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

Wednesday, May 29, 2013


Sooner or later wind predictions, like a stopped clock, will be accurate.
It was quite breezy when I went down to the harbor without beer, I was so confident I would not sail. Once on the boat, I wavered, thinking two years ago we would be going; two years ago we would have prepped by backing into the slip to guarantee we could get out if we wanted to. Before even then, I would accept Rob's offers to tow us out with his outboard. Sometime between those good old days and now I made a rule that if we couldn't power out of our slip, we flat out wouldn't go.

15 knots in the harbor meant 25 outside. Worth a try? A gust of 28 rolled Das Boot noticeably in her slip. We declined our date with destiny and adjourned to the bar to watch. We had lots of company.

Caught With Our Pants Down!

We were both in the showers..... very scarey!

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Memorial Day Race, 2013 Version

You can't render wind & water conditions accurately, most of the time, with still photography. Despite predictions of 15 knots, as we had Wednesday, today we were again gifted with 4-5 knots, as we had been Wednesday. Not too enjoyable, especially as the rollers were still with us. Crews work hard for their boats and their beers. At times. . .

At other times, they seem pretty laid back!

There was little drama for much of the four legs of the (beat, beat, reach, reach) course. Das Boot was in last place for most of this pursuit race. Expectedly so because of conditions. However, on the last rounding we caught four or five boats including the XY-45. But we couldn't hold off the latter when the final leg, promised as a broad reach, disintegrated into a beat.

One of the blessings of a large fleet with a wide span of PHRF performances is that each type of boat can have its day. Today was obviously a Harbor-20 day. I think they took four of the top five places. The leading H-20 for half the race mis-read their chart and still recovered for a fourth.

Our beloved Frenchman will leave us in a few days. Sailing weather better improve soon, or I'll have to email him some photos to convince him that this venue really does offer some spectacular sailing.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Weather Predictions . . .

. . .are worth exactly what we pay for them.

This clip was taken at noon today. From my house, through the trees, the sea suggested the wind to be blowing about 6 knots. I wouldn't have come home from work except for the fact that Trophy Wife called with this report posted somewhere earlier this morning:

This information suggested to me that we might have difficulty backing Das Boot out of our slip this afternoon. Our perfectly scenic slip is located in an exposed position of the wind tunnel in the harbor. Last year, for that reason, we had taken to backing Das Boot in. Well, too late for that now. I resolved to deal with it when the time came to toss the lines at 4:30.

Suffice it to say, today's twilight race turned out differently. Huge rollers at high tide. (There were no walkers on the breakwater today.) Wind? Exactly what it was at noon. And not from the direction of the rollers. Conditions were ... er, challenging for Das Boot. We were able to beat up wind by surfing down the waves, and we carried a spinnaker on the second close-reaching leg. But when it came to a broad reach on the 3rd leg, I doused to save the chute from tying itself in a knot around the forestay.

The only thing that kept us from joining the DNF-ers was that we were able to pass my friend's C&C during that third reaching leg.

I was hoping to fight'em off with a tacking duel on the final beat but, alas, Das Boot was defenseless against Bob Marley's genoa. But only in today's conditions, of course!

But it was a good day to have cold beer on the boat and later in the bar.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

This One's Over!

Nine months ago, I conjured into being the S.B. Attitude football club. Actually I drafted it from the active pool of English Premier League footballers. SB Attitude was one of seven teams comprising the No-Clones Rolling on the Floor Laughing (NC ROFL) rotisserie or fantasy league. 'No-Clones' means that if one fantasy manager claims a player, no other manager can have the same player until/unless he is released.

Last August, I thought I had a winner. But isn't it that every season or yacht race starts optimistically off that way? "Expect to Win" is one of my crew's favorite expressions.

My roster today, displayed to the right, hardly resembled my initial line-up last August. Between the first game and the 38th game played today, I made 40 transactions. I drafted and released players based upon performances, injuries, suspensions, salaries, and whether or not they were in favor or out of favor with their real-world managers. I was informed of these changing variables by scouring the English media on the Internet late (very) on Friday nights or early (very) Saturday mornings.

I don't really have a lot to show for being sleepless in S.B. The winning team, Crown City United averaged 55 points a game, five more than my S.B. Attitude's average. Worse than that, two fantasy managers had resigned from their teams before the first half of the season was up. (DNF's!) So their franchises stumbled on in autohelm/cruise control mode. So I actually finished in fifth and last place among the active managers, by four points. [Click to expand!]

But I'm glad it's all over. For one thing, I can get more sleep going into the weekends. And all I can say, is wait until next year!

Thursday, May 16, 2013

It's Never Over Until It's Over

Watford leads Leicester 2-1 when, in over-overtime, Leicester is awarded a penalty kick:

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

No Everday Routine Sail

In the past, I've compared our Fleet's races as group day-sails around a boring trapezoidal patch of seawater.

But today's routine was transformed by an unusual southerly direction of wind. We were confronted with an entirely new racing venue. The first leg was a spinnaker run, which about everyone overstood. The second leg was transformed from a beer drinking spinnaker reach into a most disorienting beat requiring much tacking at unfamiliar headings. Starboard tack was exciting, because we were hard on the wind with huge, deep rollers lifting our stern. That's always exhilarating! And then the last two legs were done under the chute.

The crew work was beyond perfect. The boat performed as well as it could be expected in a mere 6-9 knots. The skipper? That old dog learns very slowly the new tricks life which life presents. It took him an agonizingly long time to get his bearings on that second leg. An unforgettable sail.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Wayne Harris (1931-2013)

Wayne spent so little of his life with us. But while passing through, he shared deeply with us his love of the sea.

As a sailor, I always felt in his shadow. Maybe he wasn't much of a racer, but as a cruiser,  Wayne left me at the docks. He sailed down the West Coast, through the Panama Canal, and up along the Eastern Seaboard! And when he wasn't sailing he was managing marinas!

He was an old school gentleman: gentle, generous, gracious and full of integrity. I think his Hunter-36 was named Pleasant Way? How perfect.

Thanks to his leadership, the most popular racing fleet in our Central Coast sailing venue was founded and thrives to this day.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

This Beer Can Was Half Full

Tonight we were missing Spinnaker Man, conspicuously. But thank God Rock Star showed up. Also, our emerging crew is more international than ever. We have a Scotsman as well as a Frenchman. Both are experienced blue water sailors. Tonight, we also picked up a delightful lady off the docks who was holding a sign, saying "Will pull ropes". She could. She could also take pictures! She was a colorful and unexpected addition.

But it look these experienced hands some time to get the hang on what Das Boot needs to get her sail trim in the groove. Some lines were released that shouldn't have been, etc. We weren't perfectly tuned. I feel a little bit like Don Mattingly of the Dodgers (who are currently in a seven-game losing streak). the Dodger manager says he's more enthusiastic about the way his team plays harder and harder every day. While the real problem with his team and Das Boot's team is a management problem: more practice needed. More of my patience, also. But I have great players. We're coming together. I just need them all on the boat at the same time. For a little bit more time.

Today, the forecast promised a steady 14 knots. It was steady at 14 for 65% of the triangle course. After we rounded the leeward mark, it dropped to 4 knots. Been there before. The mistake we made was to break out the beers which caused the remaining wind to evaporate. People had evening plans and we kicked on the diesel and packed it in. But we weren't the only ones.

Like Mattingly would say, I felt better as I was leaving the docks than I had felt arriving.

Sunday, May 5, 2013

No Sea for Old Men

I felt pretty sheepish, getting on the phone at 9:00 A.M. this morning to call six members of my freshly cobbled together 2013 crew. Everyone was looking forward to this scenic 11nm race. And it promised to be the first time I had them all together. But I had to tell my team that Das Boot would not sail today.

The downside of it was the forecast of 26 knot winds with gusts over 30. I wasn't comfortable committing all of them to that length of a race. Secondly, in those weather conditions having eight aboard is too many. We don't fly the spinnaker in those winds, and I'm better off with five or less: they can all ride in the cockpit without being crowded. I didn't want to tell anyone I didn't want them to be on board. As a matter of fact, I didn't really want to be on board myself. I would rather watch the Giants sweep the Dodgers with another walk-off home run than get that cold & wet for that long.

Last year, 14 boats raced. Out of curiosity I had to go down a few hours ago to the scene of the crime. I just saw about six or seven starters for today's event. Out of safety concerns, the race committee had modified the course to run closer along the coast. That's opposed to circumnavigating one of the oil islands, much more off-shore.

Would I have gone had I been forewarned about the course change? Probably not. I could have complained that more of us would have turned out had we been aware of the alternative course. But I think that would be without merit: if racers are brave enough, stupid enough, young enough to commit themselves to an oil island race in these conditions, they are welcome and entitled to a little luck. Even if that luck comes out of the rare milk of human kindness from a race committee.

All I was trying to do this morning at 0900hrs, was to make a decision I wouldn't regret.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

The Sequester Is Over!

We finally broke the deadlock! Out of racing for 140 days, Das Boot tossed her dock lines at 4:30 sharp this afternoon. Aboard were two rookie crewpersons who turned out to serve more than adequately as mastman and sailtrim. Not that I wasn't concerned, very concerned, in the early going. The wind was perfect: steady at 14+. But there were lots of extra thumbs getting the mainsail up. So much so, that we weren't in the starting area but a few seconds before the warning signal. Traffic was a challenge because I spent a lot of my attention on micro-managing the new recruits and less time steering. When we finally had the jib up, Trophy Wife had to hit me up side ma head to get me to turn the diesel off just in time for the four-minute preparation warning.

We were so far off our timing on the start that I found my position required a port start in a 19-boat fleet. That's rare option for us, even when the wind favors port. I was totally late to the line, but I recognized that our angle from the port end gave us a favorable shot at taking Kelp Island to port. With Foredecker's encouragement, ("What do we have to lose?") I elected to go for it. Turned out that the kelp patch had grown so much during our Sequester, that only the Ranger-33 joined us in this risky path.

Our rookies caught on amazingly quickly to short, quick tacking. My anxiety dissipated into enjoyment. Spinnaker was hoisted with perfection.

I relaxed enough to break out the camera for some furtive shots. Two downwind legs were uneventful. On the reach we gained two boats but lost to a multihull who passed us to weather. Discretion encourage us to douse early and we were still able to hold our position through the final beat to the finish. Mastman honored us by going up and collecting Das Boot's glass. I hope he can achieve a pair before he leaves for the East Coast!


My energy level was incredible. I forgot my normal percentage of details. Foredecker saved me time & time again. In 15 knots, Das Boot really sails herself. I figure we lost 4-5 boats on the start. Oh well.

On Downsizing:

Das Boot requires an experienced crew of five to seven to realize her optimal mark roundings. Through the year that presents challenges. The reward is the achievement of close teamwork and enduring friendship. As Trophy Wife and I contemplate downsizing our LOA by 10 feet, we are beginning to realize what we will be losing. Sailors are great people.

Nevertheless, as much as I was able to recover my Zone this afternoon, I have to reiterate my refrain that smaller is better. Not to mention more age-appropriate. It opens up the possibility of more sailing dates, and maybe even non-racing outings where we can introduce sailing to our noncompetitive/novice friends!

Imagine! Do you think?