22 November 2008

First Sail Redo

A couple of weeks back, I reported on our first official family outing on the new boat. While certainly not matching what one might envision as the perfect day on the water, it was none the less a day on the water and as a few of my readers have reminded me, that's more perfect than most days. Well, we made up for it this past weekend with a proper perfect day on the water--in November no less. The high pressure that settled in over the West last week gave us an extra week of summer-like temperatures mixed with anti-Summer-like light easterly winds. Perfect for a comfortable crawl against the flood tide with the jib poled out and a quick current-assisted beat home.

Notables from this day:
  • Managed to get the boat out of our awkward end slip without scaring ourselves. The trick is to be patient and wait for the boat to fully pivot after shoving off the dock before applying power with the outboard.
  • Sail handling was more comfortable as I'm finding the rhythm of this boat's mass and loads. I have a few thoughts for rigging improvements, but overall things work pretty darn well in the as-built configuration.
  • Iain continues to amaze me with his natural feel for the helm. "Would you take the helm and steer for that hill over there?," is all the instruction needed.
  • We have some very nice new nextslip neighbors in the Marina. They have a 20-something foot outboard powered dory cabin skiff thingy. Pretty nice looking little cruiser, actually. Just returning from a two night trip to Angel Island. Turns out they are long time sailors who recently decided on a stint with a power boat (yeah, kinda weird timing for that.) I'll have to invite them out for a sail sometime.
Oh, and the boat has a new name:

18 November 2008

Now that would be a crazy party!

I've never considered myself to be all that into heroes. Impressed with certain human endeavors, yes. Respectful of great accomplishment, of course. I just don't recall ever saying, "so-and-so is my hero." OK, Tillerman didn't say we had to invite our heroes to dinner, but as I've been thinking these past few days about who would be on my sailor or sailors, living or dead, real or fictional dinner party list I started to realize that I might just have quite a long list of sailing heroes. As the list grew, I also realized that this would likely be one totally out of control bunch. Party on!
  • Despite having grown up in Southern California I've never sailed a beach cat or surfed standing up (I do it Obama style). Still, I have to have Hobie Alter on the list as a serial water sport innovator.
  • OK, I guess some have disputed that he wrote the book by himself, but he certainly sailed the boat on his own. Wouldn't it be great to have Joshua Slocum at the party? No, really.
  • While we're talking authors, let's invite Richard Henry Dana Jr. Now that dude had some stories to tell!
  • Olin Stevens, William Garden, L. Francis Herreshoff (yeah, I like his stuff better than his dad's), Joel White (let's invite his more famous dad, too), and Phil Bolger. Hmmm, that's an eclectic bunch and I go through stages every year or so of who's my favorite. As of this moment, Mr. Garden gets the nod (Dang, that's a bad pun.) And what the heck, I love boat design so much that I'm inclined to invite a few more designers. Let's include Bill Lapworth (after all, I spent 18 years of my life sailing aboard his Dasher design) and Bill Tripp (amazing how good he could make an ugly boat look.)
  • Whoa, almost forgot C. Raymond Hunt. For all his contributions maybe he deserves his own bullet. Doesn't it seem unnatural for one person to be responsible for the 110 (another amazing beautiful ugly boat feat), the Boston Whaler, the deep-V power boat hull, and my favorite 12 meter--Easterner (or News Boy as I new her as a boy-huh?)
  • I was in the junior program with him at BYC when we knew him as Nicky "Scandonee". Now Nick Scandone is an Olympic champion, and dying. We're almost exactly the same age. He's done so much already. Inspiring and sad.
  • Edward Teach. I don't really know why. Certainly wouldn't call him a "hero", but a guy with his beard on fire has got to spark some kind of dinner conversation, no?
  • My Dad. One of the great things about my dad was that he never showed a hint of fear. Looking back now, I can remember some sailing circumstances that should have been absolutely terrifying for me yet seemed perfectly normal like the time 150 miles off the coast of Mexico with the bilge so full of water that I floated up out of my lee side quarter berth every time the boat rolled over a wave. My dad had a way of staying in complete control (or at least giving the impression that he was) and keeping the crew's confidence high. We just pumped the bilge and kept on pounding our way to a first place finish in the Guadalupe Race.
  • And finally, I would have to invite my longtime sailing buddy, Dean. It seems all my sailing adventures have involved him in some way. As interests and circumstances change independently we keep connecting back together for a new chapter in the sailing life.
Looking back over this list, I see that many of these heroes are dead. Perhaps those living wouldn't accept my invitation to dinner, but that doesn't have to stop me from reaching out to tell them how much I appreciate what they've done.

Expect More

With all the new boat activity, some travel, and a bunch of other stuff, I'd only managed to get the Megabyte wet once since High Sierra. I certainly wasn't well prepared, then, for the annual Turkey Shoot regatta hosted by Lake Washington Sailing Club the weekend before last. No matter; I had to get out there as this regatta represented coming full circle on my first year racing a singlehanded dinghy since I was a teenager. Prior to the racing, I reflected back on my experience on Huntington Lake. I had determined that my performance had been most hampered by poor starts and generally pathetic first beats putting me too far back to have any hope of catching the leaders. So, I set the expectation that I would focus my energy on getting off the line with speed, finding just the right height/speed groove, and making good decisions up the first leg.

Well, guess what? It worked. I was first around the top mark in each of the first three races. the problem was that in only one of those three races did I manage to hold onto the lead. In the other two, I managed to find other ways to screw up and dropped to third. Dang. Maybe I should expect to win every leg? hmmm . . . That used to work when I was a competitive runner. I would visualize every detail of the race from a quick start all the way through to a strong finish. Then I just had to replay it for the real event.

How much of winning is simply expecting it?

13 November 2008

Better than the Hornet

I was about to say that last Thursday was the first time that I had slept on a boat in some 20 years, but then I remembered our overnight adventure on the USS Hornet the year before last (Yeah, it was on that same ship that the Apollo 11 astronauts had their first earthbound snooze following their space cruise.) Well, enough about the Hornet, this is about sleeping on the new boat. Just about froze my buns off but overall quite comfy, especially compared to a WW II aircraft carrier. The best part? The morning. As the sun rose up over Mt. Diablo it flickered yellow in through the companionway. A pot of water on the stove and I soon had nice cup of coffee to warm my hands. All was dead quiet in the Marina, and from my end slip I could see out across the old railroad berm and onto the river. Still water, crisp air, beautiful.

Update: just realize this blog post trailed off into some blissful whatever, and I forgot to mention that we actually got out for a nice sail that day, too. After warming up a bit, I got to work on the boat installing a track and car on the mast to support the new whisker pole. Dean came down to visit a bit later and convinced me that we needed to go out and test it. We did. It worked great.