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

Sunday, April 29, 2012

The Aegean

Competing in the Newport Beach to Ensenada Race, the Aegean was apparently run over by an as yet unknown ship of unknown tonnage around 0130 hrs Saturday in the area of the Coronado Islands. The time of the tragedy is based upon the time the Aegean's track disappeared from NOSA's monitoring system. Three deceased have been recovered and a fourth is missing. Debris, including the yacht's stern have also been recovered. Everyone assumes the Aegean was racing and not returning at that moment. Boats in the area were reporting winds between 1 and 2 knots at the time.

I have found myself racing across shipping lines at night in drifting conditions. I know how there is a tension, upon encountering shipping, between turning on the engine or trying as long as possible to maneuver under sail. Turning on the ignition cancels a boat's competition in the race and denies the team the satisfaction of scoring a finish. On a long, one way race, that's a tremendous downer. However, powering up can obviously do much to avoid a far greater tragedy.

What happened aboard the Aegean? The greatest tragedy of all is to lose lives and not to learn lessons.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Even Before Tonight's Rain We Had a Washout

I've reproduced a chart of tonight's twilight race. It's very amateurish -- my first attempt at down-loading from a GPS. In any event, if it works or doesn't, it's not going to be a picture worth a thousand words.

The chart does:
  • not reveal anything about the prevailing weather conditions. Weather was what you would expect in advance of a rainstorm; it was warm, cloudy and windy.
  • not reveal that the race committee was indecisive (and ultimately incompetent) in selecting the course to be sailed: after the warning signal, they took down a course number that would have worked and replaced it with one that couldn't work.

It's Never Over Until It's Over

Chelsea (in white) is down 2-1 to world class Barcelona. To go forward (over Chelsea) in the Champions League Cup Finals, Barco had to win by two goals. Because of a red card, Chelsea had been playing a man short for the last 53 minutes of regulation time. Chelsea circled their wagons and only attained 18% or so possession. Barco players fit themselves like a glove around Chelsea's goal, firing shot after shot. A couple hit the cross bars. In the last minute, Chelsea fullback Ashley Cole lofted a clearing ball toward the midfield line, which seemed momentarily inconsequential. Until everyone noticed substitute striker Fernando Torres was lurking there. un-marked.
The rest is history. Barcelona goes home. Chelsea goes forward to the finals.

Monday, April 23, 2012


Woke up with a dream: Three E-33's were swinging into town on Race Wednesday as part of a Pacific Coast promotional tour. The dream tasked me with figgering out how to get myself switched/traded off Das Boot with an E-skipper so I could race an E. I recognized immediately that I would have to get Trophy Wife to come with me, too, to experience it. Without her aboard, even a E-33 would be a dog not in the hunt. But, how to do it without alienating my crew? Didn't worry about Das Boot being disqualified without me aboard. To sweeten the deal for the E-Skipper, my dream even transformed Das Boot into an I-14. This morning when my bladder woke me up, the scenario morphed into a day dream. Until Doberwoman struck me in my sightless eyes as if to say,
"Wake up and smell the coffee."
To get even, I made her stand out in the rain until she 'did her business'.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Ducked a Race

This is a 17.7nm one-way race, usually down wind. What you are seeing here are four yachts crossing the start line from the POV of the Race Committee. Look at the flags flying over the Breakwater. Wind! For the first time in recorded memory.

Thursday, April 19, 2012


It's incredible what a single ice-chilled Corona can accomplish.

I come home dead tired, with an idea fixed in my head that I will crash on the sofa and knock out watching the Dodgers. I stagger out of the car, to the sofa, and there's no MLB on TV. Plan B is to look in the ice box, and there is the Corona left for me by Trophy Wife! Splashing that down my throat and I'm completely revived. Doberwoman and I are off to the beach, down 84 steps, 30 tennis ball tosses, and back up the 84 steps. All on one Corona, chilled. That's what I call an unbelievable source of energy.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012


I've lost it. Das Boot arguably has no chance in less than eight knots. But that does not mean I should deliberately get the most conspicuous poster-boy bad start imaginable. Where was my mind tonight? Where were my eyes? Not focused on last minute wind changes. Not focused on the multivariate factors comprising my "Good-Enough" starts to which I putatively aspire.

Too much writing/blogging/photographing? Too much competition in other spheres? VORG? EPL? Too much going-through-the-motions in my business-as-usual night job? Go to harbor. Bring beer & ice. Open the boat. Power out of the slip. Raise the sails. Start. Is it over yet? Is that it?

If it is, I have to engage in some introspection. Maybe I ought to approach every race like it's a 50-50 proposition that I'm going to give up the wheel at the start. I mean why shouldn't Das Boot have some one at the helm who gives a frigging damn? Everyone else aboard seems to. I can be the camera man. or the GPS man.

Something to think about.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Low Speed Chase

Sunday, The OYRA Crewed Farallones Race ended in tragedy.

Five of Low Speed Chase's crew of eight were lost.

Condolences need to be expressed and lessons need to be learned.

I ask readers to visit the thread in Sailing Anarchy for both.

My heart especially goes out to the skipper who survived.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

No Repeat - Just an Ignoble Effort

Our 15½ nm trophy race ended today with a whimper. Five out of the 16 starters finished. Short of the halfway mark, I was outvoted by all aboard to turn back. There was no wind to beat the current.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Clippers Race: San Francisco to Panama

The Next Leg (however they number it) starts today Saturday 14 April at 1400 local time at the Golden Gate Yacht Club, San Francisco Bay (2100 UTC).

Race Director Joff Bailey advises:
The big question facing crews is whether to take the inshore or offshore route. The Californian Current flows south but the helping hand this gives the fleet can be counteracted by heating effects from the North American land mass which might change the winds unfavourably.

This race down to Panama starts of fast and furious but as the temperature rises the wind start to drop as changeable conditions along the coast of Central America and as the fleet near the ITCZ (Inter Tropical Convergence Zone or Doldrums) take effect.

The last thousand miles will be sailed in light and fickle winds potentially requiring a shortened course as the Clipper Race fleet head towards a date with the Panama Canal.
Obviously, for the Virtual Fleets, a shortened course is never an option.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

There Goes the Neighborhood....

This is what greeted us before tonight's race. This 45-50 ft Panga had been seized a some undisclosed portion of the California coast, empty of its cargo and berthed on the end tie next to our beautiful, freshly painted hull. Coast Guard and Harbor Patrol have no taste. For sure. All I could tell people was that it was my new dinghy. Foot traffic in the neighborhood picked up dramatically. Also picked up by boarding look-a-loos were my boarding steps. All of the druggies came down to admire this military grade of transportation. Fishermen, too, wanted to admire those Yamaha-350's. Consensus was that the outboards were worth $100,000. Out of Trophy Wife's hearing, I offered the USCG a straight trade. I was turned down. 

13-17 Knots!

Oh how I like to see the bows of the opposition boats -- as opposed to their sterns!

The 3rd twilight beer can race of the season will be scored as the 2nd, and for the series we stand in 2nd place out of a dozen boats. Not bad, for this reluctant skipper.

But what have I learned from this race? The goal of getting a good-enough start is reinforced. It's much safer than going for the perfect start. And, it's much safer than going for a "safe" start. A safe start is too defensive and lends itself to last-moment desperation moves to 'save' the situation. As it turned out, we were able to witness a resounding collision, and able to push a third boat over the line early.

In the bar afterwards, I went over to the table of the 4th place boat and offered to buy his foredeck dude a beer. But they had already flogged him and sent him home. He had tangled their spinnaker halyard up with the lazy jacks. I was busted for Schadenfreude. Once again.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

This Race Is Not on My Bucket List

It's Fun Drinking Beer on the Water

Second twilight of the season ended in a whimper for our class. RC chose an over-ambitious up-coast, contra-current course for 3-4 knots of wind. Guys who went in to avoid the current got snagged in the kelp. Guys that went out to find wind found the current. We cheered the Beneteau next to us when they turned on ol' Sparky. We followed suit, downed our spinnaker, and towed in a hapless J-24. Took some pictures, but they didn't turn out. At least I hope they didn't turn out! Incriminating possibly.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Do I Need This For Yacht Racing in California?

I quote from the NRA Catalog:
We want concealed carry to fit around your lifestyle – not the other way around. That’s why we developed the NRAstore™ exclusive Concealed Carry Hooded Sweatshirt. It’s the only garment of its kind we know of! Made from a pre-shrunk, heavyweight 50% cotton / 50% polyester blend, we’ve taken a standard 9 oz. fleece sweatshirt design and added a full-body polyester lining for added warmth, durability, wind resistance and weight distribution. Inside the sweatshirt you’ll find left and right concealment pockets. The included Velcro®-backed holster and double mag pouch can be repositioned inside the pockets for optimum draw. Ideal for carrying your favorite compact to mid-size pistol, the NRA Concealed Carry Hooded Sweatshirt gives you an extra tactical edge, because its unstructured, casual design appears incapable of concealing a heavy firearm – but it does so with ease! Includes drawstring hood, cotton/spandex ribbed cuffs and waistband, two front pouch pockets and a discreet black zipper. Includes one Velcro® holster and one Velcro® mag pouch. Colors: Black, Navy. Made in USA.
Yeah, I think so. I just learned that any yachtsman entitled to carry concealed weapons in Florida can come to California and enjoy the same entitlements. I need to be able to stand and defend my home waters.