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.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Great sailing reconnaissance and other race preparations

Yeah, it was a good day

We got out onto the water today to chart the locations of the race buoys likely to be used in the Dillon Open. The Dillon Yacht Club doesn’t run a normal Olympic circle. The marks they use might in some way be construed as being sort of centered on a buoy in the center of the lake, but these buoys don’t even try to be equidistant from the center – one of the buoys is typically located way up an arm of the lake, although at this moment, that particular buoy is physically located on the patio of the yacht club. A couple of the other buoys are also currently not to be found out on the lake, but we did research the locations of all of the buoys that are out there. We did have our GPS with us, but we ended up not using it much; rather, we made at least two sights aligning each buoy with landmarks on shore that also showed up on our topo maps. Now, we’ll need to take those sights and use them to pinpoint the buoys on a map, so we will know exactly where we need to go during the races.

We started out, under sail but with the motor at the ready in case we needed it, with mainsail alone. The idea was that Tadpole would be too busy with the compass and taking notes to deal with the jib sheets. But after a while, we decided that it was taking too long to get from one point to another with just the main, so we put up the jib as well. Almost immediately, the wind shifted 180 degrees and increased. We ended up on a screaming broad reach to the mouth of the Blue River arm of the lake. Then the wind died, as suddenly as it had come up.

For about four hours, we continued to deal with constantly changing conditions. We would get sudden bursts of wind from unexpected directions – something akin to the giant invisible flyswatter that I observed before, although we never got swatted flat the way I’ve seen happen to other boats. I don’t know whether that’s because what hit us isn’t as hard as what can hit, or my crew is good at spotting and anticipating wind bursts, or because I have a really hefty lead keel underneath my boat. I like to think it’s because I have good crew. Even better, after depowering for a flyswat, they remember to repower once it’s over, so the boat keeps going fast.

We returned to the marina under looming thunderstorms. As we were approaching the marina, the wind came up sharply, so we dropped the main and came in under jib alone. That proved to be the right choice, as we were able to sail into our slip, maneuvering upwind up a narrow passage between docks in gusty, shifty winds. Motor? Who needs it?

Funny thing – although, as we returned to the marina, we were accompanied by a mob of other boats whose skippers apparently also feared the impending thunderstorms, the rain never materialized.

So we returned to the condo, had lunch, and then worked on additional preparations for the Dillon Open. Our best mainsail is one we bought used, and so it didn’t have the right sail number. That was OK for our little local races where everybody knows my boat. But for the Dillon Open, we needed to get the old number off the sail and get our number on it. At the recommendation of one of the guys at the marina, we called a local sign shop. But all that the sign shop could do were vinyl letters suitable for the hull of a boat but not for something as flexible as sails, and the cost would be at least $40.

But wait, all is not lost. The old numbers on the sail are just heat transfers – iron-on patches. I got them off using the iron that came with the condo. So all I needed to do was find a fabric shop, get some iron-on patch material, cut it to the right shape, and iron it on to the sail. Simple.

Yeah, right. Apparently resort areas don’t have sewing shops. Fortunately, the charming, old-timey Wal-Mart in Frisco does have a sewing department, so we headed in that direction. Just as we set off, we got a call on the cell phone from Mother and Dumbledore – they were in Frisco, and they wanted to know whether we’d like to join them for dinner. So we agreed to meet in the Wal-Mart parking lot – we could get the iron-on material plus a couple of other things we needed, and Mother could hit the ATM, and then we could all go to dinner.

Wal-Mart did have iron-on material, although not a wide choice. The solid color that was available was heavy denim, not suitable for high-performance sails. Instead, what we got was a print pattern in dark blue-green, swirls that look, perhaps, like ocean waves, or, perhaps, like graphic representations of fractal equations. Yeah, it probably wouldn’t go over with some of the stuffier yacht clubs, but, hey, this is Dillon.

We had a wonderful dinner with Mother and Dumbledore at an Italian place in the middle of Frisco, and then we returned to our condo to work on applying the new numbers to the mainsail. Our plan for Wednesday is to get out on the water early and get in more practice with the flyswatter winds. Mother and Dumbledore got their boat rigged and into the water at Frisco Marina today, and they expect their crew to arrive about noon, so we expect to see them on the water.


Anonymous Astraeus said...

Shifty winds...desert lake sailing at it's best

Wed Aug 02, 05:36:00 PM MDT  
Blogger Tillerman said...

You could start a whole new fashion trend with those swirly numbers.

Thu Aug 03, 06:58:00 AM MDT  
Anonymous Gerald said...

That was the best and only real sailiing we've gotten so far.

Thu Aug 03, 11:01:00 AM MDT  

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