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.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Memorial Weekend, great sailing, and a lonely cat

We really racked up the miles, too

Last Thursday, we packed up, left provisions for Dulce, and headed north with Black Magic, stopping along the way to hand Tadpole off to his grandparents for some quality time in between other activities. We arrived at the lake late that night, dropped the boat off in the State Park parking lot, then headed to Five O’Clock Somewhere for a good night’s sleep.

Friday, we rigged and launched the boat, under cloudy skies that threatened rain. Pat also accepted delivery at the marina of a dump-truck load of gravel to apply to the trail leading down the hill to the marina, in order to make it more passable in wet weather, which we’ve had unseasonably much of lately. Not that we’re complaining too much; it means more water in the lakes.

Saturday was the start of the New Mexico Sailing Club racing season at Heron Lake with the Memorial Weekend Long Race – about seven miles, from the marina cove, up the Narrows, around the island at the center of the lake, and back down the Narrows to the marina cove. Three boats entered: In the A fleet were Black Magic and the Moore 24 Step Two, and in the B fleet was the Hunter 26 Highlander.

Conditions were extremely light, not the predicted 10 to 15 mph, but more like 3 to 5. Still, the two A fleet boats had an exciting tacking duel up the Narrows, with the lead changing many times.

By the time we reached the main body of the lake, Highlander was nowhere in sight. The wind went almost totally away. We split tacks, hoping to find the elusive puddles of wind, and each time the two boats came together, Black Magic was ahead of Step Two, but the amount of the lead was sometimes larger and sometimes smaller.

As we neared the island, the wind came in a little more – still light, but more steady. We put up the spinnaker – the first time Pat and I have flown it with just the two of us on the boat – and Black Magic took off, leaving Step Two far behind. About two-thirds of the way back to the Narrows, we passed Highlander, still tacking upwind and barely moving.

I’m hoping somebody got pictures of the finish; it was glorious. The sun came out, and we were flying down the Narrows with the spinnaker up, looking magnificent. Because there’s not much cove beyond the finishing line, we actually took the chute down before the finish, but still, we finished well ahead of Step Two. On corrected time, we beat her by 9 minutes and 59 seconds.

Highlander eventually gave up racing and motored back to the marina.

That night there was a spaghetti supper at the community center in Laguna Vista, and we made plans to help another sailor rig and launch his boat the next morning.

Sunday, we helped the friend launch, and then there was a potluck lunch, club meeting, and awards ceremony at the marina pavilion. Attendance was high, showing that the club is indeed coming back to life after the drought that grounded the marina for two years. Cherokee has a full round of summer series regattas planned, so we hope there will be some good attendance for the races.

After the meeting, we headed south, stopping in Albuquerque to pick up some things and feed Dulce, who was very glad to see us after three days’ absence. We had plenty of crunchies, but we were out of canned cat food, so she got albacore instead. Then we continued to T or C, where we needed to vacate the doublewide we’d been renting for the Rio Grande Sailing Club season. We stopped briefly by Dino’s place, where we learned that the lake had had some fairly stormy weather in the past few days.

Monday, we worked on packing up stuff to haul north in the Expedition and the utility trailer. Zorro came up to sail with us; when he saw that there was still some work to be done at the doublewide, he decided to head for the marina and set up the boat while we finished packing.

Just as we were finishing up, we got a call from Zorro. He had rigged his boat and set sail, planning to stay in the area of the lake near the marina and watch for us to arrive. However, he had been struck by a micro-burst that had sent the boat out of control, and while taking down the mainsail, he had lost it overboard and cut himself in the leg with the knife he was using to cut rigging. Under jib alone, he couldn’t even get back to the marina until the wind let up.

We met Zorro at the marina, and then we all went to a late lunch while waiting for the weather to settle. Finally the winds did calm a little, enough that with three people on the boat instead of just one, it was reasonable to go out.

The wind was still stiff, and a couple of times, we were hit by major gusts, so we had three hours of exciting sailing. Pat got a lot of practice on the jib (although at one point while trimming the sheet coming out of a tack, he accidentally slugged me in the mouth) and some on the spinnaker as well. As the sun sank in the west, the wind lightened, and Zorro gave us some lessons in strategy and timing at starts of races.

We got back to the marina just at sunset, and Zorro was pleased that the day, which had started so disastrously, ended up with such great sailing. He was so “up” from the experience that he even called us later, at nearly midnight, to rehash the day, including positive comments on Pat’s sailing, or at least more optimism about his ability to learn than has previously been the case.

When we got home, we found Dulce extremely glad to see us, and not just because it meant another serving of albacore. We have, in the past, left the cats alone for similar periods of time, but it has always been the two of them, so Dulce and Tres kept each other company. Now that Tres is no longer with us, Dulce is all alone. So she has been sticking very close to us, eager for affection and interaction.

In the long term, we may be looking into getting another cat to keep Dulce company, either a kitten that she can raise (the way she did with Tres), or an adult cat with a compatible personality. But with the three humans in the family busy going about seven or eight different directions at any given time, we can’t realistically introduce a new pet into the household at the moment. For now, we will be wanting to keep our absences short and making sure to leave a radio or TV going to keep Dulce company if we are going to be away for a day or more. For longer vacations, she will come with us if possible, or else she will get to stay with Grandma.

So … Wednesday, Tadpole and I will start to serve our term of duty as dockmasters at the Heron Lake marina – since the place is run by the sailing club, all slip tenants serve a half-week camping out either on a boat in the marina or on the point above the marina, to provide assistance to sailors and a measure of security. We’ll be borrowing my folks’ pop-up tent trailer to camp in (an Etchells doesn’t exactly have much living quarters). Since only one of us needs to be there at all times, the other will be staying at Five O’Clock Somewhere overnight – I’ll take the luxury living Wednesday and Thursday nights, and then Friday Tadpole goes back to Albuquerque to take his SAT college exam Saturday, and I will be in the camper at the point.

Pat, meanwhile, is going to be helping on race committee duty next weekend at a regional regatta in Colorado, so he’ll be coming to Five O’Clock Somewhere Thursday night, heading to Colorado Friday, coming back Sunday.

What this means for Dulce is that the place where she will have the most contact with her humans is at Five O’Clock Somewhere. So today (Tuesday), she and I came north. We’re now at the cabin, and she’s still in major sticking-close mode. When I’m in the living room, she’s on her cushion on the back of the sofa, right behind me. When I’m at the computer, she’s snoozing on top of the printer. Every so often, she snuggles up for an attention fix. So we’re getting some good quality time together.

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