Saturday, December 28, 2013

12 Races

I kind of went crazy with running races in 2013. I ran 12 races in the year, certainly more races than I have run for many years - perhaps more races in a year than I have ever run before - for a total of over 80 miles of racing.

Part of the motivation was an attempt to qualify in the Grand Prix Series of the Rhode Island Rhode Running Club. This originally involved running in 9 out of 15 designated races around Rhode Island and nearby states, with the distances ranging from 5ks to half marathons. This was changed during the year to 8 out of 14 races due to some canceled race or scheduling conflict. I forget the details.

You know how I am with crazy artificial participation challenges. So I went for it and I did complete the required 8 races to qualify. (I could have done the 9 if I had needed to - so there!) I didn't make the top 5 but I was up there at times. And I did discover some new, different, interesting races as a result.

The year started, as it always seems to lately, on New Year's Day with the Hangover Classic 5 Miler in Bristol, which I wrote about at Celebrating the New Year Tillerman Style. It was frigging cold. There was ice on parts of the course. But I ran a good time (for me) so that was all good.

For reasons that escape me now I ran another race in Little Compton only 4 days later, a 4.8 mile road race. It wasn't even on the grand prix circuit. I must have been crazy.

In February I ran the 15k Run the Reservoir Race in N. Scituate RI, another regular on my schedule these days and took a few photos to use in one of my incredibly annoying Where Am I? quizzes. I thought my shot of the ladies lining up for the Porta Potty before the race was especially well-framed. O Docker was first to answer the quiz correctly. Isn't he always?

In early April I entered another of the grand prix races, the Thomas Giunta 5k in Fall River. Fall River MA is the town immediately to the north of my current home town of Tiverton RI but I hadn't thought of it as much of a running venue before. How wrong I was! The race is in honor of a fallen police officer and the pre-race ceremonies were very moving. I started near the back of the pack and had a lot of trouble in the first mile picking my way past the ladies who like to walk six-abreast with strollers and similar obstacles. But surprisingly in this race I achieved my best age-graded score in the grand prix series of all eight grand prix races I ran. No idea why. Maybe having to go slow in the first half mile ain't such a bad plan after all?

I took the opportunity of the Fall River race to take some urban landscape photos for another Where Am I?  quiz. O Docker was first to get it right. Again. Isn't he always?

The Laser frostbiting season was still going strong on the last weekend in April when I skipped sailing to go and run the Newport 10 Miler. The race started and ended at Fort Adams, the home of the Laser frostbite fleet, and at least one superfit young dude did both the running race and the Laser racing. Not me! I was knackered after the running so I went home and wrote a post about Socks. Sounds like I spent most of the race looking at lady runners' legs. Hey, it takes a long time for me to run 10 miles. I have to find something to pass the time.

At the end of May I went into Boston to run one of my favorite half marathons and wrote about it at A Half to Remember. Memorial Day Weekend. A few weeks after the Boston marathon bombings. A race which is always in honor of fallen Boston police officers, and this year especially in memory of Sean Collier the MIT police officer murdered by the marathon bombers. A very emotional day. Glad I was there to express my thanks to all the police officers attending for their courage and professionalism in dealing with the extraordinary challenge the city faced this Spring. Boston Strong!

On the first weekend of June 1 decided to bag another grand prix race. And I was so glad I did for several reasons. It was way over on the other side of the state, at least 30 minutes driving, a 5k in North Smithfield. It was the hottest day of the year up to then, so I didn't run very fast but discovered afterwards that I had scored two achievements…
  • First it seemed that not many of the other Rhode Island Rhode Runner grand prix point baggers had bothered to brave the wilds of far north-western Rhode Island so I ended up in third place among "Rhode Island Rhode Runner men grand prix point baggers who bothered to do the race and also qualify for the full series." That didn't do my series score any harm. Woo hoo! I'll take it.
  • Even better I achieved something I had only done once before in my life. I won a running trophy! It was only for second place in the "incredibly old geezers - we are amazed that they can actually stagger round the course in this heat" category. But even so. Only Twice in a Lifetime!  Woo hoo! I'll take it.
I also managed to use a photo of part of my trophy in one of my world famous What is this?  quizzes.

Guesses ranged from a Blogulator 5000 to a roll of carpet, and an armadillo. For once it wasn't O Docker who got it right.

Geeze, this post is dragging on and we are only up to race #7. Time to pick up the pace.

There was a 10 mile race on a Friday evening in July in Narragansett. It was called the Blessing of the Fleet but I never saw any blessed fleet. It was a showery, damp, humid day. The parking was a long way from the start. It rained on me at the end of the race. I couldn't find any free food or drink after the race. The finish was even further from the parking than the start was. But I did see an amazing double rainbow over the bay (through my rain-spattered spectacles)

There was a 5 mile race on a Sunday in August on Common Fence Point in Portsmouth. I ran out of oomph. Probably because I did a 12 mile training run only two days before. Some times I am really dumb.

There was a 5k race on a Sunday in September in Warren. It was called Finish for the Guinness. They gave you a Guinness to drink at the finish. I should have taken a photo of it to use in a What is this? quiz.

And there was a half marathon on a Sunday in October, the UnitedHealthcare Newport Half Marathon.  Best weekend of the year because…

  • Spectacular course
  • I didn't run out of oomph
  • My son ran the race with me
  • My son had a son on the day before the race.

And there was a 5k in Barrington on the Saturday after Thanksgiving to Trot Your Turkey Off, and that's all I have to say about that.


So there you have it.

12 races. Four 5ks. One 4.8 mile. Two 5 miles. One 15k. Two 10 milers. Two half marathons.

82. 7 miles.

I must be crazy.

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Quiz Answer - Soulsailor

Congratulations to Joe Rouse on correctly solving Sunday's quiz. The mystery sailor/ blogger was indeed Ant Clay who writes the Soulsailor blog.

Here is the picture in the quiz…

And here is the picture of Ant Clay without that amazing hat….

I had to give a bunch of clues before anyone guessed the answer.

Clue #3 referred to a "title" that Ant and Ben Ainslie had both won. At least one reader assumed I was talking about a knighthood but, in truth, Mr. Clay has not been knighted as Sir Anthony Clay by the queen… yet. I was actually referring to the the fact that Ben and Ant have both won the British Optimist National Championship, Ant in 1987 and Ben in 1992.

Clue #8 said that the mystery sailor's blog had appeared in at at least one of my top ten sailing blogs list. In fact it was in the first such list Top Ten Sailing Blogs of 2005 that I first gave a shoutout for Soulsailor.

I started this blog in 2005 but Ant had already been blogging about sailing for a couple of years by then. In a post in 2006 Who's Your Daddy? I tried to address the questions of who is the Daddy of sailing blogs, who started the first sailing blog, who wrote the first blog post about sailing? Soulsailor is certainly one of the earliest sailing blogs, although depending on how you define the meaning of "sailing" and the meaning of "is" he may or may not be the ultimate Daddy of all sailing blogs.

I always enjoyed Soulsailor's regatta reports in his unique earthy vernacular style, full of references to what he ate for breakfast - often "bacon sarnies"- see clue #6;  and of what he drank at the post-racing party - often pints of orange juice with gin and tonic chasers - see clue #7; not to mention vivid descriptions of his various excretory needs. As a measure of respect and admiration for his blog I even wrote a parody report of one of my own regattas in an attempt at his style - SlowSailer Racing Association.

Ant sailed a Solo and an Enterprise in which he had some degree of success, and a Miracle (so he could sail more with his kids as I recall.) In his most recent blog posts he has been recounting his attempts to master a foiling International Moth. Tweezerman came the closest to having the right answer to the quiz before Joe when he guessed at Colin Newman, the famous British International Canoe and Moth sailor. Ant even mentioned that he had seen Colin out sailing the same day in one of his posts about sailing the Moth.

But I had to leave some very obvious clues about Soul of a Sailor and even an Ant-themed Xmas Card before the quiz was solved.

So well done to Joe. I guess it helped to be around in the sailing blogosphere in the dim, distant days of 2003-2005.

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas to all my ant friends.

And the rest of you.

Caption Contest

Or, if you prefer, suggest a caption for this second photo which was taken shortly before the first one.

Thanks to Myc Sunfish and the Barrington frostbite fleet videocam for the shots.

Monday, December 23, 2013

Soul of a Sailor

This post contains a clue to the answer to Sunday's quiz.

Maps on Monday

A map of the world showing the only land areas (in green) which also have land on the exact opposite side of the globe - at their antipodes.

The amazing thing is that almost all land areas (the ones shaded dark blue) are opposite oceans. Is this purely to be expected on a planet where water covers more than 70% of the surface? Or is there more to it than that? Who can do the math?

Thanks to @Amazing_Maps on Twitter for the map.

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Who is this?

Who is this?

Clue #1: This is a sailing blog. He is a sailor.

Clue #2: I have written about him on this blog before.

Clue #3: One of his greatest sailing successes is a title which Ben Ainslie has also won.

Clue #4: He sails an International Moth.

Clue #5: He has a sailing blog.

Clue #6: Bacon sandwiches.

Clue #7: G&T.

Clue#8: This sailor's blog has been featured in at least one of my "top sailing blogs" lists.

Friday, December 20, 2013

Bitter End YC Wordle

Apologies for the recent intermission on this blog. Tillerwoman and I were making what has become our annual pilgrimage every December to the Bitter End YC in the British Virgin Islands. We returned home yesterday and no doubt I will be posting in the coming days about our experiences at BEYC this year.

 In the meantime, this "wordle" just about sums it up.

Friday, December 06, 2013

Laser Girls Kick Ass

Congratulations to Vanessa Dudley of Australia who is the new Laser Radial Grandmaster World Champion.

The Laser Masters Worlds are currently being held in Oman, and Vanessa clinched her victory today without even needing to sail in the two races tomorrow. Although I hear from my sources that she does intend to sail on the last day of the regatta anyway. What a sport!

Vanessa is one of only eight women sailing in the Masters Worlds this year and she faced some tough competition in the Radial Grandmaster fleet from 22 men including a couple of former Masters world champions.

Vanessa is only the second woman to achieve the feat of beating all the men to win a Masters world championship. Lyndall Patterson, also from Australia, won the Radial Grandmaster fleet in Hayling Island in 2010.

Let's hope this victory is an inspiration for more women to get involved in Laser Masters sailing.

What about it ladies?

Best and Worst Sailing Movies

It's time to wrap up this month's group writing project Best or Worst Sailing Movie Ever.

The project was inspired by a couple of posts on Charles Doan's Wave Train blog…

ALL IS LOST: What An Annoying Movie! 

and HOLD FAST: Best Sailing Movie Ever?

Doc Häagen-Dazs from Time on the Water also wrote about All is Lost…
ALL IS LOST: Will we understand in the end WTF he is doing out there? It's got to be more than just cheating the nursing home.

And I submitted  HIDE AWAY: Most Realistic Movie About Cruising Ever.

The author of Wet Pants Sailing Association Sunfish Fleet 568 Blog who apparently goes by the name "admin" went overboard and gave us 10 Top Worst Sailing Movies, a truly awful list.

And Pam of the excellent Improper Course blog wrote us a Sailing Movies Shopping List of movies she would like to see this holiday season, which, I must say, has some much better movies than the ones on admin's  list.

Captain JP of Captain JP's log offered  Good sailing movies - let's not get serious in which he argues that  this was a tough assignment because "the problem is there are no really great ones out there and the bad ones aren't heroically awful either." Good point, Captain. But he does say that the movie he enjoyed more than any other was THE PIRATES! IN AN ADVENTURE WITH SCIENTISTS: An extra gruesome adventure involving hams, dodo like parrots, Queen Victoria and Darwin.

Finally George A who writes the Mid-Atlantic Musings blog also says he found selecting a best or worst sailing movie to be a hard challenge, so he submitted an old favorite of his, THE RIDDLE OF THE SANDS: Best Sailing Movie Ever.

Thanks to everyone who participated. You are the greatest!

Thursday, December 05, 2013

Come Back Kid

A few days ago I left a comment on Doug Peckover's Improper Course blog to encourage him after he had some less than stellar (for him) finishes in the Radial Grandmaster fleet on the first day of the Laser Master Worlds in Oman. I pointed out that, in a long regatta, there is often someone who struggles a bit in the first few races, but who then masters the prevailing conditions and puts together a string of good finishes to win the regatta. The early leader doesn't always win. And you should never count yourself out - or a fellow competitor out - especially if a known contender and former champion has a couple of bad races early in a long regatta.

What I described is exactly what has been happening in one of the other fleets in Oman, the Radial Great Grandmasters. My sailing buddy 76-year-old Peter Seidenberg has been leading the 38 boat fleet every day so far and is still leading after four days of racing. His nemesis in the GGM Radial fleet at the Master Worlds in the last few years has been the 69-year-old British sailor, Keith Wilkins who, like Peter, has won a gazillion world championships. In 2010 at Hayling Island in England, Keith was first and Peter second, a result that was repeated at San Francisco in 2011, and then in 2012 at the Masters Worlds in Brisbane Keith beat Peter by one point to take second overall.

This year, Keith got off to a slow start at the Master Worlds with a 14th and a 15th in the first two races. But then he put together an excellent series of six races over the next three days and has clawed himself back to second place. He is currently 10 points behind Peter. But if the second throwout is taken into account, he is effectively only 2 points behind Peter - and there are still four races to go. It's going to be an exciting finish.

So I was right. You can be a "come back kid." Even at 69.

Keith Wilkins

All I Want for Xmas is a Foiling Bike

As you could have predicted, the comments on my post yesterday about the amazing itBike went from "Isn't it just a pedalo?" to "There will probably be foiling itBikes before you know it!" in a matter of hours.

Like them or loathe them, those foiling Moths and foiling AC72s have changed the way we think about boats of all sizes for ever.

But it's a good question: Can you foil on a human powered boat?

A quick Google confirms it's already been done. Here is a video of the famous Dwight and Steve pedaling away on their human powered flying boats.

In fact there are pictures of various pedal-powered foilers all over the Interwebs.

I never even knew.

I must get out more.

Forget the itBike. I want a foiling bike.

Wednesday, December 04, 2013


Yoga can be difficult for the beginner.

But it can improve your Laser sailing immensely.

One pose that all Laser sailors should master, is Savasana, also known as the Corpse Pose.

It will prepare your mind BEFORE a major regatta. Do Savasana on the boat ramp while the keen guys are waiting to launch.

It will relax you and speed your recovery AFTER a hard day of sailing. Do Savasana on the floor of the bar at the yacht club while the other sailors are still arguing over their beers about how Rule 18 applied at the 3rd mark in race 5.

Here is how to do Savasana..

Lie on your back with your legs straight and arms at your sides. Rest your hands about six inches away from your body with your palms up. Let your feet drop open. Close your eyes. Let your breath occur naturally. Allow your body to feel heavy on the ground.

Working from the soles of your feet up to the crown of your head, consciously release every body part, organ, and cell. Relax your face. Let your eyes drop deep into their sockets. Invite peace and silence into your mind, body, and soul.

It's tough to get it right, but it's worth it.

I think I'll take a nap now.

Killing Two Birds with One Stone

Most of the top Laser sailors seem to favor cycling as their favorite cardio workout, not to mention that it can't do any harm at building those steel quads you need to hike flat out from your toes on mile long beats six, eight, ten times a day. I really should cycle more.

And I've been thinking for some time that I would like to have some way to get out on the water on days when there isn't enough wind for Laser sailing. Kayak? Stand-up paddleboarding?

But how about this?

Why not kill two birds with stone?

Perhaps I should get an itBike?

I wonder if they come with cupholders?

What do you think?

Monday, December 02, 2013


Any of my readers who have followed my accounts on this blog of racing at Laser Masters regattas are probably aware that at these regattas the sailors are broken down by age and sex.

As far as age goes, we are usually competing against people in our own age group. The age groups are...

Apprentice Master (age 35-44)
Master (45-54)
Grand Master (55-64)
Great Grandmaster (65+)

There has been some discussion about adding another category for sailors over 75. There aren't many guys who are still sailing Lasers competitively at that age but it seems like it is more common than it used to be. I wasn't aware that anything official had been done for the over 75s until I looked at the results and sailing instructions for the Laser Masters Worlds currently being sailed in Oman. It seems there is going to be an award for the top sailor in the over 75 age group and they are calling it the Amazing Great Grandmaster prize.

After the first two days of racing, currently in line for this award and, what is more amazing, also leading the 38 sailors in the Laser Radial Great Grandmaster fleet which is open to kids as young as 65, is my sailing buddy Peter Seidenberg.


Update #1: Fran and Peter Seidenberg sporting local Arabian attire in Oman.

Update #2: Check out this story at XS Sailing about another amazing great grandmaster at the Masters Worlds in Oman, 81-year-old Haruyoshi Kumera from Japan.

Update #3: Peter did win the Laser Radial Great Grandmaster World Championship (by 19 points over his nearest rival) as well as the Laser Radial Amazing Great Grandmaster award. Truly amazing!

Sunday, December 01, 2013

Dodo like parrots and two men in a boat one quite posh

Two more entries in our group writing project Best or Worst Sailing Movie Ever...

The prolific and always reliable Captain JP offers Good sailing movies - let's not get serious in which he argues that I have set my readers a tough assignment because "the problem is there's no really great ones out there and the bad ones aren't heroically awful either."

The good captain discusses a number of the usual suggestions for best sailing movie ever, but eventually settles on one I hadn't heard of before, "an extra gruesome adventure involving hams, dodo like parrots, Queen Victoria and Darwin with The Pirates! In an Adventure with Scientists." Sounds wonderful!

George A who writes the Mid-Atlantic Musings blog also says he found selecting a best or worst sailing movie to be a hard challenge, so he submitted an old favorite of his as a potential "best", the 1979 British movie "The Riddle of the Sands" which is based loosely on a novel written in 1903 by Erskine Childers.  George says that the novel is better than the film so I have downloaded the book to my Kindle and will watch the movie later. I must say that, having read the first three chapters this morning, I am enjoying it immensely but will probably save the rest of the book to read on a long plane journey coming up soon.

Here is another review of Riddle of the Sands that I stumbled across.

Riddle of the Sands
aka Two Men in a Boat - One Quite Posh

The project is open until Thursday December 5th.

Full details of how to enter at Best or Worst Sailing Movie Ever.

But it doesn't have to be "best" or "worst." It can be any superlative you like...

Most boring
Least realistic
Most romantic
Most irritating
Most ridiculous
Most nepenthean
Awesomest storm at sea
Most trench-warfare intense
Most tooth-and-talons gripping
Best bagpipe playing in a sailing movie
Best pirate movie not starring Johnny Depp
Worst ever sequel to a sequel to a sequel to a sequel to a not too bad pirate movie.

Whatever. Use your imagination.

Friday, November 29, 2013

Sailing Movies: we hear from arnold the cockroach and others


A few days ago I suggested to my readers that we have one of our group writing projects, this time on the topic of sailing movies. What is the best sailing movie? Or what is the worst? Or what is the "insert your own superlative here" sailing movie?

The idea was that folks would write blog posts on this topic and I would post links to them here. But my readers are such independent spirits that many of them decided to "work outside the box" and attack this topic in different ways.

arnold the cockroach chose to leave a comment on a totally different post saying he would enter the writing contest but he has never seen a sailing movie

ye gods

where is o docker when we need him

Dan and the ubiquitous "Anonymous" left answers in the comments to my original post with a whole list of movies that they like.

Doc Häagen-Dazs pointed out that he hadn't seen All is Lost so he's not sure if he likes it or not but he had already written a post about it at Intensity. Hmmm

Oh, and if we are allowed to enter posts we have already written, I would like to point out that I wrote a movie review post last November HIDE AWAY: Most Realistic Move About Cruising Ever.

Thank goodness some people put more effort into this project than I did...

Part of the inspiration for this project came from @wetpantssailing on Twitter who had suggested that I should write a post on Top 10 Annoying Sailing Movies. I didn't do it so he spent 10 minutes to do it himself on his blog. Check out 10 Top Worst Sailing Movies.

And Pam who writes with her husband Doug the excellent Improper Course blog says she hasn't seen many sailing movies so she made a Sailing Movies Shopping List of movies she would like to see this holiday season.

And there you have it. As Forrest Gump almost said, a group writing project is like a box of chocolates. You never know what you're gonna get.

So now it's your turn.

The project is open until Thursday December 5th.

Full details of how to enter at Best or Worst Sailing Movie Ever.

Thursday, November 28, 2013

19 Things I Am Thankful For

This Thanksgiving I am thankful for...

Sea breezes

The number 43

Boston Public Radio




Duct tape

My teachers

Fred A. Mabbett

Extra legroom seats

Whoever invented Laser Masters sailing

Dropkick Murphys






Little people

That I'm not a turkey

Happy Thanksgiving

What are you going to be eating for Thanksgiving?

We are going with the traditional Tortoise Cheeseburger again.

Monday, November 25, 2013

Hello Baby

A sailor in the 1940s meets his baby for the first time after fourteen months at sea.

Photo courtesy of @Luggeryacht on Twitter.

Corrected caption:  After fourteen months of sea on Her Majesty's frigate Whitby, seaman Anthony Bennett meets his baby for the first time.  Photo originally appeared in 1987 book, LIFE Smiles Back - More Than 200 Classic Photos from the Famous Back Pages of America's Favorite Magazine. HMS Whitby was a Whitby-class frigate launched in 1954 and sold for scrapping in 1978.

Sunday, November 24, 2013


Rudolph the red-nosed tortoise
Had a very woolly hat
And if you ever saw him
You would even say, "WTF is that?"

All of the other tortoises
Used to laugh and call him names.
They never let poor Rudolph
Join in any tortoise games.

Then one foggy Christmas Eve
Santa came to say: 
"Rudolph with your hat so gay,
Won't you guide my sled today?"

Then how the tortoises loved him
As they shouted out with glee,
Rudolph the woolly-hatted tortoise,
You'll go down in history!

No sailing today. Had to do something.

Best or Worst Sailing Movie Ever

It's been a while since we ran one of our famous group writing projects.

So here is a challenge for you.  Tell us, in your opinion, what is the best (or the worst) sailing movie ever made and why.

This particular challenge is inspired by a couple of posts on Charles Doan's Wave Train blog...

and HOLD FAST: Best Sailing Movie Ever?

As it's been so long since our last group writing project, let me remind you of how to participate..

1. Write a post on your blog about what you consider to be the best (or worst or most annoying or most anything you like) sailing movie ever. Tell us why you think your movie deserves that honor. 

2. Once you've posted your entry, let me know about it by sending an email to including a link to your post. If you don't have a blog just email me the article and I will post it here. Please let me know about your post, or send me your story, before Thursday Dec 5th.

3. Please give your post a unique title, ideally similar to those used my Mr. Doan, with the title of your movie and an indication of whether it is the best or worst or most whatever sailing movie ever. I don't want 20 posts all titled "Best Sailing Movie Ever." That will just confuse people. 

4. I will post here two links to your article. Every day or so I will write a post listing any new entries in the project. Then at the end of the project I will provide a summary post with links to all of your articles.

No prizes. It's not a competition. Just a chance to show off your movie criticism skills to the other three readers of my blog. I look forward to hearing from you.

Spoiler Alert: As you may know ALL IS LOST is the new Robert Redford movie about a man lost at sea. Mr. Doan's blog post describes 17 things that annoy him about the movie, mainly because "pretty much everything that happens to Mystery Man (the Redford character), and everything he does, is inexplicable to anyone who knows anything about ocean sailing." I haven't seen the movie yet, but my guess is that those 17 things cover almost everything of any significance that happens in the movie. You have been warned.

Thanks to @wetpantssailing on Twitter who originally suggested that I should write a post on the Top 10 Annoying Sailing Movies. So, being both perverse and lazy, I changed the terms of his challenge and then took the easy way out by delegating the task to you, my readers.

Friday, November 22, 2013

November 22, 1963

50 years ago today.

Just another Friday afternoon concert by the Boston Symphony Orchestra.

But the BSO music director, Erich Leinsdorf, had some news to break to the audience.

Listen to the audience's reaction...

Read more at the NPR music blog.

Tortoise on Fridays

Hey, I know it's not even Thanksgiving yet, but the stores are filling up with Christmas crap and everyone seems to be putting up Christmas trees.

Why shouldn't tortoises - and knitters - get in the spirit too?

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Monday, November 18, 2013

Duct Tape Boat

My 7-year-old granddaughter, Emily, is very crafty.

No, no, no! I don't mean she's crafty in the sense of being devious.

She is crafty in the sense of being creative and artistic and talented at all kinds of arts and crafts activities.

For the past few weeks her passion has been for "looming" - the latest craze among girls of her age. Her other grandmother bought her a Twistz Bandz Rainbow Loom, with which she makes bracelets and all sorts of other creations out of rubber bands. According to her mother...

She looms first thing in the morning, when she gets off the school bus and before dinner. She looms on the weekends and before she goes to bed. She has found some amazing YouTube tutorials to learn new designs. After one quick tutorial, she’s a pro and up and running with new varieties. At seven years old, she quickly picked it up and is now even able to create her own designs. She’s damn good.

Of course she is damn good. All my grandchildren are damn good.

Anyway, I hear that Emily has now moved on to the new craze among crafty girls of her age... duct tape.

Yes, duct tape.

Apparently little girls have discovered duct tape and are making all kinds of crafty things with it.

Duct tape doesn't come only in gray, any more. It comes in all kinds of colors and patterns, and little girls are making flowers and bags and purses and bracelets and beads and hair bows and belts and god knows what else... out of duct tape!


When Emily's father was her age I bought him his first sailboat, a wooden Optimist.

I wonder if Emily knows that she could make herself a real sailboat out of duct tape?

It's true.

The Mythbusters did it.

And here are some detailed instructions on how to make a Duct Tape Boat.

Emily's birthday is coming up later this month.

So now the only question is whether it is appropriate to give a girl for her 8th birthday, 20 rolls of duct tape, 200 zip-ties and some hog paneling.

I know she likes sailing.

Why not?

Friday, November 15, 2013

12 Reasons to go to Bitter End Yacht Club

This winter is brutal. One day this week I saw some snow flurries. And yesterday, when I went for my run, the temperature barely got out of the 50s.

I can't stand it any more.

I need to escape to the sunshine.

So today I booked up to go to the Bitter End Yacht Club in the BVI in December.

Here are the top 12 reasons why I need to go to the Bitter End Yacht Club. And so can you.

  1. BEYC is one of the top 9 sailing destinations on the planet
  2. Mimosas, callaloo, rum grog, a hammock, weird sailors
  3. Tillerwoman will sail with me at BEYC
  4. Snorkelers do it through a tube
  5. The out of bounds experience
  6. Hobie Wave racing
  7. Length matters
  8. Classic Lasers
  9. Laser sailing
  10. Laser racing
  11. Rum
  12. Because every year counts

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

The End of the Graf Spee

I was looking at the map in yesterday's post about World War 2 Shipwrecks and my eye was drawn to the places on the map that seemed to have no shipwrecks marked.

South coast of Australia? West cost of South America? I'm no real student of naval history but those seemed plausible.

The southern part of the Atlantic coast of South America? Argentina, Uruguay, southern Brazil? Wait a minute.  What about the Battle of the River Plate? My Dad took me to see the movie back in the 1950s. That's one piece of naval history I do know. Anthony Quayle led a force of three Royal Navy cruisers against the German pocket battleship Graf Spee, which ended up with the Graf Spee being scuttled in the estuary of the River Plate off Montevideo on 17 December 1939.

I was reminded of it only the other day reading Brent Burrows' blog because he was just entering the Rio de la Plata (as it should be called) on his way to Buenos Aires.

Yes there was definitely a WW2 shipwreck down there between Uruguay and Argentina that's not on the map, although it sounds as if a salvage operation to raise the wreck was started in 2004.

Here is the full story of the Battle of the River Plate on Wikipedia.

And here is the video...

Monday, November 11, 2013

Second World War Shipwrecks

This week's Monday Map comes to you courtesy of Amazing Maps on Twitter and it purports to show the location of all World War II shipwrecks.

I have no idea of its original source or accuracy... although it's probably no more misleading than most of the stuff on this blog. Somebody called R. Moufis apparently created it in 2004, but I have no idea who Mr or Mrs or Ms or Miss R. Moufis is or was, or how he or she found the data for this truly amazing map.

Being serious for a moment on Veterans Day, it's horrific and sad to think of all the sailors who lost their lives at every one of those dots on the map.

Being not serious for a moment... WTF happened to the eastern Pacific? Did it get lost in the war?

And as an afterthought... here is a quiz for you. I didn't have to look at this map for very long to realize that there is one very famous and very well-documented WW2 wreck that is missing from the map. What and where is it?

Wednesday, November 06, 2013

I Hate Scrapers

A fellow sailing blogger drew my attention to a certain sailing website this morning. It's a very slick website full of lots of great sailing content. It also has masses of ads.

The only problem is that much, if not all, of the content is material they have "scraped" from other sailing websites and blogs. But there are no attributions as to where the material came from, or links back to the original websites.

I see they have copied a lot of stuff from Sailing World.

They have also copied all the recent posts from Proper Course.

Now, I don't usually mind people reusing my blog posts.  Fellow bloggers and newsletters like Scuttlebutt only do that occasionally, they even sometimes ask permission first, and they almost invariably provide a link back to Proper Course.

But this new site is working on a whole different level. They are taking EVERY new post I publish. (Even ones that have nothing to do with sailing. Ha ha!) And they have so many ads it's clear that the whole venture is a commercial operation to take other people's content and make money from it. They even have the cheek to claim copyright for all the content on their site!

I have reported what is going on to the relevant authorities.

And, as I think the scraper may be taking the content from my RSS feed, I have modified the feed so that it only publishes the first few lines of each post. Anyone who wants to read the whole content of any post can click through to the blog. I'm sorry if that is an inconvenience to any of the readers of my RSS feed, but this kind of blatant, automated, large scale content scraping for commercial gain needs to be stopped.

Monday, November 04, 2013

Sakonnet Point Paddle

I have written before about the joys of Laser sailing at the mouth of the Sakonnet River, whether launching from the west side at Third Beach or from the east side at Little Compton.

On Saturday the winds were very light but there were still some good swells coming in from the south. It looked like perfect conditions for the kayakers from the Rhode Island Canoe and Kayak Association to have a paddle to Sakonnet Point.

There's some rock play and surfing towards the end of the video after the 5 minute mark.

Hmmm. I could have gone sailing on Saturday if there had been any wind.

Maybe I should take up kayaking?

5 Amazing Facts About Pufferfish

1. The Pufferfish is highly maneuverable, but very slow.

2. The Pufferfish can change its color and the intensity of its patterns.

3. The Pufferish's defense mechanism is to fill its extremely elastic stomach until it is much larger and almost spherical in shape.

4. Pufferfish can be lethal if not served properly.

5. The Pufferfish toxin deadens the tongue and lips, and induces dizziness and vomiting, followed by numbness and prickling over the body, rapid heart rate, decreased blood pressure, and muscle paralysis. People who live longer than 24 hours typically survive, although possibly after a coma lasting several days.

Thursday, October 31, 2013


I used to have a boss who confessed to me one day that he had a prejudice against men with beards. There was a young man in my department who sported a magnificent black bushy beard and, although this man was very good at his work, my boss was finding it very difficult to relate to him, to trust him.

"I just don't 'see' Sam," he explained to me. He needed to see all of a man's face when he looked him in the eye. With more than half the face hidden by the beard he found himself unable to assess Sam's character and decide what to make of him. At least he was self-aware enough to realize that it was as much his own problem as it was Sam's.

It's not an uncommon problem in our culture. There's even a name for it. Pognophobia. Fear of beards.

There was a bit of a kerfuffle at the BBC earlier this year when Newsnight presenter Jeremy Paxman came back from his summer holidays sporting a beard. The reaction from the public and his employer led Paxman to accuse his employer of pognophobia.  Why shouldn't a news presenter have a beard? Does a beard make him less credible?

Jeremy Paxman

Is this just a fashion or is there a significant part of the population who find men with beards less trustworthy, less credible?

Politicians are generally distrusted in our culture but they must somehow find a way to convince some people to believe them and to vote for them. How many politicians have beards? Not many. Do politicians think they appear more trustworthy by being clean-shaven?

Quick, without looking it up, who was the last American president to have a beard?

Well, judging by the thumbnail sketches of presidents on Wikipedia, every president for the last 100 years has been clean-shaven. Taft and Teddy Roosevelt had rather magnificent mustaches but the last bearded president, as far as I can tell, was Benjamin Harrison (1889-1893) and before that it was James Garfield who served only a few months in 1881 before being assassinated.

James Garfield

Of course fashions were different in the 19th century, but in our culture today is it easier or harder for a man with a beard to get away with a lie? Why do we say "bare-faced" lie? "Bare-faced" clearly implies "open" and "unconcealed" and apparently the expression dates back to 1592. Is a lie told by a bare-faced man somehow more bold or shocking than a lie told by a bearded man? How strange is that, possum?

Why are some people prejudiced against men with beards? I must admit to a mild case of pognophobia myself.  Living so close to Boston I really would like to support the Red Sox baseball team, but I find the current obsession of most of their players with wearing straggly long beards somewhat ridiculous, so I find it hard to take them seriously. (Even though they did win the World Series yesterday.)

Two Red Soxes

I did try to grow a beard myself once. It wasn't very impressive. Maybe that's why I'm a pognophobe? Perhaps I'm just jealous.

Of course there is a long tradition of beards in sailing, and the popular image of the grizzled sea dog is kept alive today by such famous sailors as Robin Knox-Johnston (first man to sail single-handed non-stop around the world) and Bruce Kirby (designer of the Laser.) I don't find myself the least bit prejudiced against these two gentleman because of their beards.

Robin Knox-Johnston

Bruce Kirby

On the other hand, the US Navy currently bans beards. How weird is that?

Why is Tillerman writing about beards? Didn't this used to be a sailing blog? When are we going to hear some stories about Tillerman's adventures at the North American Laser Masters or some dirt on the whole Laser/ Torch debacle? Has Tillerman gone off the reservation? And when will Tillerman stop this annoying habit of referring to himself in the third person?