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 25, 2006

Weekend summary

A lot of driving, but even more sailing

Friday was Tadpole’s birthday, so we went out to eat at his choice of restaurant: a really nice place that serves Mediterranean food, most excellently prepared. We left the restaurant immensely satisfied and somewhat overstuffed.

We then went out to spend the rest of my paycheck on a mini-entertainment center for the guest room: a small flat-panel television and wall mount, a combination VCR/DVD player, and an amplified rabbit-ears antenna (we don’t have cable or satellite at the Albuquerque house because we have so little time for watching television that broadcast programming fills our needs).

When we got home, we set up the system in front of the treadmill. I can now watch videos or television while getting exercise. Of course, it’s also now an extra amenity for guests who come to stay in the guest room, although the only piece of furniture currently facing it is the treadmill. Maybe that means any guests we have should be fitness-minded.

That night was a rough one. September 22 always is. Yes, it’s Tadpole’s birthday, and that’s something to celebrate, but it’s hard to celebrate an occasion that ruined my life, physically and emotionally. I still get nightmares and flashbacks, less and less often, but always on that night. I won’t go into details; it involved an insurance company’s policies forcing on me a doctor who was already being sued for malpractice and wrongful death, followed by major complications and two or three years of total inability to work and very little ability to function as a human being (I have almost no memory of the first two years of Tadpole’s life), much therapy (physical and mental), antidepressant drugs, near-destruction of Pat’s and my marriage, and a bunch of other stuff. I’m much better now, but I expect some of the problems will remain with me for the rest of my life; other abilities I have only in the past year regained (the treadmill is part of that).

Anyhow, after a rough night Friday, I wasn’t sure I was up to sailing Saturday. But the weather forecast was for medium winds, gradually strengthening into the level that is challenging for me, and we were expecting Zorro to be at the lake to provide help if things got hairy.

When we got to the lake, there was no Zorro – and no wind! So much for 13-18, gusting to 23. It was more like 3-5, no gusts. We called Zorro; he was on his way to the lake, at that moment waiting in line at the Border Patrol inspection station (or, as he called it, the Gestapo checkpoint) near Hatch, and hopping to get to the lake in 45 minutes or so. We told him we were setting sail, and we’d see him on the water.

Just as we raised the sail, the wind came up, around 10-15. Nice. Both because of my fatigue and in order to broaden crew knowledge, we swapped positions: Pat took the helm, Tadpole was middle, and I was at the front of the boat getting wet. I was glad for the rain jacket I always carry in my gear bag. We came out the twisting channel to the open lake south of Rattlesnake Island, and then, as we were passing through the channel east of Rattlesnake, Zorro called to say he had arrived at the lake. We kept sailing, enjoying the nice breeze that had Black Magic skimming along the water, all the way across the race course area and to the mouth of the channel around Long Point, before heading back south. There were several powerboats out on the lake, and I got an idea: We want to learn how to handle the boat in ocean conditions, and while there isn’t a good way to simulate swell, we could get a couple of the powerboaters to drive zigzags in front of us to create chop with their wakes – maybe offer to buy them some gas for their boats in exchange.

I took over the helm and we put the spinnaker up. We met up with Zorro in the channel by Rattlesnake, and we sailed around the race course area for a while as the wind gradually died. Poor Zorro – he missed the best winds of the day. We ended up returning to the marina in drifting conditions as the sun was setting. After putting the boats away, we went out to dinner, and then we went home, Zorro to hand-feed baby food to an elderly cat, us to give Tres his medicine.

Sunday, we got the weather forecast, and again, it looked like good sailing weather: 13, steady, from east to southeast. So it was once more to the lake. We were nearly there when Zorro phoned – the cat had taken a turn for the worse overnight, so he was staying home to take care of her. Also, the weather forecast he had seen was for much worse wind than the forecast we had seen – 15 to 25, gusting to 30. He worried that those conditions would be too much for me.

As it turned out, the winds were worse than the forecast we had seen, but in the other direction! Instead of too much wind, there was very little. We set sail anyway, hoping it would increase. We called Zorro to keep him updated; he was very surprised, especially since El Paso was getting the kind of weather that had been predicted for the lake – cold, windy, and overcast.

The wind did come up a bit from time to time, and even when it was light, we enjoyed ourselves. We got in some good practice with the spinnaker, including discovering that we could actually carry it on a close reach – nice to be able to do, since Etchells class rules don’t allow a genoa. Pat also got a workout on foredeck on the way back to the marina, since the narrow, twisting channel and shifting winds meant a whole lot of gybing.

As we approached the marina, we got the only moderate wind of the day: It came up to about 10 and shifted 180 degrees to directly in front of us, collapsing the chute around the forestay. We got that down and the jib up, and we headed in. I had been hoping for a nice, light-air upwind approach to the slip, and instead we had a moderate tailwind. Oh, well. We went head-to-wind, dropped the main, pointed the boat at the slip, dropped the jib, and coasted in, impressing the marina manager. As we were putting the boat away, the wind died again. We returned home by way of Socorro Springs.

Let’s see … five hours of sailing Saturday, four Sunday. Two round trips to the lake: four hours driving each day. At least with El Caballero, the costs of fuel and wear-and-tear on the car for the extra round trip add up to less than the cost of a motel room, and the extra driving did allow us to give Tres his medicine – we have discovered that missing a couple of doses is a very bad thing. Overall, that’s nine hours of sailing, eight hours of driving, not too bad.

Of course, we could get in even more sailing time with a place to stay near the lake, especially if pets were permitted. We could set up a cat infirmary so we wouldn’t have to go home every night to take care of those who need some TLC.

Today I logged 1.7 miles on the treadmill while watching my soap. I also discovered that having the treadmill plugged into the same outlet makes lots of static on the TV screen. When I got an extension cord and plugged it into an outlet on the other side of the room, the static was reduced but still there; I’m sure that outlet is on the same circuit. So I’ll be trying an outlet in another room to see if I can find one on another circuit.


Blogger Carol Anne said...

Update: Just heard from Zorro that Tiger died. She was a good cat, but she was old. I guess her time had come.

Mon Sep 25, 11:13:00 PM MDT  
Anonymous AdriftAtSea said...

UGH, sorry to hear about the bad memories and experiences... I would recommend more sailing as a prescription for it though. :D

Sun Oct 01, 12:13:00 AM MDT  

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