Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Where you been?

Ok, a quick end of the year explanation and a promise to get back to this blog thing soon enough.

As I said in the previous post I have gotten a new job. This has taken pretty much all of my computer time away. Seeing as I sit in front of one, actually two, all day the last thing that I want to do when I get home is sit in font of the computer and write more stuff.

Throw in the fact that I haven't been sailing much since the last Estuary race and that all I have to write about is work, things in blog ville just kind of tapered off.

Still, the first Sunday Brunch race is next Sunday, I have a new laptop that will allow me to edit the video's that I will be taking, and that I feel the need to babble inanely on the Internet again. All adds up to getting this thing up and running again soon.

I promise


Sunday, November 22, 2009

Long time gone...

Well, it's been a while, but damn a lot has been going on lately, hopefully I will be able to remember some of it.

I guess the big news is the new job... That's right after 25 years of being a sailmaker I have moved on to other things. I am working for an outfit called Glacier Bay Inc. out of Union City. I will try to explain what it is that I do there later, but the job involves some travel, with some of that being international. Indeed I have already done my first trip, to Fort Meyers, Florida for them.

What else has been going on? Firstly the new car, the Miata, is way fun. Sure it feels like a World War 1 Sopwith Camel sometimes, noisy, windy, with lots of rattling through the fabric type of stuff. When I first got the thing I was kind of surprised at how harsh the ride was. It turns out that the thing came with adjustable shocks that had been set to the firmest ride setting. A turn on the stiffness adjusting screw, down to five from nine, has smoothed things out considerably though.

The engine on the thing is great fun. I had heard of the phrase loves to rev before, but never really got it till I drove this thing. One thing that is funny though is that the car as fun as it is, is really not that fast. I come out of a series of turns or a freeway merge or something, having just run the thing through the gears and having a go at the twisty bits, but then you look in the rear view mirror and the lady talking on the cell phone in her SUV is staying right with you with out even trying. Still I am having more fun than she is, as well as paying more attention to my driving, so fuck her...

I have been sailing a couple of times recently. Once on the Farr 40 for the Great Pumpkin regatta. I did bow for three short races on the Berkeley Circle and even though it wasn't that windy I still got pretty beat up. I think we ended up fourth on the day, and I only managed to screw up one set out of the eight we did and even that one didn't hurt us that much. The other sail was taking out Gonzo with a couple of my new co-workers for a day sail out to the mouth of the Estuary and then back home. That was a pretty good day out, nice and mellow.

Ok, hopefully I will get back onto this blog thing on a more regular basis now. Next I think I might write about my trip to Fort Meyers. A great place if you want to feel young, like to drive slow, and eat in chain restaurants.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Out with the new, in with the old.

When I get woken up by the sound of jets flying over the boat I know it either is raining, or is about to rain. So, yes this morning it is raining. Rain isn't that big of a deal to most folks, but living on a boat it can be a pain sometimes. The way our marina is laid out with a single entrance gate means that we are as far away from the gate at the end of C dock as you can get. This always means a long walk to the parking lot whatever the weather. Later on, once winter hits for real, we will have ice on the docks in the morning, something which is fun to look at, but not real fun.
Coming soon, Ice on the docks.

Another reason that rain has become more of an issue that usual is that I have gotten a new car. A 1992 Mazda Miata convertible. We picked it up on the cheap from a friend of Dina's who no longer needed it. Something about a baby... I have to say the thing is just plain fun to drive. It handles like a go kart, and the engine really likes to be pushed around. There are fewer things more satisfying than coming around a corner, dropping down a gear and nailing it. The thing goes like it's on rails and just takes off.

My New Wheels

It does need some work, most notably a new top, hence the issues with rain. I got the present top pretty well taped up with sail repair tape over the weekend, but a new top is in our future. New tops for Miata's seem to be relatively cheap and available on E-bay and the like, and seem pretty straightforward to replace. Hopefully I will get this done in the next couple of weeks. I also need to go through it and redo the shocks and some suspension pieces. Once again parts are cheap and it doesn't look that hard to do.

New Wheels

The car itself is tiny, just getting into it can be a pain sometimes. It's also a little daunting to be sitting at a light or stop sign and be looking up at a Toyota Prius and thinking Damn, that's a big car. On the freeway with a SUV following you the car feels really small really fast especially at night with the SUV's headlights at about your eye level. That part is going to take some adjustment.

Element at the dog park

Sadly this means that we are going to sell our Honda Element. I have to say that I am really going to miss the Element. Dina bought it new about six years ago and we have never had a problem with it ever. The thing drives really well and has been probably the most useful car I have ever driven. I will admit to having doubts about the Element at first, but it has won me over by just being a really good car.

I will miss this car

The hardest part about selling the Element is dealing with the people who answer the ad on Craigslist. Some of the stuff you get is just an outright scam, some are just rude, most are just clueless idiots. I think I answered about ten emails before I have dealt with a normal person. We shall see what happens, maybe I will do a post about dealing with "buyers" on Craiglist. Trust me there are some stories there.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Batten down the hatches

It's the first big winter storm of the season right now, and weather, as Dina says, is so much more 3D when you are on a boat.

For one thing the boat moves around, a lot. Right now we have eight dock lines to keep us snug, but we still move quite a bit. Also since the boat is basically glass and fiberglass the rain can be a lot noisier than if you live in a house. To be honest for the most part these storms don't bother me, but Dina really struggles with them. The dog and the cat seem ambivalent as they do about most things. I find sleeping in the aft cabin to be the most comfortable, you almost find yourself being rocked to sleep back there. The forward cabin gets the most motion, but even up there it isn't that bad.

Sunday I spent a bunch of time going around the boat getting it ready for the storm. I fixed a bunch of snaps on the top, tied up the post that supports the top, cleaned and re-sealed the front hatch, and tried to re-seal the main cabin windows. So far most of what I did seems to be holding up. We still have a leak in the main cabin, but it is right into the sink, so I can live with that for now.

Actually Sunday saw a lot of folks down here in the marina getting there boats ready. It was good to see so many people take the threat of a bad storm seriously and get down here to get there boats ready. As always I am sure that a couple of boats will have problems, broken dock lines, or a furler that comes undone, but it shouldn't be to bad. Another thing is the staff here at the marina do a real good job of keeping an eye on things. I noticed that all of the dock boxes had been checked and wire ties put in the ones that didn't have locks to prevent them form flipping open.

The hard part of course is the fact that we live as far away from the parking lot as you can get. This means a long walk down the docks, with a dog that really doesn't understand rain. He wants to shake every time he gets a drop of water on him. This really doesn't work in these big southern storms that pack a lot of moisture, and as a result the walk always takes longer than it should. On the bright side it never really gets that cold during these storms.

This storm is supposed to be a big one, so we shall see tomorrow how we came out of it...

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

I still can't hear shit...

Because Monday is usually the quietest night of the week I decided to mix things up a little and do something about that. In a kind of last minute call, I bought the tickets on Sunday, and as a result Sylvia and I went to see Motorhead on Monday night.

Not a bad line up for a Monday night

Motorhead has always been a guilty pleasure. Loud, crude, but never half-assed, just the way rock and roll is supposed to be. For years I have always wanted to see them, but never did. So, when a guy I run into at the dog park asked me if I was going, probably because he saw my Motorhead T-shirt, I knew it was time. I tried to get Dina to go, and she agreed just long enough for me to get her a ticket, but she wimped out in the end. Still Sylvia, of the big red boat, was game so off we went.

The opening act was Nashville Pussy, a band I admit I knew nothing about. They turned out to be a couple of good ole boy rednecks, and two pretty hot chicks. The singer reminded me of an old friend of mine, Tony. Short, round, long red hair, and pretty fucking funny. The chicks in the band played bass and lead guitar. With song titles like, Drinking and driving while angry and The land of hate and whiskey, this was strait up southern hard rock. Kind of like Molly Hatchet meets Heart only better! I liked them...

Nashville Pussy

Next up was The Reverend Horton Heat, a Texas rockabilly trio. Once again I knew very little going in but these guys impressed. They did some roots rock inspired stuff that reminded me of Mike Ness', of Social Distortion, solo stuff, but they also did some psycho-billy stuff that was pretty cool. They played a solid set with a stand up bass, an electric-acoustic guitar, and drums. Good stuff.

The Reverend Horton Heat

Motorhead came on right at ten pm, Lemmy and the band walked out on stage, Lemmy says "We are Motorhead, We play rock and roll" and they did. At a very LOUD volume for the next two hours. I don't know all of Motorhead's songs, but they played most of the ones I did. It was great to watch a gig played by a group who obviously enjoyed playing and doing what they are doing. I think the three of them have been playing together for something like 25 years and the rapport on stage they had with each other it was obvious. Just in the way that Lemmy and guitarist Phil Campbell talked to the crowed and to each other you could tell. I especially liked the part when Lemmy told the crowd that this was the best crowd that Motorhead had ever had in Northern California.

Sylvia and I managed to scam a couple of great spots to watch the show right on the edge of the walkway down to the stage and thus had a great view of the whole stage. As we were also on the first rise above the floor, we also got a great view of the mosh pit in front of the stage. We saw some big guys, get pretty roughed up, but we also saw some girls in the pit holding their own. This was a great gig for people watching thats for sure.

Motorhead goes acoustic

I have to say that with the exception of the volume it was probably one of the best shows that I have ever seen. Mikee D the drummer, just back from a stint on the Swedish version of "Get me out of here I'm a celebrity" is just plain awesome. With long blonde hair, this guy looks, and plays, like a rock and roll drummer should.

Mikee D Drum solo

Motorhead though is of course all about Lemmy, the bass player, and vocalist. Lemmy does have a presence on stage which is hard to explain. Tall, dressed in black, and with an iron cross necklace Lemmy projects rock and roll in way that is hard to explain. Sure his voice is not what you would call great, but hey the guy is 64 and is up there doing it better than most.


All in all one of the best shows I have been to. Only complaint is that I didn't have earplugs, my ears are still ringing now 48 hours after the show... Not good.

Thank you, Good night

Monday, October 5, 2009

Puppy update

I haven't talked much about Ajax lately so here is a short post updating his status.

Ajax in one of the cute poses he always seems to find himself in on the boat

Ajax, the cute puppy that we got from the Oakland pound about a year ago has turned into a dog. Not a bad dog, but a dog never the less. He is still kind of cute with his oversize feet, and long legs. But he has lost most of his puppy edge. He seems to have topped out at about 64 pounds, which when we got him he was about 55 and they told us he would gain about ten more. So score one for the pound staff.

Ajax seems to be a pretty lazy dog, especially for one as young as he is, about 18 months we figure. He seems happy to sleep 18/20 hours a day although that is broken up into many many naps. He is however up for anything when it is time to go. He does pretty well on his walks, which usually involve lots of peeing, sniffing, and hunting for Squirrels.

Ajax dreaming of Squirrels?

Ajax does have a kind of weekly routine. I usually take him out for his first morning walk around 8am. Then on Monday and Wednesday mornings he goes out with a walker and a pack of 11 other dogs up into the Oakland hills . He seems to really enjoy these walks, plus the training he gets from the dog walker. The walker, Raul, always gives us a write up of his walk and once in a while we even get a video clip of his antics.

Ajax and Frida sharing a rare moment of tranquility

On Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday I usually take Ajax to work with me. At first we would leave him on the boat all day with me coming home at lunch time to take him out for a while. However I started feeling bad for him being caged up all day so I started taking him to the loft. At first I would just let him stay at the loft till he became a pain and started barking, but he seems to have settled down there and now he pretty much hangs out all day. On most of those days I take him to the dog park at lunch time for a run and to hang out with his doggie friends.

Ajax helping me repair a Spinnaker at the loft

The weekends he just pretty much hangs out and does whatever it is we do.

Ajax keeping an eye on us through the front hatch

It's kind of funny the way Ajax has pretty much become my dog. I guess because I spend more time with him he tends to look to me as his boss. This is kind of ironic as Dina is the one who really had to have a dog and I was kind of ambivalent about the whole thing. Still it is not all bad I guess.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Last weekend

Even though it is Thursday evening I am going to write about the three days of sailing we did last weekend.
Me, fat and happy on the bow of City Lights

Friday night was the last of the summer Estuary races. This was an Encinal Yacht Club race and it was always going to be a short one. I think sunset was at 720pm and we were the 4th start at 645 or 650pm. I drove and even though we got fouled (again) by the blue Tarten 30 we got off the line in a nice spot. It was pretty light, which meant that Cameron and Jeff didn't bother hiking out at all. It went well though in that as we got off the line with the Tarten on our hip we kept getting knocked. This meant though that the we could always keep clean air even with the bigger boat above us. Eventually I guess he quit trying to roll us as Jeff said he had dropped back a lot. I think this might have been the first time this season that we had peeled this guy off.
Gonzo out racing on the Estuary

We rounded in first, actually having passed a couple of the boats that had started five minutes ahead of us. Our usual good set helped us extend and in the light air Gonzo really held her own against the bigger, heavier boats. A smooth bottom rounding led us on a one tack beat to the finish. We got rolled on the way to the finish by a Peterson 34 that was racing non-spinnaker in another division. What this meant was that as he finished just ahead of us to take the gun the EYC race committee didn't have time to reload to give us our first gun of the season. They did however yell BANG! though, so that was cool.

As a result of our win in the last race we ended up third for the series, one point out of second. This of course called for some celebrating at the yacht club with my Dina and Ajax, my brother, Joe, his girlfriend Dinah and their dog Woody, and some of the Red boat folks joining us on the deck of the Encinal for our post race party. Good fun.

Saturday started a little rough, but with great plans of a day of boat canvas work. However for some reason I had to fuck with the hot water heater which had the slowest of slow leaks first. Needless to say I broke the connector on the hot water outlet on the tank and ended up spending half the day dealing with that. Because the hot and cold water on the boat are all pressurized by the same pump, a broken hot water connector meant no water pressure till it was fixed.

While I was doing this however Dina got the 525 put back into cruising mode, which meant cleaning out the mess that we racers had made, then putting the cushions, a stereo, and the outboard back on. This led to the decision to take Gonzo out for an evening sail with the Big Red Boat folks. Tom. Sylvia, and Rich had told me that they would buy me a nice meal as a graduation present. So the plan became taking the boat out for sail up the Estuary, stopping at Jack London Square on the way back, and getting something to eat at one of the places there.

Me, Tom, Sylvia, and Dina in cruising mode
I have to say that this was one of the better nights we have had with the 525. Definitely the best non racing night. The sail out was perfect, I don't think we ever tacked as we headed out of the Estuary into about five knots of breeze. Sylvia drove the whole time and the rest of us listened to music, and enjoyed the ride. We got pretty far up the Estuary and then turned back with the kite up and the sunset behind us.

Another Estuary sunset

Our stop at Jack London Square was perfect. We tied up the boat in front of Scott's, and then went to eat at Miss Pearls Jam House. We ate outside on the square and I had some of the better ribs that I have had in a while.

Scott's at Jack London Square
After dinner we hit the bar for a night cap and we ended up getting a glass of the very rare Royal Navy Imperial Rum. At $80 a pop this stuff is about as much as you can spend on rum by the glass. Is it worth it? Probably not, but it is a very, very tasty rum...

Very good Rum

The sail home from Jack London to our slip is about 3/4 of a mile. We set the kite as we pulled out, turned up the stereo, and sailed home in shorts and t-shirts. The sail took us about 45 minutes and we ended up getting back to our slip about midnight. It was one of the most pleasant evenings that I have had in years. Thanks again to the Big Red Boat crew for the night out.

Sunday was another great day of sailing. This time we took, again, the Santa Cruz 52 City Lights out for another day sail. The original plan was to take some of Dina's co-workers out on Gonzo, but as more and more people showed an interest we swapped the the 525 for the 52. As it turned out most of Dina's group bailed and we ended up only taking one guy, John, out.

Cameron and Amanda
However we did have Cameron and Amanda, Jeff and Anne, and Kirsten out for the day. We didn't get a lot of breeze and we stayed in the south bay for most of the day, but it was still a great day out. Jeff took a bunch of pictures, which are the ones you see here.

Amanda, Dina, Anne, and Kirsten

After the sail it was back to the Lobster T for a couple more drinks as Dina made dinner for us all. We had Pheasant and Duck sausages as well as assorted salads and other veggies. A perfect end to a very cool weekend.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Friday post about a couple of nice sails.

Why does it seem that I had more time for blogging when I went to school than now, when I have all this extra free time?

It has been a busy week at work which explains some of it. After a slower than normal summer we are now backed up through the end of November, which might be the biggest backlog that we have had this year. That is kind of ironic in some ways as I figured that once the Big Boat Series was over things would drop off and I could start looking for a "real" job. Something which I have started to do.

Speaking of Big Boat Series here is a link to a video that Norcalsailing.com made of the the Cal 40 class and then posted on their website.

We had a couple of good sails last weekend. First it was the final Island Yacht Club Friday night race of the season. I am beginning to like the Island races more and more as they are usually a little longer and they keep us down the Estuary further. Maybe it's just the change of pace from the sameness of the Encinal and the Oakland races. But, I am starting to enjoy them more and more.

We watched the starts of the previous fleets with some amusement as the Island race committee sets a pretty short line. The first start was the non-spinnaker boats, but apparently the Farr 40 Twisted didn't get the memo. So we got to watch Twisted storm in and make a mess of things before figuring it out and getting clear. This however was just a warm up for the big show, which was the A-fleet start. Between the Farr 40, the J-124, a Jenneau 35, plus about 5 other boats it was just chaotic. The Farr came in fast and way too early, ran out of room against the shoreline and had to tack over to port right in front of the starting boats on starboard. Somehow there was no contact, but there was certainly a lot of yelling going on. This start even got it's own thread on sailing anarchy.

Our own start, driven by Jeff was relatively sedate by comparison. We crossed tacks with an Olson 25 and even the Moore 24 for a while, before getting into our own breeze and sailing our own race. We rounded the top mark with the Tarten 30 and watched them pull away from us like they always do. We had some fun with a Santana 22 at the bottom mark, pulling away from them after a pretty sweet weather douse that they could not match. We probably still ended up deep, but it was great night for sailing that we made better by taking a stereo along with us and cranking it up for most of the race.

Sunday we went for a very pleasant day sail on City Lights. This time we were joined by Tom and Barbara who sailed on their boat for the first time in what may have been a couple of years. We did the usual Bay tour around Angel Island, up to Sausalito , followed by a nice run down the Central Bay. We then put the spinnaker up for the run across the city front and into the Estuary. It was actually a very nice day out. Cameron and his girlfriend Amanda joined us as well as a few of the City Lights regulars, two of the Dave's and their various entourage's. Here is a link to our course track just for the fun of it.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Sweet 16 series wrap up.

Well, that's it for the Wednesday night races. Kind of sad really as they are probably my favorite beer can races on the Estuary. A nice way to break up the week in a low key, yet fun kind of way.

It all ended up on a good note last night though. Bill joined Cameron, Jeff, and I on the Moore for the final race. Cameron drove, Jeff ran the middle of the boat, and I did bow. Usually Bill likes to just come along for the ride, but this time we actually put him to work pulling lines from the pit and doing a little jib grinding for Jeff. Also he was our beer hander-outer, a very important role on any boat.

The race committee had promised us something special for the last race, but instead they just ran a single lap to the far upwind mark at Jack London Square. Cameron got us a good start in the middle of the line avoiding both the pile up at the pin and the gaggle of port tackers on the shore. We tacked right away easily crossing the Islander and then looked back to see Vince and the blue boat get into a shoving match. All I saw was the blue boat sail straight into Vince and Vince reach out and shove them out of the way.

From then on it was just a matter of covering the Islander up the course. Jeff and Cameron finally got the main on the Moore looking somewhat decent by wailing on both the cunningham and backstay to levels that you would usually see in 25kts of breeze, not the 8 to 10kts that we had last night. It was good to finally sail our own race from the front of the fleet. Not getting sucked too high into the Alameda side up at the houseboats, not having to sail in the dirty air of the bigger boats in our class, stuff like that.

We had a decent rounding and set off for the bottom mark. We had some issues getting by one of the 5.5s that had started 5 minutes ahead of us, but we managed to finally get over the top of them and then squeeze them off at the mark. I almost felt bad for Keith and Kathy on the 5.5. They had about a two boat lead over a pack of three boats about 3/4 of the way down the run only to get run down and end up coming out of the mark in third, to then get rolled by Vince to lose more time.

At the bottom mark we executed a pretty good weather drop and then proceeded to camp on the Islander all the way to the finish. The finish was a little bit anti-climatic though, as we shot the line fully expecting to hear a gun, all we heard was silence. The Islander which finished a minute behind us though did get a gun. WTF? We were all a little miffed by this and I actually called the race committee to ask them what happened. We got some b.s. excuse about a "miscommunication" and was told that we did in fact win. Whatever... This was the third time this season that we had been not finished by the race committee for whatever reason.

So in sailing the Moore to a second and two firsts in the final three races. This was enough to put us in fourth place overall in our division. I have to say that this has been a fun series despite the results. Jeff and Cameron have been a lot of fun to sail with and I don't think anybody who has heard us out there doubts that we are having a good time. Also thanks to Dina, Jessie, Dan (Sid), Bill, John, Jill, Joe, Roxanne, Jeff's friend (Ben maybe?) and anybody I may have forgotten for coming out with us. Also thanks to Tony and Mike for letting us take the Moore and salvaging some respect for ourselves on Wednesday nights.

Monday, September 14, 2009

2009 Big Boat Series.

Over the last few days I have been sailing in the Big Boat Series. This is something like my 13th or 14th series and I have to say it might have been one of the least painful ones that I have done. Usually the Monday after Big Boats I am a mess. I am usually tired, bruised, hungover, and just done with sailing for while. This time however I am actually in pretty good shape, no visible bruising, I got plenty of sleep, and I am looking forward to going sailing on Wednesday night on the Moore again.

Speaking of the Moore we did the Oakland Wednesday night race on it again the evening before the series. Things didn't start to well as we lost the main halyard up the bottom of the mast and I had to go up to the top of the mast on a borrowed harness to get things sorted out. Steve had driven up from L.A. to do the series with us and he drove the Moore on Wednesday, joining Cameron, Jeff, and I. The race committee decided to change things up and started us downwind on a reverse course from usual. We got a great start and pretty much led the entire way around only getting passed on the final run to the finish by a Wabbit that owed us a ton of time. We easily took the win for the first time this season.

Thursday the series itself started and it was off to San Francisco for the first of four days of racing. My ride this year was the Cal 40 Shamen. I have raced on Shamen in the last couple of Golden Gate mid-winters and enjoyed it enough that when they invited me to do Big Boats with them I had no hesitation saying yes. Our division only had six boats, the minimum required to get a one-design start but it figured to be pretty competitive as all of the boats are equally slow. I guess the resemble the Colombia 5.5s in that respect. We had done a couple of local races as practice and even though we had finished second out of the three Cal 40's in those races I felt we would be competitive in the series itself.

What we didn't count on though was that one of the Cal 40's that had not been racing in the practice races, Gone With the Wind, had a pretty stacked crew and had obviously been prepared by someone who knew what they where doing. I saw my old boss from North Sails as well as an Olympic sailor onboard. The boat was also seemed immaculately prepared with a very good bottom, deck hardware, and sails. I kind of figured as soon as I saw that we would be racing for second.

Interestingly enough GWtW didn't win the first race, a boat named Henry Hannah won that, followed by GWtW . We ended up third. The race itself was pretty funny in that the race committee sent us on the shortest course that they had. Windward, downwind finish. This kind of set the tone for our races with us getting very easy courses, which suited me just fine. The 2009 series will I think go down as one of the lighter series' in the events history. While I think the wind did get above 20kts one day, for the most part we had really nice breeze in about the mid-teens. This combined with a relatively weak flood tide made for a pretty mellow series conditions wise.

The second race of the first day we got caught out on the wrong side of a tug and barge that was cruising across the race track. We were probably in second place when we got to the tug and as we watched the rest of our fleet sail behind it we got caught out on the outside and by the time we got behind them we were in last place by a lot. We did get one boat back by the end to finish 5th but it was a pretty sad turn of events. So after the first day we had eight points and were tied for third. Two boats had seven points, and GWtW had 3 points. Not the beginning we had hoped for.

Fridays first race was probably the wettest, and coldest of the series. I think it was on the edge of which sail to use, the one or the three. We chose the one and it seemed to be the right call. although by the top of the course it was obvious that we would be switching to the three. It just happened that we also tore the one at the last tack of the beat so we couldn't use it the rest of the day anyway. As it turned out this kind of turned out to be a blessing in disguise as the wind kind of died down at the bottom of the course and a couple of the boats kept their ones up. not having that option we stuck with the three and expected to get hurt in the lighter breeze, however when the breeze came back up again the boats carrying the ones now began to suffer.We ended up second in the first race and actually managed to win the second race of the day. This was nice as the the race committee likes to finish the last race of the day in front of the club, so everybody got to see us take the win.

Saturday we awoke to the sound of thunder and rain, something we don't get very often here in the Bay Area. Also I had to go to the loft early to fix a couple of sails before heading over to the city. At this point we had closed the gap to first place to 5 points, a big gap, but with three races still to go hopefully we could build on our success of the previous day and still take it. Sadly it was not to be. We ended up third in the first race with GWtW taking another win. Now we also had the problem of the third place boat only being a point behind us. At this point we had to basically concede first just to make sure we didn't drop back into third. The second race on Saturday turned out to be one of our better ones as we led most of the way around the track, only giving up the lead about 100 yards from the last mark before the short run down to the finish. I think we worried about the tide too much and just did to many tacks into the beach to stay out of the incoming flood tide and it cost us the lead right at the finish.

The last day turned out to be a little anti-climatic. Gone With the Wind had already sewn up first place and didn't even need to sail but did the honourable thing and came out anyway. The wind really never filled in and the race committee waited for about an hour before they decided there was enough pressure to start the races. We where actually lucky in that on the other course, they run two separate starting areas, they only started on class and then abandoned racing for the day. The one race they did start was eventually abandoned also.

For us the race was all about covering the third place boat Azure. We had a three point cushion on them and would have had to screw up pretty badly to lose second, but stranger things have happened. We traded first with GWtW up the first beat and they just got ahead of us at the first mark. We were just about to round in second when Far Far which had been over early at the start came screaming in from nowhere having taken a huge flyer to the other side of the race course and stormed around inside of us at the mark. We also let Henry Hannah get by us on the next leg, but we still had Azure behind us so all was still ok. After rounding and setting the kite in front of the yacht club's we headed down to the bottom mark off of Treasure Island. We played what I thought was a pretty high risk strategy of staying in close to the city front while the other boats all went out closer to Alcatraz. Ultimately though our strategy payed off and we passed the second and third place boats and gained a lot on the first place GWtW. By this time though the wind had dropped to almost nothing and the committee had decided to end the race at the bottom mark. Even though we got to within about a boat length of GWtW we couldn't catch them. They took the win and we got second, which is where we both finished for the series.

Sorry about the lack of pictures, I just didn't have time to really get any of anything interesting.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

1 Moore Wednesday

As Dina likes to say, there is just to much life in my life. The last week has been like the last month, just to much stuff going on.

Last Wednesday Jeff, Cameron, and I took out a borrowed (thanks again Tony and Mike) Moore 24 to do the OYC race. I never felt that we had sailed the Santana that badly and that our results where more based on the lack of a decent headsail and a harsh rating than our sailing ability. So, in order to prove this to both ourselves and to our competitors we borrowed the Moore which has better sails, and a much fairer rating.

The Moore 24

The Moore was called Kangaroo Court, but we entered it as Gonzo "B" in order to avoid paying a second entry fee. This Moore actually has quite a history having been sailed to Hawaii double handed at one point. I also did the Moore 24 nationals on it sometime in the 90's out of the Tiburon Yacht Club with some friends out of Santa Cruz. It was then bought by a lady who thought it would be a good boat to learn how to sail on, and thus be able to sail with her husband on his larger boat more. Joan then sold it to Tony and Mike a few years back, and they in fact have sold it to a guy up in Oregon who will take delivery of it at the end of this month.

Cameron and Jeff doing the post race breakdown

It was very very light for the race and sadly our rivals on the Islander pulled a no show. Still Dave was out there on his new to him Moore and Vince was out on his Kiwi 30. Plus the usual other suspects of fleet Charlie. We got badly fouled in the pre-start by the Tarten 30 which ended up with us having to tack to avoid him and then protesting by waving the red end of the Tecate beer 12 pack holder. After some discussion he did his penalty circles and we ended up getting a pretty decent start.

We did ok on the first beat while still trying to figure the boat out. We planted a perfect lee-bow on Dave on the other Moore about half way up and put him away pretty nicely. We also got fouled again, this time by a Merit 25 which once again bought out our Tecate red protest flag. The Merit also did his penalty circles. We rounded in first, but in the light, streaky, breeze we found it hard to stay in a consistent lane, that and the fact that we had too heavy of a kite up allowed Vince to get by us at the bottom mark.

Tecate, beer and equally useful as a protest flag

We actually gybed inside of Vince at the bottom mark, but really couldn't hold the kite on the angle to the offset mark. With Vince underneath us we dropped the kite but lost about three boat lengths to him. From the offset mark it was a short beat to the finish, but not long enough for us to do anything to get Vince back. We ended up in second, which we thought was fair as Vince had sailed a little smarter getting his kite down ahead off the bottom mark rounding.

Eat our wake bad guys...

Hopefully we will get the Moore out again tonight in a little more breeze and see if we can build on our success. However we are a little bit behind at work so it is going to be touch and go as to whether we will make it out.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Columbia 5.5 "nationals". Day two...

Long overdue, but here goes.

Campbell, Bill, and I went into the Sunday of the nationals feeling pretty good about things. We had won the last race on Saturday and figured as long as the breeze stayed stable we would be ok. Even though liem had a three point lead we knew that we were faster both upwind and down and just needed to concentrate a little more on the big picture and sail our own boat a little better.

Saturday night a large part of the fleet had blown off a planned dinner at the Encinal Yacht Club and instead had gone up to Bill and Karen's place up in the Oakland hills for a Bar-B-Q. This was a lot of fun with crews from at least five of the eight boats enjoying the hospitality, good food, and usual shit talking that takes place at these kind of events.

When we did get out to the race course it took a while for the wind to fill in, but after a delay of about an hour or so the race committee eventually set a start line in between a large ship and a barge that had anchored in the race area overnight. A little unusual, but it was were the most breeze was so I guess it worked.

The first race went pretty well for us, we knew we wanted the right side and after a pretty good start tacked over and went that way. A good layline call followed by a good set got us around in first only to then be slowed by the outgoing ebb tide. This allowed the fleet to compress downwind a little and cut into our lead a bit. Also we now had to decide which side of the barge we wanted to go on as we headed to the bottom mark. Of course our two biggest competitors, Liem, and Adam both split behind us leaving us with the decision of which one to cover. We decided to cover Adam going above the barge, so of course Liem made some huge gains going under it. I think we rounded second at the bottom mark but another smart upwind leg got us back into first and this time we held that until the finish.

Now we won two in a row and things were really starting to come together. I was amazed by how quite this race had been on board compared to the first days racing. We did however have a bit of a breakage as the the starboard clam cleat was not holding the guy downwind, this meant that my job downwind was now to be a human cleat as well as keeping an eye back on the competition.

The race committee got right into sequence for the second race which caught us out a little bit as we needed to run the spinnaker to the other side. This took a little longer than it should have as we had to have a debate about whether to gybe set or not at the top mark. This left us a little out of sorts for the start. We got to the pin a little early with Liem underneath us, after the usual exchange of pleasantries that often happens in this case we bailed out and gybed away from the line just as the gun went off, we then took off on port taking the transom's of pretty much the whole fleet and headed off to the right hand side again.

This turned out to be not a bad call as we once again got to the favored right hand side which may have allowed us to get to the weather mark in first (my memory isn't what it used to be). From there we sailed in control of the fleet and on to our third win in row. That plus the fact that Liem had hit the pin at the start as well as the bottom mark twice allowed us to go into the last race with a nice run of firsts and a comfortable lead on the score sheet.

What did confuse things however was the fact that there was throw out allowed if the regatta went six races. Usually I am not a fan of throw outs at "national" championships, figuring that if you win you should have no excuses or bad races. That the most consistent boat should win not the boat that got DSQed in one race but did well in all the others. What this meant for us though is that we had a one point lead over both Adam and Liem and that if we finished second then we would win no matter what.

We didn't have great start and things got a little loud on our boat as Bill and Campbell started to grumble to each other. I then pointed out that we were in fact in front of both of the boats that we had to be ahead of so we should just relax and let out speed and smarts do their thing. This seemed to calm things down a little and we worked our way into first place by the weather mark. So this meant of course that even though we were leading on the downwind run that when Adam split and used the barge as a pick and we had to decide who to cover, Bill and Campbell both almost had a nervous breakdowns.

Adam did round the bottom mark ahead of us, but we were easily far ahead of the rest of the fleet that we could attack Adam a little while still covering Liem. We never did catch Adam, but we got the second we needed to claim the title of "National" champions in the Columbia 5.5 metre class. This was my second championship having had won it with Adam many years ago, it was also Campbell's 2nd and Bill's 3rd.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Far behind

I realize that I have been slacking on this blogging stuff lately, shit I still need to do day two of the Columbia 5.5 Nationals and that was two weeks ago. However as Dina often says, there is just to much life in my life. Throw in the fact that we are gearing up for the Big Boat Series at work and I just don't have a lot of spare time these days.

Ajax, seen here trying to sneak away, was working at Doyle last week

Last week started with Dina and I heading up to Sacramento to see Greenday for the second time in less than a week. Dina had won tickets through the Greenday fan club, The Idiot Club, so we got our friend Dave to take Ajax out for his evening stroll and headed east for the show. Dina has expressed a desire to write the review of the concert so I will let her do that at her leisure. I will say however that the Sacramento show was way better than the San Jose show. Although the late night drive back was pretty brutal.

Greenday in Sacramento

Tuesday was another late night as we had a couple of fellow liveaboards, David and Catie, here in the marina over for dinner. This was good in that we got into the 12 year old scotch and played liars dice till late. That combined with the excellent dinner that Dina prepared made for a pretty fun night in.

Wednesday night was the usual OYC Estuary race with my friend John joining Jeff, Cameron, and I this time around. I hate to say this but the OYC race's are starting to bum me out a little. It was very light, and the OYC race committee sent us on the longest course that they had. Then they made us go twice around. When we got to the club afterwards they scored us DNC (did not compete) for the second week in a row. We got them to change it later, to 6th out of 6, but they were a little whiney about it, also when I asked them about last weeks DNC they didn't even make an attempt to do anything about it. Still for next Wednesday night we have been offered the use of a Moore 24 and we will probably be sailing that for the remainder of the series. Hopefully sailing a different boat with a fairer rating and real sails we will be able to finish out the summer series with some good results.

Thursday night was actually pretty mellow. I think both Dina and I were so happy to have a night off with nothing planned that we just hit Dragon Rouge up for dinner and then had a nice night in.

Friday night was the Island race and we had Dina and Bill join us for what was probably the nicest sailing night of the year so far. As far as the result was concerned I have no idea how we did. It was warm, not that windy, and with the exception of the lack of a toilet for Dina, one of the best sails we have ever had on the Gonzo.

Staying out after the racing on Gonzo

Saturday I went out for a ride on the TP-52 Flash. My friend Campbell is taking care of the boat and invited me out for a day of rig tuning and sail testing. Having never been out on a TP-52 before I figured it should be a interesting day out. All of the stuff they wanted to get done we got through pretty quickly so we headed out the Gate to set the kite and have a fast run back in. Flash felt like it was on rails as blasted back in cruising at high teens, low twenties with total control. We did a bunch of gybes on which I got to grind on the pedestals which is bloody hard work, especially for some one like me. Towards the end of the run I was even grinding the sheet by myself. Hard work, but good fun.

Flash blasting downwind

We got down to the circle pretty quickly blowing by the 505's that had just finished their world championships and were heading back to the city front. The call was made to douse the kite and I jumped down the hatch to help pull the kite down. While down below it seemed to me that we where having a bunch of problems with the drop and at one point Campbell came running down the steps to the aft of the boat for some reason. The kite started to come down but the boat seemed to be all over the place. Eventually the kite came down, but I could hear someone yelling "no steerage' at another boat. It turns out that our rudder cable had come off at the wheel.

Next thing I know is someone yells "hold on" and then I feel us bounce off another boat. The hit didn't seem to bad as I didn't get thrown down or anything, but when I popped my head out of the hatch I just caught our boom dragging along the power boat that was the committee boat for the 505 worlds. We took out all the flags, broke a window, and caused some other damage to the committee boat. We then hooked a backstay on something on the other boat and that had to cut before we finally got free.

Campbell heading towards the hatch to fix the steering

Campbell got the steering sorted pretty quick and we could soon steer the boat off of one of the two wheels. The damage to Flash wasn't too bad. A couple of bent stanchions, a pretty big gouge on the end of the boom, and the cut runner tail. There was also some damage to the mainsail. I actually ended up fixing a couple of batten pockets and a tear on the foot on the main at the Quantum loft in Pt. Richmond as much as a favour to Jeff and Campbell for taking me out as for the money.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

It's all on...

Trying to explain the last couple of weeks around here would take up a lot of time, lets just say things have been a little hectic and leave it at that. However just for kicks here is a brief re-cap.

Two weeks ago Dina and I went up to my folks house to redo the couches down in the dinette. Surprisingly it went pretty well and we got the seats re-covered and back into the boat without that many issues. I think part of the reason it went as well as it did was because I was so hung over from sailing Friday night that it was easier just to keep my head down and get on with the work than it was to complain about it.

Ajax sitting on my lap on the ride to the hills

I think I was hung over from the Friday night race because we had once again sailed pretty well yet ended up pretty deep. We actually started five minutes ahead of one of our main competitors who had missed the class flags, yet he still corrected out on us by a minute. That one was hard to stomach.

We have also in the last two weeks taken City Lights out for a day sail. We took a bunch of friends of Dina's out who where in town for a birthday. We also took a couple of the City Lights regulars to help us sail the boat. It was another pretty good sail in almost perfect conditions for cruising around the bay. The only downer on the day was when we got a little to close to a ferry boat and a guy that my friend Dave had bought started yelling and screaming at the ferry. It just pissed me off that this uninvited guest on board the boat was such an asshole about the whole thing. It definitely put a damper on the day for me.

Like the wind coming down, waiting for the story of day 2 of the Columbia 5.5 nationals will be worth the wait

Last weekend was the Columbia 5.5 nationals which I have talked about the first day, and will write about the second day soon, I promise.

Last week the fun never ended as we went to see Greenday down in San Jose on Tuesday, I will write more about that soon as we are going to go see them again tomorrow night.

Greenday in concert in San Jose

We then did our usual Wednesday night race on Gonzo. A race where we may have hit a new low for how bad things are getting for our 2009 summer campaign. This time we didn't even get scored as finishing as the Oakland Yacht Club just missed us at the finish. We finished right in between a couple of other boats, yet we got no horn, or finish time from the committee. Thursday we went to see Pulp Fiction on the big screen at the Alameda Theatre. First we had dinner with some friends and then off to the movies. I had forgotten how long a movie Pulp Fiction is, something like three hours long. It ended up being a long night, but still a lot of fun.

Friday night was the Encinal Friday night race, and my birthday. Sadly, Cameron could not join us so Jeff and I sailed with "Sid" once again. Sid drove the race and did a pretty good job. It got pretty light a couple of times and we are definitely a lot more competitive in the light. Still we ended up third, finishing with the running lights on for the first time this season. Dina and Tom joined us at the Encinal afterwards for cocktails and other fun, culminating in Jeff and I having a few glasses of 12 year old Glenlivet scotch back here on the boat.

Yesterday, Saturday, I sailed on the Cal 40 Shaman in a city front YRA race. We are using this race and another one next Sunday as our practice for the upcoming Big Boat Series. One thing I will say is that it is a good thing that we are practicing. We ended up second to another Cal 40 that we should have beat pretty easily. I will say though that we sailed short handed, and without our real tactician, so hopefully we will get better as we go on.

Last night we went up to some friends house for a bar-b-q that had probably the best ribs that I have had in a long time. They were so good in fact that Dina and I had the left overs for breakfast this morning.

Today Dina and I spent the day catching up on cleaning up the boat. This is something that has been long overdue, and the difference it makes to how the boat looks makes it all worth while.

Ajax helping with the boat cleaning

One thing that happened while we were doing this was that we got to watch one of our neighbors hit another boat while trying to dock in the windy conditions that we had today. It didn't really do much damage, but it was sure interesting to watch.

Monday, August 17, 2009

2009 Columbia 5.5 "Nationals" Day one

This is one version of the 2009 Columbia 5.5 "Nationals". I put nationals in quotes because this year it was even less lightly attended by the out of towners than usual. We had a grand total of eight boats which included one boat coming down from Stockton. Although it must be said that one of the local boats was in fact sailed by another crew from Stockton.

This year for the nationals I sailed with Bill Colombo and Campbell on Maverik. Bill and Maverik have won the nationals a couple of times in the past and indeed was leading last years nationals when his rig came down. In fact the rig was only put back up a couple of weeks ago with the boat sitting idle since last year. The time though hadn't been completely wasted as quite a few improvements had been made to both the rig and the boat while they had been sitting.

The new and improved Maverik

As usual the races where run out on the South Bay just off the end of the old Alameda Naval Air Station by the Encinal Yacht Club. Also as usual we got a tow out of the Estuary by the EYC race committee.
Bill paddling us out to the tow boat

This is always a lot of fun as the boats do look good gliding through the water all in a line, and there is usually a lot of talk back and forth amongst the crews on the way out.

The 5.5 fleet being towed out of the Estuary

Dina even managed to get a quick video of us heading out. We are a colorful bunch it must be said.

After a short postponement the committee got us off on a quick one lap race into a 5 or 6 knot breeze.

Waiting for the wind to fill in before the first race

Bill got us a great start at the pin and away we went. In the lighter breeze I sit down low and trim the jib upwind. After the start I am looking ahead and all I can hear is Bill and Campbell swearing, cursing, grumbling, and arguing about how to sail the boat and what is happening with the other boats. After about five minutes I sneak a peak back and see that we are leading the fleet by a good five or six boat lengths. I still have no idea what those two were bitching about. We round the mark first, but don't have the best set as the spinnaker gets hung up on the spreader, and then head downwind. We are still leading, but going downwind into the current we don't really pull away like we did upwind, and some of the boats behind us gybe away for the right hand side. With the fleet splitting and the bottom mark set in a light air hole it meant that we arrived in second with a big clump of boats all in a pack. By the time all was said and done we turned this second into a 5th before passing a boat on the short beat to the finish to end up fourth. Kevin on Seabiscuit won, with Jim Coddington and the Stockton guys on Top Gun second, and Liem on Alert getting third, beating us by about a foot.

The second race was similar to the first in that we had plenty of upwind speed, but had bad sets and got squeezed out at the bottom mark roundings. On the second bottom rounding Bill asked me where I thought the better wind was and after a quick glance I called the left side. We did a quick tack to head that way only to realize that we could have laid the finish without tacking so we had to tack back to make the line. Liem won the race, Adam was second, Coddington was third and we where once again fourth. As we where heading to the finish I got to see Seabiscuit harden up with their spinnaker up to try to cross Naked Lady that was coming up wind and drag their kite right across Naked Lady's rig. Kevin now had a first in the first race and a last in the second race. So much for consistency.

By the time the third race started the wind had started to get up to 12kts or so. The start was interesting in that immediately after the gun I felt us get hit pretty hard from behind a couple of times. I looked back to see the bow of Adam's boat had run up onto our boat and had Bill pinned down against the deck. I started to head back to try to push Adam's bow away, but it cleared itself before I got there. Bill seemed un-phased by the whole thing and off we sailed. In the stronger breeze we really found our legs and with a good layline call on the first beat followed by a good rounding turned the race into a wire to wire win for us. As this race was a three lapper it was good to feel that we were finally sailing the way that we knew we should be sailing. We had made an adjustment to how we set the kite to behind the shrouds from in front of them and our top roundings got better with every set. Liem finished second, and Adam finished third.
Alert following us home

So at the end of the first day it was Liem leading comfortably with six points, us in second with nine, and Adam in third with eleven. Jim Coddington on Top Gun though was only one point behind Adam with twelve. We had to give credit to Liem, Greg, and "Scuba" Steve on Alert. They had sailed their boat well, avoided the big mistakes, and deserved to be the overnight leaders.

More on the "action packed" second day soon.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Columbia 5.5 "nationals".

Columbia 5.5 nationals start today. Follow the "action" here via the twitter account.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Game time.

Sailing does not cut into my free time, or affect my relationships with loved ones in any way.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Gone to the dogs

It's kind of funny, ever since I have finished school it seems that I don't have as much free time as I used to. How can not having to drive to Vallejo, do watches, and homework result in not spending as much time at home as when I was at school? Obviously the weeknight beer cans take up some time, a couple of nights a week. But what do I do when I don't sail?

One thing is I take the dog out for walks when I get home. I have been taking him to work a couple of days a week as I feel bad for him sitting in a cage on the boat during the day.

Ajax in his cage

Usually he lasts till mid day before he gets bored and starts barking and I have to bring him home. Last week though he made it through the day a couple of times and even went to the city a couple of times with me to help me drop of sails. I think he likes riding in the Doyle van as he can sit up high and check stuff out. He really seemed to enjoy going across the Bay Bridge and checking that view out.

Ajax in the Doyle van

Usually Ajax and I go for a walk around the marina here after work, but sometimes we go to the dog park. Sometimes I get lucky at the dog park and Ajax hooks up with another dog and they wrestle and run the whole time we are there and it tires him out. Sometimes though he just kind of follows me around as I kick tennis balls for him to ignore.

Ajax at the dog park

The dog park is a strange place for me. It is an empty dirt lot with one or two trees that stinks of dog piss, yet there is always a group of people hanging out on benches or on chairs that people have left there. People hang out and bring their kids to hang out with them. Once in a while, especially in the small dog section, you will even see people having cookouts and gatherings with other dog people. I can not a imagine a worse smelling place to have a cookout.

Last weekend though was pretty good for doing nothing. Actually Sunday was really good for it. Dina was off with some friends so other than a couple of quick outings with the dog I literally hung out at home and did nothing. Maybe a little paperwork and some light house cleaning, but for the most part I sat around and watched TV, something I very rarely do these days.

I have managed to get a couple of races in though. Last Friday I went out on the Farr 40 for the Island YC race. We missed a mark and had to sail a lot of extra distance but still finished ahead of the other boats. I don't think we saved our time on any of them, but it was still pretty fun. After the race I ended up getting called into work to help Cameron fix a main that had blown up during Friday's ocean race. Not a big deal and it probably helped keep me out of the YC bar afterwards.
Dan and Cameron in total control of the start

Last nights Oakland YC race followed the usual pattern. Good start, followed by the gradual dropping back through the fleet to eventually finish fifth. Then it was back to the OYC bar to grumble about our rating. At least Vince beat the Islander last night so that was good, although it was funny to hear the Islander guys complain about Vince's finish time and rating.

"Sid", sporting a look as only he can

Last night was also fun in that we along with Sid, Cameron, Jeff, and I we also had a non-sailing friend of Jeff's, Dan, come out and join us. I know we had a good time because once again we had people from other boats telling us that they can hear us laughing all over the Estuary.

Artsy Spinnaker shot of the 5.5s