20 June 2009

Balance Update

As I'm preparing to head out for the weekend to generate blog content, I'm realizing just how far behind I am. I think I did some racing. What day was that? There's a broken tiller on my workbench. Where did that come from?

It's starting to back to me. Two weeks ago. Crewing on Dean's V15. Warm and windy. Two bullets, three seconds, otherwise unremarkable. Wait, except for that funky current. The tide had just started to switch and an unusual current line developed right down the middle of the course. To the right, slack. To the left, strong ebb. It was like stepping on and off one of those moving sidewalks. Express lane right to the weather mark. We found it first. By race 3 the others had discovered our trick.

And that tiller? A different kind of balance problem. Had the Megabyte out for a practice session with the Vanguards (thank goodness). Big wind. Big gybe. Big crash. No problem. Had the shiny side down again in a minute or so, but wait, something's missing. Crap! Where did my tiller go? Must have fallen on it and broke it clean off. Thanks to Jamie for pulling Big Red off station to render assistance, and apologies to the V15 fleet for the delay incurred.

All good. A day sailing can balance out just about anything.

04 June 2009

Have You Ever Been Boarded? Uh . . . No

Didn't really know what to expect as the bright orange rigid came screaming up along side apparently to conduct a training exercise, er, I mean a safety inspection. Actually, the Vallejo based Coast Guard was most courteous, save for the muddy boot prints left on my white cockpit cushions, and did a very nice and speedy job of making sure we were prepared for a safe outing on the water.

Just five minutes clear of the Benicia breakwater we had settled in on a close hauled course to check for sea lions sunning on buoy G25. My Cousin, Caroline, whom I hadn't seen in about 15 years was at the helm and her delightful, but nonswimmer husband, Jon was looking about for just the right spot to sit to minimize any chance of falling overboard. The port side "princess seat" was commanded by six year old, Olivia, from where she could issue commands had she known which commands to issue. A great beginning to a midweek adventure on the Carquinez Strait.

"Uh, better let me take the helm," I said as the Coasties came along side. "Good morning, Sir. Have you ever been boarded?" "Uh . . . no . . . and good morning." After granting my request to tack away from the near shore before being boarded, the skipper of the pursuit vessel backed down to leeward. "Does this happen often?" Caroline asked. Visiting from England, this might be a daily occurrence for all they knew. "Um, actually, this is my first time." "Do you have any firearms on board?!" came the next shout. "No, sir." I guess I should have checked with my guests before answering, but turned out I was correct anyway. Two men then jumped aboard--I didn't get their rank--and proceeded with the inspection. "Are you the owner?" "Registration, please." "May I see your horn?" and so on. Actually, the one doing the questioning had to refer to his official book a bit more than I would have thought. Made me nervous at the time--what question might he find in there that I wasn't ready with an answer for? Over beers later we concluded that we must have been the easy target for a training exercise. But hey, if that's what we can do to help train our Coast Guard to help keep us safe, that's cool. The two men went about their work quickly, were very polite, and just chatty enough to keep us at ease.

Inspection complete, the big orange boat came along side again and the two men jumped across. With a wave, they were off and we put Lapras back on the wind. We had a bit of work to do to climb back up to G25 having been set quite a ways to the West while hove-to, but before long we were within flipper waving range from the princess seat.