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.

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Sunset, moonlight, Sunrise Regatta

Not much time to write; will try to keep this brief

This past weekend was the Rio Grande Sailing Club's Sunrise Regatta, consisting of four fleets: 10-mile, 25-mile spinnaker, 25-mile non-spinnaker, and 50-mile. The regatta gets its name because if the winds are light, sunrise is about when the 50-milers finish.

Pat and I got to the lake Friday afternoon, so he could take the club's motorboat out and put flashing lights on the navigation buoys that were to be used as turning marks during the race, so sailors could see them after dark. Before going to get the boat, Pat dropped me off at the Rock Canyon Marina, where I was to meet Zorro to sail with him. When I got there, he was already out sailing on the lake, but after about a half hour, he came to pick me up.

The wind was brisk, and so I had to hop on board Constellation from the dock while the boat was moving fairly fast. In order to make the jump easier, and since it was only going to be a short sail, I left almost everything in my gear bag, which I stowed on Windependent, Twinkle Toes' boat, on which Zorro and I and a few other people would be sailing in the 25-mile spinnaker fleet Saturday. Thus, when Zorro and I set sail, I was wearing my hat, sunglasses, and PFD, but I didn't have my non-sun glasses, my lip balm, or my cell phone with me. Well, we weren't going to be out long, so I wouldn't need those things – or so I thought.

It was late afternoon, but the wind was good, so Zorro decided to make a reconnaissance trip to the southernmost of the turning marks, to verify exactly where it was so we wouldn't have to hunt for it Saturday. As we arrived at that mark, the wind began to fade. On our way back to the marina, as the sun was going down, so was the wind. Then, when we were about halfway back, the wind went away completely. If I had had my cell phone, I could have called Pat to bring the motorboat and give us a tow in, but, well, I didn't have it. As it turned out, Pat had tried to phone me to ask what was up, but when he didn't get an answer, he figured that Zorro and I were simply enjoying our time on the water.

At this point, well, we didn't have much choice but to sit there and enjoy the sunset and try to find at least a little bit of a hint of a puff of wind. So we did. The sunset was glorious – but I didn't have a camera, or even a cell phone, to take a picture of it, so readers will have to take my word on that.

It was about this point that some song lyrics started humming through my head … and Zorro's too. I ended up with "Slow Boat to China" stuck in my brain for the whole weekend, and then some – it's still floating around my synapses. Zorro admitted that he, too, thought of the same song, although I was thinking of Jimmy Buffett's version, and he was thinking of Bette Midler's.

Just about as the sun set, we picked up just a hint of wind, and then a little more, and the boat was again moving, although not all that fast. The light was fading from the sky, and I realized I wouldn't be able to see all that well in the dark with my sunglasses on, but I didn't have my other glasses to change into. I tried going without any glasses on, but I'm so nearsighted, I couldn't see a thing – dark glasses were better than no glasses. Zorro admitted that his own night vision wasn't so great, either.

Meanwhile, in the east, the full moon was rising. So was the wind. Constellation picked up speed. We put up a spinnaker to get back to the marina more quickly. The wind built. And then it built some more. We were flying along, keeping pace with the waves, as the silvery moonlight reflected off the water like a million diamonds and gave us just barely enough light to see what we were doing. It was an awesome feeling, surfing the waves, the wind in my face, ripping along in the glow of the moon.

When we arrived at the marina, we found the harbor entrance almost by accident, and when we came to the dock, a fisherman on the shore facing the marina had a spotlight that provided enough light to allow us to get into the slip without incident.

I have in the past blogged about a peak
with Team Zorro … this was another peak experience.

Saturday was the Sunrise Regatta. On board Windependent were boat owner Twinkle Toes, Zorro, Blondie, Blondie's boyfriend, and a friend of Zorro's from Belize who now lives in the U.S. and has his own boat. Zorro was at the helm, Twinkle Toes on main trim, Boyfriend and Belize on jib trim, Blondie tailing, and I wherever there was a hole that needed filling. Winds were stiff, and they gradually got stiffer as the day went on, but they never got to the really insane levels that they sometimes get. For the first half of the race, in particular, they were in the range that was great for a Hunter 34, enough to make such a big and clumsy boat move smartly. Later, they got to a level at which reefing the sails would have been good, but this boat's not rigged for easy reefing, so we kept full sail up and just pressed on.

One of the rules of thumb about racing on Windependent is that something ALWAYS breaks. That is especially true in rougher conditions. But this time around, we got lucky. There were two things that broke, neither of them a serious problem. On the first upwind leg, because of the stiff winds, we didn't raise a full-size spinnaker; instead, we used an old Etchells spinnaker that Zorro had donated to the cause. It did the trick, bringing the boat up to the maximum hull speed for a Hunter 34. It also looked very silly, just a little handkerchief high up and out in front of the mast. As we were approaching a narrow channel leading to the northern part of the lake, Zorro was talking about how we were going to take that sail down in order to zigzag through the channel – and then there was a major wind shift and we broached. The spinnaker was ripped to shreds in the incident.

The second thing that broke was the nail on my right pinkie. That's OK; I don't think I've ever had a worthwhile sail on which I didn't break a nail or two. If there were no broken nails, it was probably not fun. Maybe whenever Windependent races, I should be on board so what gets broken is one of my nails, and nothing important.

In our fleet, we were second over the finish line behind the J/24 Hot Flash, but we beat her on corrected time.

Oh, yeah, that song … Consider this a lengthy intro to a Poetry Corner – another one on Frank Loesser, whom I've featured before. This is the version that Buffett sings, adapted from Lyrics Depot.

On A Slow Boat To China
By: Frank Loesser

I'd love to get you
On a slow boat to China
All to myself alone

Get you and keep you
In my arms ever more
Leave all your lovers
Weepin' on a far away shore

Out on the briny
With the moon big and shiny
Melting your heart of stone
Honey I'd love to get you
On a slow boat to China
All by myself alone


I'd love to get you
On a slow boat to China
All to myself alone
A twist in the rudder
And a rip in the sails
Driftin' and dreamin'
Honey throw the compass over the rail

Out on the ocean
Far from all the commotion
Melting your heart of stone
Honey I'd love to get you
On a slow boat to China
All by myself alone

Honey I'd love to get you
On a slow boat to China
All to myself alone

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Blogger JP said...

Sailing under spinnaker at night with the moon up - sounds fantastic :)

Wed Oct 07, 02:54:00 AM MDT  

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