A much-needed change of pace
I have been feeling a huge lot of stress lately, not so much about sailboat racing as about all of the rest of Life, the Universe, and Everything. Work, money, health, personal issues, all have been combining to make me feel like a cockroach getting squished beneath somebody’s boot heel.
So it was actually something of a feeling of relief when I learned that none of the other Etchells would be racing Saturday. Zorro has been nominated to another Hall of Fame, and so he had to be present for a ceremony at halftime of an afternoon football game, Sutherland was ill, and Applegal was doing committee boat duty.
Since I didn’t have anybody to race against, and the conditions were light enough that racing wouldn’t have been all that fun, I decided to participate in the treasure hunt that the cruisers were holding. Pat and I joined Carguy on his big comfy cruising boat and set … well, not exactly sail … there was almost no wind, so we cranked up the trusty diesel engine.
We were about two thirds of the way to the starting area for the treasure hunt when we got a bit of wind, so we put up the sails and shut off the engine. We discovered that a small bat had taken up residence in the mainsail; it was clearly miffed at being awakened in the middle of the day, and once it took off, it fluttered around the boat for some time, probably utterly confused at ending up in the middle of a lake. My thought was that this was very Halloween, an orange boat with a bat fluttering around. Eventually the bat left; I hope it found a nice place to catch up on its sleep.
The cruising event consisted of two components, both of which were designed not only so that actual sailing wasn’t required, but also that even being on a boat wasn’t required. One component was a poker run, in which participants were to go to each of the three marinas on the lake and pick up two playing cards at each marina. The best poker hand would later win a bottle of Trader Joe’s wine. The bigger contest was sort of geocaching – it had the geo component, at least. Participants were given GPS coordinates for the location of a fender that might be on water or land, but that, we were assured, would be accessible to treasure hunters whether they were in a boat or not.
We got to the Rock Canyon Marina, where we picked up our first two cards: the Queen of spades, and the four of clubs. Not so great. The GPS indicated the other treasure was ashore, to the west, so Pat went in search of it, while Carguy and I took a look at the boat he’s planning to buy from us, which is in that marina. As we looked the boat over, we did discover that there was less missing from it than we had previously thought, and we began to make plans to fix the things that needed fixing.
Pat returned to the marina to report that the treasure had been left in a location where a person in a car could have picked it up through a car window, while people on boats had to hike a quarter mile uphill through deep sand. Someone had beat him to it.
So we set off again, under motor because the winds were wimpy. As we passed the starting area where the racers were beginning to think of racing, we put the sails up again and shut the motor down. There really wasn’t much wind, but since we were cruising rather than racing, we didn’t let that bother us. Pat and I got a lot of time to explain principles of sailing and sail trim, and give definitions of terms, and just help Carguy to understand how sailing works. Since he’s already a hot-air balloonist, there are some concepts that he already gets, and he’s an eager student.
Also, we had a good time just plain socializing. Where on a racing boat, the focus has to stay on the boat and sail trim and the competitors, and chat is kept to a minimum, on a cruising boat, the chat is a big part of the enjoyment. When I’m racing, there’s no alcohol allowed until the racing is over, but in cruising, there’s no problem with a beer or two – and Carguy served up some nice sandwiches, too.
The wind faded, and we cranked up the motor to get to the next stop on the poker run, the Dam Site Marina, where we picked up two Jacks – diamonds and clubs. Our poker hand was looking a little better.
After we left the Dam Site, the wind came up nicely, so we put up the sails again. For maybe 20 minutes, we had some really good conditions. Then things faded again. We realized the day was getting late, and after making radio contact with the Marina Del Sur to find out when it closed, we knew we had to put the motor on again to get there in time to get our final two cards. We got there just in time, and got our cards, the seven of clubs and a joker. That left us with a pretty good hand – three of a kind jacks, with a queen kicker.
In the evening was a social event at the J/24 fleet compound. There was food and socialization. Tadpole arrived – he’d had to spend the morning and early afternoon in Albuquerque, taking a college entrance exam, and then in the afternoon he was supposed to meet with some of his calculus classmates for a study session – except none of the others showed up. There was also a sailing club board meeting; as club secretary, I took detailed notes, but I don’t think readers of the blog would be terribly interested.
Pat had the idea that we ought to get Black Magic launched and ready to race Sunday morning. Zorro had said that he would come up, so there would be some Etchells fleet action. I didn’t think that was likely – if Zorro was celebrating the night before, he would probably not be in shape to drive up to the lake in the early morning hours to race the next day. Plus the weather prediction was for even less wind than the day before.
As it was, the winds were even lighter than the very light winds that had been predicted. Pat and I met Carguy at the boat he’s buying, and we spent several hours going through what was needed. I was reminded of the past … when we bought Black Magic and went out to California to pick her up, Zorro had loads of fun at the West Marine store, spending our money on stuff for the boat. Now, while we don’t have a store right at hand, Pat and I are having fun helping Carguy spend his money. And Carguy’s really enthusiastic about the whole project, too. We took the floor out of the boat, and he’s going to have a carpenter he knows replicate it. We looked at what hardware we have and what we’re missing, and things like lines and cleats and all sorts of stuff. Plus the boat has been neglected for a while, so Carguy got started on cleaning the boat, too.
For me, this weekend has been a welcome break. Not having to think about racing, but instead being on a boat that has cupholders, has been a relief. With all of the rest of life throwing stress at me, I was glad to be able to rest. And Carguy’s a really great guy to spend a weekend with for stress relief.
Labels: beer, boats, friends, racing