December 29, 2009

A Day At The Beach

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I mentioned last week that we'd be taking some time off to slow things down a bit and enjoy the holidays. We're spending a few days at one of our favorite spots for doing that - California's Monterey peninsula.

I wasn't going to post from here, but I took some photos on the beach today that might give a sense of this place.

Where the sand and rocks of Asilomar meet the Pacific is one of the world's most famous beaches - not for swimming, or surfing, or bikini watching, but for something more primal than that - for slipping away for a while from everything that is manmade - from offices and cubicles, from traffic jams and oil changes, from computer viruses and reboots, from Big Macs and fries.

No photos can really capture the soul of this place. It's raw, pristine, and in some ways even violent. The surf doesn't kiss the shore, it attacks with brutal force. The ground shakes in places from the pounding. After a storm, the remains of birds and animals that weren't strong enough wash up on the beach. It's the rawness of the place, I think, that's humbling and cleansing.

You look into surf that was here millions of years before you and know that it will be here long after you.

I've been to a lot of beaches, but none of them seem to have the mystical attraction of this place. People drive up, get out of their cars, and just stare at the ocean for hours, as if at a religious shrine. It can be cold and windy, but people come here, bundled in parkas and wool caps, to walk in the sand or scramble on the rocks.

The birds and animals are here because this is where their food is. But why do we come to places like this? The answers may seem simple enough, but are they really?









Click on the photos for a closer look.

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December 27, 2009

Trouble I've Stirred Up

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Captain JP has asked that we put together a 'best posts of the year' post. This is a good way to get a post up without actually having to write anything new at year's end, when most of us are too stuffed from holiday meals and too woozy from holiday spirits to write much that's coherent.

Since I've been blogging for only four months, anything I've written here will probably still be painfully fresh in the minds of anyone who reads this drivel.

But there's always the annoying stuff I've left in the comments pages of other people's blogs over the past year. I could mess up your day by reminding you of some of those moments. So, in the spirit of JP's challenge, if not to the letter of it, here are some examples of trouble, pain, confusion, and embarrassment I have caused other bloggers throughout the past year.

Blog Commenting For Dummies. Not a comment, but a full-fledged, half-baked blog post, this was a response to a Tillerman writing project, in this case to write a review of something.

Before I started this blog, I was in a great tactical position to torpedo Tillerman's blog by simply writing entries to his writing challenges, which he was sort of obligated to post as part of the rules of the challenge. No matter how embarrassed he was by my writing, there it was up on his blog and there wasn't much he could do about it. Ah, those were the days.

JP's Weekend Puzzler. Poor old JP was just trying to make a simple point about how no one pays much attention to day shapes anymore. Day what? You know, those funny balls and cones we're all supposed to display during daytime hours indicating what we're doing afloat (from which small fry like Lasers are exempt, I think). I noticed something telling in his example photo that he probably forgot about and decided to make some mischief. I do that whenever I can. I did pull off a pretty creditable save, though, I thought.

Bonnie's French Quiz. I'm not quite sure how this all began, but I ended up commenting on Bonnie's blog about an old riddle from one of my high school French classes. The next thing I knew, Bonnie turned this into a blog post, which was going OK until someone named Nathalie With An H left a comment in French, claiming to be a native French speaker. The problem was she was completely missing the point. Since I was the one who got Bonnie into this, I thought I could save the situation by attempting to reply in French. Big mistake. It wasn't the first time in my life that an attempt at chivalry left me looking like an idiot.

In the blog I come and go, speaking of Michelangelo. Oh, what the heck, I've already broken the rules of JP's challenge, why not bust the time constraint, too? This is from late, 2008, but it was a seminal moment in blogging. Tillerman chose to reply to one of my totally off-topic comments and paid dearly for it. This encouraged me to do more of this, which eventually led to me writing this blog. If only he'd ignored me, think of all the trouble he could have saved the world. Don't those Brits ever learn? First Neville Chamberlain's weakness, then this - with even worse consequences.

Happy New Year, JP.

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December 20, 2009

Taking The Time To Slow Down

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I must be old school.

Or, maybe just old.

Somehow, all of these computer-controlled animatronic cartoon figures, inflatable Santa's, and laser light extravaganzas that people decorate their houses with today for the holidays just don't make it for me. For the holidays, I don't want high-tech and I don't want the Trans-Siberian Orchestra. Mainly, I want warm and fuzzy and nostalgic.

Happily, Sacramento is one of those California towns that's old enough to have some neighborhoods that don't look like everything in them was built in the past six months. In one of these, just east of downtown, the word has gone out to cool it with the high tech for the holidays. These old homes are mostly decorated with traditional style holiday lights. Most of the displays aren't exactly simple, but there's a kind of elegance there that somehow appeals to me.

For me, this is the time of year to slow down and reflect a bit, instead of worrying about the next coming crisis at work. For a week or two, I like to think back to a time when I didn't worry about databases, file servers, and networks going bump in the night. This need to slow down must come from the same part of me that prefers sail boats to power boats.

Apparently, it's not just me, though. Crowds of people from all over Sacramento, from the cul-de-sac neighborhoods with the blinking plastic Santas, converge on this older part of town to stroll the streets and see what the holidays used to look like. I spent some time there last week, wandering around with a camera, so that you might have a look, too.

This will probably be my last post for a while as I'm taking some time off from blogging to enjoy the holidays. If the weather cooperates, there might even be some sailing.

Thanks for all of your support in getting this blog going this year. Hopefully, I'll see you next year.

From our dock to yours, peace.




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December 16, 2009

We Have A Winner

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It's certainly a red-letter day for Captain Puffy over at the new Boat De Jour blog.

Fresh off his win in Tillerman's Love and Sailing writing project, he has now won the Tillerman Painkiller Challenge which, confusingly enough, Tillerman actually had little to do with, other than drinking a lot of alcohol to provide us with the raw data for the competition.

The competition was intense, comprised of an international field of entrants. The judging was difficult and I hope not too controversial.

While the Challenge was named for the popular BVI drink, the Painkiller, I hope I made it clear that Tillerman's total gross consumption (or is that his gross, total consumption) of tropical drinks while on his BVI vacation was to be considered in calculating an answer. While one of the entrants, Pat, did exactly calculate the correct number of Painkillers (one), I think he was just trying to lowball the other competitors and got lucky.

I'm guessing Tillerman's room came with one of those free complimentary Painkillers and that his taste in rum drinks may lie elsewhere, so the one Painkiller was hardly an accurate representation of his overall lack of sobriety.

I'm therefore declaring Captain Puffy the official winner of the Tillerman Painkiller Competition. Captain, if you'll contact me via e-mail with your address, your prize will be shipped off to you.

And what is that prize?

That brings us to the photo at the top of the post - which you've probably noticed is not a Painkiller, at least not with a capital 'P'. It's a bottle of one of my favorite wines - a Bogle Petite Sirah - which happens to be a product of a winery located not far from my home town of Sacramento. I'm not one of those snooty oenophiles, but some of them have apparently been duly impressed by this wine and it has won several prizes at competitions that those snooty oenophiles get all excited about.

I should add that I was sufficiently impressed by Captain JP's enterprise in preparing an entry that I am awarding him a consolation prize for his efforts. Should our tracks ever cross, either here in the states or in London, I hereby offer to buy the first round.

And one final note about all of this alcohol business. Despite all of the above, I should note that I'm not much of a drinker. I certainly drink more rum when I'm in the BVI than I ever do at home. I'm one of those party-killing one-or-two-beers-and-an-occasional-glass-of-wine types and would encourage moderation and responsibility in things alcoholic.

And, as is often advised, especially at this time of year, if you drive, please don't drink.

If you drink, please don't blog.

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December 15, 2009

Yes, Joe, There Is A Tillerman!

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Time for an update on the Tillerman Painkiller Challenge.

You may recall that I challenged readers to predict the total number of Painkillers Tillerman would consume on his BVI vacation. After advance reports of Tillerman sitings from our London bureau, there is now a confirming homecoming post at Proper Course, so it is time to wrap up the Tillerman challenge. I'll summarize the entries received so far:

Boat de Jour: 56

Carol Anne: 42

Pat: 1

Escape Velocity: 14

Joe: X + Y(2XY)/39243X = ? (which I believe is a quadratic equation, and thus ineligible)

Breezetrees: some undecipherable formula whose variables he will need to fill in before Tillerman supplies an actual answer (I refuse to do any math)

JP: A very impressive analysis with lists, categories, spreadsheets, and a Powerpoint presentation, prepared at a great expenditure of time by a professional consultant, but, as is common with the work of professional consultants, containing no useful answer unless I fork over some big bucks and send JP on a cushy development trip to the BVI. This is still a possible winner, though, if there's a big enough bribe in it for me.

As Tillerman is home, entries are now officially closed, although I'll allow Breezetrees to supply a numerical answer until we get an actual number from Tillerman.

On that note, I must address a skeptical question from Joe, who wonders how we will ever learn just how many Painkillers and rum drinks Tillerman drank while on holiday.

To question this is to question the very existence of Tillerman himself, for Tillerman is a just and honorable fellow, dedicated in his soul to the happy conclusion of blogging challenges, no matter where they originate.

Yes, Joe, there is a Tillerman. He exists as certainly as love and generosity and devotion exist, and you know that they abound and give to your life its highest beauty and joy. Alas, how dreary would be the world if there were no Tillerman! It would be as dreary as if there were no Joe. There would be no childlike faith then, no poetry, no romance to make tolerable this existence. We should have no enjoyment, except in sense and sight. The eternal light with which blogging fills the world would be extinguished.

Nobody sees Tillerman, but that is no sign that there is no Tillerman. The most real things in the world are those that neither children nor men can see. Did you ever see Tiverton kids dancing on Tillerman's lawn? Of course not, he's an old, crotchety man who chases them away, but that's no proof that they are not there. Nobody can conceive or imagine all the wonders there are unseen and unseeable in the world.

No Tillerman! Thank God, he lives, and thanks to Blogger's archives, he lives forever! A thousand years from now, Joe, nay, ten times ten thousand years from now, he will continue to make glad the heart of the blogosphere.

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December 14, 2009

Long, Boring Post

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If you like long, wordy, and boring posts, you're going to love this one. Otherwise, there are a lot of good blogs listed over there ---------------->
that will probably have better stuff today.

But there are some things bubbling here at O Dock that I feel I should comment on. That old line about fools rushing in, must have been written by someone who knows me.

When I started this blog, I wanted to try a few things that I don't see being done too much in other blogs I read (probably with very good reason). I thought, if the opportunity came up, I'd have a go at posting some original verse - one of those awful taboos that everyone warns you not to do on a blog. Last week, while my common sense was out to lunch, I got my courage up.

I'd watched an old Pete Seeger anti-war video from the late '60s (Mr. Tillerman had linked to it on his Facebook page) and I just couldn't get the tune or its message out of my head. Good ol' Pete was firing away at LBJ during the height of the Vietnam war. The song seems pretty tame now, but the folks at CBS were scared enough by it at the time not to air it (they later relented).

My poem was really something of a dodge because it let me voice a few abstract ideas without having to articulate them too precisely with carefully constructed arguments or supporting facts. Maybe some poets are just lazy historians. I was agitated about a few things and this was an easy way to blow off some steam.

I really didn't expect much response at all as people seem not to comment a lot about song lyrics or poems in blogs - at least not in the sailing blogs I read. And I'm not much of a poet, anyway.

But the theme of war raised some animated discussion here and, having wimped out in the poem, I thought I should clarify how I feel about the questions raised.

Most of us are against war on general principle, I hope, but the question of the day, as our president drafts his policy on Afghanistan is what constitutes a 'justifiable war', if such a thing exists at all.

I'm not going to attempt to answer that question here. We've been trying to do that for a few thousand years now without making much visible progress. And I don't want to stir up a lot of partisan political issues. I'll say only that I can't think of anyone other than the current occupant who I'd rather see in the White House right now grappling with the difficult decisions that must be made.

He revealed some of the personal anguish he's going through last week in the speech he gave while accepting the Nobel Peace Prize - an honor that must have surprised him more than anyone, as he's on the brink of escalating what has already been a long and bloody war.

I'm not saying that you should agree with our president on this escalation, or even that I do. But I think what all of us must do is to read that speech and his formal Afghanistan policy speech carefully and make an effort to understand all of the issues raised. And to follow our president's statements and actions very closely as he proceeds over the coming months. And to hold him accountable to his words and to his promises.

If anything, he's more likely than most of his predecessors to listen to well-voiced opinions from a concerned public. Learn what the issues are and have an opinion. Our most important job as participants in this lovely little democracy of ours is to pay attention.

What we do in Afghanistan may well turn out to be the most important decision of this administration, and possibly the most consequential issue of this period in history. Don't let your kids and grandkids accuse you of standing idly by as we slipped into another Vietnam. I'd be willing to bet that a lot more people will be following the march to the Superbowl over the next few weeks than will read the Afghanistan policy and Nobel acceptance speeches. If you haven't yet, the full texts are here and here.

And while you're reading, you may want to look at a great post that Yarg has put up on this same general topic. He's made a valiant effort to put a sailing twist on it - something that may make the subject more appealing than my little rant here.

Sorry, I don't often get very serious here, but this issue did come up and I thought it too important not to address.

We return you now to our regularly scheduled programming.

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December 10, 2009

The Tillerman Painkiller Challenge

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Damn it all.

That Tillerman has no common sense of decency.

Here we all are in the throes of winter and what does he do? He blogs about how he's really going to do some serious frostbite racing this winter and then what? Right, he takes off for the BVI, with the subtle boast that he may never come back.

I haven't been able to concentrate on anything else this week. Northern California has been hit by one of those depressing cold spells we get a few of every year. The overnight temperatures have been plummeting to below freezing. And there's been actual frost on the ground in the morning! Can you believe it? Frost! Right here in California. The Chamber of Commerce people are going nuts. I've actually had to start wearing a windbreaker to work in the dead of winter!

All I can think about in my despair is that damned Tillerman lazing about in the BVI's, lying on the beach, snorkeling, sailing some rented Laser, and getting wasted on Painkillers.

To take my mind off the frigid winter conditions here, I am hereby issuing the Tillerman Painkiller Challenge.

Guess how many Painkillers Tillerman has downed on his vacation, and the closest guess will win some kind of prize - yet to be determined. Don't focus on the prize too much, you should enter this competition in the Corinthian spirit - for the sheer thrill of competing.

But please, don't just come up with a number. I'd like to see your reasoning or actual computations. We will have to rely on Tillerman's word for how many Painkillers he has actually downed, assuming he has sobered up enough to remember anything. In the event of a tie, the creativity of the entry will be considered.

I have no idea how long Tillerman will actually be away - a factor which should sweeten the contest.

The decision of the judges (me) will be final, unless someone comes up with a pretty good bribe.


UPDATE:

Yikes, the response to this has been underwhelming. I thought folks would have all sorts of theories about how many Painkillers Tillerman is consuming on his BVI vacation.

You just have to come up with a number and some rationale for how you arrived at it. Here are some examples of numbers:

Twelve
Six
Ninety-two

A hypothetical entry might read something like this:

I know that Tillerman has lost 92 Laser races over the course of his racing career and would probably want to drink a painkiller to soothe the pain of each one of those, so I'm guessing 92.

Now that's not that hard, is it?

You're not worried about what kind of prize you might win are you? Did I mention that California is home to some of the finest vineyards in the world?
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December 7, 2009

Nineteen Forty-One

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The steel and the fire fell from the sky,
Although we were never really told why,
Few questions were raised by father or son
In nineteen hundred and forty-one.

The newsreels were spun in the same black and white
That colored the answers offered that night
To the few questions raised by father and son
In nineteen hundred and forty-one.

The call was to arms, it came as a song,
We all had the words, we all sang along,
We all knew exactly what had to be done
In nineteen hundred and forty-one.

The steel and the fire have fallen and burned
A thousand times since, but what have we learned?
Only that fire burns father and son
Just as it did in nineteen forty-one.

The dust of the fires, the dust of the years,
The smoke in our eyes, the sting of our tears,
Have turned black and white to shades of dun
In the many long years since nineteen forty-one.

And still we are called to sing the old song
Though some think the words may now be all wrong
And some think the questions from father and son
May not have been answered in nineteen forty-one.

The steel and the fire fall again from the sky,
Again, we are never really told why.
Six decades have passed, or is it just one,
Since nineteen hundred and forty-one?

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December 3, 2009

Getting Out There

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On our Monterey trip, we spent a day in foggy Half Moon Bay


A while back, I noticed a comment that Bonnie had left on someone's** blog about a dream trip she'd like to do: hitchhiking with her kayak aboard a sailboat up the Hudson and kayaking all the way back home.

Another quest in the making.

What is it about sailors (and paddlers, too?) that has so many of us always thinking about what's over the horizon? We all seem to be planning or dreaming about a 'quest' of some sort.

Does having a boat lead us to seek out new destinations or is it the other way round? Are sailors a different kind of people whose taste for adventure has led us to boats?

My parents grew up in Philadelphia and spent most of their lives there, content to remain in a world that was safe, predictable, and contained in a single American city.

I was just the opposite. From my first college trip to San Francisco, I've wanted to see what was out there. But it was more than just a desire to travel. I've always wanted to discover things on my own, not to be shown the sites by Circle Grayline.

One of the things I liked about getting back on a bicycle as an adult was the miles you could cover under your own steam. Doing 50 - 100 miles a day meant you could use a bike to travel. And you can take a bike on a train...or on an airplane. There's really no place in the world you can't get to that way.

My first long bike trip was through the rains and muck of rural England, Wales, and Ireland. I was cold and wet, but I was out there on my own. There was something remarkably satisfying about the independence of it. The next trip was to sunnier places - Germany, Austria, Switzerland. I carried a little duffle on the back of the bike. If it wouldn't fit in that bag, it stayed home. Travelling light somehow made me more independent.

There was no itinerary. No list of museums, cathedrals, or famous sites I had to see. If I found a place that looked cool, I stayed for a while. If a road looked interesting, that's where I turned. I absolutely loved being somewhere where I didn't know all of the answers and had to figure things out as I went.

The bicycle, the kayak, the sailboat. There's something common to all three. They're all low-tech, self-contained, and give us a sense of independence. They provide the freedom to go where we want when we want to, but we also have the responsibility for everything that happens to us out there.

With the freedom comes personal responsibility. There seems to be less and less of both in our world today.

 Is that what we're seeking as sailors?

I could have rented a car and driven around Europe like most people do. But what was it about doing it on a bicycle that made it so much better?

When I was just getting into sailing, we dragged our little 15-foot daysailer 800 miles up to Washington state so we could gunkhole the San Juan Islands. We could have easily gone from island to island by ferry boat like most tourists do, but why was it so much better making five-mile passages in a little open boat? Why was it so cool coming into Fish Bay on Lopez as sailors, the way the first people on the island had done a thousand years before?

Last summer, we took our Catalina down the coast a hundred miles to Santa Cruz and Monterey - places we've driven to often for many years. What was it about approaching those towns by boat that made that trip so special?

Why does Bonnie want to kayak a hundred miles down the Hudson river when there are so many other ways to see that country that would be more comfortable, safer, and quicker? Is it the slow pace itself that's the draw?

I'm not sure I know the answers to any of these questions.

Do you?

Have you taken a trip in your boat that gave you this sense of freedom or discovery? Are you planning one?


**Sorry, couldn't find the post and I can't remember whose blog it was. Bonnie, can you provide the link?

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November 30, 2009

In Memoriam

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As it must to all of us, death came to my last surviving sweet basil plant this past weekend.

In the end, passing to the eternal life came as a blessing, as Mr. Basil suffered from an extended debilitating illness that had left him pale, and a mere shadow of his former, robust self.

A lifelong resident of the O Docker kitchen, Mr Basil was sometimes encouraged to relocate to a climate where he might establish deeper roots, but confinement to a flower pot precluded that.

He is survived by seven narcissus bulbs, two philodendrons, numerous Christmas Cacti, and one of those generic houseplants that everyone recognizes but no one can identify. He was preceded in death by an overwhelming number of fellow basil plants.

He will be remembered as a generous soul who gave freely of himself. He was a frequent contributor to salads, omelettes, and to countless fish and chicken entrees. His very presence was often enough to lift the spirits of anyone around him.

It was the decedent's wish that his remains be composted and scattered in the bed of an azalea bush that gave him much joy in life.

In lieu of flowers, the family requests that fresh hearts of romaine, green onions, bell peppers, cucumbers, cherry tomatoes or pesto be sent to O Dock, preferably via FedEx Next Day service.

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November 26, 2009

The Lucky Ones

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Along the American River, the wild turkey that have been making a raucous comeback over the past few years have been conspicuously quiet this week.

They know.

While they're protected by local law, they must be thinking about their relatives, who haven't been so lucky, and who will be served up on our tables today in celebration of our prosperity and good fortune.

It's easy to forget the role fortune can play in prosperity. If things have worked out well for us in life, we tend to think we've been justly rewarded for our years of hard work. For many, though, lives of hard work have led only to more hard work, and to uncertain futures.

For my wife and I, our boat has become a reminder of just how lucky we have been. Sailing on San Francisco Bay, we often think about how most people will never have the chance to do that, or even to enjoy many of the other comforts we take for granted.

More than candied yams, stuffing, and cranberry sauce, today should remind us of all the empty plates there are in the world.

If you have a boat, be thankful. Sail it as often as you can.

But is there someone without a boat you could ask to go sailing?

And are there other empty plates out there you might help to fill?

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November 24, 2009

Spam, Spam, Spam, Spam

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Two days ago, I got a comment from a 'Sanjay' who claimed to work in a busy spam writing center in India. As I'm a basically trusting soul, I took Sanjay at his word, although I'm sure some of my cynical readers might suggest that particular comment was a hoax actually written by someone in Rhode Island who sails a Laser.

Be that as it may, I'm choosing to ignore any such cynical allegations as the comment sets me up very nicely for this post, and frankly, I didn't have anything else ready to go today, anyway.

I've mentioned before that I work for a newspaper. I probably haven't mentioned that it's a fairly large one which employs over a thousand people (that number used to be much higher, but that's the subject for another post).

What does this have to do with Sanjay the spam writer? Well, large organizations like the one I work for tend to get a lot more spam than individual users, for various technical reasons I won't go into here - mainly because I don't understand most of them.

Our efficient IT department has set up sophisticated (their word, not mine) spam filters for capturing all of this spam, but those filters don't immediately discard the spam. This is so that users can review what has been caught in the filter in case something important was mistakenly identified as spam.

A summary of the spam caught in the filter is sent to us every day for our review. We see the subject line and sender for every item, without actually receiving the e-mails (which is good, since most of them contain computer viruses or links to web sites that will infect your computer with all the viruses you could ever want, free of charge).

So where am I going with this? Oh right, the daily list of spam I get from good folks like Sanjay. I thought I would share some of this with you as a public service so that you will know how to recognize spam when you see it. Here are the subject lines from some spam that was sent to me recently and how our sophisticated spam filters were able to recognize them as spam.

Perfect Presents For Perfect Season (from hemorrhoidUW)

On the surface, this looks like an innocent enough offer. Since the holiday shopping season now begins on October 1st, by now we're all looking for nice presents for family and friends. The problem with this e-mail is the name of the sender - hemorrhoidUW. It's not likely you'll find holiday presents that are perfect for anyone from someone named hemorrhoidUW.

If You Don't Feel Like Just Being Average, Try Some Enlargement

These spammers can be very clever. I don't know how they figured out I used to be a photographer. But what distinguished serious photographers from amateurs in the old days before digital cameras and inkjet printers was that amateurs took their pictures to the drugstore for processing, while real photographers made their own enlargements in darkrooms. That's darkrooms, not dark rooms. I'm even more amazed that the spam filter was able to figure all of that out.

Be A Stallion In Bed (from Margery)

I don't know why Margery thinks I'm a fan of the original Godfather movie, but that certainly wasn't my favorite scene, and I don't know why Margery spells her name that way, either.

Review Annual Social Security Statement (from ssa.gov)

Wow, look how easy the government is making it for us to review our social security accounts online. Just enter your name, home address, and social security number on the website and they'll tell you anything you need to know. I wonder why this got tagged as spam. It says it's from the gov, right?

No Fraud Or Hoodwink In Our Enterprise! Never-losing Rules of Gambling!

I can't believe how lucky I was to get this. For years, people have been trying to figure out how to win at gambling, and here's everything I need to know on one website. And it must be legitimate - they tell you right up front there's absolutely no hoodwink.

Made From High Quality Materials So It Not Only Look, But Feels Like Genuine Too

I'm not sure exactly what they're selling here, but it came from the same folks who know I'm experienced at enlargements.

Any e-mail sent to me that is also from me.

One of the latest spammer ploys is to use your own e-mail address as the sender's e-mail address. Isn't this kind of a tip-off that this may not be a legitimate e-mail? I send very little e-mail to myself, and hardly ever is it anything about products that look and feel genuine.

OrderCializViagra

I don't understand why none of the people who sell Viagra or Cialis online know how to spell the names of their own products. What I really want to know is whether women receive spam for Viagra and Cialis, too.

If you're a woman and receive more than four of these spams in the same day, call your physician at once.

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November 20, 2009

Snug Below

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I've just completed one of the most harrowing ordeals any mariner ever faces.

Dodging icebergs in the Southern Ocean?

Rounding the Horn in a gale?

Trying to figure out if it's a better deal to order from West Marine's web site and pay for the shipping or to go into the store where the web-only discount doesn't apply but there's no shipping charge?

No. No. No.

I got my boat back from the yard in one piece. It didn't get bumped off the stands by a delivery truck. It didn't get dropped out of the travelift slings on its way to getting splashed. The topsides didn't get sprayed green by the next guy over. And the final bill was less than fifty per cent more than the original estimate. That's quite a few bullets to dodge in one week.

Of course, Mr. Neptune had to throw one last curveball at me. The splash was scheduled for just after lunch. But one of those Pacific squalls was coming through, and by mid-morning the wind was starting to scream. I just had to motor across the marina and make it back into the slip, but even that can get interesting in 40 knots. And the last storm that went through here had gusts that were higher.

I asked the yard to do the splash early and got under way with winds only around 20. And I made it back to the slip before the skies opened. Two more bullets dodged.

By the time I got things put away and closed the hatch above me, though, the rain was coming down in torrents. The wind was up around 25, and the O Dock Philharmonic was tuning up. Up and down the fairways, every unsecured halyard was clanging away like mad. Sailcovers and tarps thrummed through major and minor scales. Finger piers grinding against wooden pilings added a bass beat. And the flutes and piccolos of the rigging section were running through arpeggios in the fresh wind.

But I was enjoying one of those rare moments every boat owner savors. I was snug below in the storm. Any deck cleaning chores I had planned were cancelled. There was no place to go. The heater was heating. The coffee was going. Tunes on the stereo. Lunch in the fridge. And, should my spirits sag, there were spirits handy.

Let the Philharmonic play on.

I have my boat to keep me warm.

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November 19, 2009

It's A Rock!

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A little knowledge can be a dangerous thing, especially when it comes to navigation.


A certain story has endured in the O Docker household from my early days as a navigator. As circumstances require, my wife uses this story as a lesson, an allegory, a narrative poem, a warning, a chastisement, or a tool of discipline (although, I swear, there are no whips or leather garments involved). The story is always invoked with a signature phrase. When I hear that phrase, I know what is to come. And always, that will be painful and humiliating to me.


The phrase is "It's a rock!". Three simple words that will probably be inscribed on my tombstone - if I go first.

The day had started so well. It was our first trip to the BVI, about 20 years ago, and we had been playing for several days in what is now one of our favorite spots on the planet - a quiet anchorage in North Gorda Sound, far enough from commercial commotion, but an easy dinghy ride from all the barbecued shrimp we could peel. And, if we dinghied the other way, there was a little, deserted beach with the secret grotto where the technicolor fishies swim.

Life was good.

As with all pleasures of the flesh, though, too much can dull the senses. It was time to leave the sedentary life of the anchorage and to sail this little rented pleasure dome of ours. Today, I would show off my mastery of the Sir Francis Drake Channel. Gentleman's sailing - off the wind all the way to Soper's Hole - 24 glorious, sun-soaked miles, riding 18-knot tradewinds and bright blue bathtub water, untroubled by any swells.

Life was good.

We droppped off the mooring, got the sails up, worked our way around the reef, and slid out the entrance in one long reach. Outside, we gybed to turn left, set a preventer so I could let my attention wander, and settled in for a warm summer's nap. In islands known for their easy, line of sight navigation, this was maybe the easiest run of all - straight down the main channel. No reefs, no shoals, and certainly no rocks.

Maybe those who were not fully certificated by the American Sailing Association through the Bareboat Chartering Level with intensive three-hour emphasis on chart reading and interpretation would worry about rocks.

But not I.

Like generations of seasoned mariners before me, I watched the undulating hills of Virgin Gorda slide gently by, off to starboard. Uh no, I mean off to port. There's really not much to do on that run, other than sit back, stay out of the tropical sun under the bimini, and watch for the gybe as the three-foot wind waves rolled under the transom. Navigation? Nah, just keep an eye on the coastline and make sure you don't get in too close. There was nothing to get tripped up on. And there were no rocks.

Spanishtown drifted by after not too long and a little while later, the Baths. I'd closed on the coast a little to get a better look, but nothing to worry about. Did I mention, there were no rocks?

As the Baths disappeared astern, we continued along the coast of the island and my wife was focused on the water ahead.

"There's a rock up ahead and we're headed right for it."

"A rock?" I mocked her. "Can't be."

I reminded her that I was fully certificated by the American Sailing Association through the Bareboat Chartering Level with intensive three-hour emphasis on chart reading and interpretation, and that I had determined there were no rocks anywhere in our vicinity that we need be concerned about.

She told me what she thought of my certification in general, and, in particular, of the part about chart reading and interpretation and announced, "Well, I'm putting on my lifejacket."

She knew how to push my buttons.

"Lifejacket?," I scoffed, don't you know anything? It's not a lifejacket, it's a PFD. Were you fully certificated by the American Sailing Association through the Bareboat Chartering Level with intensive three-hour emphasis on chart reading and interpretation, you would know that.

Her gaze was now fixed on the spot in the water where she imagined there was a rock.

"We're almost on top of it, you'd better do something."

Oh, alright, I'll humor her. Where, I asked is this 'rock' of yours?

"Right ahead, right there!"

Holy crap!

My weekends of intensive training had taught me to recognize rocks and this was, indeed, a rock. A mysterious, obviously misplaced rock, but a rock nonetheless. Some sort of skippering action was called for, and pretty soon.

I seized the wheel, I mean helm, or fell on it, actually, and executed what must have been one of the quickest roundups in the history of the Beneteau 32s5. In a wild scramble, we managed to tack and head off in the opposite direction of the misplaced rock.

But, as any navigator who discovers a misplaced rock will tell you, avoiding that rock is not the worst of it. It's that awful, sick feeling that follows that's worse - the sudden realization that you have no idea where you are and that there might be other misplaced rocks anywhere around you. I started to wonder where my lifejac.., uh, I mean my PFD was.

My normally chatty wife was no longer chatty. Already, I was beginning to sense this tiny, minor, inconsequential event might some day come up in conversation. I casually glanced at the chart I'd stuck under a cushion a few hours ago.

"Just updating our position, dear."

Where the hell were we?

We reached our way back to the safety of the main channel as I started to put the pieces together, but it would be a while before I fully realized the nature of my blunder. Or, blunders, actually, as I had learned many lessons that day.

I learned that most misplaced rocks aren't misplaced at all, they're usually right where the chart says they are. It's the navigator who's usually misplaced.

I learned that memory is a poor navigational tool and that the chart usually remembers much better than I do.

I learned that no matter how lovely the weather and pretty the water, no matter how familiar you might think you are with the depths around you, that Mr. Neptune can jump up and bite you in the buttocks faster than you would ever believe and that the holes he leaves in your underwear are more apparent to those around you than they are to you.

I learned that Mr. Neptune does not give a rat's ass about you being fully certificated by the American Sailing Association through the Bareboat Chartering Level with intensive three-hour emphasis on chart reading and interpretation. And, if he's not impressed by that, maybe you shouldn't be, either.

I learned that, on a boat, four eyes are better than two.

And I learned that, when you least suspect it, your wife may very well be right.

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November 16, 2009

The Slings That Cost An Outrageous Fortune

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I really wasn't going to write a post about having my boat hauled out.

Unless someone falls in the water, these posts usually tend to be of more interest to the boat owner than anyone else. There is this ridiculous investment up in the air where boats have no business being, hanging by... what are those slings made of anyway?

The boat owner is both petrified and fascinated to see the side of the boat he or she would never ordinarily see. Wow, look at the through-hulls and the propshaft and the zincs and the crud on the waterline and the...well, you get my point. If it isn't your boat, none of this is terribly interesting, especially when there's the new Sarah Palin book out that you've been dying to read.

But this post isn't about any of that. It's about a truly remarkable occurrence that happened to me today, just before all of that.

A funny thing happened to me on the way to the boatyard.

I'd been planning this whole business for two weeks now. Take the day off from work, get all of the stuff out of the boat that I woud need this week, sleep on the boat the night before so I'll be there in time, check in with the yard to make sure all signals are 'go', and a million other dumb details.

So, there I was, a half hour to H-hour, lines rigged, fenders set, crosswind gauged, my delicate back-down-the-long-narrow-channel-and-turn-at-the-very-last-moment-gracefully-into-the-travelift-slip maneuver thought out and cleverly planned to the nth degree. I turn the switch to start the engine and - no, not the old dead battery cliché, this was a new twist. The engine starts, but, oh no, only a trickle of water dribbles out the exhaust where torrents should be. The dreaded cooling water interuptus that has struck terror into the hearts of diesel owners for generations.

But even that is not the point of this post (please be patient, there is a point). When the engine absolutely, positively must start because you've got to get to an appointment you can't reschedule, it almost never does. No cruising boat sailor will be at all surprised by that.

What happened next is the truly astounding part.

I recognized there was a problem (for me, quite an accomplishment in itself), CORRECTLY diagnosed the cause on THE FIRST guess, had the correct frommet wrench already on the boat, IN THE CORRECT SIZE, managed to get the hose off the through-hull without destroying the through-hull or all the skin on the back of my hand, had a screwdriver the right diameter AND length to clear the clog, got the hose back on the through-hull and both hoseclamps re-connected without destroying the through-hull or all the skin on the back of my hand, restarted the engine - and water shot out the exhaust! A 100 per cent successful repair on the first attempt!

I slumped back into the cockpit, stunned. In five years of working on this boat, that had never happened before. The perfect repair! By myself! No trips to West Marine. Not three trips, not two trips, not one trip! None! Did I mention there were absolutely no trips to West Marine?

I backed the boat very carefully out of the slip and cautiously worked my way over to the boatyard. I was especially focused on the tricky crosswind maneuver backing down to the travelift, with that sneaky little turn at the very end. I nailed the boatspeed, executed a perfect dead-slow backing turn, stopped the boat inches from the dock, lightly stepped off, bow line in hand, and shot my best nonchalant 'hey' to the travelift operator. Two perfect guy-stuff maneuvers back-to-back in the same day!

I have now used up all of my good Karma through the end of the year 2027.

If I were smart, I would declare victory and make this my last blog post ever.

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November 15, 2009

To Sand, To Varnish, To Wax, Perchance To Sail

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Today is another work day on the boat.

Well, tomorrow, actually. My boat will get its regular haulout, bottom job, topsides buffing, cutlass bearing inspection, and other expensive attention from people who actually know what they're doing.

I'm down on O Dock late today to get the boat ready for the move over to the yard. As I leave the gate to run an errand, I look out across the bay towards the Golden Gate and see this:






And it occurs to me that I see this view so often that I've become a bit jaded by some of the remarkable sights that surround me constantly on San Francisco Bay - sights that some people travel half-way around the world to see.

In other parts of the country, boats have been hauled out for the winter for weeks now. Determined dinghy sailors are gritting their teeth and diving into frostbite sailing seasons.

Here, we're seeing some of the best sailing we'll have all year. The summer's boisterous winds have relented down to the 10-15 knot range. On a clear day like this, temperatures can be in the sixties. All across the bay, reluctant spouses are being coaxed out onto boats to see what sailing can be like. No foulies. No chattering teeth. No icy spray. Pleasant conversation in a quiet cockpit as the city front glides by.

Well,  for some of us, maybe. So much of my time on O Dock is spent working on the boat, not sailing it, I sometimes forget why I'm doing this at all. Some have given up on bigger boats and returned to the simplicity of dinghies that you can sail pretty much whenever you want to.

But, I'll have my time on the water, too, just like these sailors on one of the sailing school's J24's this afternoon. Doing penance in the boat yard or in the engine compartment makes you appreciate the time on the water that much more.

And on the bigger boat you can sail out that gate and keep going, chasing that sun. It's looking like next summer, we'll sail to Monterey again. There's something very primal about sailing a boat out of sight of your home port and arriving at a completely different place. You can't really describe the sense of satisfaction to someone who's never done that, but anyone who has will understand.

For today, it's enough knowing that at least someone is out there enjoying the freedom you feel under sail.

My day will come.

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November 13, 2009

Type The Characters That You See In The Picture

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What is going on with the Blogger verification words, lately - you know, the little supposedly 'nonsense' words you have to read and then type in when you post a comment on someone's blog?

Everyone is noticing they're starting to get really weird. Yesterday, Tillerman left a comment on my pottery post (yeah, sailing blogs are getting pretty weird, too), and his verification word was urnal, as in referring to an urn.

Coincidence? I think not. I'm starting to get really pissed at the guys who make up these verification words.

What? You still think they're generated automatically by some computer program? Well, I thought so, too, at first, but I'm now convinced that can't be so.

First of all, these are obviously not just random strings of letters, or you'd end up with totally unpronounceable things like xrfjzmx or kqrlmn or, even worse, actual Welsh words.

What we get instead are 'words' that are friendly to English speaking mouths but still have no meaning - groups of letters like wanam or moopy. It would take some serious programming time to write a program to do that. Today, it's much cheaper to hire a roomful of people in India and have them just punch up some letters on the screen whenever you open a comments page in Blogger.

I was skeptical at first, too. Nah, can't be, I thought, - I'm just being paranoid. No wise guy in India is watching what I type and then making up some curveball of a verification word.

Until a few months ago, that is. I'd read a post on JP's blog about a program that lets you do full marine GPS navigation on an iPhone. This was pretty cool. I made some sort of reply about the software and then, there it was, the verification word:


iMatey

iMatey, fer Chrissakes!!! I swear to Tillerman, I'm not making that up. I'm not clever enough to make that up.

But my point is that no Blogger software program is clever enough, either. Here, finally, was proof positive that some drones in India actually are reading our comments and making up verification words on the fly.

Besides the requisite lower case 'i' that's de rigeur for an iPhone app, 'matey' is a word that's both nautical and cutesy in a marketing kind of way. iMatey would be the perfect product name for the GPS iPhone program in JP's post. There's even the play on words of 'aye, Matey'. It's just too damned perfect. There is a human mind at work here - I'm convinced of it. Some guy in India is bored out of his tree and is messing with me.

After that, I started doing screen grabs of this guy's witticisms.

Here he is having some fun with the old Dan Quayle potato misspelling:



Sometimes, he lowers himself to adolescent bathroom humor:



I make the mistake of revealing in a comment that I work for a newspaper, and he throws this at me:



And just a little too much flip alliteration in a comment on Tillerman's blog and he starts getting critical:




One of my brilliant remarks goes completely over his head, and he tells me this:



But about two weeks ago, he must have had a really bad day. When I left a comment on JP's blog, my jaw dropped at the verification word. This guy is very good. He knows there's no way I can track him down and he knows that Blogger would deny, deny, deny that there is any such room full of Indian word verification typers.

So, he's gotten really brazen. He wasn't cute or witty anymore. He was just crude. There it was, in red and white, sticking it to me in no uncertain terms, the verification word of ultimate defiance:












If this continues, I'm switching to Wordpress!

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November 10, 2009

It's Pottery Wednesday

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This is a full-service blog.

We try to be very responsive to customer complaints around here.

Joe was whinging unmercifully yesterday about not seeing enough posts about pottery on O Dock. Well Joe, I've got your pottery, right here.

Now this isn't a classy antique Greek wine mug with a painting of Dionysos like you posted. I don't have a vast collection of antique wine mugs like you do.

And this isn't a pedigreed metallic-overlayed lustre painted 15th century bowl from the freakin' Victoria and Albert Museum, like Tillerman posted, either.

Joe, mark my words. Tillerman is up to no good with that bowl. He posted and then sat back, practically mute, just waiting for us to make fools of ourselves in the comments page. I'll bet there's some very clever story behind that bowl, with a real 'gotcha' ending that he's just waiting to spring on us.

I'll bet someone like Anna Tunnicliffe got dragged to the Albert and Victoria Museum when she was eight years old, and the sight of that bowl with a sailboat on it was a religious experience for her, and she started sailing Lasers the next day and grew up to become an Olympic champion because of that bowl.

But, at any rate, my pottery isn't as fancy as yours or Tillerman's. I swiped it from my mom's kitchen the last time I visited her. It may not look like much, but it happens to have very special significance for me.

When I was a young brat, around five or six years old, back in 18th century Philadelphia, these were the plates they served me dinner on. They didn't trust me with the good stuff, figuring I might toss them on the floor.

And they always told me, "You can't leave the table until you clean your plate, children are starving in Europe." I never understood how cleaning my plate would help the starving children in Europe at all. But then, they added the kicker line: "You can't get up until you can see the sailboat.

I swear, I'm not making this up.

So fast forward several centuries. I'm all grown up, or as grown up as I'm ever going to be and I'm wondering why I have this obsession with sailboats.

Last summer, I visited my mom, and, in the back of her cupboard, there it was - this old plate from when I was five years old. Joe, I found my ROSEBUD!!!!

This plate! That's it! That's why I'm obsessed with sailing the way I am!

I can't get up. I can't leave the table. I can't do anything. I am thoroughly, completely paralyzed.

Until I can see my sailboat.

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November 8, 2009

I Want Details

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The last post here on O Dock got quite a few comments, most of them from Mr. Tillerman, who, for some reason, decided to delete all of his comments after I replied to them. I'm not quite sure what he was up to, but I think it was one of the following:
  • Expanding the envelope of avant-garde commenting

  • Paying further homage to his minimalist guru, Mies van der Rohe

  • Just giving me a hard time, something he seems to take a certain delight in

  • Getting even with me for all of those times I've left nonsensical, off-topic stuff over on his blog

  • Practicing his sailing knots - in this case a knot popular with many sailors - the elbow bend

There were some complimentary comments about the post, to be sure, and I certainly appreciate those. Thank you, very much.

But, oddly, there were no replies about the topic of the post. No one volunteered any of their own tales about building trust with a spouse or significant other.

I realize I've been extremely lucky to be getting the kind of response I have been in the comments pages here since I started this blog. Many bloggers who are far better at this than I am have taken a long time to attract a readership that's interested enough to leave comments.

But, to be honest, I was expecting to hear from at least a few folks who had faced similar challenges with their spouse/GF/BF/SO while sailing.

I know many have been through nautical sturm und drang with their mates - I've been a sometimes embarassed, sometimes amused witness to much of this on-the-water drama.

In particular, I remember sitting with my wife in the cockpit one day, comfortably moored in the BVI, when an older couple came up to the open mooring next to ours on a small charter boat, she obviously nervous on the bow with an unwieldy boat hook, he firmly in command at the easier job, behind the wheel. What followed was one of the greatest performances of nautical theater that I've ever seen.

It's easy to muff this simple mooring maneuver if you haven't had a little instruction in the basics, and this couple obviously hadn't. So, on their first attempt, they missed the mooring completely. But, what turned this into theater was that they missed on the second attempt, too. And on the third. And on the fourth. And on the fifth. And on the sixth. And on the...we all lost count, eventually, but it went on for an hour, and for the poor couple it must have seemed like it lasted for their whole two-week vacation.

At first there was some squabbling, which escalated with each missed attempt. Frequent hand gestures were employed, but not the ones I see discussed in sailing books. As act followed act, the audience grew throughout the mooring field. Heads started popping out of companionways like so many meerkats. The couple finally gave up, motoring off to another anchorage, I guess, on what had become a very quiet boat. I'm sure that day has been a frequent topic of conversation at their family gatherings ever since. I think I can guess which one of them brings it up.

But, my point (I did have a point, didn't I?) was that I know couples have been known, from time to time, to have shall we say 'differences of opinion' while sailing together. I think this watery battle of the sexes is probably a reason why many of those abandoned boats at most marinas lie idle. What once seemed like something a couple could share happily together, eventually drove them apart.

So, I wonder why there have been no volunteers here at the O Dock confessional or counselors offering sage advice. Is this subject too touchy-feely for a sailing blog? Or just way too sensitive to even discuss? Did my post put everyone to sleep, or are you all smarter than me (my leading theory for now), and wisely choosing to hold your tongues? Or choosing at least to put your tongues to better use than writing comments here? And yes, you can take that however you like.

As George Costanza once said, I want details, and I want them right now.

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November 6, 2009

Who Do You Trust?

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Blogger Greg, of Love and Coconuts, posted a while back about a sail in his new dinghy. He's just learning to sail it and, at the same time, trying to convince his young daughters that sailing is a survivable experience. It seems they are having some doubts.

It dawned on me that it's just that issue of trust that's bedeviled me throughout my whole sailing career. And, I suspect, Greg and I aren't the only ones.

From the beginning, I've wanted to share this whole sailing thing with my wife. She loves being by the water - you know, beaches, sunsets, a glass of merlot - but anything technical is just not her thing.

I remember how jazzed I was the first time we sailed a small dinghy - the acceleration as the sail was sheeted in. For me, this was some kind of impossible magic. But all my wife could say was:

"Be careful, you'll poke your eye out!"

Well OK, maybe those weren't her exact words, but the message was more in her tone. She just wasn't 'getting it' the way I was. She was happy to be along for the ride, if that's what I wanted to do, but she was just humoring me. And could it be she may have been just a little bit scared, too? Is it possible she may have doubted that I knew what I was doing?

Over time, we moved from rented Lasers, to a more stable 'family-style' daysailer, to a sailing club with keel boats, to chartering in turquoise water. At each step, the boats were more comfy and my wife's confidence in me was growing. One incredible day, she actually suggested it might be nice to have our own boat.

Thirty seconds later, there I was at the boat broker's, signing my life away for a slyly smiling 20-year-old Catalina 30 that knew more than it was letting on.

I declared victory - finally we had a boat that was substantial enough for my wife to feel safe on. But little did I suspect the battles that still lay ahead, some of which are still raging today.

What it's taken me years to figure out is that it's not the boat that inspires confidence. It's the skipper. And it's not enough to know how to trim the jib or how to steer through waves. Putting your crew at ease comes from a million little things.

Like knowing that the big wind is coming and getting a reef in ahead of it, sailing off the jib, before anyone goes sliding to the low side of the cockpit, while casually keeping up a friendly chat with your companions as if there were no other way to tie in a reef.

I think the casual chatter is a big part of it. If you can manage that while making the important stuff happen, seemingly all by itself, then you are truly a master of your vessel, in every sense.

A million little things.

I think I'm about half way there. I have just another half a million things to learn.

While others are working on their rolltacks, reading the shifts, and staying ahead of the deathrolls, I am learning when to just say "no" to sailing. When to say, "Today we shop, tomorrow we sail." How to make my wife feel that this is her boat, too. And that she has a say in how it is run. These are hard lessons to learn. Just as hard as backing down from a setting anchor, holding the bow up into the wind. Or figuring out what is exactly the best position for the jib fairlead.

Learning these lessons and failing to learn them has resulted in some of the best times my wife and I have shared together.

And in some of the worst.

One good thing about the small confines of a cruising boat, though, is that there is no place for either of us to run away. There are no doors to slam. We've both learned to face the little calamities and to deal with them, right then and there.

I think we've both learned that sailing together can be something so good that it's worth figuring out how to do without killing each other. I think she's learning to trust me and I think I'm learning to trust her.

How about you? Who do you trust?

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November 3, 2009

Could Someone Please Explain This?

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I think I'm starting to get this blogging thing worked out.

But, so far, two things have absolutely baffled me.

The first is this photo I posted as part of a Support Your Local Rivers post:



I haven't posted too many photos so far, but this is probably the least remarkable of them all. It's an image I swiped from someone's web site, just like anyone else could. And, keep in mind (this is important - it will be on the test at the end of this post), I found it by searching for 'Levi's logo'.

What I can't figure out is why I am getting hits from all over the world for this Levi's logo. No hits from the good ol' U S of A, mind you, but from Mexico, Asia, South America, and Europe. And practically every day. Over and over. If I were anal retentive like some bloggers are, I'd probably put all of the numbers in a spreadsheet and figure out what percentage of my total hits are a result of the Levi's logo. They must be adding up.

Am I being used by those cartels that make all of that knockoff stuff - you know, Rolex watches for $19.99 and Levi's jeans for $8.99?

The weird thing is that I've tried finding this photo on my blog by doing every Google search I could think of:

- Levi's
- Levi Strauss
- Levi's logo
- Hot babes in Levi's
- Hot babes not wearing jeans

Well, OK, I wanted to be thorough in my research. But zip, nada, nothing. I have no idea how all of these people are finding this photo on my blog. And I don't have a good feeling about it at all.

Are the feds going to show up at 3 am and confiscate my laptop? And how do I tell them it's all Tillerman's fault? He's the one who got me into this blogging thing.

Of course, I may have discovered the magic bullet for drawing traffic to a blog. Maybe you just need to post photos of corporate logos and the world will click a path to your door. That would be a lot easier than actually having to write stuff.

The other thing I can't figure out is the guy or gal in the Bahamas who keeps visiting this blog - apparently to actually read the blog and not just download the Levi's logo. If I were in the Bahamas, there's no way I'd be wasting time reading this blog.

I mean, I'm trying to picture how this would work. You're lying on some pristine, white, sandy beach, which is being gently lapped by wavelets of 80-degree turquoise water, your bikini-clad companion by your side. Rainbow-colored fish are playing in the shallows just waiting for you and your bikini-clad companion to snorkel over and join them. The ice in your rum drink crackles as it slowly melts.

And you get up, brush that pristine, white sand off your shorts, walk back through the baking sun to wherever you keep your laptop, and fire it up to read some cockamamie blog that's pretending to be about sailing in San Francisco Bay?

Mr. or Ms. Bahama, if you're reading this, please leave a comment here and explain how this could be. And if you have a boat there, I'd be perfectly willing to swap with you for a few months or a few years, if you find O Dock to be such an exotic, desireable locale.

There are some mysteries in life that I think are just not meant to be solved.
 
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November 1, 2009

Another Misunderstood Husband

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This is turning into Janna week in the sailing blogs (and even here in the pseudosailing blog).

Bonnie featured Janna's book - The Motion of the Ocean - a few days ago, and Tillerman is making noises about doing a full-on review this week. I just got my review copy a few days ago and have only gotten through the first chapter, but like what I have read so far. Janna is not a sailor who decided to write a book about her adventures, she's a writer who went sailing. The difference is apparent right off. I'm looking forward to reading the book and to seeing Tillerman's take on it.

Janna's book is not mainly about sailing, although I guess you could read it just for the sailing bits. She's really looking at the realationship she's had with the guy who's now her husband but who was for many years 'the boyfriend'. And I suspect she gets into the lessons one learns about life and about one's self after spending two years with someone in the tiny space of a cruising boat.

Here's that someone, by the way:



His name is Graeme, which is pronounced like 'Graham', which is pronounced like 'gram'.

I met Graeme at a stop on Janna's book tour in the San Francisco Bay area a few weeks ago. (There's a short video from Janna's reading at the end of this post.) I'm afraid that poor Graeme has been sadly maligned by his wife in the interest of promoting her book. She begins by calling him a butthead (although she uses a more anglo-saxon term) and leads you to believe that that's her final assessment of him. I'm guessing that if you read the whole book, her opinion eventually changes.

My take was that Graeme is a nice, unassuming, mild-mannered, down-to-earth guy. Just the kind of temperament you'd want in someone you were going to go blue-water sailing with. Calm, and not overly-excited in the face of adversity. Why do our wives never see the good in us?

You may have noticed that I haven't mentioned Janna's last name yet. That's because it's extremely tough to get her whole name right all at once. Tillerman has called her 'Jenna'. Bonnie has called her 'Janna Cawrse Esaley'. I know her correct name is one of the following:

-Janna Of Course
-Janna Off Course
-Janna Causes Easterlies
-Janna With The Light Brown Hair
-Janna Janna Bo Hanna Banana Fanna Mohanna
-Janna Cawrse Esarey

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October 30, 2009

Halloween On O Dock



©2009 ~Cowboy-Lucas

Halloween will soon be upon us.

From his spidery, New England mansion, a ghoulish Tillerman has raised the somber question of whether sailing is doomed. Are the shrouds of death slowly wrapping around our sport? Are our decrepit lives so busy today that we have less and less time to spend on boats?

Are we all zombies, slumped over the computer, blogging too much? Or trapped in that suffocating cubicle at work?

Shouldn't we be out in the sunshine sailing that boat we've left to moulder and decompose in some watery graveyard?

We all have our excuses for why we can't go sailing more. The job, the house, the spouse, the kids, the yard, or even working on the boat itself.

But, are these reasons as real as we imagine? Or, are we trapped in tombs of our own making, that we have carefully built over the years until we have no hope of escape?

Is this scary Halloween story from Tim Burton about you?




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October 27, 2009

Rich, Corinthian Sailing

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Most sailors are familiar with the term 'Corinthian' sailing.

The word 'Corinthian' connotes 'amateur' sailing - sailing that is free of any commercial sponsorship or material compensation. Traditionally, the Corinthian sailor sailed his own yacht, without a hired captain.

But no one can agree on just how the word 'Corinthian' came to be used in this way. Who first made the connection between amateur sailing, the ancient Greeks of Corinth, and their love of fair sportsmanship?

The term's application to sailing is actually relatively modern. Few people realize that it refers to the very sailing dinghy I learned to sail on - the 15-foot Mutineer - and to its larger, more famous sibling - the Buccaneer.



These two boats were born of very unlikely parentage - they were products of the Chrysler Corporation - the same company that gave us the Hemi 'Cuda and the Dodge Dart. Chrysler's brilliant engineering was applied to producing truly groundbreaking designs in sailing dinghies in the early 1970's. And the Mutineer is probably most famous for the innovative roller furling system of its jib.

Where conventional systems allow the luff of the jib to be tensioned by a halyard, the engineers at Chrysler - who had no actual sailing experience - found what seemed to them a purer solution. Rather than use a costly commercial furler, they developed a solution better suited to amateur sailors. They attached the jib to a simple piece of limp PVC tubing with ordinary hoseclamps.




The genius of this design was that, no matter how much tension was applied to the forestay, the luff of the jib hung in a graceful, untensioned arc. In the true Corinthian spirit, no competitor would benefit from the unfair advantage of a properly trimmed jib. Thus, the Mutineer was the ultimate expression of Corinthian sailing - amateur engineering for amateur sailors.

To celebrate this remarkable engineering achievement, the marketing department at Chrysler also named the upholstery in their fine motor cars for the Corinthian spirit embodied in their sturdy little sailboat, giving us, in one bold stroke, both Corinthian sailing and Corinthian leather. They hired for their spokesman famous Olympic sailor, Ricardo Montalban. And the sailing world has used the term 'Corinthian Sailing' ever since.

While, sadly, there are no surviving examples of Mr. Montalban's promotional work for the Mutineer or Buccaneer, at O Dock, we have recovered a rare example of his campaign for an equally noteworthy engineering achievement of the period, the Chrysler Cordoba. No Mutineer sailor can watch this stirring tribute to the Corinthian spirit without shedding a few tears.



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