Monday, May 22, 2006

First Real Day of the Season 2006

This was an auspicious weekend! In fact, it was the 99th Going Into Commission Party for the City Island Yacht Club. It was great! Good food, good music, and of course, good company. It was a bit strange, however, getting dressed on the boat and stepping into the launch in a suit and tie.

Suits are not my thing. Really. Everyone who knows me knows that. So it was really unusual for me to wear it. But it was worth it.

This also meant there'd be 24 hour launch service for the season! And that, my friends, is terrific. No more buzz-kills swimming or kyacking back to the boat after an evening of heavy drink! No sirree, just saunter along the dock (nice and wide, new decking for the vertically challenged), wake up the launch driver, and try to tell them where your boat is without looking too foolish.

What a pleasure!

So after the party, I took the launch (did I mention, I could have taken it at 3:00am? Pick a time - I could take it!) to Inertia, and settled down for a wonderful sleep. The wind and water were just right, the temperature exquisite, all snuggly in my sleeping bag.

When I arose around 9:30, I noodled around, made some coffee, added a splash of solar powered refrigerated half and half, and listened to NPR. Around lunchtime, I closed up the boat, summoned the launch, and toddled off to the club for a bite of lunch.

After a terrific hamburger, I decided to go home to start work on Laura's dodger - I'm replacing the eisenglas on the sides and adding a new through-window port for her preventer. I've got most of the idea down, but am working on a way to prevent the preventer from wearing through the protector again and allow a flap to seal the hole when the preventer isn't rigged.

We'll see how successful I am. What I need is a bigger sewing machine, but I'll tax this one (a Kenmore) for a little longer.

Pictures when done!

The Memorial Day Weekend is shaping up nicely. Friends at different ports - should be fun! I'll probably go to the boat Friday and maybe sail to Connecticut to meet them.

Pictures when done, and more adventures!

See you on the water!

Monday, May 15, 2006

A Wonderful Sail

I suppose after my rant I should get back on track here. It's easy enough after all. I mean, how can you hold any anger when sailing with the boat humming along?

This June I'll be taking my first offshore passage of any length from Bermuda back to Staten Island, NY (just past the Verrazzano Bridge) in New York Harbor. It is about a five day trip. This will decide, in some way, my future. Do I cruise to the Caribbean? To England? To the Mediterranean? Or do I sell it all and get a small but functional RV and travel Canada, the United States, and Mexico? Hmmm?

One of our crew members for the trip back is Julie whom I invited for a sail. She's very much into weather predicting and routing and celestial navigation. Still, when you go offshore with an unknown crew, you'd like to know that they're someone you can depend on. And of course, I'd like her to know the same, so going for a sail was a pretty good way to introduce ourselves.

The day was cloudy, but comfortable in the mid sixties with the wind predictably nowhere near NOAA said it would be - out of the east-southeast at about 10 to 12. In other words, perfect to see how the boat really handles with the new sails. It's the first time I've been able to sail for an extended period on one tack or another and fiddle fart around with the trim.

So we sailed off the mooring, around the southern tip of City Island, up between Hart Island (Potters Field) and City Island, through the channel between David's Island and
Hart Island, down to Manhassett Bay, back north of Execution Rock Light, southeast to Hempstead Bay, and then wing-on-wing back to City Island Yacht Club.

The sails handled magnificently, although I'd like the clew of the jib to be a little higher so I don't have to skirt it after each tack. Also, with the clew so low, in light winds I can't flatten the sail without the top hitting the shrouds. In higher winds when the jib car goes back and twists the top off, no worries. All in all though, wonderful. Listen: I'm still thrilled with the sails, and you will be too if you call Somerset Sails.

We picked up the mooring under sail in only two tries, and miraculously, no one got hurt! Another successful sail!

After putting the boat away, we popped into the club for a bit of a tipple. Mmmm. Well and good. Then the drive home.

I've met a friend for life, and would not only sail anywhere with her, but invite her aboard Inertia without reservation. She knows her stuff (actually, she knows a lot more than I do, but I found that out later, much to my embarrassment... Oh well. Color me red.)

Plans are afoot for Memorial Day weekend, and next week, the Commissioning Party at the Club. I am just still tickled pink to say that. Maybe next year I'll get used to it. Hey, maybe not.

I'll get some pictures together, and now that the work stuff is done, they'll be playtime pictures. The only project I'd like to show you is the repair to the seating in Cassiopeia. It's interesting in an engineering sort of way. Let's see if it works.

Until then, though, I'll see you on the water.

Saturday, May 13, 2006

Just WTF Are We Thinking?

Normally, I wouldn't use this as a forum for opinions other than those associated with boating. I mean, why on earth would you care what I thought about, say, Social Security. There are those who might ask why they should care about my opinions on boating.

That aside, yesterday I helped my longest and best friend, Leigh, do some trim work on a house of a friend of his. Apparently, the contractor had gone bankrupt or whatever, and wasn't working on the house. There are other financial considerations but they're not the important thing right now.

What is important is that the quality of work done in a very expensive addition and remodeling project is awful. I've avoided carpentry for most of my life - woodworking escapes me for some reason. Glass, metal, plastic, electronics, electrical, plumbing, and so forth - no problem. With carpentry, I could not get the quality I wanted out of the work I do. I have no idea why. I know how to measure (you'd be surprised at how many people don't). I can use power tools. I can even use really, really big power tools (like excavators).

But I can't seem to get wood to work properly.

Apparently, I've been worrying needlessly. It's clear that the contractor at this job hired less than skilled workers for the job. Sadly, nearly every doorframe we put the trim on was wracked or twisted. What should have been a four or so hour job took all day since every single cut except for four were custom.

It is sad to see someone spend so much time and money for an addition and get so thorougly screwed - and the subcontractors, too.

There is a point to all this saddness - and it really does make me sad - namely, where are we going as a people, as a nation? We complain about the quality of work, yet we work so terribly or accept awful work. We complain about nonskilled workers taking our jobs, but we won't do them.

We want more money, more benefits, more of everything but we don't want to work for it. We have an overrated estimate of our own worth. Just a hint: We're worth no more and no less than anyone else.

It makes me really angry that a contractor can behave so badly. And he'll get away with it, too, I'm sure. And that's really sad.

That's the end of my rant for today.

Tomorrow - down to the boat for a little sailing, weather permitting. Well even if not. Still gotta go!

Hope to see you on the water!