Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Picture This: September Song

Last Saturday, we went out sailing and took our friends Rick and Sue. Had a great day introducing them to sailing. They had a blast.

While we were out there, we crossed paths with Étoile. Marcel and Barbie snapped some photos of September Song. Anyone who owns a boat will tell you it's difficult to get pictures of your own boat because you are usually on board.

Next time I'll have to remember my good camera so I can return the favor!

Friday, May 22, 2015

Man's best crew

I've been extremely busy with "life" lately and haven't had time to write much. In my absence, I want to share something that made me smile, which hasn't happened much lately. We have two dogs and enjoy taking them on the boat with us, but they're definitely not this helpful while on board! Enjoy - and have a great holiday weekend!

Tuesday, May 12, 2015


Last summer I started crewing on a friend's boat in the Wednesday night races on the Patapsco River. They have a beautiful Jeanneau 33iP named Étoile (pronounced ey-twal) that is only a couple of years old. Like most racing associations in North America, we race PHRF so all the different boats in the area can have fun competing against each other. For those of you who don't know, PHRF is a handicapping system that attempts to level the playing field between boats of different sizes, designs, and manufacturers. The PHRF system is somewhat controversial among racing sailors due to the arbitrary way that the numbers are determined.

Last year we were getting beaten like a drum every week, partly due to the fact that there are very few boats of this make and model to help the regional PHRF officials compare for a proper rating. Our handicap number was too low, and we were losing ground every week. Going back through last years results, we were near the bottom of the standings every week. Over the winter, the owners of Étoile, Marcel and Barbie, appealed to the local PHRF regional association with all of their race data and supporting documentation. They were trying to illustrate to the board that our rating of 120 was too low. After much back-and-forth, and comparable rating info to other Jeanneau boats of similar size in other regions, the board relented and assigned Étoile a new rating of 144. That works out to an additional 24 seconds per mile of time taken off after the finish.

Also, over the winter Barbie and Marcel outfitted Étoile with a new set of Fusion M® carbon fiber sails from Quantum Sails Annapolis. These sails are night and day different from the stock sails provided new with the boat from Jeanneau. It's like the difference between buying a suit off the rack at the department store and going to a tailor to have a suit custom made to your exact measurements using only the finest materials. These sails fit perfectly and the boat performs so much better with them. The purchase was definitely money well spent.

Étoile crossing the finish line with a very happy crew!
This past week, in our first race of the year, we got off to a great start, picked the right side of the course, and stayed out of the worst of the foul tide that was fighting us. We noticed that the leading boat, Cecile Rose, rounded mark 1 on the port side. The route sheet specified a starboard rounding. More on that in a minute...

We managed to stay within a reasonable distance of the leaders and did not allow anyone to overtake us. We crossed the line 3rd overall. Cecile Rose was ultimately penalized with a RAF (Retired After Finishing) for rounding a mark the wrong way. Basically, RAF is used when a skipper breaks a rule during the race and does not take the necessary penalty turns before finishing. RAF is sort of like forfeiting the race. The second boat across the line, Caribbean Magic, had a lower handicap number than us which meant that on this night they owed us over 5 minutes in corrected time. When the dust settled, the RAFs and handicaps were applied and we had slipped into the lead by 20 seconds. Somehow we had pulled off a win! First place on corrected time! What a great way to start 2015. Now we just need to keep it going...

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Karma's a "you know what"...

I'm sitting in traffic waiting at a red light waiting to turn to port. There are 2 lanes dedicated for port turns and one lane for going either straight or to starboard. I'm the fourth vehicle in the left lane amongst a LOT of cars.

The light changes to green and the first 2 cars in my lane move along. The guy in front of me is just sitting there. After a few seconds I give one of those polite little beeps on the horn. You know, kinda like “Pardon me, my fellow traveler. The traffic in front of you has departed and I'm not sure why this wasn't obvious to you, but perhaps now you might endeavor to get along as well so we all don't have to sit through this damn light again”.

I can see his eyes rise up to the rear view mirror and then drop back down towards his lap. Either he and his navel are deep in a very important conversation or he's texting. He either didn't notice that the light has changed and the cars in front of him are long gone or he is just an inconsiderate jerk. Either way, the light is green dude, lets get moving. So I lay into the horn in one of those prolonged blasts as the people behind me join in with their own chorus of horn blasts.

It's about this time that I realize that one of the cars in the adjacent lane has stopped next to me.  I look over and its a uniformed officer in a marked car. Right at this moment the genius in the car in front of me sticks his hand up through the sunroof and flips me off while still clutching his cellphone as he pulls away. I turn my head and pull my sunglasses down on my nose and stare over them at the cop. He gives me a smirk and pulls ahead of me as we make our turns.

He then proceeded to pull Mr. Cellphone over. While being fortunate to witness Karma dishing out a dose of cosmic justice I still had to gloat a bit. As I slowly rolled by Mr. Cellphone I gave him another toot on the horn and when he looked up I held my hand to my head and gave him the international sign for “call me”.

I'm pretty sure the rest of my day will be better than his.

Monday, May 4, 2015

Picture This: USCG Barq Eagle

Yesterday while out for a sail on the bay, I caught a glimpse of the Eagle as she was departing Curtis Bay, headed for New London, CT.
You can see more about the Eagle here: USCG Eagle