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