Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Mr. Toad's Wild Ride or Governor's Cup 2014

Pride of Baltimore II
That's what one of the other crew members V said/yelled in my direction on Friday night/Saturday morning as we sat on the rail in the driving wind & rain sharing slimy gummy bears. Somehow she managed to get them out of the packaging & into our glove-covered hands--a little at a time & we rejoiced when we both got Pineapple--along with a mouthful of rainwater...  the grapes got a healthy dose of Chesapeake Bay water as they almost got swept away--but we caught them in time at least twice. But, we didn't have to worry about washing them off. 

Earlier in the day I'd listened to the weather report & heard that Baltimore was going to be spared the rain but if you were going to be in Southern Maryland like St. Mary's, it would be a different story...sigh. I grabbed my heavy foulies, my life jacket, 2 towels, & 3 changes of clothes & prepared myself for a few rain showers. I thought, well, CBOFs is calling for lighter winds so at least the rain will be manageable....HAH!
The Dove

The race start was 6PM & the Race Committee boat was Pride of Baltimore II. For those who don't know, the Governor's Cup is so named because it is the race from Maryland's new seat of government, Annapolis to the first one, St. Mary's. The Dove was race committee at the end. That is pretty cool. 

Anyway, back to the wild ride. It didn't start that way--we had better wind than expected but so far no rain--we had a decent start & were doing quite well--we decided that we'd have watch shifts of 4 hours on and then off, there were 7 of us--at 8:00 it was my turn to get some sleep--still no rain, & I wedged myself in the quarter berth & tried to sleep--we had a pretty good heel on but I was able to get pretty cozy. Until midnight when it was time to go back up--it had been raining, but not too badly, we were in a bit of a lull & so I thought that things would be pretty low-key. HAH!

The wind picked up, then the rain, then the sea state...ACK! I sat in my heavy foulies with my usual red hat on (Mt Gay Rum CRAB Regatta from 2009--now more pink than red), the hood from my jacket pulled low & tight & braced for the onslaught. The rain hit like little pellets of icicles & made it just about impossible to see much of anything let alone the long tow lights--thankfully not coming in our direction.  At first, I was thinking to myself, "I signed up for this?" I'm freezing, soaked to the bone, tired, & a little bit scared as I rarely have had to sail in these conditions--I just wanted the wind to let up a bit & I'd be fine. Then I thought, "find the zen in this--become one with the storm." Yeah, a little hippie-dippy, but I needed to flip my script 'cuz I was stuck there for the unforeseeable immediate future. I trusted the rest of the crew, knew the boat, & knew that this was a great opportunity to expand my sailing skills. Once I flipped my thinking pattern, I really began to enjoy the exhilarating experience.  I looked at the whitecaps glowing as they crested--bio-luminescent plankton really made the tops of the waves glow in an amazing way as well as the comb-jellies that got disturbed by the wake of the boat--kinda like the picture below but with more waves--it was incredibly cool.
Later, my skipper sat next to me, & yelled in my direction, practically nose-to-nose, "How's this for your first Gov Cup?"  "Intense!" was my response--he said that at times it was a lot like ocean racing--the sounds, the waves, the speed, the intensity. Cool.

One of the highlights for me was our spinnaker run. We could barely carry it because we were so on the beam but, we did for a while & I was trimming.  V was the grinder & thank goodness she was there because we really had to fight to keep it full--imagine, black kite, black sky, bulleting rain in your face--I needed swim goggles (no wonder the Volvo Ocean Racers wear face masks). Anyway, at first we rounded up pretty badly, but I let the sheet ease & we popped back up immediately--heart beating a little fast but under control. So many times as I felt the bow dip down, I gave a little ease & we were good. I heard later that most folk didn't put up their kites.  I feel that my ability to trim under these conditions was put to the test--what a way to see improvement--it is great to see how far I've come from when I began trimming the spinnaker so many years ago to now--of course there's still so much more to learn but I have a real sense of accomplishment from this experience. And after all was said & done, we won silver! Most Improved from the previous year. So happy to be part of the crew who helped win this recognition. I've been asked many times recently, would I do the race again? You betcha'!

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Overnight Racing Part II

Couldn't find this year's but I like this logo


It appears that I've been bitten by the long distance overnight bug--now off to do the Governor's Cup starting tomorrow afternoon. This one is just a bit longer than the Solomons Island Race--68.6 nautical miles. CBOFS http://tidesandcurrents.noaa.gov/ofs/cbofs/wind_forecast.shtml wind prediction is calling for 5-10 knots which is a hell of a lot better than the less than 5 predicted earlier this week. We have a good crew--people I've raced with quite a bit over the years so it will be nice to be out there with them again. I was supposed to do this race in '09 but instead went to Amsterdam...I think I made the right choice. But it has taken me this long to get back to doing it--usually because of scheduling--we tend to go to the beach either the last week of July or the first week of August but this year was a fluke & we'll be going a bit later. So now I'm finally going--I think it was good to get the experience of Solomons first so that I have a better feel for this race--but no fishtraps! Unfortunately I'll have to come back Saturday evening--I usually like to help bring the boat back from wherever we've raced to, but since our kitchen remodel there's stuff I gotta do on Sunday.  But for now, my thoughts are looking to the bay & the overnight into St. Mary's.

Off we go!

Monday, July 21, 2014

Fish Trap Mythology

Dog fight under the moonlight
What an amazing birthday! My last post was anticipating the event but the experience was way better than I anticipated! The wind was better, the race was better, & ultimately my birthday was better! Lucky me.

The race itself was challenging--we were in a dog fight with another boat pretty much the entire way down to Solomons--covering tacks at least a dozen times if not more--sometimes they were ahead, & sometimes we were. And the fish traps! Xing Fu warned that the boat could be swallowed whole & we all laughed...no way!  But even under that full moon, we had our work cut out for us trying to steer clear. Sometimes you could hear a bunch of birds as they sat on top of the poles, but often, nuffin'! And at one point, crash tacking away so that the other boat could be clear ahead was critical. 
Also, as we crept up on another one, we realized that it spread out across the river like this one above--we were so close at one point we could've reached out & grabbed it! Hopefully no boats got caught up in it--didn't hear of any so maybe everyone was able to avoid these hazards this year.

At midnight, the crew sang Happy Birthday & we toasted with a little wine--just before tacking to avoid the fish trap--no rest for the weary! At 3:30 AM, we were getting punchy--the glow from the huge gas dock could be seen for hours & we kept saying--"Oh, there's the gas dock!" for about 4 hours straight. And singing traditional sailing songs....while tacking to keep in the fight. It was a lot of fun, but I was glad to finish at about 7:45 the next morning--beating out 3 boats--including the one we battled with all the way down, that managed to pass us when we were under the wrong spinnaker earlier. We crossed the line 3rd but were corrected over by 2 boats which gave us 5th place...ah, PHRF racing--so close & yet so far. When we got into the marina, there were Bloody Marys & other birthday drinks made by my skipper & another friend: Painkillers for my birthday! Xing Fu drove down & brought birthday cake so another round of Happy Birthday. Needless to say, the morning was a bit hazy--by 1 PM or so, I needed to sleep so I found my way to the motel & crashed for about 3 hours until it was time to go to dinner.

I think I heard Happy Birthday sung to me about 4 times that day--the last was a rousingly loud one by the entire bar at dinner--so fun! And it truly was a birthday for the record books--thanks to all of my sailing friends for such a super celebration!

Looking forward is Governor's Cup--I'm going to do this crazy overnight thing again--adding about 20 more miles....


Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Overnight Racing


I feel that my standard opening lines are always, "Been a while..." Like my very own "Once upon a time." Okay, so, it's been a while. NYC was awesome--Hedwig even awesomer! My son is in Spain for 3 weeks studying Spanish & Global Business & so it has been quieter at home, but I've been keeping very busy with sailing, of course.
Solomons Island

And I'm going to write about sailing--now that's been a while! I think this may have been the first year where I haven't waxed poetic about racing & sailing. I guess it is a "goes without saying" by now, but I'm happy to inform everyone that I'm still out there at least 2-3 days a week racing or sailing, or practicing. This weekend is an overnight race to Solomons Island. It used to be the feeder race for Screwpile which I won't be doing for the 2nd year in a row--sad but as it is now out of sync with the Solomons race, no one wants to keep their boats down there for a week until Screwpile. Plus, racing overnight is more interesting for a lot of people who don't want to do windward-leewards in usually very light air for two days. It is certainly a new experience for me. I was going to do the Gov Cup in 2009 but instead went to Amsterdam--that would have been my first overnight racing experience & ever since, I've been unable to participate in either Solomons or the Governor's Cup because of scheduling reasons. So now it looks like at least I'll be doing Solomons & quite possibly Gov Cup this year--so new racing experiences for me after so many years.  I've sailed at night quite a bit, but no racing. There will be a full "super" moon for this race--how cool--at least we'll have some good ambient light--there can be many hazards: long tows--barges attached to tugs with a very long towing cable, fishing traps that according to Xing Fu can swallow your boat right up, unlit buoys, etc., always need someone on watch for these things but I'm thankful for the full moon & moonset isn't until 5:00 AM~lucky us.  Wind is predicted to be light & we should be beating(close hauled) most of the way, but looking at the stars, the moon, the water--the quiet, nice. And, it is my birthday on the 12th as well! How auspicious--Cancers are ruled by the moon & on my birthday there will be the super moon. Now I can get all horoscope-y & talk about how Cancer is a water sign-I'll be sailing, the super moon, & Fun!
See you in Solomons!

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Hedwig--It All Comes Around Like Karma

What's going on here? I'm actually posting for a third time this week! Not sure why I've been so motivated recently, but it works. 
 
Neil Patrick Harris as Hedwig

I'm really looking forward to this weekend. We're going to NYC. That is exciting to be sure, but we have a reason to go. We are going to see Neil Patrick Harris star in Hedwig & the Angry Inch! Yes! On Broadway! Can you believe that this little snip of a musical has actually gone mainstream? Any of you out there who actually read what I say know how much I love Hedwig & also that I hoped that when I showed it to Xing Fu, he'd get it too.  And so, four years later, we're off to see it live. Every year around February, Xing Fu & I watch Hedwig--it is a reminder of the things that bring us together. I'm very happy that we have these special reminders. And so, I am re-printing my original post about The Hedwig Test & I urge everyone to see the movie with John Cameron Mitchell--the original Hedwig--so awesome. And maybe you'll pass the Hedwig test too! "I put on some make-up, turn on the tape deck, I pull the wig down from the shelf..."

  Would You Pass the Hedwig Test




I love the musical/movie Hedwig & the Angry Inch--I know I've written about it a bunch.  I've seen both the musical (directed by my late friend Terry Long (I miss him!!)) and the movie quite a lot.  It is a bit twisted but it is certainly a love story.  But I think I've developed a test (at least, that's what Xing Fu called it way back when).  The test consists of whether or not a person can appreciate the movie & all of its quirks, & complexities; the humor & the pathos.  


Briefly:


Born a boy named Hansel whose life's dream is to find his other half, Hedwig reluctantly submits to a sex change operation in order to marry an American G. I. and get over the Berlin Wall to freedom. The operation is botched, leaving her with the aforementioned 'angry inch'. Finding herself high, dry and divorced in a Kansas trailer park, she pushes on to form a rock band and encounters a lover/protégé in young Tommy Gnosis, who eventually leaves her, steals her songs and becomes a huge rock star.

A bitter yet witty Hedwig with her pan-Slavic band, The Angry Inch, shadows Tommy's stadium tour, performing in near-empty restaurants for bewildered diners and a few die-hard fans. Through a collage of songs, flashbacks and animation, Hedwig tells her life story while on a tour of chain strip-mall seafood restaurants, trying to capitalize on her tabloid celebrity as the supposed ex-lover of famed rock star, Tommy Gnosis. Somewhere between the crab cakes and the cramped motel rooms, between the anguish and the acid-wash, she pursues her dreams and discovers the origin of love.



There are a lot of references to Aristophanes' speech in Plato's Symposium.  Most specifically in the song the Origin of Love.  My last post was an excerpt from that song.  The movie/musical is full of references to mythology, Christianity, etc., and how aspects of Hedwig's story mirror these ideas.  Additionally, many of the songs also reflect the concept of opposites & contradiction--like I said, there's a lot there.  Also a wonderful homage to glam rock, a la David Bowie androgyny.  I recommend it highly--if you can pass the test that is.

So, early on, I suggested to Xing Fu that we watch this film--in my mind, if a guy can appreciate all the levels, the humor & a little bit of discomfort (transgenders anyone?), then he & I will probably have a lot to talk about in the future.  Not that this is a prime indicator of the success of a possible relationship with a guy, but if he's open-minded, & gets it...well, he gets beyond my 50 first date screening pretty quickly.  Mebbe even closer to prince versus frog status....


I think I've created a monster.  Xing Fu absolutely got it--I knew he would, of course!   And he references the movie often as well.  Passed with flying colors!


Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Never Date a Non-Sailor & Other Truisms




It is not a lack of love, but a lack of friendship that makes unhappy marriages.” – Friedrich Nietzsche



I agree with this statement wholeheartedly. Passionate love only lasts so long--it is the slogging through after the head-over-heals, feet never touching the ground ground feelings wear off that matters. Yes, "the slings & arrows of outrageous fortune" don't go away & how a couple deals with them together makes all the difference. Having the core of a deep friendship can make even the most difficult circumstances bearable. And true love is built on real friendship over time.

Having been through one failed marriage, I've come to the conclusion that my ex & I were at our best as friends. And at one time we were friends but I think we fooled ourselves into thinking that there was enough commonality in values, hobbies, interests to sustain us. There just wasn't. Xing Fu & I joke about the one dating rule that we adhere to: "Never date a non-sailor." We both did not follow that rule the first go 'round & look where it got us...We joke but I think there is a truth there. We met doing what we love--there isn't a day that goes by that sailing isn't mentioned. In fact, our house could be described as a shrine to sailing.  Sad, but true. All of our sailing friends love it...  But, that is our passion. I feel my happiest & most alive when I'm out there & what better than to share that with someone I love & who understands my need to be trimming the kite.  But this isn't a blog about sailing, really...ha! Who'm I kidding??  My point in all of this is that common interests, ahem, obsessions, (joking) are extremely important. I look at other sailing couples in our social circle & being out on the bay together seems to be very satisfying for them as well.  I know that when I was out in the dating scene, I decided to dive back into the sailing community for a big reason--I loved sailing & I really wanted to be with someone else who loved it as well (and my other passion of horseback riding has, like, zero men).  As I've talked about in much earlier posts, even if I didn't meet anyone, I was loving my hobby, er, obsession.  I also want to point out that even though sailing was what drew us together, that wasn't the only thing about our original friendship.  Actually, it was The Who. At least, that's what got us talking in the first place.  And our common interests are very important--we enjoy doing things together & building on the basis of our friendship. I think good marriages & LTRs are bound together by just enjoying being with your best friend.

Below is a little quiz thingy I found about knowing your spouse/significant other. Have you lost touch with these things? Yeah, some of them seem trivial but when I thought about it, I realized that these are the dailys--and adapt as needed--if your partner doesn't like movies that much, how about favorite books.  If you have lost touch--use this as a way to jump off & reach back out to reconnect.

  • I can name my partner's best friends.
  • I know what stresses my partner currently faces.
  • I know the names of those who have been irritating my partner lately.
  • I know some of my partner's life dreams.
  • I am very familiar with my partner's religious beliefs.
  • I can outline my partner's basic philosophy of life.
  • I can list the relatives my partner likes least.
  • I know my partner's favorite music.
  • I can list my partner's favorite three movies.
  • I know the most stressful thing that happened to my partner in childhood.
  • I can list my partner's major aspirations.
  • I know what my partner would do if he/she won a million dollars.
  • I can relate in detail my first impressions of my partner.
  • I ask my partner about his/her world periodically.
  • I feel my partner knows me fairly well. 
Adapted from:  Gottman, J. M., & Silver, N. (1999). The seven principles for making marriage work. New York: Crown. And from "Forever Families" http://foreverfamilies.byu.edu/article.aspx?a=58


Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Will You Cheat?

I came across this infographic about cheating. Very interesting. Especially the large testicles. Question: How many women are now going to inspect their man's testes??? Answer: All of the women who live in DC! *SNORT*