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.