Wednesday, May 26, 2010


As my Paternity leave (June, July, and August) draws close, I'm finding it harder and harder to concentrate on church-land. Yet, of course, there is lots to get done at the last minute before I leave. There are major decisions to be made about lots of little things. The Rectory needs repairs. The AC units in the church need servicing. I need to write a fundraising appeal letter that will go out this summer. I need to review our mailing list. Etc., etc.

But the summer is already starting. Toronto just springs to life as patios open and people start walking around in shorts and flip-flops. Me, I whip out my Hawaiian shirts and kilt (but not at the same time--my wife would kill me). I also start up my summer recreation projects--of which I have two: softball and sailing.

The softball season has started well. I meet up with a very, very informal group of guy and gals that meet on Monday nights in a local park to play ball and drink beer. It's not a very serious game, and we don't ask that people be good, but they do have to try! I've noticed that my skills are where I left them, they didn't degrade much over the winter break, which is nice. My hitting, in particular, is rapidly improving with practice.

Me lounging on the foredeck of my friend's boat the Peregrine.

The other weekly commitment I have in the summer is sailing. I crew for a friend as we race every Wednesday. Tonight was our second race of season, and we did pretty well. As usual, I serve on the foredeck (front of the boat) while the skipper manages the tiller (rudder) and another crew member handles the sail trimming. Tonight we also had an additional sailer at mid-ship. On our first race, we beat one boat out of the 7 we race against in our division. Tonight we beat two.

Now, in deserves mention that our boat is at a significant disadvantage. The rating system that handicaps different boat designs so that they can compete fairly in the same race is really not designed for short-course, inner-harbour sailing like the Wednesday night racing series at QCYC. The Peregrine (a roughly 7,000 lbs. 27 foot Catalina) has to race against Tanzer 22's (3,000 lbs) and Abbott 22's (also around 3,000 lbs). We can hold our own in heavy wind and distance, but these short courses in freaky Toronto inner-harbour wind favour smaller boats. It's just a fact. So we have to work very, very hard to be competitive.

So this summer Skipper Dave and his brave crew have a plan. First, we took several hundred pounds off the boat. Extra anchors, the water heater, and many other non-essential items were stowed on-shore. Next, we installed bubble levels in strategic locations so that we can see how the boat sits level fore and aft. We can move crew around the boat to change the weight balance to trim the boat favorably. We are also getting a new, custom sail (which should arrive in the next week). We've worked on rigging a whisker pole on deep reaches. We are working on getting our tacks smoother and our tacks sharper. These are relatively minor adjustments, but they have already made a huge difference. We are within sight of being in the middle of the fleet.

It seems like I'm asking a lot from Betsy and Henry--Monday and Wednesday nights--but on the other hand it's pretty much the only exercise I get. Betsy likes to say that I am a lot happier when I get to play softball and race on the Peregrine. I don't think it's much of a stretch to say that going outside and running around makes me a better father. And I do look after Henry when Betsy goes to book club or the gym!

Anyway, it's summer in Toronto and pretty soon I'm going to have a lot of time to be with Henry while Betsy works on her dissertation. Maybe I can get some more exercise by taking the little guy on walks? It's gonna be a great summer!


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