Five O'Clock Somewhere

Welcome to Five O'Clock Somewhere, where it doesn't matter what time zone you're in; it's five o'clock somewhere. We'll look at rural life, especially as it happens in Rio Arriba County, New Mexico, cats, sailing (particularly Etchells racing yachts), and bits of grammar and Victorian poetry.

Saturday, August 05, 2006

Dillon Open day 1

Zoo, riot, insanity, there are probably a couple of dozen other things to call it.

One disappointment with the new condo unit we’re in – it doesn’t really have wireless Internet. Yes, that’s supposed to be one of the amenities that come with every unit, but in reality, it’s only available in units close to the office, where the server is located. The unit we had before was directly upstairs of the office; this unit is two thirds of the way to the other end of the building. So in order to check email or make blog posts, we need to go downstairs to the lobby. That means we can’t get online as often as many of you would like.

Anyhow, yesterday, we got a lot of work done on the boat, including a new compass mount, re-running the bilge pump and fraculator lines so they wouldn’t foul each other, getting a new block and cam-cleat for the port-side jib fine-tune line, and making alterations to the rear mast block so it won’t interfere with the boom vang – an added advantage is that the block now stays in line much better, so it’s easier to control. If we gain nothing else from having come to Dillon, we have had a great impetus to get much-needed work done on the boat.

I didn’t sleep all that well last night. I kept having nightmares, not directly about the race, but at least indirectly so. In one case, someone came rushing up from the marina to tell me something was wrong with my boat, and when I got there, I found my boat sitting on shore, looking just fine except that the keel was missing.

When I wasn’t having nightmares, I had gerbils, or maybe squirrels, running around inside my head, keeping me from relaxing, making me fret. I tried to play peaceful music inside my brain – Pachelbel’s Canon – but the gerbils kept playing Lynyrd Skynyrd instead. Then Bachmann-Turner Overdrive. Then Metallica. I had Tadpole’s iPod within reach, and I knew I could find Pachelbel there, as well as the crooning of Sinatra, in order to combat the gerbils. But, alas, I don’t know how to operate the iPod. I’m thinking that, not only do I need Tadpole to show me how to use the iPod, I need my own iPod.

So, anyhow, this morning, I was less than rested when the time came for the skippers meeting for the regatta. And I had indigestion to the point that I couldn’t eat breakfast, although later I was able to eat a granola bar on the way out to the racecourse.

The races were a bit different from what we’d been led to expect, but most of the fundamentals were the same. To make matters simpler than in previous Dillon Opens, the race courses were strictly upwind-downwind, without any reaches. However, there were seven fleets, each starting five minutes apart, on the same course. Our fleet was the last to start, which meant that even before we got started, some of the other boats were coming back through the starting area.

We did have a handicap that wouldn’t be recognized by any sailing organization. Yesterday, while working on the boat, Tadpole lost his glasses overboard. He didn’t have a spare pair available. So during today’s races, Pat became the primary lookout for other traffic. Unfortunately, he hasn’t exactly learned the sort of concentration that racing really demands (he tends to get to talking, even telling people things they already know just because he likes to talk), so sometimes he’d forget to be on the lookout, and something would pop out from behind the jib and surprise me – and if we were on port, and the surprise was on starboard, that was NOT a good surprise. We’re definitely going to have to work on cutting chatter to what’s relevant.

Bad communication: “There’s a boat over there … is it a Melges or an Ultimate? Yeah, I think it’s a Melges.” First, what’s “over there”? I need to know, in terms related to the position of our boat, such as “coming on starboard, on track to cross our bow.” I don’t care whether the boat is a Melges, an Ultimate, a Moth, or Noah’s Ark.

Our big accomplishment was getting around the course, for two whole races, without any major mishaps. We did manage to catch up to and pass some boats, mostly in other fleets, but we also had some embarrassing moments, such as when we got rolled by a Star approaching the windward mark.

After two races, the first of which we finished dead last, and the second in which we were ahead of one or maybe two of the other boats in the fleet but most certainly would be dead last on corrected time because of the heavy-duty PHRF handicap leveled on an Etchells, we decided to bag the third race. As it turns out, that was probably the best choice – just as we came in, the weather closed in, and so those who chose to stay out on the racecourse had to deal with freezing cold and increasingly nasty rain.

When we got back to the marina, however, we discovered a silver lining. This fellow, I’ll call him Jimmy because that’s who he looks like, had showed up at Heron Lake a couple of times volunteering to be racing crew. He has extensive experience racing, especially off the coast of the southeastern US. Had we only known, he would have been available as crew for us today. But he’s available for us for tomorrow, so he’s got one of the three spare beds this condo has so he can’t get away.


Blogger Tillerman said...

Had to laugh at the story of Pat's lookout talk. I have a similar issue with spouse navigation. When we drive somewhere usually I drive and my wife navigates. Typically we arrive at a junction and I get some direction like, "Take this road, not that one." She knows what she ameans but I don't have a clue.

Sun Aug 06, 07:33:00 AM MDT  
Blogger Pat said...

Truth to be told, the accusation is waaay far from the mark. Maybe I'd confuse a Melges with a Merit, but how could anyone say I'm unable to tell the difference between them and an Ultimate 20! Now really! And, Batgal had better want me to give the hull I.D. as well as range, bearing, and relative motion for Noah's Ark -- that sucker has one nasty wind shadow!

The tough part was when Tapole and I were sitting on the rail while on port tack with boats all around us, and I was trying to peek through the little sail window or get off the rail (in sometimes brisk conditions with only the three of us and me being about 44% of our total crew weight!) every so often to duck down and look under the boom ... by which time one of those pesky Stars would have suddenly tacked in our direction.

As it turned out, despite the big PHRF handicap, despite pretty poor starts (try starting sometime when there's another fleet coming downwind through your starting line), despite not running the spinnaker (lightweight, inexperienced crew in heavy traffic in brisk conditions being stressed out by the novel experience and runnning on overload), despite skipping the third race (weather closing in plus pooped crew), and despite the races being cancelled on Sunday (when we finally had a good fourth crew member), we didn't do as badly as we thought we had. We had one pretty good race, made lots of friends, and got lots of admirers for Carol Anne's Etchells.

Oh, yeah, and we had fun, even if the weather didn't cooperate and even though we were too busy packing the boat away late Sunday afternoon to get the free beer and pizza.

Mon Aug 07, 02:20:00 AM MDT  

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