Sunday, June 26, 2011

We're Off to See the Buzzard

Saturday morning last weekend I was up bright and early and all excited about sailing my first real regatta in nine months, the long-awaited Atlantic Coast Laser Masters at New Bedford YC. Ate a healthy breakfast and packed some healthy snacks and a healthy sports drink and some healthy bottles of water and hitched up the boat and was cruising down I-195 chilling out to James Taylor and singing along and feeling all relaxed and at peace with the world.

Arrived at the boat club and met up with all the usual suspects and chit-chatted away, in between unpacking and rigging the boat, about the usual stuff like how we all hate Mommy Boats, and I harassed some of the Tuesday night sailors from last year about how they are not sailing on Tuesday nights yet, and I compared notes about sailing in Cabarete and who is going to San Francisco and who is sailing where in the next few weeks, and drank a couple of bottles of healthy water and we were all wishing for wind and hoping for a classic day of sailing on the natural amphitheater of Buzzards Bay.

The check-in and registration was so efficient that if you blinked you missed it, and the PRO dude at the skippers' meeting was just about as good as they come, very professional but excellent at communicating with the fleet and asking for feedback on what we wanted. He said Saturday was likely to be the best weather with Sunday definitely iffy, so he was going to aim to get in as many races on Saturday as he could and we were all cool with that.

So we sailed out of Padanaram Harbor and as soon as we passed the breakwater the wind picked up to a delicious hiking breeze and the game was on. We raced twice-around windward-leeward courses with a short reach from the gate to the finish. I was doing much as usual, meaning crap starts but fast at times and decent mark roundings and having fun duking it out with aforementioned usual suspects. Finished in the first two races in the mid 20's in a 40 boat fleet which is not great but also not bad considering I am fat and unfit and haven't raced against real Laser sailors for nine months.

Then in race 3 I was cruising down the line on starboard tack about 30 seconds before the start and saw a nice gap with a sailor to leeward who wasn't a multiple masters world champion or North American champion or Olympic medalist etc. etc. like some of the rocks stars in this fleet, and I reached in to the gap at speed and timed it perfectly and blew right over the aforementioned non-rock-star and the gun went off and there was no X-flag and when I looked around 15 seconds after the start my bow was half a boat length in front of the front line of boats and I was in clear air and gaining on all the boats around me and life was good. I had nice lanes going all the way up the beat and was all excited and thinking that the old fart hasn't totally lost it yet.

Just before the windward mark I felt some cramping in the fingers of my left hand but I rounded the mark in the top ten and was able to find some clear air on the right of the leading bunch downwind and was feeling pretty cocky about things. I took the glove off my left hand and flexed my fingers and after a while they seemed OK so I went back to concentrating on the waves and was a-pumping and a-S-curving my way down the run with the best of them and having fun. I remembered some blog post by Captain Judy I had read about leeward mark roundings and was clear ahead of the boats at the right-hand gate mark and did a good rounding and was in fourth place in clear air for the second beat. Woo hoo!

My left hand on the tiller felt a bit stiff but I was going well and looking back at all the good guys eating bad air in my wake and enjoying every minute of it. After a while it seemed like a good idea to tack on to port to cover the fleet, so I did. Ouch! As soon as my left hand took hold of the sheet it seized up in an agonizing cramp. The fingers of my left hand were locked into the palm of that hand. Well, I suppose I could have sailed the beat like that if it didn't hurt so much. I used my right hand to try and open the fingers of my left hand but it didn't work. I had to stop and use all my strength to unlock the death grip of my left hand but it still kept doing its cramp thing. I tried to work out the problem by pressing my hand on the deck. Eventually I was able to sail back to the RC boat and tell them I was retiring from that race.

Damn! Damn! Damn!

I had a healthy drink of water. I watched the fleet finish.

I started the fourth race but as soon as we went off the start line the cramps in both hands started again. I retired... again. I headed back to the club.

Damn! Damn! Damn!

The wind held all afternoon and it was just perfect Buzzards Bay sailing weather and they got in five races, only two of which I had finished,

Damn! Damn! Damn!

The PRO dude was right. Sunday's winds were dodgy. A light offshore wind with crazy shifts that led to numerous postponements and recalled starts and one abandoned race. We only got one race in.

Damn! Damn! Damn!

Another regatta in which I only finished half the races. Is this the beginning of the end? I've seen it happen to other guys. They start skipping races at regattas and then one year they're not there any more.

No! No! No! I refuse to believe it. I'm not ready to hang up my hiking boots yet.

I just need to fix this cramp problem. But how?

Friday, June 17, 2011

534 Words Arranged in Sentences with Punctuation

The end of my sailing season last year wasn't exactly a great success...

On my last practice day before going to England before the Laser Masters Worlds, I broke my lower mast section.

Then at the Worlds I was outmatched by the conditions and laid low by a stomach bug.

To add insult to injury, on returning from England, I sailed in one of my all-time favorite regattas, the New England Masters, using my brand new mast that I had bought to replace the broken one, and the bloody thing bent on the first day of the regatta.

It's enough to make anyone fly off to the BVI and drink lots of rum and take up catamaran sailing, which is basically what I did in December.


But 2011 is a new year, a new season. So a few months ago I made a list of all the cool regattas I would attend this year and even posted them as a page on my blog so I wouldn't forget. But, being somewhat intimidated by the length of the list of regattas in New England, I also wrote a post The Problem With New England asking you, my readers, for some creative excuses NOT to attend some of these events. As it happened, I managed to think of excuses all by myself to avoid sailing in the first six regattas on my list. I am too embarrassed to actually tell you what my pathetic excuses were. I do have some pride.

But this weekend it is the Atlantic Coast Laser Masters in New Bedford. Woo hoo!!!

New Bedford

I actually wrote about this regatta back in January, This is HUGE - ACLM in MA, although to be fair it's really a parody of Craig Russell's gushing, overenthusiastic post on H2uh0 - Bonehead Moves on the Water about the announcement that some pontoon boat event was coming to his home town.

For some reason that escapes me I apparently registered for the Masters a few weeks ago and I guess I must have already paid the entry fee so, being a mean old bugger, none of my usual weak excuses for not racing in it are going to be good enough. It's looking like I am actually going to have to do it.

Once this realization dawned on me I decided I ought to do some serious training before taking on the Atlantic Coast's finest Laser Master sailors on the natural amphitheater of Buzzards Bay. So on Tuesday I headed down to Seapowet Beach and did a mega-workout on the Sakonnet River to prepare my mind, body and soul for the trials of the weekend. I must have done at least ten gybes, and maybe as many tacks. I did some leeward mark roundings and at least a couple of windward mark roundings. I drank at least a pint of Gatorade. Man I worked hard. After a whole hour of sailing I decided it was time to head home for some margaritas on the deck with the Tillerwoman. Phew!


Oh, shit! I forgot to do any practice starts. But, hey, starts don't really matter in Laser regattas, do they? I'm ready. Bring it on!

Wait. That's not a margarita. That's Marguerite de Valois. How did she get in here?

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Squashed Like a Bug

Seen in Newport yesterday. Yikes! I didn't realize it was that windy in the night.

Monday, June 13, 2011


I have written before of the plans by Hess to build a liquefied natural gas (LNG) terminal in Mount Hope Bay aka My Bay, of a Protest against the scheme by boaters who landed on a sand bar called Spar Island near the site of the proposed terminal, and of one effort by a local politician Barney Frank to block the project.

It's all moot now. According to this article on, Hess has now decided to abandon the project citing "unfavorable economics". Apparently "the significant increase in natural gas production from shale resources in North America" has lowered the price so much that Hess won't be able to make enough profit by importing LNG from abroad and unloading it in "my bay."

Woo hoo. Mount Hope Bay and Spar Island are safe from this industrial development and the associated tanker traffic. To celebrate, I will be sailing in the Atlantic Coast Laser Masters this weekend under the banner of the Spar Island Laser Fleet (of which I am the only member and also honorary fleet captain.)

Sunday, June 12, 2011


Old geezer sailing on the Sakonnet river in small sailboat.

Mast broken.

Boat capsized.

Old geezer (who is wearing a life jacket) clinging to his upturned hull.

This probably sounds like a familiar scenario to regular readers of this blog. Been there, done that. But wait, there's a happy ending...

Fire departments from Portsmouth and Tiverton launch their rescue boats in atrocious weather conditions to rescue the old geezer.

That was the essence of the story reported by several local newspapers and websites, such as this story at and this one at

But it wasn't me. Not this time. The incident happened on Thursday evening during one of the most violent thunderstorms we have ever seen around here. I wasn't out sailing that day. I do check the weather forecasts and radar maps before I go sailing. I suppose I should add that to some of my regular articles about safety precautions for boating.

It's good to know that our local firefighters are trained in water rescues and are willing to go out in the worst of weathers to rescue some old geezer who gets himself in trouble on our local bays and rivers. The risks that our firefighters face are very real. Three years ago a Tiverton firefighter, Gerald Leduc, lost his life during an attempted rescue on a local pond. I hope everyone remembers that the next time some union-hating politician is spouting off about cutting pay or benefits or pensions or staffing for your local fire department.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Moonrise Kingdom

I set out on Friday morning for a bit of a yot on the Sakonnet River. The wind was in the 5-10 knot range from the north and was promised to hold for a few hours. So I thought I would tow the Laser down to Fogland Beach and sail north on the river for a few miles, then downriver, and be back home in time to take Tillerwoman for a late lunch at Evelyn's. A plan for a perfect day. But it was not to be.

I was somewhat surprised as I drove past Standish Boatyard in downtown Tiverton that there seemed to be some sort of unusual activity going on with dozens of trucks and cars parked on the road outside. But hey, that place is all about motor boats and yachts. What possible impact could it have on the plans of the Tivertonian old geezer Laser sailor? How wrong I was!

When I arrived at Fogland Beach, things didn't look normal there either. There were more trucks and cars parked along the road leading down to the boat ramp. There was a sign saying 'Crew Parking'. Crew? Crew as in yacht crew? What the hell was going on? Then I saw a police cruiser parked by the entrance to the beach and one of Tiverton's finest standing by his car. Hmmm. Very strange.

So I pulled up by the police officer and turned off my CD player and wound down my window and inquired, "Is the beach open?"

"Hi, how ya doing?" he replied.

I sometimes forget that, in the USA, even when addressing an officer of the law, perhaps especially when addressing an officer of the law, it is customary to exchange inquiries about the state of each other's health before proceeding to the real business of the day. But that under no circumstances should you actually answer such questions as "How are you?" with any actual information about how you actually are. Saying something like, "Well thank you for asking officer. I had an excellent bowel movement this morning but I am beginning to wonder if that brown mole on my ankle is a melanoma," is not considered a polite or normal response, especially when addressing an officer of the law.

So I did the ritual "I'm good, how are you?" thing and asked again, "Is the beach open?"

Apparently not. My local friendly law officer informed me that the beach was closed for one day because someone was making a movie. Under more intense questioning he revealed that the movie involved Mr. Bruce Willis. Wow! Die Hard 17 - Tiverton? Oh well, if Mr. Willis has bought the beach for the day then I guess I would have to go and sail somewhere else. But where? Under extreme interrogation my local friendly law officer revealed that they were filming at "the boatyard" (that explains all those cars) and at Fogland but that Seapowet Beach would be free of the movie people. Great.

So I headed a few miles north to Seapowet Beach and did a spot of yotting from there. I sailed north a couple of miles to Gould Island and back south. As I was heading south I was passed by three motor launches each full of people. One of the boats had 'ISLAND POLICE' painted on the side. No real police force around here is called Island Police so I concluded that the boat was a prop in the movie. Maybe they were filming as they were zooming past me. Maybe I will be in the movie?

Once I arrived back at Seapowet I did a bit of practice at mark rounding and roll tacks just to confirm that I was still totally crap at mark rounding and roll tacks and then headed home to take Tillerwoman out for a late lunch at Evelyn's as promised.

I told her my story about the movie. I did a bit of research on the Google. Yes, apparently Mr. Willis is making a movie in Rhode Island called Moonrise Kingdom. Mr. Willis plays the part of an island police officer or sheriff. (That explains the Island Police boat, I guess.) The cast also includes Bill Murray, Frances McDormand and Tilda Swinton and a bunch of other famous actors that you may have heard of but I haven't. The movie is set on an island off the coast of New England in the 1960s, and is about a young boy and girl who fall in love and decide to run away together. Various factions of the town mobilize to search for them and the town is turned upside down, it says on some website I found.

Obviously the movie people selected Tiverton, and particularly Fogland Beach, as locations for the movie after reading my blog. After all, anyone Googling "best boating blog on the planet" is going to find me. I wonder if I should ask them for a finder's fee?

Apparently the director of the movie is some young chap called Wes Anderson. According to Wikipedia (which is never wrong) his films "combine dry humor with poignant portrayals of flawed characters." Just like my blog!

Anyway that's all I have to say about Moonrise Kingdom. Except that, so far, Mr. Anderson has neither denied nor confirmed that the script is now being reworked to include a new character called "mysterious handsome guy seen sailing his Laser in the waters off the island" and that Brad Pitt will have a cameo part as aforementioned mysterious handsome guy.

I am surprised that Buff Staysail didn't break this news first.

Thursday, June 09, 2011


May got away from me. I went sailing early in the month and then I blinked and the month was over. There was some running and some visits from grandkids and more visits to grandkids and some stupid Beatles blogging lollapalooza and lots and lots of gardening and all of a sudden it was Memorial Day. How did that happen?

Last Sunday it was already June so I went sailing.

I hauled my Laser over to the boat ramp in Colt State Park and pointed the bow west and took off on a screaming reach in a juicy southerly. There was a pack of little sails over near Barrington Beach. I thought it was probably the Sunfish New England Regional so I decided to go and check it out and see if any of my friends were sailing. As I confirmed later it was and they were. But by the time I got anywhere near they had all gone home. I guess I must have been seeing the final race of the regatta from a distance.

I decided I had better do something useful so headed upwind along the Warwick shore towards Prudence Island doing a tack every few seconds. Didn't somebody write recently about doing 1000 tacks? Well, I didn't do that many on Sunday but you can fit a lot of tacks in while sailing a couple of miles upwind.

I don't think any of my tacks on Sunday were as good as this...

On the other hand, I didn't do what the NED sailor did in this clip...

I rounded the red/green buoy off the north end of Prudence and headed back towards Bristol on another planing reach. Once I was near Poppasquash I headed downwind and played around doing S-curves in the waves, until I was back at the ramp.

So there was a bit of up and a bit of down and a fair amount of left and right and a lot of corners so I guess I practiced most of the important stuff.

And nothing broke, which is almost a record for me these days. It was a good day.

Let's hope June doesn't get away from me before I fit some more sailing in.

Is that chart fuzzy or have I got sunscreen in my eyes again?

And that's all I have to say about Sunday.


US Olympic hopeful in the 470 class, Amanda Clark, demonstrates the use of United States Sailing Team Alpha Graphics' (USSTAG's) secret weapon for sore muscles, the NormaTec Most Valuable Pump (USSTAGNTMVP) aka NORMA. Apparently, after the mainsheet block exploded in the first race at Sail for Gold in Weymouth yesterday, Amanda had to sheet directly from the boom in 20 knots, and she is using the USSTAGNTMVP to help her muscles recover faster.

Honestly. I couldn't make this stuff up.

Wednesday, June 08, 2011

The End

And so our May group writing project Please Please Me (to write posts inspired by Beatles song title or lyrics) like the Beatles themselves lasted much longer than most people expected and surprised the world with many astonishing twists and turns. But all good things come to an end... just like the Beatles did.

I published a kind of interim wrap post, listing 28 entries, a few days ago I Should Have Known Better. I really should. Since then we have had 5 6 more entries...

Pandabonium, smiling his way through earthquakes and nuclear meltdowns and typhoons besetting his home in Japan this year, offers Blue Lido 14 to be sung to the tune of Yellow Submarine. Simply marvelous!

Mr Kindergarten has posted Twist and Shout, a delightful photo of a boat with one of those spinnaker contraptions (which as a Laser sailor I have never really understood) showing the spinnaker in one of those pretty shapes it makes when it gets twisted in the middle. I did that once when I was crewing on a keelboat and I do seem to remember there was a lot of shouting about my achievement. So Twist and Shout fits I guess. I am somewhat surprised that nobody wrote about spinnakers under the title of Being for the Benefit of Mr. Kite. But then I never have understood spinnakers or the people who use them.

Baydog submitted his 17th (or thereabouts) entry with Hey Dude, a sweet little love song from a sailor to his local friendly jetskier. Heartwarming!

The amazingly prolific O Docker replied with some words of wisdom of his own about jetskiers in Drink Chablis. Touching!

And the Fool on the Hill was still pounding away on his keyboard apparently trying to break some record for most submissions by a blogger to his own group writing project. He still seems to be competing with that left coast blogger and his "pictures of ladies in bikinis with large fish on Fridays blog." The White Album has some pictures of a lady in a white bikini. She Came in Through the Bathroom Window has a picture of a lady in a bikini in a bathroom. But no fish! Pathetic!

So I guess that makes 33 34 entries. Is this a record? Who knows? Who cares?

Hope you had fun?

Saturday, June 04, 2011

She Came in Through the Bathroom Window

I said that I didn't think it could be done.

I challenged my readers to write posts on boating related subjects that were inspired by Beatles song titles or lyrics. Many did so. But the real challenge was to see if anyone could find a way to link boating and a really bizarre Beatles song title such as She Came in Through the Bathroom Window.

I really didn't think it could be done.

But I've been following Bikini Boatworks, the Long Island boat cleaning and detailing company, on Twitter. They were the inspiration for my post a few days ago It's a Clean Machine!. A few minutes ago they tweeted a picture of one of their staff cleaning a certain room in the boat. Yes, I do know it's usually called "the head" on a boat. But there is only one possible caption for this photo...

She Came in Through the Bathroom Window

Friday, June 03, 2011

Drink Chablis

When I find my wake begins to bubble
Mother Mary comes to me
Speaking words of wisdom, drink chablis.
And though I mutter curses
At the idiot right in front of me
I speak her words of wisdom, drink chablis.
Drink chablis, drink chablis.
Drink chablis, drink chablis.
I speak her words of wisdom, drink chablis.

And when the empty headed people
Living in the world jet ski,
There will be an answer, drink chablis.
For though their heads are empty there is
Still a chance that they will see
There will be an answer, drink chablis.

Drink chablis, drink chablis.
Drink chablis, drink chablis.
Yeah, There will be an answer, drink chablis.

The above was a comment by some other blogger in the comments to some other blog and might have something or other to do with this last month's group writing project. Or maybe not. Who knows?

The White Album

Images courtesy of The World Tour with Alex and Taru 
a sailing blog 
which can also be found on my blogroll.

Thursday, June 02, 2011

I Should Have Known Better

I should have known better with readers like you
That I would love everything that you do
And I do, hey, hey, hey, and I do.
Whoa, whoa, I never realized what a group writing project could be
This could only happen to me;
Can't you see, can't you see?
That when I tell you that I read you, oh,
You're gonna say you read me too, hoo, hoo, hoo, hoo, oh,
And when I ask you for some posts,
You're gonna send them to me too.

The Long and Winding Road and More long and winding roads from Carol Anne

 If The Rain Comes by Pandabonium

Good Day Sunshine and Sailing Blog Writer by O Docker.

To Know Her Is To Love Her  by Joe Rouse

No more Polyester Pam by Noodle

Here comes the sun[fish] by my2fish

And I Love Her and Hey Stinkbug! and Glass Onion and  I'm Only Sleeping (Finally) by Baydog

We Can Bail It Out by Chris P

Helter Sailor by Pat

She's Leaving Home by Jack Ryan

(Baby you can) Drive My Car by Andrew Sadler

Taxman by Smilicus

All I've Got to Do by B.J.Porter

I Am The Walrus by Jimmy Brunelle

So, I should have realized a lot of things before
If these are posts you've gotta give me more
Give me more, hey hey hey, give me more
Whoa, whoa, I never realized what a group writing project could be
This could only happen to me
Can't you see, can't you see?
That when I tell you that I read you, oh
You're gonna say you read me too, oh
And when I ask you for more posts,
You're gonna send them to me too,
Send them to me too
Send them to me too
Send them to me too

Also entered by The Fool on the Hill...

Baby's in Black

Why Don't We Do It In The Road?

It's a Clean Machine!

And Your Bird Can Sing

Follow the Sun

The Ballad of Tillerman - Oh No!

Dear Prudence

Let It Be... Random

Wednesday, June 01, 2011

Two of Us Wearing Raincoats

Two more entries today in May's group writing project Please Please Me in which I invited you to write posts inspired by Beatles song titles or Beatles song lyrics.

Carol Anne of Five O'Clock Somewhere has followed up her first entry of The Long and Winding Road with More long and winding roads, a post about the various routes that she and her husband can take across wild and woolly New Mexico on the long journey between their home in Albuquerque and their sailing club at Heron Lake.

Meanwhile Pandabonium wrote If The Rain Comes about the expected arrival in Japan of Typhoon Songda and the rain it would dump on the earthquake damaged areas of north-eastern Japan.

The official end date for the group writing project was yesterday but I am leaving it open for a few more days, not least because the black-bikini-obsessed old man of Tiverton has a few more ideas for posts on this theme himself. Full details of how to enter at Please Please Me.

Book Review: Into My Father's Wake by Eric Best

Into My Father's Wake by Eric Best is not really a sailing book. True, it does tell the story of a single-handed sailing journey in the Pacific by the author, but it is really one of those "inner journey" books in which the author bares his soul to work out his own psychological hangups through his writing. If that's your cup of tea, you might enjoy it. I have to admit I didn't.

First of all I don't think I would like Eric Best much if I ever met him. He doesn't seem the kind of bloke I would want to have a beer with after sailing. He admits that his years growing up, attending private schools, were marked by more than his fair share of fist-fights and angry confrontations. It seemed like he was a kid with a chip on his shoulder always spoiling for a fight, and as a result he had few friends. In his thirties he was "drinking regularly" and "slipping inexorably" into the collapse of his first marriage and telling some buddy in a bar that he could never write his first book while his father was still alive.

Ah! There it is. This is one of those "I may be a jerk but it's all my Dad's fault" books. Once Eric had revealed this on page 3 (as if the title wasn't a big enough clue) I decided that I really didn't like this dude and it soured me on the whole book.

A few pages later Eric tells us, "My first daughter was five when my marriage to her mother broke up, and I felt compelled to get into the ocean alone." Hmmm. With never a mention that in the midst of the emotional turmoil of the breakdown of her parents' marriage, this might just be the time that his vulnerable little daughter might need him the most, our hero decides to leave her and indulge himself in a long solo sailing voyage. Nice!

Eric's father warns his son that he doesn't have a the experience to attempt a solo crossing on the Pacific, but when Eric fails to find anyone else to give him a loan to buy the yacht he covets, Dad still lends him the money and even gives him his own sextant. Eric rewards him by writing this book which basically blames all of Eric's shortcomings and confused feelings on how his father treated him as a child. His father knew he was close to death when Eric showed him the first draft of the book. The book is so raw in its criticism of the father that Dad's only reaction was, "So you hate me, then?"

True, if Eric is to be believed, his father was a stern disciplinarian who beat his sons regularly. Eric also concedes that his father had done so much for him too - "schools and skiing and tennis and wood-carving and shooting". But I have to say I really had little interest in Eric's image of himself as an abused child and how this in some way explained his "incoherent, conflicted feelings" or "the "background noise of sadness."

By the end of the book, Eric's grandfather is also on the block for messing up his whole extended family including Eric's cousins. Something called "suppressed patricide" is being invoked to explain the extraordinary achievements of one cousin in Olympic rifle shooting. And Eric's father's treatment of Eric's brother as a child was apparently responsible for why the brother had a stroke while working out at the age of 52.

Talk about the sins of the fathers! The stretch to explain everything from Eric's troubled inner feelings to a brother's unlucky accident to an over-achieving cousin on a failure in parenting style is biblical in its illogicality.

On the other hand, if you are the type of person who likes books that have page after page after page of conversations with imaginary friends in which the author explores "the background noise of sadness" in his life, interspersed with page after page after page about his struggles to take sun sights... then you might enjoy this book.

I didn't.