Sunday, October 5, 2008

On Boat Weekend

We finally made it all the way around a race course. But it wasn't on Nomad and I (clearly) wasn't acting as the skipper. The course, as laid out, was "Olympic Modified." At least one other captain had no more clue what that meant then I did. As he put it, "I know what Olympic means. I know what modified means. But Olympic Modified?"

New friend Parks on "October Breeze" needed crew for this weekend's charity race. Deb and I were more than glad to sign up, learn from a long time sailor and see a new boat. ("October Breeze" by the way, is a sweetheart.) There is a handicap system for sailboats to try and make the racing fun that they call a "perf." (Not sure what that means either.) However it works, I don't think they gave "October Breeze" enough of it for having me on board during a race. Still, we didn't finish last, or even next to last. (Okay, we did finish next to next to last.)

There wasn't much wind on Saturday (big surprise) but we still managed some excitement. At the first turn (sailors call it a "mark") someone did something unexpected, charging through a line of boats where there really wasn't a hole, and causing a real mealy. Friend Kort (guru of the night sail a few weeks ago) got cut-off at the pass and had to fend off the offending boat literally by hand. Since there was 4 our 5 of us all trying to ease around the same floating buoy at the same time a real domino effect ensued. Boats were going in all directions trying to 1) get around the turn without, 2) banging into another boat while, 3) trying to figure out what the wind was doing. The good news is that, whatever the wind was doing, it wasn't doing very hard. So the whole thing unfolded in a kind of slow motion with no harm done.

After the turn Kort's boat and "October Breeze" sailed (drifted more like it) side by side to the next mark within just a couple of feet of each other. The two crews chatted back and forth most of the way. Sailboat "racing" is really a different kind of animal.

There was a big party that night with a wonderful bonfire. This morning we got up, endured our first yacht club membership meeting (pretty much like any kind of membership meeting you have ever attended) and then took Nomad out to see if the 10 mph winds forecast for the day would actually show. They did, in gusts and spurts. Eventually all of the flat spots on the lake filled in with cat's paws, and the wind was more or less (sometimes less than less) steady. The highlight of the day's sail was when Deb got us set up on the best wing-on-wing run we have managed in little Nomad yet. With our big drifter hanging far off the port side and the main shoved over to starboard I think we cut a pretty impressive pose. We used some of the stuff we had picked up from Parks during the race to play with the sails, setting the main sheet and then using the traveler more and adjusting the jib cars, to get the most out of the little wind we found. It all worked pretty well.

Deb ended the weekend with some sad news about a four-legged-friend. Itchy was a happy "airport dog" from her last job that she used to walk during lunch and who was good company in the office day in and day out. Those who have known the love of a good animal will understand her loss.

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