Thursday, August 30, 2007

Sailing update...

Mom's new cast is working a little better when it comes to sailing activities she should not be doing because of her broken finger. In other words, it allows her to do more, and therefore strain herself more. Don't tell the doctor.

We finished second over the line last night, and would have taken 4th place on corrected time, but a boat that placed ahead of us took a mark to the wrong side, and was disqualified.

We placed third!

I'll take it.

And for your viewing pleasure, a completely unrelated picture of a glorious sunset, taken on the way home after my cousin's wedding in July. This is just outside of Amherst, on the way back from Tidnish.


Thursday, August 23, 2007

Bet I'm less competitive than you are

I'm not a competitive person. Really, I'm not. But boy, does this feel good. If you can't make that picture out, maybe this will help:

We won a race! Now, last year we might not have been so pleased about finishing first - happy, yes, but not still smiling about it a day later - except the boat hasn't been performing so well this year. I say the boat, because as a crew we are doing quite well. Last night was special because it was only the second or third race we have won this season, and because we had a few issues to overcome.

Long story short: Wednesday night we had light winds, which was a good thing, since Mom broke her finger while racing Saturday and it was just Andrew, Mom and I on Windseeker. A full crew would be 6 people, we had two and a half (Mom was the one-armed sailor last night. Too bad she didn't have an eye patch, too. What a buccaneer!). About a quarter into the race, I took the tiller so Andrew could launch the spinnaker, and I drove for the rest of the race. We (I?) luffed Windspirit into McNab's Island (that means we used a racing/sailing rule about who has right-of-way to force George to sail towards the shore), where he ended up in a hole (no wind), and he had to jybe (put the tiller over and change direction) to get out of it. We had time to make up some ground, were only stuck in a hole for a few minutes, and because we hadn't jybed, had a clear line to our next mark.

Can I just say how much fun it was to be so close to another boat, absolutely have the right-of-way, and force them to change their course? Naturally, I wouldn't have attempted it if Andrew hadn't told me to. But I would like to take the teeniest bit of credit for actually moving the rudder. There's a kind of puckish glee in willfully throwing someone off their course, and leaving them in bad winds. But don't think I can't handle what I dish out - goodness knows we have had our fair share of luffings and tactical mishaps. George is a great tactician. Which is why last night's win was so sweet! Sometimes the winds just align. As do the mixed metaphors, apparently.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Peas and tranquility

Most of the gardens in the gardening blogs I read are past the time for harvesting peas, but our Nova Scotia summers just keep giving. My pea plants, eaten to the ground by rabbits in early July, knocked over by last week's wind, and chilled by Atlantic fogs, are slowly coming into their best producing time. It means I have been eating peas straight off the vine for the past week, but only tonight did I have enough to harvest for supper. Because of our foggy Eastern Shore nights, they were crispy and sweet, even though it is half-way through August.

Our earliest tomatoes, on the other hand, probably have another week to go. But you won't hear me complaining. The dahlias and gladiolas that bloom well into November make up for it. Gardening certainly reminds me about the balance that life can offer us. Now if I can learn to integrate more of that gardener's equanimity into the other areas of my life...

pea curl

Pea tendrils make me happy.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Call me Lady Skipper

Or, An Absurdly Long Meditation on Driving a Boat, Considering It Was a Very Short Race

Today was the first of SYC's Lady Skippers races (an earlier scheduled one was cancelled). I skippered, Andrew (the boat owner/skipper) and Mom did the rest. The winds were perfect - enough pressure I could feel the boat respond, but not so much we were overpowered - and I really tried to 'get in the zone'. I have no way to evaluate how well I performed, other than the results, which are not so positive - out of five boats, we finished fourth, however, we were the first to cross the finish line. Also, I had fun, Mom seemed calm, and I didn't break the boat. That sounds like a successful sail, right?

Shearwater Yacht Club
Sunset at Shearwater Yacht Club - I have so many of these shots. But Nature and its endless variety, etc., right?

We have a bigger handicap than every other boat at the club, and we often have trouble overcoming it (I think it's the highest - certainly of the boats that race on Wednesday nights). A handicap is a rating that a boat is given, based on how it "should" perform, which means that different makes, sizes, and rigged boats (ideally) compete on an even playing field. It means that the higher handicap boats "owe" slower boats time - it is not enough to cross the finish first, you have to put sufficient time between you and the other boats. Windseeker is rated at 118. The other boats in today's race ranged from 95 to 105. That means if we raced for 100 minutes, we would have to finish at least 13 minutes ahead of the 105-rated boat, and 23 minutes ahead of the 95-rated boat.

Tactics, then, are as important as speed (since lighter boats with lower handicaps may go faster in light winds than a 118-rated boat which weighs more) - and today, we (wait, I guess that is "I", since I was the skipper) took the start line in the wrong place, which meant we did not put the distance on the other boats that we could/should have.

But it's all about having fun, right? While I hope you know a bit more about how we race (since sailing is such a big part of my life this summer), I mainly want to share how much fun I had today. First of all, you get bashed around a lot less when you skipper. You also spend more time understanding the boat and the weather. A sailing book I bought Mom last year, for instance, talks about how, as well as sailing by telltales (bits of yarn or ribbon on a sail that tell you to let it in or out), wind guages and compasses, you should feel the wind on your face. Is it on your cheek, your mouth, or your ear? How does the tiller feel in your hand. Smooth? Biting in? Does the boat want to head up into the wind, and how should you respond? Sailing is, in short, an activity that requires not only strategy and knowledge, but a sensory 'connection' (how cheesy does this sound, and yet it is true) with the boat and the wind and the water.

You remember in Junior High English class, where you learn there are three plot types? Man against man, man against nature, and man against himself? Well sailing comprises all three. And I love a challenge.

Thursday, August 09, 2007

Still Sailing

Windseeker spinnaker

Or rather, was sailing - six days in a row, last week. Metro Race Week is over now, though, and, beside the usual Wednesday races and this Sunday's Lady Skippers Race (where Windseeker will be skippered by yours truly, although sometimes I shudder at the thought), I think I have my sailing problem under control. I think. Those of you similarly afflicted may be aware that unlike arthritis, gout, nicotine addiction, and other similar afflictions, you never know when sailoritis is going to flare up.

And I hope none of you are affected by gout. Stay away from the salmon.