Sunday, December 28, 2008

A year in sailing.

Since I started this thing as a sailing blog, and then pretty much stopped sailing, I figured I would do a year in review kind of thing. This in no way covers all of the sailing I did, but it covers most of the cool stuff.

In January I did the Corinthian mid-winters on the Mull IOR Maxi Sorcery. Sorcery is an80ft, 83,000lbs aluminium maxi boat built in the early eighties. I hooked up with these guys through a email posting at school and thought it would be cool to go for a ride. The reality was I was pretty much scared shitless most of the time I was on the boat. HUGE loads on everything and a crew and owner who really were in over there head. It became apparent pretty quickly that I pretty much had the most experience of anybody on the boat. Which was a problem, because I have very little experience on boats like this. The first race we did thankfully the wind never filled in and we never raced. However the second day we got a decent breeze and things got interesting real fast. Over about twelve knots of breeze the thing just loads up and we basically just tried to hang on and get the thing back in one piece. We did finish first, something about 78ft of waterline, with a torn Genoa, but it just wasn't that much fun.

My next fun ride was the on the Vallejo race which I did on the Formula 40 catamaran TUKI. We left Richmond with just two of us on-board, and instantly flew a full before we even got out of the harbor. We had another crew jump onboard on the way out to the race course, and then the owner and one of his friends jumped on after we had started, and were on our way to the weather mark. Once around the weather mark it was kite up and off we went. We had started late, but we worked our way up through the fleet without any real drama. We passed the TP 52 Flash in the middle of San Pablo Bay without any real drama. We didn't blow by them, just sailed up from behind, passed them, and then carried on to the finish. As soon as we finished the owner and his buddies jumped off leaving me and one other guy to sail the boat back to Pt Richmond. I got to drive a lot of the way back which was really f***ing cool, but a little nerve racking when we got into some good breeze towards the end of the delivery. Still we did the Vallejo race and delivered the boat back to Richmond by 215pm, which has to be some kind of record.

Next up was a couple of Southern California regatta's on the schools One Design 48. Not great results, but a lot of fun. The crew was a lot of the same guys that I had sailed with on Sorcery earlier in the year. What this meant was a lot of youthful enthusiasm, and a generally good time. I also got to catch up with a bunch of SoCal friends, so that was fun.

A month later was the Aldo Alessio regatta on the Akela. Akela is a Reichel/Pugh 78 that is a fully professional program. I was one of three sewer peeps that was responsible for packing kites. We had a great ride in from the lightship on the first day hitting 22kts a couple of times, but other than working my ass off packing big-ass spinnakers on short upwind legs the whole thing wasn't that much fun. The whole "pro" thing made the whole scene a little weird for me and I never got to comfortable with the whole set up. I wasn't really too bummed when they didn't invite me back for Big Boats.

The other fun ride for the year was my day out on an 18ft skiff with my old buddy Brett Van Munster. I had won a ride on the skiff through sailinganarchy and I have to say it was pretty cool. Even though I was pretty much a passenger for the ride, Brett and Mozzie made it a real fun day out. The write up I did for Sailinganarchy went over pretty well as well. At least all the local skiff guys seemed to like it.

Those are just a few of the highlights of the year in sailing. Dominating the first half of the Oakland Yacht Club Sweet Sixteen series and finishing second overall in the nationals, and on the ditch run on Steve's Columbia 5.5 were a lot of fun. Also the run back under the Golden Gate Bridge on the big red boat was one that we will talk about for long time.

I can hardly wait to see what next year will bring.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

On the move

A lot has happened in the last week since school finished. I survived a 185 question chemistry final and am now in the midst of the winter break. I got my grades for the semester, and sadly no Presidents, or Deans list for me this time around. A little too casual about the chemistry class and lab I am afraid. Still not a bad semester all in all.

Since I don't have lot of pictures to post this time around, here is a random shot of our dog Ajax, and my folks dog Tonki, horsing around on our boat.


After school finished it was full speed ahead into the holiday party circuit. Dinner at Trader Vic's with some friends, and then the next night was Dina's office holiday party at the Oakland Yacht Club. Both events went very well and a good time was had by all. Also just last night I hit two more parties. One was my friend Sabrina's birthday party in the city at a place called Absinthe. Sadly it was just a quick visit for me as I had to return to the east bay to attend a double birthday party back in Alameda for Campbell and Whitey. This was good time as I got to catch up with Jenny and Katie, a couple of friends that I had not seen in a while.

While all this was going on Steve has finally pulled up anchor had taken his boat down to Los Angeles. I kind of felt bad that I didn't have the time to help him on the delivery, but he took a couple of my classmates down with him and it sounds like it all worked out for him. I did however get to drive Steve's BMW M5 (this car) down to L.A. for him. I have to say driving the M5 down I-5 was a lot of fun. This is a car that was designed for howling down the autobahn at speeds that will get you thrown in jail in this country. This might have been the most effortless drive down to L.A. that I have ever done. Want to pass a row of cars, just slightly press down on the accelerator peddle. No down-shifting, no drama, just a smooth increase in speed and away you go. I hit triple digits a couple of times, almost by accident, it was that easy. I never really opened it up as I didn't want to be "that" asshole, and the car was a hell of a lot more capable than I am at those speeds. Anyway, it was a lot of fun.

After getting back for L.A. Dina and I then moved the LT into Steve's vacated slip. I guess that is one of the really cool things about living on a boat. Want a change of scenery? Move your house. Anyway we are now end tied with a much better view and a better slip in general. I will put a picture up soon enough just to show everyone what I mean.

Anyway for Christmas we have driven up to my folks place in the mountains. The plan is for me to do some work for them while they are off visiting in England. Dina meanwhile will use the time to catch up on her reading, and to just relax. I am not sure how long we will stay up here, a few days at least. Tomorrow, Christmas day the weather forecast is for snow. I don't remember the last time I had a Christmas with snow. Should be interesting. Anyway just for fun here is a picture of our docks one morning last week. it is not snow, but as you can see it cold enough over night.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Schools out....

I should be working on a take home final for my leadership class right now, but for some reason I just can't be bothered. The last day of school was last Friday, and except for a chemistry final on Thursday, that is it for the year. That went by fast didn't it?

A couple of fun things happened the last couple of weeks at school. I got my third, or maybe fourth, good conduct award in my school mailbox. Ironically, the same day I also got a notice to appear before the cadet mast because I had missed a formation earlier in the year, and had also been given a grooming violation for having hair on the back of my neck. In the end they let me off with a warning, although I did end up having to get my hair cut.

The last week of school was kind of painful. First off I had weekend watch over the weekend, which meant that I was supposed to stay on campus the whole weekend. I had a couple of end of term projects due. So in some ways the the time at school was a blessing, as it allowed me to get a lot of work done on those. But as Dina has posted I did miss the boat ride for the lighted boat parade, on which it sounds like they had a lot of fun. I did sneak off campus for the after party though. I also left campus on Friday night for my friend Nick's going away party. Nick is moving back to Australia, and a lot of the old City lights crew met up at Trader Vic's for a going away dinner.

During the week I had two presentations, a final, and another test to get through. The leadership and strategic management presentations went really well. I was especially worried about the strategic management presentation because it was a group one that we had to make to people in the industry, not just to our classmates and teachers. Of course our group had all semester to get ready for this, but only put the whole thing together in the last couple of days. The presentation surprisingly went really well. As part of this presentation we are eligible for a cash prize. I am not sure our group will get it, some of the other groups actually took it a lot more seriously, but you nether know?

The final I took in supply chain management I really didn't to well on. We were allowed to bring in notes, but I went heavy on theory and not a whole lot of formulas. Of course the test was mostly on formulas... In yet another one of those wonderfully ironic school coincidences, I also received a letter from the school saying that I had made the Presidents List the previous semester that day. Needless to say, after my supply chain final, I won't be getting a similar letter this semester.

This last weekend has been one of rest and relaxation. Friday night was a big slab of ribs at Everett and Jones in Oakland. Saturday was spent running around Alameda going shopping, and doing other chores, and Sunday was spent around the boat early, until the rain finally drove us out to the New Zealander, and then to the Forbidden Island Tiki bar.

So now I am back to being a full time sail maker. There is not a lot on this time of year, but I do have one really fun project to do. We have a customer who has hand built a seven foot model of the clipper ship Cutty Sark. My job is to build two sets of sails for the thing. I am building one out of canvas, and another out of sailcloth. For some reason the guy wants a set of each. Today was building a couple of prototypes out of each cloth. This will be a cool thing to see once they are all on the thing. Hopfully the guy will get us some pictures when it is done.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

The Lighted Boat Parade


OMG....we had so much fun doing the Lighted Yacht Parade this year...it was a complete bummer that Dominic was trapped at school supervising young nubile 19 year old girls, alas it was his "duty."

Photos, courtesy of The Hudnut, can be found here.

We had a great cast of characters on board...Steve the Viking drove the boat, Sylvia, Rich, Tom and Barb-star Sanborn; Dave, Lora and the every-adorable Gwyneth Lewis; RT and Kirsten; Cecca and John; Jeff Tsuda; and Joe with his new lady-friend, Anna, were all along for the ride.

The boats were spectacular and it was so much fun to be part of the festivities.

When we got back to the dock the party expanded to include Dave Sallows and Jac, and I think, in my hostess haze that I even can say that Cathy and Keith stopped by?

Dom showed up in full uniform at the end of the evening and picked up the host duties as my hostess-ness was starting to wane.

We didn't place in the overall contest, but we did clean up in the Marina Village Yacht Harbor competition and won a free month's worth of slip fees. WooooooooHoooooo indeed!

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Long Time Coming...

Where do the days go? We have had a couple of busy weeks around here and I keep meaning to get it all down, but stuff just keeps coming up. You know how it is. I will try to keep things in chronological order, but no promises here.

A couple of Saturday's ago Jeff, Steve, and I bought Steve's boat Terrapin back down from the Delta. It was kind of a boring trip but it was made somewhat noteworthy by the very dense fog that had engulfed the Delta that morning. We had our GPS track for the trip up, and Steve had set up a route on the auto-pilot, but it was still an interesting experience. The thing I remember most was that visibility would be down to twenty or so yards and a Bass fishing boat would just come howling out of the fog at fifty or so and then just disappear into the murk behind you, all in about four seconds. It's amazing that more of those guys, and it seems to always be guys, don't kill themselves out there chasing those really fast Bass.

The next day Dina and I took Ajax, and Tom and Barbara's dog Archie out to Half Moon Bay for a hike on the beach. We figured Archie would teach Ajax about chasing balls and swimming and such, but Ajax never really did figure the water out. He tore into it once chasing a ball, but kind of pulled up quickly and then never went back in after that. The two dogs though did have a great time running, and digging, and smelling, and doing all of that other doggie stuff. So we can consider the day a success. The beach that we walked them on is nearby the sight where they do the Mavericks surf competition. This picture was taken over this weekend. I ripped it from some guy who posted it on the San Francisco Chronicles website, needless to say it wasn't like that when we where there. Yes, those are surfers on the top of that wave.

Last week was a good one for school, because of thanksgiving I only had class on Monday and managed to get some work in at the loft on Tuesday. Wednesday we gathered up my cousin Sam, and a friend of his, Missy, and headed up to my folks place up in the Sierra foothills. Thanksgiving up in the hills was very nice. The days where not too cold and the evenings are usually spent indoors playing games and reading, and of course my mom does the best Thanksgiving meals of anyone, ever. I guess it has been a while since I have been up to my folks place, as there is all kinds of new stuff going on up there. A new building and pool, and all kinds of projects going on.

The best part, other than the food, though was watching Ajax and my folks dog Tonki go at it. After a slow start they finally got it worked out and spent a few sessions running around outside that left us who where just watching them exhausted. The speed and agility of these two dogs as they ran around the place was amazing. How they don't crash into things and each other more is impressive. These dogs would literally run themselves into a lather as they careened about the place. Dina has some great picture which I will place a link to when I remember to ask her for it.

We came back for the weekend in order to get some things done around the various boats we have spread out through Marina Village. Dina got the dinghy back from the Big Red Boat as we still hadn't done that since our trip to Drakes Bay in October. Steve, Rich, Tom, and I did some re-rigging on the 525. I was hoping to just pull some new halyards through using the old ones, but I had gotten impatient and snapped the old halyard at the splice. this meant that we had to drop the mast at the dock in order to re-run the new one. Of course the new halyards I had made up didn't fit, but luckily Rich had some line on board his boat that worked. This means that I have to re-splice and cover the new halyards again, but at least the hard part is done.

We also got the Lobster T prepared for the lighted boat parade this year. This meant putting on many strands of lights to the point where the Lobster T begins to look like the Achille Lauro. We also put gas in the boat. This is the first time we have put fuel in the boat since we got it almost two years ago. Luckily I think that this also may be the cheapest that gas has been since we have bought the boat. I think we paid $2.29 a gallon at a marine fuel dock. Can't argue with that.

Sadly however I will not be out on the boat for the lighted boat parade. This weekend I have watch at school so I will have to spend most of my time up in Vallejo this weekend. Having said that, this is probably not a bad thing as next week is the last week of school and have a couple of projects that need to be completed. Maybe a weekend in the school library will be what I need to make sure that they get done? Who knows though? Maybe I can get Dina to do a write up on the lighted boat parade and we can all read about it here next week.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Proud of the hound that we found at the pound

Just a quick update on the progress of Ajax the dog.

Ajax has kind of settled in a little bit here on the Lobster T. Considering his previous gig was the Oakland SPCA you would have to think that moving on to a boat might make him one happy puppy. At first we had him sleeping in a cage on the back deck, but with the drop of temperature the decision was made to allow him to sleep in the bedroom. This of course means he sleeps with us on the bed, which has resulted in a sad displaced cat.

Ajax still chews on anything that has been left lying around, with shoes being his favorite snack for the most part. He hasn't destroyed anything yet, but he does require constant watching. Usually when he is quiet, he is doing something wrong.

We have completed a basic training course with him through the SPCA in Dublin. The classes are useful in that they lay the groundwork for all of the basic commands that he needs. I used to always say that dog training classes should be for the owners, not the dogs, and in fact the first class session that we attended we where told to not even bring Ajax. I think the plan is to go to more advanced lessons sometime in the near future.

During the day he goes to doggie day care in Oakland a couple of days a week, and then we have a walker that comes three days a week. Ajax is walked by an outfit called Piedmont Pet, who take him out on group walks through various East Bay hills, and parks. Ajax seems to really enjoy these walks and has actually been named the Piedmont Pet "pet of the month" for the month of December.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Sailing with Gonzo

Last Sunday was the first of the Estuary mid-winter race's. Sadly We didn't make it, although it did look like a really nice day for it. But, seeing as Dina was taking a nap I figured I would take the opportunity to get some work done on the boat. As is often the case, the work got put off and I just went sailing instead. Their wasn't a whole lot of wind, but it was warm, and I got out early enough to get out of the Estuary and into the bay for a short while.

Sometimes I really enjoy these solo sails. They allow me to get some extended time on the helm, something I usually don't get to do a lot. I find that I really need to concentrate hard in order to really do a good job driving. It is probably one of the things that makes me a better crew than driver, my short attention span.

Anyway, once I started coming back down the Estuary I popped the new kite I had just finished. It was so much nicer than the old it is not even funny. We built it out of Contender sailcloth, superkote 60 cloth. A little more expensive than the superkote 90 that we built the Nightingale kite out of, but well worth the extra cost. We actually had plans for a much bigger graphic than what you see in the picture, but for now I think we might just leave it the way it is.

The sail back was a nice light air run and from on the boat I thought the sail looked just ok. But as I got close to the marina I saw Tom and Sylvia standing on the dock so I came in close for a fly bye. Seeing the kite in the pictures they took made me feel a lot better about it. I can't wait to go out and race the boat with it to see how it does.

One thing that this new sail has done is get me inspired to get serious about putting gonzo together a little bit better. I have measured up all the lines and hopefully I will be able to get most of those replaced soon. I also have begun thinking about how to move some of the deck hardware around to make the boat a little more race friendly. Gonzo is an early version Santana 525 and the difference between it and later models is fairly significant. Hopefully we can get this one up and running before the first Oakland Yacht Club mid-winter on the first Sunday of January. The bent rudder will remain a problem however, not really sure what we are going to do about that.

One final note. Steve has sold his Columbia 5.5 Seabiscuit. Seabiscuit has been a very fun ride for the last few years and we will be sad to see her go. Kevin, the new owner seems like a good guy, and I hope he has a good a time as we had on her. The last picture is of Steve, Jeff, and I after we had just sailed the 5.5 for 13 hours to a second place overall on the Delta Ditch Run to Stockton.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Delta Cruise

On Thursday my chemistry lab was canceled so I figured I would take advantage of the time off and help Steve move his boat to Terminous, CA. (pop 250 including dogs). Steve is having some canvas work done and the guys up at West Coast Canvas do a really nice job at prices well below what you would pay down here on the bay.

We wanted to get out of Marina Village early, so after a seven am wake up call and a quick breakfast at Albert's cafe it was off to the Delta. The trip itself was pretty uneventful, just a steady 13/14 kt motor all the way up. Once we got out of the Estuary it was a nice run across the central bay and into San Pablo Bay. The water was smooth and there was no real wind to make things uncomfortable. It may have been a little cool, but a good jacket and sweat pants where all that it took to deal with that.

Once out of San Pablo Bay it was through the Carquinez Straits, past my esteemed school and into the Delta. I always enjoy cruising around in the Delta as it is a nice change of pace from the bay. The stretch from Crockett through to about Antioch is fairly industrial, similar to the Estuary in that respect. Small freighters and tankers, with a scattering of marina's in places like Pittsburgh, Antioch, and Martinez, The mothball fleet in Susuin Bay is also fun to check out, although they don't like you getting to close these days.

Once past Antioch the real Delta opens up. Because most of the surrounding land is below sea level you find yourself looking down on farms and houses as you sail by. Channels and outlets can open up at any time in the surrounding Delta grass. There where a lot of fishing boats out, although I have no idea what kind of fish they are after. We worked our way through various sloughs and channels eventually going through a swing bridge before arriving at Tower Park marina and Steve's new home for the next ten days.

I had Steve drop me off at the BayPoint BART station and took that back to Alameda. The Bart ride was interesting in that I had never taken BART from out there before. The tracks are all above ground and you get to see things out there from a different perspective. Kind of cool I thought. On a final note Steve called me right about the time I got home to complain that he was already bored.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

The calm after the storm

It looks like winter finally arrived here on the Estuary. As is usual for Northern California we went from Indian summer to rain in about 24 hours. This of course brings out the best in the local drivers. During the drive home from school yesterday I had to deal with the drivers going 40 in the fast lane and the full size suburban soccer mom talking on the cell phone while doing 80+ while merging. It is amazing that more of these idiots don't kill themselves. Listening to the traffic reports is always fun during a rainy commute. Beware the dreaded "solo spinout"... Idiots all.

Storms on the Lobster T are kind of cool. The rocking of the boat is actually kind of nice and I usually sleep better on night that we have rain and wind. We do have a couple of leaks of course, but the judicious placement of a garbage bag under the windshield takes care of the worst one. The other bad one is right into the sink, so no real damage done there.

Halloween weekend was pretty fun. We went to Dave and Lora's house on Friday night where we handed out candy to all of the kids who come over from Oakland to the nice neighborhood of Alameda. Other than Dina getting up to some antics we had a pretty mellow evening sitting on the porch. Saturday night we went to a party on a friends boat in the Berkeley Marina. this was a full costume party with quite a few good costumes. I went as a priest, Dina went as a witch, and we dressed Steve up as a Confederate Colonel. Some of the other costumes where quite good also. Tom and Barbara's tele-tubby costumes where my personnel favorites though.

One fun aspect of all this rain is the fact that Ajax the dog has never seen rain before. Watching him trying to figure out the rain, whether it is safe to even go outside in it, using his paws to wipe his head off every couple of steps, shaking himself dry every minute or so is kind of cute. Puddles he seems to have issues with, sometimes leaping up as he steps in the water, or just stopping and checking them out. They figure that Ajax is about 8 months old, which kind of explains his complete lack of understanding of things like rain. Come to think of it he has the same problems with sprinklers also.

I have been working on the new sail for Gonzo at the loft in the off hours, and this is what the graphics look like so far. There may be more, but you will have to watch this space in order to see that.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Long rambling discourse on the nature of all things of the last week or so.

I wish I had some exciting reason to give for not being as frequent a blogger as in the past. Sadly the opposite is true, nothing to blog about, so I don't blog. Weak, I know, but...

Lets get the dog stuff out of the way early... Ajax is doing well, and is responding to training. He is also consuming peanut butter at a rate which is truly impressive. We use the Trader Joe's organic kind and we give it to him to distract him when we lock him down in his cage. Works great.. No doubt Dina will do a full post with pictures and such very soon.

We spent last weekend catching up on boat maintenance and such. A full cleaning of both the interior and the exterior. We also fixed the forward head which has been acting up again. We had friends over every night over the weekend, starting with Rich and a visit to the Tiki bar on Thursday night, Steve and Rich Friday night, and then Tom, Sylvia, and Steve on Saturday night. It was good mellow weekend with some good food, and good friends.

One thing that did happen last week was our triumphant return to the Hobnob for Tuesday night trivia. Cecca, Dina, and I got a very well deserved second place, behind a much bigger team that took it way to seriously. My finest moment was getting the answer to the name of the little purse thing that a Scotsman wears with his kilt. Anybody else out there know that? Our team was the only one that did.

School is going well enough. I had another chemistry test today and felt as if I didn't do as bad on this one as the last one. That's good, right? I did get nailed at formation for the hair on the back of my neck being too long however. So between that and missing a formation earlier this semester I now have officially received my first demerits at CMA. Still it is not as bad as it sounds as I gave blood at school on Monday and received thirty merits for that. So I think I am still ahead on the whole merit/de-merit thing.

Sadly not a whole lot of sailing going on at the moment. I have been dog training on Saturdays so I had to turn down a couple of rides because of that. But the mid-winters start next Sunday here on the Estuary so look for us to get out on the 525 for those. Hopefully I will have finished the new spinnaker by then and we will have that to put up for the race.

I think it is about six months that I have been doing this blog. It is definitely a work in progress but there has been some interesting things going on with it. There is a blog tracker that tells you how many hits and where they come from. It seems that there is about four or five people who look at this a lot, and the rest is people who drop in due to various reasons, usually from Google searches about things I have written about, restaurants or sailing events for instance. It only tells me about the last fifty people that visited, but right now that includes visits from Algeria, Switzerland, and Luxembourg. Mostly of course it is visits from California, but there are a few from the mid-west and the east coast. More of you should leave comments so that I can see who you actually are. All I get to see is an IP address, it doesn't really show a lot of other details.

I think that for today I will put up a picture of the French Trimaran IDEC. IDEC is currently attempting to capture the solo trans-Atlantic record from Cadiz to El Salvador. The reason I am putting this picture up is because if I had to pick someone as my hero it would be Francis Joyon, the skipper of IDEC. What Joyon has done in the world of solo sailing is just fucking cool. So is the boat... The picture truly does not do this thing justice, the boat is something like a 100ft long and to push it as hard as joyon does single handed is bloody impressive.Oh, and a final shout out to Torben Grael and the crew on Ericsson 4 for getting the new 24 hour mono-hull record while racing in the Volvo. Torben was always cool to me when we worked at Prada so congratulations to them.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Still not a puppy blog

I am sitting here on the aft deck of the Lobster T watching the dog remove the squeaky part from a chew toy. I have to stay with him on the aft deck as he still is not yet completely housebroken yet. Still it is not bad sitting back here as the sun goes down, enjoying the view, and putting off doing my homework.

It has been a pretty mellow week for the most part, we are at that point where the mid-week beer can races have finished, but the mid-winter races have not started yet. Yet it still stays light for a few hours after work or school. I should probably be making use of the time to do something productive like work on the 525, or go for a bike ride. But for some reason that never seems to happen.

School is going well enough, hard to believe, but I am almost half way through the semester already. This Wednesday should be interesting, I have volunteered to participate in some kind of maritime security exercise that has me being on the Larkspur ferry for some kind of "incident" Not sure what it is all about, but they are telling us to bring a change of clothes and expect to get wet. As an added bonus they are paying us $25 for the days work, plus it's an excused absence from school.

We had a few folks over on Thursday of last week. Tom, Barbara, and Dave and Lora came by the boat where Dina gave Tom a $400 bottle of Rum for his help with some stuff at her work. We had a glass or two of that before heading off with Steve, who we picked up in the parking lot, to Havana, a Cuban restaurant here in Alameda. I like Havana, and can highly recommend the pork loin, and the Ten Cane Rum Mojito's.

Sadly I don't have any pictures to post as for some reason I am having problems getting them to post all of a sudden. Maybe I will just post a link to a video taken during the Columbia 5.5 nationals instead.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

The Nightingale

Over the last two months or so my folks have been having a bunch of work done on the Nightingale. The Nightingale for those of you who do not know is a Tom Wylie designed, 24ft cold moulded design that was Tom Wylie's first ever design. Nightingale was I believe built here in Alameda by Tom and a few other local folks like Tito Rivano, and Jim Jessie. Since this was the first boat of the Nightingale class there is couple of differences from the other dozen or so that where made. First off she is the only one made of wood, and second she has a basically flush deck as opposed to the raised deck of the other Nightingales.

My folks purchased the Nightingale from Tom about 12 years ago, at the time she had been sitting in the parking lot at North Coast Yachts for as long as I could remember. The Nightingale then went down to Petes harbor in Redwood City where they used it for the occasional day sail. At one point they took the boat for a two week boat camping trip up to the Delta, which I still think was pretty brave to do in a 24ft engine less sailboat. A funny story about that trip is that I had just done the Jazz Cup race to Benicia on a boat called Insufferable and was helping to do the delivery back the following day. At one point I needed to take a piss and had gone forward to go in front of the jib so as not to do this in front of anybody on the boat. As I am doing this the Nightingale with my folks on it sails by heading in the opposite direction up to the Delta not 40ft away. So here I am with my junk hanging out as I am waving to my mom, classy...

Dina and I acquired the Nightingale in 2003. Dina had expressed an interest in getting better at sailing but not in the competitive environment that I would usually drag her out into. My mother hit on the idea of giving us the Nightingale as a way for one, for the boat to get used a little more, and two, get Dina out sailing more. Once the boat got to Alameda we replaced the standing rigging and used the boat not a lot, but a couple of times a month. We used it to take out friends, mostly on day sails on the Estuary. We even made it out onto the bay a couple of times where the boat really just feels right. When we moved up to Vallejo for my first year of school we even stayed on the boat a couple of times when we came back to Alameda. Those nights where usually pretty fun as we had Jake, a hundred odd pound black lab with us also.

A couple of years ago we started to race the boat a little bit in some of the Estuary races. We got all new running rigging that came from a Farr 40 that a friend was working on, overkill for sure, but very sexy. We also got a new spinnaker with the Nightingale logo in it. We did ok in the races, usually the pattern was we did well the race after the bottom was cleaned, but then the results would drop off as we got further away from bottom cleanings. Still we always had a good time usually racing with Virginia who used to do a very good job driving when we made her. This last spring Dina and various friends sailed the boat in the Oakland and Encinal series, while Steve, Pete, and I did the Alameda Yacht Club series.

With the purchase of the Santana 525 over the summer my folks have reclaimed the Nightingale and have put her through a pretty comprehensive refit. Tom Wylie and Kyle have been doing the work and I have to say the boat looks really good. The pictures are of some of the work done during the refit...

Ok for some reason this thing is not letting me post pictures today. I will try to get some up later, sorry about that.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

This is not a puppy blog





I am going to ignore the fact that our new dog Ajax arrived a week earlier than expected and just write about other stuff instead this morning.

The last couple of mornings have started to show some chill in the air and I fear that our Indian summer may be coming to an end. Usually I try to be on the road by 7am in order to get to my first class by 750. It has only been this last week that I find that I have to leave the lights on on the car all the way to school. Also I have started wearing my jacket to school in the mornings now. Still I do like the crispness of the mornings this time of year.

School itself is going fairly well. I have a couple of mid-terms coming up already, which is interesting as it seems that the school year just started. So far I am also keeping up with the work load and am not behind in any of my classes. The only class that really has given me any problems so far is my chemistry lab which has a heavy math component to it that I struggle through.

I had another watch this week which meant another night spent on the Golden Bear. I guess they are taking the Bear out this weekend for fleet week, which means that they are starting to the engines and other things warmed up. This made for some interesting noises and other loud clunks and bangs throughout the night, but other than that it was fine. The cabin that they give us for our over night stays while on watch is certainly a lot nicer then the one I spent two months on during the cruise, that's for sure.

Staying on the ship does have one advantage, I get to sleep in for the time it would take me to commute up to school seeing as I am already there. I did get some photos of the sunrise over the Carquinez Strait on Friday morning though.

Monday, October 6, 2008

A New Addition to the Family...


We'll be adding a new addition to the clan this time next week. We've adopted a lovely brindle coated labrador retriever/hound mix who we'll be calling Ajax.

You can check him out here...his "pound name" is Jake. (How ironic is that?!?)

He won't be released from lock up until he is appropriately altered, which will be next Monday.

Stay tuned for more details!

Old News With a Different Point of View

Dom briefly talked about our exciting spinnaker run through the Gate a few weekends ago with the crew on the big red boat (a.k.a. Maxi Pad.) Here's Tom Condi's version of the day:

After more windless but pleasantly flat conditions on our leisurely motor down the coast, we were all lulled into lazy complacency and quite unprepared for the 'fireworks' that would soon occur upon our re-entrance into SF Bay. All except for one person - Admiral Dominic - who's years of experience of coastal ocean racing on big boats has habituated him to prepare for and deftly handle the inevitable 'big blow', i.e. the turbocharged wind conditions that pipe up like clockwork through the Golden Gate and the Central Bay during sunny summer afternoons.

In the span it took us to raise the mains'l and get the kite rigged, starting from just outside Pt. Bonita, the wind increased from 4 kts to 12. After we hoisted the kite and comfortably broad reached across the entire forebay, we jibed for the GG Bridge center as the wind quickly built to 15 kts, then 20, then 25. Under the bridge it increased even more to 30 kts and gusting higher. As the wind strength grew, so did the crew's concentration. The knotlog was spinning madly to figures we have rarely seen before 12, 14, 16, 18 kts! The big boat seemed to just gamely go along with whatever was being thrown at her. At speeds above 12, she got that 'levitation/floating' sensation that comes with surfing rather than carving a hole in the water. And yes, we also got that 'man, we sure are hauling ass' sensation as everyone's knuckles turned white.

Amidst the growing concern and high speeds, Dominic was calmly standing in the central cockpit murming small commands :'up a little'...'ok, hold'....'ok,now down a little'...'ok'..'grind a little'...'wow, this boat is stable'. Indeed it was stable, but there was a narrow steering groove of like 10-15 degrees - too low, and the asymm kite would collapse and snap wildly, trying to wrap or self-destruct; too high and the boat would surely spin out and lay on it's ear - the mast more horizontal than vertical.

There were a zillion boats out on the bay for a look at the M. Falcon, and incredibly, none were in our path as we made our own grand entrance. Well except for one boat; Red Sky! This is the first time I ever recall thinking 'I have such a narrow steering groove, that any boat in our path may just get cut in half!'. Thankfully, we safely squirted on past Red Sky, cheering, as we realized our all-time record high speed of 19.2 kts (and 37 kts of wind). As we worked our way towards Racoon Straights, we decided to relieve the 3/4 oz kite from it's punishment and drop it. Dominic, working like the champion sailor that he is, sprung to the foredeck and calmly coached the crew to a smooth and controlled 'socking and dropping' of the battered kite.

With the kite doused, nothing broken, and everyone safe, we let out a collective sigh of relief. "Damn, THAT was WILD!". "Incredible!".

Under mains'l alone and still blowing 25 kts, the ominous presence of the M. Falcon was too intense to ignore, so we were lured over for a quick 'sail-by'. An impressive ship for sure, but we were all still too amped from the adreneline rush of our unexpected little sled ride to fully take-in the MF.

So, we tacked and headed for the Bay Bridge, unfurled the 105% jib, and zoomed back across the bay with Admiral Dominic at the helm this time.The 12-14 kt sprint under white sails alone was lively and fun as we all replayed the thrilling moments of our recent rocket ride.

It's great to 'open up the throttle' on the BigRedBoat and explore the corners of her performance envelope. It's also pretty cool, as you Brian pointed out, how all of that furniture, genset, galley, and other heavy cruising acoutraments all manages to get up on a plane and go fast! Credit goes to Carl for a good boat design.

What a fantastic, unexpected thrill this bay entry was. We are already starting to anticipate the next speed record attempt! I'm not sure when the next opportunity will arise, but odds are good that it'll be when Admiral Dominic is around.

Thanks to the whole BRB crew for tight work and good times,

Friday, October 3, 2008

End of the Week Post

Two of my teachers are out today, so it means that I have a few hours between class to fill. I am for the most part all caught up on my homework, so I thought I would post a few random bits and a couple of pictures of a school day up here in Vallejo.

It is a very quiet end of the week here at school for the most part. I did have a team presentation on Wednesday, but I managed to bluff my way through that without to many problems. I find these in class presentations to be relatively painless for the most part. All you have to do is look out into the class at the beginning of the presentation and you realize that not one person in the class is paying any attention at all. Once you accept the fact that nobody is watching, the rest is easy.

As you can see we have to wear uniforms at all times, most of the time we wear the Khaki uniform, but once in a while we get to put on the salt and pepper uniform, and for really special occasions we get to wear the dress blues. Sadly I don't have any pictures of the fancy uniforms so these photos of the khaki uniforms will have to do.

One picture is taken in my chemistry class and is of the teacher, Jim. Jim is pretty cool and I like his class and teaching style. The chemistry itself I don't really get, but I still like the class. The other pictures are of on of our formations. We have formations three times a week, plus other special events once in a while. We usually get inspected to make sure that we meet the grooming and uniform standards at least once a week. The standards are pretty casual. Basically you have to have the correct shoes, with black socks, and have a name tag and correct collar tags. Cleanliness, and neatness are not checked. You also have to be clean shaven, and have your hair be less than a certain length. Non of this is that hard to do, yet a lot of students here still get tripped up by it. I got caught out on the very first inspection my freshman year, for my hair sticking over my ears, but have had no problems since then. The whole formation thing has been kind of a joke for the last couple of years, but we have a new guy in charge now and he seems to trying to get things run a little better. I hate to say it, but as much as a pain as a it all is I figure if they are going to do these formations and inspections, they may as well do them right. As I said that hasn't always been the case here at CMA

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Sorry about the long time between posts. It seems that catching up on school and life, and everything else seemed to get in the way.

I guess the first thing I should do is acknowledge a couple of errors in my Columbia 5.5 Nationals (see previous post) story. I said that Jaguar had been DSQed from the first two races for sailing through the start/finish line. I guess technically they had withdrawn from the races after they realized there mistake, but the end result was the same. I guess they also did not withdraw from the last race as I wrote either, despite Jaguar's skipper saying that they would after acknowledging fouling us. Anyway apparently I caused some consternation and I just wanted to set the record straight.

Early last week it was kind of full on for Dina and I as we had my parents and my cousin Julia down Monday and Tuesday nights. Monday was a very nice meal in Berkeley to celebrate my brothers birthday and Tuesday was Indian food a the always good India Palace in Alameda. Tuesday night turned into a bit of fun for Dina, Julia, and my mother as they sang Karaoke, gossiped, and did other girly stuff in the main salon. We boys, Josh and I, hid in our respective cabins till the party died down around midnight.

It's kind of funny, I really have no idea what we spent the rest of the week doing. I know we had a couple of drinks at Z's here in Alameda one night, and ate at Dragon Rouge another night, but it may have been the same night for all I remember. As they say... A mind is a terrible thing to waste.

This leads us to last weekend. We had been asked a while ago with we wanted to sail up to Drakes Bay on the big red boat with Tom, Rich, and Sylvia. For some reason I had gotten the impression that this was the Drakes Bay Race which sometimes can be a lot of fun. it turns out however that it was not in fact the Drakes Bay Race rather a cruise out with a few other boats for a weekend of fun and adventure. I have to admit to not being overly enthusiastic about spending the weekend stuck on a boat as I did have bunch of homework to do and I knew that if I went sailing that I probably would use that as an excuse not to do it. Since this homework was also part of a group project I really wanted to get it done.

Anyway we left the dock very early, before 7am, Saturday morning and ended up motoring all the way up to Drakes Bay. We got there early afternoon and rafted up to another boat that had gone up there the previous evening. As I suspected it was an day of drinking and merriment, and a very good evening meal, but of very little homework. I have to admit I was a little bit of a party pooper and fell asleep early driving everyone off of the big red boat and on to the smaller boat we where rafted up to. At some point during the evening another boat that had sailed up from the Bay also joined our party, but I didn't even wake up to see it till the following morning.

Sunday morning we had a great breakfast and started our sail back to the Bay. It was another motor back with a very slight head wind. Still around the end of the Bonita channel the wind started to shift and pick up a little so we decided to put the main up to see if we would get some drive out of it and hopefully get some sailing in as we entered the Golden Gate. It started to look like we would get some useful wind so we figured we would put the spinnaker up. This went well and we had a nice cruise across the mouth of the Golden Gate while we tried to figure out the angles for the spinnaker and to see what the wind was going to do.

We doused the kite in the sock for the gybe and then re-hoisted it on the other side for the run under the bridge. Once hoisted and heading in we started to get into more and more pressure as the wind compressed through the bridge. This meant that in about ten minutes or so the wind had built from about 1okts all the way through 2okts and then kept building as we entered the Bay. Once under the bridge itself we had a solid 30kt breeze with the boat just blasting along in the mid to high teens. All this time we were all kind of looking at each other grinning nervously as we just kept going faster and faster, Dina and Sylvia yelling out the numbers as the speedo kept going up. We eventually topped out at 19.2 kts in a 37kt puff! I will say this for the boat and crew, there was zero drama the whole time. The boat felt very stable even in the ebb tide chop and the big breeze. Tom said he had plenty of control the whole time on the wheel.

Soon after hitting our highest speed we figured it was time to get the kite down. It was one of those calls were we decided to it in a controlled setting, early, rather than wait and get our selves into a situation where we had to do it because of another boat or after a crash or something. We doused the kite into the sock, dropped it into the sail locker with no drama. After that it was a quick flyby of the Maltese Falcon which is visiting here in the Bay before a leisurely sail back to the slip here in Alameda.

The pictures are of us leaving San Francisco Bay very early on Saturday morning, some sea lions on the Duxburry Bouy on the ride home, and a picture that Brian on Red Sky took of the big red boat just entering the Bay shortly before we started our high speed run. It might not look it, but it was pretty windy and we were starting to get into some serious numbers on the knot meter.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Columbia 5.5 Nationals

This weekend I did the Columbia 5.5 "Nationals" on the Seabiscuit, with Steve and Jeff. While this has been a good year for us we went into the nationals in a bit of a slump. We knew Bill would be very fast, and that Adam would sailing with new sails, a new bottom, and a solid crew. I figured our strength on the Seabiscuit would be boat handling. Also we had played with the rig tune a little and hoped our boatspeed would keep us close for our boat handling to push us over the hump.

One of the fun things about sailing in the South Bay is the tow out of the Estuary. The race committee towed out all eleven boats, which is quite the spectacle. as the boats do look good going through the water. Also the 5.5 fleet is one of the more colorful fleets out there, with most of the boats painted colors other than white. Come to think about it there was only one white boat sailing this weekend.

The first start was in a light breeze and we stuffed it up big time. We had planned to be at the boat and then tack right away. However we ended up being late and crossed the line maybe 15 seconds after the next to last boat. This did give us a clear lane though and since we didn't have anything to lose we tacked over and headed out on a lonely flyer to the right corner. It quickly appeared to us that we had made the right call. The only reason we had to doubt ourselves was the fact that every other boat went the other way. Pretty soon we had been lifted over the other boats and we rounded the weather mark cleanly in first place with a good 3 or 4 boat length lead. This would prove to be pretty fortunate as the pile up at the weather mark was pretty spectacular. One boat hit the mark, a couple of other boats made contact, Liem did an especially impressive job of sailing down onto Bill and T-boning him and spinning him around. The video of the rounding is fantastic, and if I could figure out how to do it I would show it.

We lead all the way around for the first lap and a half, but had to tack twice more than Adam on the second beat to avoid a large ship that had just anchored in the middle of the race course. This allowed Adam to close up on us to make a nice job of gybing a little earlier than us on the second run and then get by us at the bottom mark. We rounded just behind Adam and where forced to follow him on the short beat to the finish for a second place finish. Still after our start, we felt pretty good about ourselves as we seemed to have plenty of boatspeed.

The second race was basically all Bill on Maverik. We where having a great battle for third with Adam up the last beat when I royally miss judged a crossing right in front of the finish. I had called two or three crosses on the final beat, and thought I had it down. For some reason I just stuffed the last one up completely. Adam would have hit us right at about the back of the boom if he hadn't have crash tacked. We did our circle for the foul and ended up fourth in that race.

A funny thing happened on the second run during the second race. Keith and Cathy on Jaguar had sailed through the start finish line, which was restricted. When we mentioned it to them they told us that they had read the instructions and that we where full of shit, or words to that effect. It turns out that they had done the same thing in the first race also, which meant that they started the regatta with two DSQ's. Sadly it was only going to get worse for them from there.

By the start of the third race the wind had started to pick up a little. One reason that the 5.5s race in the Estuary or on the river in Stockton is that they don't like big wind and waves. They have actually sunk boats out on the bay in the past. The race committee for whatever reason decided to send us out on a three lap race into the teeth of this. Anyway we got our best start of the day easily winning the pin end with speed. However sailing 5.5s in those conditions kind of sucks. Every other wave either stops the boat, or soaks the crew. We all kind of struggled to make it to the top mark with Bill eventually rounding with a huge lead over the second place boat. We rounded three or four back, but immediately got tagged hard from behind by Helicopter Bob (Mike Jackson) who had rounded up as soon as his kite had filled. Mike to his credit dropped the kite and did his circles without us having to yell at him to much.

We had decided to put up the small kite for the spinnaker runs as 5.5s are a little Squirelly in that much breeze. We don't seem to go any slower, but we are definitely a lot more stable. This decision was soon justified as Billy's backstay broke and his whole rig went over the front of the boat. At one point it looked like he might be able to get the thing back up just by pulling up the mainsheet, but I think they realized that was a losing battle and got the sails down, and secured the rig on deck. As we sailed by the committee boat downwind I suggested to them that maybe they should consider shortening the race as the conditions seemed to warrant it. Sure enough on the second upwind beat they made the announcement over the radio that they would be finishing us at the weather mark. I think we ended up fourth in that race which put us solidly in second for the day. Adam now clear ahead with a 1-3-1 score.

One of the best parts of having the nationals on the bay is the sail home down the Estuary by the whole fleet of 5.5s. The fleet is certainly very photogenic, and lots of other boats always take lots of pictures of us. Usually some hi jinks occur and this year was no exception, we soaked down Adam and crew with a water cannon that Steve keeps on board. They tried to get us with a bucket, but we stayed away from them.

Day two turned out to be a little rough and tumble with us getting into scuffles in both races. We had basically conceded the series to Adam at this point and where just going to concentrate on covering Liem for second place. We had four points on him, so we needed to keep an eye on him, but we weren't to worried about it. This proved to be a bit of a mistake because we got royally screwed at the start. We came down the pin maybe a couple of seconds early with Helicopter Bob ahead of us. Mike came up right at the start and we lost sight of the pin as he did this. The next thing we know is the pin buoy popped up out of the water behind us, meaning that we had missed the starting line. We think that Jackson ran the thing over and sank it, which led to us missing it. He never mentioned it, but it put us in the position of having to gybe around to start the race. Once again we where in last place and had to work our way up through the fleet. What working our way through the fleet means is that we end up running in packs with other boats. Downwind on the first run one of the Stockton boats tries to go in between us and another boat. We take him up, but he doesn't give way. Eventually we make contact and we immediately protest. After the usual exchanges of pleasantries on the run he eventually concedes and does his penalty circles. While all this is going on Liem sails away and goes onto win the race and into second place overall.

So for the final race we are one point behind Liem, however I do the math wrong and figure that we are tied. So we figure all we have to do is beat Liem and we have second overall sewn up. Our start for the last race was pretty eventful. We got banged into by our friends on the yellow boat from Stockton again. I think this was either frustration or pay back for our little to do in the previous race. Anyway no real harm done, except to maybe anybody who was listening ears during the exchange.

We did not have a great first beat and came into the top mark just behind Liem and Keith. Liem however must have misjudged the tide and ended up hitting the mark, which gave us the opening we needed to get by him. Liem was doing his penalty circle, right as Keith was rounding and Keith claimed that Liem fouled him while doing his circle. Right into this mess we came steaming around the mark, and had one of our better sets. This got us right on top of Keith who was busy yelling at Liem. Keith them comes down and hits us on the bow with his stern. We inform him of our intent to protest, but while we are doing this Keith jumps out of his cockpit and runs back and shoves our bow away in frustration. We then protest him again for the push. Keith now owes us three penalty circles and has just had his own rounding stuffed up by Liem.

While Liem had been doing his circles Jackson had gotten by him also, so we began to relax a little more as now we had a boat in between Liem and us as insurance. Jackson must have felt he owed us one or something as he covered Liem very closely to the finish which we figured gave us second place by two points. As it turns out we only beat him by one point, but that was enough.

There was some after race shenanigans at the club after the last race involving Keith and Liem and a couple of protests. But eventually calmer heads prevailed and it was all sorted out.

So there you go, the Columbia 5.5 metre nationals from the perspective of the second place boat. Nice job to Adam and crew on the win. They sailed well, and deserved the result. too bad for billy, but hopefully the boat will be back up and running quickly as the damage was minimal and should be a relatively easy repair. Of course a big thanks to Steve and Jeff for letting me sail with them. We have had a lot of fun racing on Seabiscuit this year, lets hope it keeps going.