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.

Sunday, April 08, 2007

Pickle Race 2007

How many ways can miscommunication happen?

Friday afternoon, we headed down to the Butte with assorted supplies for working on Black Magic’s console and floor. A close inspection showed why the thousand-dollar job we had had done last year didn’t hold: Despite our being told that it was critical to have the job done professionally because the joint was so important, the folks at the shop doing the work apparently didn’t understand the stresses that the console is subjected to, both from lines such as the mainsheet and also from crew bracing their feet on it when the boat heels. So, while they had used plenty of glass matting on the inside of the hull of the boat, they didn’t run any matting up the sides of the console – all that was holding it in place was resin. Thus, when the boat was heeled in a mere 12 mph wind, the pressure of Pat and Photog bracing their feet was enough to snap it from its base.

We don’t have time to take the boat back to the shop to get the job redone, so the current plan is to re-glass the console base ourselves, and then reconstruct the floor supports around the console to give it extra reinforcement. We had started taking the floor apart Friday afternoon when Zorro showed up, and the wind was nice, so instead of working on our boat, we went sailing on his for the last couple of hours before sunset.

Saturday was the Pickle Race, which the Rio Grande Sailing Club regularly hosts on Easter Saturday for kids from the New Mexico Boys and Girls Ranches. These are kids, aged from elementary through late teens, whose home situations have led the state to remove them from their homes, and this is an opportunity for them to have an Easter celebration. As long-time foster parents, Dumbledore and Mother Superior are especially involved in this project. Since the Etchells isn’t exactly a good boat for small children, Zorro and I picked a couple of brawny ones for our crew – a 17-year-old defensive tackle and one of the counselors who was on the hefty side.

Before the race, there was a bit of excitement: Dumbledore’s grandson, who was about 4 or 5 years old, fell down the companionway and hit his nose. It looked like it might have been broken, so Pat got called to ambulance duty (with our MacGregor, Syzygy, in tow) to take the kid and his mother to the emergency room.

To make the event more fun for the younger kids, the Pickle Race is usually not a speed contest – it’s just a chance for them to get out on boats and have a good time. This year, the race involved going to each of the three marinas on the lake, and getting a playing card at each; then the poker hands would be completed on land at a cookout at Dumbledore and Mother Superior’s place. Conditions were light as we set out, so most of the other boats ran with motors. Still, even without one, Zorro’s boat is fast, and we were not far behind most of the rest of the boats as we approached Marina del Sur. The wind began to fill in, and we picked up speed.

There was a crowd of motorboats, houseboats, and other stuff at Marina del Sur, but we found a boat-length clear spot at the fuel dock, which we pulled up to. Tackle jumped to the dock, and by the time Zorro had the boat turned around, Tackle had the card and jumped back on board. All of the other boats were put-putting around with their motors, tying up, and hunting for the place to pick up their cards. We were on our way back to the south end of the lake to the Damsite Marina in seconds.

The wind was now blowing nicely, and Tackle and Counselor were impressed with the speed the Etchells could put on. We were quickly at the Damsite, where the store clerk stood at the fuel dock and held a card out for Tackle to grab as we glided past. Then it was back to Rock Canyon marina to put the boat back in its slip and wait for the rest of the kids to get back so they could get into their vans and drive up to the cookout.

Meanwhile, the wind was still nice, and Zorro wanted to get back out sailing. We wondered where Pat was, since he would have enjoyed sailing with us.

to be continued ...

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