Thursday, August 28, 2008

Wednesday night races

We sailed with Cute Shoes on the Wednesday night race. Our nemesis, Kinderspel was race committee so it was only Backorder and ourselves in our fleet. (can you call 2 boats a fleet?) The winds were probably 10 to 15 kts and it seems like we just couldn't punch through the chop to get going. We sailed a good course and finished before Backorder but I think we didn't beat them by enough go win on corrected time. It was a very relaxing evening.

Steve is making minor modifications and we are all still learning the boat so nothing is second nature yet, but we're making progress. It was a good way to break up the work week.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Battening down the hatch!

Sunday was a work day. We had a leaky hatch. Normally that isn’t a problem but with all of the rain we’ve had recently, it makes overnighting on the boat unpleasant. We had to fix it as it has become progressively worse. We only hope that it’s the seal on the hatch and not something much more insidious and sinister…

We had no trouble at all getting the screws out and prying the hatch off. I’m not sure if that is a good thing or a bad thing. We cleaned off all surfaces with denatured alcohol. I sealed around the inside where the gellcoat meets the teak molding with life calk.

Next we laid out a roll black of weather stripping that we had leftover from doing our portlights. It is great stuff. It comes in a big roll and is very easy to work with. We used an extra little bit on each screw hole, leaving two to use as guides, to seal around the screws. Then we replaced the hatch and used clamps to squish the weather stripping until we could get the screws to catch.

Bruce applied a bead of white lap calk to seal the outside edge. He then slowly and painstakingly applied the clamp and screwed in all of the screws. He did just a little at a time so this took forever. We quit when it seemed that the goo was squeezing out around the edges uniformly to form a seal. WE HOPE!!

Sunday, August 24, 2008

A very good day!

Saturday Bruce got up and left the house early to join the Wet Express crew for the final day of race week. I was left at home alone for a few precious hours to do “house stuff”. Bruce and I are so much together that it’s a rare thing to find myself alone.

But it didn’t last long… Steve and Jacquie picked me up to go help them break in a new outboard motor and to do some practicing on Cute Shoes. I had so much fun the last time and today was no different, although it was a much more relaxed time, not being a race. We did some minor boat chores and motored around for nearly an hour before putting up the sails. This was no bad thing as it’s always pleasant to be out on the water enjoying the view of our skyline. It was cloudy so it was very comfortable out on the boat.

Steve worked Jacquie and I hard for a while…tacking this way and jibing that way and doing it all over and over again. He’s trying to work out his systems on the boat. It was fun though, as tacking the smaller boat isn’t nearly as strenuous as tacking a larger boat. I was enjoying having some “hands on” experience. We simulated a race start. We didn’t do too badly.

We kept our eye on the last of the Race Week races and were there at the finish when the boats came in. I took some pictures from afar. Part of me had minor twinges of regret that I hadn’t chosen to do the race, but only a very small part. I thoroughly enjoyed my day with Steve and Jacquie.

Bruce came to collect me when we came to the slip and we went over to CCYC for the awards ceremony. The guys thought that they had done a bit better than they did. They all agreed that as badly as the race had gone on Wednesday night, that’s how well it went on Saturday. The crew all felt that they had sailed well, but the other boats had sailed better. They lacked a #1 jib for the first two races in light air. Using a #2 jib they managed 2 6th place finishes. The third race was better as the wind picked up they moved up to a 4th place finish. The overall win went to Passion, a Santa Cruz 50 who had finished 4th in this year's Trans Pac race. A good time was had by all and it was a very good day! Now they’re all fired up to do the next race…the Bill Best Memorial Regatta in 3 weeks.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Rock Star...singular!!!

Friday evening’s event was the 420 Dinghy races. There were 7 boats entered in Race Week. Our guy, John, was on boat #3. I’ll have to say that however badly he did on Wednesday night, he more than made up for it on Friday…
Bruce and I met the rest of the captains and crew members out at the end of the CCYC dock to spectate. Passion was there with the boat tunes going. There were libations for all. We had hoped that the forecast rains would hold off and they did.
John and Desiree started off together but as most of the other boats opted for single handing, the decision was made for Des to step aside to let our Dinghy Champion see what he could do. Only 2 of the 7 boats kept a second man aboard. This proved disastrous for both of them
The first race we were challenged by Blue Max’s crew, but probably due to the fact that there were 2 aboard, they dropped back by the end. The rounding of the near mark was a bit dicey as there was a near collision when the coming boats met the going boats. This was very exciting with shrieks from the crowd. The Blue Max boat cleared the way for our Rock Star to battle it out with our home grown king-of-the-bay, Doug, and our resident 1979 World's champion fin class sailor, Mark Foster. It was close but John won in the end. Things were looking up.
The second and third races were both a battle of wills and skills between John on #3 and Doug on #2. This was how it went the rest of the evening and that’s how it ended up.
During the course of the evening, we had the usual coming and going of the local shrimpers which brought the scavenger pelicans down upon us. A couple of guys on one boat had some fun sailing through the middle of them. Boys will be boys…
The crowd of spectators were all asking who this guy was who came in and swooped up all of the first place bullets. John did a great job. So it’s Rock Star….singular!

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Annapolis Rock Stars...

I’ve become quite the fair weather sailor in recent years but Bruce still hungers for the win. When our friend John invited him to join his crew for this year’s Race Week on Wet Express II, a Danish made Express 41, Bruce was interested. When John told him that he had a crew of “Rock Star” Annapolis boys lined up to sail the abbreviated schedule, Bruce was in!

These boys came over from NAS Kingsville to help John win! Bruce asked me and our friends from “Cute Shoes”, Jacquie and Steve to come with him to help fill out the crew. Now I knew that these guys were going to be a bit rowdy and would sail to the limit, but the winds were forecast to be manageable and the rain had stopped so I went along with it. Besides, these guys were “Rock Stars”…right? I had to see them in action.

We had a good start, the boys were fussing around getting things in order so there was very little for Jacquie and I to do…we were boat fluff for this race. They boys were sailing aggressively at the start, taking another boat up and holding their ground on the rules. This was not just a Wednesday night race, it was the first race of the series. We came round the green can and hardened up to sail out of the gap in good position when suddenly, we came to a squishy but undeniable stop. Our gap has a bump that was apparently unbeknownst to the rock star.

We watched as the other boats sailed lightly past us with looks of pity upon their faces. Oh the shame!!! Our rock stars began to try to maneuver the boat off the bump but it wasn’t until all of the other boats had sailed off towards the mark that we bounced off. Well, it was not over yet!! We re-set the sails and got into our positions on the rail and so forth to try to repair the damage. We were off…when the jib began to delaminate. It seems that when the rock star tried to backwind the jib to get us off of the bump, he did some damage to the jib. What else could go wrong!!?? Given the huge storm clouds building all around us with the lightening and thunder…we were afraid to ask out loud.

We brought down the sail and voted that we abandon the race. The 150 class boats were already passing us on their way back in. It was over. The rock stars had done us wrong. I had sailed on Wet Express for many years and this was the least successful ever. But, as they say… if you can’t say something nice… Well…nobody died!

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Rained Out!!!

Bruce and I hit the road to Port A Friday night after work. We had no plans!!! The night was beautiful and peaceful. There was no fishing tournament in our marina this weekend so we had it nearly all to ourselves. The moon would be full on Saturday and we thought we might sail over to Mud Island on Saturday and anchor.

Saturday morning weather forecast was uncertain so we took off on an early morning bike ride to the beach. We played around with the camera and rode our bikes to Barnacle Bill’s on Horace Caldwell pier for breakfast.

After taking the long way back to the marina through Port A, we took a chance on the weather and set out along the coast for a sail. The water was absolutely beautiful. We were sailing along relaxing when we looked back to see huge thunderheads building. We turned around and came in. It didn’t rain but it was very humid and hot so we spent a lazy afternoon avoiding the heat and had sundowner Bahama Mammas on the deck when it cooled off in the evening. We went out to dinner and listened to music from the Back Porch across the marina until bedtime.

We were awake at 3 am with a leaking forward hatch. The sky poured for a solid hour during which we tried to keep our bed from being soaked. It’s always something with sailboats. Now we will have to take the hatch off and reseal it but the promised rain kept us from it this weekend. For now its just damage control.

The rain continued until we finally threw in the towel (so to speak) and left for home at around 11am on Sunday. We came back to Corpus and did some errands. We ran into our slip-mates at Half Price Books. We shopped for great bargains at Boater’s World. The afternoon was productive after all. We’ll try again next weekend.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Latts & Atts

Every month I eagerly await the arrival of the next issue of Latts & Atts. This month was no different. I checked online and found that the 100th issue had just come out. We usually get ours in the mail just before you can view it online. So, I expected to find this month’s issue when I got home today. I was not disappointed.

I have sent in a few pictures in hopes of seeing one of my favorites appear in the center picture section of the magazine. Today, I quickly flipped to the center pages to pour over them to see places we have been and things we have seen. There was a very provocative picture of a woman laying next to a window with a Caribbean view, obviously on a boat. I showed it to Bruce teasing him about how he has probably already scoped it out. He said, you think that’s good, look on the next page. I turned and found a picture of my daughter, Brittney wearing a hat made of a palm leaf. It was taken while were in Belize for her 21st birthday last October.
There she was...we had finally made it! We’re published! I was so excited. I’ll be sending links out to all of my friends and will be buying extra copies. This is the picture and here is a link so that you can all see the other pictures mentioned. Look on page 77 of the September edition.

Oh, and the picture my husband was talking about is of the mother/daughter shower on page 76. He didn’t notice Brittney was in the magazine. Man is he in trouble!!!

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Cute Shoes

It has been months since Bruce and I participated in the Wednesday night races here in Corpus Christi. We do our committee duty a couple of times a year, but since we moved our boat to Port Aransas, we haven’t really done much club racing.

Our friends Steve and Jacquie have been working on their new-to-them Ranger 26 in their back yard for 15 months. Today was the maiden Wednesday night race for “Cute Shoes”. Bruce and I were honored to be the chosen ones to go out with them.

Steve has done a marvelous and meticulous job in bringing this unloved boat to it’s present pristine condition. I will admit that he is more picky than I am when it comes to his boat. He has practically rebuilt it from the keel up. We had a great time tonight in close boat-to-boat racing on the bay. Thanks Steve and Jacquie!

Meeting the boyfriend

Tuesday night my oldest daughter, Melissa, brought home a boy. Melissa lives and teaches in San Antonio, TX. She drove down for the night and we made coconut shrimp from the Polly Anna, a local shrimp boat out of Port A. This is always a treat for out-of-towners.

B.K. is from Iran. He and his family moved to San Antonio about 3 years ago. Last Christmas, they moved out to Los Angeles to live in an Iranian community so that his mother could get medical attention.
It was nice to meet B.K. and we enjoyed an evening of conversation about the differences in our cultures and countries.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Anniversary Wine Making

I’ve been working on the labels for the batch of wine Bruce and I are making. We went to San Antonio for our 4th Anniversary which was back on July 18th. We had heard from one of the couples on our dock, about a place called Water 2 Wine. We decided to go check it out.
First we had a wine tasting. Bruce and I had discussed it before hand and had narrowed it down to three preferences: Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, or Shiraz from Washington, Chile, or Australia. So we began by tasting all they had along those lines. We did venture out and taste other things they had, but our uncontested favorite ended up being a Cabernet Sauvignon-Shiraz blend from Australia.
Next, we put on aprons and got started. It’s appallingly easy to make a batch of wine. Sadly we didn’t get to mush the grapes ourselves. They come in a bladder full of juice made from the grape of your choice. I guess there are different additives depending upon which wine you choose, but the ingredients in our wine were few.
We began by putting about 2 to 3 inches of water in the bottom of a plastic pickle bucket. Next, we added a small packet of grey powder, which is essentially clay, to serve as a “base” and mixed it very well with a paddle. Meanwhile, we were hydrating 2 pouches of oak chips. One was practically sawdust, the other would make a very nice landscaping mulch. The grape juice, which was rather concentrated, went into the bucket next. Once the oak chips had been soaked in hot water for a few minutes, we added them to the juice, mixing constantly. The oak chips give the wine that oak flavor that was once derived from being aged in oaken barrels. The “hint of oak’ flavor in wines is really just that… the flavor of oak!
The sugar level was tested and a bit more water was added. Then I sprinkled a small packet of yeast over the top of it all and that was it for now. We then put on the lid, which had a little device which allowed the wine to burp without air coming in. Our wine will sit for 45 days during which our tender will strain it a couple of times. Late in the process, she will add the sulfites as preservative. Only a small amount as Water 2 Wine prides themselves that their wines contain lower levels of sulfites as compared to shelf wines. This is the ingredient that can give you that “wine headache”. The last ingredient to be added will stop the fermentation process and that’s it!
We have chosen to make 2 different labels. One will feature our sailboat, Elan, and the other will have the picture of a little yellow warbler that came to play with us on one of our short offshore jaunts a few months ago. I emailed the pictures in yesterday and eagerly await the label proofs.
We go back on September 6th for a bottling party. I can’t wait to see how it turns out!

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Saturday, August 9th, 2008

We met our new friends Mark and Brenda in Corpus Christi Marina on Saturday at noon. We sailed across the Corpus Christi Bay and up to Port Aransas on their Catalina 400. They have invited Bruce and I to sail with them in the 2008 Harvest Moon Regatta. (See the link at the bottom of my blog for the regatta) We have just begun to make our plans.

Saturday’s winds of 14-16 kts and very little chop on the bay made for a nice relaxing day out with the 150 headsail and a reefed in mast furling main. The boat is beautiful and has all kinds of things our boat doesn’t have so it was a real treat for Bruce and I. It was our first opportunity to get to know the boat a bit. Bruce was in his element tweaking and trimming and trading sail trim secrets with Mark and Brenda. We seem to be in agreement that we trim for comfort!!

We wiled away the afternoon in Port A with margaritas in the blender and chatting in the cockpit until time for dinner. We prepared a scrumptious dinner on Sea Flight and crawled back to Elan near 11:00. A very long and wonderful day!

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Sunday August 3rd Navy Day Regatta

Sunday we were back out there with the second day downwind race beginning at noon. We only lost one crew member, Tricia due to sunburn. This race is helmed by Navy personnel. Our regular crew member who satisfies this condition was unavoidably called to the Pentagon the previous week and so, could not be with us. We missed Matt and his wife Melissa Ann terribly. We had two very nice young men, Nick and Thomas, on loan from NASCC. Neither of them had any sailing experience.

We started the race with Bruce directing the crew and myself directing Nick at the helm. After we got under way and everything was settled on the foredeck, Bruce relieved me directing the helmsman. Nick gave up his spot to Thomas shortly after the race began. It’s very stressful to start a race if you have never sailed a boat before. I think we wore Nick out early on. Both Nick and Thomas did a great job!

The race back to Corpus Christi was relatively uneventful. The crew languished on the foredeck trying to stay in the shade of the sail. The guys in the cockpit, poor souls, melted in the sun for the duration of the race. We stayed on the inside of the fleet the whole way. Warrior, the second place winner from day one, swooped up to pass us and won first place. We had to settle for second place on Sunday but it was no burden. Unbelievable to place on both days on Elan! It brought back memories of our early days on Lady Jane and the White Pepper, where Bruce and I met as crew members.

The party at the CCYC was great fun as usual, relaxing in the pool, horsing around and catching up on all of the sailing gossip from other boats. We bestowed the 2nd place trophy on the helmsmen as is customary for the Navy Day Regatta. It’s nice that some things never change. This regatta is one of them. Thanks to all of our crew and friends for a dream come true for Bruce and I on Elan!