Tuesday, 30 June 2009

LSIS #3 - Racing Like We're Racing, Pt. 1

You just can’t do that in a Catalina 25…

This post could also be called “Feeling like a 15 year old boy caught in a sorority pillow fight,” but I don’t think SWMBO would approve of that title.

Saturday’s race was… amazing. I’m not sure where to start, so I’ll go from the beginning. The beginning was around 6:30 AM when I woke up and reluctantly dragged myself out of bed.

Last year in this race I had hit long shoal, blown multiple tacks, and ended up so far back from the leaders in the race that the committee boat has radioed to me to verify that I was still racing. As I pulled my clothes on and drove to Barrie, I was expecting a repeat performance, hopefully minus finding the bottom of the lake.

I had no crew, the boat’s rig was nicely tuned, but her interior was a shambles from the late night sail to Barrie, and I was groggy from Chucks Birthday party that had kept me up until the wee hours of the morning. I parked the car, went and unlocked the boat, and drove it from the Government docks across to the Barrie Municipal marina where the skippers meeting was scheduled to take place an hour later.

While milling about waiting for the meeting and enjoying breakfast, I met up with Tabasco’s skipper. Apparently she had extra crew who would be willing to sail on Iris with me if I needed a hand. I tried to hold back the smile. This was great news! I was worried about exhaustion after my late night, and extra hands would definitely be a good thing.

Judi came aboard and lent a hand putting new split rings into the turnbuckles, then stowed her gear and got familiar with the boat. She was easy going and fun to talk to. It was going to be a good day on the water. With loads of experience, Judi would able to take over if I needed a rest, and she would be able to offer tips to help us go faster. We strolled over to the skippers meeting and got the race instructions.

There would be an upwind start across the Barrie waterfront, and then the fleet would turn and beam reach down K-Bay to big Bay Point. From there we would sail south into Cook’s Bay, and end the race just outside of Kon-Tiki Marina. Everything was the same as last year. I told Judi about my concerns with long shoal, and she agreed that we should make sure we were clear of it. Then we started the outboard, got away from the dock, and headed out into K-Bay.

Before the race there was some confusion with where the start line was, but eventually we figured out which boat was the committee boat, and which mark was the start mark. I hear a car honk faintly on shore, and then saw the spin fleet turn toward the start line.

“Judi, did you just hear a horn?”

“I’m not sure, I think I heard something”

“It looks like the spinnaker fleet is starting.”

We sailed over closer to the start, worked our way into the pack, and got close to “Blue Sky,” another boat from our home fleet.

“Do you have the start time?” I asked.

“Yup,” the skipper called back, “On my mark its 2 minutes to start… MARK!”

I didn’t have our timer in hand, so his mark didn’t help much. About 30 seconds later I found myself fumbling with the timer trying to figure out how much time had passed. I looked at Judi and said “We’ll just follow him.”

Following Blue Sky was a great idea. He had a great start, and we were just below him on the line, in the first wave of boats over. 100 meters later, a little green Tanzer 22 just ahead of us, Newfie Screach was hunting us from behind and “I am Canadian” one of our fiercest competitors was right by us. It was a tight pack.

As we moved along, the Tanzer was causing me trouble. He was dead ahead, and I didn’t want to be in his draft, but the wind was gusty, so passing to his windward side would be difficult since he could round up in a gust and hit us. Passing to leeward was tactically a bad choice, but would give me more control of my boat, and less concern about his. I decided to pass to leeward.

As we came alongside the little boat he started bearing off the mark, and diving a lot lower than I would have liked. I let the boat slow a little, and then tacked behind him, aiming for the mark that would start the reach along K-Bay to big bay point.

I don’t remember what boats were around us when we reached the mark. I do know that hot on our heels was Newfie Screach and I Am Canadian. The little green Tanzer was close by as well. Ahead of us we could see Tabasco, Blue Sky, and My Excuse. Ahead of them was the spinnaker fleet.

As we sailed up K-Bay, it was hard to decide where to go. The wind was patchy, and at some points the near shore winds were strongest, while at others the mid-lake winds were better. We passed and got passed as we worked up the bay, trading places with some boats as many as 3 or 4 times.

Eventually we were ahead of most of the boats we had started with. Blue Sky and Tabasco were ahead, and the spin fleet ahead of them. Not sure of where the winds would be best any more, we decided to follow the spin fleet, and cut across the bay on a long angle. Off our port side the green Tanzer was staying closer to the north shore of the bay, and we marked our time against them. Newfie was behind us a fair ways, but he would surge ahead whenever he hit good wind. We couldn’t guard our lead, and just hoped we were sailing in the strongest wind.

Ahead of us, Railin was sailing close to shore and seemed to be doing well, so we followed over to where he was. Suddenly we realized he had stopped moving and was sitting still. Up ahead at Big Bay point, most of the spin fleet was sitting with slack sails. Close in to shore Tabasco and Blue Sky were fending off each other, drifting with no wind. It looked like the doldrums.

Judi and I had a brief discussion, and then decided to move out further from the shore and see if there was more wind away from the point. The little green Tanzer was becalmed, then put down his engine and turned to go home. Another boat followed him back to Barrie. Moving under 1 knot, we pressed on.

Eventually we built speed up to 2 knots, and turned toward the point again. Our speed was enough. We sailed between the becalmed boats. I asked Tabasco’s crew if this was the lunch stop, then we laughed, and moving at under a knot got clear of Big Bay point. We were in Lake Simcoe, and a different wind system.

Tabasco, Blue Sky, and a number of other boats were becalmed at big Bay point for over an hour. The spin fleet, ourselves, and 2 other white sail boats would get past the point, and form the lead group racing to the finish line. The second fleet, consisting of the boats that couldn’t escape the point would sail a completely different race.

As Iris cleared the point, Judi and I looked at each other in amazement. We were keeping up with the boats 2 classes ahead of us. You aren’t supposed to be able to do that in a Catalina 25.

We sailed southward along Lake Simcoe’s west shore and could see the spin fleet having definite problems just ahead of us. The wind was very patchy, and would blow in from a different direction with different intensities with every gust. Then it would disappear altogether, leaving you to drift on whatever momentum you had from the previous puff. Difficult conditions to set a spinnaker in.

We were the last boat in the pack, and the only boat in our class to have cleared the point. Although we were behind the pack, we were able to find a real advantage to our position. First we were sailing with boat a class ahead of us, second, they were flying spinnakers.

We began reading the wind by using the spinnakers.

The boats ahead of us were mostly grouped together, and we could see the chutes fall flat when the wind died, but more important, we could see which boats in the spin fleet kept going. By heading where those boats were and imitating their trim, we were able to maintain our position, and even gain on some boats. Some of the boats were having definite problems keeping their chutes flying properly since the wind was so inconsistent. Even those boats gave us hints though.

Eventually one of the boats in the spin fleet was definitely in trouble. His chute was streaming out horizontally from his masthead, and the boat spun downwind as the skipper, a friend who I knew was sailing single handed, tried to recover the sail. About 15 minutes later the skipper issued a pan pan stating that he had run aground, and couldn’t extract himself. His boat stayed aground for half an hour before a swell lifted him off and he sailed away.

Meanwhile we continued following the spin fleet deeper into Cook’s bay, wondering when the second fleet would appear from behind Big Bay Point. It would be quite some time. When the boats did appear, they were sailing east instead south since the wind that had filled in was from a different direction.

We continued into Cook’s bay, and eventually heard a pan pan issued from a second boat. Following this call, there was much confused discussion on the VHF. The boat had sunk. We weren’t sure what had happened, but the crew had been rescued and was on shore. Apparently everything had happened within minutes, and the rest of the fleet was trying to raise help.

We were too far away to be of assistance, and so continued on into the depths of the bay, keeping an eye on the spin fleet ahead of us. They were definitely getting away, but if we could just keep the boat at hull speed on the fresh, steady wind that had filled in, we would be fine. Judi and I kept knocking on wood and pinching ourselves since we couldn’t believe the results we were having.

We were the first boat in our division to cross the finish line.

The second place boat, Newfie Screach wouldn’t reach the line for nearly 45 minutes. Third place was almost an hour behind us.

I am elated with our win, it is definitely a high point. I can’t wait to get the flag. Somehow I need to pay Judi back for helping to get this.

On my club’s racing forum this message was posted lat night, it came as a surprise to me, but made me feel even more impressed with our win:

“Carl you are right Iris had the best corrected time on Saturday.
the best flying sail corrected time was 3:49:39 ( <-- Spinnaker fleet, race boats) the best white sail low was 3:44:01 ( <-- Big boats) Iris's corrected time was 3:32:30 !” ( <-- Little boat)

LSIS Race 2 Stats:

Distance Covered: XX.X Statute Miles (Slip to Slip)
Time on course: 3:56:44
Corrected time: 3:32:30
Time out of 1st Place (Corrected Time): 0:00:00
Iris was on course 0.00% longer than the first place boat.

Course to be edited in later…

Be vewwy, vewwy quiet.....

We are hunting wabbits!!

I can see the bunny!!

Got him!!
Nice bunny.... I like the bunny wabbit
Hey Bunny... where did you go?
Mama, I found the bunny wabbit!!
Here bunny bunny bunny!!
Nice bunny!

Monday, 29 June 2009

LSIS #3 & 4 Pre-report

This Post is about 80% hearsay, 15% speculation, and 5% eyewitness. Nonetheless it stands as a warning. I can't give a race report until I get this out of the way.

The sailing this past weekend was very interesting. 29 Boats started, one sank, one ran aground, and about 23 finished.

The start was interesting with good wind for about half an hour, reducing to inconsistent puff that would be the norm for the rest of the day. At one point there was no wind at all, and boats waited over an hour for the wind to fill back in. When the wind did fill in, the boats which had been becalmed so long felt a great need to get back into things and many choices were made that may be being regretted today.

A Pearson Flyer that was being single-handed in the spin fleet(gutsy) was having trouble with its chute. both spin sheets were lost, and the sail was flying out from the masthead. The skipper turned the boat downwind to try and recover the sail, but things didn't go as planned. by the time the skipper had recovered the sail, the boat had run aground.The skipper got on the radio and shared his predicament with the fleet, and then tried for the next half hour to get off the shoal, eventually freeing himself.

Whether this situation is related to the events that followed, I can't be sure. I do know that the Pearson was going downwind with main and jib when he ran aground.

The rest of the fleet was beam reaching - broad reaching in the shifty winds looking for "pockets of power" and struggling to keep going. When the winds filled in they were vehement, but just as quickly they would die off.

[Hearsay] An O'Day 32 was moving nicely under spinnaker in the region where the Pearson was when she hit bottom. The O'Day hit with such force that crew flew overboard.[/hearsay] The skipper called out a pan pan, and said he was taking on water and needed to recover crew.

[hearsay] Within 5 minutes, the O'Day was lost. [/hearsay]

She capsized, then turtled. When she was inverted in the water her keel was missing. It is believed that she hit a submerged object shearing the keel off. The only people who know for sure were not at the post race party. Everyone aboard the O'Day had on life jackets. They were recovered within minutes by a power-boater. 2 sail boats diverted from the race to lend assistance.

Scary lessons:
1. Coast Guard never replied to the pan pan.
2. The local police boats never came to the scene until half an hour later (not sure of exact time).
3. No one is sure what was hit, or even if anything was hit. It may have been a shoal shown on the charts, it may not have been. The keel may have simply fallen from the boat. There were no buoys in the area.

Blessings, preparation, what have you.
1. No lives were lost. Everyone aboard was wearing a life jacket.
2. The skipper was sober, he isn't much of a drinker (this is speculation but from his character he isn't the type to be drinking out there.)
3. The power-boater - who didn't have a VHF - recognized what was happening and immediately came to help. His boat had low freeboard and a swim platform making recovery easier than had it been a sailboat.

You can take your own lessons from this. When we got back to the marina at the end of the race, most of the fleet was checking their keel bolts. Many are looking into better mapping software for their GPS's. SWMBO is more convinced than ever that the boat is unsafe for the kids.

Iris was too far ahead of this boat to help, in fact we only got portions of the chatter on the VHF. I'll post my race report on my blog once I get everything processed in my head.

Four Generations

Buddy Boy, his Maternal Great Grandfather, Maternal Great Uncle, and maternal Uncles

Sunday, 28 June 2009

Another Milestone

In Conversation:

Chuck:  Um Mama... Um, I was wondering... um, well,  you see....um..... doyouthinkyoucanbuymearazorsoicanshavemylegs??

I guess we've reached that age, eh?

Friday, 26 June 2009

A great sail to Barrie...

I got to the harbour last night just in time to see the last of our club's racers leave for the start line of the Thursday night series race. One of our members was patching the fibreglass on our sailing school boats. I rigged Iris and headed out past the breakwall. This would be my second passage to Barrie this summer, and I expect there will be at least a few more.

just at the end of the breakwall, I hoisted sail, nosed the boat into the wind and switched off the outboard. The light breeze was just enough to push the boat to a 5° heel, and the water gurgled nicely under the transom. It was going to be a heavenly sail.

I watched the racers start their race, and saw "Blue Sky" and "Tecumseh" head out in front of the pack. Not far behind them Tabasco was leading the rest of the fleet. I was on a course to cross the fleet at the windward mark, and I held my course watching them get closer. It was fun to be in the spectator's seat for the race.

Soon I was close to the pin, so I bore off letting the racers cross ahead of me, and then hardened back up aiming for K-Bay. As I travelled, the wind seemed to die off incrementally so that my speed and distance to K-Bay always worked out to 1-1/2 hours no matter how close I got. 6 miles out I was cruising at 4 knots. 5 miles out I was doing 3-1/2 knots. 4 miles away, I was down to 2.5 knots. I was enjoying myself though so I sat back, enjoyed a cold drink, and watched the ripples move across the lake.

While I was sailing Chuck and SWMBO were out shopping for summer toys. Chuck was getting a new bike, SWMBO was buying bathing suits. Once the stores closed they were going to come and meet me at the municipal marina in Barrie. Of course they didn't care how slow or fast this trip was going, and I didn't care how long they spent shopping. Everyone would have a great night.

As I finished my drink, the sun began to set. It wasn't a magnificent sunset, but it beat work, and I thought it was nice. then it started to cool off. Then I realized the time.

This time of year, the sun sets around 9:30 or 10:00. The stores close at 9:00. It would take SWMBO 1 hour to reach Barrie from the mall. I was still 2 hours from the municipal marina if I was travelling at hull speed. The wind was moving me away from the entrance to K-bay. If I kept sailing, I would get to Barrie around 2:00AM.


I pulled the ripcord and started the engine. The throttle failed (again) but its gotten to be second nature to fix, so I fixed it (again), and even managed to do it while the engine was running. Soon I was in the mouth of K-Bay making my way toward the city of Barrie. The night deepened as I went, and eventually the glow from the setting sun gave way to a sliver of moon and a myriad of stars. The lake is really beautiful on a clear night.

I set the throttle on the outboard at 5.8 knots, just below hull speed, and let the engine push us into Barrie. In short order I had the sails down and the cover on the mainsail. Then I got out the docklines and fenders and got them ready for deployment.

the wind was right on the nose of the boat all the way down the bay, and after I was done readying the boat for docking, I grabbed a blanket from the quarter berth and wrapped my legs in it. Shorts were a bad idea for a night outing.

About 2 hours after firing up the outboard I was in the bottom of K-Bay with the BYC entrance beacon flashing beside me. I continued past it, keeping to the right of the city's lights laid out up ahead. Every now and then I scanned the shore and the water ahead with my spotlight, partly to see if there were any obstructions, and partly in case SWMBO was up there waiting for me. I was just over an hour late.

As I closed in on the harbour, a car on shore started flashing its headlights every now and then. I guessed that must be SWMBO. I guessed right.

Soon I found the beacon for the breakwall, throttled down and eased my way into the harbour. I found an open dock next to a floating condo, docked, tied off, and set straight to work putting everything away. SWMBO was there in no time.

Apparently their shopping trip had gone overtime (Wal-Mart is 24 hours) and she was afraid that I was waiting for her when she arrived. In the end she had only been waiting for me for about 1/2 hour. Lucky.

Now that the boat was tucked in, tied off, and pretty much secured, I climbed into the van and our very sleepy family headed home. 12:30 is too late on a weeknight! Today I spoke with Eric who lives in Barrie, and he will be stopping by through the day to check on Iris and make sure she's OK. Tomorrow morning, we're off to the races...


Daddy:  Chuck, tell Mama how you wold describe our firepit right now.
Chuck:  Froggy!
Mama:  Froggy?
Chuck:  Froggy.
Mama: What, um, makes our firepit, 'Froggy?"
Chuck:  Well, when it rained last week, the firpit filled up with water... and then a frog moved in.
Mama: You mean a toad?
Daddy:  Nope, a leopard frog.  Instead of floating on a lilypad, it is floating on a piece of charcoal.
Mama: Pardon?

Thursday, 25 June 2009

A Second Voyage to Barrie

It looks like we will be moving Iris to Barrie tonight in preparation for the next LSIS race. Tonight is also race night at our home club. This presents a tough decision. Do I race the home fleet, and then head to Barrie, and hope that I get home before midnight, or do I skip the home race and just go to Barrie.

I'd like to do the race first so that I get another shot at improving tacking angles, fine tuning things, and prepping the boat for the big event, on the other hand, the time that would be spent racing could be spent dockside, tinkering.

On the other hand, once I get to Barrie and call SWMBO to come drive me home, I will have about an hour to fine tune things on the boat. Maybe the best plan is to race at home, sail across, and then tinker while I wait for SWMBO.

Its a tough decision.

The Post that should be on my Husband's Blog.....

I'm just gonna post a picture.  He can post the story himself!!

I think that he is saying "I'll smile sweetly for your camera Honey."
It's either that or "Piss off I'm 30 feet in the air and being held up by a bit of rope."

Wednesday, 24 June 2009

LSIS #3 & #4 KBYC to Cook's Bay

The next 2 races in the Lake Simcoe Interclub Series are this coming weekend. I haven't quite figured out how I will make my calendar work for them, but I have to be there.

Friday night, Chuck is having some friends over for a sleepover. SWMBO would appreciate support in caring for the girls, and I don't blame her. That means tha tI have to get Iris to Barrie either on Thursday night, or very early on Saturday morning, or "hire" someone to deliver her for me.

So far I don't have any crew so going over extremely early on Saturday would be difficult since it will be a long day of racing. Going up on Thursday and leaving the boat there makes the most sense so far. If that fails I'll have to find a delivery skipper, and I've never tried doing that before. Whichever way it goes, it could get hectic in the hours right before the race.

I should really get down to the marina sometime between now and th eweekend and clean the boat out to be ready for the race.

Lady Baden Powell Award

Chuck has been in Guiding since she was six years old, as a spark. She has always been very enthusiastic, has loved the camping, etc. She was a spark for a year, Brownie for two, and has now finished her third year of Guides.

This year, not only did she go to Guides on Wednesdays, but she also went to help with a spark unit (5 & 6 year olds) on Thursdays. Then, in May, she was invited to start attending Pathfinders on Tuesdays for the remainder of the year.

The highest award she can earn at this level is her Lady Baden Powell Award, which she and her best friend did together.

There is a lot of pomp & circumstance around receiving this award, and it is A LOT of work, so there should be. The girls who earn their award receive:

- A pink flower from a Spark leader

- An orange flower from a Brownie leader

- A blue flower from a Guide leader

- A white flower from either the Mayor or a Local Councillor for their service to the community

- A yellow flower from a parent (usually Mom) for the family's involvement

- A Certificate that they earned their award

- A Certificate from the local MP

- A Certificate from the Local MPP


So, here we have:

Receiving the orange flower from "Ladybug," who is the Brownie leader in the same school as us. We often go camping with Ladybug's unit. Even when we don't camp with her unit, we tend to camp near their unit, and run many joint activities.

Receiving her Blue Flower from "Saphire," who is my co-leader, and has been Chuck's leader for the past three years with me.
Receiving something from me... maybe it's the certificate??  Or maybe her yellow flower??
Being pinned.
Chauck and her two friends, advancing to Pathfinders.  This is separate from the Lady B-P award.  Chuck & her friend beside her both earned their Lady B-P awards, but the third girl choose not to finish hers.

When the girls advance to Pathfinders, they all receive a green flower, which is the one that the girls have in their hands now.

She also had the honour of reading "Being the Leaders Daughter," a poem about the trials and tribulations that a leaders kid has to 'endure.'

So next year, she goes on to Pathfinders, and I stay back. For a year. Then I'll probably either switch roles (become a mentor instead of a unit guider, or a trainer, or something), or leave. But I have been in Guiding for 18 years now.... While I don't really think I have the time for it that I'd like, I have a hard time just leaving. This is why the mentoring idea sounds good... less commitment, more flexibility around scheduling, and I don't HAVE to be there every week at the right time. In this role, I would help new guiders learn the ropes, or do occasional guest type programming where others need help. Although I have heard that the current three awesome Pathfinder leaders have said that this is their last year… so who knows I may end up moving up to be with her a year after she goes on!

Tuesday, 23 June 2009

Messing about in Boat

After the Mayor's cup on Saturday I thought it would be fun to play around with the start/finish pin, so I hovered nearby until I was sure that all the boats were off the course, and then I tried different approaches to "recover" the pin.

The first few attempts were a standard MOB recovery. Sail off for a few seconds, then tack around and approach on a close-hauled course, stalling the boat out as the pin came alongside. I found that using this approach, I usually stalled out early, and stopped the boat when the pin was just off the bow, then drift away from it.

After this I tried coming up on the pin on a broad reach, and releasing the sails as I came alongside. This way, I could Vane the boat away from the pin or toward it by releasing one sail or the other (release the main, and the jib would push the front of the boat away from the wind, release the jib and the main would do the opposite) Using this technique, I could get really close to the pin, but control was pretty poor, although the drift was slow enough that I could snag the pin with a boat hook.

My last attempts were coming at the pin with the wind behind me. Using this approach, it was only possible to dump wind from the jib by allowing it to blow out in front of the boat, and the main would keep driving the boat forward. I could sheet the main on centre, but it still wanted to catch the wind somewhat, and this technique was really poor.

It was a good way to spend half an hour, and let me see the way different things on the boat worked under different circumstances. I felt it was time well spent. By the time I was done, playing , the boat was a mess of lines and sails, but I didn't much care since I had the pin on board and was headed to my slip. I sailed into the harbour entrance, dropped the sails in a heap, and slid toward my slip.

Someone called from the main dock that I was trailing lines, which I appreciated and I cleaned things up before starting the outboard and motoring into my spot. On the way I called out to have some skilled help bring me in since I had no fenders out.

I was surprised by the reaction when I reached the slip. One of the more advanced racers in the marina confronted me with:

"What the f*&k was that s$#tshow out there? You trying to embarrass the lot of us?"


"That was a f*%^ing disgrace. You should be out of the f&^$%ing club"

Apparently I had endangered lives and embarrassed the club by messing about beyond the break wall and then coming in under sail. This sailor thought I was lucky not to have hit another boat. I was more than a little taken aback.

When I pointed out that in returning to the marina I never lost way, and had complete control of the boat all the way in, and no boats had come or gone from the marina since the race, the other sailor had no response, but the whole reaction really surprised me.

In my opinion, the very best place to learn your boat is within sight of the marina. If I had endangered anyone that particular afternoon, the only person that would have been affected was myself. If I ever get stuck out there with an engine failure, I now know I can sail into the harbour. If I lose a crew overboard, I know what points of sail to approach from and how my particular boat will react. I know how long I can hold the nose of the boat on a point before she will fall off, and how quickly I can pull the tight circle to get back to a point after falling off it.

If I am an embarrassment to the club, so be it. I think I'm a better sailor for taking the time to mess about.

Monday, 22 June 2009

Racing in the Rain

The Mayor’s cup was this past weekend. As noted in my previous email, it was a Pursuit race, so I got a head start on all of the fleet except 1 boat. I had spent a respectable amount of time playing with the rig on iris before hand, and was trying to capitalize on that. The mast was in column, aft lowers loose, and forestay slack. Things were tensioned to a hand feel of “about right,” and I had the course and wind pretty much down.

The downside was that I was sailing alone, and really could have used a spare set of hands, especially on the downwind leg of the race. No worries though, I was working with what I had available, and this was a fun race, it didn’t count toward any kind of championship at all. Because the race was just a fun race, I put up our cruising genoa rather than the racing one.

I circled the start a couple times, watched “Newfie Screach” start ahead of me, and then took my turn with “About Time” and “Desiree” starting right behind me.

The Start of the race was just off the marina breakwall, and there was good wind there, but the headland that protects our marina makes a definite wind block. About 100 yards after the start, all momentum was lost until we cleared the windshadow of the point.

The winds were behind the fleet from the point all the way to the island that served as the only marker in the race. The trouble was that they were coming from different angles, and would switch from being dead astern, to astern from port, astern from starboard, and always at the wrong angle to the boat.

I watched Newfie slowly slipping away, but I was getting ahead of About Time and Desiree. Then the big boats started, and Desiree did something very clever. Rather than messing with gybing the boom back and forth on the wind shifts, she took off for the north side of the island, running a hot angle, and gaining on the rest of the fleet. In short order she was ahead of everyone, and doing great.

Meanwhile Newfie had stalled out in a dead spot up alongside the island, and Tabasco had caught up to me. The crew on Tabasco and I were having a pleasant conversation across the water when The radio crackled.

“Sail Georgina Fleet, this is Desiree”

I looked over at Tabasco. “Do you guys want to get that, or should I?”

“Get what? Nothing came across our radio!”

I picked up my handset and replied.

“Desiree, this is Iris, go 11”

Desiree had hailed the fleet on channel 16 which is an emergency and hailing channel, and shouldn’t be used for conversations. I was moving the conversation to channel 11 which is a better spot to chat. Desiree answered back:

“Iris, this is Desiree, our radio doesn’t have 11. Can you go 26?”

“Desiree, this is Iris, going 26”

I switched the radio over, knowing that channel had a special designation, but not able to remember what it was. We were met on 26 by the Coast Guard.

“Desiree, Desiree, Desiree, this is Prescott Coast Guard. You are on a duplex channel and the other vessel will not hear your transmissions.”

I turned the radio back to 16 back there Desiree hailed again, and gave along winded explanation of his situation.

He had no charts on board, the mapping on his GPS was inadequate, and being in the lead, he didn’t know where to go. Which Island was Fox Island, the big one or the small one?

I radioed back that Fox was the island that Newfie Screach was just going behind and hung up my mike. I had no interest in carrying on a conversation on 16 and getting the coast guard telling me to shut up.

Desiree took off toward Newfie Screach, passed in front of him, and then took off in some bizarre direction.

Meanwhile Tabasco and I were talking back and forth and watched Newfie drifting around the island, being followed by a Viking 28 (Blue Sky?). Far behind us was another boat, “Little Bit.”

We made our way around the Island, and Desiree finally figured out where he should be, and changed course to follow Newfie Screach around. Tabasco and I continued to chat all the way around the island in a total drift match. We compared GPS speed and were envious whenever the other boat would get above 1.5 kts. There was a light drizzle in the air, and no heat from the sun, so although the going was slow, at least the weather was pleasant. It really stinks to drift in the heat of the day with swarms of bugs. I would rather have drizzle anytime.

All the way around the Island I stayed on the inside course where the wind was lighter, thinking the current should be stronger. This was a mistake. When we came out of the island’s wind shadow, Tabasco caught good wind about 15 minutes ahead of me, and took off like a shot. I finally got the wind in my sails, and at about the same time, the drizzle changed to rain. I put on my hood, hardened the sheets, and started my pursuit of the fleet. With only two boats behind me, I had a lot of catching up to do.

The wind was now quite steady, and I was able to get close to it on this upwind leg. I held a course, tacking as little as possible since each tack costs time, especially when travelling alone. The rain was quite heavy, and visibility would go from poor to bad. The rest of the boats would appear and disappear ahead of me through th erain and mist. I was quite happy with how the boat was performing. I was getting closer to the wind than I had previously, and my GPS was giving me happy thoughts. The only problem was the rain.

I was entirely soaked. The light drizzle earlier had worked through my outer clothes, and now the rain was getting into my under layers. I was shivering, and doing my best not to let the cold affect my performance. being alone I had no choice but to bear the conditions and continue on. The nice thing about sailing alone is that you have chances to try different things without endangering anyone. You also have no communication issues, and no one to blame but yourself.

Since all those things were with me, I experimented a little on this leg. I tried sheeting the genoa to the cabin top winches to get inside sheeting. It worked but the sheets needed a lead to prevent overrides. I also played around with weight placement, GPS settings and other stuff. It was a great day of testing tweaks to keep the boat moving faster toward the finish.

I was pretty sure that I was in last place as I ran this leg. About Time has new crew, and wouldn’t want to stick it out in the rain. Little Bit is new to her owner this year, and likely didn’t want to stick around for this either. I kept playing with tweaks, and having a great sail in the steady wind, and trying to ignore the rain.

On a southward tack the wind gusted, and sent the boat hard over. The speed jumped, my course held, and the rudder felt “just right.” It was amazing to feel the power of the wind move through the boat. Then I got another gust. And another. This was sailing!

I couldn’t keep the hood up on my raincoat anymore since the wind blew it off as soon as I put it on. Oh well, I was already soaked. Iris pulled hard and with the wind in our teeth we powered along. All of a sudden I could make out Desiree up ahead of me, sitting flat on her lines. I had wind, and she didn’t. Now it was a pursuit race! Could I beat her to the finish?

I held the good wind as long as I could then tacked northward back out into the lake. I needed to be precise in my next tack. Remembering the dead spot where the point blocks the wind, I would need to run out into the lake far enough that I could tack back in toward the harbour without getting caught. I would also have to watch Desiree to make sure that she didn’t do anything to alter my plans.

Desiree saw me, and she started coming out toward me. I was pretty sure I was ahead of her, but in a close tacking match, I am never sure, and the winds off the point could screw up everything in a heartbeat.

I held my course, lined up the point, lined up the finish, lined up Desiree, waited, watched, tweaked, and did everything I could to ensure that I would finish ahead of the other boat. Then it was time. Now!

I pulled the rudder hard over, drew the sails across the boat, and headed down to the finish. I had to hold the compass on a course of 180 degrees magnetic or better to clear the point and have a straight run at the finish line. I saw Desiree tack over. She was early and would have to throw in extra tacks to clear the point. I crossed ahead of her.

I cleared the finish line about 5 minutes ahead of Desiree, and saw About Time coming out of the rain under power. I was second last, but had a great day of sailing.

The most rewarding thing was that I was able to get the boat to hold a course nearly at 90 degrees on each tack. That is something that has never quite worked right for me before.

This weekend is LSIS #3 & #4. Looking forward to it!

Mayor's Cup Race
7 Boats Started
5 Boats finished
Iris: 4th Place
Course Sailed:

Saturday, 20 June 2009

Race Predition: Doom and Gloom

The Mayor's Cup race is this morning, and although I am trying to maintain my positive outlook on it and all that, but it isn't looking very pretty.

The race starts at our marina with a staggered start. We will likely be about the third or fourth boat to start. I can handle that. From the start it goes to Fox Island, a small island 6 miles from the marina. The boats are to go around the island, then come back to Jackson's Point.

According to sailflow, the first leg will be dead downwind. By the time the big boats start, we should be about 3/4 of the way done this leg. Forecast winds are to be very light at our start, building through the race. An advantage for the fast boats.

Second leg is about half a mile of beam reaching if Sailflow is right. According to sailflow the wind should rotate almost 180 deg. right around when we round the island, making it another run back to our marina. If that wind shift hits early or late, it could have a drastic effect on the race. I will have to watch for it.

By this time the big boats should be breathing down our neck.

If its wing on wing all the way back, then the best we can do is hull speed and we will not beat the planing boats. If the wind is late in shifting, or doesn't shift, then we will have some skill involved here. If this were a reaching race I would be much more optimistic since Iris does well on that point of sail.

The forecast is for 10mm of rain. Maybe some fair-weather folks will drop out. Tonight I'm going to loosen up the aft lowers and forestay. I need to be tuned for a day of running, and that means the mast needs to tip forward.

On the upside, SWMBO offered to crew for me. Not sure if that will stand if it rains, but I'm glad she offered. If the weather is miserable, I may encourage her to go swimming at the pool down the road or something.

Friday, 19 June 2009

Reefer is the Wrong Word.

Last night SWMBO and I went to the harbour for some tinker-time. I hauled along the MOB pole, but the real goal was getting the reefing lines right.

Last season we put the reefing lines in, but only used them once. There were a number of occasions where to put a reef in the sail would have been the prudent thing to do, but the lines worked so poorly for us that we just didn’t bother.

Putting a reef in your mainsail does the same thing for the boat as putting a smaller jib up. It reduces the area of the sail that is exposed to the wind. If you go out sailing, say to Barrie, at night, in a storm, fearing what the high winds are going to do to you, a reef should be high on your to-do list.

Since there is less sail area up, the boat won’t heel as much, which means you will have better control of your course. It also means that if something does go wrong you have less sail to bring down, and less force to fight with the wind pushing the boat around.

A reef is supposed to be simple to put in, once the boat is properly rigged. On our boat, the reefing line goes from an attachment on the boom, up to a grommet at the back of the mainsail, then back down to a block on the boom. From that block, the line goes forward to another block at the front of the sail, then up through a second grommet at the front of the sail, and then down to the deck, coming back to the cockpit through the deck organizer and cleats that hold all our halyards.

When its time to put a reef in the sail, you release the halyard cleat, and let it out while pulling in on the reefing line. This gathers the bottom of the sail in around the boom, while sliding the top of the sail down the mast. Once the sail is lowered to the desired reefing point, some small shoelace sized line is used to secure the extra sail material to the boom, preventing it from catching the wind. You'll never guess what knot you use for this... yup a Reef Knot. Iris has 2 reefing points in her racing mainsail and one in her cruising mainsail making it possible for us to reduce our sail area from calm day full sail, to borderline weather reduced sail, to extreme weather tiny sail.

Basically a good reefing system converts our 2 mainsails into five different sizes. Combine this with our 5 choices of foresail, and we have a very versatile arrangement.

The trouble we had with our reefing lines last year were twofold. First they were incorrectly installed, and weren’t tested until needed. That was my fault. The second problem was that the blocks attached to the boom were too far forward for the sail to be properly positions when reefed. To remedy that we drilled new holes in the boom and moved the aft block further back on the boom by about a foot. I just eyeballed it, but when we tested reefing the sail in our slip, it looked a lot better, and everything worked really well.

Now we need some heavy weather to go test it. Next on the list will have to be installing the MOB pole.

Thursday, 18 June 2009

Milestone Reached

I'm not sure if this counts as a 'mama milestone,' or a 'big-kid' milestone.

Last Friday night, I 'hired' Chuckie to babysit the Buddy.  I was in the backyard with a couple of frineds having a campfire, so if all hell broke loose, all she had to do was holler out the door for us.

So last night hubby & I both had to attend a meeting at the church, about fifteen minutes away.  The meeting started at 7:30, so I put BB to bed around 7:20 (40 mins earlier than normal), and left the kids alone.

This is the first time that the Buddy has been with a sitter under the ago of 28.  And the first time that Chuck has been home with another child.  She's been left home alone before, and she has taken her babysitting course... But this was her first real chance.

I had serious trepidation about leaving the baby.  The diaper bag was packed and in the car, so that if I changed my mind at the last minute, I could just bring him along.  This is why I say, I'm not sure if it was me reaching the milestone in feeling ok to leave him, or if it was Chuck reaching the milestone, in being able to babysit.

Either way, it's nice to have a bit more freedom now!!

Wednesday, 17 June 2009

Mama... there's cows in our Backyard

Mama: Pardon?

LR:  The Cows next door.... one is out of the fence....

Mama:  The Cows next door are out?  How did they get out??

Hubby guarding the cow, so that it dosen't get onto the road:

Herding the cow back towards the pen:
Back home safe & sound

So that was our excitment for the morning.  When I arrived at work a few minutes late, I said the the boss "I have the best excuse ever....and I even have pictures to prove it!!"

Tuesday, 16 June 2009

Embracing Electronics...

So a couple guys at work have got me thinking about tinkering with electronics, which is likely a good idea since all things electrical confound me.

For a first project, I’m thinking about patching together a countdown time for our race starts. The idea is to have 10 strips of LED’s that light up, one strip per minute for a 10 minute start, or 2 strips per minute for a 5 minute led.

If that works I may try to get super fancy, and have 10 LED’s per strip, such that for the last minute each led lights up individually, one LED each 6 seconds (10 minute start) or for the last 30 seconds, one LED each 3 seconds (5 minute start).

Now just to add a level of complication… I am thinking it may be cool to add in some music with a strong driving beat, positive message, and element of excitement. I’m thinking of this one, but I need to add 1:30 to the end of it for 10 minute starts, and chop time off it for a 5 minute start.

Any Ideas out there?? For the 10 minute I could add a countdown to the back end of it, but I'm not sure how it would sound. For the 5 minute, maybe I should find another shorter song.


There are what, approximately fifty toys in our living room for the baby, right??

So it figures that the ONE toy he HAS TO PLAY WITH, is the only ONE that the poor bunny has:

If I just reach a little further... I think I can get it....
Mama... Can you help me get that toy??  I want THAT toy Mom
Life is rough when you aren't allowed to play with the Bunny's toys, isn't it?

Monday, 15 June 2009


So this past weekend we were at a wedding from Saturday through Sunday. No Sailing time at all. Before we left though, I slipped up to the marina on Friday to get in some rig tuning and a test sail.

The Friday sail was wonnerful, and after we got in, I went and talked with other folks around the marina, and hung out till after midnight. I figured SWMBO wouldn't mind since she was hosting a girlie thing at our house that involved white wine and macrame (or something like that).

Anyway, sometime after midnight, I realized how late it had gotten, so I stumbled down the dock, buttoned up Iris and headed for home.

Fast forward to Sunday dinner time when we got home from the wedding...

The phone rang about 1/2 hour after we got home. It was the Commodore of the sailing club... Apparently I left the VHF radio turned on full volume all weekend. Of course after midnight on Friday no one was talking on it, but through the rest of the weekend, everyone in the marina had to listen to the noise from my slip.

Oops. We made an emergency trip to the marina and shut it down - 2 days after it should have been shut off.

Camp Stories - Part Three

I have got to be the meanest Guider ever.

Sunday morning for breakfast, I opened ONE box of Girl Guide Cookies.

We had 19 girls and three leaders.

No one was allowed breakfast until their entire tent was clean and all their stuff was in the building.

The first two tents to be clean got two cookies each.

The third tent got one cookie each

by the time tents four & five showed up, there were no more cookies, banana's or Corn Pops.

Insead, there was still Mini Wheats & apples.

No one starved, but the faster you were, the more choices you got!!

Sunday, 14 June 2009

A different Kind of Race

Iris is entered in "The Mayor's Cup Pursuit Race" from Jackson's Point on this coming Saturday (June 20, 2009). This annual race has a staggered start from the breakwall in front of the Jackson's Point Marina, then goes across the Georgina waterfront and circles Fox Island before returning to the Marina. This is a fun charity race, with proceeds going to the "Georgina Cares Fund" to sponsor sending less fortunate kids in camps and sports.

As Iris is one of the smaller boats entered in the race, we get a head start. Actually I think there will be 2 other boats that start ahead of us. The rest of the fleet will be released from the starting area according to each boat's PHRF rating (Performance Handicap Racing Fleet, or optimum speed rating for short). This is the only race of the year where the order of the boats finishing is actually the order for the trophies.

I am hoping to have 3 or 4 crew for this race again, but so far its just me single-handling the boat. If you are available to crew, please send me an email, phone call, or smoke signals.

Camp stories - Part Two

So, Girl Guides is very, very careful about risk managment.  And when something goes wrong, there are many, many forms to fill in.

Ten minutes after the camp fire went out at lunch time, but without having poured water in it, one younger girl came barreling across the campsite, right through the fire pit (still smoldering & hot, but no flames), did a somersault, and kept on going.  Didn't even stop.

You wanna see a pile of freaked out leaders??  That was the five of us. 

At least four of us are certified in first aid.  Luckily, the biggest injury we had all weekend was a splinter.

Saturday, 13 June 2009

Happy Birthday

Buddy Boy with his Great-Grandpa.
Grandpa's 85th B-day party

Cruising like We're Racing

After the eventful crossing we had to reach Barrie, you may have thought I would sleep well, truth is I was fitful at best, never sleeping more than an hour before waking to check the time. I ended up getting out of bed before 7:00 AM, having a muffin and Gatorade for breakfast, and then set about hanging all the soaked clothing to dry.

Almost everything on board was wet. By the time I was done, there were clotheslines criss-crossing the entire cabin. So much for the idea of using the boat as a mobile office.

Eventually Chuck stirred, and made a trip to the bathroom. Meanwhile I got ready for work while admonishing her to stay clear of strangers and what to do if she got lost. Then it was off to my meetings.

I grabbed a coffee on the way, and met with Don who seemed surprised that I had followed through on sailing across, given the weather he was right to be.

Through the day we checked on Chuck after our meetings and at lunch, but she was happy to sit in the boat and play video games on the laptop. That was fine by me as it kept her out of trouble. She also made a couple trips to the dollar store to buy junk with her allowance. Apparently candy tastes better when you buy it yourself, but really... scotch mints!?!?

Surprisingly, she cleaned out the boat while I was working and washed the floors, tidied things up, and made herself a little nest in the quarterberth. Seems she was right at home in there, but she did admit to me that it was kind of lonely in there.

Once Don and I wrapped up our work, he was kind enough to drive me to a gas station where I filled the outboard's tank, then he went on his way while I settled back into the boat. While I rested I had Chuck pack all the wet clothes and anything else that was out away for our sail home.

I rested fitfully for maybe half an hour, then figured I might as well just get going since this wasn't having the desired effect. We pulled out of the slip and headed away from the marina.

Out on Kempenfelt Bay, the boats from KBYC were starting a race. We were around 5 minutes behind the start and I thought it would be nice to watch how their fleet performed as we moved up the bay. Then I realized we were gaining on them. We trimmed for speed, and with our old 110% working jib and a full load of cruising gear we ran through the back of the fleet.

It felt good to race (even though I kept telling myself we weren't racing) and by the time we reached the race's weather mark we had passed 3 or 4 boats - some of which had beat us in the Lagoon City races this past weekend. I was feeling much better about this passage than the last as we came out past Big Bay Point and into the main body of Lake Simcoe.

As we crossed Simcoe, the sunset was lacklustre, but Chuck pulled out our little transistor radio, and brought me up to speed on what all the good music is (Taylor Swift) and she did some singing. Then we had some father-daughter chat, and before long we were almost back to JP.

As we came across Simcoe the winds built but the waves were mostly OK with the odd big wave that surged up from behind us pushing Iris along. We were broad reaching or running all the way back home, which means the wind had shifted considerably from our rocky ride to Barrie.

Chuck took the helm again and did an amazing job of holding us on course as we sailed right through the JP Breakwall, and dropped the sails inside the marina. For a few seconds I was contemplating sailing right into our slip, but I don't think we're quite that good yet.

As we tied Iris off, Chuck cleaned out the boat on her own while I buttoned up the sails and made sure everything was secure, and then we jumped in the car and headed home. It was a great couple days and I got to see my kid acting both very grown up, and very cool-kid like.

She can really make me proud sometimes.

Friday, 12 June 2009

A Lesson in Budgeting

Last night, Chuck asked if she could ride her bike home from school today.  We said that that was fine, Daddy would drop her off at school in the morning with her bike, and she could ride home.  When she got home, she was to call her Dad at work and let him know she was safe.

This morning, Chuck went and got her bike lock and proudly told Dad that to get a lock that works, you just have to pick one that’s not your favorite colour. Then the lock fell apart in her hands.

Dad said no problem, we’ll stop at Home Hardware and you can buy a new one.

Then she started crying.

She spent her allowance at the school book fair on pencils and erasers.

A Rough Commute.

Its not every day that you get the chance to sail to work, so I had to jump on it when the opportunity presented itself. Last week it was decided that a meeting and site visit was in order for a project I am working on in Barrie. I got all tingly, and told SWMBO that I would be sailing to work. The plan was that on Monday night I would sail across to the municipal marina in Barrie, spend the night there, and then go to the meetings in the morning. Don (of Soldering Fame) would meet me there, and we would do our work, then I would sail back to JP, our home marina, and be home by bedtime.

The advantage of taking Iris across for the workday was that we would have a mobile office with hydro and a table. I could take the laptop and get stuff done on the boat, and I would get some sailing in. I was thrilled.

Then Chuck came home sick. No school on Monday or Tuesday, and someone had to stay home with her. I was voted in as nurse.

Since we were home, I spent most of Monday looking after Chuck. After 4 treatments and various home-cooked remedies she was in a good enough space to travel, but by now it was close to time for SWMBO to get home for work, so we waited for her.

Then we packed.

Then we drove to the marina and loaded the boat.

Then I realized that I had left all my work stuff at home.

Then I drove back to the marina and put on the sails.

Then it was 10:00, with a storm building on the north side of the lake.

Chuck and I headed out into 15kt winds in the dark under the 110% jib, and hoped the storm would blow to the east before we reached it. The VHF said the storm would clear through the night, and the winds were blowing from the southeast, but the clouds were in different wind, blowing across the sky to the northeast. I crossed my fingers and we headed out into a heavy chop.

I was surprised that all the way across the lake the gauges all worked. The wind gauge rose and fell between 10-20 kts as we crossed the main body of the lake. We could see the glow of the lights in Orillia to the north, and Keswick to the southwest. Barrie was a dim smudge on the horizon, but we couldn’t steer to it since Big Bay point was between us and Kempenfelt Bay. I lined up the GPS track with a flashing beacon on the shore, and we held a course straight for it.

Chuck was very tired, but she was a trooper. It’s amazing how she has grown up since last season, now she can hold a course even in this rough weather, and recognizes the responsibilities that are given to her on the boat as things that must be done right. I think that secretly she was a little scared, and that was extra motivation to not screw up.

As we moved across the lake the storm got nearer and nearer, and in short order we were in rain. The wind was steady, but it didn’t seem to be blowing the rain away, and the clouds changed direction to align with the winds we were feeling. The rain increased in intensity as we crossed the lake, and it was a cold wind. I sent Chuck below to stay warm, and kept heading for the flashing light.

The wind gauge had been steadily rising as we crossed the lake, and now it was jumping from 20-25kts up to gusts of 30kts. The rain had gotten into everything. There was no place dry to sit, the cabin was wet inside, and our leaks proved true to tradition in both the V-berth and quarter berth. It was getting difficult to hold Iris on her course, so I let her run down a little more for a gentler ride and called chuck back up into the cockpit.

“I need you to drive for a minute. I’m afraid that if the wind gets too much stronger the sails will get us in trouble. Just keep the compass on the same number, and try not to let the wind and waves spin the boat around.”

“OK Daddy. Be Careful.”

Be careful. When you are handing control of the boat over to an 11 year old in wind and waves that have you more than a little nervous, and she admonishes you to be careful it’s a sobering moment. I went forward and hauled down the jib.

Back in the cockpit Chuck was fighting the wind and waves to hold our course. It never wavered.

When I got the sail secured and made my way back, she was standing there shivering with cold and using all her strength to hold her course. I was so proud of her. “Go on below and get warm.” I said, then I took the helm.

It was at this point that I realized the flashing light we were aimed for was the warning beacon for Big Bay Point. We had to hold it off on our port side, and it was our lee shore. Rather than aiming for it I should have tried to keep off it. I looked at the full mainsail, and steered away from the light, strategizing to tuck into Kempenfelt bay behind it where we would be in the lee of the shore and have less waves and wind to deal with.

On went the outboard, and with motor and sails working together, we cleared the point. Then I took down the mainsail, and we motored down K-bay. About this time the lightening started up.

The only description for being out on the lake with a 30 foot aluminium mast pointing up into the sky during a lightening storm is “humbling.” I stayed as close to shore as I felt was safe, and kept a close eye on the location of the lightening bolts. Mostly they were far off, but some were closer than others. Chuck kept calling up to ask if I was OK. “Are you too sleepy Daddy? Do you need me to drive for a while?”

I told her that we were more than halfway, and would be in Barrie soon. Then I saw the flashing beacon for the breakwall of Barrie Yacht Club. BYC had hosted a number of sailing events last year, and I thought Chuck might remember it, so I pointed it out to her.

“If things get really bad, we can go in there, but we are really close now, so I don’t think we need to.”

I scanned the Barrie shoreline trying to pick the municipal breakwall light out of the thousands of streetlights, landscape lights, traffic lights, headlights, decorative lights and advertising lights. It was nearly impossible, and I was shivering badly so everything looked shaky and blurred anyway. I sailed to shore until the depth meter showed 20 feet of water, then followed the 20ft depth line into the city.

Eventually I could make out the breakwall in the dark just ahead. Then I saw the “Hooters” billboard that is next to the marina. Then the little light that marks the harbour entrance. Chuck came up and drove while I set up the docklines and fenders.

At 2:15 AM we were in our slip, and exhausted, went to bed. Wet.

BIG Family Wedding

This weekend is my Cousin's wedding, in London Ont.

At first, BB was going to stay with a sitter.  Then, I realized that pretty much anyone who could care for him for the full 24 hours would be AT THE WEDDING.  right.  We would need to drop him off at around 1:00 on Saturday afternoon, and then not get him until 1:00 on Sunday, or possibly earlier on Saturday / later on Sunday, depending on where the person bbsitting lived.

And then I realized:
1) He stayed with Grandma last weekend while Mommy was camping and Daddy was sailing
2) He stayed with Daddy the weekend before when Mommy was at the Church conference
3) This would be the third weekend in a row that he would be without Mommy
4) There will be so many aunts / uncles/cousins/grandmas/ etc. at the wedding, that there will be TONS of people to take turns.
5) He would be the only memeber of the family (5 children & spouses, 14 grandchildren, 2 great grandchildren) who would not be there.
6) This will be the first time that EVERY member of the family will be at a function since my wedding in Augist 2007

So he is going.  And now I need to figure out exactly how much stuff to pack.  Because I need a playpen, highchair (maybe) baby monitor (maybe) etc.  It is a fine line between taking what I need, and taking too much.

Thursday, 11 June 2009

Baby update

Remember how last week, BB had a diaper rash, and I was sure it was from teething??

Well, I can see the tooth!! It is the upper left eye tooth that is coming in, so I was right, this is supposed to be a hard one.

Bring on the tylenol!! 

LSIS #2 - Racing Like We're Cruising Pt. 2

After Saturday’s less-than-fantastic showing on the race course, I figured things HAD to get better for Sunday. My crew at this point was reduced to Jamie, who was going to fearlessly man the winches and keep the jib doing all that it was supposed to so that I could just worry about course and mainsail. At the skipper’s meeting the course was reviewed – a basic triangle, two times around, start flag review (my request), and general goodwill all around.

Once again the VHF was calling out small craft warnings and high winds so I hanked on the 110%, then we headed out to the lake to see what was in store. We were just about the last boat out, and Jamie hoisted sail as we left the breakwall.

Out on the lake there was a fair breeze blowing, but not enough to really warrant the smaller sail. I scanned the sky for hints of the rising wind, and then set in to our pre-race routine. We timed the line (short!) and circled the other boats while we waited for our start. Eventually we were into our countdown. With 2 minutes to go we were approaching the line, so we did a 360° spin to burn some time. Still way to early, so we did another spin. With less than a minute to go we were coming up on the line, but we had lost a tonne of speed in the spins.

Without speed we couldn’t point, and were getting pushed toward the leeward mark. Behind us Tabasco was fighting the same losing battle. I fell off to try and shoot the mark, and watched as the rest of the fleet passed us with power. In their dirty air we drifted closer and closer to the mark until I heard the distinct ‘clunk’ of hitting the start mark. Behind us someone on Tabasco yelled out “Iris is on the Mark – She has to restart!!”

I watched the little flag from the start mark trace the bottom of the hull, it followed the keel, then popped back up, firmly wedging itself between the rudder and our transom. We had actually attached the start mark to the boat. Since it was attached to us, we dragged it out of the way of Tabasco (who would have also had to restart) and one other boat.

Now not only were we being penalized, we had given them an advantage. I climbed down the swim ladder, freed the mark, and then turned the boat around and restarted the race. By the time we crossed the start line, the rest of the fleet was more than halfway to the first mark.

We tacked up the course and actually had some pretty good speed going. Jamie showed her abilities in trimming the jib, and was able to get the sails filled so that I could focus on driving. We rounded the mark, and set off to try and catch the rest of the fleet. We were making up time on the reaching leg, but the wind moved around us until we were no longer reaching but pointing, and we were low on the second mark. In order to round it, we had to throw in a couple extra tacks, and that cost us all the ground we had gained.

The wind still wasn’t strong enough to justify the110% jib I had up, so after we rounded the mark and began the running leg, I took down the working jib and put up our 155% genoa. With the genoa on and pole set, Iris found her feet, and we began to regain lost ground. After rounding the downwind mark, we headed back up, and with a nice heel, we made our way back up to the windward mark.

The rest of the race went like it was out of a textbook (OK, not the end, but thats another story). We hit all the pins at the spot and time I wanted to, the GPS tracklog began working, the sails held shape and position nicely, and we didn’t miss any marks. Sadly, it was too little too late. We still came in last both on actual and corrected time. We were a little high on the finish mark, and had to throw in a couple extra tacks, which added at least a minute or two to our time.

But we were out of 3rd by less time than the fiasco at the start line had cost us… And out of first by about 10 minutes – that’s about what we lost to the start, sail change, and sailing with the 110%.

Things are starting to click.

LSIS Race 2 Stats:

Distance Covered: 18.3 Statute Miles (Slip to Slip)
Time on course: 2:00:55
Corrected time: 1:48:32
Time out of 1st Place (Corrected Time): 0:10:15
Iris was on course 9.44% longer than the first place boat.

Course Sailed:

Wednesday, 10 June 2009

LSIS #1 - Racing Like We're cruising Pt. 1

I went to the first of the Lake's "interclub" races on the weekend. For crew I had my wife's cousin and a couple guys off the trailer sailor forum. With 4 of us on board, it was the biggest race crew I've ever had.

The sail across to Lagoon City (LC) was without event. I left JP about 4 hours behind schedule on Friday, and knew that I would be arriving in LC after dark. Luckily Tabasco was going at the same time, and I could just follow them across the lake. I sailed most of the way, and then motor-sailed for the last hour into LC. I was arriving late, and my crew; Jamie, was waiting for a long time for me to arrive. She had filled the time by making new friends and sharing libations.

Finding the gap through the LC breakwall in the dark with a quartering sea was a little nerve wracking. I was thankful that the beacon was lit, and that I could light up the daymarks with our “superflashlight” but getting pushed sideways through the narrow gap was a real fear, plus once inside the breakwall, I couldn’t see the channel markers. I managed though, and felt my way through the dark to LCYC.

The folks at LCYC saw me coming and from the dark I could hear voice yelling over the drone of the outboard “Over here! I have a slip for you!” my response wasn’t exactly eloquent. “I can hear you, but I have no idea where over here is! Give me a light signal!” Eventually I was able to connect the voice to a body standing on a dock, arms flailing the air and I slid the boat into her slip.

On arrival at LCYC, I was tired and hungry, and after buttoning up the boat, I took care of primary needs (food, drink, rest) before engaging in the company of the yacht club. My head wasn’t altogether in the right space, and I may have been a little cranky. It was late; I sat up with the other skippers and crew for a few minutes, and then went to bed.

LCYC has some of the best hospitality on the lake. They had given Iris her own slip with hydro, had adopted my crew and were great to us throughout our stay. I always like visiting there. Too bad it’s such a long sail across to say hi.

Saturday morning came early. The first event was a pancake breakfast complete with all the sides you could imagine. We ate our fill, got the boat set up, and were ready for the skippers meeting. Additional crew arrived, and now we had 4 aboard. Surely we would do well with so many helping hands. Jamie had only been sailing once before, but Eric and Austin were regulars.

At the skippers meeting the course was announced, rules were established, and then everyone rushed to their boats in order to be the first ones out to the course. The course for the first race was a long upwind haul to the Maynard’s Shoal Marker, then around Thorah Island, and finally back to LC where the committee boat would be waiting.

Before leaving I listened to the VHF for the marine weather forecast. They called for rising winds with a small craft warning. Previous experience had shown that the weather changes very quickly on the lake, and between Maynards and Thorah, you can get caught in some wicked winds. I decided to put up our 110% jib rather than larger sails just so we would be prepared when the wind piped up. This proved to be a critical error.

I don’t remember the start really well, except that it was a short line, we got to it early, then ran down the line. When the horn went we were beyond the pin and had to do a 360° turn to come back to the line. Sadly, when we did that, we managed to miss the line again, and had to do a second spin to get to the line. We cut the spin short to come out on port tack, and started the race in second-last place. We later found out that the boat that started behind us wasn’t even in the race, but out for a daysail following the course to see how they matched up with the raceboats.

The slog up to the Maynards shoal marker takes forever, and it felt like we were backtracking. We watched the rest of the fleet moving ahead of us, and usually felt like we weren’t pointing as high, going as fast, or catching up to them. A completely frustrating and humiliating leg. Adding to our frustration, the handheld GPS wasn’t showing our tracklog which I use to get a fix on my tacking angles. This led to a number of poorly planned tacks. I couldn’t get the GPS set right despite numerous attempts, and eventually I just used it to hold our bearing on the mark we were going for.

We rounded the Maynards marker, and could see 2 boats ahead of us. I was hoping that the reaching leg would be an advantage to us since Iris does well with the wind on her aft quarter. Sadly though, we had some pretty sloppy waves and the boats motion was at best confused. For the first time I felt nauseous on my own boat, and we weren’t catching up with the other boats at all. To make things worse we were now definitely in last place.

Through this leg we really needed the larger headsail. I should have bit the bullet and put up our mylar 155% but I feared the lost time from my brutally slow sail changing abilities, and the small craft warning kept ringing in my head. I handed Eric the tiller, and tried to get a pole set to hold out the sail, but it really didn't work well.

Through this leg, with Eric at the helm, things definitely went better. He was able to make up time on the backside of the island, and keep our course in the confused waves. I was also able to get know Austin a little. He plays in a band, and doesn’t need a bongo player. Good thing I never let on that my bongo skills aren’t really up to snuff.

To raise moral (and since folks were hungry) we broke out the food. Eric had brought some really good polish sausage and cheese we had tomatoes and lettuce aboard. Sandwiches it was, washed down with lemonade. Coke, or whatever. Ginger cookies for dessert helped calm troubled tummies. As we rounded the back of Thorah Island in relatively shallow water we felt like we had caught up a little on the boats closest to us, but the rest of the fleet was way ahead.

Behind Thorah the slop of the waves wasn’t as bad, and the wind began to move in different directions. The rest of the fleet had managed to sail to the finish on a long single tack, but by the time we reached this final leg, the wind had moved so that we had to tack about 5 times to reach the finish. To make things worse, there was a 30° oscillation in the wind so that we would alternately be headed and lifted on each tack. The oscillations were short enough that to tack on each header would have killed us. We just had to ride it out.

As we crossed the finish line, the committee boat packed up and followed us in to LCYC.

Once we finished, we headed into LCYC for the post race party which included a couple Dark & Stormy’s, then a dinner of perogies and cabbage rolls followed by much boasting and some awards. Again I went to bed fairly early, a departure from last year’s routine.

Eric and Austin headed back home since Austin had to fly to an exotic locale the next day. I had a really good time sailing with them, and look forward to the next race they can make it out to!

LSIS Race 1 Stats:
Distance Covered: 37.6 Statute Miles (Slip to Slip)
Time on course: 5:35:34
Corrected time: 5:01:12
Time out of 1st (Corrected Time): 1:06:48
Iris was on course 19.91% longer than the first place boat.

Course Sailed:

Day 2 of racing to follow…