Thursday, February 09, 2012

That Which Does Not Kill Us...

Last month I spent a week at the Laser Training Center in Cabarete in the Dominican Republic and wrote at Just Another Week in Paradise about the structure of a typical day there. This post is a summary of the the first two days of sailing that week... and one day soon I might get around to writing some more posts about the other three days and what I actually learned during the week.

The first two days of the clinic the weather was cloudy with occasional showers. I see that one website about Cabarete weather is reporting that the winds those two days were Beaufort Force 3, i.e. a gentle breeze of 7-10 knots. All I can say is that it is possible that the breeze averaged over each of those two days was 10 knots. Unfortunately the actual wind varied between 0-2 knots and 20-30 knots and hardly ever anything in between - or so it seems in my memory now.

We sailed inside the reef on those two days and the waves were large and chaotic with occasional breaking waves in the middle of our practice area. It took me a while to remember how to deal with such conditions. (This is a euphemism for "I capsized a lot.") From time to time a squall came through, rain fell, and visibility dropped (especially for this old geezer who was wearing his usual prescription sunglasses that become almost opaque when covered in rain drops). Oh, I almost forgot to mention, in the squalls the wind was really honking  - or blowing bananas off trees as they probably say in the DR. One of the coaches later told me that it was blowing 30 knots in the squalls and the coaches were discussing whether or not to call off our practice, but they reasoned that the worst that could happen was that our capsized Lasers (presumably with us grimly hanging on to them) would be blown on to the beach some distance from the Laser Center and that the beach staff would just have to recover the boats there and haul them back to the center.

Actually, once you got used to it, trying to sail a Laser in those squalls was kind of exciting. I'm sure it was teaching us something. Didn't Nietzsche say, "That which does not kill us makes us stronger?" Although modern psychological research does tend to support the opposite opinion.

Where was I? Where am I? Oh yes. Having "fun" sailing a Laser in 30 knots in crazy waves when I couldn't see where I was going.

So that was all good, but after a squall passed, the winds would drop to almost nothing. Now I don't usually mind lazing around on a sunny afternoon on a lake in a Laser waiting for wind, but in those waves there was no possibility for "lazing around." We were rocking and rolling, and the booms were swinging back and forth, but there wasn't enough wind to actually sail the boat. On the first day we waited and waited out on the water for more wind and some of our number were even starting to get a little seasick. On the second day it was decided to head back to the beach when the wind died, which was a good decision.

The first day was dedicated to working on improving our roundings of windward and leeward marks, which god knows I really do need to improve. (More on that topic if I ever get around to writing about the racing on the last day of the week.) And the second day we worked on improving our tacks and gybes which god knows I also really need to improve. Many useful tips were dispensed and many whistles were blown and many marks were rounded and and many tacks and many gybes were attempted.

I must admit that my mood is very dependent on the weather. Rainy days (but not Mondays) do get me down. And, at times, it was frustrating sailing in those conditions.

I hope Nietzsche was right.

And it did get better on the third day.


Tillerman said...

Thanks for the offer Steve. But it is bad blogging etiquette to leave comments like that.

By all means make an intelligent comment about the topic of my blog post and if your comment intrigues me I might well follow the link from your name back to your profile and then to your blog. And if your blog interests me (and my main interest is sailing) I might eventually follow it.

However, in your case, your blog does not interest me. Actually yesterday's post on your blog states a position with which I totally disagree and I would have no interest in following a blogger who mainly writes about that opinion. Also I don't follow blogs which are written entirely in large bold type. My eyesight is a little weak but is not that bad.

But you are entitled to your views. Good luck with your blog. Please don't leave any more spam comments here.

Baydog said...

Jesus, Cabarete sounds like fun!

Tillerman said...

Cabarete is fun, Baydog. Hope you can join us next January for the North Eastern US Watery Bloggers Reunion at the Laser Center in Cabarete. (A reference to the fact that three of the people on the clinic this year were sailing bloggers.)

Unknown said...

Sounds like it was good practice for the "mental day"

CapnRehab said...

Thanks for the link to "The opposite opinion". The article was quite interesting and reminded me of my Outward bound ( experience. They give you positive experiences overcoming challenges to make you stronger for future challenges. I wrote a blog post on my thoughts about it. You might find it interesting.

Thanks for writing the blog, I really enjoy it.

CapnRehab said...

Sorry, guess it was bad etiquette to leave the link to the post.

Tillerman said...

Absolutely not CapnRehab. I have absolutely no problem with what you did - left a comment that was relevant to my post and included a link to a post of your own with some thoughts on the same topic. That's perfectly fine.

What I found objectionable to the first comment on this post was that the person who left it said nothing at all about what I had written but just invited me to follow a blog on a totally unrelated subject, which turned out to be the kind of blog that I would never want to follow in a million years. THAT is bad etiquette. In fact it's just spam.

CapnRehab said...

Thanks for the clarification. I didn't even follow his link - I agree, that sort of post is just another form of spam.

O Docker said...

I think Nietzsche was right.

The only time I've sailed in more than 30 knots was when we were overtaken, in the BVI, by the leading edge of a weather system with the harmless-sounding name of 'tropical wave'.

The first gust caught us with the jib up and everything went sideways. As I struggled to keep us off the rocks, I assigned the task of furling the jib to my wife. Her job was made slightly more difficult by having to stand on parts of the cockpit that are normally vertical.

She almost killed me, but I managed to survive her verbal tirade.

And sure enough, as Nietzsche predicted, throughout it all her language kept getting stronger and stronger.

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