After brainstorming a playlist for the Flying Scot Wife-Husband Championship regatta party –– Bon Jovi! The Carpenters! Sir Mix-a-Lot! Weezer! Pure Prairie League! –– well, I am not done with it, but the internal jukebox is pleading for a break.
Thanks to the civilizing influence of National Public Radio, here's the music that I am listening to now:
As far as spectator sports go, sailboat racing is a bust. Unless it's blowing a gale or there are hydrofoils involved, the boats move so slooooooowly. And the actual event ––! When does it start? When does it end? Everything's indirect: the boats don't even go straight from A to B.
Onboard, it's a whole different story. Even on the nicest of days, improbable things happen* –– usually quite rapidly.
*This makes reasonable scientific sense: it's a law of physics that things tend to become more random.
For improbable example, a remora attached itself to our boat. My skipper and I were racing on Sarasota Bay, in our rotund Flying Scot*.
Going downwind, I usually nip back to the stern and give the rudder a quick wipe, in case we are trailing seaweed or we've picked up some other slow debris. Sliding my hand along the slab of metal in the water, I really was not expecting to feel a live, swimming, wiggling fish. A remora.
*(Full Disclosure: all Flying Scots are rotund)
Though I grabbed the fish –– knowing it would be the Best Sailing Story EVER if I could land the nightmarish creature with my bare hands –– it wiggled free and re-attached its creepy suction-cup head to the boat.
I took another swipe at it, and then another: eight seconds of piscatorial rodeo.
Whether because of the yanking on its slippery hind-parts or by virtue of my powerfully girlish shrieking, the fish came loose and swam away after while...one hopes it found a more peaceable commensal partner.
I expected that the ruckus might have caught the attention of my favorite skipper. Surely he'd glanced back to see if I had fallen overboard or lost a limb or something, even if he couldn't fully participate in the battle. But when I scrambled to my usual spot, he replied with a simple, "Huh," after I told him what had transpired.
A fish that can suction its bony head-plate onto boats (or sharks or humans) in roughly the manner of a party-goer applying an Solo cup to her chin? Okay. But it finds our boat? During the selected 25 minutes of that race when we were going downwind?
The universe may tend toward randomness, but maybe there's a far shore of random that looks like order, or perhaps intention. Or not.
Today is the final day of the 2015 Flying Scot North Americans here in Bay Waveland, Mississippi (a state, by the way, that I invariably spell to the tune I learned in third grade. Thank you, Mr. Spering. And, farther away from the road, which the locals pronounce: Ms. Zippy).
Results will appear here.
My favorite skipper steered us to victory over some excellent racing friends this past week at the Flying Scot Midwinters in Sarasota, Florida.
And while I can blather on about our charming little boat, what we do to get ready, or how we maintain a level of physical fitness, or what tactics gave us the tiny edge we needed, really, my heart's not in that story right now.
It's just another sailboat regatta...but not really.
It's never just another one. Each event is oddly* distinct even though we boil the sport down to a few clichés every time, like:
1. It is what it is. This useful phrase helps reconcile any philosophically challenging moments as we wait for the competition to get underway or recommence.
2. Everybody needs a little good luck. It's simple and true: every win in sailing requires an amount of good fortune. Sometimes all the stars have to form a bee-line (technically known as a "syzygy," which is a brilliant Scrabble word, by the way) before you can get the top spot, while only a minuscule scrap of bad luck can destroy months of hard work and preparation.
3. We aren't saving lives/doing brain surgery/making money out here, so we might as well have a beer while we are at it. (Q.E.D.)
There are more. Sports simply must generate clichés because of the repetitive repetitive nature of the games. But these three highlights are sufficient unto the day.
*Truly odd: decades' worth of regattas at the same location for some of these things and not once has the weather, our performance, AND the competition re-aligned to give the same experience. Not to mention the wildly fluctuating levels of good luck...
Just a quick update: no blog to speak of today, as we are on the water.
This photo from race #1. Results here.
Sailboat racing. Thank you, Ralph Lauren and Hugo Boss for giving us an unrealistic but pretty image of the sport. There may -- indeed -- be clean-cut lanky kids with delicious haircuts who stand looking manfully out to sea while sporting spotless linen trousers and fresh stripey shirts, but they are not on my racecourse.
We might have looked better, but we felt pretty amazing.
Taking a break from the blog, because months of planning and organizing and practicing have carried us -- like a roller coaster screeching to a halt -- to the end of February. And the start of the Everglades Challenge adventure race.
I'll be updating the Frankenscot Facebook page as frequently as I can. The Water Tribe website will track the competitors here, and Frankenscot is of course a Class 4 boat with TwoBeers and Moresailesaid as crew.
Meanwhile, hope it's a great week for everyone and that we all arrive home safe and sound at the end of it.
When TwoBeers (the WaterTribe name for my husband) first decided to transform an elderly, mild-mannered Flying Scot sailboat into a vehicle suitable to the Everglades Challenge adventure race, he never guessed that the project would siphon up two and a half seasons' worth of fishing time.
That's a lot of weekends and evenings. While the fish have enjoyed their vacation, our house has been a hive of activity: preparing, building and rebuilding, plotting routes, and thinking about what might go wrong when pointing a small boat away from shore.
We are not the first to ponder and worry. The organizers of the Everglades Challenge have an extensive list of required safety gear -- and it includes a cell phone. (Those who know TwoBeers can take a moment to nod wisely and chuckle at the irony.) So like it or not, my favorite captain has been venturing into the 21st Century.
Although TwoBeers spent many of his childhood summers cruising the Bahamas with his pappa and brother, and he put in plenty of long-distance miles delivering boats in the years since, the Everglades Challenge IS a different kind of race.
Luckily, his crew, Moresailesed (aka Jahn "Wild Card" Tihansky), coaches the Navy off-shore team. He's also an amateur pilot. This means he practices navigation, preaches navigation, and has a keen appreciation for the value of safety gear.
So while TwoBeers has been focused on boat-speed and design, Moresailesed has been leading the charge on navigation, with EnsignRumDown (Mark Taylor) as expert IT director. On the advice of a cruising friend R, we are trying out Navionics electronic charts. We even found a folding solar charger with a pair of USB ports for charging the hand-held electronics. Frankenscot's progress will be tracked closely by satellite.
At the other end of the technology spectrum, I bring you...FIRE.
All the high-tech gadgets in the world are well and good, but if it comes to making a rough landing on a dark and cold shore, the thing that will keep a body alive is very basic indeed.
The Campmor catalog has provided a lot of cool gear (cozy sleeping bags, mylar survival blankets, water purification tablets, a snake-bite kit, and waterproof stuff-sacks), but the coolest of them all? The sheath-knife with a magnesium fire-starter stick built right into the handle.
Strike the steel blade along the magnesium and you get (kettle-drums sound off here: Dun-Dun! Dun-Dun!) fire!
Well, not quite fire: more exactly, sparks of molten magnesium at around 1200 degrees that -- after a number of practice attempts as you get the hang of it -- will create flame in a bit of tinder.
Stone Age high technology. It's our hope that Frankenscot will carry the crew safe to the finish, but they'll have a hand-line (Hey, fish, wake up!) and the means for fire, just in case.
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