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.