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.

Monday, August 07, 2006

Dillon Open day 2

On average, it’s perfect!

When we got to the lake, we checked the race standings, for what it was worth, I thought. Turns out, it was actually worth a lot. I discovered that, despite feeling lousy about how I did yesterday, in the first race, I came in 6th in a field of 13 boats – and that’s on corrected time with a really harsh PHRF handicap that assumed we had a spinnaker (which we did have but didn’t use). I had been concentrating so much on getting the boat around the course in one piece, without committing any penalties or running anybody over, that I never realized I’d passed so many of the boats in my own fleet.

If I had known I had done so well in the first race, I would have treated the following races differently: First, in the second race, I wouldn’t have opted for trying harder to keep out of the crowds. When I did that, I could tell the winds weren’t as good where I was, and I could tell the boat wasn’t going so fast, but I had figured that we weren’t going to do well in the regatta anyway, and just surviving it would count for something. Turns out, right in the middle of things was where I belonged. Second, I probably wouldn’t have bagged the third race. My crew and I might have been wet and miserable at the end, but we would have gotten better than a DNF, so we would have been better off in the final standings.

Oh, yes, you ask, what were the overall results for Saturday? Well, in addition to that 6th in the first race, we got 11th in the second and a DNF in the third, so at the end of the day, we were 12th overall, ahead of a catamaran that had a worse PHRF number than we did and also a DNF in the third race.

When we got to the boat Sunday to prepare for the second day’s racing, the winds were very light. We put on the light-air main and jib, and we rigged up the spinnaker – a reacher – which it looked like we might actually be able to use. With the three of us, plus newfound crew member Jimmy, we would certainly be able to do that. Also, with four of us on the boat, we had more crew weight, so if the wind did come up, we’d be better able to keep the boat powered up. And Jimmy’s extensive racing experience would be a plus.

We motored out to the racing area over a lake that looked like a mirror with very close to no wind at all, getting there about an hour before the scheduled race start. We then put up sails and drifted around the lake among the gathering fleet, listening on the VHF as the committee boat sent mark boats and chase boats all over the lake in search of wind. It wasn’t totally calm, but it was close. Once in a while, a tantalizing little puff of air would show up, allowing Black Magic and some of the other go-fast boats to pick up speed, but then it would disappear again.

As we drifted around, Black Magic got a whole lot of attention. At the speeds we were going, there was plenty of time for conversation with other boat crews, so we were able to answer questions about what she was, and how it is to sail an Etchells. We discovered that the guy we talked to earlier in the week who said he wanted to get an Etchells fleet going at Dillon has really been talking up the boat, and so there were several people who wanted to know a lot. This could be interesting: If Zorro gets his New Mexico/West Texas Etchells fleet going at Elephant Butte, and the folks at Dillon also have one, I see a great rivalry regatta series in the making. And, gee, Heron Lake is about halfway between the two, so that’s the perfect “neutral ground” for matchups.

Finally, three hours after the scheduled start of racing, the committee decided to cancel the day’s racing. That was rather a pity; I had been hoping for at least one race to make up for the 11th and DNF the day before and move up at least a little in the standings. I do well in light air. But this air was so light that most of the boats were barely moving, and some weren’t moving at all, so the committee made the right choice.

Once the race was called, we motored back to the marina as quickly as we could; we needed to derig the boat and get on the road, since we had a 5½ hour drive ahead of us. Now that we have more practice, we can get the boat onto the trailer and taken apart in just a couple of hours. While we were derigging, the awards ceremony was taking place in a nearby large tent; as we were finishing up, the ceremony ended, sending hundreds of people streaming past, admiring Black Magic’s lines. We heard a lot of oohing and ahhing, and we got a lot of compliments, although there was one Aussie who didn’t like the Kiwi name. (But what else can you name a black boat in a fleet that has a tradition of naming boats after America’s Cup yachts?) Ironically, within an hour of the racing being called off, weather moved in, with fiercely gusting winds and sporadic rain, so we were freezing by the time we were ready to roll.

During the retrieval and derigging, we discovered that one of our tie-down straps had gone missing, and one of Tadpole’s shoes had fallen apart, so we made a stop by the Wal-Mart in Frisco to buy shoes and tie-down straps (we decided to get a spare). We ended up with an “interesting” collection of souvenirs from this vacation: a sledge hammer, a hacksaw, a set of titanium drill bits, the perfect sailing gloves (the sail shop in Dillon is small, but it carries just the right stuff), a couple of hats (the bat-hat mentioned in an earlier post, plus the Mount Gay Rum regatta hat), a pair of sneakers, a bottle of tequila, two tie-down straps, and some other assorted odd stuff.

After securing the boat, testing trailer connections (lights worked; brakes didn’t, so we’d need to use caution on the downhill side of mountain passes), and re-shoeing Tadpole, we headed for the highway. As we headed out, we saw Mother and Dumbledore headed the other direction toward the Frisco marina, where they had kept their boat during the regattas.

As we set off on the road, the gerbils inside my head let me listen to the music I wanted to for a change. And who better to listen to while driving through the Colorado Rockies than C.W. McCall? We didn’t drive by the exact places of the songs – Glenwood Canyon, the Camp Bird Mine, Wolf Creek Pass (especially without trailer brakes!), and more – but we came close to several, and the spirit was the same.

It rained for nearly the entire drive, often heavily. On the road up Poncha Pass, the rain had caused a landslide that took out part of the roadway. As our truck labored up the pass, a trucker passed us, but then he suddenly dropped back and let us into the left lane before we saw what was up; my guess is that he got word from a buddy of his headed downhill.

We stopped in Alamosa at a convenience store where we’d noticed a good gas price on the way north. Yes, it still had a good price, so good that half of the gas pumps were out of gas. We fueled up and gave the boat and trailer a check, and just as we were finishing up, Mother and Dumbledore pulled in with their boat and parked in the back. It turns out this is one of their regular stops when they travel to Dillon and back; rather than try to make the entire drive to Placitas in one day, they stop for the night. The convenience store has a big parking area in back for truckers, and Mother and Dumbledore camp out among them (song in head: “Convoy” – before the next time we go to Dillon, we’re going to have to get a CB radio for the truck).

One more positive thing in Alamosa – the Subway sandwich shop. We got there three minutes before closing, and the people there had already put away the food and were turning off the “Open” sign. But they were willing to bring out the food again and make us some sandwiches to go. Hats off to them for customer service. If you’re passing through Alamosa and are hungry, on a budget, and in a hurry, the folks at Subway deserve your business.

We continued homeward over La Manga and Cumbres passes, through Chama (song in head: “The Silverton” – different train, but originally part of the same railroad) and to Heron Lake, where we left Black Magic in the parking lot at the boat ramp. Then we got to Five O’Clock Somewhere about 1 a.m. and turned in, since Pat had to continue on to Albuquerque this morning to get to work. The plan for today is for Tadpole and me to get to the boat and work on rigging it for launch; we may see Mother and Dumbledore there as well.


Blogger Tillerman said...

Wow - 6th out of 13 in your first race at this venue. That's pretty impressive.

Sounds like you had a fun family sailing trip that will leave you with lots of memories to treasure.

So what's next?

Mon Aug 07, 01:01:00 PM MDT  
Blogger Carol Anne said...

Well, the folks at Dillon have made us promise to come back next year. Of course, we were planning to do that anyway.

I'd love to accompany Zorro on one of his trips to be cannon fodder in San Diego, although Zorro really looks for more crew weight when he's going into ocean conditions. Maybe I can get Pat trained up closer to Zorro's standards ...

Mon Aug 07, 02:17:00 PM MDT  

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