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

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Winter Solstice

Most of the year there maybe two to three dozen boats moored off East Beach. That's to save slip fees. The winter storms clean them out. Some go south, some go north, some sub-lease slips in the harbor.

Those with absentee owners can end up on the beach.

My friend Jerry told me that the Harbor patrol came out early Tuesday evening and rousted him: they wanted to move him off his boat before the midnight storm forced them to come out and rescue him in the dark.

Jerry said his boat was fine: The rains washed all of the sea lion poop totally off his boat!

There's those silver linings in them there clouds, eh?

Monday, December 20, 2010

What's in Store for the Left Wing Coast?

A lot of people here might be getting a white Christmas.

All I want from Santa is for my roof to hold, my foundations to stay put and for my boat to remain buoyant.

These days my Doberwoman, Ballou, dutifully goes out the front door with me and escorts me down the driveway to get the morning papers. She stays outside just long enough to do her morning chores. And then, back in, she asks to go out the back door. When I open the door, she just turns around and comes back in.

I figure she just wasn't sure it was raining in the backyard, too.

A smart dog will nail uncertainties like that down.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Velux 5 Oceans Solo Yacht Race: 2nd Leg

The first Velux ocean sprint from La Rochelle to Cape Town wasn’t hard enough for the five single-handing skippers. The Velux 5 Oceans is about to get a lot tougher. Howling winds, freezing temperatures, mountainous seas and icebergs await the five ocean racers as they leave the comfort of Cape Town and head into the bleak expanses of the Indian Ocean bound for Wellington in New Zealand. It is here they will encounter some of the worst weather conditions known to man – and they will face them alone. More than 7,000 nautical miles, and countless obstacles, lie between the skippers and their next port of call. These are the latitudes known as Roaring Forties and the Screaming Fifties, where boats can do 10-15 knots over the water under bare poles. People will get wet and boats will be broken, somewhat.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Emirates Stadium

Home of the Arsenal Football Club

Hallowed Ground:

That's what my son calls it in sending this from his Backberry. Yesterday, along with 58,844 others, he watched the Gunners dispatch Partizan 3-1 in the European Champions' Cup yesterday. His brief text said,

Good game. And it was very, very, very cold. Did I mention that?
In response, I mentioned that I don't even do cold.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

How Anosognosiac Is My Sailing?

Regular readers know that I have had three recent exposures to one-design racing. I haven't had any of that stuff since I retired 11 years ago and relocated out of Newport Beach. Racing in handicapped fleets in the interlude, I had forgotten how intense one-design can be.

Now, back in my current handicapped fleet, the Good Guys were correcting out okay. But my personal performance was spotty enough that I had to question my true abilities as a competitive sailor.

My self-examination has recalled an article I read not too long ago, The Anosognosic’s Dilemma: Something’s Wrong but You’ll Never Know What It Is

This story goes back more than a decade ago. Some guy named McArthur Wheeler, age unknown, set out to rob a couple of banks in Pittsburgh. He did so, in broad day light, making no apparent effort to disguise himself. Wheeler, at At 5 feet 6 inches and about 270 pounds, was the only one who was surprised at his prompt recognition and capture.

The surveillance tapes were key to his arrest. There he is with a gun, standing in front of a teller demanding money. Yet, when arrested, Wheeler was completely disbelieving. “But I wore the juice,” he muttered. Apparently, he was under the deeply misguided impression that rubbing one’s face with lemon juice rendered it invisible to video cameras.

Police pieced together the story of Wheeler's short career preparation as a bank robber. Wheeler had actually performed a variety of tests before entering the banks. Wheeler told officers that he had discovered that by squirting himself with lemon juice, he could make himself invisible. Wheeler said that he proved this by taking a Polaroid picture of himself, drenched in lemon juice, and he didn't appear in the image. Arresting officers stated that Wheeler's Polaroid photographic experiment convinced him that rubbing one’s face with lemon juice rendered it invisible to video cameras. When he went into those banks Wheeler was armed with supreme self-confidence as well as his pistol.

Years after McArthur Wheeler was sentenced, David Dunning, a Cornell professor of social psychology, read of this case and had an Epiphany:

If Wheeler was too stupid to be a bank robber, perhaps he was also too stupid to know that he was too stupid to be a bank robber - that is, his stupidity protected him from an awareness of his own stupidity.
Professor Dunning and his graduate student assistant, Justin Kruger implemented a research project which produced some novel findings in a 1999 paper, Unskilled and Unaware of It: How Difficulties of Recognizing One’s Own Incompetence Lead to Inflated Self-assessments.

Dunning and Kruger argued in their paper that,

When people are incompetent in the strategies they adopt to achieve success and satisfaction, they suffer a dual burden: Not only do they reach erroneous conclusions and make unfortunate choices, but their incompetence robs them of the ability to realize it. Instead, like Mr. Wheeler, they are left with the erroneous impression they are doing just fine.
This became known as the Dunning-Kruger Effect which explains how our incompetence can be so extreme that it masks our ability to recognize our incompetence. Professor Dunning explains that because his research speciality is in decision-making, he was always asking questions about,
How well do people make the decisions they have to make in life? And I became very interested in judgments about the self, simply because, well, people tend to say things, whether it be in everyday life or in the lab, that just couldn’t possibly be true. And I became fascinated with that. Not just that people said these positive things about themselves, but they really, really believed them. Which led to my observation: if you’re really incompetent, you can’t know you’re incompetent.

Thinking too much about the Dunning-Kruger Effect with respect to my sailing is probably not a good thing. I do much better as a skipper or helmsman when I am full of self-confidence, and when I'm confident that the crew aboard believes that I know what I am having the boat do and why. I don't care if Voltaire warns,
A state of doubt is unpleasant,
but a state of certainty is ridiculous.
I'm always in a quest for perfect certitude, even if it takes spilling a little beer on myself to get there.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Sunday, November 21, 2010



David, the way I heard it, moments before you surrendered the helm, you commented on what a wonderful day it was. And, that it was. Steve Sheaffer's description of last Sunday's race indicated that "The race seemed to be routine aboard Sea Note" and that "It was a Sea Note type of day."

Such was your ability to reduce chaos to a minimum that I am sure it was. However, two other skippers have told me that those gusty conditions presented them with the most challenging sailing they had ever experienced.

Many have commented that it was right that you passed on when you were doing something you were passionate about. But, I'm wondering, what that could have excluded? You exhibited unbridled passion, enthusiasm and expertise in a whole lot of activities in addition to sailing: mentoring students or ex-students, playing banjo in your Dixieland band, presiding over meetings of contentious yachtsmen, photography - all in addition to being a GR8 family man.

You once told me that you were "all about building and nurturing community". Did I leave out that you were an adroit expert in the art of understatement?
David and I often swapped photos of each other's boats taken while we were racing. My favorite picture of Psyché's Song is one he took. This is my favorite shot of Sea Note during the Charity Regatta, Sept 9th, 2007.

I cannot overstate how much I will miss you.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Monday, November 15, 2010

A Beautiful Day for Sailing . . .

Ended up as successful race, but it was not pretty!

The Fall Series #4 was ours to lose. We had two bullets and a 7th place. But a well-sailed 27-footer was in contention. Sunday's race shaped up as our throw-out. We had to sail and do what we could to keep our adversary from finishing above 7th place.

This conservative game plan flew out the window as soon as I got caught up in the excitement of the start. This was a long-ish race at 11 miles. Instead of looking for an uncontested space of free air anywhere along the line, I had to go for the starboard pin. Of course I found myself forced over early by a Beneteau-40. Exactly what I deserved for my stupidity.

The Good Guys nevertheless fought their way up the first leg, avoiding the adverse current and risking kelp in by the beach. We rounded in the middle of the fleet, ahead of the 27-footer, who heated up by going high. But the problem is always whoever goes high must eventually come down!  

We ditched two or three pursuers with a deft rounding of the oil platform and headed back up to finish.

There our prospects dimmed in the falling breeze. A Sabre-36 which I had held off the year previous, fell off and footed past me, ultimately correcting out to first place. Skipper said he had a crack sail-trimmer aboard; I say the light winds are what sank our prospects (and I'm sticking to that).

We corrected out in the middle of the fleet, one place below the 27-footer.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Sunday School

Helmed a Ocean-20 in a 6-plus mile course, in 12 knots, today. I'm told there were six boats on the line. We took 3rd place, because of my bad start. In the end game, we were literally inches out of 2nd. catching and passing a boat on the last leg. We were rail-to-rail at the finish but he was 9 inches ahead. Great fun! Learned a lot! Went back to school on tell-tales. Level racing forces sailors to focus on all variables at details at once. Very intense! Much more fun than being in 3rd place in Rotisserie Futbol by a long way!! The joys of non-handicapped, level racing!

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Saturday School

What did I learn from five hours of 12-15 knots in a Harbor-20 Ocean-20?

Two or three things.

First it looked stupid, but going to weather in those conditions, it pays to have a person sitting behing the helmsman. The bow of the H-20 is so narrow, it lacks the buoyancy one might expect; so it pays to get weight of the 3rd person aft to lift the bow. That person has to be agile enough to step over or duck under the tiller on the tacks. Otherwise, your pointing and/or footing performance is not maximized. I have seen this curious line-up in photos, [click on the photo to the right] but didn't make the connection until a friend rubbed my nose in my own stupidity.

The second lesson is don't be so quick to fly a chute in those conditions. Running DDW, wing and wing might be the right thing to do instead of gybing down wind. On an unfamiliar symetrical course the best idea would have been to weigh the spinnaker option after rounding the weather mark and checking out the course.

Third lesson is endurance: I can make it for five hours in 20 feet of fiberglass, but that's about my limit. I didn't learn that until we were back in our slip: I had to crawl out onto the dock. I'm not exaggerating.

I paid for the above lessons. In each of the three one-design races, the Good Guys beat some boats; but not enough. We finished DFL out of eight boats.

But on Sunday, on my own 'proper' yacht, this ol' man did a lot better in handicapped racing. But that's a small consolation: level racing always trumps the best handicapping system. Always and forever. True consolation would be to get another shot at the O-20's soon!

Friday, October 29, 2010

Go Giants!!!

This life-long Dodger fan is now a balls-out Giants rooter, just like he was the same for the Yankees last week. The last two nights were like back-to-back Christmas eves!

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Final Mid-Week Twilight Race for 2010

Finally got around to race for an hour on Wednesday in my venue's newest one-design class, the Harbor-20.

It was a light wind after the storm but the surge was still left over. Happily, the rollers left over from the storm were overlaid by a fairly steady 5-knot breeze.

This was to be the last midweek twilight race of the year due to the shortening of days, so the race was just a couple of reaching legs. 

We had the second-best start, and the best 1st leg. So in this six-boat fleet we did well. In fact, we couldn't have done better. Featured is my ex-mainsheet trimmer's boat Fleur du Lis, in 2nd place.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

A Dog's Best Friend Is a .....

It turns out this video is two years old. Dudn't matter. I just got it in my mail and I think it kicks ass:

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Velux 5 Oceans - 1st Leg

I'm racing this! Virtually, That is!
Here's the real race.
Here's the Virtual Race:

There are roughly 20,000 virtual skippers racing. I'm in 6,083rd at the moment, and falling back precipitously. Don't have the old fire in the belly, I guess. Too much going on in my real life!

This (to the right) is the latest shot taken a few minutes ago at 06:20 on 19-Oct.

I have moved up overnight into three digits (624th). Open Container III is featured as the large blue boat at the bottom of the screen. 

Belladonna is the black yacht which has just flopped over on to starboard gybe in the upper right hand corner.

Gilliano is the black yacht in the left hand corner, close to the line
that represents great circle route to the finish line.

I have passed Belladona as result of having gifted myself of extra electronics and better sails.

I have passed Gilliano as a result of better sailing.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Back-to-Back Bullets in the Fall Series?

You have to like those numbers: Yesterday's date was 10-10-10!
That's what happens when you have the hard core crew aboard and a steady 20-knot wind. Well, actually, when you know how & where to look for those 20 knots! We discovered the wind tunnel Sunday.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Man In the Shadows at Sunset ...

... is my oldest son, doing foredeck OPB.

Needless to say, I'm immensely proud of him. He is good enough - he didn't have to buy the fiberglass under his feet. Like I did.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

September is Finally Over

Conceptually anyway, if not chronologically.


Gone is the fog, the doldrums, and the pick-up replacement crews. Back were my hard-core homeboys and homegirls, baaaaack from their poorly-timed vacations and medical treatments. Back, also was the steady summer wind and balmy temperature. 18 knots on flat water. What was confusing was that only 14 boats showed up. Had they given up on September? Were they just waiting for October to come?

The Good Guys were 14 seconds late to the mark but on the favored end. After rounding the weather mark we knew we were in danger of winning this thing. Which we did, on a horizon scale. That's what happens when you have the A-Team show up to sail on the same day the wind shows up.

That's when I have a 38-foot Laser under my feet.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Skipper Finally Wins an Argument!

News at 11:00!
The thing about your regular crew leaving you in the lurch at the end of the summer to go on vacations (2!) or to buy their own boats (3!) is that the pick-up crew that replaces them yields certain surprises. You never know what you're getting until you are out on the course in full race mode. The pleasant surprise is, unlike in the case of the still absent hard-core crew, you don't get arguments about strategy and tactics. What you do get are unforeseen disputes about politics and economy, which is not nearly as critical. Of course, how could you have had time to vet people you are begging to get onboard to help you muscle your huge yacht through a becalmed chop?

Well, that was the case Wednesday. Among my replacement crew for the day were Ewan and Irwin. They were so young and handsome I couldn't tell them apart initially. That's because I'm such an old fart that I only realized at the end of the day that they were father and son (but that's another story). It very quickly became clear that Ewan had substantial big boat experience as he mastered every line & task assigned and suggested sail trim to boot.

Wednesday's race was short in nautical miles but lasted two hours because of poor winds. In the middle of the 3rd of four legs, we were short a few boat lengths of tacking onto port for the mark. I overheard Ewan in the companionway, lecturing Irwin (his college-aged freshman son) and Spinnaker Girl about California tax reform. He was taking a Blue-Dog Democratic position and saying that - like supposedly JFK advocated - tax relief for the very rich floats all boats. I checked the course for a second and thought to myself, "We got time for this, why not?"

So I go,

Ewan, I gotta question: [waiting for his assent]: If you could spare $1,000 in tax revenue to put in either a rich man's bank account or in a working man's wallet, which would you do, if you had to choose?
Silence. Ewan eventually protested that you could/would/should do both. I would have none of it:
Wait a minute: You are a small businessman. Doing your part to restore the economy requires that you put more money in your inventory of widgets or hire more hamburger cooks for your restaurant. Which would have a more direct effect encouraging you doing so? More money in my richboy's bank account [OK-I lied] or bucks in Spinnaker Girl's purse? Don't businessmen need to see or to anticipate a market -- presence of spending money -- before they withdraw from their bank accounts and invest?
Again silence. We had to tack. We did so perfectly, and attention became riveted on tactical considerations of a starboard tack boat Santa Cruz-27 trying to get an inside overlap at the mark. After we rounded the mark, set the spinnaker and hooked up a preventer, Ewan abruptly spoke.
Okay. After having thought about it, I guess you're right. If I had to choose, I would cut taxes for middle class.
Well, even though tax-cutting was not really what I had in mind, I nevertheless inwardly celebrated an unexpected win (capitulation) in an on-board argument discussion.

But I can't take credit for my rhetoric because (a) like all good sailors, Ewan had a lot intellectual integrity and (b) I had chosen the correct side of this issue.

Only today did I get around to reading yesterday's newspaper which had a column by two college professors, Jacob S. Hacker and Paul Pierson, Too Rich to Last, in which they argue that tax policies that benefit the wealthy pose a danger to American democracy:

The richest 0.1% of Americans have seen their share of pretax national income rise from less than 3% in 1970 to more than 12% in 2007 -- the highest proportion since the creation of the income tax in 1913. Yet even as the rich grew vastly richer, Washington decided they needed more help. Since 1995, the top 400 households have enjoyed a 45% cut in their income taxes (they paid 30% of individual income tax in 1995 and 16.6% in 2007). In 2007 alone, that saved the top 400 filers $46 million -- per household .....

Most economists agree that extending Bush-era tax cuts for the highest-income Americans would do little to stimulate the economy. The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office recently ranked extending the 2001 tax cuts last among 11 options for creating employment. It noted that even within that option, extending tax cuts for the rich would be the least helpful because wealthy people would be likely to bank their tax savings rather than spending them.
That was exactly what I said from the helm on Wednesday afternoon, wasn't it? More or less?

But why were some of the best of the eleven options

for putting Americans back to work running into a wall of Congressional opposition in the face of deficit worries? ... the same members of Congress who denounce deficit spending are ready to find vast sums for the idea that ranks dead last.
That's really weird, I thought. Had Jake and Paul been my pick-up crew instead of Ewan and Irwin, I would have asked them why that is. And they would have explained,
For awhile pundits chalked this up to election-year pandering. Yet multiple polls have confirmed that by large margins, Americans don't favor keeping the high-end cuts. This means that politicians are flocking towards a proposal that is at once ineffective and unpopular.
That's weird. Why would politicians of both parties deliberately blow-off voters? Well, the behavior of Republican politicians is as almost as old as the hills and never too complicated to understand:
... the roots of [their] tax-cutting campaign go back  more than a generation. In the wake of a major political mobilization of corporate America in the 1970's, the GOP forged a coalition bringing together anti-government libertarians, social conservatives and powerful business backers. Tax cut increasingly proved to be the glue of that coalition, feeding into the conservative cause by starving government (at least in theory) while showering very specific largesse on the GOP's deepest-pocketed supporters.
I really didn't need Paul and Jake onboard to explain Republican voters' behavior. But their presence would have been necessary to explain Blue Dog Democrats' enabling obfuscation:
The real puzzle is why Democrats, the putative party of the little guy, offer cover for these top-heavy initiatives ..... Tax-cutting Democrats sometimes reflect the pull of local economic interests. But they also reflect the post 1980's shift of the party as a whole toward business and affluent donors in an increasingly money-driven political world. During his time directing the campaign efforts of congressional Democrats, Rahm Emanuel, now Obama's chief of staff, reportedly offered this wisdom,
The first third of your campaign is money, money, money. The second third is money, money, and press. And the last third is votes, press and money.
For those keeping score at home, that's Money 6, Voters 1.
Don't misunderstand me. As I suggested above, we were very fortunate to have Ewan aboard this week. But for the previous month of fog, having Paul and Jake aboard with their GPS loaded with waypoints would have been a game-changer.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

The Last Beer Can?

End of the twilight racing for The Good Guys for this year. A Lamentable season for several reasons:
  • Quirky weather. Foggy drifters. I should be able to deal with this. A good racer should be able to compete in a wide variety of conditions. 
  • Quirky Crew: People go on vacations. (Go figure!) People buy their own boats. (There's lesson in that! Several lessons!) Replacement crew is irregular. You try to retain the trainable; jettison the other. Regardless, crew chemistry oscillates. Will the return of the hard-core in a week improve things? Maybe, unless even they return resolved to buy their own boat.
  • Same Ol' Boat: As I have said, many times, your dependable,retainable crew is part of your boat's equity. I have just not been getting much R.O.I. recently. And this big boat is not teaching me much anymore. 
  • Getting older (me): Maybe that goes to not learning anything. Maybe that goes to my diminished capacity to process a wide variety of inputs: changes in wind, currents, water, boats. Maybe it goes to a lowered level of expectations. As I began the 2nd leg yesterday, I heard my inner self ask me, "What the hell's point?" My inner self answered, "FIIK!"
What now? 

Every end is a beginning.

Maybe the old crew can be restored and we resume our Sunday voyages of lowered expectations? Maybe I will sense that I can no longer competitively and safely sail a boat this large? Any size? Maybe I will myself to become boatless, because I can't afford a suitable boat? 

If that happens will I console myself by acknowledging that my circumstances are now identical with 99% of humanity?

That's the only consolation imaginable.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Lady-at-the-Helm Race

The dense fog lifted just before the start even as the winds held back. Trophy Wife executed a near perfect start, maybe 15 seconds late. But the key was she was close enough to the weather pin the scrape paint. We had over-loaded boat (had to get as many ladies on board as possible) with mixed experience. And our numbers helped provide movable ballast and human preventers to leeward. Yesterday proved again my old, old adage that the less the wind blows, the more there's work in store for the Good Guys. And yesterday, we 'left it all' out there on the water.

The key to the day was that we made no mistakes. Every time there was a choice we selected the long end of the stick. My mouth was working, but I only received one STFU from the helm; there was that much unanimity aboard. Given that we saw nothing more than, 5 knots at the end, we got as much as anyone could have out of our displacement. That we finished in the middle of the fleet was purely a reflection of tonnage. No regrets.

For us, it was a perfect day to be nestled and moving amidst sun, sea, and air. It was a perfect day to be buoyant, and not to be marred by whatever detritus of protests, disqualifications, recriminations, & disputes which may have followed it into the Club's bar. Oblivious, I enjoyed a rocking good dock party 'til sundown.

Don't ask, don't tell....

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Virtual Regatta: Hyères (France) to Istanbul

Virtual Regatta est le premier jeu de simulation de courses océaniques online en temps réel!
Maybe. Possibly. Probably. But I'm not up/down for it, this time. Just too much real sailin' and real livin' going on, right now.... Tomorrow. they will leave without me.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Saving Our Sailing...

...from attrition and strangulation via lack of access.

At last some (few) people are giving public voice to one of my private rants.

A previously - to me - obscure book, Saving Sailing by Nicholas Hayes (2007) blipped up on my radar screen in the pages of Latitude 38, thanks to Max Ebb and Lee Helm. 

According to Hayes, the future of recreational sailing is not too rosy: 
  • Participation is down by 40% since 1997 and down by 70% since 1979.
  • We have 1.8 million sailors in the USA now; in order to get back to 1979 levels, we'd have to add 4.2 million. Yacht clubs with suitable facilities for youth activities are not numerous in the USA to fill the void.
  • If only one in five sailors belongs to a yacht club, in order to stay even, each yacht club has to generate five new non-members per each current member; in order to grow back to 1979 levels, each current member would have to grow 11.7 new non-member sailors.
According to Max Ebb and Lee Helm, yacht clubs are not up to this:
For long-term growth you have to make it easy for people to get into sailing without relying on yacht club infrastructure. The yacht club pipe is to narrow and the sailboat racing pipe is even narrower.
The answer lies in land use and the long and short of it is that the sailing and paddling communities are to blamed
...for not being right there at every stakeholders' meeting and planning workshop, having it out with the enviros and fighting for access ... some of those blue-hairs who run the park advocacy show think it's more important to preserve the view of the Bay from the freeway than it is to kids the chance to sail or paddle on it.
Lee Helms is not speaking disparaging of all environmentalists. It's just,
...get them inside the city limits and they don't know how to balance things ... The main thing is that they don't seem the value of any form of boating and they do a lot of damage to urban park design in the name of open space monoculture. I see them wast a lot of resources blocking that would allow people to float on or touch the water instead of just looking at it. Those resources would be much better spent protecting the habitat where there are fewer people and it's way more cost effective.
A twelve-step plan is attached to Max Ebb's Latitude 38 article. Not sure each of them has equal merit, but they seem to be internally consistent and reinforcing.

I'm cherry-picking my favorite parts to amplify my previous written and oral ranting:

  • Show up at meetings that address waterfront land use planning. Take back the priority list from the advocates of waterfront parks habitat restoration. They seem to believe the Bay should be observed from a park bench or trail but never touched or floated on. Urban waterfront parks work best when they mix open space and water-related recreation. Carrying these principles to new park projects is critical.
  • Support on-site storage for small craft. Cars of the future will not be very good at hauling boats around. Housing of the future will be less likely to have garages or driveways and there will be reduced options for storing even small boats or sail boards at home. Rental on-site storage keeps small craft ownership viable. Note that even if on-site facilities include parking, they still reduce driving miles because after-work or other combined trips do not have to go home first to pick up the gear. Build it and they will come.
  • Infiltrate the most powerful open space and advocacy groups. It's for their own good. Audubon Society needs to realize that every kayaker becomes a birder and Sierra Club needs to realize that every sailor becomes a stakeholder in the natural shoreline. These groups should be the natural allies of non-motorized sailors and paddlers -- the trailerable power boat or Jet Ski (usually hauled around by a SUV) is the natural enemy. Join these groups and help set policies.
  • Support no-wake areas and powerboat bans. Thrill craft activities is usually preemptive of quiet and non-annoying forms of boating and reduces the carrying capacity of small bodies of water. We don't need for the next fuel price shock to divert some of the market back to sail and power.
  • Support mandatory licensing for power boat operators. Power boats are many times more hazardous than sailboats yet popular the perception is that beginners need lessons for sailing but not for power. This perception needs to be reversed.
  • Forget about big boats. It's the wrong demographic for growth. Promoting big boat events [and marketing slips] may generate short-term gains for the industry and is always valuable for its own sake. And of course its vital for people in the big boat business. But it brings in little new blood compared to small craft access.
Personally, I would refine and sharpen some of the points made above. But, in general I would feel good defending them. 

I'll just have to read Nick Hayes' Saving Sailing. I think he's hitting hard on the need to change human behavior with introductory individual and small group instruction. That's important. But that's just retail. What's needed and called for, as Max Ebb and Lee Helm point out, is wholesale expansion of access.

Appendix to the Post Above

These are a couple of back-to-back shots of my local harbor. (Click to expand.) Notice how half (my guesstimate) of this under-used beach could be dredged down 4-5 feet deep in saltwater in order to double the space for dinghy sailing and racing for youngsters. In other words, step off 50 feet beyond the last volleyball court and start digging!

Friday, September 10, 2010

The Haves and the Have Nots:

A picture is worth 700,000,000,000 words.
Well, this one is, anyways! Especially animated as it is!

Tonight, Ezra Klein, staff writer for The Washington Post, talked to Rachel Maddow about the difference in income growth trends under Democratic presidents versus Republican presidents.

After a couple of beers, I learned how to edit this clip so that I am now able to distill the meat from this interview between Maddow and Klein: everyone does better the further away Republicans are kept from the White House!

Proof positive.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Nothing Looks Like That Natural Dobie Look...

No Comment about Last Night's Debacle

Except to say....

There's an old saw that prescribes that a man should never own a boat shorter in feet than one is in years. 

I never understood where that comes from. 

The smaller boat, the better for me. 

To be able to sail a boat in and out of one's slip (instead of turning on the ignition key), to be able to tack on the lifts when you see them (instead of watching other boats pick them off), and the capability of refining your boat-for-boat tactics.... 

That's what it's all about.

I miss it.

Here's a boat doing that last night. Owned and skippered by an older dude than I. 

And I am an old fart.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Labor Day Regatta

Starts on the 'honor system'!
This photo is taken a few feet off the shore side of the starting line. I can't see the Race Committee's deck and I am sure they can't see us or the line. After two 30-minute delays, the RC radioed that boats were supposed to start this pursuit race "on the honor system"! 

In the back-breaking effort to follow, The Good Guys never saw more than five knots of wind and we can't tack in less than four! It's a back-breaking, crew-intensive effort to move our displacement in these conditions, even if we can see! I learned to trust in the GPS, because the eyes and instincts were definitely deceiving.

In the back of the fleet, Trophy Wife at the helm made the key decision not to drop the chute at the 'leeward' mark; we were able to ghost (definitely a well-chosen word) our way out of a cluster of drifting wind-shadows. Thankfully, the Race Committee took their boat out to finish everyone. Otherwise The Good Guys, who never quit, would still be out there, circling....

Thursday, September 2, 2010


beyond my control....?

No. I am only responsible for,
  • The remaining hard core of the crew, MVP and Bubbles, going off to Greece on a 1-month sailing vacation.
  • Two boats who locked their rigging in front of me on the starting line.
  • Picking the starboard end of the line to start on despite the fact that it was blowing 18 knots.
  • The fog.
  • Using the foggy conditions and untested inexperience of my transitional crew as an excuse not to set spinnaker. (Not placing confidence in the crew or giving them enough to do is a good way to lose what I have.)
  • Losing my own path downwind in the fog.
  • Not assessing the wind patterns on the last windward leg which clearly would have indicated to any level-headed observer that this day was one of the 5% times when the wind was better (than the current) on the port side of the leg.

The Good Guys got a DFL. But I am the one who should be punished. Thankfully, Trophy Wife still loves me. (Says she does, anyways.)

Then there's Ballou: Semper Fidelis.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Why I Don't Watch American-Style (Pointy) Football

It's an overly-commercialized, boring and time consuming past-time waste-time. Not to mention a classic bait and switch.

According to a Wall Street Journal study of four recent broadcasts, and similar estimates by researchers, the average amount of time the ball is in play on the field during an NFL game is about 11 minutes.

In other words, if you tally up everything that happens between the time the ball is snapped and the play is whistled dead by the officials, there's barely enough time to prepare a hard-boiled egg. In fact, the average telecast devotes 56% more time to showing replays.

The most surprising finding of The Journal's study—that the average game has just 10 minutes and 43 seconds of actual playing time—has been corroborated by other researchers.

To my mind that's comparable to a geriatric tennis match! Why would I want to watch that? I can't even play tennis any more....

Saturday, August 28, 2010


Other People's Boats. . .
The remnants of my evaporating crew of long-standing has vaporized. New and old recruits, alike, have spread out to opposite corners of the world. A day's race, one-way up-wind, occurs tomorrow. The Good Guys have never done especially well in the light air perennially scheduled for this event. So, it is not exactly with heavy heart that I try to decide which of tthree boats I offer to go on. I'm wanted as crew on a couple of small boats belonging to recent Good Guys' crewmen. However, I am assured there is rail-space saved for me on Slip Neighbor. That would afford learning some sailing from one of the best skippers I know.

So, I am divided equally between rewarding loyalty and observing excellence. How not to give offense? The outcome was not at all certain.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Great Start/Poor Visibility/Abysmal Photography

Confused seas, 20 knots of wind, and (at times) seeming impenetrable fog bank confronted the Fleet today. My personal mantra to avoid contact was in high gear at the start and worked out well for us as the Good Guys got off in clear air about at the 85th percentile to the preferred end of the line. Still, we were captured and prevented from tacking into the beach to avoid current by a boat on our leeward quarter.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Sighted: a 44-Foot Laser!

The Wyliecat-44!

My sons took this shot yesterday, from an undisclosed location! (Click to expand!)

The whole (known) world knows I'm a big fan of the Wyliecat-30!

But this 44-foot edition is veeeery interesting! It might be a blue-sky bucket boat: it might have to be sea-trialed in the event I win the lotto.

Add a power winch for the main halyard, and I could single-hand it? Actually, for me to single handing it might require a power winch on the mainsheet! On second thought as a bucket boat for me? Maybe not so much! Smaller is better! But she's a looker. Does it look like the helsman's legs are crossed? Pretty casual, if you ask me! Obviously not too much of a load for a tiller.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Sevenstar Round Britain and Ireland Race

Tomorrow at 0600hrs PDT, 30 international yachts will begin the 2010 Sevenstar Race Round Britain and Ireland (RBIR). This 1802 nautical mile clockwise circumnavigation will take a little more than seven days, depending on the weather.

There is also a simulated race available on line at Virtual Regatta. Keyboard skippers will have to contend with real time winds and currents.

I will be tracking Boats of Interest on a couple of sites, this included.

Today, I will warm up by racing in my real (wet) local waters!

Updated 24-Aug:

The start went well for Open Container.

So well, in fact that four hours into the race, she had attained perfection. (See the large blue boat skimming the shore of East Sussex.)

At this point it was time to leave for fooking w-o-r-k.

I had to turn the helm over to Otto. I gave him one simple instruction:


He didn't get it.

The rest is history.....

Here is that history:

At first glance, it would appear that high-flying OKDiver1 has abandoned the race.

But that is not the case. 

He's just a sailor who is convinced the weather prediction will pan out. A strong westerly is expected within 3 hours.

He has taken an early starboard tack to set up a long port tack to fetch the Shetland Islands. (See the green dot on the lower lefthand corner of this shot.) 

He's paid a lot in positions to do this, but location is ultimately more important that ranking.

Personally, I would not have taken this approach. But I would never bet against OKDiver1!

Only time will tell!