Thursday, August 28, 2008

Roadtrip

Dina and I are heading out of town for a few days. Hearst castle and then Santa Barbara to hang with some friends.

A quick congratulations to Liem and crew for winning the Oakland yacht Club race last night. Liem definitely is fast in the light stuff. Adam got second, and we got third. The nice thing was we had seven 5.5s out. Hopefully next week we will get eight.

Dina and friends did well, and looked good, on the Gonzo also.

The Nightingale is also looking good at Svendsens. Tom and Kyle are doing a nice job with here there.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Down with the sickness..

Dina is in her happy space, watching re-runs of Sex in the City, so I will write about the weekend that was.

Friday we had planned to take Gonzo out on the Island yacht club race with my brother Joe, and my Cousin Julia. They had both come out with us on the Santa Cruz 52 the week before and wanted to go out again on something smaller. As it turned out we blew off the race and just went out for a nice evening sail. We then retired to the Lobster T for leftover sloppy joe's and painkillers. Somehow the word karaoke came up and before control could be restored the PS 3 was out and away we went. Julia and Dina obviously ran the show, but Joe and Pete got into the act as well. Rich and I did get a few car races in later in the evening, so it was not a total waste of video game console power.

Saturday was for me a day of being on the road. I started off driving Julia to San Jose airport, and then after being home for an hour it was off off to the city to meet up with Joe and Dina at the Beach Chalet at the end of Golden Gate Park. This resulted in me finishing off the second full tank of gas that I had put in the car this summer. Not bad usage for three and half months. I finally filled the tank this morning, making three tanks fulls for the entire summer.

Saturday evening it was back to the Tiki bar for a final farewell to Pete. Somehow I ended up joining their Rum drinking club. This is one of those deals where you drink one each of there 90+ Rums and then you get your name on the wall or something. Anyway we are off to a good start as I think I got seven Rums off the list on the first night.

Sunday started off with a walk of shame to go get the car from in front of the Tiki bar and to get coffee and bagels. Actually other than going out for both breakfast and dinner Sunday was pretty uneventful. I even took a couple of hours off in the middle of the day to finish reading a book. John Grishams, The Last Juror. Don't bother...

So, there it is, a very mellow weekend. A little goal oriented drinking, karaoke, and surviving Saturday afternoon traffic.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Happy Birthday to me...




So? You may ask, how did Dominic spend his 42nd birthday? I figured that when Steve bailed out on sailing 5.5s on Wednesday night because he had the flu that it was only a matter of time before I also got sick. Sure enough yesterday morning I woke up with the beginnings of a head cold. This one is bad in that my nose will not stop running, and my sinus's just ache. So sadly my birthday was kind of anti-climatic.

It was to bad really as the we actually had a pretty fun Wednesday night sailing Gonzo with Pete and Ethan, another co-worker of Dina's. This time it was Ethan's turn to drive, I did cockpit while Pete did bow, and Dina observed, and handed out beers. Ethan got us a pretty good start, and we managed to stay in touch with the fleet for most of the first lap. Sadly the wind dropped off during the second lap and we drifted out of contention. But we did persevere and beat the boat that dropped out.

Yesterday did start off promisingly enough though with me finding Dina in the galley, wearing a night gown, with a VB case on her head. Happy Birthday to me indeed... Sadly though I just went through the day feeling worse and worse as it went on. Eventually Bill sent me home from work, because as he so eloquently put it " You look like shit". Dina had planned to make a dinner for me last night of Sloppy Joe's (hey, it's my birthday, I get to eat what I want) made with ground Buffalo meat. Unfourtanatly I could not taste them at all with this cold, but I am looking forward to eating the left overs today and tomorrow.

For my birthday I also got to pick up my new iPhone. So far I like it a lot and frankly I have no idea about half the things it does. It does however seem to take pretty decent pictures, both of todays pictures come form it. The second picture is of the work that is being done to the Nightingale over at the yard.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Busy, busy, busy

Yesterday Dina rode her bike to work, something that she has been doing on and off lately. Shortly after she leaves I get a text message telling me I need to get my road bike back from storage in a friends garage. So yesterday lunchtime I walk over to Bill and Moe's place and pick up my bike. I had forgotten just how cool that bike is. I have been riding a beach cruiser around Alameda for most of the summer, but this is whole different kettle of fish. Forget that the tires are so skinny that you need to be moving at a good clip to maintain balance, or that the seat feels like the fist of Adonis jammed up your ass, this bike rocks. Compared to the beach cruiser this thing feels like a Lotus Elise, or similar sports car. I have to say that I am pretty psyched to get my bike back.
After work I needed to get the Nitingale back down to Alameda Marina as she is going in for some work before my folks take her up to her new home at the Stockton sailing Club. Because we had put her in a kind of out of the way slip here in Marina Village I had to skull her half way out of the marine which was a major pain in the butt. Once out on the Estuary however it turned out to be a nice sail down the channel. I quickly got bored with a nice sail however and put up the kite for the final five minute run into Svendsens. Adam at Svends had told me to put the boat into any slip that was painted yellow, so I put the 24ft Nitingale into a 50ft slip right next to the travel lift. Made it easier for me to dock.
Next was helping pete get settled in on Gonzo, the 525. Pete will be staying on her until he flys back east in a couple of days.
After that it was off to the city where Dina wanted to go to pick up something for my birthday. We drove over to Ghirradelli Square where we picked up a case of Victoria Bitter, a fine Australian beer That I had become quite fond of during my time in Oz. technically VB, as it is better known as, is not available in the U.S. but this store at Ghirradelli Square manages to have it as they are owned directly by the brewery, and thus somehow manage to skirt the import restrictions. Hopefully tonight during the Wednesday night race we will be getting into the VB's a little.
After getting the beer we had a pre-birthday dinner at Houstons on the Embarcadero in San Francisco. I had a prime rib, that was just right, and a baked potato that had so much stuff on it, it would have fed a family of four. Followed up by a hot fudge sundae, this was very good night out.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Out with the old


You might notice a few differences around the old blog this morning. Dina has decided to get involved, and no doubt things will be better because of that.
Dina pretty much covered the weekend for me, crab's at Ziggy's on Saturday, followed by a day out sailing on City Lights on Sunday. I have to say that taking City Lights out went about as well as it could have possibly gone. Perfect conditions for a reach around the south bay below the Bay Bridge. It would have been nice to get into the right angle for the spinnaker for a while, but other than that a very pleasant day out.
One thing that Dina didn't mention is our little shopping trip to Emery Bay on Saturday. After putting it off and waiting for some of the hype to die down I figured it was time to go buy an iphone. This led to what might be an occasional feature here on the blog of customer service loser of the moment. This is where I will name, and then rant about, somebody who I believe has wronged me in the performance of there job.
The first person to receive this honor is Joseph at the AT&T store in Emeryville. Joseph was rude, unprofessional, and did not seem to have a clue as to how to do his job. What kind of customer service person starts an argument with a long time client who is trying to drop a couple hundred dollars in his store? Dina and I walked out on this loser and went to eat at Fudruckers... That showed him.
In all fairness when we returned to the AT&T store an hour later we did receive excellent service from Matt. So it did kind of balance out.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Crabs on Saturday, Sailing on Sunday


What a great weekend! Saturday brought the annual Zdankiewicz Crab-B-Que in San Rafael...the usual cast of characters were along and we had a good time. Once again, Debbie and Ziggy threw a fantastic party.

Zig was rocking the keg and showed his usual fortitude for crab consumption. Click here for a video of our host in action.

I was amazed to calculate that our group of friends have now reproduced to an almost one to one ratio between adults and children. It's amazing to see little versions of our friends running about as well as their unbridled enthusiasm.

Today (Sunday) we had a huge opportunity to do some sailing on Tom Sanborn's Santa Cruz 52, "City Lights." What a spectacular yacht! After many respectable years on the San Francisco race scene, she has now been converted back to a cruising boat and is such a sweet ride. We took the crew from the Crab-b-que as well as the family. Dom's Mom (Susan) and Ziggy both were celebrating birthdays, so it made the trip extra special.

We had a great ride down the Estuary and along some of the city front. The best was spending time with the young girls (ages 3 -5) on the boat. They were so silly and excited about the outing...it was a blast.

Another noteworthy event was having part of the Fin fleet sail up and do tricks for free cans of beer. Steve Waterloo was super impressive with his abandoning ship manuever while Steve Hutchinson was working and pumping really hard to catch up to us for his prize. Those guys are a hoot and it added a whole new level of fun.

A big thank you goes out David Parker for making it look like it's easy to sail and to Tom Sanborn for trusting the Gypsies with his palace!

Photos of our day can be found here.

Gonzo's first race



Friday we night we took our Santana 525 Gonzo out for its first race on the Estuary. Dina bought a couple of her co-workers, Jessee and Patty, out and we did the Encinal Yacht Club Friday night beer can race.
Before the race I dove on the boat in its slip and made a sad discovery. It seems that the rudder post is bent on the boat. The steering has always felt a little stiff to me and as I was cleaning the bottom I noticed that the rudder hits the hull on one side, but not the other. Further analysis seemed to confirm that the rudder post is actually bent.
Because we got out a little late to the start we missed the first set of flags, and didn't realize that we where in sequence until after the horn at four minutes. Also in all the confusion I forgot to get the course flag. I got the one minute signal, but didn't really have time to plan out the start.
So, in short, a late start, while sailing a boat with a bent rudder, a new crew, without any beer(?), still added up to a very pleasant evening sail on the Estuary. In the end I think we may have even beat a couple of boats and we did get to fly the legendary HONEYBEAR spinnaker. That will probably be the first one we replace.
Still it was fun first race and hopefully team Gonzo will be out for the most of the remainder of the Estuary races this summer.

Friday, August 15, 2008

A good few days



It is about an hour after sunrise and I am sitting down here in the galley area of the Lobster T and all is good. The coffee machine is doing its thing, the cat is playing with a feather, and Dina is having a bit of a lie in. This is the way all mornings should start.
We broke out of our string of third place's in the Wednesday night 5.5 series getting a second this time. Still this means that we got one of the cool wide brim hats that the Oakland Yacht Club gives out as prizes, so it's all good. Still we need to get our act together on the Seabiscuit if we want to hold onto our season points lead. Adam is now sailing well, with a consistent crew and a new bottom. With new sails coming, he will be even tougher to beat.
Last night we went out on the time with our friends Barbara and Tom. We went to one of our favorite Alameda restaurants the Dragon Rouge, a Vietnamese place that has a family relationship with La Cheval in Oakland. Excellent food as always, and I should mention for our friend Pete, a friendly new waitress. After dinner it was back to the Alameda Theater where we ran into Dave and Lora who we had gone to see The Police with about a month or so ago. We all then went to see the movie Tropic Thunder. All I can say about Tropic thunder is that you should go see it now, and thank me later for telling you to go see it. Tom Cruise alone is worth the price of admission.
After the movie it was to the Lucky Thirteen of all places for a round of cocktails. I don't think I have been to the Thirteen in a couple of years, but it hasn't changed much, which absolves me of the need to go back again for a couple more years.
Tonight will be the first race for Gonzo, our new Santana 525. I re-cut one of the sails yesterday and but the new sail numbers on. Right now I am going to go see if the new sail fits and tonight we shall see how it goes.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Article link, and a movie review



It has been a couple of mellow days here on the Lobster T. Monday was dedicated to getting my article about my skiff ride done for sailing anarchy. Dina did a great job of taking what I wrote and making it readable. You just have to contrast it with the usual quality of this blog to see what I mean. I submitted it and it was put up on sailing anarchy last night. I think it actually came out pretty good in the end.
Last night Dina and I went to see The Dark Night. The latest installment in the Batman series. Not a bad movie by any means, but a lot different than previous Batman's. We saw it at the new Alameda theater, which is a pretty cool place. The original theater was shut down in 1979, but the new one has been re-done pretty much as it must have looked back in the day. I remember going to movies back in the late 70's at the place and the new theater definitely bought back some memories.
Before the movie we ate at the Burgermeister, a burger joint in the theater complex. I can highly recommend the Philly Cheese steak, although you might want to let it cool down before you bite into it.
Tonight we are racing 5.5s in the Estuary and hopefully we will at least get ourselves a hat and reverse our trend of 3rd place finishes.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Fast is fun



It was a good weekend here on the Estuary. Warm, for the most part, and somewhat productive. At least Friday and Saturday where.
Friday I left work a little early and did some chores around the home. Mainly laundry and a little cleaning. This I figured would allow me to sneak out with a clear conscious as I had been selected as a ride along winner on Sailinganarchy.com. This ride was on a 18ft skiff that was in town for a regatta being held on the city front later this week. It also got our house a lot cleaner for the weekend.
Rich came over Friday night and we had an amazing meal of steak, baked potato's, and corn on the cob. Most of it cooked on the grill under Dina's supervision. Even when she isn't actually doing the cooking she can still produce amazing food. After this meal we ended up watching our Eddie Izzard dvd, as Rich had never seen it before.
Saturday, after a bit of a lie in, and an awesome breakfast based on the left overs from the night before, it was back to boat chores. Mostly washing down the exterior and the aft deck. It ended up taking longer than I would have hoped as our neighbors actually showed up to use there boat and I got an eyefull from one of them after I accidentally got some spray on their boat.
Saturday night was another mellow night as Steve and Rich came by and we ate turkey lettuce wraps and watched TV. Steve at one point fell asleep and Dina kept tickling him with one of Fridas' cat toys before he eventually got up and left.
Sunday I left the boat early in order to go for my skiff ride. Sadly though there was some miscommunication between the sailinganarchy guy and I and I spent the morning wandering around the St Francis Yacht Club waiting for the skiff guys to show up. Eventually I got fed up with it drove back to the Alameda. Of course on the ride back these guys call me and say that they have arrived at the St Francis and did I still want to go sailing. So I had lunch with Dina and then drove back to the city for my skiff ride.
Since part of the deal for getting the skiff ride is I have to write an article for sailinganarchy.com I will just post a link for that after the article is finished. Probably tonight or tomorrow morning. I will say though that 18ft skiffs are f***ing awesome! One of the best sailboat rides I have ever been on.
The pictures are of an 18 sitting on the grass at Chrissy field, and of the maximum speed we hit during the roughly one hour we spent out sailing.

Friday, August 8, 2008

The week that was



Pretty much a mellow week here on the estuary for me this week. Tuesday evening was a trip to the Tiki bar for a final drink with Pete before he heads off to New York to find his fame and fortune. We had one drink there while he signed his car over to Dina's friend Patricia, and that was about it. One interesting thing is that it actually rained a little bit while we where there. Not much, but enough to have to do pass with the windshield wipers. Very unusual for this time of the year in the this part of the world.
Wednesday was the Oakland Yacht Club race on the mighty Seabiscuit. Once again we just don't seem to be very focused as it took us a long time to recover from being over early at the start. We did manage to catch up and pass Keith and kathy on the green boat, and we got to within a couple of boat lengths of helicopter Bob in second, but we ended up in third for the second week in a row. Steve once again put the boat in the wrong slip after we finished the race. But on the bright side Dina bought us a pitcher of Painkillers while we put the boat away, much to the envy of our competitors in the slip next to us.
After the race we didn't go to the club for once and came straight back to the Lobster T for dinner, a very nice pesto pasta, and to watch project runway. I of course did not watch project runway, but Jeff and Steve watched it with Dina. Steve is now worried that he may turn gay because of that, but he seemed to enjoy the show anyway.
Thursday night I worked a little later at the loft in order to get Steve's 5.5 cover repaired, and also to fix a tear in the mainsail of Tom, Sylvia, and Rich's big red boat. A couple of side jobs that I have been putting off for a while now.
After that Dina and I went out to dinner at Asena here in Alameda. In an earlier post I had mentioned that the whole expensive fine dining thing is sometimes lost on me. Last night however at Asena everything came together just right. I had a Fillet Mignon that was cooked just right. I even liked the vegetables, well except for the cauliflower. Desert and coffee, and especially the company made the evening just about perfect.
I don't really have any pictures of the week and will just put up a random shot of our cat, Frida, and maybe a sunset..

Monday, August 4, 2008

Aldo Alesio Regatta.





Last weekend I sailed in the St Francis Yacht Clubs Aldo Alesio series. My ride was the Reichel/Pugh 78 Akela that I had sailed on in Santa Cruz a couple of weeks ago. This is pretty big time program, lots of ex America's Cup and Volvo/Whitbread race guys. Somebody told me that 16 of the 22 crew onboard where paid pros. Like I said a big time program.
I was originally told that I would be working in the pit as the regular guy would not be there. However the regular guy did make it so I got sent down the the sewer, where my job was to help pack the spinnakers. Maybe not the most glamour, or fun job, but as we will see a quite important one.
We went out for a practice sail on Thursday with the intention of looking at a few sails and getting the rig tuned for SF bay conditions. I have to say that things seemed a little disorganized to me at this point. Originally I was told to be at the boat at 9am, then I was told to be at the yacht club at 1230, finally I was told to be at the yard in Richmond at 115. all of this while trying to finish a sail at the loft. When I left the loft I wasn't sure if I would have to go back to work or not. This added a little bit of stress to the whole thing.
The practice went ok, but it was obvious that the rig was way out of whack. We were sailing around with a reef and the #4 yet were still seriously overpowered. We also broke the luff tape on the #4 which didn't help matters. Still it was fun to watch these guys go to work on the rig. Calls were made to Southern Spars in New Zealand, and we must have jacked the mast up and down a dozen times. All the time we had a guy up the rig tightening and loosening stuff as the rig tension changed. This process pretty much continued throughout the weekend as we(they) tried to dial in the rig.
Fridays first race was out to the lightship bouy and then back around a couple of marks inside the bay. Our ride out to the lightship was pretty mellow. The boat is big enough that the ocean really didn't effect it that much. With an upwind boat speed of about ten knots we got out to the lightship about as fast as I ever have. Tactically however we made a couple of mistakes that led to us actually passing behind the much smaller TP52 Mayhem about a third of the way out. Once we got into a straight line drag race however we just pulled away from them.
The ride back into the bay was one of those big boat high speed runs that I will talk about for a long time. We probably averaged 15kts all the way in under the full size spinnaker and staysail. The highlight was probably hitting 21.9kts as we flew under the Golden Gate Bridge. I have been faster on boats a couple of times in the past, but this boat is just so smooth compared to those rides, no drama, no fuss, just lots of boat speed. Mayhem ended up correcting out on us by 4 minutes or so, but it was a good day.
Saturday was two windward/leeward races on the city front. The first race was a twice around long course race between Treasure Island and Fort Point. This gave us plenty of time to re-pack the spinnaker on the longish upwind beat. Still Joe, Lisa, and I packed the thing on the second beat so fast that the rest of the crew kept asking if we were sure that we had done it right. It went up with no problems so it must have been.
For the second race the race committee sent us on a very short course three lap race between Alcatraz and Fort Point. With the winds now up into the twenties this meant that our downwind runs were about six minutes, and our upwind beats about twice that. This gave us very little time to re-pack the kite while going upwind. On both beats we had an extra person down below helping us which made a huge difference. Will helped us on the first beat and Odean on the second beat. We would never have gotten it done in time without the help of those two. As it was it was a mad scramble to untangle the thing, run the retrieval line, band it, and stuff the thing back into the bag. Sweating, as Steve would say, like a whore in church the whole time. We would basically just bring the sail up with us as soon as we finished packing it as this gave the bowman just enough time to hook it up before we would round the top mark and go hurtling downwind again. Good times indeed.
We ended up getting a two thirds on the day, with boats that might have been two legs behind us when we finished correcting out on us.
After the race the crew were pretty good about saying good job to us which made me feel pretty good about my days work. Of course one guy had to say that even if they didn't have the best sewer team, we did do a good job on this particular day. This kind of sums up the attitude of some of these pros about us non-pros being on the boat. About the pros we sailed with, I must say it was interesting, while during the race they are certainly all business, as soon as the race was over they tended to jump on to the tender and take off right away. Not the friendliest bunch in general, but I think the biggest surprise for me was how passionless they seemed to be. To these guys it was a paycheck, plain and simple, they didn't seem to care about the result at all. There where a couple of exceptions to be sure, but for me it seemed... I don't know, kind of sad.
Sundays race was kind of anti-climatic. We had an ok start, but went straight up the center of the Bay into the teeth of the incoming flood tide. As a result we got to the first mark just barely ahead of Mayhem. We had broken the jib car about midway up the beat and although we had rigged something up it never seemed like it was going to hold up. We got to the second mark and the call was for a gybe peel around the mark. We went down below to pull down the old kite through the aft hatch, but then all of a sudden we had to pull down the new kite down the forward hatch. While this was happening the old kite started coming down the aft hatch. I never did find out what happened topsides as we were to busy dealing with the mess down below. We started packing the old kite and had just finished up with that when somebody came down and asked for the jib bag and for us to start the engine. I guess the call was made to drop out after the jib car repair started to rip out of the deck. Good call as far as I was concerned as nobody seemed to be really that focused on sailing the boat by that point anyway.
So that was my experience with big time professional big boat sailing. I liked the boat and being able to throw it around like we did. What I didn't like was the airs put on by some of the pros. It didn't seem, well professional, to me. There was maybe six of these guys I sailed with for four days who never acknowledged I existed. Whats up with that?
Having said that I hope to keep sailing on the boat and all indications are that I might just get to do that.
The pictures are from the ride back in from the lightship, and of Joe about to start pulling down the spinnaker.

Another long week



Sorry for the delay in writing anything here, but life has been a little busy for me this last week. I seem to remember last Monday as being kind of busy at work followed by a couple of painkillers at home before a jet lag induced early night.
Tuesday was trivia night although non of us where really up for it. Dina did not want to go, but Pete and I basically kidnapped, which she wrote down as our team name, her and dragged her out to the Hobnob. Sadly our unbeaten streak has come to an end. I am not sure where we ended up, but we didn't do that flash. I think fatigue might have been the underlying factor in our defeat, but rest assured we will be back stronger a week from tomorrow to take back our place at the top of the Hobnob trivia pyramid.
Wednesday, despite having a huge amount on at work, I spent most of the day on the boat while Liem Dao fixed our on board generator. We have been trying to get Liem, who is by far the best marine electrician on the Estuary, to fix the generator for some time. So when he said he could do it on Wednesday I took most of the day off in order to allow him to do it. It took Liem awhile to fix the generator, which turned out to have a corroded starter cable amongst other things, mostly because we couldn't get to it. The repair itself was fairly straight forward, access was the problem. Still we now have a working generator, something which will be nice to have. It will allow us maybe to use the boat a little bit more while anchored out somewhere, plus it will be nice to have in the case of an earthquake or power cut. Something I think we became a little bit more aware of after last weeks earthquake in L.A..
Wednesday night was also the first 5.5 race of the second half of the season. A couple of the 5.5s have changed hands in the last few weeks, so we are hoping that these two other boats will be out sailing with us soon. As for the race itself, all I can say is that we seemed a little rusty on the Seabiscuit. While third place is nothing to feel bad about it did mean that we did not get a hat from the Oakland Yacht Club for the first time this season. These nice wide brim floppy hats being the prizes for first and second place. The pictures posted with this article are from that race.
Thursday was supposed to be an early day at work because I intended to leave early to go practice on the Akela for the Aldo Alesio races'. However when I got to work I found that they had changed the locks while I was on vacation and forgotten to tell me. So, I ended up getting in later than planned and going through a mad scramble to get a bunch of stuff done before leaving at 1 o'clock. I am going to do another post about the whole Aldo experience, so I will spare you that here.
After getting back from sailing on the Akela on Thursday I roped Pete into helping me bring the Nitingale back up from Alameda Marina to Marina Village. All I can say is thank god Pete was there because there was no way I could have gotten the boat into and out of its slips at each marina. As it was we barely made it into the Marina Village slip. Not really sure how we will get it out to tell the truth. I think we will probably end up towing it out with the dinghy.
Friday after sailing I came back to Alameda and took out the Seabiscuit with Dina and Rich. Rich had never sailed a 5.5 before, so I figured it was a good excuse to get out and do the Encinal race, plus it kind of helps the fleet out by getting an extra boat on the line. Since we hadn't actually entered the race we decided to take it easy and just enjoy the evening sail more than go into serious race mode. We would have been third out of four had we finished, but we just sailed by the finish line so as to not screw up any of the the entered boats scores. After sailing it was back to the Lobster T for dinner and a couple of Painkillers before an early night for me.
I have to get going to work here, so I will post my pictures and get going. More on the Aldo Alesio and sailing on the Akela, and on the weekend fun at the Tiki bar later.