Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Sailing Stories

I got called to the church at 11pm last night to deal with an unpleasant situation that lasted a few hours and wasn't resolved until the police finally showed up. Not a disaster, just unpleasant. And then I had to be at church early this morning to say the Contemplative Eucharist, so I compensated by leaving work early to do some errands in preparation for this weekend.

My mom is flying in on Friday to spend a few days. And what a few days it will be! Saturday is Rathnelly Day--a big all-day block party held every other year where we live. It's going to be a blast. This year is a pirate theme--so naturally I'll be in costume as an 18th century ship captain. The food contest this year is rum-drinks, so I whipped up a batch of Fish House Punch this evening. The distinct combination of brown sugar, lemons, rum, and brandy stirs up a lot of memories for me.

One of the steps in Fish House Punch is letting it cool down for a few hours. I spent the time profitably crewing another sailing race. It's amazing how convenient it is to go over to the club on the 4:45 Tender and come back on the 9:30. Plenty of time for beer-race-supper-beer. It was rainy and cool, but the wind was strong (15-20 knots) which made for some very exciting racing. As we came up to the line we were doing some very close quarters maneuvering. I was pretty busy on the bow keeping the jib lines from getting tangled and watching out for other boats that the skipper might not be able to see through the sail. Our timing across the start line was almost perfect except that we crowded a boat that had right of way, which is a foul.

Moments after that the gun went off and we crossed the line and were caught up in a hair-ball of boats. Twice we heeled the 27 foot Catalina over far enough to put a gunnel in the water. in one particularly exciting moment mid-tacking I had mere seconds to untangle a jib sheet from a stowed jib spar before the sail would fill and pull the line tight. In the process of freeing the sheet I managed to cut my finger pretty good, but didn't notice until I saw the blood on the mast where I had been holding on! Keep in mind the deck was slick with water! shortly after we decided to put the spar below, but then the skipper calls out, "15 seconds to tack," so I got that spar unlashed and below deck pretty quick!

Not long after that the guy working the winches in the cockpit took a bad step and sent the stairs into the cabin flying. When I went down there later to get first aid for my finger the place looked like a war zone--fenders and stairs and rain gear everywhere!

It was blast sailing a reach from the second mark. But as we rounded the third we found a problem with our jib and had to withdraw from the race. Bummer. But the three of us learned a lot and will definitely do better the next time out. These races are a just terrific fun and good exercise on a windy day. Now we are just hoping to have both beautiful sun and good wind!

Back at the clubhouse we warmed up with Ale and Shepherd's Pie. I felt like I had earned it!

Tomorrow... I have a job description to finish and I need to start thinking about my sermon for Sunday. There are a couple of other projects of a non-emergency nature that I should work on as well. Sigh.


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