Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Best Night Ever

I was down to the dock early on Monday evening and launched the dinghy in prep for sailing later in the evening. I floated around a little by myself and was surprised at how absolutely still it was. Even the three little cups on the club's wind gauge were overwhelmed by ennui to the point that they couldn't rotate for a while. You know it's still when those little tiny cups are too heavy for the air to move.

A little after five, some slight puffs arose and about five-thirty it felt like something was moving, so I went out again and sailed up and down a little under a little 3-5 kt breeze.

By the time Jared and Nathalie (Jared and Nathalie of Do You Know How to Sail? fame) showed up to sail with me, it had begun to fill in. We wasted little time on formality, hi, how are ya, and away we went.

The breeze was picking up and blowing a steady 5+ as we made our way across the river and then down toward the Greenway Marina. When we fell off and began the upriver/downwind run, the Lasers were out, swarming the midriver section outside the club docks. One guy sailed some circles around us, for whatever reason.

This would be the point in my post where I throw some barbs at the Tillerman and maybe invoke the Force 5 gods in their blogging persona (aka: Joe), however, those little Lasers looked kinda fun. I'm going about 275 (don't click that link ... really) these days, so wouldn't be competitive in the racing, but they look like they would be a great workout and exciting to zip around in. One of Shannon the Real Sailor's buddies, Tim, took one out when they were all done and he looked pretty thrilled. (See, I told you not to click that link.)

Shannon was serving on Race Committee tonight; he and Tim were plotting potential Laser ownership in the last conversation I overheard. Apparently, Thistle sailors aren't cursed with the same loyalty issues as some other one-designers.

We decided to try for the Sellwood Bridge, since it looked to be blowing just as strong down there. As we made our way down, only needing to jibe twice, the breeze filled in and was blowing a steady 10+. The downwind run was the first I've made in L & C in which I could feel a gusty apparent wind and the boat was throwing a nice double-vee wake.

We jibed under the bridge and tried to turn into the wind, but it seemed the jib was holding us up. I think it was probably a combination of me turning the boat too slowly and the crew attempting to pull the jib across too quickly. Whatever the case, after two attempts at turning through the wind on our port side, I changed course, fell off and came about the other way.

We tacked toward the center bridge support and scared Nathalie when the swirling winds wreaked havoc with the sails and our rapidly shifting and varying angle of heel, which all sorted itself out once we cleared the support.

We made two tacks back downriver/upwind and decided to furl the jib since it was hella blowing now, probably 12-13 kts. At one point, all three of us were up on the rail leaning out and hanging on.

This was truly the most fun I've had on the dinghy since we got it. Great night for sailing, which started so inauspiciously.

Back at the club we put the dinghy away and watched the Lasers finish their last race and head in. The club folks brought out the BBQs and we enjoyed a couple of beers and some burgers on the dock with the race committee and some other folks who showed up.

A stellar moonrise brought in a beautiful night. Nathalie was in France for a couple of weeks, visiting family and friends and at some point on our sail she said to Jared, "OK, I love you, Portland." I took it to mean that she had been a bit homesick for things French and she was just starting to come around. Later, on the dock, she said, "This is the best night since I got back."

Then I made her explain why French people express their affection by calling each other cauliflower.


Greg and Kris said...

That's Grace, the duty kitty at the club. Her sole purpose is to keep the nutria from climbing up into the boathouse and crapping on the deck.

She does her job well and reaps the rewards, too. That's one fat cat.

O Docker said...

Why not ask some of the Laser dudes along for some tips on how to handle stronger winds?

They might like a drier sail every now and then, too.

Does the boat have an adjustable traveler and outhaul that can be tweaked under way?

Greg and Kris said...

Bon soir, odee, no traveler, and limited outhaul capabilities. Underway, it's not practical to put a reef in the main, either.

Yeah, Tim had to go change his pants after sailing the Laser. It seems you're pretty committed to getting wet in those little things.

Tillerman said...

You really have to try out the Lasering scene Greg. With such a great bunch of Laser sailors at your club you are bound to learn fast and have a lot of fun.

As for being 275 (ouch - that link) I suspect I would probably weigh that if I hadn't taken up Laser sailing in my mid-30s. I'm not sure if Laser sailing keeps me fit, or whether it just motivates me to keep fit and to keep my weight down, but it seems to work. (Well... up to a point.)

And, hey, you're not going to be competitive in the racing your first year in the boat anyway so forget about your weight and have a go.

By the way, I think the French actually call their loved ones "little cabbages" which makes much more sense than cauliflowers. Or did your friend have a better answer?

Greg and Kris said...

I'll probably take one of those things out next chance. It looked pretty fun. :)

I have usually been around 235, and, when at my fittest, as low as 220. I was doing triathlons right up to age 41 and then a cellphone talker ran a red light and collided with my car. I was unconscious for about 10-15 mins, couldn't recall my name or address for a couple of hours afterward, and lost fitness (found more of me to love) over the next couple of year.

So, here I am now. I'm finding the sailing and time on the docks is inspiring me to get back to my old self. I dropped ten over the past six months, and hope to get more active as I prep for the annual surf trip to Hawaii in November.

However, I think those boats are probably most competitive in the 180 range. I won't see that again without some kind of catastrophic medical condition. When I was running half-marathons at 1 1/2 hour pace, I was 224.

Regardless, they look fun and I'm sure I'll give it a shot soon.

Tillerman said...

Don't worry too much about weight.

Sure, if you read some websites they will tell you what the ideal weight range for the Laser is but that really applies to the elites trying to win major championships. There are some pretty big guys sailing Lasers and some of them do pretty well at the club level, even in light air... and they can blow you away in heavy air.

I've fluctuated between 180 and 215 the last 10 years and, as far as I can tell, I suck just as much at Laser sailing whatever weight I am.

Nathalie said...

A great post Greg! I am looking forward to doing this again and this time learning how to jib gently like a pro!

You forgot the part when I busted out "Mooonn Riveeerrrrrr". Ha!

I need to bring the real camera next time, in a ziplock bag... The Iphone isn't cutting it.

Americans may call their loved ones "Pumpkin", why couldn't the French call their loved ones "Mon petit chou"? I think a small cabbage is much cuter than a big fat orange pumpkin...but what do I know?

jared said...

Thanks for the good times! I learned that I enjoy the feeling of a crisp pale ale between my toes. Next time, bottled drinks.