Saturday, February 28, 2009

House Project

We got up on Saturday morning with plans to clean house and do some errands. Bruce went to work in the garage checking under the hood of his new toy. I got out the vacuum cleaner and started cleaning up downstairs. I got as far as the cat closet and decided that it needed painting. So... out came all of the stuff. I cleaned the walls and took the shelves out. I scrounged around and found some left over primer but had to go to the paint store for the wall color. The old color was basic nicotine stain. It was a one-person job painting in the cramped closet.
I got the a primer coat on the walls and moved on to the atrium where I had the shelves ready to go. I had used the "liquid sandpaper" to prepare the oil painted wood for a new coat. I rolled on the paint and then used a paintbrush to tip the finish. Don't ever buy a cheap roller... they leave fuzz in the paint. But, it's only closet shelves so I didn't do anything about it. I'll never see them again anyway.
Next came the baseboards in the closet... also oil paint. This was the most tedious part of the whole project... keeping the baseboard and wall paint separate. I got one color and the oil on one side of the shelves before I was done for the day. I am using the same color as we have on the walls downstairs...wheat sheaf. It's actually not so far off of the nicotine color that was there, but it looks so much better already.

I finished up just in time to get ready to go to dinner with the BYC group. There was a cruise to the Crab N in Aransas Pass planned but we had not expected to bring Elan due over due to the ongoing varnish project. We joined the others driving over. We had never been there before and thought that the weather would keep the bunch at home, not so! There were probably over 40 people from our club there. There was only one couple that came in their boat. The winds were howling and it would not have been a great sail over. It was absolutely great food and we will go back again.

Friday, February 27, 2009

Mother's Birthday

I got off work at 3:00 and ran home to change clothes. Mark called to see what I was giving Mother for her birthday... always the last minute shopper he is. He mentioned that Clay was going to be at B&J's Pizza for a bit, so Bruce and I made our way over there. It's been a while since we saw Clay. He cut his hair!!! We had a drink and went our separate ways, leaving Clay behind to hang out with his other buddies.

We drove out to Mother's house in Calallen for her birthday party. It was a small gathering, just Bruce, myself, Mark & Nathan, Carla and Sonny. They had already had a party for her at the Senior Center at lunchtime. Bruce and I brought her a matching straw beach hat and bag, and a stained glass cross. I'm into stained glass... mother is into religion.
Nathan always gets into the opening of gifts. We brought him a little bath scrunchie for his bathroom. He loves getting things too.

We all loaded up and drove over to Cici's pizza for supper. It's one of Nathan's favorite places to go. I love the cinnamon bun thingies... I could eat my weight in them. We had some laughs and talked about old times and caught up on current events. I told them that they could always know what Bruce and I were doing if they would ever check
my blog!!!
Mark went off with Nathan to the arcade and was gone forever! I finally went after them so that we could go back to the house for cake! I got sucked in watching Nathan play the driving game. He's actually pretty good at it. It made me a bit dizzy to watch though.

We met up back at Mother's house and cut the cake. I had made it myself this year, choosing to do an old family favorite... pudding cake. It's so easy and so good. Make a box recipe of any flavor, I chose strawberry... poke holes in the top and pour liquid jello over it so that it sinks in... refrigerate to set the jello. Then prepare a box of pudding to spread over the top and then cool whip on top of that. Refrigerate and serve. It's always great!

It had been a long day for everyone and we broke up soon after the cake. We were all full as ticks after the double dessert. We went outside and showed Bruce's new toy to everyone. Again, you would know about this if you would read the blog!! He was proud to show off "The Beater". Another year passed! Happy Birthday Mom!

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

It's Never Too Late for a Mid Life Crisis!

I got a phone call at work today from Bruce. He doesn't call me at work much... a throwback from his years as a teacher where you only got emergency calls. So... I was curious... what was the emergency? He said to me... "I BOUGHT A CAR!"
Well, we had been discussing getting something for him to zip around in and getting rid of the motorcycle. It always makes me nervous for him to be out riding on the motorcycle. People don't see them and every time he's on it I'm waiting for "that phone call" somewhere in the back of my mind. So anyway, he had been looking around online and found some interesting prospects in Houston and San Antonio.
We had discussed only this morning that we didn't want a convertible due to the fact that it would be the same thing for me as it had been with the motorcycle... bad hair! I almost never rode the motorcycle with him because it gave me "helmet hair". So we could only ride around and never actually "go" anywhere on it. Well... obviously that discussion went out the window.
Here it is... the red convertible... we've named it "The Beater"! I'm sure I'll have a good time riding around in Bruce's little Mid Life Crisis.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Boat Project

Bruce has begun the biggest part of the refinishing job on Elan. He had previously taken the doors home to sand and refinish them and it took several weeks waiting for the right weather conditions.

He started working on the fixed interior parts last week and we went to the boat on Sunday to put the final touch on the prep so that he could begin laying varnish on Monday. Mark and Laura came out for a bit after having lunch at Virginia's. Laura was willing to take up the sandpaper but Mark wasn't... so they didn't stay long. We worked most of the afternoon. It's a big job as there is a lot of wood inside Elan.

The sanded wood looked blotchy and I was skeptical. But, after Bruce donned his has mat gear and went to work with the denatured alcohol to clean and prep the sanded wood, it looked much better. We got most of the cleaning and prep done. Bruce will tape it all off and begin laying varnish on Monday. Hopefully if the weather permits, he will have all of the base coats applied and we will do the final finish this coming Sunday.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Mardi Gras BYC Style

Saturday night we attended another BYC party. I think I'm beginning to notice a trend here... It was Mardi Gras. Of course Bruce and I had no idea what to expect and when I enquired as to the attire for the evening, I was told vaguely... your best Mardi Gras attire. Well this brought to mind costumes and masques and beads and bare breasts. So, we decided to play it safe... a goofy hat and beads for Bruce... a chance to go out in my feather boas for me! A girl must take every opportunity to wear the boa!

Bruce's hear sank as we walked towards the dock. I had extracted a promise from him to keep the hat on "no matter what". There were no others wearing anything remotely... shall we say "appropriately celebratory". Oh well... I had my promise! Things eased up for Bruce once we got inside the clubhouse however, there were decorations everywhere as well as people in hats (even goofier (cooler) than his). Beads were handed around and after declining the 4th offer as they would clash with my boa... I finally accepted my share.

We had a great cajun dinner hosted by the "good" Captain Ron and his family. He evidently has some cajun blood coursing through his veins that was put to good use in the provision of dinner. Even the grandbabies got in on it. Free labor... what can you do?

After dinner, everyone mixed and mingled to the music. I got to hear Carrie's story about their new boat. It's in Guatamala awaiting the Spring when they can go and bring it back here. Bruce and I are jealous!
Wine was plentiful. We have had to make a pact that we drink one water between every alcoholic beverage. I just limited my intake to avoid the Sunday morning headache. (I didn't say hangover) We left relatively early for the crowd, before 10pm, but this is late for Bruce and I. We'll have to work up to the late crew. Ya gotta have goals!

UK Halsey Racing Rules Seminar

This Saturday afternoon, the local sailors were treated to a free seminar on the new 2009 Racing Rules. It was an excellent opportunity for people like myself, who have no clue... to begin to get one. CCYC hosted the event for members of the local MORF club as well as those from BYC and anyone else interested in sailboat racing.

We met in the upstairs dining room of the CCYC and spent the next two hours enthralled. The presentor was Butch Ulmer, from UK Halsey sails. Here is the link to their website. They have created an online tutorial with clips of boats in different scenarios with Q&A to teach the proper sailing rules. It was very easy for a beginner like myself to understand but as the day wore on, I became more and more sure that I would never be the one calling the shots in any race.

After the session, there was time for chit-chat.

Bruce met up with one of the MORF board members to turn in some homework that he had been working on for the club.

It was all good. Jacquie asked me if I had "got all of that". I confessed that a lot of it was making sense to me until they started saying things like "if in this situation these rules apply but in this other situation, all those rules go away and this one applies". Yes, it was written by a man. But, I think in our situation... non "one-design" racing... common sense will get us through most of the time.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

One Man's Movement is Another Man's Drift...

This Wednesday Night Race in Corpus Christi began with relatively light air, and progressed to relatively NO air! We had our best start position ever for the crew of Cute Shoes. We were above our fleet and held our position out the gap. We kept the competitors where we wanted them as they tried to eak up on us from behind.

There was a beautiful view of our beloved city as I glanced behind to see the spinaker fleet start. Jacquie has been putting in the hours on the boat and has learned very quickly where everything is and how it all works. She is almost a one-woman-show! This is lending well to my goal to become the crew photographer with a minor in ballast! Bruce, Steve and Jacquie did most (all) of the crew work tonight while I was moved from one position to another in order to maintain optimal balance in the light air. Light air racing is an art and requires different stratagies from our normal heavier air racing.

As the race wore on, we made it out to the windward mark, #3 and rounded in good position. The fleet was all over the place. Several spinaker boats had rounded and popped their chutes. It was dark by this time but I got lucky and was able to get one acceptable shot to show you here. We began the race towards the finish with steadily decreasing winds. Before the end, we had barely enough wind to move. We could see even the spinaker boats off in the dark barely able to make their boats go even with their bigger sails... how could we expect to ever make it in. We laughed as we barely moved along ... Steve had to go below and I was left with the helm. I had my doubts but with these "winds" how could I mess it up. I was nervous at first but then it got fun! Maybe I could be a "tiller girl" yet!
We tried everything to get some foward motion. We flopped the sail from one side to another. I held the main out to the port side as the jib hung lifeless! "WE'RE MOVING" I cried!! "WE'RE DRIFTING" Steve countered!!! We eventually made it in through the gap and headed up towards the finish line. Milky Way started their engine just at the gap. We couldn't figure out why... they had made it all the way there, why throw in the towel just when it got better? Oh well, we finished and we're happy. Motto of the race... "One Man's Moving is Another Man's Drift"

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Engine trouble

Sunday morning Bruce and I awoke again to the sound of thousands of birds squawking and chirping all over the marina. We took a short walk to get them for you here. The effect of the sheer number of them all over the boats and marina, not afraid of us as we walked into their midst, is enough to creep anyone out. Steven King would love this.

I apologize for the bumpy video as I walk.

We had some engine trouble at the end of the race on Saturday, but Bruce put off worrying about it until today. After breakfast with the BYC group at their favorite down town Mexican Food place, he stood on his head in the engine compartment diagnosing the problem.

I was called upon with my smaller fingers to help in the cramped space.

Bruce and I talked (argued) it out and finally agreed after replacing the ($65 a pop impeller to be on the safe side) that the engine seemed to be sucking air in through the cap on the canister which holds the crud basket for the raw water intake system. The engine sucks in water from the outside through a hole and strains it through a basket so that no seaweed and such can get into the engine. This strainer has an access cap so that it can be checked and emptied. The lid has a gasket which was not (it seemed) sealing properly.

So, I found a piece of neoprene coozie thingy and cut out a crude gasket. Thanks West Marine for giving us this sacrificial freebie. We put it on and started up the engine... it worked!!!

You can just see it sticking out from under the cap, but you get the idea...

And then it quit working. But we now knew what the problem was. All we needed was some cork gasket material to make a real gasket. Luckily we had the van, thanks to Steve. We went to town for a sheet of cork and rubber gasket material and then to the house so that I could make the gaskets. I cut out 3 so that we would have spares.

We went back to the boat and installed one, and it worked! Off we went. It was 3pm and we had to make our way upwind back to Port A... not a minute to spare. We had a really beautiful sail making our way to marker 43. At that point we again started the engine. Our gasket wasn't working!!! Oh NO!! so back up with the sails that we had begun dropping... and Bruce went below to install a second gasket on top of the one. This worked and so we doused the sails and motored our way slowly up the channel with the wind on our nose. Luckily the tide was slack to slightly favorable. It was a long slow slog as I was charged with listening to and watching for the water spurting from the outlet behind the boat to make sure our gasket continued to work. It did... and I gradually relaxed enough to enjoy the night transit. We really love the chart plotter as it makes night sailing (or motoring) really not a problem. We had no channel traffic until right near the ferry crossing when we had 2 other (bigger) boats pass us. We were well over to the green side and they caused no stress.

We parked Elan in her slip right at 9pm. A long day. We quickly put everything away, gathered our stuff and headed home. We would pick up the van at the CC Marina on Monday morning.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Valentine's Day 2009

Bruce and I spent a cozy night aboard Elan at the CC Marina and awoke to the sound of birds. We took a cup of coffee in our favorite boat cups and strolled around the marina. It was cool with light winds and fog. I had some fun trying to be one with the seagulls. We had breakfast on the boat and straightened up a bit in preparation for our first race with BYC.
We met up with the bunch at BYC at about 10:30 and waited for the skipper's meeting scheduled for 11 am. Steve and Jacquie were returning the favor and had signed on as crew for the race on Elan.
The race was planned as a "persuit" or "staggered" start which means that the handicap was applied at the beginning of the race. Boats followed one another across the start line at precise intervals based upon their individual handicap. This makes for a more exciting finish as you know how you did by what place you actually cross the finish line.
But I'm getting ahead of myself... The winds were blowing a bit and from ESE when we went into the skipper's meeting. The course was planned for that but when we came out to begin the race, the winds had begun to blow from the North and were stronger. Bruce had taken the headsail down to change it out. He decided to use the 140 headsail thinking that the winds would die down. We had some trouble getting the sail raised as the minutes ticked on towards our start time. As the 9 boats entered in the race jockeyed for position before the start, we passed Starfish, a Catalina 36, that seemed to be in irons... this means they had stopped moving and had lost control. We looked back at them after hearing a loud THWACK!... to see them drifting away from the bulkhead leaving a white mark on the cement and a wedge shaped chunk missing from their hull. Our hearts sank! The race was over before it began for the crew of Starfish.
We continued on... wondering all the while what had happened to cause this. The winds were coming straight from the direction we all wished to go. This is difficult to deal with as there isn't much room to maneuver inside the protective breakwater surrounding our marina. Elan was the last boat in the staggered start. This means that we were expected to be the fastest and be able to catch up to all of the other boats. We were about a minute and 15 seconds late in crossing the start line. Strike one! But as we began to make way towards the gap, the wind shifted and allowed us to go straight at it, unlike the boats before us who had slowly tacked in that direction.

There were three boats converging on the narrow gap at about the same time. We looked on at them from our closing position and realized that one of the boats was beginning to drift back with no control right in the gap! Before we knew it, one boat unavoidably plowed it's anchor along the side of the stalled boat, taking out the stanchions as they collided. The stalled boat had some damage to the rigging as well. We stared in horror as our friends on Sea Flight sailed right across above this carnage. From where we were, it didn't look like there was any way for them to avoid being one of the casualties but they broke free and went off unscathed. We made the decision to break away to avoid joining the fray and had to go way off course and come back up after the two damaged boats limped back to their slips. That's 3 down before leaving the gap!
We lost many minutes avoiding the carnage which, added to our bad start, almost assured us of not winning this one. But, you never know in sailboat racing. We got out of the gap and were off on our way trying to play catchup to the fleet. We had already beat Steve up with all of the drama and maneuvering. He was drenched in sweat and stripping off layers of clothing.
We were off in persuit and things were feeling good. The large sail was trimmed well and the boat was bounding along. Steve was invaluable as he continued to evaluate sail trim and make subtle adjustments to get all we could out of what we had. We wouldn't have been able to do it without Steve and Jacquie! We rounded number 5, the furthest mark in this race, without any further drama. We were steadily making up ground on the other boats.
I got to take the helm for a while after the rounding as we searched for the next mark, #3. We had to take unusual measures with our sails to get every bit of wind. Here is Bruce using our boat hook to push out our jib. Is that even legal??? We (mistakenly) followed several other boats until we realized that we were going (shall we say) the long way. We adjusted course and quickly made it to the mark. We got there ahead of the boats we had been following since they had gone further off course than we had.
Once we rounded the final mark it was head-for-the-gap Katie-bar-the-door! We were eaking up on our competition and this was basically our last chance. The first and second place boats were taking each other up. This was good for the third place boat but not good enough for us to place. We just couldn't get closer than 4th. Well, we were OK with that. Had we had a better start, we might have placed third, but that's sailboat racing. We had all had a great time and a wonderful exciting day.

We went back to the slip and put the boat to rights. Steve, Bruce and I met up with some of the other racers over on the BYC pier. We gathered around the damaged Starfish to get the gossip. Here is a shot of the divit. It looks bad to me but others say that it isn't structural and that a bit of fiber glass will have it fixed right up. I feel so bad for the owner.

Here is a quick pic of our friends Mark and Brenda who had narrowly escaped the 2nd disaster in the gap. They told us that they weren't as close to the collision as it looked from our vantage point. But it was still hair raising for them.We spent the afternoon shuttling cars with Steve's help. We had one bit of bad luck after the race. When we started the engine on Elan, there was no water coming out which means that the engine could overheat. We would need the van around so that we could go for parts on Sunday. I couldn't believe Bruce was not worried about it. But... we had partying to do. After a (very) short nap, we dressed and went back to the BYC clubhouse for the Valentine's Day Social. There was a mile of junk food waiting for us from fried cheese to chocolate covered strawberries. What more could a girl want for her V-day dinner? Well, that would be to spend it with new friends...And old ones... Here are Brenda and I well into our cups of wine! It was love all around!

There were some brief announcements to be heard. Joe's Crab Shack has agreed to be our sponsor for this year's BYC race series. They gave some prizes to be awarded after the race. Chip, the owner of the boat that had the "bite" taken out of it, won the best prize of the evening. He accepted graciously but declined making a speech! He was a very good sport and I'm not sure I could smile like he was were I in his place. Please visit Joe's and tell them BYC sent you!

People began to leave as the party came to a close. Bruce was ready to slink off to the boat to crawl back in bed... but I hadn't had this much fun in a long time. I didn't want to leave. The die hards hung out and discussed the problems of the world and a good bit of gossip. I think we're really going to like this bunch. Finally, Bruce threatened to leave without me, so since the wine was gone... I consented to accompany him. We tottered off to the boat and fell into deep happy slumber. It had been a VERY good Valentines Day!

Friday, February 13, 2009

Friday the 13th!

I had a great day at work on this Friday the 13th. I was in high spirits when I left there to rush home, throw some food into the ice chest, clothes into a duffel bag and then off to Port A and Elan.

Bruce and I were out of the slip by 5 pm headed up the channel for Corpus Christi. We listened to my new fuze and thrilled to the dozens of dolphins that kept up with us most of the way to the bay.

It was an absolutely perfect evening and a fabulous sail. Not so bad for a Friday the 13th. We had fair winds that took us towards our waiting slip at between 6 and 8 kts. We surfed the waves like a racer! It was a perfect way to let go of the work week and gear up for a fun filled Valentines Day weekend race.