Tuesday, October 09, 2007

So Much To Do...

so little time, money, energy, daylight, and know-how to do it.

That's part of the story as we try to make plans for our weekend. Originally, we'd planned to race with the sailing club this weekend, but we're still faced with a backlog of projects and undone work. Carol Anne's boat needs work, and we have some other challenges, so we may just send "Tadpole" south to crew on a Santana 2023R and bring trophies south for the first regatta of the season while we try to recuperate away from the lake.

We still need to fix Black Magic's boom vang, and replace some minor stuff that disappeared from the boat. Our best mainsail needs a bit of work as well, and many of our sails are getting worn and not so competitive. (None of them were ever new to us, and now, after some windy regattas, they're even less like new.) During the summer, we put a bad tear in what had been our best spinnaker and we still haven't replaced it. We also need to replace a couple of cleats, for which we just received the new ones. Further along, we need to repair some bottom chips, clean the bottom, and renew bottom paint during the next warm season. We need to replace the temporary bracing of the console with a lighter-but-stronger flooring system. And, we need more and better sails, and a whole lot of other stuff, and other repairs (tiller, for one), but a whole lot of this stuff simply isn't in the budget.

We hope security won't be a problem. During the first regatta of the season, we left the boat in a marina for Saturday night. But, not only was some light line taken out of the boat; when we arrived on the second morning of the regatta to find that some of the rigging had been monkeyed with. We found a bent shackle connected to the mainsheet tackle with its pin on the deck of the boat and the split ring missing. It seems unlikely that the shackle would have gotten into that condition from the natural action of the boat during sailing. Replacing the shackle was time-consuming even with a full, good, crew, and caused us to be delayed in reaching that day's first race. Had we not noticed the problem, though, the results could have been embarrassing or dangerous.

Getting crew has been a challenge so far this season. We had a great crew member available for the first regatta of the season, but he's now on travel and our other frequent crew are also unavailable. Breezy conditions are forecast for this weekend, which would put us at a big disadvantage if we tried to double-hand the boat without full crew weight to keep the boat flat and moving efficiently. It could as well as increase the chance of injury to us or damage to the boat.

During the Sunrise Regatta, we didn't have crew available and I was swamped with a bunch of last-minute chores that needed to be done to run the regatta. Besides being busy with boat swapping, launching, and moving, I wound up coordinating regatta registration, preparing and handing out information, and crewing on our safety boat, which wound up making a bunch of rescues. Also, the boat that we were selling hadn't been rigged since its last repairs, and wasn't actually ready to go racing after all, so the new owner to be went crewing with another skipper.

It would also be great if we had someone available to help with coaching, tuning, encouragement, and helping us stay focused and on track. Carol Anne had someone who'd been doing a lot of these things when she first got her boat. Unfortunately, finding a good sailing mentor in this part of the world isn't the easiest thing... trustworthy sailing wizards who are willing to share their lore aren't exactly a dime a dozen in New Mexico or west Texas.

We've also sort of backed into the fall sailing season with all of our ideas for sailing running behind schedule. We missed a lot of sailing time during the summer and didn't get in the practice opportunities for which we'd hoped. An out-of-state sailing trip turned into a disappointment, and we never got to sail with people back down at the Butte during the summer. Duties at Heron Lake's marina, including marina work and planning and hosting a big regatta, kept me particularly busy much of the time. At least we did pull off a few races at Heron, and the big regatta for which I was the principal race officer and organizer came off pretty decently.

Earlier this fall, we had a big emergency fire drill to sell off an extra boat and free up the trailer it was on. We'd tried previously to make a rendezvous for this, but that kept getting put off and so we wasted a fair amount of time and fuel before it finally got done. Now, we've mostly sold that boat. We hope the new owner will become active in the fleet and class. (Since I'll no longer be an Etchells owner, I'll not be eligible for membership in the class next year; each boat is allowed one vote in the class and Carol Anne will have our voting spot as the owner of her boat.)

We had hoped that the new one-design fleet would be a resource for us and other sailors to learn from one another and from more experienced sailors. However, that hasn't been making progress in recent months. In fact, the main recent development is that the new Etchells North American website (not the older international class association site) refers to us as the "Dillon Colorado" fleet, even though 4 of the 6 registered boats in the fleet are from Elephant Butte.

So, we may be at a crossroads. Maybe we just go slow and do whatever we can to get out on the water very inexpensively. Perhaps our future holds more crewing on other people's boats, such as the J24s or cruising boats. Maybe we'll work more on race management and visiting out-of-area regattas as race managers. Perhaps I'll work more on boating safety instruction with the state parks folks. Possibly Carol Anne's boat will be semi-mothballed until we can afford another go at deferred maintenance and needed improvements and equipment, and are able to tap into more sources of advice and expertise on how to improve our sailing. Another possibility would be selling to boat -- it has a great trailer, so selling it to an out-of-area buyer would be easy -- and then saving up to buy a better boat in the future. And perhaps we'll pay a return visit to our cruiser roots and work with the cruisers on reviving the raftup and cruise tradition.


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