Liberty is being free from the things we don't like in order to be slaves of the things we do like.--Ernest Benn

Monday, October 31, 2011

Me & Mo Gadhafi

I've always thought of Halloween as the lowest point in the year for me. Maybe it's this sentiment that got me to thinking about Momar Gadhafi.

I will disclose that, in the closet, I am a tyrannicidal maniac. That's one way of saying that my fantasy self holds (back) urges to assassinate tyrants. Certain people, IMO, urgently need killing. At the top of the list are few of those -- usually men -- whose continued lives have a devastatingly deleterious impact on the lives of millions. Obvious examples are "President" Bashar al-Assad of Syria and "President" Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe. These two scumbags have arrogant self images of themselves; objectively speaking they are corks who keep the lives and welfare of millions in the bottle of violence and squalor.

But now we come to the slaughter of Moammar Gadhafi. He was killed a few days ago, minutes after he was captured by disorganized revolutionary forces in Libya. My first reaction, was WTF? Why bother? My imagineary closet self would have happily killed him back in the spring when his removal from this side of the grass would have saved thousands of lives not to mention Libya's infrastructure. What's the point now? Of course, in these revolutionary circumstances of insurrection, logic is quite beyond the point. So, it's not for me to judge Mo's killers.

But, more to the point, is Mo Gadhafi's POV. Here was an archetype of a man who won't let go.

He spent his final weeks shuttling from hideout to hideout in his hometown of Sirte, alternating between rage and despair as his regime crumbled around him. He was cut off from the world while on the run, living in abandoned homes without TV, phones or electricity, using candles for light. According to sources,

Mo would spend all his time reading, jotting down nonsensical notes and brewing tea on a coal stove. He was not leading the battle. His sons did that. He did not plan anything or think about any plan .... I feel sorry for him because he underestimated the situation .... He could have left and gotten out of the country and lived a happy life .... He was stressed, he was really angry, he was mad sometimes. Mostly, he was just sad and angry.
Gadhafi's aides repeatedly urged him to step aside and leave the country, but he refused, saying he wanted to die in the land of his ancestors.

How can Mo's example be instructive for ancient men of the sea? When does it become time to stay ashore? Tillerman instructs,

Cheat the nursing home. Die on your LASER!
I've known a couple of sailors who expired during races. One went overboard and was recovered by his son. I'm not convinced that it is Corinthian to put crew at risk, especially in marginal conditions.

Myself? In my bones I feel I still have a lot of nautical miles ahead of me. But the time will come when I should trade in my 38' Laser for the original 13' 10" size. Then I can aspire to becoming a sailor forever. In the waters of my ancestors.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Transat Jacques Vabre

Trophy Wife alerted me to this event, which has been post-poned to Wednesday on account of bad weather.

I was about to swear off racing in Virtual Regattas due to my dismal finishes in recent events.

What's the Point (WTP)? I asked my self.

But then I thought of all of the unfinished Virtual scores I have left out there on the Virtual Ocean.

So I say, "WTF"?

So, for all of you 
Unsettled Scores out there,

Monday, October 24, 2011

Undated Photograph

When, in the 1970's, was this photo taken?
I just emailed this photo to 2nd-Oldest Son and he confirmed that it was not his gray Laser, the "Silver Surfer". Judging from the odd number of the final digit of his sail number, he pronounced this hull to be my lime green "Lime Juice" (?). Whatever I named it truly escapes me now.

I have to accept my son's  judgment. He would know whether or not it was the craft in which he craftily forced me to capsize my own boat in order to avoid contact (when I was on starboard and ahead of everyone else but him) in some Wednesday afternoon race on the Lake Puddingstone. Neither one of us has allowed the other to forget that day.

But this photo has got to have been taken on Ledbetter Beach in Santa Barbara. There are a lot of possibilities.

It could have been the day I sailed out to the beginning of a two-day regatta and the wind was really light. On the way to the startline, I noticed that my masthead wind indicator wasn't functioning. So, noting that my beers were securely bagged in my cockpit and remembering that a wet mainsail in drifting conditions was an asset, I elected to capsize and swim out to my masthead. For some reason, I held on to my mast as I slid into the water and my right shoulder, (which had been my weakest link ever since I had retired from Church Slo-Pitch Drunken Softball League), dislocated. I don't remember much of the subsequent details: a launch came and plucked me up out of the water; some guy off the launch jumped on Lime Juice and rescued her by racing her for the day; I was grayish-green, (the color of my boat) when I was given a double-shot of Scotch in the Club's bar while Trophy Wife was fetched to drive me to the E.R. where my shoulder was promptly "reduced". Not my funnest day.

Or it could have been the day that Trophy Wife and I were racing in a two-day Laser regatta. In the last leg of the last race of the first day, Trophy Wife was next to last and I was last. She capsized. I asked her if she were okay. She flashed me her famous "I'm game" smile she still flashes to me to this very day and said "Sure!" So, I sailed by and only learned later what had happened. She had turtled; her wooden dagger board slid out and floated away; she followed Rule #1 and stayed with her boat; boats in the big keel classes raced by her with their spinnakers up; the fog rolled in; she was alone; then Trophy Wife noticed an 
anchored fisherman and she hailed him; he towed her and her disabled Laser in. I was suitably shamed. The next day Trophy Wife borrowed another daggerboard, which she bungeed to the mast, and beat the ever-luving shit out of me. When could I ever been more proud of her?

Or it could have been none of the above. It might have been any other of the many days we enjoyed sailing off that beach where I ran Doberwoman this very morning.

The key thing is that this photo is a treasure: a young man helping his old man of the sea launch his Laser.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Is this Frostbiting?

Bad news was that the wind strength averaged out to 4 knots in the overcast day. The good news was that the sea was flat: we could get way on. Not enough, so that we were playing catch up all day. Three boat lengths from the weather mark, we were in 20th place in the 20-boat fleet. But we rounded the weather mark in 18th place: two boats failed to fetch it in the current. It was one of those situations where you are smirking with Schadenfreude as you watch the struggles of those in front of you but sober up as it comes to your turn to round the mark. With Trophy Wife down with a cold, Bubbles was helmswoman for the day. Happily for us, she had ice water in her veins and we had a good 24 inches to spare. On the last weather leg we passed a 4th boat and finished 16th. Everyone had something to do and everyone had a good time. Except for me: I forgot to pay my wind tax.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Puddingstone Reservoir

News Item: Lake Closed Following Deadly Boating Crash
SAN DIMAS, Calif. (KABC) -- Three people were killed and four were injured in a boating accident at Bonelli Regional Park in San Dimas on Saturday.

Authorities said the collision between a personal watercraft and a boat happened sometime around 4:30 p.m. in the launching area near 250 Puddingstone Drive.

Three women, all from the same family, died at the scene. Authorities said the women were riding a three-seat personal watercraft when they were hit by a 20-foot powerboat. Their ages and identities were not immediately available.

The four people injured were on the boat. Three suffered moderate injuries and were taken to Los Angeles County-USC Medical Center for treatment. The fourt person, who had minor injuries, was also taken to the hospital. All of the injured were expected to survive.

It's not yet known if speed was a factor. There was no indication that alcohol was involved.
Speed was not a factor?

It's hard to believe that we spent a decade beating our brains out racing Lasers and International-14's on this pitifully small (250 acre) lake which was divided evenly between ski boats and sailing. Even though our Lasers stayed on their tandem trailer for years after we purchased our first keel boat, we never went back to that mad house, which was only three stop lights away from where we lived. 

Trained ourselves. Trained our kids. Had some good companionships. But we coulda woulda shoulda had a lot better sailing if power-boaters had been banned completely.

It's a culture thing.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Kalimera: Fair Wind & Following Seas

Chi Chi sailed her last race three weeks before cancer took her because, in her words, "I have crew."

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

A Good Wind Is a Horrible Thing to Waste

Today dawned with a downpour. By noon the wet stuff was still falling. In consequential to me because I had already dismissed my mid-week crew for the balance of the year. And I welcomed not having to make the decision to persevere into racing in afternoon rains. But then the clouds blew off and the sun brought unseasonably warm, topless, air into the waterfront. The wind was blowing off shore, gusting at 20+ knots: perfect, slam-dunk, winning conditions for The Good Guys.

I was surprised at my nonchalance at not sailing. I was content to check on Das Boot: adding a dock line and subtracting the water in the dehumidifier. I also noted the storm had brought significant kelp into the harbor and tied it around the slips. I congratulated myself in not having to risk my diesel's intake and drive shaft. Das Boot surrendered into my hands a reasonably chilled beer and on the walk back up the docks there was some chatting to do.

Just as I was finishing my beer, Doberwoman must have mistaken the kelp dockside as a lawn and stepped off into the deep. The dock's surface is 15 to 18 inches above the water surface. A horrible scenario flashed through my head. I did not have nearly enough strength to lift 70 pounds of dead weight canine to safety and I would probably tumble in after her! Ballou did not panic but merely treaded water. Instantly I was on my knees, instinctively grabbing the back of her collar, easily lifting her enough for her sinewy and athletic body to clamber back up on the dock. There is nothing dead about Doberwoman's weight! Although she was strangely eager to return to the car, I forced her to run on the beach to dry off and forget her trauma.

Even if only a trio of 105's showed up to race, it was a memorable day of man and canine bonding.

Clipper Round-the-World Race: Next Leg

Just had to add this leaderboard just before the weather changed 19:48:59 UTC + 2

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Working Up a Lather

Lady-at-the-Helm Race, which I refer laconically as LATHeR: So little winds, only about a dozen boats showed up. At the prep signal, the wheel was seized from my grip and I was sent forward to put my beer muscle on the leeward rail. I will not mention the discussions which transpired on board, because what happens on the boat always stays on the boat. I will report what other boats could observe:
  • We were over early. In drifting conditions that's the race.
  • Our spinnaker pole has been restored!
  • Reaching to the 2nd mark, we could not fetch it and so had to temporarily drop the chute.
  • Under four knots of wind in a sea, we cannot tack; we were forced to over-stand and gybe.
  • At the last (leeward) mark we actually managed to slam dunk another boat.
Whenever the crew mutinies and installs Trophy Wife at the helm, usually in super light conditions, my favorite position going to weather is flat on my back on the leeward rail, slightly abaft of the mast. From there it's a comfortable and productive focus on the electronic wind indicator and jib tell-tales. From this vantage point, I can more clearly and more instantly discern changes in the apparent wind angle than anyone else on board. Of course I am in no position to know, whenever I bellow my observations aft, how they are received; or if indeed, they are received.