Thursday, November 29, 2012

Photo Quiz

1. On the date this photo was taken, who was Prime Minister of Israel?

2. What team won the World Series that year?

3. What was the most popular site on the Internet that year?

4. What song was #1 on Billboard's Top 100 Hot Songs that year?

5. What major American city is on the same longitude at which this photo was taken?

6. What is the unique historical distinction of the city nearest to where this photo was taken?

7. What am I drinking?

8. Who gave me this drink?

9. Who was the future Olympian who also sailed in this event?

10. In how many races in this event did I finish higher than the future Olympian?

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

The History of Climate Change Negotiations in 83 Seconds

What do you think about the controversial topic of climate change?

Tamarisk - 'Round the World

Regular readers of this blog will know that I am not usually a great fan of so-called cruising blogs. I have come to the conclusion that most of them are not really blogs about sailing at all. They are blogs about what people who live on boats do when they are not sailing.

Actually, come to think of it, that's a criticism that could just as easily be leveled at this blog. As I have never sailed my Laser as much as 100 days in any year, and as I usually rack up over 300 blog posts a year, I guess most of my posts must be about stuff other than sailing. Like nippies on bikes. Or an ocarina. Or quidditch.

Be that as it may, I do like this cruising blog that was just brought to my attention: Tamarisk - 'Round the World.

Maybe it's because the blog is about a round the world voyage by a couple of brothers who are British by birth and who have spent most of their lives in the USA, and they happen to be about the same age as my own sons.

Or maybe it's because the photographs on the blog are absolutely superb. And there's lots of them.

Or perhaps it's because the brothers are refreshingly honest about how little they knew about a boat like Tamarisk when they first took possession of her. "The problem is that we don’t know what anything on the boat does, other than the beds.... Our jobs are being made easier by the owners manual we found this afternoon.... We jammed the pulley at the top of the mast while trying to rig the spinnaker halyard (the string that holds up one of the big white flags at the top of the flag pole.)"

But I think the thing I really like about Tamarisk - 'Round the World is that a high percentage of the posts are actually about actual frigging sailing.

Unlike my blog.


Saturday, November 24, 2012

Photo Quiz




Why is this site historically significant?

What does this all have to do with the history of computers?

Friday, November 23, 2012

Sailing the Seven C's

I signed up to sail with the Newport Laser Frostbite Fleet (aka Fleet 413) again this winter. I missed the first week of racing when I went back to sail with my new friends at Duxbury so I first showed up in Newport on their second Sunday, a couple of weeks back.

I have to confess that what I remember from previous years of sailing with Fleet 413 early in the season like this is that there have usually been huge fleets (sometimes around 60 boats) on relatively small courses meaning chaotic starts, overcrowded mark roundings and lots of "interactions" with other boats (not in a good way), leading to what has not always been a very rewarding experience for me. I wrote about this in 2008 in At Last and in 2011 at Ida. On such occasions I have always felt like a fish out of water, as they say.

On the other hand I have immensely enjoyed sailing with this fleet later in the winter when the fleet size is down and I am more attuned to the challenges of this style of racing again. In fact, I think on those days when I have raced with the fleet on the first or second week of the season, I have always given up before the end of racing on each occasion. I know. I'm a wimp.

There were (only) about 35 or boats racing on my first day with fleet 413 this year, but in the first couple of races I still went through the same experiences that I had had in other years. I was not mentally tuned in to racing even in a fleet of this size on such a small course. I was getting blown away at the starts in spite of my best efforts to win a front row start. All the way up the beat it was hard to find a good lane and I was constantly meeting other boats and having to make those "should I tack, should I cross, should I duck" calls. The flat water and medium winds meant that most of the fleet was arriving at the windward mark at pretty much the same time leading to yet more close encounters at the mark.

I was getting round the course without any major issues but I did not feel in control. Things did not feel right. There were just too many damn boats coming at me from all directions and my brain was working overtime to cope with all the traffic and avoid hitting anybody. There was no bandwidth left over to actually think about actually racing. If I had to chose two words to describe my mental state in the first two or three races it would be clumsy and confused.

I was tempted to call it a day after three races. That little voice in my head was saying. "Hey, you had a good workout. You got some practice. You're not really having much fun. Why do any more?" But then the other voice said, "You know you really enjoy frostbiting once you get back into the swing of it.  The only way to get comfortable with racing in a fleet of this quality and size is just to keep on doing it."

So I lined up on the start for the next race, determined to be more aggressive and to accelerate off the line with, or even slightly bow out on, the boats around me. And I did. And I had a lane I could hold. And I was able to gain on the boats around me. And I was actually able to choose the moment for my first tack when I wanted to do it and find a good lane going back to the middle of the course. And I was able to make sensible tactical decisions going up the beat and play the shifts a bit and position myself properly relative to other groups of boats, instead of just being bounced around like a ball in a pinball machine. And I arrived at the windward mark in a not totally humiliating position and was able to find some clear air on the run and position myself for a good tactical leeward mark rounding. I was really "racing" again instead of just sailing around the course trying to avoid crashes. I think I finished around the middle of the fleet in that race. Woo hoo! Now I was actually feeling confident and almost competent.

That good state of mind didn't last too long as towards the end of the afternoon I started becoming more and more physically tired. I think it was in the fifth race that I considered quitting again. But then I asked myself, "If you were running a half marathon and you were this tired after two hours of running and you still had a few miles to go, would you quit? Of course not. You expect to be more tired in those last 3 or 4 miles so you push on through. So why don't you do the same with sailing?" So I carried on.

The  race officer announced the last race and I mentally raised a cheer. Actually I may have audibly raised a cheer. Part way up the first beat I started to get severe cramp in my left forearm. Probably caused by my old bad habit of holding the sheet too tightly. It was excruciatingly painful and I considered leaving the race and sailing back to the beach. But the stubborn voice in my head was causing trouble again. "Hey, when you used to run marathons and you sometimes got cramps in the last six miles, did you quit? Of course not. You massaged away the cramp and kept on going all the way to the finish line." So I kept going.

Approaching the windward mark I realized I had a knot in my mainsheet. It wasn't one of those triple buntline carrick bend double surgeon's clinch knots inside a double fisherman's alpine butterfly rolling hitch that I have written about before. No it was just a simple "slip knot".

I tugged and tugged and tugged at it. That's supposed to undo a "slip" knot, right? That's why it's called a slip knot isn't it? I still hadn't undone it when I arrived at the mark and couldn't bear away with the knot still in the sheet so I had to luff up and use both hands to undo it and by the time I had done so I was at the back of the fleet. Again.

I tried to ease the cramp in my arm on the run, but was not entirely successful. I can't remember exactly how I managed to  sail the long final beat. I tried holding the sheet and tiller in the same hand. I tried cleating the sheet. I know I wasn't hiking properly and was pinching too much. It was a very defensive (and slow) mode of sailing. But I did finally cross the line and I wasn't even last. Woo hoo! I can beat a couple of boats even with one arm tied behind my back (almost literally.)

So it was a good day. I did feel very satisfied about finishing all the races. Seems like I may have finally conquered that "quitting" issue that I attempted to justify back in August with my post Sailing Philosophy with Crappy Chart

The old Tillerman is back. 

But if I had to choose two words to describe how I was feeling in those last couple of races it would be conked-out and crampy.

Am I crazy?

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Thanksgiving Cooking Tip #2 - How to Cook a Turkey

 Step 1: Go buy a turkey

 Step 2: Take a drink of whisky

 Step 3: Put turkey in the oven

 Step 4: Take another 2 drinks of whisky

 Step 5: Set the degree at 375 ovens

 Step 6: Take 3 more whiskies of drink

 Step 7: Turk the bastey

 Step 8: Whisky another bottle of get

 Step 9: Ponder the meat thermometer

 Step 10: Glass yourself a pour of whisky

 Step 11: Bake the whisky for 4 hours

 Step 12: Take the oven out of the turkey

 Step 13: Floor the turkey up off of the pick

 Step 14: Turk the carvey

 Step 15: Get yourself another scottle of botch

 Step 16: Tet the sable and pour yourself a glass of turkey

 Step 17: Bless the dinner and pass out


"It is my intention to commandeer one of these ships, pick up a crew in Tortuga, raid, pillage, plunder and otherwise pilfer my weasely black guts out."

Thus spake Captain Jack Sparrow in this scene from Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl.




  1.  Officially take possession or control of (something), esp. for military purposes.
  2.  Take possession of (something) without authority. 

There's not a lot of commandeering going on these days. In fact, as far as I can recall, I have never commandeered anything in my life. Certainly not a ship or a boat. It's not a word you see very often.

But I did come across it in another sailing blog today. Taru Tuomi of announced today that she and her cruising buddy Alex Psaroudakis have been appointed global brand ambassadors for Tommy Hilfiger Freedom fragrance for Men.

Woo hoo!

How cool is that?

Now all of us males who like Taru's blog can buy some "fragrance" that will make us irresistibly attractive to young ladies like Taru.

But wait.

It gets better.

The global press release about Taru and Alex being appointed global brand ambassadors for Tommy Hilfiger Freedom fragrance for Men goes on to say that Tommy Hilfiger Freedom fragrance for Men was "created for the man who lives life big, and dreams even bigger. Freedom Tommy Hilfiger epitomizes the charisma and captivating confidence of a man – managing business at the office or commandeering a boat on the open ocean."


A fragrance for the man who commandeers a boat on the open ocean!

I can't help but wonder that the market for a fragrance for guys who commandeer boats on the open ocean must be pretty small. But then what do I know about marketing?

By the way, in case anyone thinks I am making fun of Taru's English (which is not her first language I believe) nothing could be further from the truth. That really is how the folks at Tommy Hilfiger describe their Freedom fragrance.

In fact, Tommy Hilfiger (or their ad agency) is very fond of the word "commandeer." They even use the word in their ads for ladies' swimsuits, one example being for their Bermuda Stripe Soft Cup One Piece W/ Tummy Control. Apparently if you wear the Tommy Hilfiger Bermuda Stripe Soft Cup One Piece W/ Tummy Control you will be able to "commandeer any passing vessel."

I guess it's all to do with the tummy control.

Or maybe the soft cup?

So there you have it, dear readers. If you fancy a bit of commandeering this weekend then

a) if you are a man don't forget to splash first with some Hilfiger Freedom - Eau de Toilette or
b) if you are a woman then slip into the Hilfiger Bermuda Stripe Soft Cup One Piece W/ Tummy Control.

I think I'll go and pilfer my weasely black guts out now.

Thanksgiving Cooking Tip #1

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Photo Quiz

Having discovered a satellite image of one of Larry Ellison's old IACC yachts moored on a tiny pond outside of Oracle HQ last week, I started wondering what other sailing boats I could discover on Google Earth. But then I thought, hey I'm a dinghy sailor not an America's Cup sailor, I should search for dinghy sailing venues.

So for today's Photo Quiz, I challenge you to name these five locations, all clearly hotbeds of dinghy sailing...

Saturday, November 17, 2012

National Balaclava Day

With the frostbiting season in full swing it's only a matter of time before I will have to start wearing a balaclava for sailing.

I guess that is why today, November 17, is National Balaclava Day?

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Why I Sail a Laser

“If she's amazing, she won't be easy. If she's easy, she won't be amazing. 

If she's worth it, you won't give up. If you give up, you're not worthy."

- Bob Marley

Quote and suggestion that it could apply to boats shamelessly stolen from H2uho - Bonehead Moves on the Water. Picture shamelessly stolen from Laser Center, Cabarete. The photo is of a typical situation near the leeward mark during the 5th Caribbean Laser Midwinters Regatta 2007, which was also reported on this blog at Broken Record.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Larry's Office and Larry's Yacht

Where is this?

This is where.

Photo Quiz

What is this?

To give you a sense of scale, it's about 6 or 7 inches long.

It's shaped a bit like a boat, but it's clearly some kind of musical instrument.

The fingering is a bit like the recorder I used to play in school, but not exactly the same.

Tillerwoman bought it at her favorite thrift store today.

What is it ?

And where can I learn to play it?

No Blagging Allowed

If you go to Fort Adams in Newport next weekend you will see a very strange sight. People who otherwise appear perfectly sane will be donning special costumes and participating in some sport that is almost impossible to understand for the casual observer. The folk playing this mysterious game will mill around and then go zooming off in apparently random directions occasionally converging and even colliding with each other. There will be much shouting and even some occasional cursing perhaps.

No, no, no. I am not talking about the Newport Laser Frostbite Fleet, although they will be racing in the waters off Fort Adams on Sunday. (Unfortunately I will probably not be racing with the fleet next Sunday because I will be in Connecticut for the weekend celebrating my youngest granddaughter's first birthday.)

No. The even stranger game at Fort Adams next weekend (yes even more strange than Laser frostbiting) will be Quidditch.

Yes. Quidditch. The game in the Harry Potter movies.

Harry Potter devotees will know that Quidditch is an extremely rough sport played by wizards and witches riding flying broomsticks, using four balls (with various magical properties) known as the Quaffle, the Golden Snitch, and the Bludgers.

Wait a minute, you may well say. How can ordinary people fly on broomsticks and where do you buy magical balls?

I have no idea. But apparently Quidditch is now a real game in the real world and is especially popular with college kids. The Northeast Regional Quidditch Championship is coming to Fort Adams next weekend and will be held rain, snow or shine - just like Laser frostbiting.

Maybe this video will give you an idea of what Quidditch for Muggles looks like....

Ouch. Those broomsticks must cause some very unusual injuries.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Go Fly a Kite

Go fly a kite.

Or maybe not.

First we heard that kiteboards will be in the 2016 Olympics in Rio.

Now ISAF has reversed that decision at their conference in Ireland this week.

Kiteboards are out. Windsurfers are back in. At least for 2016.

The final classes for sailing in the 2016 Olympics are...

Men's Board - RS:X
Women's Board - RS:X
Men's One Person Dinghy - Laser
Women's One Person Dinghy - Laser Radial
Men's 2nd One Person Dinghy - Finn
Men's Skiff - 49er
Women's Skiff – 49erFX
Men's Two Person Dinghy - 470
Women's Two Person Dinghy - 470
Mixed Two Person Multihull – Nacra 17 5

What do you think of these classes as representative of our sport?

Will these choices be good for the future of sailing?

Which one are you going to be sailing?

Heavy Weather Racing Goals

Looks like we will have 10-15 knots from the S for frostbiting in Newport tomorrow, but I'm sure we will have some heavy weather days before the end of the season. We always do.

When it really blows I must admit my racing goals tend to be somewhat.... ummm let's say "conservative." The chart above pretty much sums up how I feel on those days.

Full disclosure: the graphic was shamelessly stolen from a relatively new Sunfish sailing blog that I came across the other day. Hmmm. Some of those guys look awfully familiar.

Thursday, November 08, 2012

Movie Review - Hide Away

A lot of my readers have cruising boats and/or enjoy reading blogs by people who own cruising boats. I don't often review movies here, but I have to report that I have found the perfect movie for all of you aformentioned readers.

It's called Hide Away.

No, no, no. Not Hideaway, the 1995 horror movie starring Jeff Goldblum. I am talking about Hide Away, the 2011 movie starring Josh Lucas which was originally titled A Year in Mooring.

I know you are going to like it because it reminds me of every cruising boat blog I have ever read. Without giving away too much of the plot (on second thoughts I am actually about to reveal about 95% of the plot) the movie has all the exciting action-packed adventures that you love to read about on your cruising blogs including...

  • fixing the bilge pump
  • fixing the head (complete with shit explosion)
  • fixing the shower
  • fixing the engine
  • sanding the decks
  • staining the decks
  • mending the sail

As if that isn't enough of the thrilling stuff that fascinates all you cruising blog followers, the emotional climax of the movie that brought a lump to my throat was when one of the characters actually made a Flemish coil.


What could be better?

It sent a thrill up my leg.

I almost thought I was reading O Docker's blog, it was that good.

I won't reveal the end of the movie, but I don't think I'm giving anything anyway when I tell you that with all that boat maintenance, our hero doesn't get to do any actual sailing for most of the film. In fact his boat doesn't leave the frigging dock for most of the movie. Isn't that just like most cruising boat blogs?

Of course not everyone appreciates the charm and attraction of boat maintenance in a (not very) exotic location.

One reviewer on Netflix said....

This is about the most boring movie I've seen in a very long time. I rented it because of Josh Lucas, but omg, the music was boring, the reason for his disappearance from life was totally predictable, and I just thank goodness that it wasn't longer! 

And the New York Times described it as "a ponderous piece of allegorical kitsch about grief and healing." But then those liberal elite media types never did understand the joys of fixing a bilge pump.

So if you love cruising boat blogs, watch this movie. You won't be disappointed.

Small Craft Advisory

Wednesday, November 07, 2012

Weather on Steroids

Last week we had a hurricane. You may have read about it.

As I write this we are experiencing a major nor'easter which is bringing rain and high winds to the mid-Atlantic and New England coast, and snow only a few miles inland from us.

Is this all caused by global warming?

If you ask the experts this question they will confuse you with by telling you that it is the wrong question, or by telling you that all weather events are affected to some extent by climate change, or that you are misunderstanding the difference between "direct causation" and "systemic causation".

Hmmm. What the hell does all that mean?

The answer I like best is the analogy to baseball that one expert drew. I like sporting analogies. They make things simple for a simple-minded fellow like me. This expert said...

"We can’t say that steroids caused any one home run by Barry Bonds, but steroids sure helped him hit more and hit them farther. Now we have weather on steroids.”

Seems like the weather hit a grand slam last week and another home run this week.

Are we in for a record-breaking season?

Is this the new normal?

Are storms and floods and hurricanes going to cause even more devastation along our coast in future years?

And, if so, what are the implications for how we rebuild from last week's mess?

And how bad do things need to become before a consensus emerges in this country that we have to get serious about dealing with climate change?

Tuesday, November 06, 2012

Time for Real Change

I've put off the decision too long. But today, Tuesday November 6, I have had to make up my mind.

For many years I supported the same crowd. Everybody in my social circle did the same. We trusted them. They were on our side.

But in recent years things have changed. I have noticed that more and more of my friends have been switching their allegiance. At first there were just one or two, but there are some days when I feel like it is me who is the odd one out by continuing to be loyal to our old friends.

Some say it's about jobs. But I'm not so sure. American manufacturing jobs have been shipped to Asia. This is true. But I'm not convinced that either bunch is going to be able to change that. It's just the way things are.

Four years ago we were promised change. A new direction. Solutions to all the problems we had been bitching about. But we are still waiting for the change we hoped for.

At the end of the day it's all about money.

One lot is promising to continue take more and more money from people like me and give it to... ? I don't know who they want to give it too. Not people like me, for sure.

The other guy says he will take less money out of the pockets of people like me. Today, for the first time in my life, I have decided to go over to the dark side and give him my support.

Yes, people, I have finally switched. Today I place an order with Intensity Sails for a Laser "practice" sail, the first time in my life I have ever bought a non-class-legal Laser sail.

Let's hope I made a wise decision.

Monday, November 05, 2012

American Toast Council 57th Laser Sail of 2012

It was the first day of frostbiting at Newport on Sunday.

But I decided to join the Duxbury Bay Laser Fleet for the last day of their frostbite season instead. I had such a good time sailing with them the previous week, and their fleet captain is doing such a stellar job of building and growing the fleet, that I decided I would show my support by going back a second week.

In passing, I guess it says something about the relative "hardcoreness" of the two fleets that one is just starting their winter season as the other finishes theirs.

Oh well! It is what it is.

Yesterday the wind was coming off the shore in Duxbury and, as one would expect, there were huge variations in wind speed and velocity. There were gusts coming in from both sides of the course and it was impossible to predict in advance which side of the beat would pay. At least it seemed impossible to me. At times I would be doing great on one side of the course (due to my superior wind reading and race strategy skills of course) but then all of a sudden the bozos who had gone the other way would get lucky and experience a huge puff and a favorable shift and I would be toast.

Sometimes I had only myself to blame for doing badly in races. A couple of times when I figured I wanted to go right I tried to do one of those fancy squirrel starts at the committee boat end of the start line, partly to test how good I would be at stealing a hole in the line at the last second and how aggressive the sailors to leeward of me would be at protecting that prime real estate.

They were plenty aggressive enough.

Lesson learned.

But I did get plenty of practice at doing penalty turns and staging major comebacks from last off the start line to only third from last at the finish.

Then there was the time that I fouled someone right on the finish line. I retired from that race.

We did 12 races in all I think. A nice mixture of triangles and sausages, one lap and two lap races, upwind and downwind finishes. I think I like sausages best.

After a while I was getting decent starts and was only choosing the wrong side of the course about 25% of the time. I was even first at the windward mark in a couple of races (once again due to my superior wind reading and race strategy skills of course) but then half a dozen sailors would get lucky puffs and pass me downwind.

(Or maybe it's because I'm so fat and heavy from eating too many sausages.)

After racing, one of the local sailors invited us back to his house for a few beers to celebrate the end of the season. But it had been such a rewarding day of sailing that some of the fleet members didn't want to hang up their drysuits just yet. They were hassling the fleet captain for some extra bonus days of racing. Next Sunday? The Friday after Thanksgiving? I also got some questions about the Newport fleet so perhaps some of the Duxbury guys will be sailing there in the coming weeks.

Then home to Tillerwoman for a hearty dinner of Cornish Pasties. Yum.

I was pretty tired last night. Even fell asleep in front of the TV machine. So unlike me.

I'm still aching this morning. But in a good way.

I think I'll go for a run now.

This post was sponsored by the American Toast Council - protecting the quality and reputation of American toast since 1797.

Sunday, November 04, 2012

Forty is the Magic Number

Forty years ago today, on November 4th 1972, I took my girlfriend out to dinner at the same restaurant that we had been to on our first date almost a year earlier. Then we went to a bonfire and fireworks party. It was the closest Saturday to November 5th, Guy Fawkes Day, after all.

Later that evening we went for a walk by the River Thames and I asked her to marry me.

She said yes.

Little did we know that on the other side of the Atlantic at the New York Boat Show earlier that year a little fiberglass sailboat called a Laser had been unveiled, and that the little boats had been selling like hot cakes. Why would we know? As she often reminds me, I wasn't a sailor when she agreed to marry me.

Fast forward ten years. We took a trip to Minorca Sailing. We learned to sail. I tried out a Laser for the first time. She decided she didn't like sailing after all. I came home and bought a Laser. It changed my life. Our lives I suppose.

In the next thirty years she has tolerated my disappearing at least one day most weekends to go Laser sailing. And she has let me drag her to various places all over the world to satisfy my sailing addiction. Florida, Australia, Canada, South America, Europe, various Caribbean islands. Life is hard for the wife of a Laser sailor.

Today on our anniversary we will celebrate by....

No. Wait. I'm going Laser sailing.

But she doesn't mind. When I haven't been sailing for a while and on some chilly winter morning I am debating with myself whether to sail or not, she will always encourage me to go sailing. I don't think it's because she just wants me out of the house; in reality she knows that I will be happier and easier to live with if I've had my fix.

Later this month we will celebrate the first birthday of our fourth grandchild, Isabel.

Life is very good.

Forty is the magic number.

I think I'll go sailing now.

Friday, November 02, 2012

Who Said It?

Who said it?

"Not bad when half your race committee for Sunday frostbiting has America's Cup experience."

"Climate change is a threat to our children's future, and we owe it to them to do something about it."

"I have never eaten or even nibbled a live hamster, gerbil, guinea pig, mouse, shrew, vole or any other small mammal."

Thursday, November 01, 2012


This picture is for my friend Baydog.

A lot of people have seen the aerial shots and pictures taken from the New Jersey mainland looking east towards the point where the Mantoloking Bridge used to connect to the Barnegat Peninsula, showing the new inlet through the peninsula created by Hurricane Sandy. It seems as if the bridge and the road across the peninsula in some way focused the storm surge and the waves to destroy all the houses between the bay and the sea on both sides of the road.

Today Baydog wrote a post about his favorite boatyard, Beaton's, which he believes is now "scattered in the back marshes."

This picture (looking west) was taken from a helicopter behind the helicopter carrying President Obama and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, as they viewed storm damage from superstorm Sandy yesterday. I am pretty sure that Baydog's favorite boatyard, or what is left of it, can be seen in the top left hand corner of the photo.

What do you think Baydog?


Granddaughter Isabel.

First Halloween.

She was walking at 10 months old.

All my grandchildren are above average (of course.)


I've known for a while that there's a Laser fleet on Duxbury Bay in Massachusetts.

Some of my friends sail there.

I know the guy who is the fleet captain there. He's one of those enthusiastic, tireless cheerleader types who is always encouraging new people to come and sail with his fleet, the kind of person that every fleet needs in that role. He has been trying to persuade me to come and sail at Duxbury for a couple of years now and I have even half-promised to do so on one or two occasions, but never actually did follow through.

But on Sunday, the day before Hurricane Sandy was due to arrive on the coast, I did go and race with the Duxbury Bay Laser Fleet.

The wind was already building from the north-east in advance of the hurricane and by the time we launched it was blowing force 4-5, gusting to 6 on occasions (on the Tillerfort Scale.) We raced short windward-leeward courses until it was decided that we had had enough. I was able to hang in as part of the top three in every race, but never actually won. The closest I came was on the last race when we did a downwind finish and I was dueling with the guy who was winning most of the races all the way down the final run, and I was ahead with about 10 yards to go, but he got a mystery puff that missed me and he beat my inches. A fitting end to the day's racing.

I felt like I was getting good starts, and the race officer confirmed afterwards that I was dangerously close to being OCS at times. Great! I wasn't pointing as well as the two guys who beat me though. Maybe it's time to retire my old sail that I've been using for practice and frostbiting for (too many) years now.

It was one of those days where it was key to keep the long pointy thing aiming at the sky. Most of the fleet had some problems in that area. I managed to avoid capsizing but some of my boat-handling skills could have used some improvement, specifically...

  • I was coming out of some tacks heeling too much or sailing too slow or desperately trying to avoid a capsize.
  • When rounding the windward mark in a big gust I was often heading off on a broad reach instead of turning down towards the leeward mark.
  • I went back to my old habit of kicking the sheet around the cockpit in tacks instead of leaving it neatly piled at the front.

That's OK. Gives me a few more things to practice.

After racing some of us went off for burgers and beer at a local tavern. Good bunch of guys with some interesting sailing backgrounds.

I think I will go and race at Duxbury again.

Life is good.