Thursday, March 26, 2009

Keeping up with the Jones'

Been a busy week here on the Lobster T, surprisingly productive as well.

This last weekend I passed on doing the lightship race in order to get a bunch of spring cleaning done on the boat. With the warmer weather starting to assert itself it was time to get the aft deck more livable amongst other things. As a result Saturday was spent scrubbing and cleaning. The biggest problem is that we get some mould build up under the aft canopy and a couple of other places so that needs to be dealt with.
The fun part is taking everything off of the aft deck and placing it on the dock while I get the hose in there. By everything I am talking about cooler's,  dog kennel's,

complete patio furniture set's, bicycle's, and god knows what else. It ends up making the dock look like a homeless encampment, but it really helps make it easy to clean and it did end up looking pretty good in the end.

That evening we celebrated by visiting with Tom and Sylvia over on the Big Red Boat and heard stories of the lightship race. All in all a good day.

Sunday was more of the same, only this time it was working on the 525. I re-led all the halyards and figured out the new deck layout. I also bought all of the parts that I think we are going to need to get things a little more user friendly on the Gonzo. Now it is just a matter of drilling some holes and mounting some hardware. I am also trying to get Bill at Doyle to get pricing on a new genoa, but as is often the case he is a little distracted. 

Sunday night we went bowling with a lot of the old City Lights crew. 

We actually got a pretty good turn out with 13 of us showing up. I am not going to claim that any of us are good bowlers, I think Parker got the high score at 143, but I think we all had a good time, despite our various levels of bowling aptitude, 

and attire.

It was good to see Hawk and Martha again, as I hadn't really seen them since we stopped racing the City lights. Also Martha beat all the boys on her lane, so that was fun to watch. Although this is not Martha in the picture.

 A couple of things that happened during the week, I didn't get the job I had applied for in San Diego, which I think I am ok with. I also got some information about my upcoming graduation from CMA. I guess we have the head of the CIA Leon Panetta doing our commencement speech. So that should be interesting. I guess the thing that I am happiest about though is that we don't have to wear our dress blues for the ceremony, just our salt and peppers.

Boy I bet most of you can't wait till the summer sailing season starts again, so I can start writing about sail boat racing more. I know I can't...

Friday, March 20, 2009

The unreal world...

...of living aboard.

With the change in the weather in the last couple of weeks life on board the Lobster T has changed as well. The time changes means more time in the afternoon for boat projects on both the Lobster and Gonzo. It also makes it easier to check up on Gonzo to make sure she doesn't fill up full of water when the cockpit drains get plugged up.

 I am hoping to have Gonzo a lot more user friendly and race ready for the spring and summer sweet sixteen series. Sadly Campbell has left for the east coast so some splicing on the sheets and halyards still hasn't been done, but hopefully we will get that sorted soon enough.

The big changes though are in the living conditions on board the Lobster. We have been able to leave the windows open during the day which really helps air things out. Also we have stopped using the noisy cabin heaters at night so sleep seems to be easier, at least for me, now. It is amazing how having the boat not sealed up all the time really makes such a huge difference for live aboards. Still it will mean a weekend of spring cleaning to get the aft deck livable. Mostly it is just cleaning up the windows and some other spots that need attention. Then it will be all Gin and Tonic's while watching the sunsets again. 

One thing living on a boat does is make you so much more aware of the weather. As Dina says weather is so much more 3D when you are on a boat. A change in the wind direction can make a significant difference in the distance between the dock steps and the boat. Sometimes as much as a foot! 
Usually we end up re-adjusting the dock lines a couple of times after a storm or whenever we take the boat out as getting them dialed in right takes a couple of try's. We are also very much aware of the ebb and flow of the tides. This can make a huge difference in the angle of the gangway at the marina gatehouse. Pushing a dock cart full of laundry up and down a steeply inclined gangway can sometimes be a pain. Especially if you have a dog in tow as is often the case. 

As daylight increases so does the amount of Estuary traffic, and the amount of wakes we get. Some of these wakes can be pretty bouncy and if you are in the shower they can throw you around quite a bit. It always seems that a lot of these wakes are kicked up by one of the various law enforcement agencies that cruise up and down the Estuary. Especially the ones violating the speed limits late at night or early in the morning. There must be half a dozen agencies out patrolling at various times. Homeland Security, Coast Guard, Alameda Police, Oakland police, Alameda County Sheriff, and the Navy all operate vessels on the Estuary. 
If you listen to the radio when one of these agencies blows down the Estuary kicking up big wakes, they usually get a couple of complaints from various boats in the marina's Usually 
there is no reply, but when they do reply it usually a demand that the caller identify themselves. I hate to say it, but I don't really have a lot of respect for some of the feds on the Estuary.

Another sign that spring is here is the arrival of various ducks and other critters. I pretty much refer to all seabirds as ducks, but Dina seems to be able to figure out the difference between them.

 I guess we have Buffleheads, Coots, and some kind of large black bird that sits on the top of the boats masts and makes a god-awful screeching noise. A couple of times I have walked Ajax late at night and let him run around off leash. He would go tearing off into packs of these birds, so I had to put an end to that. Still it was fun to watch.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Fill this Cup...

So, I got this in my school mail box yesterday...

Mr. Marchal,

You have been randomly selected to report to the Health Center for a mandatory DOT drug test. This e-mail is your official notification.

You must complete your test at the Health Center no later than 1600, Thursday, March 19, 2009. It is your responsibility to contact the Health Center at  (707)654-1170 or 1198 immediately to make arrangements for completing your random drug test.

Failure to complete your drug test by Thursday at 1600 will result in being placed on report for failure to carry out or unnecessary delay in carrying out orders (Article 7.I.1.B.2) and for a violation of the CMA drug testing policy (Article 1.3(B)). It is the policy of CMA to be in compliance with federal regulations regarding drug testing as prescribed by 46 CFR Parts 4, 5, and 16 and 49 CFR Part 40. You have refused to take a drug test if:

  • You fail to appear for any test within a reasonable amount of time after being directed to do so;
  • You fail to remain at the test site until the test process is complete;
  • You fail to provide a sufficient amount of urine for the collection;
  • You fail to cooperate with any part of the testing process.

If you have any questions ask.

The Office of the Commandant of Cadets

First off, if rumors are to be believed, there is nothing random about who gets tested. They target students who they think are the most likely to pass, for example older students, and then re-test those students multiple times. This allows CMA to claim a higher pass rate than they normally could. Also, students with a higher likelyhood of failing, the Basketball players for instance, tend not to be tested or provided with plenty of warning if they are likely to be tested. 

The testing process is also kind of a joke. You are provided with a cup and then allowed to go into the bathroom by yourself. The first couple of times I went, this will be my fifth test, I was allowed to take my backpack with a thermos of coffee in with me. There are plenty of stories of students taking in clean urine and substituting that going around.

Another thing is I am not on any of the Coast Guard license track at school that requires any kind of drug testing. The deck and engine students who are on the license track are the ones who are required to be tested. They test all the students however just to make it fair, or whatever...

Lastly, I thought I was out of the Corp of Cadets as of the begining of March. 

As graduating seniors we are supposed to be done with all of our Corp obligations. No more watch standing or formations three days a week. To be chased down across the quad by one of the Corp commanders was a bit of a downer and then to get the email above kind of bummed me out.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Back online...

After two and a half weeks, five visits to the Apple store, a Southern California road trip, and a deathly illness it is time to get this thing up and running again. To be sure a lot has happened since the last posts and it will be impossible to get it all in, but we will try.

First things first... We ended up second in our division by one point in the Oakland Yacht Club Sunday brunch series. This despite a one-one-
two scoreline for the final three races. I think it is fair to say that the sixth and the seventh in the first two races is what ultimately doomed us. The worst part was that the Zeehond beat us for the division win. 

Dina and I actually didn't make the last race, but Tom, Sylvia, Rich, and friends went out and represented team Gonzo well. There is actually a pretty good write up, and series of pictures on so be sure to check that out.

I also had what passes for spring break at Cal Maritime, that is a Thursday and Friday off of school. Dina and I used that as an excuse to head down to Santa Barbara for a couple of days to hang out with Tom and Barbara at their place, and what a place it is. Check out the view...

 Once again we were taken very good care of and shown a very good time while in Santa Barbara. So, how did I repay Tom and Barbara for all of this hospitality? 

I infected them with a nasty cold that I had picked up some place. I still feel really bad about that. Tom spent a couple of days in bed because of it. Sorry about that...

From Santa Barbara we continued south down to San Diego. I had a job interview with a company down there and we figured it would be a good excuse to go visit some friends while we were around. The job interview went ok, although I am still waiting to hear back from them. But the rest of our time in San Diego was a lot of fun. Dina got to spend some quality time with our friend Virginia during the day, and we had a couple of fun nights out with Todd and Virginia... 
Good times. 

One of the things I got to do while down in San Diego was to go and check out BMW-Oracle racing's new 90 ft trimaran. while I didn't get to see it out sailing I did get a pretty good look at it on the dock. All you can really say is wow! 

The pictures really don't do it justice.

I am going to keep this first post back short as I will be doing write-ups on a couple of races, and some other stuff soon enough. Thanks for the patience.

Monday, March 2, 2009


Sorry about the long time between posts.. I am having computer issues and have been with out a laptop for the last week or so. Hopefully those nice folks at the Apple store have given me good advice and I will be back online soon enough. Lots has happened, and maybe some big changes to come..