Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Pictures from the BVIs

Here is a link to Dina's pictures of our trip to the British Virgin Islands.
http://www.flickr.com/photos/52657483@N00/sets/72157606438587271/

Monday, July 28, 2008

The Life



The Life was the name of the 42ft cat we just chartered for a week in the British Virgin Islands. I have to say that the name suited us just fine. Seven of us spent a week island hopping around the islands, drinking probably way to much, getting way to much sun, and just generally having a really good time.
I don't have access to most of the pictures we took, but no doubt they will end up on Flickr, or some such site soon, once the pictures are up I will do a full write up on the trip. In the meantime I will post a few of the shots that I took and give a brief run down on the trip.
We all arrived in Roadtown, Tortola and took possession of our boat on Sunday the 20th. After going through provisioning and our chart briefing we set off the following day. Our first stop was Salt island where we did some snorkeling on the wreck of an old British mail ship, The Rhone. I am usually not the biggest fan of snorkeling, but the combination of warm, clear, water seemed to make it pretty cool, and despite getting our dinghy anchor stuck on the bottom, the snorkeling was a lot of fun.
The second day we sailed up to the Bitter End Yacht Club, stopping at a place called the Baths on the way. The Baths are a series of large rocks that you can hike and swim through, once again with good snorkeling. The Baths are probably the the single biggest tourist site in the B.V.I.s and are what you probably see in all the tourist pictures of the area.
We spent the third day playing around at the Bitter End yacht Club, which despite its name is a resort not a yacht club. The highlights our stay where Steve and I trying to sail a 420 at about a 100lbs over the ideal weight, and Pete and I capsizing a Hobie cat inside the harbour with me trapezing off the low side.
We left the Bitter End late in the day and sailed over to Beef Island. While at Beef Island we had a fun little exchange with some of our neighbors, a group of teenagers doing some kind of summer camp at sea. This resulted in the camp councilors coming over to our boat to lecture us about being bad influences on the impressionable teens.
The following morning we sailed over to Jost Van Dyke, stopping off at Sandy Cay for a swim on a absolutely perfect tropical island. We then pulled into the Great Harbour on Jost Van Dyke, and after a dinghy ride to a neighboring bay we had a couple of painkillers at Foxy's bar. Foxy's being some what of a legend in the area. Sadly Foxy's was kind of slow that night and we retired somewhat early.
Our next stop was Cane Garden Bay, which is where the pictures are from, on the back side of Tortola. We spent the day swimming and exploring before heading into town for what was supposed to be our big blow out night. Sadly I think we must be getting a little old or something because we all kind of just got tired of waiting for the band to start up and headed back to the boat early. We never really did have big blow out night during the trip, it was more of a start early, end early kind of trip in that regards.
The final day was a motor back around Tortola to return the boat. Five of us went out that night for dinner before retiring early once again. All in all however a very fun trip. More stories will come out of this as soon as I can get some more pictures to show with them.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Vacation...


Tomorrow morning at 4.00am we get up and begin an all day journey to the British Virgin Islands. There are seven of us going and we will be sailing a Moorings 43ft cat out of Roadtown, Tortola.
Needless to say there will not be any blog posting while we are gone. I will however take lots of pictures and will make a full report when we return.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Big boat sailing...



Lets see, after Monday nights police show the week has not let up at all. Tuesday morning on my way to work I stopped at the hotel right here next to the boat to say hi to my good friend Eva who had just arrived from Stockholm the night before. She and her boyfriend Andreas are here for a holiday visit to California. Eva worked here in California ten years ago, so for her it was a way to catch up with old friends and for Andreas it is a chance to see the sights.
After making sure they where settled in I headed to work to do whatever it is I do there. This weeks fun project has been to build a new code zero headsail for the Wylie 70 Rage which is here in Alameda, before she sets off on the Pacific Cup to Hawaii. This sail is massive, something like 2000+ square feet of sail. It has a couple of unique features such as a built in furling line that needs to be spliced and tensioned to the enth degree. So I have been working on that thing all week.
Tuesday evening after showing Eva and Andreas the boat, on which they will be staying on while we are on vacation, we went on our typical Tuesday path of French/Vietnamese food at the Dragon Rouge, and then on to the Hobnob for trivia. As usual we started a little slow at trivia, but then rallied to win for the third time in three go's. I felt bad for Eva who could barely keep her eyes open, due to her jetlag. But she made it to the end and celebrated our victory with us.
Wednesday I wanted to get to work early in order to get as far along on this code zero as possible as I had to leave early in order to go sailing in Santa Cruz. I didn't get as far along as I had hoped, but left the loft at 4pm anyway in order to get to Santa Cruz by 530. I would have made the boat on time even after hitting traffic, but I ended up on the wrong side of the harbor in Santa Cruz. I barely got to the boat in time, but I at least beat the owner on board so at least he didn't know I was late.
The boat I sailed in Santa Cruz was a Reichel/Pugh 76 footer called Akela. My friend Ian had called me and had invited me down to sail with a chance towards maybe doing the Big Boat Series and a couple of other regatta's in the next couple of months. The sail itself was pretty uneventful, we broke one of the top mast backstays while hoisting the main, so we figured we would just take it easy on the day. The wind was pretty light, and by virtue of being the biggest boat by some 26ft, we where first to finish pretty easily. After the the race I met the owner and I guess it sounds like I will be sailing with these guys a few more times this year. Not sure what they will have me doing, most likely be in the middle of the boat somewhere, still it should be a good time.
Today I got to work pretty early in the hope of finishing the code zero for Rage before my boss had to leave for Chicago. He was hoping to see the sail up before he left around mid day. Sadly I didn't get it done before he left, but I did get to go out sailing on the boat this afternoon and look at the sail.
Rage is a little different from most of the modern boats you see these day. For one thing she is made out of wood. She also has one of the nicest interiors of any race boat I have seen. The thing that makes Rage fast is that she is very narrow and light. So light in fact that they designed her without a wheel as a tiller weighs less. Anyway we got off the dock and hoisted this monster sail. At first things where a little hectic as I had never really sailed with one of these sails before. We didn't have enough halyard tension at first and then tried to go upwind, something for which it wasn't really designed for, at first. This led to some problems when we tried to furl it up, and I could kind of feel everybody getting a little nervous about the sail.
Next we got the boat pointed back down the Estuary at about the right wind angle. At that point the boat just took off, seventy feet of light weight boat behind that much sail area, and the Estuary gets real small real quick. We got the sail furled up and after smiles and handshakes all around it was back to the dock.
Sadly even though I had bought my camera with me both times I don't really have any good shots. So instead I have couple of pictures of boats sailing into Santa Cruz harbor after the race down there. The boat with its mast lowered way forward is heading under the bridge into the upper harbor. The other boat I took the picture just to show the number of people on board.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

The Police... Concert review



A couple of months ago our friends Dave and Lora Lewis had asked if we wanted to go see The Police and Elvis Costello. After maybe overdoing it a little bit on Sunday night I think it would have been fair to say that neither Dina or I where really looking forward to going to a rock concert Monday eve.
We drove down to Shoreline Amphitheatre in Mountain View pretty much straight from work picking up Dina in Union City along the way. After finding our parking spot, still free at the Shoreline Amphitheatre by the way, and getting cocktails we found our spot on the lawn and settled in for the show. Elvis Costello had already started playing and I must say I wasn't that impressed. I had seen his show before and had been disappointed then, so this wasn't that much of a surprise. In Elvis Costello's defense when talking between songs his voice was very hoarse, and he did say that he wasn't feeling that well, but still he kind of sucked. The one highlight of his set was when Sting came out to sing the song Allison with him, the crowed which had been kind of listless to that point got into it a little bit. This kind of gave us a sense of what was to come.
I was fully prepared to call this post F***The Police after the Ice-T, or was it N.W.A. song, but I must say The Police impressed me. They came out on stage to the crash of a huge gong that sat behind the drummer and got right down to it. Sting, who looks like our harbor master Alan Weaver here at Marina Village with his short beard, is definitely a presence on the stage. Stings' voice still sounded good and he hit all the right notes at the right times. Compared to a couple of singers I have seen recently, mainly Ian Astbury of The Cult, and Elvis Costello, Sting sounded very very good.
The set line up was just a rundown of all the old Police hits, no acoustic or solo stuff. The music was pretty stripped down, just bass, guitar, and drums. No background musicians, or studio effects, and a minimal light show that was very well done.
The highlight for me was the drumming of Stuart Copeland. I knew that Stewart Copeland has done a lot of things with drumming over the years, recording drum styles all over the world and things like that. But for me he was the highlight of the show. I think even the group themselves realized this as the big screens behind the stage seemed to focus on the drummer a lot.
All in all a very good show, I would give it three and a half stars...

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Transportation Carrier Management




Just for fun I thought I would I would go through a rundown of our boating movements of the last week. As I said earlier we had moved the Lobster Telephone over to the City Lights slip on the Thursday before the holiday weekend. This left our regular slip open and allowed us to bring the new Santana up from Alameda Marina which Pete did for us on the 4th.
On the 4th itself we put both of our kayak and our dinghy in the water also. Much to my surprise the outboard on the dinghy fired up almost right away, this after sitting in our dock box for something like six months. This allowed us to spend the holiday of the 4th moving around the marina by boat.
The 4th went down something like this. Around 3pm we hosted cocktails and snacks aboard our boat. I am not sure how many we had on board, but I think at one point we had to have had a least a dozen people on board. For dinner we all strolled two slips over for sausages and other goodies on board the as yet unnamed big red boat of Sylvia, Rich, and Tom. After dinner we then either boated or walked over to Steve's boat for desert and after dinner cocktails.
After watching the fireworks from Steve's boat Dina and rowed back to the Lobster T and had a somewhat early night. The party on Steve's boat evidently went on past midnight.
The next day we did a bunch of work on Gonzo, our new Santana 525. One of the first things I did was dive in and try to clean up the bottom a little. While doing the bottom I noticed that a number of small fish had started to show up and nibble on the crud that I was scraping off of her. Of course this led to bigger fish showing up to see what the little fish where up to. Pretty soon I began to feel like I was going to become part of the food chain so lets just say the bottom might not have been done as well as it could be.
We sailed Gonzo that day and continued to play around on the various dinghy's and kayak's also.
The next day we moved Gonzo into a vacant slip that Adam's 5.5 usually occupies. Seeing as Adam had taken his 5.5 to the yard for some work. After that we took the Lobster T to the pump out before returning her to her regular slip. That trip was fun as I had not yet finished fixing the steering cylinder and we got the rudders stuck off center which made for a fun few seconds after backing out of the pump out. All is now well with the steering, but it did make for a few interesting moments out on the Estuary.
This weekend began with me taking a solo cruise out to the end of the Estuary and enjoying a sunset sail back into the slip. It is fun getting into the outer end of the Estuary, something we never really did to much on the Nightingale. Yesterday I sailed the Nightingale down to Alameda Marina where I put it into Gonzo's old slip. There she will probably remain until she heads up to her new home in the Delta. I must say I got a little misty eyed taking the Nightingale away. I have had a lot of fun on that boat, especially in the last year as we have started to race her a little more seriously. Last night Rich, Dina, and I took Gonzo out for another evening sail and then returned her to her new slip, which was the old Nightingale slip.
Today we made the last round of boat moves, which was to move Gonzo into an empty slip next to ours and then move the dinghy onto to a dinghy rack that we where given yesterday. After moving the dinghy over, we then put Gonzo back into her slip behind the dinghy.
The pictures are of the view looking into the marina from the City Lights slip. the second boat in, the red one, is Tom, Sylvia, and Rich's new boat. Another one is a shot form my Friday late afternoon solo sail out of the Estuary. The third one is of Gonzo and the dinghy together in there new slip just down the row form us here on the Lobster T.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Restaurant critic, and a little amatuer bartending



Well the morning low clouds have finally returned to Alameda after a week of near record high temperatures. It has been nice sleeping with all the windows and hatches open, but it will also be nice to get back to the usual summer weather pattern.
It has been not a bad week, although I must say without Wednesday and Friday night races, which take a hiatus for the month of July, the week seems a little slower and saner than usual. I think the highlight of the week was the Marina Village Pacific Cup party. Alan, the harbor master here at Marina Village, throws a party at the Encinal yacht club every other year for the crews of the boats going on the Pacific Cup race to Hawaii. As in years past I have helped out by being the bartender of the Mt Gay rum booth. Who came up with the bright idea of putting me behind the bar at a Mt Gay rum party I don't remember. But, since this is the fourth or fifth one of these that I have done now they must be ok with it. I must say that this years party was a little tamer than years past, but it was still a good time. I think that they had planned on about 160 attendees, but ended up with about 130 people in the end. I know that we went through more than a case of rum and that the beef tri-tips that Keith did on the barbie came out just about perfect. The funny thing is that even though I didn't drink that much I still felt like crap all day Thursday. Maybe this is just my body being conditioned to be hung over on Thursdays due to the Wednesday night races?
Last night Dina and I went to a new restaurant here in Alameda called Aquacotta. we had been there once before, but that was half bombed after a Wednesday night race with Steve and Jeff. While that was fun we decided that maybe just the two of us should try it a little more sober. Maybe it's me, but sometimes this whole fine dining thing is lost on me. I thought the place was really noisy, and while the food was pretty good, I didn't think it was worth the price we paid for it. We probably paid twice what a meal would have cost at Angela's or Asena, two very good places here in Alameda for food that wasn't as good as either of them. For me a good rib place that would have cost us less than a quarter of what Aquacotta cost would have satisfied all of my fine dining needs. Having said that trying to impress a date while drinking lemonade out of a mayonnaise jar and picking meat out of your teeth could be a little problematic.
Todays pictures are of this mornings sunrise. Dina having to be at work at some un-godly hour got me up early enough to get a couple of pictures. Hopefully you can see the sky is still pretty hazy from all of the wildfires. The other picture is from a pool party at Long Beach Yacht Club. There are a few more people than where at the Encinal on Wednesday, but you get the general idea.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Life is good



It is Tuesday morning and am sitting in the main cabin of the Lobster Telephone listening to NPR, it's already 70 degrees outside and it promises to be another hot day. Once again California's wildfires have turned the sky into a hazy shade of red. I figure eventually after the kind of post apocalyptic, globally warmed direction the world is going in, this is what the sky will look like everyday. What was that movie with a submarine, where the sky itself was on fire? Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea? Something like that.
Going back and looking at this blog it seems that the posts are getting a little long, and are probably not interesting enough to justify the length. I am going to have to work on that in the future.
Anyway as I say in the title Life is good. Our home is back in it's slip, and last night was a very pleasant evening spent at home with Dina. We basically got a few housekeeping chores done, and enjoyed a nice pesto-chicken dinner, of which I will be having for lunch again today as leftovers, yum.
One of the cool things about living on a boat is that we can change the way that we put the boat into the slip. This time we came in bow first, and this means that the aft deck and cabin now face the East Bay hills and the sunrise. Not that I actually was up early enough to watch the sunrise, but the option was always there. The bow in orientation also gives us a little more privacy as we are no longer sitting over the dock, but are now facing the water. Moving the boat around like this may confuse the cat who likes to look out of the ports, but it is a nice feature to have.
This mornings pictures are of Dina, who is cooking up a marinated pork roast with the Wylie 70 Rage in the background, and of my mothers dog Tonki. Tonki, along with my parents, stayed on the boat Saturday night. But, that is a story for another time.

Monday, July 7, 2008

Long Beach Race Week... part 2


Saturday of Long Beach Race Week started off with a little more wind than the Friday. Long Beach is pretty much known for a fairly consistent sea breeze which tops off around the high teens. Already on the motor out to the race course you could tell it was going to be maybe more than that. This was potentially a bit of a problem for me as I really hadn't packed well and didn't have the right clothes for a windy race.
We got a real nice start in the first race, doing a real nice job of shutting out our sister ship Emigree 2 at the boat end. Actually I must say that for the most part all of Jessee's starts where pretty good for the whole weekend. However with the wind up a little bit the faster boats in our division really began to sail away from us. In the lighter stuff we could keep up with them, but with the breeze up, not so much.
At the second top mark we had a problem getting the runner off for our bear away and as a result Emigree 2 rounded inside of us and got away form us a little bit. We gybed away got past them downwind and came into the finish pretty much overlapped with them. At the line it was close, but we thought we had beaten them pretty cleanly (see picture).
While waiting for the second race to start things began to go south pretty rapidly. I guess at some point we had started having problems with our port side runner winch, this led to us trying to cross sheet the runners, which is never a good thing. We had also run into some problems with our tack line making it hard to square the pole back far enough in the building breeze. We had also broken one of the cleats on the vang, but had just tied it off and had been making do with only one vang cleat. While trying to deal with these problems as well as do a quick sail repair and re-pack the spinnaker we had gybed the boat I thought a little carelessly and had broken a block on the vang, and also damaged the starboard runner block. In the mad scramble to get all this stuff working we had allowed ourselves to drift away from the starting line. Upon hearing the prep gun for the next start we started the motor in order to get back to the line quicker, however as soon as we put the motor in gear we wound the spinnaker sheet around the prop, instantly killing the engine. This pissed me up because I had just said to make sure that we check for lines in the water before putting the motor in gear and was in the process of doing so when it happened.
After having Kyle dive into the water to see if he could get the spin sheet free the decision was made to head back to the dock to lick our wounds and get our house in order. We changed down to the three and sailed the boat back into the dock without any real drama (that's the other picture... note the people on the dock there to catch us). Kyle and Daniel then spent the better part of an hour under the boat cutting away the spin sheet from the prop and the rest of us fixed the various other things that had broken that day.
The good news about dropping out early was being able to get to the Long Beach Yacht Club early for the Mt gay rum party. Still even this went a little sour as we noticed that the race committee had gotten our finish order with Emigree 2 reversed. No problem the committee said, just get someone form Emigree to tell us it's wrong and we will reverse it. We found some of the Emigree crew and one of them said no problem they had seen the mistake and would help us out, then another guy from there crew nudges the first one and says no, the committee had got the finish right. Shit! this means that we have to file a formal application for redress, a time consuming and unfriendly way of dealing with things. The whole redress thing was a joke, at first the race committee told us that they where not sure which boat had crossed the line first, but that it was the outside boat that had won. Fine, no problem, we where the outside boat. the problem was Emigree also claimed to be the outside boat. Then when we showed the committee the picture of us as the outside boat and clear ahead of Emigree they called the line judge who claimed that he was sure that it was the inside boat that had won because they had had better sail trim as they had crossed the line and therefore had surged ahead at the last minute. So, here I have a picture, with a time stamp on it, of us on the outside, clear ahead, and of Emigree's spinnaker out of sorts yet the committee still wouldn't change the result. In the great scheme of things it wasn't a big deal as we hadn't sailed the second two races of the day anyway, but this is the second time, the other was in a match racing regatta a couple of years ago, I feel I have seen the Long beach Yacht Club race committee blow a call badly, and do nothing about it. The Long Beach Yacht Club prides themselves on getting things like this right, but frankly I have yet to see it.
The day was not a total loss however as that night I got to crash the crew dinner of another boat at a swanky restaurant in Long Beach. My friend Deb was sailing on the boat and since her boyfriend was back home up north, I got to be her date. I ate a ton of ribs, had a couple of mojito's and decided that all in all this wasn't a bad life.
More on Long Beach Race Week later

Sunday, July 6, 2008

A long week.



A lot has happened in the last week or so here on the good ship Lobster Telephone. The last week has been a blur of activity and movement, literally in the case of our house. I am writing this from a different slip here in Marina Village. Last week I helped move a friends boat down to the boatyard for some work, and we decided to take advantage of his end tie slip being open and move the boat out there in order to enjoy the better view, and to be closer to Tom, Silvia, and Rich's boat for the holiday weekend. One result of this is the lack of our Internet connection, thus the lack of updates on this blog for the last few days.
Last week started up slowly enough, a mellow Monday evening on the boat and just a nice wind down from Long Beach Race Week (part two of that story coming soon). Tuesday however things started revving up again. First thing Tuesday morning I helped Tom take City Lights down to Svends for a bottom job. Since Svends is next to the Doyle loft I just walked next door to start working that day. That might be the first and last time I ever commute to work on a Santa Cruz 52.
After work Pete and I took our new Santana 525 out for a short sail. We have officially taken delivery and I figured it would be good to get her out and see how everything works. We got halfway out of the Estuary and then turned around and put the spinnaker up. Much to our horror, we found that the spinnaker says HONEY BEAR right across the middle of it. The Alameda Police boat gave us nice wave as they passed by as Pete and I tried not to look to embarrassed. That will be the first sail we replace.
Tuesday after sailing was trivia at the Hobnob. This time we started off slowly not doing well in the early rounds, but in the end we emerged victorious. This makes us two for two in Hobnob trivia. We did however name our team Honeybear in honor of the new boat. After the trivia ended somewhere close to mid-night I did an epic slightly buzzed moonshine runner high speed night time bike ride home. Maybe not the smartest thing, but good fun. I think I beat Dina in her car home by five minutes.
Wednesday was an understandably unproductive day for me at work, but everybody there seemed to understand. Wednesday night Dina and I went to see Mike Ness at the Fillmore in San Francisco. Mike Ness is the lead singer of the punk band Social Distortion, but his solo stuff tends to focus more on roots and country music. While I am not a big fan of some of this slower country stuff, in general I have to say I enjoyed the show quite a bit.
Thursday we came up with the bright idea of moving the Lobster Telephone over to the empty City Lights slip. This we figured would give us a better view of the fire works, plus put us next to the big red boat of our friends Rich, Sylvia, and Tom. This would allow a shorter commute for the evenings festivities. After work Pete, Rich, and I moved the boat over and we settled into our new slip for the weekend. Sadly however Thursday night was a bit of a bust for me. A friend of my brothers had gotten me a 1961 board game called Yacht Race. After setting it up and figuring out all the rules I promptly passed out. I guess the long week of festivities had finally caught up with me. Rich, Pete, and Dina however did us proud and made it till past 1am from what I hear.
More on the happenings of July 4th weekend soon. Todays pictures are of our new Santana 525.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Long Beach Race Week... part 1



Long Beach Race Week started off as these things do with a little bit of a hangover. We had gone out for a belated birthday dinner for Dina with our friends Tom and Barbara at Donna Tomas in Oakland the night before. As usual we had done the desert rum sampler and as a result things where a little dusty at 4.45 am when the alarm went off for my flight down to Long Beach. Needless to say my packing for the trip suffered and a few things where forgotten. At least I remembered my sunglasses this time.
Breakfast in Long Beach seemed to take the edge off and then it was down to the boat to go racing. One of the things I like about sailing on the 1D48 is that the crew is mostly made up of my classmates from CMA. There are a lot of young kids on board, so a lot of enthusiasm, and a lot of good stories. Usually about drinking and girls. Back when I first really started racing big boats I sailed mostly with a bunch of friends on a series of boats that had been donated to Cal Berkeley. So this was definitely a return to my past in some ways.
The first two races on Friday went pretty well. It followed the usual pattern that has been established on the boat. At first we don't do to well as there are new people on board and we are all trying to get used to each other. Then as things start to come together the results start getting better. This time though the learning curve seems to have accelerated some. Instead of taking the whole first day to get our act together it only took the first race. The first day results came out as a six-two. This put us one point out of second place and feeling pretty good about ourselves.

To be continued...