On the water (at last) with Zorro
The drought is over
It has been a long time since Pat and I have been sailing, or since we have seen Zorro. Pat has had to take repeated trips to South Texas to deal with the Old Soldier's health problems and other affairs. Meanwhile, I've been working – normally, I would take the summer off from teaching, but with Pat not currently working, we have needed the income. In addition, Zorro's employment has kept him away from the lake much of the time (it's nice for him to have not merely a job, but one he's well suited for, but it involves a lot of travel out of town). And he keeps having girl trouble: He just wants to have a good time with no commitment, but the women he's been dating lately have, after about two dates, started talking about moving in with him, getting married, getting rid of the cats, changing his housekeeping style, changing his lifestyle, and generally trying to do a total makeover of his personality – in other words, making him into not-Zorro. He's been spending a lot of his time and energy trying to get disentangled from them.
So none of us got in any sailing during June, and while Zorro had managed to get in a bit of sailing on his own last weekend, the last time Pat or I had been sailing was the Race to the Elephant at the end of May. We also had not seen Zorro since that weekend, and I was getting especially stressed-out and depressed. I needed a good dose of Zorro.
Finally, this weekend, the universe has come into alignment (which may or may not have anything to do with the solar eclipse that Gerald, Jer, Fuego, and others will be watching in just a couple of days). Pat and I were at the lake at the same time as Zorro, and we were able to go sailing with him.
Friday afternoon, we headed for the lake. When we left Albuquerque, we were in hot, dry, windless conditions. By the time we got to Socorro, we were in thunderstorms that had not been predicted in the weather forecasts that we had seen, with very little rain but a lot of gusty wind. When we arrived at the lake, the clouds were heavy, the wind was screaming, and there was lots of lightning. We met Zorro, Carguy, and Carguy's girlfriend at the marina; they reported that up until just before Pat and I had arrived, sailing conditions on the lake were fantastic. Zorro had been on Constellation, and Carguy and his girlfriend had been on Caliente, which Carguy has just repurchased from Ribbons, and they had had about three hours of winds in the vicinity of 15 knots. They had just gotten in to the marina and tied up when the gale started raging.
It was a little disappointing to have missed out on that afternoon's great sailing, but it was good to see Zorro again. Pat and I went to dinner with Zorro (during which time a squall moved through, with fierce winds, lots of lightning, and about 10 minutes of heavy downpour), and then we joined Carguy, Carguy's girlfriend, Dino, and a couple of Dino's workers at a house on the river that Dino has recently purchased that he's remodeling into a vacation rental (3 bedrooms, 2 baths, spa tub in the master bath, fireplace in the living room, and a fantastic deck over the river where one can sit and be soothed by the whooshing sound of the rapids just downstream, for just $1000 a week). Dino, Zorro, Pat and I relaxed on the deck in the dark, listening to the rapids and the occasional night bird, catching up with each other's lives. Dino had a fishing rod in a holder mounted on the rail of the deck, with a line trailing into the water, but he didn't seem to be expecting to catch anything.
Pat and I then headed for our lodging for the weekend, the guest room of Cornhusker and Bassmaster's house. Cornhusker is off on an adventure in the Pacific Northwest with a friend, but Bassmaster is, at least sometimes, around.
Saturday morning, we ended up sleeping in extra-late. Pat attributed this to "cumulative fatigue" from all of the stress that we have both been under, although there may have been other factors. Zorro phoned about ten, saying that the wind was looking really good and he was going sailing; we might be able to get in touch with him later.
Eventually, we got moving. Pat wanted to take care of some sailing club business with the State Parks people. While we were working on that, Zorro phoned. He had just had a fantastic time on the water, in 20-knot winds that were left over from the front that had moved through the previous night. Single-handing in those winds, in the hot sun, had made him tired and hungry, so he was going to get some lunch and then go out sailing again. Pat and I arranged to meet him for lunch and then get out on Constellation with him for the rest of the day.
It was beautiful. As the frontal system moved away, the winds abated, so they were generally in the 10-15 knot range. Carguy and his girlfriend were out on his Newport 28 with some prospective buyers, and we sailed to them, sailed with them for a bit, sailed away for a while, rejoined them for a while … and so forth. Meanwhile, Zorro put Pat through some fairly rigorous training on foredeck duty and headsail trim. This is really good, as Gerald is now at college and not usually available to run things on the front end of the boat, and so I'm going to have to depend on Pat for all of that. Conditions were stiffer than Pat is accustomed to, especially when trimming the spinnaker, so he got a workout. He also seems to be getting more coordinated – today, he clocked me over the head with the spinnaker pole only three times, and he stepped on my toes only twice.
Several times, we thought about going back in to the marina. There were some heavy clouds hanging just northwest of the lake, but they never came in close. We kept an eye on them, but as long as they held off, we were having just too much fun sailing to quit. We sailed up and down the lake several times, which gave Pat a whole lot of practice with that spinnaker. What finally led us to head in to the marina was the fact that we were running out of daylight. If there had been a full moon, we might still be sailing; but it's approaching new moon, so there's no light to sail under once the sun is gone.
Once in the marina, we helped Zorro put his boat away, so he could go back to El Paso. He said he had thought about staying over another night and sailing more on Sunday, but he didn't think there would be enough wind to make that worthwhile. Later I checked the weather forecasts, and it looks like he made the right call – the forecasts are nearly unanimous that there will be very little wind Sunday. Pat and I may go out with Carguy and his girlfriend on Caliente, and Zorro thinks that would be good – they're almost total beginners on the Etchells, and in gentle conditions, Pat and I can teach them things.
I guess that means we've graduated to the next level. There's an old saying in medical school about learning procedures: You watch one, you do one, you teach one. Then you've learned it. So Pat and I are now at the third stage, at least according to Zorro.