Rubbing is Racing

Wednesday August 21, 2013

rubbing is racing

Yes, I know I’ve basically been starting ever post for the past few days this way, but I was so excited to get back to Grand Rapids because that meant that I’d be able to attend a Wednesday JAM (jib and main) race at the Muskegon Yacht Club.  For those of you that have been following along for awhile, you might remember that early last summer I joined a racing league (is that what they call it?) to get myself even more comfortable on boats and gain some knowledge along the way.  One Wednesday night last May I showed up with nothing more than a request to join, and was randomly placed on a boat.  Which happened to be, the best boat ever.  Just because they were short on crew that night and didn’t mind taking on extra (and unexperienced) hands, I was allowed to join Team Island Dream, captained by Tom Spoelman.  We came in third that night.

I kept coming back every Wednesday, and even though we may not have always been the fasted boat out there, in fact there was one time we got the DFL (dead f#@king last) award, but I think we definitely had the most fun out of everyone there.  Some people in the crew were rotating, only there a couple times out of the summer, and others showed up every week, for the fun, the adventure, or maybe just the Lime-a-Ritas afterward (this is where I got hooked!).  We had a great crew last year and it was highlight of my week, rushing out there after working and enjoying time on the water where, for once, I was not the one behind the wheel.  Being rail meat was just fine by me and gave me a chance to watch knowledgeable people in action, picking up on their movements and asking questions without a look of ‘We’ve been sailing for three years, how do you not know this yet?’.

Not having to rush my way out to Muskegon this time since there was no time clock dictating my departure, I strolled into the marina with plenty of time on my hands before our six o’clock push off from the docks.  I saw Tom and his wife Denise getting Island Dream prepped, and ran down to greet them, noticing that Tom was donned in his boat swag, just as I was.  There were big hugs around, and as we sat there chatting for a minute, I was also able to meet one of Muskegon Yacht Club’s past commodore, Dave Ellens, who Tom turned on to the blog and has been following mine and Matt’s misadventures.

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Catching up with Denise and Tom.

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Meeting past MYC Commodore, Dave Ellens.

(Above photos courtesy of Team Island Dream)

 

The rest of the crew wasn’t far behind, and all but one were regular faces.  I had Shannon to sit rail meat with me, Michael to work the spinnaker, Mark and Pete on the main, and John as our tactician.  Before I knew it, we were swinging off the dock, with only one crew member left behind holding dock lines that we needed to swing back and pick up again.  Once on the lake the sails were hoisted, and the light breeze that was blowing through at the dock was now strong and powerful out on the water.  We weren’t in the first division to start that night, but I did have fun watching all of the ones that were, cross paths with each other while they tried to keep a spot close to the starting line, cutting in back and forth and sometimes missing each other by just a few feet.  I don’t know why, call me psychotic, but watching the close calls have always been my favorite part of the race.  I know that no one is going to crash (hopefully), but I always get a kick out of how far these well trained but sometimes cocky captains will go to keep their spot.  (Yes, I would probably be one of them)

Bad Dog Muskegon Yacht Club

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 When it was our turn to start we didn’t even hear the horn go off, and it was a little bit of a mad scramble trying to get ourselves where we wanted to be.  We must have been doing something right though, or at least the downwind part of the course is much shorter than I remember, because as we came up to the first buoy we joined in the funnel of boats trying to round it at the same time.  If I thought I was seeing some close calls before, that was nothing.  There were boats literally bumping off each other, and I think I may have seen a boat hook broken out to push away.  Our rounding wasn’t quite that close, but we were still surrounded by boats on each side.

I can’t remember many more specifics about the remainder of the race, I think I was high on the feeling of being back out there, enjoying sailing in a way that you just don’t get while cruising.  I know that each time we’d tack, I’d slide under the boom to take my place on the new high side.  No small feat while you have an expensive camera in your hand that you’re trying not to damage, mind you.  I also know there were plenty of chances I was able to hike myself out on the side, dangling my legs over the edge as splashes of water would occasionally toss up beside me.  I remember that the trickling sun set the head sail ablaze in bright golds and oranges.  I remember grasping that it already hurt inside to know I wouldn’t be out there again.

You know, all the important aspects of racing that one usually tends to go through.  Luckily, since I can’t remember enough to put a thousand words down recounting our whole sail on the water, I can at least photo bomb you with the many photos I took throughout the race.

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We may not have finished in the top three that night, but we also didn’t come in DFL either.  In no rush to get back to the dock right away we celebrated our finish with cold beers, and yes, a Lime-a-Rita, before docking the boat and bringing the party into the Yacht Club.

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 (Above photo courtesy of Team Island Dream)

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It’s funny to look back at what the past year has done for me, and put certain things into perspective.  I remember all those times we sat at dock after a race last year where I’d count down the weeks until leaving Muskegon for the last time, excited to get out of a small lake and into vast oceans.  Who knew that after wishing for so long to get away, I’d be counting down the weeks until I could return again.

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What A Fine Looking Crew!

Wednesday July 11, 2012

 

Cutting it close as alwasy due to the terrible traffic that I swear only gangs up on me Wednesday afternoons,  I made it to Torresen’s with 15 minutes to change and walk over to the yacht club.  Until I saw that both bathrooms were occupied and had to hurridly drive over to the other side to find open ones.  Rushing to get to the docks I started to walk down and didn’t see the tan hull of Island Dream anywhere.  Getting in panic mode that I had actually missed the boat for once I finally saw her at the far end of the last dock having been blocked by all the other boats until I was almost on top of her.  Walking down the dock the opposite direction Tom greeted me, thanked me for the boat hook I deposited on his deck a few weeks ago during a drive by gifting and told me that the new crew shirts were in and I had one waiting for me on the boat.  Yippie skippy!, I had been waiting for these since they were first mentioned at the beginning of the season.  I had wanted a little momento to take with me, show my support for the team after I’d left, and show that I, Jessica Johnson, had been part of a crew.  Stepping on deck I saw Shannon in her turquois polo and went down to grab mine.  Pulling off my t-shirt (I did have a tank underneath, no strip shows here) I slid the polo on and went back above deck to hang with my crew.

It was a pretty crowded boat that night, all regulars except for one new face.  Her name is Margie and she crewed with Tom last summer but had been in Africa until last week and resumed her sailing duties as soon as she got home.  I think Tom must have mentioned me before I got there because she already knew who I was, that I was leaving in a few weeks, and joked that she would be my replacement.  After stating that I should give her my crew shirt when I left (she hadn’t gotten one that night) I was releived to hear Tom say there were more at home because I was ready to go into a death grip to keep this thing.  When Rob and Jules hopped on a few minutes later they changed into their new shirts and we had a fine looking crew.  The women had solid color polos with Island Dream on the chest and the guys were a little more festive with button down Hawaiian-esqe shirts (all in the same color tone so it looked very good) with Island Dream on their chests as well.  Besides the people on Chicken Poop (oops, sorry, Chicken Soup) we were the only boat out there in matching gear.  Getting on the water with plenty of time before our division was to start we moved around the crew to keep four people on the foredeck while the remaining 7 were seated in the cockpit.  Full crew tonight indeed!

We were in the last division to start that night and after we had all sails raised we tried to get ourselves in the best position for the start.  Being in the last division to start gives all the boats in that division plenty of time to get on top of eachother and nearly hit.  Assuming that all the helmsmen know what they’re doing and see all the boats around them I’ve actually started to enjoy this part the most.  When I’m sitting up on the high side of the deck and out of nowhere a boat crosses in front of our bow with less than five feet to spare.  Your heart starts racing as you did not see it coming and it’s kind of like a rollercoaster ride after you take that first plunge and your heart jumps into your throat but at the same time you still know you’re ok.  When our horn sounded we were near the front of the pack with a few others very close on our tail.  The upwind journey to the first marker near the dunes left us on a straight course for a very long time before eventually tacking as we had been getting great speed and there was no reason to change.  When we did begin our tacks it took a littled bit of getting used to the cluster F of having so many people at the front of the boat changing sides.  The first one we attempted I was ready to run in front of the mast as I always do but Rob advised a tuck & roll under the boom.  I was a little afraid to go for it and while waiting for an opening I became tangled in the jib line and dragged back close to the cockpit.  All was fine though, I sprang right back and dove over to the new side with a new war wound (huge bruise) on my back thigh that I was proud to show off.

While getting close to the first marker I was ready to hop down below deck and get ready to assist shoving out the kite when I found that position had alredy been taken.  Sitting back on deck I just enjoyed the view while everyone else went to work on their tasks.  We rounded the marker and raised the kite without problem but the downwind run caused us (and everyone else) to suddenly lose a lot of their speed.  Shannon was placed against the boom to hold it out as far as possible but the rest of us just sat back and enjoyed the view.  Since we were able to stay on a single course for the whole run I just absorbed the sights of the other racers, admiring the colorful spinnakers of the other boats around us and their skill of rounding the next marker and beginning their upwind journey.  While sitting on the rail after we had started upwind once more Margie came to sit next to me and ask questions about my upcoming journey and tell me of her travels in Africa.  It was reassuring to hear that leaving your regular life behind to experience something new is completely worth it and you can (mostly) pick up your life right where you left off.

Since winds were not extremely high and there were no issues of the spinnaker going in the water or someone getting hit in the head with the boom, the rest of the race was mostly a pleasure cruise.  Since our upwind course off the wind was different from almost ever other boat based on the point of sail we could all get our best speed that night we spend most of our time by oursleves without the close call anticipation of ‘are we going to pass them?’.   There was a bit of excitement in the last 10 minutes of the last leg where there was a mad rush of boats to the last marker located at the Northwest end of the lake.  While off on our own we were closer North to the marker while the other remaining boats were all piled up on the West side.  Then the race was to see if we could get West before they could get North, but sadly they were closer.  As Island Dream rolled up to the finish us rail meat were now riding the low side trying to help gain as much speed as possible.  We hung out the lifelines with our toes touching the water and the jib pinned against our back.  Our finish horn sounded and we cheered, another race completed for Island Dream.

Instead of heading back to the docks to open the cooler it was immediately ajar and out came these monsterous 24oz cans of Lime-A-Rita.  Three times larger than the normal 8oz size they come in (did you like my math there?).  Everyone wanted on the Lime-A-Rita bandwagon but there were not enough to go around.  That problem was quickly solved by emptying some water bottles on board and filling them with tequila flavored beer to pass around.  The sails were still up but we were slowly ambling back toward the dock with no rush to get there as there was still light in the sky and it was a beautiful night.  Just a few minutes into this pleasurable booze cruise I got a text from Matt that said he was locked out of the house and could I come home right away because no one else was going to be there for the rest of the night.  Looking at the happy faces of everyone on board who probably used Wednesdays as their big socializing night with friends, there was no way I was going to ask to have the motor turned on to get me back to the dock as soon as possible.  Matt had a vehicle and and iPhone, he’d be fine for a few hours.  Once the motor finally was tunred on because we were nearing the mooring field there was a consensus going around that everyone needed to check out Serendipity.  I pointed Tom towards our new spot out in BFE and everyone gathered on deck as we came closer.  There were Ooooos and Aaaaaahs all around and she was given approval for me to be able to travel aboard.  She was also given a Bud Light bath from everyone on ID as it is apparently good luck to spray beer on a departing boat (come on guys, no champagne?).  When we finally tied off at the docks I couldn’t ignore Matt’s pleads any longer and had to say quick good-byes to be on my way.  The good news is that there is still one more race next week with a going away celebration at the end.  And since Matt will be right by my side we’ll be able to party until after the stars have come up.

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Survival of the Solstice

Wednesday June 20, 2012

This was a really exciting week for me to get out racing again, not only because I had missed last week but because one of our blog followers who lives close to the Grand Rapids area was going to come join me.  Jackie was one of the first people to like our Facebook page when I started it this winter and introduced herself stating that she and her husband were looking to go cruising in a few years as well.  We did a lot of corresponding through Facebook and comments on the website, and when she mentioned that racing might be a good thing for her to get into as well I told her she needed to come join me some night.  So after months of talking online we planned to meet up at a McDonalds on the way to Muskegon where we would carpool to the marina and she could finally experience all the fun that I kept bragging about.  When I walked into the restaurant she wasn’t hard to spot (partially because she was the only one in there) and immediately we started talking like we were long time friends just picking back up where we last dropped off.  After ordering a yummy iced coffee, just got hooked on those after visiting AZ, we loaded my car up with the beer she brought and made our way out to Muskegon without having to fight any traffic this time.  Along the way we discussed my trip, her trip, and all the different blogs we follow which turned out to be the exact same ones.  We also found out we listen to the same morning radio station and have a lot of the same interests.  It’s like we were twins separated at birth and finally got to meet for the first time.

Since we were making such good time on the ride there, when I pulled the car into Torresen’s I brought it back to the slip they had put Serendipity in while trying to find a new mooring for us.  We got out for a second to look around and while we didn’t go on deck or below I promised Jackie that I’d have to have her and her husband out sometime for a ride before Matt and I left the next month.  Looking over at the yacht club and realizing we should probably get over there I parked the car and we grabbed our stuff and walked the quarter mile down the road to MYC.  Walking down the dock to Island Dream I had Tom and Shannon waiving at me from on deck as usual and Mike and John were busy moving around getting all of the lines run.  After stepping aboard and introducing Jackie, the first words out of Tom’s mouth were ‘Would you be ok with not racing tonight?’.  Hmmmm…..the one time I bring out a friend specifically for the racing experience and we might not go.  I didn’t know if he meant that we’d just be sitting at the dock all night, but he explained that the winds were pretty high and we were short crewed and maybe a pleasure cruise on Lake Michigan would be better for us that night.  He also hinted that this would give me the opportunity to take the helm or handle some lines since we’d just be out for fun and not keeping a specific course.  I looked at Jackie and we both shook our heads ok.  Besides, it was the official first day of summer and we had two coolers packed with beer.  It was after we agreed to this that we found out the crew was split with half wanting to pleasure cruise and half wanting to race.  Part of me was still hoping that we would race just because winds were so high that it would be really exciting, and I could also show Jackie what a race was like.  While her and I stood on deck trying to stay out of Mike’s way while he still ran lines the census from Tom came back that we would actually be racing that night.  Until a shackel broke which meant we weren’t, and then it was fixed so we were back on again.

I hontestly had no clue what was happening with the on again off again race and it wasn’t until John and Mike were busy uncleating us from the dock that I had any clue on if we were even going to leave or not. Jackie and I sat up on deck with Shannon for a minute until Tom said that because of the high winds and the small crew that he wanted everyone back in the cockpit. We all made our way back and found seats spreading from one side to the other. Many of the other boats were already on the water with their sails raised and would dash back and forth from one end of the lake to the other. Heading out to where the course started we were downwind so the wind coming from behind us didn’t feel too strong but when we turned on a beam reach once we had reached the area of the start the winds were hitting us right on and it felt like they had picked up 20 miles an hour. Mike had the spinnaker all set to run while we were at the dock but with the whitecaps rolling over the water it didn’t look like we’d be using it that night. Turning ourselves into the wind the mainsail was raised and while most of us on board (myself included) were wanting to get the headsail unfurled Tom thought that conditions were too strong to let any of it out, but after Mike and John worked on him a little he agreed to let it out about 1/3 of the way.

Passing by the Torresen’s boat we found our division would be starting first and Shannon was ready with her stopwatch when the first horn blew with our five minute warning. With John being our tactician that night he would tell Tom when to tack and where we wanted to be  per the countdown and it somehow worked out that when the horn blew for the start of our division we were the first ones out of the gate, so to speak. There were no close calls of anyone hitting us that night but I pointed for Jackie to turn around and we watched all the other boats in our division fight for spots and come very close to knocking into eachother. Because many of them were sailing with a main and a head it didnt take too long for others to start passing us by. Without any work assigned on the lines Jackie and I sat aft with Tom near the helm and I would point out to her the things I actually did know were happening. Like when two minutes after the starting horn about three boats that were on our course tacked off into a completely different direction and that the first marker we were headed toward was probably close to a straight line forward from our starting spot and that while we’d all eventually have to tack that direction anyway these boats were doing it early because they most likely didn’t start on a good course or figured they could get better speed going in a different direction. I wasn’t sure if it was right but it sounded smart and I’m pretty sure I actually did impress her as one by one all the boats on our course ultimately changed to that direction as well. Maybe I could even be tactician next time. Although I’m sure all my directions would be ‘Oh, everyone else is tacking? Ok, we should probably tack too.’.

The gusts of wind were blowing on us hard as we made our way upwind and we were probably heeling near 25% most of the time. I looked back at Jackie to make sure she was doing alright and found that Tom had given her a job as photographer. This worked out very well as Tom loved to get action photos of the races but would always get yelled at by John for taking pictures while racing, and it also worked out for me because I left my phone down in my bag below deck and there were not any good moments to run down and go get it.  Finally decent photos of the race I can share from a real camera.  She was just sitting there with a smile on her face, taking pictures with one hand and hanging on for dear life with the other. When it was time to do tacks Mike, John and Shannon would work the lines while Jackie easily slid from one side of the stern to the other and I would try and find the best opening, doding between people and the wheel and usually slipping on some line along the way. Not my most graceful race ever but I always eventually made my way back over to the high side. As we neared the first marker a few of the division 1 boats that started after us had now passed us and were also rounding the mark and throwing up their spinnakers. I was very surprised to see them using their kites in winds that were gusting over 30 knots but I figured these guys were the pros and knew what they were doing. Shortly after we rounded the mark ourselves and didn’t have to do more than just tack we began to watch the destruction unfold of the boats ahead of us. One of the division 1 boats that had been flying their spinnaker had now broached and were having a hard time getting righted. They couldn’t turn themselves in a direction that would bring them upright again and their spinnaker was getting lost underwater. It was like a trainwreck where you couldn’t take your eyes away and of course Tom and I were shouting ‘Jackie, get the camera, get the camera!!’. Luckily these guys do still know what they’re doing at it was only a few moments before they were able to get their spinnaker back on board and were fully upright again.

 

Also on our downwind run we were treated to one of the smaller (but much faster) race boats, a Melges I think, with one of the crew memebers yelling and screaming about how the spinnaker was not raised properly. I think I learned three new curse words while listening to him. Have I mentioned how happy I am to be on a boat with Tom? As we sailed safely and slowily downwind there were a few more moments of other boats having out more sail then they couldhandle. Every strong gust of wind seemed to take at least one more boat down with it, usually just for a moment before they gained control and were back on their way. There was a point where we rounded the second marker to begin heading back up wind and just moments after we had passed it Mike was looking behind to a few division 1 boats that were about to round. I’m guessing they had gotten too close for comfort and one had to quickly veer way to avoid a collision. The boat that did veer must have also had an accidental jibe because as Mike described it, all the guys who were riding the high side were all of a sudden in the water because it very suddenly became the low side.  Probably a second or two later they popped back up and continued racing which fortunately meant that no one fell overboard.  It also didn’t take very long for these two division 1 boats to accelerate right past us as well as most of the other boats in the race.  By the time we had gone around the course once more and were now on our last upwind stretch toward the finish there was absolutely no one behind us.  I think a number of other boats had dropped out due to the strong winds or possible damage to sails, so it felt good just to know that we would finish at all.

While we still had almost half of the last leg to complete the only other boat racing now besides us had crossed the finsh and we wondered if the Torresen’s boat would even wait for us to cross as well before upping anchor and head back in.  I guess sometimes if the last boat is still a long way out they don’t always wait for it before packing it in.  As we tacked back and forth the last few hundred yards that little red boat was still waiting for us and when we passed between it and the marker we got our horn to signify we had completed.  There weren’t a whole lot of cheers on Island Dream but I think everyone was just tired and worn out.  Instead of heading back to the docks as usual we hugged the windward shore where winds weren’t blowing as hard and opened the cooler to enjoy a drink on the water before going back.  I tried to get Jackie to have an official end of the race drink, a Lime-A-Rita, but she said she wasn’t much of a tequila drinker and stuck with the Land Shark she brought although she did at least taste mine and said it was a lot better than she thought it would be.  Tom let me take over the helm and we cruised slowly past the mooring field that should have been housing Serendipity by this time and I didn’t get to show her off as I had wanted.  After performing a pretty nice tack we turned the other direction to mosey in the direction of the setting sun, enjoying that this was the longest day of the year.  I do love Michigan and the fact that the longest day of the year comes with a 9:30 sunset, keeping the sky bright until after 10.  I think that will be one of the things I miss most the further south we head.  Steering Island Dream closer to the yacht club Tom took back over the wheel for docking and parked us in a spot that was getting the last bit of sunlight before it fell behind the trees.  Everyone besides John was in no rush to get home and squeezed in the cockpit for more conversation and beer as Pete stood in the companionway to play bartender.  Tom’s wife Denise also joined us from where she had been watching the last of the race at the yacht club and pulled out the cheese and crackers she had packed for an after race snack.  Much more popular than the ultimate chocolate chip cookies I had brought which became slightly melted after sitting in my car for an afternoon in 90 degree heat.  I picked the cheese and crackers too.

So nice to finally meet Jackie in person!

When everyone finished their second (or first) round Tom announced it was time to take the boat back to the mooring and wanted to know who was coming with and who was staying behind.  Being a big tall guy, Mike backed down saying he didn’t want to overcrowd the dinghy and he’d wait for us at the yacht club.  Shannon and Pete stayed back with him which left me, Tom and Jackie to moor the boat.  Since I’m usually pretty handy with a boat hook having to use one myself all summer anyway I asked where it was so I could be ready at the bow to grab the mooring lines.  After I was told it was in the aft berth I searched through the cushions and sails but did not see the hook.  Being notorious for missing things right in front of my face I had Jackie look as well and when she came up empty handed I took over the wheel so Tom could look as well but with no luck.  He did come up with a hammer though and said he would just lay on deck while using the back to grab the lines.  For some reason I actually felt confident that I could bring us up to the mooring and perfectly slide in allowing Tom to grab the lines.  I knew enough to throw it in neutral early so we didn’t come barreling in at top speed but as we were slowly coming up on the dinghy and mooring ball I lost sight of them and ended up running over the lines instead of just pulling up next to them.  He was still able to grab the lines from the side before they went under the bow and since we came in slow enough we began to drift back a little where he could fully grab the lines and attach them to the cleats on deck.  I think from now on I’ll get my practice in with Matt and Serendipity to actually bring the boat up to the mooring instead of just grabbing the lines so I won’t have these kinds of issues again while driving someone else’s boat.

As Tom prepped the boat to close it up Jackie and I went about loading up the dinghy for the ride back to shore.  Finally and area her and I know how to do well!  I think Tom was actually surprised when he stepped back on deck to find everything neatly stowed away as I’m guessing most of the woman he’s gone sailing with always get on and off at docks and have never even stepped into a dinghy before.  Us two girls had no problem in one and also had no issue bringing up to shore and unloading it.  The big cooler was dropped off in Tom’s car and we wandered into the yard of the yacht club to find Shannon, Mike and Pete still waiting for us.  Since everyone was still in the mood to celebrate the solstice and the fact we were still alive we all headed inside where Tom treated us to MYC’s signature drink which includes rum and gin but I can’t remember what it’s called although I do know it was very tasty.  Jackie and I talked more about our identical interests and how eerily similar we were.  It was also fun playing with Tom trying to get him to believe that we really had only met 4 hours earlier.  There was of course talk about how Jackie would have to come out to race again, next time with her husband Ron in tow, while I would also try and get Matt to make it out for one race.

As the sun had long set by now everyone was starting to say their goodbyes it was mentioned that there would be a two week hiatus due to vacations and holidays.  Which means that I’ll only have two more opportunities to race since the last Wednesday before we push out for good will be just before the Chicago to Mac race which most of the racers will be participating in.  That doesn’t seem like nearly enough.  I’m still very sad and disappointed that I came into such a fun sport so late in my sailing career.  At least I know my ‘life’ on sailboats is just about to begin and that’s something to look forward to.  A lot.

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Another Lime-a-Rita for Another Job Well Done

Wednesday June 6, 2012

When I walked out the door at of work tonight around 4:30 it was very warm out but the sky was filled with lots of puffy clouds that the sun would poke in and out of, and off in the distance there were a few stormy clouds  you could see rain falling down from.  I was really hoping Muskegon was still clear (as the weather report said it should be) as this was the week I decided to trade in my water repellent jacket for just a regular fleece.  Making the drive west and getting stuck in so much traffic I kept watching the sky to see if those dark clouds matched up to where I was driving.  When the expressway ended into the main drags of Muskegon the direction of the waterfront looked clear although there was still one dark cloud passing overhead which dropped a little rain on me during my drive to the marina.  It quickly passed though and when I reached the road the marina was on it was all sun.  Knowing that I was already running late and all the parking spots near the marina were probably taken I just pulled into Torresen’s and left my car there while I ran down the street to Muskegon Yacht Club.  It was already ten to six and I knew the boat pulled out of the dock at six.  Hurrying down the platform I saw Island Dream was still there and Tom and Shannon were aboard waiving to me as usual.  When I stepped on I saw the familiar face of Mark who raced two weeks ago and then a few new faces once again.  Tom had brought his wife Denise out, as well has his son Michael.  There was also one more new guy for me to meet, another Michael (B), who raced with Tom a lot and I recognized from ph0tos on Facebook.  Everyone sat around talking for a little bit while we waited for the last crew member, Jules, to arrive.  Once we all saw her hot pink Vans walking down the docks we started to get ourselves ready to leave and were gone just a few minutes after she climbed aboard.

Conditions were what I would consider perfect if I was out sailing my own boat, but not ideal for any high speed racing this time around.  Winds were probably hovering around 10 knots and altough the sun had come back out temps were mid 70′s which had me wishing I had a light jacket instead of the fleece I brought which was leaving me chilled without it and too hot with it on.  Looks like this girl has just a few more items to shop for even though I told myself I’m done because I have way more clothes than I’ll ever be able to pack into the few small bags I’ll have alloted.  This night our division was starting second and we did give ourselves plenty of time to get on the water and our sails raised before even the five minute warning had gone off for the first division to start.  There was a little scrambling to find a stopwatch to time ourselves out perfectly for our start and I was being used as a backup with my phone while Mark was also timing with something he found in the cockpit.  After the first group left and we had five minutes until our own start we tacked and jibed a few times with the last one being 60 seconds before the start.  I still can’t get used to how close these boats get to eachother and as the horn for the start of our division went off we actually had to move out of the way from boat that was supposed to give us the right of way but wouldn’t budge.  Apparently we could have called them on it but Tom decided to let it go.

This is not the boat I was referencing above

Again I had no idea what direction we were heading but Shannon and I just hugged the high side while Michael B moved around a little to make sure we’d have the lines set up correctly for after we rounded the first marker and put up the spinnaker to go downwind.  Then he joined us on the high side but would run back to the cockpit to assist with tacks while Shannon and I would help fling the headsail to the other side of the boat, I’d skirt it before sitting back down until the next tack.  Not only were Shannon and I getting into a rythem near the bow but those working the lines in the cockpit appeared to have everything going smoothly as well.  I was a little surptrised to find out Tom’s son Michael didn’t do much sailing, and since he was handling the main would have to have orders like ‘sheet/ease the main’ or ‘let out the traveler….the traveler is the one right infront of you’.  For a beginner though he was doing great and we continued along at a good pace.

I was put on a job other than rail meat this week and just before we turned the marker to go downwind I ran below deck to help the spinnaker raise up through the forward hatch with ease and without getting stuck on anything while Shannon pulled the halyard to raise it near the mast.  With the spinnaker issues we were having the previous week I could just see something going wrong and it all being my fault, but Michael B was up there to help me and let me know which corner was going to start pulling up first.  I traced it back in the vberth to make sure it wasn’t snagged on anything and when they told Shannon to go I began shoving it through the hatch as fast as I could.  It went up without incident and besides waiting just a moment for the wind to catch it perfectly the mission was a success and we were back on our way.  The spinnaker was stationed on our port side and since the wind was starting to lose it’s strength instead of sitting on the high side we were now sitting on the low side, the same side the spinnaker was on, trying to heel it over in that direction and let the sail catch a little more wind.  There were a few jibes performed while on the way to the second marker and each time it would swing gracefully from one side of the boat to the other.  Since there were no high winds and no sail or boom vang mishaps tonight and everyone was in their groove it was almost like a pleasure cruise.  The three of us upfront would dangle our legs off the side and enjoy the view and the beautiful night.  I really should start paying more attention to what’s going on behind me in the cockpit though and to the sails and how they’re adjusted.  It was after all the whole reason I started coming out, but after spending all my days cooped up inside or doing hard labor on my own boat it feels so nice to get outside and just enjoy life.  I’ll pay attention next week, I promise.

After we had been traveling downwind for awhile and I saw the boats in front of us starting to make the sharp turn around maker 2 and lower the spinnakers I made my way below deck again to help bring the spinnaker in and have it stored in a mostly neat fashion until we were ready to use it again that night.  Before we made our turn around the marker the headsail had been unfurled and we were all in position and ready.  Michael stood just above me on deck and as we made the sharp turn ourselves Shannon lowered the sail just enough so that Michael could grab it from under the headsail and set about feeding it to me where I tried to keep it in as neat of a pile as possible.  After we were set on our new course I made my way above deck to sit on the high side to repeat the whole experience again.  Between all the divisions racing there was no one directly next to us, or in front or behind, that we were personally trying to beat.  Although we were racing well Island Dream does best on a beam reach* while a lot of the other boats will try for close hauled upwind or a broad reach or run while downwind so we were on our own little course away from everyone else.  There was one other boat in our division that was taking our wacky course as well  but they always seemed to stay just out of reach.  After two downwind runs and three upwind we crossed the finish line by the sandy dunes while the sun was getting close to disappearing behind their elevation.

This night it did not even take us getting back to the docks before food and drinks were brought out.  I think this is due to having Denise on board and I thank her for it.  The boys pulled out Bud Light Limes from the cooler while us girls enjoyed our dainty little Lime-A-Ritas.  Denise had also brought sliced cheese and Triscuits and while all members of the crew were happily chewing away Tom thought it would be a great time to bring out the camera and get pictures of us trying to smile through cheeks full of food.  Those photos may stay on Island Dream’s Facebook page and not make their way over to the blog.  It was another day of great weather and great friends and Wednesdays are definitely becoming my favorite night of the week.

Ok, here’s just one

Race Results -   Time Elapsed -  1:07:07    Average wind speed -  8 knots   Average Boat Speed -  3.833  knots  Distance -  5.2 miles

*  A beam reach is when the wind is coming directly over the side or middle most (beam) part of your boat.  A close reach is when the wind is coming as close over your bow as possible without going in irons (directly into the wind, a no sail zone).  Broad reach is when the wind is coming over the back quarter of your stern, aroud 4-5 or 7-8 o’clock if you use the bow as 12, and running is when you are directly downwind.

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Rails In the Water

Wednesday May 30, 2012

After checking the weather report to make sure I’d be ready to go straight from work out to the yacht club for races I noticed that things were probably going to be very different from what they were last week.  On the night of my first race temperatures were in the low 80′s with winds under 5 knots.  Then checking weather.com today the hourly report was forecasting temps to be in the low 60′s with winds reaching 15 knots.  Knowing there was a good chance I might freeze my butt off I packed my foulies in a bag and wore a fleece lined top to work.  After speeding out to the lake once again I found that gettng there at 5:45 did not leave a lot of room for parking on the street and almost went all the way back to Torresen’s when I spotted one available spot left on a side street.  Grabbing my bag and a case of beer I promised Tom I’d bring since he supplied drinks last week I ran through the parking lot.  I knew the boat wouldn’t leave the docks until 6:00 but I also didn’t want them waiting on me.  Getting to the very end dock again I saw Tom and Shannon waiting in the cockpit along with two new faces.  After being introduced I ran below deck to get my beer in the cooler and slip my foulies on over my jeans.  Coming back up we waited for the last people to arrive which was only Rob and Jules.  A little bit of a smaller crew then last week but there were still seven of us and that would be plenty.

Getting our assignments Shannon was put on the spinnaker halyard again and I was to assist one of the new guys Pete will all the lines at the bow.  Motoring out into the lake towards the start we didn’t have any of our sails up yet but all the other boats did and they would zoom past us heeling over so far that their rail was underwater.  I was hoping I’d get to experience doing that tonight on Island Dream since it’s always something I’ve wanted to do as a crew member but did not want to be the one in charge of the helm when it happened.  As we came closer to the start which was half way down the lake the five minute warning sounded.  Tonight our division would be starting first and we needed to get ourselves in position stat.  Rounding other boats we were just raising the sails when the one minute warning sounded and had barely gotten ourselves in place when the final horn sounded and it was time to go.  Immediately Shannon and I were directed to sit on the high side of the boat, the side that wind was coming over.  It didn’t take us long to start shooting out toward the first marker and begin to heel a little ourselves.  At first it was just a slight tip and then it went further and further until we also had a rail in the water.  This is exactly what I had been wanting to do forever!!  It felt like I had been initiated into the club of cool kids and was finally a racer.  Not that I was doing anything more than sitting my butt on a deck while keeping out of the way of everyone else, but it was still thrilling nonetheless.

I had no idea where the first marker actually was since the course had changed from what it was last week, and since anyone aboard who knew what we were doing was already busy doing something I didn’t want to bug them and just watched where the boats in front of us were going.  They all appeared to be headed to a spot kiddy-corner across the lake from where we started although with the sun also lowering near the direction we were headed it was impossible for me to pick anything out of the water.  Along the way we did a few tacks because to get the best use of the wind and weren’t able to make a straight line from the start to the first marker.  Every time we turned and the jib would be pulled over to the other side it would extend way past the lifelines before being sheeted back in but would get stuck on the outside of the lines when it needed to be inside which meant someone would need to lift the foot of the sail over.  A pretty easy job in itself except that tonight by the time it was trimmed in to where it needed to be the boat was already at quite  a large heel.  Since I had skirted it the first time after we took off from the start I decided that could be my job for the night.  So after a tack when everyone else was scrambling to the other side of the boat I’d stay on what would now be the low side and wait for the jib to be trimmed in so I could bring the foot of the sail over the lifelines.  When I had completed the task the boat would be healing so far that my toes would almost be in the water.  It’s a good thing Island Dream has a large gunwale (pronounced gunnel and is the upper edge on the side of a vessel) or else my foot would have slid right off the boat probably taking me with it.  So then after managing to keep myself on the boat I needed to find a way to the other edge which was a little tricky and had me imagining what rock-wall climbing might be like.  ’Ok, if I stick my foot there I can get a little leverage to push myself up a bit and my arm might extend enough to grab that hand rail at which point my other foot can be moved to this spot and then I can make it over the coachroof which will act like a wall behind me to keep me in place.’  Each time I was able to do it without much issue but I had to laugh at the fact that if Matt were there watching me he would be freaking out because  he knows my clumsiness better than anyone here I’ve just met and would be positive that these actions done by me would leave me in the water.  I’m starting to think that my hard work sanding over the past few months may have really paid off in upper body strength though because if I were doing this same thing a year ago I probably would have ended up in the water.

As we got to the other side of the lake I could finally see the marker and the other boats rounding it and immediately putting up their spinnakers.  Shannon was in charge of raising and lowering again while Pete was in charge of connecting and running the lines.  As we did one last tack and rounded the marker Shannon began to pull on the hailyard to raise the sail.  As far as getting the head of the sail to the top of the mast it went up fine, but there seemed to be an issue where the sail itself was twisted and would not unfurl to open itself to the wind.  When things like this happen it’s immediate cause for concern because spinnaker sails can rip or tear easily and are not cheap to replace.  Steering off to the side and kind of taking ourselves out of the race for a minute we worked on getting the twists out, not really sure what was causing it.  After a few minutes of pulling and gently working the fragile sail it filled with air and we raced off again.  There were however a few issues again when we tacked and the spinnaker didn’t transition over to to the other side easily and had to be worked again. The boat was slowed down and Rob rushed up front to try and get it to pass on the outside of the furled headsail.  Once it came over the wind just didn’t seem to be catching it right and we lowered it back down and decided to continue for the moment with just the head sail.  Up to the point we hit the first marker we had been doing pretty good for position in our division, even with our last minute start, but now because we had to pull ourselves to the side a few times while the spinnaker situations were handled we were starting to fall behind.  And this moment here is why I’m so glad I get to race on the boat I do.  There was no yelling about what was going on and no blame being placed on anyone for not doing exactly the right thing at exactly the right time to keep us in the front of the pack.  All we could hear from Tom is ‘Everyone’s doing a great job, keep it up!’

Apparently the only markers being used for the race that night was the one we started at and the one on the opposite end of the lake.  Headed upwind for the second time Shannon, Pete and I fell back into the positions of riding the high side with me pulling in the foot of the jib after a tack.  Rob would point out strong gusts on the water and could count down to the second that they would hit us and our heel would increase even more.  On our second downwind run the spinnaker went up without hassle and easily moved from side to side when we needed it do.  There was one more slight issue when not too long after we made our second downwind turn when there was a loud noise as if something had broken.  The three of us at the front of the boat turned around to see that the boomvang had just popped clean off the mast!  Still learning about what can go wrong on a boat I thought this may be a huge issue, especially with us sailing in slightly heavy winds, but the now dangling lines were just tied off to the side and Tom goes, ‘That’s ok, I’ve been meaning to replace it’.

Having no more major issues for the night we rounded the initial marker for our last upwind stretch to the finish.  I know we didn’t place that night, or what place we even took in our division, but just like last week once that horn blew to signal us we were done the whole crew cheered and high fived and hugged.  I was given the opportunity to take over the wheel while heading back to the yacht club which should not be an issue at all since that’s where I always am on our boat but this time I was a little nervous since these were sailors that knew how to point the boat into a direction best suited for the wind instead of having their husband mess with sheets while they pointed whichever direction they felt like.  I managed to get us back with pretty full sails and without running into anyone which is always a plus while the guys worked on dropping the main.  I did hand the wheel back over to time when it came time to dock still I still have never done that before and heard Tom can be like Captain Ron while he goes full speed toward the dock and parks it perfectly.

Just like last week the cooler was opened and most of the girls starting pulling out a Lime-a-Rita while I rooted around for a cold Leinenkugel.  Since I had not chilled the beers before bringing them and they had only been in the cooler for a little over an hour most of them had not chilled yet, but dang it I was going to have a Berry Weiss weather it was cold or not.  Sitting around the cockpit and passing around bags of Chex Mix we all relaxed and unwound.  About 2/3 of the crew occupies their winter months with skiing while they can’t be on boats and had some good stories to tell about winters past.  There was also talk from Jules on her past experiences with the Chicago to Mac race and how fun it can be as well as all the parties that go along with it.  It’s something I really wish I could experience but since we’ll be leaving for our trip about 10 days after that race I don’t think I can afford 3-4 days away from home and the boat with all the last minute projects that will need to be done.  Maybe a few years down the road when we come back?  All this talk of parties helped my first beer go down quickly and even though this is only week two it wouldn’t be a race night without a Lime-A-Rita for myself so I pulled a nice chilled one from the bottom of the cooler.  Rob wanted to try one of my fruity Berry Weiss drinks and even though his wasn’t very cold either he was a very good sport about it and even did the uplifted pinky for us girls to laugh at.

Week two of racing was another success in my book and it’s beginning to be something I look forward to all week long.  I’m so happy I started this year at the beginning of the season and I get to experience it hopefully 7-8 more times before I’m racing my own boat through the Great Lakes and down the Atlantic.

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Racing in Slow Motion

Wednesday May 23, 2012

Since you’ve probably gathered from previous posts that I have a lot to learn in the way of sailing still before we leave on our trip I though racing would be a great way to take in some of that knowledge.  It would help me to learn all of the lines, what they’re for and how to use them without having Matt be the one to teach me and without having to worry about what’s happening at the helm where I’m normally cemented.  After working in the boatyard weekend after weekend and talking to some of the other boat owners I mentioned to one that I wanted to get into the races at Muskegon Yacht Club but didn’t know how to go about it.  Do I have to call the yacht club?, get in touch with one of the helmsmen?, put a want ad online?  (I actually did in Sailnet forums but had no response).  This guy’s answer was ‘Just show up, they’ll find a boat to put you on’.  Seemed logical enough and I waited for the next available Wednesday to come up so I could make my way out to the water after work.

After making a mad dash out to the lake from work which was over an hour drive away I was panicking thinking that by the time I pulled in all the boats would already be on the water and I’d be out of luck.  The races start at 6:15 and I had images in my head of them getting on the water an hour before the start as also in my head I thought the races were on Lake Michigan and that can take a little travel time.  After parking my car on the street I walked around back by the docks where dozens of people were standing around.  I didn’t know who to approach as everyone looked very busy getting set up but there was one guy off to the side so I walked up to him with a smile and said it was my first time there but I’d really like to get on a boat and does he know who I could talk to.  He admitted he was a first timer as well but pointed me to a woman he thought could help me out.  After hearing that I was a newbie but wanted to crew she started scrambling around to different helmsmen asking of they could take me on.  After a few responses of ‘we’re all full’ she set off down the docks as I sat at a picnic table feeling like a kid in their first day at a new school.  Having made this joke with a friend at work she suggested I walk up to someone and say, “I’m new, will you be my friend?” which we got a very good laugh out of but I was starting to feel like it may be my only way onto a boat.

Walking back toward me the woman said she found a boat that was looking for crew and pointed me in the direction she had just come from at the very end of the docks and gave me the helmsman’s name.  Getting to the boat I introduced myself to the helmsman, Tom, and another woman with him, Shannon, who was coming out for her first time sailing ever.  Right away I was able to get to work helping Tom fold a sail which felt like a piece of cake having two people work on it instead of it being like when I fight the tarps on my own.  After getting that sail rolled up and taking the cover off the mainsail there wasn’t much for me to do and I stood there as Tom ran the lines for the headsail and him and Shannon hanked it on.  As we continued to get the boat ready more and more people started walking up the dock to the boat.  There was a guy around my age, Mark, and his dad Bill.  There was also another guy Matt that joined us who was new to sailing sailing as well, and then a couple Rob and Julie and their niece Jess.  We were becoming quite a full crew!

Just 15 minutes before the race was to start (what was I worried about?, I had plenty of time!) we threw off the lines and made for the starting area on Muskegon Lake.  There were four different divisions to race that night and we would be in the last group to start along with 7 other boats.  Winds were very light around 5 knots so it didn’t look like it was going to be a thrilling ‘hold on for your life’ kind of race but I was still expecting a good laid back time.  While still making sure to pay attention to how all the lines are handled of course. After the first three divisions started and we were making our way to the start all the other boats in the division were on their way as well, tacking and jibing so they could be in the best position possible when the horn blew.  It’s amazing how close some of these boats will get to each other and it doesn’t even phase anyone.  There were a few times I could have hopped from our boat onto another one.  Once the horn blew though we all began to spread out and make our way for the first marker near shore.  Which is actually kind of funny because I had passed this buoy a million times on our way out to the channel and wondered why it was sitting in the middle of nowhere but was actually used for races.  On the way to the first marker the wind wasn’t strong but we were pushing our way forward enough that the progress over water was easy to see.  Trying to get the most out of that little bit of wind and to put ourselves on the best course for the first marker there were many tacks and jibes.  I still didn’t have a job handling any of the lines so I was positioned to sit on the low side and give us a little heel.  Then when we’d swing the other direction I’d slide under the boom while trying not to let myself get hit by it and then I could go back to hugging the low side.  That’s not an area I’d normally let myself switch from Port to Starboard because the boom could do some real damage if it were swinging fast or hard, but on this night winds were so low that it wasn’t even an issue.

Coming up to the marker we were going to need to change direction as soon as we passed it and raise the spinnaker.  I was still line-less but I made sure to keep a close eye on all the people that were pulling and moving and attaching so I would know exactly what to do when it was me on my boat.  The lines to the foot of the sail had already been attached so when the halyard was clipped on the head and we rounded the marker Shannon pulled on the halyard to raise the giant sail.  The wind caught it for just a moment but then any wind we did have almost completely died.  The spinnaker stayed up for a few minutes but began luffing so much we decided we were better off without it and lowered it.  Although we did have one boat behind us already there were two boats not too far ahead that we were working hard to catch but moves had to be planned well in advance since once you picked an option in such light conditions you were kind of stuck with it.  While coming up on the second marker we easily passed one of the boats and just squeezed past the other and instead of turning sharply back to the original marker we stayed our course for a minute trying to head for a few small ripples in the water ahead of us which meant we might be able to find some wind in that spot.

There was  just enough blowing behind us to carry us to that spot where we would have an advantage over everyone else.  Looking at all the other boats on the water it was amazing how still everything was.  It looked like a real life photo where someone had snapped an action picture where for that moment everything appeared frozen, except it was that way in real life too.  Off to our side there were 4-5 boats that had their sails raised and spinnakers up and were dead still in the water.  When our boat had gotten far enough out to feel a little breeze on our bare skin and we had turned enough to be heading back to the next marker we raised the spinnaker once again.  Elated as it filled right away we thought we had the race in the bag and we’d start flying along the water while everyone else remained still, but again the giant sail began to luff in certain areas and would have to be pulled at the ends to catch the wind yet again.  I tried acting as a spinnaker pole by grabbing one end and holding it out as far from the boat as possible to allow any possible air to flow into it.  This helped only a little bit but in this race every second, every bit of forward motion counted.  Due to that little bit of luck we were now far ahead of the two boats from the second marker and becoming even with two more boats that had been ahead of us although they were far off to our Port side as they had decided to made a sharp turn earlier like everyone else.  From what I heard before this boat tended to finish near the end of the pack but things were looking up tonight and we might actually place if we could keep our position.  It would also help if none of the other boats were able to find the spot of wind we had, just to let us cross the finish waaaay before them.

Imagine this was a 30 second video.  The image would not have changed at all.

I was thinking once we passed the marker where we had started the race would be over but the finish line was actually the first maker we passed after the start.  Many boats were getting bored from the lack of wind and thrill and a few actually dropped out before the finish, motoring back to the yacht club to have a little more time for a few extra cocktails.  I don’t blame them as when Matt and I are cruising around at this pace I would beg and plead to put the motor on because we weren’t actually going anywhere.  Somehow my view changed tonight and this was actually exciting!  I had a mission to complete and I wanted to do it weather it was at 6 knots of speed or 1.  The thrill was in trying to keep ahead of the boats behind you while catching up to the ones in front, wondering if any of those boats you passed will come up on you from behind and watching their every move.

After making the last turn and  heading for the finish we had long passed the other boats and now had 5 people behind us.  The spinnaker was dropped and once more we had only the headsail and mainsail while all the boats behind us still had their spinnakers raised hoping one last gust of wind would push through before the end of the race.  The wind did begin to pick up just ever so slightly and these followers began to gain on us just a little.  To give Island Dream everything she had I took my position again as a human spinnaker pole at the clew while Shannon and Mark worked the middle and front.  This was just enough to keep us in place and although I could not see past the sail to tell how close we were to the finish I did hear that sweet little horn blow while all five boats were still behind us.  Which meant that in our division we placed third!  Everyone on board cheered as the motor was turned on to head back to the yacht club and celebrate the victory.

The view from our stern when we crossed the finish

Before the main sail could even be lowered the cooler was opened and I was intoduced to one of the best things in the world as far as canned drinks go.  It’s made by Bud Light and is called Lime-A-Rita, which taste a lot like a margarita packaged inside a cute little 8 oz beer can.  That is awesome.  Realizing before a full blown celebration could break out there was still a little work to be done before we got to the docks I tried to help fold the mainsail as it came down which is a very hard task to do with only one hand so I had to put my adorable blue beer can down to get the job done.  Reaching the dock and cleating ourselves off we all sat around the cockpit with our cold drinks and then the food became to come out.  Crackers, cheese with cranberries, strawberries, red peppers and sausage drenched in a sweet tangy bbq sauce.  See, this is always what I imagined the posh world of sailing is.  Or at least how most other people perceive us.  Sitting on a boat at the yacht club after a regatta while eating fancy cheese and meats.  Why did I wait so long to take up racing?

After finishing all the food on board we though they may be holding ceremonies soon and began to make our way to the picnic tables and awnings of the yacht club.  Racers and watchers were all mingling while talking about the night or the prep they had just finished to get their boats ready for the season.  This was something I could relate to.  Finally I was able to explain my sanding woes to people that could sympathise with my pain instead of all my coworkers that would just look at me and think, ‘Oh poor you….you own a boat.  I feel so sorry for you’.  After meeting many other fellow sailors and discussing all things boating I was ushered inside for a fresh beer and to wait for the ceremonies to begin.  Team Island Dream took a large round table by the door and all got to know each other a little better as there were so many new faces that night.  I discussed our trip which everyone was very interested in hearing about….how long we’ll be gone for….what exactly we’ll be doing.  I had to keep assuring Jules that those plans did not include making a baby.

As darkness grew on the water more and more people were making their way inside the club and it was becoming crowded and noisy but in a good way.  We could hear someone starting to make announcements and strained to make out our boat name when they got to our division.  As soon as we heard Island Dream our table cheered and applauded as Tom got up to collect his prize.  Disappearing through the crowd and coming back he had a frosted glass in his hand, something to display for our victory.  The entire night was a success even if the winds had decided not to tag along. For my first time out in a non-cruising fashion I had a great time.  Everyone was incredibly friendly and helpful and there is a bonding that takes place over people even if you’ve just met.  We were all a team now, including me.  I was extended an invitation to come back every week which I am definitley planning on doing.  Maybe next week I’ll introduce everyone to the Lienenkugel summer pack to celebrate what I’m sure will be another victory.  Or to console us for not placing.  Either way I’m sure we’ll have a great time.

Team Island Dream

Our 3rd place prize (my phone does not take good low-light photos)

* Team racing results for 5/23/12:

Average wind speed –   4 knots                   Time Elapsed –  1:49:39                     Average speed – 0.996 knots

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