Friday, July 31, 2009

Into the weekend.

It is a good morning here on the Lobster Telephone, the automatic coffee machine did it's thing, the cat is tearing up the carpet, and the boat is still and quiet in the early morning fog. Dina and Ajax are cuddled up in the aft cabin having a bit of a lie in and I am up earlier than usual after a good nights sleep. It is amazing how much better rested one is if you they don't drink the night before.

Dina and Ajax snuggling up together

One of the reasons I am up early is to follow one of the coolest things in sailing that has happened in a long time. Right now there are two Maxi-trimarans virtually match racing across the Atlantic attempting to set the trans-Atlantic record.

Groupama 3

I tend to concentrate on the Groupama site a little more than the Banqeupopulaire one, mostly because some of the Groupama one is in English. The numbers these two boats are putting up are just insane. Groupama is averaging just over 34 knots, and BP-5 might be going even faster! The high speed that these boats are reaching must be over 40 knots. Very, very cool.

Banquepopulaire 5

In other news we did do the Estuary Wednesday night race out of the Oakland Yacht Club. Dina and Dan, who we call Sid, from the loft both joined Cameron, Jeff, and I for this one. Jeff drove and nailed the start perfectly getting us about three quarters of the way up the first beat before the much bigger Islander 36 finally got by us. A great gybe-set coupled with a bad wrap on the Islander allowed us to keep in touch with them about half way down the run until they finally got their wrap sorted out by dropping and re-hoisting. We also got passed by Vince on Morning Dew just at the bottom mark, but it was a very solid first lap, easily one of the best we have done in a while.

Bad guys behind us for once.

Of course once the two bigger boats got into clear air ahead of us it was all over and even though we had better sets and douses than everyone on the second lap we still ended up fourth on the evening. I had a chat with the race committee guy in the OYC afterwards about the class breaks, and while he was sympathetic the nature of the estuary course and the boats he has to work with mean that we are probably always going to be finishing in order of length no matter what. A little frustrating to be sure, but we are still having a lot of fun out there Gonzo sailing.

Another interesting thing is that I am finally filling out the forms necessary to apply for American citizenship. Mostly because a lot of the jobs that seem interesting to me require it. Most of these jobs are civilian positions with either the Coast Guard or Homeland Security and involve port security or ship inspection type stuff. Right now they seem to be one of the only groups hiring, add in the fact that they are well payed and mostly based out of Government Island here on the Estuary and the whole citizenship thing starts to make sense. I can still keep my British citizenship which is important so why not?

One of the requirements of applying for citizenship is that you have to list the details of every trip you have taken abroad since you became a permanent resident. Not sure how that is going to work since I became a permanent resident in 1974 and have left the U.S. maybe 50 times since then. Not even sure I can remember every trip that I took, much less everywhere I went on those trips. A daunting task indeed.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Not a bad weekend.

This is one of those summer weekends that Dina has told me to write about so when it all turns to crap in the winter she remembers why we do in fact live on a boat.

It's all sunshine and Rainbow's aboard the good ship LT.

Friday started off with the first Encinal race of the summer series. It was a little windier than usual so Jeff, Cameron, and I decided to go with the small jib. For whatever reasons we seemed to be a little more competitive than usual and turned a good start into a close race. As usual we ended up mid-fleet, 3rd I think, but we where a lot closer to the boats in front of us than usual. It is still a little discouraging to finish behind boats that we owe time to, but we are getting closer.
A rare picture of Gonzo ahead of someone on the race course

Saturday morning we were woken up early as Steve who had driven up from L.A. arrived at about 130am. Our trusty guard dog Ajax went through the motions of growling at him, but Steve walked right on by him and into the forward cabin. Ajax seemed ok with this and came back aft to fall back asleep with us.

Vicious guard dog being guarded by the cat.

Saturday, Steve and I sailed in the 2nd season opener on the Farr 40 with Tony, Mike and co. It was actually not a bad day out. Warm enough to not really need foulies even as we went out the gate. We played it pretty smart heading out after being held out to the right a little more than we would have liked after the start. We had some good crosses with the Santa Cruz 37 heading under the bridge before finally getting away from them while short tacking up the Marin side of the GG channel. We rounded the Point Bonita mark as the first place mono-hull and then extended all the way back home on the long run down to the Estuary for a nice first to finish. The SC-37 and the Melges-32 both corrected out on us, as they should have in a race with a long downwind run like this, but we got a very well deserved 3rd place.

Saturday night was a nice Bar-B-Q on the boat catching up with Steve while eating grass fed New York strip steaks, yummy.

Steve snuck off early Sunday morning giving Dina and I a chance to lie in, then after having breakfast at home. We then did some chores around the house such as cleaning out shower sumps and doing the laundry, etc... We then spent yesterday afternoon looking at few open homes here in Alameda. Nothing too serious yet, just as Dina says data gathering. We then did a short bike ride, followed by a couple of drinks at the Encinal Yacht Club.

Dinner last night was an excellent Pork Roast with Corn on the cob followed by a pleasant stroll around the marina to empty out Ajax.

As I said earlier, not a bad weekend.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Quick Friday post

I got this link sent to me a while ago and kept meaning to post it here. This was sent to the loft by one of our customers whose sail I had built. It's nice to see stuff like this every now and again.

On another note we did go out for a sail on Wednesday night. The Oakland Yacht club had decided to run some practice starts with a very short upwind leg. I guess so they could fill the gap between the spring and summer series'. Jeff, Cameron, and I went out, but sadly no other boats showed up. We did one start and then ended up just cruising up to the turning basin and setting the spinnaker for a nice sail home.

A random picture of Ajax eating peanut butter.

The weekend brings an Encinal race this evening followed by the second season opener tomorrow. Should be a good one.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Summer fun on the good ship Lobster Telephone

Having been relegated, once again, to the forward cabin for snoring I figure this is a good a time as any to to catch up with my blogging.

We are finally pretty solidly into the summer weather pattern here on the Estuary. Morning fog and low clouds, warm afternoon sun, then cooler evening and nights. We did have a bit of a warm spell last week, but that is just a memory now.

It also seems that the summer social scene has ramped up to full speed also as it doesn't feel as though we have stopped moving since the last time I sat down to write some stuff down. Last Thursday we had Kirsten over for a glass of Wine as her and Dina got caught up on stuff. That was fun as we just hung out on the aft deck till after ten enjoying the warmth and the company of the evening.

Friday night we actually got to race in the Island Yacht Club race here on the Estuary. Dina joined Jeff, Cameron, and I for what was actually a pretty fun race.

The love of my life smiling and having fun on the Estuary

The Island YC race's are interesting in that there are more small boats and they usually have the longest courses of any of the Estuary race's. I have no idea how we ended up as they don't have the results online yet, but I suspect our usual mid-fleet finish.

Gonzo charging(?) downwind at 5.37 kts!

We did however have our first major breakage on the Gonzo as our traveler car shit itself on one of the tacks, spreading little Delrin balls all over the cockpit. Jeff did a good job lashing the thing down and we lived to sail another day. The replacement car and track have been mounted and I just need to finish bolting them down before we sail next.

Lashed on mainsheet block

Saturday I did the Lightship race on the Farr 40 Twisted. Not a bad race for us as we were the second boat to finish behind an Andrew's 56. This was good enough for first place on corrected in our division, as well as an overall win for the entire race. The big move was to head South after going out of the Gate instead of following the conventional wisdom of going along the Marin side. It just seemed that the wind was better to the South so that's what we went with. The boats that went North really got hurt by the light winds on that side. You can see our course track here. The interesting thing you see from the track is that we sailed virtually the same track both out to the Lightship, which is actually a buoy not a ship, and back.

Twisted at the start of the Lightship race.

We had a couple of very smart people making the calls on Twisted on Saturday which was fun. it's always fun to sail with good people. What this did however was upset the guy who considers himself the regular tactician on the boat. What this resulted in was the regular guy getting all testy, or butt hurt as Dina says, and yelling at people on the boat. Once again this kind of puts a damper on my enjoyment of sailing on the Twisted. I will do the 2nd season opener with them this upcoming weekend, but that may be my last race with them for a while.

The rest of the weekend was taken up by a couple of very fun Bar-B-Qs. One at my bosses place in the Oakland hills, and the other at Barbara and Tom's place.

Dina, Karen, and Ajax taking a break from Karaoke.

Saturday nights consisted of lot's of Karaoke singing by Dina and Karen, whereas Sunday's was a slightly mellower affair, consisting of catching up with Tom and Barbara while sitting around a fire pit sipping 25 year old Rum.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Time flies when your having fun...

What happened last week? Hard to remember all of it, but it never did seem to slow down. So much for having nothing to do because there are no Wednesday and Friday night races, sheesh.

Having said that I did in fact go racing on Wednesday night, just not on the Estuary. I sailed on my buddy's GP-26 Salt Peanuts. This is a boat that Brooks Dees built here in the Bay Area to the ORC 26ft rule. We sailed in the Richmond Yacht Club Wednesday night race which the last time I did a RYC Wednesday night was on a friends 1928 12 Meter Anitra maybe 15 years ago. The race itself was pretty fun, a very painful light air start which saw us stuck in front of a pack of boats in no wind in the Richmond channel, followed by some pretty smart sailing which got us out into the breeze and around the only mark in third. Then a nice run to the finish for a well earned second place.

Salt Peanuts

You can see a couple of pictures here at That is our spinnaker in the opening shot and it gives you a good idea of what it was like at the start of the race, and if you scroll down you can see Simon driving the boat.

Friday I went out on the Farr 40 Twisted for what turned out to be a very nice evening sail. We sailed out of the Estuary without tacking. Then cruised around the bay bridge for a while before setting a fractional code zero kind of sail and heading back down the Estuary. At one point we actually flew the code zero wing on wing in an attempt to make the entrance of the Estuary. It may have looked kind of strange, but it seemed to work out ok.

Wing on wing on the Farr 40

Work was kind of fun last week also. It may seem less than manly to get excited over a new sewing machine but the new one we finally got installed last week is pretty fucking cool. Our new machine (our machine is actually the next size up from the one in the video) made by Cordes in Australia required us to jackhammer out a bigger pit, rewire the loft for 220, and then borrow a forklift to install. But man was it worth it. The new machine makes it a lot easier on us floor guys, and it allows us to be able to work on much bigger sails of which we have had to turn away in the past.

Installing the new sewing machine at work

Saturday was pretty mellow, but the highlight of the day had to be the late afternoon rain shower that led to a very vivid double rainbow.

Really cool Rainbow

I had just finished doing some work on the 525 when we first noticed the rainbow. We had to call Rich on the Big Red Boat to make him come and look. It was definitely one of the better rainbows I have seen in a long time. It must have been cool, because people at work were talking about it on Monday, two days later.

Sunday was fun in that we took Ajax for his first sail. Ajax is not a real good water dog, in fact he seems to have no interest in it at all. But we put him on the 525 and figured we would take it very easy on him at first. We motored out which went ok, although he wasn't to happy about the noisy engine. After motoring about two/thirds of the way out of the Estuary we turned around and rolled out the headsail for a nice leisurely sail back home.

Ajax staying close to Mom

Ajax never really did settle down and always stayed very close to Dina, but he came through it ok. I don't see him becoming a regular sailing dog on the 525 as it is a little to tippy, but he might just be ok for motoring or downwind cruises.

Ajax pretending to be bored of the whole sailing thing

Finally here is a picture of a bunch of ducks that showed up here in the marina this morning. They are very cute and hopefully we will be seeing more of them as the days go by.

Mama and Her Ducklings

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

A lazy 4th of July weekend

It seems weird to me that there is no Estuary racing in July. July usually has the warmest nights, the best winds, and the longest days. Why then no beer can racing for the whole month? All three clubs that run races on the Estuary, Oakland, Island, and Encinal do this, quit racing for the month. The official line is something about that July is the time for taking family vacations and attendance is down anyway, but I don't really see it. All I know is that a bunch of us are sitting around Wednesday and Friday nights wishing we could go sailing.

City Lights sits idle on one of the nicest evenings of the year

So, what have I been doing to pass the time? Last Wednesday I went for a quick sail on my friend Dave's new to him Moore 24, Pixie. Just a quick jaunt up the Estuary until we got turned back by multiple dredges, tugs, ferries, and a very large barge that all seemed to be in the same place as us as we tried to short tack our way out of the channel. I did however get to play sailing rock star as Dave swooped into the dock and picked me up on the way out and then did a fly by drop off on the way back.

Pixie coming to pick me up off of the dock.

The three day weekend was good. Friday Dina had to work so I tried to get as much done around the boat as possible. Cleaning out the heads and the bilges ain't always fun, but it does need to happen to keep the boat smelling fresh. I also helped put a cover on a boat in San Leandro for my PTS, my parents company up in the mountains. This involved climbing over a twelve foot high gate at the San Leandro Marina, but was kind of fun.

Friday night I met up with a friend in Oakland at my new favorite Belgian beer bar that is on the other side of the tube in Oakland, The Trappist. Not a bad spot with many, many beers to choose from and drink. Also a good crowd of young Oakland hipsters and beer drinkers to check out.

The fourth itself was a non-stop kind of day. First it was off to Dina's work to drop some food off for the folks who had to work on the holiday. Then after breakfast at Jim's it was off to the always amusing Alameda 4th of July parade where we got to watch Ajax try to figure out just exactly what a horse was.

"No Ajax, it's not a dog"

From there it was over to Kirsten and RT's place in Oakland for bar-b-q and drinks before taking the bus down to the Berkeley Marina to watch the fireworks on a friends boat.

Sunday we took City Lights out for a day sail with a bunch of friends. This was another great day on the bay as we reached around the bay at ten knots, pushing buttons to make the sails work, and giving everybody a chance to drive.

Rich, Jeff, and Jim out on City Lights

We also hooked up with some friends sailing there Schumacher 54 Cinnabar for a little informal drag racing across the slot. Needless to say we took it way more seriously than they did (they where sailing with a reef in) and we soon put them behind.

Eat our wake Cinnabar