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, September 18, 2006

A high-mileage weekend

Three lake-and-back journeys

Friday, Pat got off work early so we could go down to the Butte for sailing. Tadpole had an architecture fair to go to as well as a Boy Scout “camp-in,” but we had made arrangements with Seattle to meet him and a friend, Chicago, in Socorro and take them down to the lake to go sailing.

Unfortunately, when we got there, the winds were very stiff. Seattle, who knows sailing, and Chicago, who is new to sailing but knows wind, both agreed the winds were about 20 knots, gusting higher. In addition, the wind was from the south, making getting out of the slip difficult and getting back into it nearly impossible.

So we didn’t get to go sailing, but we did do some work on Black Magic, such as getting the compass mounted, and we got some “fun noodles” tied up around the edge of the dock to protect the boat from scraping on the bare wood. Seattle also got to explain to Chicago various parts of the boat and show him some useful knots. We waited around for the wind to go down, which it finally began to do just as the sun was also going down. Without a moon, it was too dark to go sailing, so we headed back to Socorro, where we treated Seattle and Chicago to dinner at the Socorro Springs Brewery and got our growler refilled. Then we dropped them off at their apartments and headed back to Albuquerque.

Saturday morning, we hitched up Black Magic’s trailer (which now has fully working lights and brakes as well as some reinforcements that Dumbledore welded on earlier in the week), and we drove north to Heron Lake. We put Syzygy onto the trailer to replace the centerboard uphaul that had broken. Putting a centerboard boat onto a keelboat trailer is a great way to make working on the underside of the boat easy, and it saves the hassle of de-rigging the boat, trailering it south to Albuquerque, hoisting it up in a sling (and paying whatever exorbitant fee that might require), repairing it there (or more likely having to pay the facility that has the sling for the repairs – the last time the centerboard needed work, the cost was $800), putting it back on the trailer, hauling it back to the lake, and re-rigging. Getting the boat onto the trailer was a little tricky; the centerboard is designed to swing up when it meets an obstacle, so the boat has to be steered straight onto the trailer in order to end up with the centerboard between the keel guides, and we had a 15-knot crosswind.

But we finally got the boat onto the trailer and out of the water. Replacing the broken cable was fairly easy, and we were also able to scrub algae off the bottom of the boat so it will sail better. Syzygy could still use some fresh bottom paint, but now that we know the trailer trick, that will be an easy job.

While Tadpole was finishing up the boat repairs, Pat and I visited with D and K, who were de-rigging their boat. Because of the harrowing experience that they had had two weeks before, they were planning to sell the boat, but they haven’t given up on sailing or water sports. K is mobility impaired, but being active is therapeutic for her, and since D had once been an avid sailor, they had decided to try sailing as a sport. That didn’t work, but they have a plan: They will buy a pontoon boat, on which they can chug around the lake and go fishing, and K will be able to board the pontoon boat at the boat ramp courtesy dock to go to the marina, since she can’t get up and down the hill to it. She can enjoy socializing with the sailing club. Meanwhile, if D wants to go sailing, I offered to let him come sailing on Black Magic or Syzygy with us – he and K both got excited about the prospect of his sailing on what she called “the oh-my-god-this-thing-goes-fast boat.”

Later, it occurred to me that when the sailing club gets a racing schedule up and going, the pontoon boat would make a great committee boat, and helping whoever is on committee boat duty would be something K could do while D races with us or one of the other racing boats.

So we then re-launched Syzygy and headed back to Albuquerque with the trailer. All in all, Saturday was successful – we saved $800 on boat repairs plus however much extra gas the truck would have burned in trailering the boat back and forth. And we were glad that D and K still plan to participate in sailing club activities, and that, given my need for crew for Black Magic, we could contribute to the plan being a win-win situation all around.

Sunday, we knew Zorro had been planning to go to the Butte, and we also went down, both to work on the boat and to go sailing. We phoned Seattle to invite him to come with us, but he had a pile of homework he needed to get done. We also tried phoning Zorro, and left messages on his voice-mail. When we got to the lake, there was no sign of Zorro, although we did chat briefly with Cap’n Groovy, who sometimes sails with him.

The wind was very light, and we installed a few more fun noodles and worked on the boat while waiting for either wind or Zorro to show up. We need to make new hatch covers for the fore and aft air tanks both in order to make the boat legal for Etchells-class racing and to improve safety – the idea is that these tanks are water-tight and, being full of air, reduce the chance of the boat sinking. So we got some poster board and made templates of the hatches and the bolts that will hold the covers. Now we can cut plywood to the right size and shape, cover it with fiberglass, and drill holes for the bolts to go through.

Zorro never showed up, but some wind finally did later in the afternoon, so we hoisted sail and set off. We sailed for two and a half hours, and Pat and Tadpole tried switching positions. Pat was a little awkward on foredeck with the spinnaker, but we did a good job of keeping it going even in the very light air (5 knots or less), and we went through several gybes without major mishap. Gradually the wind increased, allowing the boat to glide nicely along on the way back to the marina. We got to the dock around sunset, ironically in what was the strongest wind of the day – and the slip was dead downwind, so we dropped the main, pointed the boat at the slip, then dropped the jib and coasted in. We came in a bit too fast – we could have dropped the jib sooner and still had plenty of momentum – but having the fun noodles on the slip prevented boat damage. We put the boat away in the last of the daylight, and then we headed back to Albuquerque, stopping once again at Socorro Springs.


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