Monday, January 29, 2007

Flotsam and jetsam of Friday and Saturday.

This weekend featured a mix of the usual: sailing and working on boats.

Friday we were late getting off to the lake because we had to get "Tadpole" off on a camping trip with his troop. Tad was a bit disorganized because he'd had a bunch of homework to do after Thursday's string bass lesson and sailing club social, but we were still among the first to arrive at the Scout hut. There, Tad unlocked the hut and brought out gear needed for the trip and helped one of the assistant scoutmasters retrieve the troop trailer and load it. We also brought a couple of crates of food, because Tad was grubmaster for the campout. Then, while the Scouts were sorting themselves out, I made an exceptionally quick trip to Costco -- only 23 minutes round trip -- to buy some fresh muffins and cinnamon rolls and buy a "chicken bake" for Tad's dinner.

Finally, I was able to return home to pick up Carol Anne and the cats. We drive the Expedition, "Babe," south, towing our utility trailer with a Sunfish sailing dinghy and its gear on board. We unloaded the Sunfish at New Mexico Tech, stashing it behind "Seattle"'s apartment so it could be used as a display at today's "Club Fair" for the New Mexico Tech sailing club. Of course, Carol Anne also got her growler filled with a half gallon of ale at Socorro Springs.

Arriving at the apartment in Truth or Consequences, we unloaded the Expedition and unhitched the utility trailer. I called for takeout pizza, but the guy at the other end of our phone conversation couldn't process my coupon. Eventually, because of the problem with the coupon, we wound up being "upgraded" or "super sliced" and got half again as much pizza and twice as many breadsticks and cinnamon snack sticks for the coupon price. Fortunately, the apartment had a large fridge for leftovers.

In the meantime, Tad and the older scouts in a Jeep Cherokee, and another group in a mini-van, drove to Grants, NM, stopping at a Subway for dinner (2nd dinner for Tad) and then at their hotel. The troop all wound up swimming in the pool and lounging in the hot tub until 10 p.m. Friday.

Saturday morning we woke slowly. Eventually we bought some housewares at the Family Dollar store in Truth or Consequences, and went by the Lakeshore True Value, which carries stainless steel hardware, to look for boat parts. We found some stainless steel eyebolts, nuts, and washers that might help us re-assemble Black Magic's boom with its new endplate, which lacked a fitting to attach the end block at the end of the outhaul, which is placed inside the forward end of the boom. Then we visited a friend and crew member (Cornhusker), then left Foghorns and fliers at Morgan Marine, and headed for the Rock Canyon marina, where we planned only a brief visit to retrieve the spinnaker pole from Carol Anne's boat and to leave some "Foghorn" newsletters and sailing club fliers at the marina office.

There we found Zorro recently arrived; he said he'd forgotten Carol Anne's cell number and mis-dialed when trying to announce his arrival. With him and ready to sail on Constellation were "Seymour" and his five-year-old, "Seymour Junior". Zorro hadn't planned on sailing with a small fry, since the Etchells is not suited to small children, but apparently Seymour's condition of release from home was taking Junior along. While Zorro and crew were preparing to cast off, I in the meantime had uncovered Black Magic and was furiously stroking away with a portable bilge pump, necessarily because of recent wet winter storms and a tear in the diaphragm of the permanent bilge pump. Black Magic was still missing her boom, so Zorro invited us on board Constellation.

Five people -- even, or especially with one of them a small person -- on an Etchells is rather a crowd, especially on a boat that's often single-handed, and at first my only thought was to stay out of the way as best as I could. The first useful thing I was able to do is help fend off the pier and the prop of a boat's outboard motor as Constellation sailed out of her dock; then I graduated to lee-side rail meat in the light conditions. Eventually Zorro graduated me to bowman, which was rather awkward since that's not my usual position and I was a bit of a klutz, prompting Junior to say something like, "Pat doesn't know much about boats. I guess he's never been on one." Five-year-olds are not generally known for tact. It may also be a generational issue that I cannot get used to the notion of a small child calling me by my first name.

We sailed around the basin near the DamSite marina, then turned north, hoisted the spinnaker, then got fouled by a swirling headwind coming off the Elephant -- an "elephant fart" as we call it. We headed north as far as Horse Island, then returned in variable conditions, then sailed back and forth for a while. As the sun sank, we all got a bit cooler. Because Carol Anne and I hadn't known that Zorro would be at the marina, and hadn't planned to sail, we didn't have our sailing gear; no sailing gloves, jackets, etc. So Carol Anne borrowed a jacket from Zorro. Still, we also had the issue of Junior's limited attention span -- even if it was decent for a five year old, and now Zorro didn't have a jacket. Also, Seymour was a bit distracted by the need to pay attention to his offspring, which meant that the jib sheets didn't get their normal attention. So, we returned to the marina before sunset.

Zorro joined us at the apartment in another attack upon the mountain of pizza. En route we had a casualty; a bottle of merlot fell on its side and its cork popped out, spilling almost the whole bottle in the back of our Expedition. After dinner, Zorro looked at Black Magic's boom and discussed our ideas for attching the new fitting for the gooseneck attachment. We had four options: (1) insert small eyebolts, with the eyes inside the boom and nuts securing them on the outside of the boom end plate; (2) use a vise to squeeze an eyestrap so it would fit within the endplate; (3) cut a new screw hole and cut the end off of a padeye so it would fit in the eyestrap; or (4) drill new holes near the end of the boom and insert a bolt transversely through the boom. Each method had its disadvantages or obstacles to being achieved, especially with the limited sorts of tools we had available.

After discussing the methods with us, and other issues such as committee boat volunteers for our regattas, Zorro headed for El Paso. Zorro planned to call on Sunday, but with light to variable conditions in the forecast, we didn't really expect him to return for another day of sailing, so it would be imperative for us to get Black Magic back in commission. Meanwhile, I was sent off to Cornhusker's home to borrow a vacuum cleaner; there I learned more tales of Bassmaster's fishing adventures and their experience with making their son into a landlord when he went to college in Michigan. After I returned, Carol Anne and I eventually collapsed.

Meanwhile, Tad's Saturday morning was rather different from the usual. After breakfast at the motel, the troop members zigzagged up First, Roosevelt, and Shadow Canyon roads out of Grants to drive up Mount Taylor, there to join the Klondike Derby. Originally, the local scout district had planned a Klondike campout and skills event for Februrary, but that plan had been scrapped, with the scouts instead joining another district for a Klondike on January 27th. Because this was somewhat of a last-minute change, Tad's troop didn't get the information sheet about the event until the evening before, and found that they didn't have all the required equipment and had to do some improvising.

Nontheless, they did well in at least some of the events, getting blue ribbons in a couple of categories. Tad even tried to get extra credit at the knot-tying station by tying a bowline one-handed while blindfolded. They also did well with shelter building, and did well on their lashings, even though they had to disassemble their sled to have poles to lash and weren't asked to demonstrate one of the lashing knots.

The Klondike was generally well organized, although at one point, late in the day, the troop had been given bearings and directions that would have taken them out of bounds onto private land. Also, a late-arriving group had talked the organizers into being allowed to participate, with the result that the awards ceremony was delayed by an hour, leaving a few hundred boys and leaders standing around with little to do but try to keep warm.

A couple of issues surfaced before the day's end, however. Some of the scouts weren't well prepared for the event, having forgotten some necessary items, and a couple of the boys had planned to do other things on Sunday. One boy complained of being tired and cold after having worn his wool socks during the week and then not having them available for the campout; the same boy didn't have waterproof clothing, but flopped down and rolled around in the snow several times. So, even though Tad and the adults wanted to camp out for the night, they were outvoted and the troop returned to Albuquerque. Tad didn't call, so we went to bed Saturday night thinking he was still up on the mountain.

Meanwhile, we were reasonably satisfied; we'd made a wee bit of progress on boat work and had been sailing for a few hours. And, we still had some pizza in the fridge, though by now Carol Anne's growler was empty.

to be continued....

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