Quote of the Month

"Not all those who wander are lost." J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, 1954.

“We must change our attitudes toward the ocean. We must regard it as no longer a mystery, a menace, something so vast and invulnerable that we need not concern ourselves with it … Instead we want to explore the themes of the ocean’s existence—how it moves and breathes, how it experiences dramas and seasons, how it nourishes its hosts of living things, how it harmonizes the physical and biological rhythms of the whole earth, what hurts it and what feeds it—not least of all, what are its stories.” Jacques Yves Cousteau, 1910-1997.

"It's the glory of the sea that has turned my head." Robert Louis Stevenson, Treasure Island, 1894.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Vive la Différence!

There is a difference between sailing with men and sailing with women. My attempt is not to state that one is better than the other, but that they're different and enjoyable in their own way.

Nelson, Bob, and Fred

Sunday, February 25, 2012.  Sailing with Men. There was a small craft advisory warning, ENE winds 15-18 knots with higher gusts, and the seas were 3-4 feet with north swells.  Sunny, threatening storms. The crew: Eva, Betty, Nelson (savvy sailor), Bob (former owner of an Island Packet 35), and Fred (twice winner of best sailor of the year award). The plan was to go to Palomino.

Normally, I wouldn't sail with a warning, but the men were keen. They were sea knowledgeable; the only kind of men with whom to sail, especially with a warning. We left the dock at 10:00 a.m. and returned at 1:00 p.m. It was very gusty, so we tried sailing with just the mainsail. The men displayed their best sailing rhetoric, argued about the best rigging for the weather, raised voices, cajoled, and insisted that in sailing, where quick, sharp decisions require fast reflexes, yelling is a must. And they yelled, and laughed, and boasted sailing strategies, and took in all the weather could muster. The weather obliged, sending high swells, gusts, and menacing clouds in the horizon.

Betty's body rebelled with all the tossing and turning; sea sickness engulfed her from beginning to end. A trooper nonetheless, she was a good sport, in spite of her mal de mer. The men were like athletes in extreme weather sports. Me, I learned a few strategies for rough weather sailing, which are always welcome. I enjoyed seeing how much weather Andariego could take with full sails and with the mainsail alone. For a brief moment, Andariego was heeling a good 30 degrees and we were washing boards. Though I did not enjoy the feeling (I certainly didn't want to see my keel while sailing that morning), I observed what he could take, before I requested to roll the jib, which the men did immediately. We never made Palomino.

Fred wrote in Andariego's log, "What a treat! ... Such a clean well cared for boat. Well equipped. Very impressed."  Nelson added, "Fantastico! ... It was a windy vigorous sail, and we got all we could handle without a reef. Beautiful boat too." Betty wrote, "... You were also so understanding and forgiving of these guys who yell! Thanks for the day and for your friendship." There was nothing to forgive; they were sailors having fun. I was also a sailor having fun. But then I saw a dark set of clouds in the distant horizon. I requested to return and call it a day. A great crew, they went through all the motions to head back. Nelson checked his radar connection and verified that indeed it was a strong weather front. He added in the log, "You're a good weather forecaster." As we docked, Fred missed grabbing the aft lines (the break) with the hook and I tapped the dock box with the pulpit. No damage done, but not a smooth docking. The rain started so we had our lunch in the main cabin. We hosed the boat and left Andariego immediately to catch the ferry back home.

Punta Águila, Palomino
Friday, March 2, 2012. Sailing with Women. There was an 'exercise caution' advisory but no major warnings, ENE winds 14-17 knots, and the seas were 3-5 feet.  Sunny with scattered clouds. The crew: Eva, Betty, Margarita, Sue, and María. The plan was to go to Palomino.

We sailed out at 11:15 a.m. and returned at 5:15 p.m. Everyone was assigned a task as we were docking out: bow lines, starboard spring lines, port side, aft lines. I had to go in reverse making sure not to hit any of the concrete fingers and columns on the way. The crew was ready to fend off from their post. It was done smoothly.

As we headed out, the food (enough for a weekend sail) was put away, waters served and the conversations started. As we passed our first green marker, we got ready to raise the main. It was jammed halfway up. In a Socratic mode of problem solving, we asked questions, checked, asked questions again, until we realized the main halyard was jammed by the lazy jacks. Sue sorted it out and Maria raised the main without a problem. Sue was behind the helm most of the way. We sailed with the main for a while, until the wind subsided. We unfurled the jib, and with two tacks, we sailed straight to Palomino. All sails down without a hitch, we caught a mooring on our first try, celebrated our sail and had a regal lunch. Margarita brought homemade hommus and grapes. Betty made her famous Gazpacho soup. There was tarragon dip and Maria's dip with pimentos. Wheat roll-ups, marzipan, pan sobao, Margarita's mojito with yerbabuena, and wines.

Betty and Eva
Then we went for a swim. We talked and listened to jazz. While I was in the water floating about and enjoying the day, I looked at my watch, thinking it was shortly after noon. It was nearly 4:00 p.m. We put away leftover goodies and sailed into the sunset with the wind on our backs. A smooth sunset sail, we docked quietly, without any glitches. Betty was never seasick and remarked in the log, "Best captain, best crew, and absolutely my best ever day of sailing. I'll never forget it ..."

We packed and cleaned up. Some had to go; most stayed. Then we sat down in the cockpit area as it darkened, sharing thoughts of the day and about sails to come. Someone looked up the mast and noticed the moon just above it, as someone else softly remarked that Andariego had an awesome anchor light.
and the rainbow welcomed us back