Sunday, October 31, 2010

Season's end...

...probably. Or maybe not, sometimes its hard to tell. This year, regardless of when the seasons actually ends in IL, Deb and I have the trip coming up in late Nov. across the Gulf Stream, out to our first (of many we hope) visit to the Islands, and back to Ft. Lauderdale.

Season over or not it is getting cold when the sun goes down, so we spent the nights on the pier plugged into heater power. Saturday was the lake's "Great Race" and it looked like a good one. Nomad, as usual, was going about her own business but the race fleet swept by at one point,

Deb got a bunch of pretty cool pictures, and it seemed like a good time was had by all. Well, except for the one boat we watched lose a spinnaker; a friend's boat who totalled their very expensive, racing main sail; and a different friend who broached a borrowed boat that put the mast in the water and sent the tiller extension to the bottom. Admittedly the winds were in the 15 to 20 knot range with gusts near 30, which (since racers like to step hard on the gas and loathe putting in a reef) may account for some of the carnage. Nomad suffers no illusion of being swift. With one reef in her main and the small jib hanked onto her tightened up forestay she was quite content, shrugging off the bigger waves while posting 5+ kts on the GPS all day long.

Over the weekend hundreds of pelicans swept over the lake, forming up and heading south. The clear, cool (almost cold) sky reflected blue in the lake. The Saturday night community fire warmed the bones in more ways than one. Toady's sail was equally as good, if a bit more tame. By weekend's end lots of boats were up on the hard and deals had made for those staying wet to bunch up around bubblers. Next weekend I'll be off traveling, the weekend after that we will probably need to winterize Nomad in the face of sub-freezing nights.

If this was the last weekend of sailing around here, it was a great way to close out our third year with little Nomad. She draws admiration from all who visit her, has taught us to sail her with some small amount of confidence, and has taken good care of us through a couple of storms and a lot of pretty days. What more could one ask of a boat, or a season?

Thursday, October 28, 2010

The Silence of the Land

The Boat Show is over.  Want to know how I know this?  I know this because all of a sudden there are long lapses in the posts of the blogs in my Google Reader.  Why is this, you say?  Because all of the authors of all of the blogs in my Google Reader finished their northern summer haul-outs and are now busy chasing the thermometer Southward where internet connection is sporadic at best and blog posts about Paradise get replaced by life in Paradise.

Two weeks from now we will winterize Nomad and the sun is nearly down when I get home from work and the leaves are all off the trees and there is a freeze warning tonight and nearly everyone I know has the flu.  It's gonna be a long winter

Sunday, October 24, 2010


I am pretty regularly described as a "loner." (Not loaner!) It probably fits and goes well with my chosen profession. When the chips fall wrong at 40,000 feet and 400 knots, hoping that someone else has a good idea or calling for a meeting will be of little use. A cockpit is a place built for those willing to go it alone.

Outside of the cockpit people are mostly a mystery to me. Puzzled by the way they think, amazed at the things they believe, astonished at how they vote, and discouraged by their willingness to use ideology, god claims, language or political borders as an excuse for violence against the weak, the unsuspecting, or the unprepared; it is weird to be a member of a species I barely understand. Don't get me wrong, I am not a pacifist. I likes my violence up close and personal, between more or less evenly matched opponents, and over some serious point of contention. (Like what kind and how much Rum is best with the Coke.) But the ideological hate rending much of today's world goes completely over my head. Who are these people who think that what I do, or believe, or how I want to live my life, is really that much of their business?

So I was a bit surprised to stumble onto the realization that one of the things I like most about little Nomad is that she links me to a very special community. Every weekend a small village takes shape at our marina, its focus the clubhouse with its shared kitchen and covered back porch. Sure we all have our boats, most with a usable galley, a covered cockpit for socializing, and a berth for when the last story is told - the last beverage consumed. And sure those same boats come and go all weekend long. Subsets of the village form up for a cove out, an afternoon sail, or a night trip to the dam. Pretty often, like this weekend past, some excuse for a party (Halloween in this case.) draws most of the clan together for an evening. Food gets prepared, served, and shared. Later a fire gets started where the story tellers and listeners gather. Somehow the tables get cleared, the dishes done, the pots and pans put away, all without a work list or bosses or orders given. In this eclectic bunch pretty much everyone is not only tolerated, but cherished. Odd some of us might be. But the rest just share rueful smiles and accept us as we are. Pretty cool actually, and pretty rare.

True we don't talk politics much, or religion. Most of us don't take borders nearly as seriously as those who draw them on maps. For the most part we all mangle the same English. (Though German is a kind of second language for some reason.) There is often debate over the Rum and Coke question, but conflict is resolved by all combatants trying various concoctions until the debate just fades away. Somewhere in there all other arguments have either faded away as well, been laughed into oblivion, or simply tossed aside so serious sailing can commence. (A lesson the rest of the world could borrow to its benefit.)

I can't say if the hard-core, off-shore, live-aboard cruising community shares such characteristics, but I hope it does. For now I'll take some lessons from our little lake in Carlyle, IL on how a loner can fit least a little.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Miscellaneous Boat Show Pictures

I'm a little behind the curve in the photo posting because I've been just a little busy taking care of the injured.  Here are a few pictures from the boat show that I didn't get in Tim's original post.

Tim in the front cockpit of the Chris White Atlantic 57

Tim at the interior helm station of the Chris White Atlantic 57

Even with the new Hunter interior in the Gemini 105 I still can't connect with it.  Sorry all you Gemini lovers.

The Tomcat 9.7 on the other hand has some very smart design features - just a few feet too short for a full ocean-going catamaran.

The Gunboat 66 "dinette"

The Gunboat 66 Lounge

The Gunboat postage stamp galley sans fridge and freezer

The Gunboat 66 fridge and freezer in the utility room only accessible through the head (Uhhh excuse me for barging through your shower but I need to get a glass of milk).

The Passport 47.5 center cockpit - My vote for the best monohull of the show.

The Passport aft cabin queen island bed.

Separate shower stall

The V-berth queen island bed

Second head/shower

Companionway / Galley...This is one seriously nice boat.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Oh Man...

it is good to be home! Little Nomad was waiting patiently for our return. Clomping aboard Friday was a bit awkward, but she didn't seem to mind. Still being a bit sluggish from my debate with the Mercedes, Deb insisted that my deck monkey duties be restricted to when we were tied to the pier or hanging on the hook. Even then I don't think she was completely happy knowing I would get to the lake first and try to do the things I normally do to get the boat ready. I tried to pretend that I'm not still hurt but it was about all I could do just getting the boat opened up and the covers off; climbing up out of the starboard lazaret after attending to the thru-hull took a couple of tries. It was just shy of a bridge too far.

With the low for Saturday morning being forecast in the high 30s we decided to stay at the pier. At least that was my excuse for not leaving the marina. By the time dinner was over even my fork was feeling heavy. We sat by the fire for a while with the assembled, listened to some funny, (though "R" rated, at least) stories, and just enjoyed the moment. The walk out the dock (my fourth of day) was about all the mileage left in my battered left leg. We fired up our little heater and I crawled into the V berth happy that the week was over and that I had made it back to the boat.

It was a slow start for me Saturday morning but we eventually made our way out to the lake for a nice sail down to Coles Creek. And yes, I was on the helm the whole time, never left the cockpit once, and even managed to back out of the slip like I knew what I was doing. It did feel like I was going the wrong way though, I think I've only driven the boat OUT of the marina 3 times, including yesterday! And I was still at the helm when Nomad mushed to a stop just as we entered the cove. Yep, near the end of our third season and we have finally run aground. At least I was the second skipper of the day to bump into the same spot, something shared with us when we powered our way back to deeper water and joined the raft up. Even better, it was the owner of our marina who bumped bottom there before we did, so I wasn't too embarrassed. (Since we "powered" off using our anemic team of horsepower, its pretty clear we weren't stuck that hard.) I may not be a sailor yet, but I AM a Carlyle Lake sailor now.

This morning dawned clear and chilly, a perfect morning to sit in a cockpit, sip hot coffee, and marvel once again at being the luckiest person on the planet. The sail home was slow in very light winds, with Deb pretty much handling everything. We ghosted past hundreds of great white pelicans, enjoyed the near silence that comes with no powerboats, and wished the weekend (and the season) would last just a little longer.

Sunday, October 10, 2010


thoughts on the boat show are my personal musings...your mileage may vary.

The boat show was the expected good time though I was surprised at my reaction to the big Gunboat. It was massive, 70+ feet, clearly well built and with a basic layout I think right for a Cat. But the philosophy behind it was so blatantly in-your-face, so "mine is bigger than yours," that it just left me cold. A boat whose arrogance completely overwhelmed its elegance. Even if I did hit the lottery I couldn't imagine myself living on or sailing a Gunboat.

The Atlantic 57 had the same air about it, though not quite to the same degree. I know they were both presented as performance oriented boats, and I usually have a soft spot for anything designed and built to go fast. But something about these things just struck me wrong. Whatever it is I love about sailing, I couldn't find a hint of it built into these hulls.

The last boat we boarded was the new Discovery 50. I suspect it sails like a condominium with its in-mast furling main, single head sail, wide hulls and large salon. But the inside space was just about perfect. If it took a couple of extra days to get somewhere no one on board would mind. Still a "too-much" kind of boat, at least it didn't slap me upside the head with pretence and 'tude.

We didn't entirely shun the mono hulls, even after our NY adventure sail. I took a shine to the Dufour 405. Deb thought its interior looked like a hotel room. (And she's right, it did.) She liked the Passport 475CC. I took her word on its interior since I couldn't get my gimpy self down the companionway ladder with the crowd. (All of the sales folks were very tolerant of me limping around the various decks. I'm sure a couple of them were holding their breath at times, waiting for the loud splash.)

Maybe it is just my general mood after the crash, but the show as a whole left me with a bit of an "outsider" feeling. The boats were trick, shinny, loaded with goodies, marketed to within an inch of the tops of their masts; and somehow gave the impression they were quite content to stay tied to a dock, Netflix running on the big screen TV. It was like the salt smell had been scrubbed completely out of the air, the ocean just something to hold the hulls up out of the mud. Or maybe it was that the prices of these things flat sucked the air right out of my lungs, blurring any thought of real boats sailing in a real world of wind, weather and wave. Anyway, it felt like the sailing got left out of the sailboat show.

It will be good to get on little Nomad this weekend, put some canvas up to catch a little air, look around and see real water (even if it is just our landlocked lake).

Thursday, October 7, 2010


Many friends have gotten in touch since the bike and I went down. One had a walking cast from his own broken ankle suffered a year or so ago. Its a real gizmo with air cushions, Velcro, and a curved sole that lets me rock forward to take a near normal step. If I can talk them into letting me through security all braced up, wearing an aluminum truss on one leg, and carrying a cane, I will be "the man who walks with ONE stick" at the show. Huge improvement. Thanks Paul, you saved the day!

Wednesday, October 6, 2010


This is what $7,000+ damage looks like on a 2006 GSXR.  They officially totaled the bike today.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Boat show prep...

I was kind of hoping the good folks at the boat show would tie all, or at least most, of the Cats to the same pier. Given my status as the "The man who walks with sticks" (I'll bet the Native American version sounds better.) a minimum number of steps would be a good thing. But the Atlantic 57 is on C, the new interior Gemini on K2, Gunboat is tied to D, (The Gunboat is my "Lotto Boat" and this may be the only chance I have of actually touching one.) Fountain Pajot is on B; you get the idea. So if you are at the boat show, get irritated at the slow pace of the crowd, notice that you are tied up behind some wanna-be on crutches, and feel a good bitch coming on, take a deep breath and relax. I will be going as fast as I can.

(If there is more than one stick-walker at the show, I'll be the one in the green Tilly hat. And if you really do want to bitch remember this; I just got knocked off my favorite motorcycle by an eejit in a Mercedes, the docks are narrow, and I will be carrying two big aluminum clubs.)

Deb was thinking of visiting a few off-sight, used yachts, that are for sale in the Annapolis area. With the exception of the Chris White designed Atlantic and the Gunboat, there are really no new boats around the show to see. There are certainly no boats at the show we can reasonably expect to ever afford. So it seemed a good idea to wander around some. But that may be too many steps.

And a difference from our other trips to Annapolis is that this year there will be some people around the show that we know, and maybe some others that we hope to meet. Though we will still gawk over the boats we are not newbies anymore. As in everything, the people have become the focus of our plans. People who have become friends, friends and family we hope to spend time with once on the boat, and people, maybe in far away places, that are friends still to meet.

ps. The insurance man called today. When his list reached $7000+ in damages he called the GSXR officially toast.

Friday, October 1, 2010


Or maybe near miss, you can decide. Three machines define my sense of adventure and my way of experiencing some of what life has to teach us; Nomad, the jets I fly, and the silver / black, somewhat customized GSXR-1000 I have ridden for the last 4 years. The GSXR is missing, lost in some police yard somewhere awaiting sentence from the insurance adjuster.

The bike disappeared into officialdom soon after I sailed over the hood of an errant black Mercedes that simply took me out by turning left across my lane quicker than I could react. There wasn't an intersection, parking lot or drive way in the car's intended line of travel, so I have no idea why. But the front grill hit me full on the left side, sending the GSXR to the yard and me to the ER. Though I don't know for sure yet, I suspect the bike is totaled. I came off much better though not unscathed; broken finger (which really hurts) chipped ankle (which doesn't hurt too much) and assorted bumps and sore spots.

It would be one thing to lose the bike by tossing it down the road at a buck+, overcooking some sweet back road corner. But to get left-turned on a city street where there wasn't even a left turn to make? F#@! me. And you just know we'll get burned on this one. Thirty + years of riding and 1/4 million miles, and I have never seen or heard of a police report that pointed to the car in a bike v. car crash, ever. The biker is always at fault. No reason to think I will be the exception to that rule. Anyway, the endless rounds of phone calls and paperwork have begun, soon to be followed by suites & suites (lawyers & law).

My riding is done for the rest of the season. It looks like I'll miss some of the rest of the sailing season as well. I'm not sure docks, lines, toe-rails and crutches play well together. We are going to make the boat show, and I should be as close to 100% as I ever get, for the trip in Nov.

But I am going to miss my GSXR.