I actually went sailing Saturday.
Well, I had to.
The next item on my endless list of boat maintenance projects was 'calibrate the autopilot', and, there's no getting around it, to do that you actually have to take the boat out of the slip and go sailing.
So, in yet another example of how irony is everywhere in my life, my obsession with boat maintenance finally forced me out of the slip in which it usually imprisons me.
It turns out that, as bays go, this one we've got in San Francisco is quite a fine one for sailing on.
Being in the silicon valley, it has a very web 2.0 menu-driven system for selecting windspeed. First, you ask your crew what wind speed range they would like, enter that in the web page, and up pops a chart of where to go to find that.
Today, my crew suggested, "If you put the rail in the water, thunderbolts from atop Olympus shall smite thee." I entered that in the web page and the flash animation spelled out "wind shadow of Angel Island".
So, off we went.
Of course, to get to the wind shadow of Angel Island, you must first traverse the Evil Berkeley Circle, site of Tillerman's 2011 West Coast Laser Slamdown.
We got an early start through the mild 25-knot gusts before the chop had built to a height that eats Lasers for lunch.
It was somewhere around here that my wife snapped this amazing picture of me. What's amazing about it is that I'm actually smiling - an open-mouthed, genuine, unforced toothy grin. That is actual joy on my face - a miraculous rarity.
Actual un-Photoshopped close-up view showing genuine sailing-induced joy on my face
I am normally a dark, brooding sort, caught up in the sobering social and economic dilemmas of our times, or trying to figure out why some computer user at work is seeing images from the Hubble telescope on their screen instead of today's stock chart.
But I'd managed to find the perfect balance of sail plan and trim to keep us punching through the chop at a good clip while fooling my crew into thinking we were in a 10-knot zephyr, not the raging gale that was hitting us. You have to be a sailor to understand that joy.
Eventually, we found the Angel Island wind shadow, things calmed down and warmed up. Sandwiches were eaten, and another spectacular San Francisco Bay afternoon smiled upon us.
If I were the CEO of some badass oil company that had just visited a plague upon mankind of biblical proportions and wanted to put all of that out of my head for an afternoon, I think this is exactly where I would choose to be.