday

For reasons that elude me, nearly all my friends in the boating blogosphere seem to be posting pictures of chickens this week. What's going on? Is it some weird religious festival?

Well, I've never really understood the point in following the herd. I'm not into team sports. There's no "me" in team as far as I'm concerned. But I will make an exception this week and try and be a team player. So here is a picture of my grandson, Aidan, with a chicken.

His parents took him and his siblings for a formal photo shoot at an outfit called Sitting Pretty Portraits on Sunday. The photographer there had a special weekend of shoots with "bunnies and chicks." There's another person obsessed with bloody chickens. What is going on?

However, I must confess I have done chicken posts on Proper Course before.

There was the Rhode Island Red Rant.

There was the day I used a chicken to win a turkey.

And then there was the infamous post with a photo of a rabbit having carnal relations with a chicken.

Can we be done with chickens now?

Anyone for fish?

Wednesday, April 06, 2011



How important are pictures on blogs?

What does the choice of pictures tell you about the authors of those blogs?

Do pictures influence whether you want to revisit those blogs?

Here are a few examples to make you think...

Yarg posted some tacks.

Baydog posted an exit sign.

Bonnie posted a form.

Taru posted Taru.

What does it all mean?

Just asking.

Tuesday, April 05, 2011


A few days ago I wrote a post Three Laser Classes? about a contentious issue facing the Laser Class. There's a dispute going on between a company who owns the design rights to the Laser and another company who builds Lasers. The International Laser Class is caught in the middle of the dispute and is doing its best to chart a way forward for the class. There are all sorts of players potentially involved in the issue: the original designer, the company he set up to manage his design rights, the company he sold that first company to, the builders in various parts of the world, the trademark owners etc. etc. I'm sure there are several firms of lawyers involved too.

(If you really want to understand more, then check out this thread on the Laser Forum and this interview with Bruce Kirby on Sail World.)

I said at the end of my post, "This could get messy."

I didn't know how right I was.

Today comes news that someone has been threatened with a lawsuit. But it's not one of the players mentioned above. It's just some random dude who expressed an opinion on the Laser Forum that was somewhat critical of two of those major players. He reports today that he has been threatened with a libel lawsuit by the lawyer for those two players, and he's desperately trying to work out how he can edit his original post.

So the message is, "Be careful out there kiddies." This is serious business. And if you express an opinion on one of the various forums debating this topic that is unfairly critical of certain people, you might be hearing from their lawyers.

Thought Comes Before a Fall

Alex Mineev made an interesting observation on his blog the other day about the similarities between falls in skiing and capsizes in Laser sailing, and how they are often failures of the mind rather than the body. Which leads to the question, can you train the mind to not "give in" to capsizing? As Alex says...

There is one common thing with skiing and sailing outside of the comfort zone. When pushing it hard, the weakest link that breaks first is usually the mind. It's rarely muscles or motor skills.

Most of the falls and capsizes happen when mind gives in to the pressure of fear and commands the fall or the capsize to escape the pressure, to get back into the comfort zone.

So, is it possible to train the mind and push further away the snapping moment? How much further?

I know exactly what he means. As regular readers of this blog will know, my Achilles heel in Laser sailing is the death roll when sailing downwind in heavy air and big waves. I can cope well for a while with the conditions but then there comes a moment when a bigger puff or a rogue wave rolls the boat a little more and something clicks in my head and I develop the conviction that I'm going to capsize to windward and there's nothing I can possibly do to prevent it... and a moment later I prove myself right. Glug, glug, glug. There's definitely a split second when the mind decides that the hassle of keeping the long pointy thing aiming at the sky is just too much pressure any more, and it "gives in" to capsizing.

So what can be done about it? I'm no expert on the question. If I were I wouldn't be wiping out so much downwind. But three possible approaches occur to me.

1. Practice on the water

One of the drills we did at Kurt Taulbee's SailFit clinic was the Maximum Heel Drill. The idea is to sail downwind heeling the boat to windward as far as you can. If you never capsize you're not really trying. One year at SailFit, there was a kid from the Clearwater youth team who joined us for the weekend of the clinic who could heel the boat to about 80 degrees from the vertical in a solid breeze and then not only recover from the death roll but also go straight into a gybe. Amazing!

Of course you don't have to go to a clinic to do this drill. You can do it any time on your own. Play around. Experiment. How far can you heel? What is the best way to recover from an impending death roll? Does it work better to head up or to steer further to leeward? Is sheeting in the key? How fast can you get your weight to leeward to prevent the capsize? What's the best way to move your weight; what do you do with your feet, your hands? Play around.

All this play is training the mind. You will develop unconscious skills on capsize avoidance. You will will learn that you can heel further than you thought possible and still recover. You will gain confidence. You will train your mind not to "give in" to the capsize.

2. Mental rehearsal

Of course the sports psychologists would tell Alex that he can train his mind through mental rehearsal while lying in bed at home. Think positive thoughts. Imagine yourself sailing a windy run. See the waves, hear the wind, feel the boat, taste the salt. Visualize yourself dealing successfully with every puff, every random wave. Think competence. Feel confidence. Etc. Etc. Etc.

I've never used this technique much. Maybe I've been sailing badly for so many decades that it's hard for me to even imagine sailing properly any more? Would it even work for a problem like this? Or is telling yourself not to think of capsizing the same as the old game where you tell someone not to think about elephants and then ask them what they are thinking about? Elephants, of course!

3. Distraction

I wrote a few years ago in Wheels on the Bus how singing a silly kids' song had an amazingly positive effect on my ability to sail a Laser in heavy air. Usually when I am going downwind in big air I am all tensed up and thinking, "Oh shit, don't capsize. Oh shit, don't capsize. Oh shit, don't capsize." Not surprisingly the more I think about not capsizing, the more likely I am to capsize. But if I am singing at the top of my voice, "The wheels on the bus go round and round, round and round, round and round... " it seems that I am more relaxed, and instead of thinking about capsizing I am thinking about, "What verse comes after, 'The wheels on the bus go round and round'?"

The theory behind this approach is essentially that you really know how to sail downwind without death-rolling all the time. You just need to stop your conscious mind from trying too hard not to capsize, and instead make it get out of the way and let your subconscious mind do what it already knows how to do. Relax. Breathe. Stop trying too hard. Sing, if that works for you.

Of course all three suggestions above could be total crap. God knows I'm no expert on this topic. So please feel free to abuse me in the comments, tell me what is wrong with my three ideas, and then offer Alex (and me) some more constructive advice on how to stop thinking ourselves into falling.

Related Posts
Broken Record
Losing It
Half a World

Poetry in Motion

Overhead view of the Laser Cup event at Lake Lugano in Switzerland last weekend, taken from a restaurant in Gandria. Credit to Hilmar Brand, and LaserPerformance Europe who posted the video on their Facebook page.

Sunday, April 03, 2011

Save The Life Of Our Sport

Everyone wants to "save" sailing, but it is a totally ridiculous ambition.

Because there is no such thing as sailing.

Or to be more precise, sailing is not a single thing. It is many things. And it is so many things that it is a nonsense to talk of saving it... or even them.

Let me give you an analogy.

What is sailing?

Sailing is the art (or pastime or sport) of propelling oneself across the surface of the water using the power of the wind captured by one or more sails.

An analogy might be the art of propelling oneself across the surface of the land using one's feet and legs. But there is no single word to describe this art. So let's make one up. Let's call it "flegging."

Flegging includes walking and running and skating and skiing and dancing and hopping and jumping and bicycling and pogo sticking. In sports, it includes all kinds of walking and running races from sprints to ultra-marathons, not to mention long jumping and high jumping and pole vaulting. It includes hiking and long distance trekking and mountain climbing. It includes everything from a gentle walk on the beach to climbing Everest. It is casual recreation. It is extreme sports. It is a pastime. It is many Olympic sports.

No wonder "flegging" isn't a real word. Who would even think think of the need for a single word to describe so many different things? And even if it were a real word, would anyone talk of "saving flegging"?

Sailing is just as diverse and varied as flegging.

It includes dinghy sailing and keelboat sailing and multihull sailing and windsurfing and kiteboarding and riding foils in an International Moth. For those who want to race there is short course racing around the buoys and races around the world and everything in between. You can sail on lakes or rivers or bays or down the coast or across an ocean. You can try and set speed records over 500 meters or across the Atlantic or around the world. You can sail in a wooden boat you made yourself or some high-tech marvel of carbon-fiber equipped with all manner of electronics and gizmos and other amazing technologies. Sailing is everything from a gentle sail in the setting sun with the love of your life, to taking five years to cruise around the world, to racing around the world with a crew of a dozen sweaty hairy men. It is a couple of billionaires frittering away their fortunes trying to win the America's Cup; and it is a man and his wife day-sailing in a Catalina 30 on their local bay.

Sailing is just as varied as flegging. It ain't one thing. It's a hundred things. At least.

So why do people talk of saving sailing?

Does kitesurfing need saving?

Does college sailing need saving?

If you "save" Star sailing, does that mean you will have made it possible for more people to try and set records for sailing around the world?

If you "save" the America's Cup, does it make the International Moth Class stronger?

A very smart chap called Nick Hayes wrote a book called Saving Sailing. I wrote a review of it a couple of years ago. Nick is a good bloke with his heart in the right place and his book makes a compelling case. I'm sure he really believes his ideas could "save sailing." But it seemed to me that his book was really about saving one type of sailing, the sort of sailing that Nick knows best. Nothing wrong with that. It's just not about saving all kinds of sailing. It's as if someone had written a book about how to promote more people to hike the Appalachian Trail in the belief that that would somehow encourage more people to take up ice dancing or the hop, skip and jump.

Gary Jobson is a good bloke too. He must be. He used to sail Lasers. As President of US Sailing he is working hard to save sailing, as he sees it. One of his initiatives to this end is a Yacht Club Summit in Chicago this weekend. They have been having speeches and breakout session on all sorts of topics such as Information Technology and Yacht Club Branding and Financial Stability and Building Membership. I'm sure it's all good stuff. But I fear it's more about saving yacht clubs than saving sailing.

And while we're at it, why do we have organizations like US Sailing or ISAF? Do we have US Flegging or the International Flegging Federation? Would anyone in their right minds think of creating a single organization to administer and promote both speed skating and marathon running; ballroom dancing and cycling? Why do we think that one organization should worry itself about the America's Cup and Wednesday night beer can racing; kitesurfing and sailing solo around the world? It's nonsense.

Our ancestors have been flegging for millions of years. They have been sailing for thousands of years, at least. Both are so much part of our nature that neither is in danger of dying out.

I really think it's a shame that the word "sailing" was ever invented. It confuses people. It makes them think there is such a thing. There isn't.

There is no such thing as sailing.

Just like there is no such thing as flegging.

So let's forget about trying to "save" it.

"Good God! Don't jump!"
A sport sat on the edge.
An old salt who had fainted was revived.
And everyone agreed it would be a miracle indeed
If the sport survived.

"Save the life of our sport!"
Cried the desperate author.

The man from US Sailing
Ran to call the press.
"He must be high on something," someone said.
Though it never made The New York Times.
In Sailing World, the caption read,
"Save the life of our sport!"
Cried the desperate author.

A jury boat passing by
Halted to a stop.
Said the International Judge in dismay:
"The juries can't do a decent job
'Cause the kids got no respect
For the Rules today (and blah blah blah)."

"Save the life of our sport!"
Cried the desperate author.
"What's becoming of the sailors?"
People asking each other.

When darkness fell, excitement kissed the crowd
And made them wild
In an atmosphere of freaky holiday.
When the spotlight hit the boat,
The crowd began to cheer...

It sailed away.

Golly gee! I forgot my PFD!
Golly gee! I forgot my PFD!
Golly gee! I forgot my PFD!
Golly gee! I forgot my PFD!

with apologies to Simon and Garfunkel (and Nick and Gary.)

Saturday, April 02, 2011

Dynamic Views

Those clever people at Google have just created five new dynamic creative ways to view Blogger blogs. Currently you can enable them by adding /view to the URL of a Blogger blog. But my understanding is that they will eventually allow the authors of Blogger blogs to offer Dynamic Views as the default mode for their blogs and include the ability to edit them.

Here is how Proper Course looks in each of the five views...






Check them out. Please tell me what you think. Which one works best with a blog like mine?

Technical Notes

If you own a Blogger blog the Dynamic Views will only work if...
- your blog is public. Your readers don’t need to sign in to view your blog.
- your blog has feeds fully enabled. In the Settings | Site feed tab, you have enabled either Full or Jump Break for your Post Feed.
- you have not disabled dynamic views. In the Setting | Formatting tab, the option for Enable Dynamic Views is set to Yes.

If you want to see Dynamic Views then you need a modern browser such as Internet Explorer 8+, Firefox 3.5+, Chrome or Safari. Many elements of these views will not work should you have an older browser.

Friday, April 01, 2011

Best Sailing April Fools Joke of 2011

I was going to write an April Fools post this year. I had it all worked out. It was based on the current brouhaha going on in the Laser class about intellectual property rights, and who is really allowed to build Lasers, and whether the class should change the rules to say who can build Lasers... and .. and...

It's a mess. There are currently 94 posts on the Laser Forum and 90 on Sailing Anarchy about the issue and I'm still no nearer to understanding it.

I had a crazy scenario based on this Laser class meltdown worked out in my head yesterday that would make a perfect April Fools post. But then the more I thought about it the more I realized that my ridiculous, impossible, fantastic spoof scenario might actually come true any day now. And when (potential) truth is scarier than the worst fevered fantasy I can imagine... we are really in the shit.

So I thought my April Fools post would be in bad taste, and as the standard bearer for good taste in the sailing blogosphere I decided to desist.

The next best April Fools joke on the sailing Interwebs this year (after mine) is undoubtedly Shingles Bank Sparks Isle Of Wight Ownership / Independence Claims

And it has a nice historical picture too.


New Laser Sail

It's good to know that among all the current controversy within the Laser class about design rights and fundamental rule changes and all that crap, that someone at the International Laser Class still has a sense of humor.

Check out ILCA Announces New Standard Sail for the full story.

Rum and Guava

A couple of weeks ago I wrote a post about a cruising blog called The World Tour with Alex and Taru. I couldn't quite put my finger on why I found it so fascinating. I'm still no clearer on the answer to this burning question. In the past two weeks there have been posts on The World Tour about phones and amp-hours and fishing and watermelon, all subjects in which I have no interest whatsoever. Why do people like watermelon? It tastes like water to me.

And yet, I am still addicted to The World Tour.


Oh yes. There was a recipe for rum and guava. Apparently the secret is to mix rum and fresh guava juice. Who would have thunk it?

I do like rum.

Maybe that's it?