Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Weekend blur

A weird, fast-moving weekend hit us and left us gasping. But, it did have its good points, including quite a lot of time on the water.

The Sorceress (Batwoman), Tadpole (007/WMCIK), and I sailed on Friday just before sunset in a really nice mix of winds.

Saturday didn't work quite as well, with me and Tadpole baking our brains out waiting two hours to start the first race (as race comittee) in ephemeral winds and broiling sun, and the Sorceress having boat problems (fouled rudder) at the start of the single-hand race; my "advice" proved neither useful nor wanted. She was on our old cruising boat, which had a foul bottom and some other problems, because she had lent her boat out to one of the more experienced racers for the single-hand race.

Then, shifty light winds required multiple re-sets of the committee boat and starting line, along with multiple re-starts of the second race; we just couldn't keep up with the changes in winds and in directions from the race committee chair, so we had to survive a lot of confusion and yelling before the second race could finally get a good start. We wound up changing course flags a few times, which required tying and un-tying flags onto a broomstick (no mast or halyard on the ski boat that had been provided for race committee duty). I also got some cramps from hauling up the anchor multiple times up fifty feet from the bottom; we set it so well that a couple of times we had to use the boat's motor to break it out.

Difficulties were compounded by being on an open power boat without some of the equipment needed to run the races and a resulting need to improvise. Our family's only portable two-way radio was with Batwoman on Syzygy, and the race committee boat didn't have a two-way radio, so we were out of touch with the racers until they passed within earshot. Also, with no air horn, we had to turn the boat's engine on and wait for it to build up compressed air to sound the boat's horn, which wasn't as loud as an air horn. Of course, running the motor made it harder to hear people when they passed near us, but it was the only wayto have any kind of horn. (The race committee box had recently been stocked with a new horn but it had disappeared, leaving three horn tops but no cans of compressed gas to power them.)

By the end, both Tad and I were tired, dehydrated, and headachy; Tad said he had a continuing migraine. At least the boat got us back to the marina very quickly after we finished the final race and picked up the anchor and pin buoy; Tad drove the boat to an unholy speed (at least by sailboat standards) that would have gotten him a speeding ticket on many highways. Later on, Zorro also enjoyed tooling around the lake, sporting shades and a tan in "old Hollywood" style.

The sailing club dinner was also a disappointment in that attendance was poor. However, the food was good and the staff friendly, plus we had some nice conversations with the sailors who were there.

Sunday was also awkward, with our skipper refusing to go out in medium winds (some white capping) and mad at me as a result of Saturday. Only four boats went around the course, and on a couple of those the woman (I had always thought it was supposed to be a hers-and-his race with women helming but found out otherwise a few days later) wasn't steering. However, we eventually went out (as a foursome with CA helming, Husker on foredeck, Tadpole on mast and jib, and me on spinnaker trim and helping with the boom and traveler) for a really good sail, including a nice long spinnaker run. Then Batwoman really proved her skill in getting the boat to move in light winds as the wind dropped away to almost nothing.

After a late lunch, we hauled Syzygy (our other boat) out of the water and prepped her for a road trip.

Returning to the marina, we were about to bag the idea of a late-afternoon sail when Zorro whooshed up in the Etchells USA 438 and told Batwoman to hop on and take the helm. She did, with me and Tadpole following a little while later on Black Magic (USA 125) for some mock racing. We didn't have to let the Batgal win her private Mothers Day regatta, since she was definitely a better helm than me, and her crew also had a big edge in experience over Tadpole. However, after shaking off some of the initial rust among USA 125's crew, there were a couple of times that we at least caught up partway, so that was also nice. We also managed a short spinnaker run on both boats.

Also, on Sunday, I got the good news that the Heron Lake marina was ready for operation and was also ready for the replacement "A dock" to be installed. The new dock was mostly assembled as of Sunday and perhaps right now is being attached. The new stainless-steel gas grill has been installed under the marina pavillion and was used to cook a first meal for some hungry volunteer dockmasters.

Since the weekend, we had a nice hike in the river-bottom bosque late Monday afternoon, and dinner at the Coronado Restaurant and Cantina in Bernalillo. The restaurant is run and partially owned by Mark, who used to be the manager of the Damsite marina at Elephant Butte Lake and hence is a good friend to many sailors. Today, Carol Anne got some a used mainsail and a couple of jibs for her boat. This afternoon, Tadpole gets to do some boat scrubbing and tonight we'll take in a movie and some sailing videos.

On a sad note, we've learned that one of our long-time skippers, John B., died this week. I met him for the last time after what was perhaps his last sail just a few weeks ago. John, we'll miss you, and, as you requested, we'll be raising a toast to you.


At 11:09 PM, May 16, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wrong again... There is no rule about whether the Jack or Jill helms. It's up to each couple. Also, at least half the boats were helmed by the Jack. The only rule is 1 Jack, and 1 Jill. Of course, it would be interesting to see 2 Jills, or maybe 1 Jack and 2 Jills.

At 8:35 AM, May 17, 2006, Blogger Pat said...

Hmmm, I wonder what's going on here. My memory is that the Jack and Jill was always intended for women only to be on the helm, and that's how I described the race in the e-mails and publicity. If memory serves, in years past any boat that had a guy touch the helm would have been automatically disqualified (DSQ) and any boat where the woman wasn't up to steering wouldn't have legitimately been part of the race. Have the rules changed, or were some people just playing by different rules on Sunday? It's very upsetting to have things go crazy like this; if we had known that guys could legally helm this race, then on Sunday morning when CA didn't want to go out in the initially strongish winds I could have helmed instead of waiting for CA to wait for conditions with which she was comfortable. When we did go out, we saw only one boat with the guy on the helm (USA 438, Etchells; all the rest seemed to be conforming to having the woman drive, at least at the time). Maybe part of the problem is that the race wasn't properly explained? At any rate, things seem to have been badly messed up and the whole point of the race seems to have been violated this year.

At 10:01 AM, May 17, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm sorry if you feel that you've been violated. Dino, and the Jill of his Man Shadow, are happy to return the "Ice Bucket" trophy, as long as they can keep the champaign to share with others, and toast to John. The Race Chairman did state that Jacks could drive. The yacht that took second, and 30 minutes behind, was driven by a Jack. We didn't make the race rules, we just raced accordingly. I didn't see any protests, except from the spectators with a DNS. Grumble-grumble. :)

At 11:38 AM, May 17, 2006, Blogger Pat said...

Oh. Sorry, we just didn't know better. Too bad; it would have saved us a lot of heartache and misery if we'd known the jacks could drive and could have let us participate. Wish we'd had known. By the way, we never issued a protest. Also, I wouldn't have said in the club e-mail that it was a race for the women to drive if someone had corrected me earlier. I stand corrected and apologize; if you like I'll put out a correction in the Foghorn or e-mail that the Jack and Jill is a race in which __ either __ the man or the women can helm; it doesn't matter which.

At 4:13 PM, May 17, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

How 'bout some chocolate and roses?

At 5:13 PM, May 17, 2006, Blogger Pat said...

Roses can be nice, even when they have thorns.


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