Friday, March 27, 2009

A Little Taste of Summer

Beautiful last night. No pictures, however.

It's spring break for public schools in Oregon, so the kids were out in force at the Oaks Park amusement park across the river from the boat launch. Lots of squeals and the occasional sound of the little roller coaster clinking along it's tracks.

Boats out fishing and a few wake boats out wreaking havoc.

The wind was light, but steady blowing up river (from the N) and I tried some wing on wing for about half the distance up to the Sellwood bridge, then switched over to a starboard broad reach. Gybed to port as I came under the bridge and then dropped the centerboard and rounded up as I reached the upstream side of the center bridge support.

I tacked back and forth about six legs and was lined up to reach straight into the boat launch when the wind clocked around a full circle, turning the boat with it.

After some drifting, circling, clocking, the direction finally settled on straight out of the boat launch (West) and I did my best to tack into the little leeway of the piers.

Furled the jib about a hundred feet out and dropped the main in time to touch the dock and step off like I knew what I was doing.

Finished up with a couple of pints of Mirror Pond at the downtown Fish House Marina floaty restaurant thing with a couple of real sailors I know.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Party Ending Soon

I imagine I appear to live somewhat of a playboy life, if one were to have tuned in over the past few months and took note of the days/times I was out there on the river sailing.

I went again today for an hour. It was just as squirrely as it was on Monday, with the wind clocking all over the place--at one point I was becalmed and as the wind came up and shifted 180-degrees, the boat began to move and then swang around through most of the points of the compass.

The current and tide were wreaking havoc out there also. I think the tidal bore was passing Willamette Park as I was launching and then sailing upriver.

What does it mean when the centerboard starts shuddering? That was a new one for me.

So, next Monday starts a new, full-time gig for me, requiring me to be in an office forty hours a week. Bleah.

I've been an independent for a long time and regular office hours have never been my style. Despite the economy, I've actually been thriving, with tons of work coming my way. However, my wife is a little nervous, so I took a full-time contract with a government agency to help ease her worries through the next year or two.


I expect the daysailing will become more of a dream. Maybe that'll be a good thing. Maybe it'll inspire us both to maximize our weekend time and get us closer to our sailing away date with the increased focus.


Playboy no more.

It *is* the Fitness

Homme de Taller has nailed something I've been thinking about a lot lately. Fitness is highly important in this sailing pursuit. Of course, his perspective on it is much more detailed, holistic, and authoritative, since, despite his self-deprecation, he's quite a serious sailor and, I imagine, a little more successful than he lets on.

I think the story is somewhere in the other blog, but I'm always ready to retell a tale, even when the protestations are coming fast and furious from my children.

I was in auto accident four years ago and had a steady fall-off in fitness. At the time I was returning home from a surf shop in Hood River with a newly repaired board and a new board strapped to the roof of the Vanagon; from what I hear, they made quite a sight flying through the mid-morning sky, with the Rose Garden as backdrop.

I ended up selling the new one and the repaired one and, since, have surfed only on family vacations to Hawaii, using a couple of my older boards.

At the time of the wreck, I was signed up for the Escape from Alcatraz Triathlon. I've done a lot of tris, mostly off-road, and had a very high level of fitness, completing a half-marathon in 1 1/2 hours.

My decline put me where I was this past christmas, nearly fifty pounds overweight. It didn't look too bad, since I'm 6'4 and can sort of hide it, but I certainly have looked better.

The sailing seems to have awakened me, however, and I've been at the gym regularly, mostly, I believe, in hopes of increasing endurance, strength, and general fitness to extend the sailing sessions as long as possible.

Six months ago, I would have guessed that the most attractive thing about the sailing was the martinis, or the Dark and Stormys.

Now, not so much.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009


So, my hat showed up. Turns out the North Sails folks who wanted to measure the boat are the same ones who deliver the hats for regional sailors with victories in the local regattas. They are the one's with jurisdiction (for lack of a better word) over my victory in the DR-1 class at the, ahem, Willamette River Winter Invitational.

There's the hat, a great little sailing bag, a sweet little clip-on penlight in the upper right attached to a zipper, some brochures and a card.

I'm not sure if it's readable here, so I'll recap. It's from Kerry and Amy at North Winds Canvas. They thank me for letting them climb on the boat; offer their hope that I'll enjoy the gifts; express some disappointment at not being able to hand-deliver my victory hat; congratulate me on my victory (cough, cough); casually mention that they have been "enjoying reading" this blog; and then state that "as WSC members, we concur that you should join the club ASAP."



I'm not sure what to think of this one. I got a call from the local yacht broker, asking if it was okay if he put the local North Sails folks in touch with me. Apparently they sold a cover for a Hunter 170 to somebody in Florida and they want to check the sizing to make sure they got it right.

I guess I'm one of the only people in the local area with an H-170, so they are coming over to my house to size the cover ... and they plan on leaving me a gift bag.

I wonder if it will have a hat in it ...

Adventures Downtown

Got the boat in the water around 11 on Monday. Shannon the Real Sailor was planning on meeting me for a little lunch cruising and I thought I'd go out and sail around a little before that.

The wind was very gusty and very shifty, clocking all over the place, but primarily coming downriver, from points South.

I ran downwind the quickest I've ever sailed that direction and even had apparent wind in my face when I looked back a couple of times. That was a new one for me, too. I'll have to look into a spinnaker for this thing.

I made the turn near the Greenway Boat Club and tacked back and forth across the river for a half hour, making no upriver progress at all. The wind was blowing hard enough, although not steady, but the current and tide seemed to be working against me.

Even though we are upriver from the Pacific somewhere around 100 miles, we are still subject to tidal flows. I think an outgoing tide, coupled with runoff from the weekend's rains created a big flush and this narrow little chute the river passes through at this point magnified the whole thing, resulting in me making no way upwind, even though I was creating hella wake behind me.

As always, my skill level may or may not have been a contributing factor.

I made a command decision at this point to head downriver and do the lunchtime sailing closer to downtown.

So, I fell off, raised the centerboard and double-winged it down river. There were a couple of stretches where the wind picked up and I was really moving, including some more of that apparent wind hitting me from behind. Around the bend I shifted the jib across and was able to point downriver on something more of a broad reach.

As I went by the Spaghetti Factory, I saw that their massive flag was so straight you could count the stars. Woohoo!

Astute readers will note the lack of photos from the early phase of this trip. If you check wind charts for the day; if you have recollection of the relative skill level of this blogger; and if you have the compassion to care a bit about how this adventure turns out, you'll put two and two together and arrive at the conclusion that I was busy. Too busy to bust out the iPhone, select the camera app and shoot pictures.

I was a bit nervous, too. The boat got up on the rail once, and I dived across, saying 'Oh no you don't!' as I got her back on a more reasonable heel.

The winds calmed as I got closer to downtown and I sailed into the little marina at Riverplace, where I debated staying put to wait for Shannon.

I decided to sail across the river to the PFD dock and hang out. I knew there was a Benson bubbler I could get some water from, and the car-parking is free on that side of the river, which would make it easier for my sailing mates.

They are hard to pick out in this picture, but just above the handrail are two PFD jetskis; one of which attended the initial capsize of this dinghy. I thought it was nice to get them together again today.

You also may note that the water is pretty glassy at this point. My crazy gusty day of squalls turned into the part between squalls and got very flat.

Eventually, Shannon showed up and helped me sail across the river to the floating bar/restaurant. We annoyed the hell out of a fisherman as we tried to make way up the dock on that side. I'm sure he thought we were intentionally harassing him as he tried to get dinner for his family, but it's all you can do to stay out of the current in very light air, while also trying to make way up the river. We finally made it up to the marina entrance, tied up and went inside, where we took refreshment and considered our options. Shannon had to go back to work, so I took a little more refreshment and considered my options a little more.

After hanging for a bit, I saw the wind had picked up again, so I launched. This shot is just upstream from the Hawthorne Bridge. I was able to make decent way until the Marquam Bridge, where the wind died on me and I drifted back under the bridge, headed downriver again.

About this time a group of rowers came out and lined themselves up, facing upriver from the Riverplace marina. I was drifting right in the middle of their course, apparently. They were very polite, without acknowledging me, and didn't show too much annoyance, as I shifted back and forth trying to find some wind.

The wind picked up slightly again, and I was able to make way under the Marquam again. I was sitting on the leeward side of the boat to help the sails fill out, when I got a strong upriver gust and I shifted to the windward side, pulled the centerboard up and set myself up for a downwind/upriver run.

I shot up to the Ross Island Bridge in less than five minutes, covering twice the ground I'd covered in the past hour.

Just as the wind picked up, my phone started vibrating. I ignored it until the wind slacked off again, just the other side of the Ross Island.

Shannon's voicemail said he was heading over to WSC to see if they'd lend him a Boston Whaler to come tow me. I took a picture of the sunset and a couple more of the river, as birds flew by.

The iPhone camera doesn't capture the details that well.

I tacked back and forth, slowly making way up the river. The wind was coming directly downriver, so it was difficult to cover too much ground direclty upriver.

The joys of river sailing.

The phone rang again and Shannon said the WSC guys were in the middle of a membership meeting and were willing to come pick me up, as long as I filled out the membership application they were bringing with them.

There was much laughter in the background and I suspected a lot of refreshment-taking was underway.

Eventually, Shannon and Dave from WSC showed up and asked me if I wanted a tow. It was still light out, but I was going to need another 2-3 hours of light at my current pace, to make the launch.

So, L and C got her first tow!

What started at 11a, ended at 6p, as I was cast off and slipped into the boat launch at Willamette Park.