Wednesday, June 30, 2010

The Rabbit and the Old Dog

When I fail to win a sailboat race (which happens most of the time) I am usually confused as to why I failed. Was there one reason or many? Was it getting a bad start? Poor boat speed relative to the fleet? Wrong strategy? Etc. etc. etc. It seems hard to makes sense of what happened when you were flailing around in bad air in a crowd of sailors in the middle of the fleet.

But on the rare occasions that I win a race, it all seems much more simple. Usually it is because of one decision I made or one move that I executed that put me out in front. And sailing in front of the fleet is a hell of a lot easier than all that mid-fleet confusion.

Such was the case last night.

It turned out to be another superb evening for informal Laser racing in Bristol Harbor. The wind was patchy and fluky when we first launched but it eventually settled into a light but steady NW breeze and we completed six or so windward-leeward races. There were eleven boats out, the largest fleet that we've had so far on the Tuesdays I've attended.

Our usual fleet captain was not present so there was a bit of confusion as we all waited for someone else to take charge and decide on a course. Once the course was decided there was even more confusion about which of the no-wake markers was actually the windward mark.

"That one up there?"


"The third one."

"Third counting from where?"

"The one to the left of the other one."

"Which other one?"

And so on.

Eventually we got the racing going with a rabbit start and sort of allowed the leader of the first race to decide to choose which mark to round. Then after the race we all had a good argument as to which mark would have been better. After a couple of races everybody knew what the course was and we settled in for some good racing.

I was doing OK in the first couple of races, up in the top four or five as I recall, and was pretty pleased with that. My boat speed was good, partly thanks to all that practice in light air clinics with Kurt Taulbee in Florida I think.

The rabbit for the next race set off on her run and everyone screamed at her that they weren't ready so we did a restart. I notice that she didn't take as long an approach run as the rabbits in the earlier races, so I hovered near the leeward mark/ start buoy expecting her to do the same again. She did. I made a perfect start on her transom and when I looked back a few seconds later I saw that the rest of the fleet hadn't been quite so lucky. Or observant? Or as well prepared?

Anyway, I was leading off the start. I looked up the course and the wind looked stronger on the left so I worked that side of the course and was first at the windward mark. Did a perfectly acceptable rounding and bear away (something I've been practicing a bit lately) and sailed the run partly by the lee and partly on a broad reach aiming to keep good flow on the sail in the light air.

One win.

I was rabbit for the next race and so was over on the right side of the course by the time everyone had ducked me. I still rounded the windward mark with the leaders and finished around third or fourth.

The next race I tried for a start on the left again, soon after the rabbit rounded the buoy. Unfortunately so did three other sailors. I was pinned between two boats and gasping for air. As I wanted to go left I actually ducked behind the boat to leeward that was trying to pinch me off and bore off into clear air. Eventually everyone else tacked away and I went off to bang the left-hand corner. I had lots of pressure, and a slight lift as I cracked off a couple of degrees to round the windward mark in first place again.

My lead was big enough that nobody could catch me on the run. Two wins.

One of the the other sailors came up to me after racing and laughingly congratulated me on winning the evening. I wasn't so sure that was true as we don't keep score, but it was certainly my best Tuesday so far.

Sailboat racing is pretty simple really. Win the start. Sail where there is more wind. Don't screw up.

OK. I know it was only Tuesday night informal short course practice racing. I shouldn't get too cocky about it. But it has given me a boost of confidence after some pretty mediocre results on previous Tuesdays and at the Wickford Regatta a few weeks back. Especially as the sailors in this fleet are no pushovers. There are some people in this fleet who have achieved more in sailing than I can ever hope to. Any time I can finish in front of all of them - and twice - is a good day.

There's life in the old dog yet.

Sailing Coverage for the Rest of Us

There's a great article by Jarrett Fifield about sailing blogs (and other watery blogs) in the July issue of LI Sail, a digital sailing magazine about sailing in Long Island waters.

The article is on pages 134-143 and mentions Proper Course along with tugster, frogma, Jos Spijkerman's Racing Rules of Sailing and Edwards' EVK4 Superbblog.

Jarrett is a fellow blogger, author of The Good Old Boat Redwing.

Monday, June 28, 2010

New Crew

My crew for the 2018 sailing season, grandson Owen born last Wednesday.


Regular readers of my blog will know that one of the places I sail most frequently is Bristol Harbor, whether it be for the Tuesday night informal Laser racing or solo practice.

It feels like a pretty safe place generally. If I broke the mast or the boom on my Laser when sailing on my own there in the winter, I would probably wash up on some shore or other before my extremities froze or dropped off. And usually there's not so much traffic that I fear being run down by another boat.

Having said that I do keep clear of the Prudence Island Ferry. I suspect he wouldn't change course for the crazy old Laser geezer.

And there have been some heart-stopping moments on Tuesday nights when the Bristol YC A-cat fleet has been racing on a course that overlapped with ours. Those things are sooo fast and come up on you sooooo quietly.

I also keep an eye out for random motorboats and, if I'm not racing, usually change course to keep well out of their way. I'm never sure if anyone on board is actually looking where they are going.

Sounds as if the latter precaution is well worthwhile as there is news of a sailboat that was rammed amidships by a motorboat while racing last Wednesday evening in light winds in the harbor.

“It was 8:20 p.m., the wind had pretty much died out and the boats were drifting,” a witness on shore said.

“We were walking away when we heard a powerboat and a woman on board just whooping it up. Then there was an incredible crash — it sounded like an explosion.”

The 31 foot Beneteau ended up with a huge gaping hole amidships. Both people on the motorboat, a 21 foot Boston Whaler, were injured but the crew on the yacht were all in the cockpit abaft of the point of impact and so escaped without serious injury.

The forces of law and order have surmised that "speed was clearly a possible cause."

I should say so.

The picture below (stolen shamelessly from shows the hole in the side of the yacht with part of the deck of the powerboat hanging out.

Yikes. It's a dangerous world out there kiddies. It's not you, it's the other guy you need to worry about. Especially those evil powerboat drivers. Keep a good lookout. Play safe.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Younger Than Bob Dylan

Thanks to for including Proper Course on their recent post 48 Beginners Boating Sites and Tips Pages. But no thanks for the tag they put against the Proper Course link: From a sailor in his 60's.

Come on people at! Nobody is going to be motivated by that tag to click on my link. Who wants to read some boring old blog "from a sailor in his 60's"? Especially when the other choices are blogs with such tantalizing descriptions as "A man finds a small boat and uses it for circumnavigation" or "A captain sails the Northwest Passage alone." Even my blogging friend Adam has a good positive plug for his "whimsical nautical blog."

From a sailor in his 60's!!! Is that the kindest thing they could find to say about Proper Course? No mention of my epic tales of world-championship Laser racing. No credit for my talent at self-deprecating humor. Not a word about my zany coverage of monster truck videos and synchronized swimming goldfish.

Why do I bother?

I suppose I only have myself to blame. This whole "Cheat the nursing home. Die on your LASER" ethos kind of draws attention to my age. Not to mention that in my description of myself in the sidebar I start off by mentioning that I am a grandfather and am over 60.

But I don't particularly want this blog to be defined solely by my age. I am more than the number of years that I happen to have inhabited this planet.

Perhaps I need to change those age-related signals that are so prominent on the blog? No more "cheat the nursing home." No more grandfather talk.

Wait. Maybe I should go the whole hog and rewrite that whole mini-biography. Why mention that I am a Laser sailor at all? It only invites readers like Sir Puffing Pecan, or whatever his name is, to have a go at me when every single post isn't about Laser sailing. Apparently he wants more posts about "vang tension" of all things. Get a life Sir. It is what it is.

I could turn this into a more general outdoors activities blog. Or a tree-hugging environmentalist natural food freak blog. Or an advice blog on how to be an active baby boomer in early retirement full of investment advice and health tips. Then I could monetize it with adverts for high fee variable annuities and products to treat erectile dysfunction. Not that I have any problems in that department of course. No wait, that's getting back to the age thing again.

Do other bloggers have this problem? Do you write a "mission statement" for what you want to blog about and then find that you have actually walled yourself in to writing about one narrow slice of the multi-ingredient pizza that is really your life?

Do "real" writers suffer from the same issue of being boxed into one particular genre? Did Arthur C. Clarke ever get sick of writing science fiction and long to churn our some trashy romantic novels? Did Tolstoy want to try his hand at limericks? We'll never know.

Of course, fans get upset when an artist switches gears like that. Bob Dylan's fans booed him when he "went electric" at the Newport Folk Festival in 1965 because Dylan was a folk singer and "folk" was acoustic. It just was. Well it was until Bob decided it wasn't. It is what it wasn't.

So, having arrogantly compared myself to Clarke, Dylan and Tolstoy, where do I go from here?

I have no idea.

But I am younger than Bob Dylan. So there.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

We're Gonna Need a Bigger Boat

My third grandchild, Owen Thomas, arrived in the world yesterday afternoon. A couple of hours later we took Aidan and Emily into the hospital to meet their new baby brother. Everyone is doing fine.

Owen is a big guy, 9lb 12 oz at birth. Definitely keelboat crew potential. And sometime soon I will need to work out the logistics of how to take three grandkids sailing.

We're gonna need a bigger boat.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Ohmigod It's Insane!

This looks like even more fun than Laser sailing.

How do I get in?

Monday, June 21, 2010

Unknown Unknowns

Is it possible to be so incompetent that you don't know you are incompetent? How can you know what you don't know? Is this why I never get any better at Laser racing?

Fascinating article on the NY Times website today about the Dunning-Kruger effect. The example that heads the article is one of those stupid criminal stories about an incompetent bank robber who thought that rubbing lemon juice on his face would make him invisible to surveillance cameras. He even "proved" that his method worked by trying to take a photo of himself with a Polaroid camera. (This was in the mid-1990s.) He was such a klutz that he somehow failed to appear in his own photo! QED.

This led Dunning and Kruger to do some research and publish a paper entitled “Unskilled and Unaware of It: How Difficulties of Recognizing One’s Own Incompetence Lead to Inflated Self-assessments.”

"Unskilled and unaware of it." Perhaps that's my problem. I don't know what I don't know. How could I? How can I fix what I'm doing wrong if I am so incompetent that I don't know what I am doing wrong?

What are the unknown unknowns of Laser sailing?

I have no idea.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Tony Goes Yotting

Tony Hayward, CEO of BP, went to watch his boat Bob
sail in the Round the Island Race today.

Mr. Hayward, I'm speaking now totally for myself. I'm not speaking for sailors, I'm not speaking for oil executives.

But I'm ashamed of what happened in the press and the blogosphere and the twittersphere today. I think it is a tragedy of the first proportion that a private person could be subjected to what I would characterize as humiliating ridicule that's unprecedented in our nation's history, that's got no legal standing, and which sets, I think, a terrible precedent for the future.

There is no question that you are a stupid prat. But we have a due process system where we go through hearings, in some cases court cases, litigation, and determine who is a stupid prat and when you should have to wear a silly hat saying you are a stupid prat.

So I'm only speaking for myself, I'm not speaking for anybody else, but I apologize. I do not want to live in a country where any time a private citizen causes the biggest environmental disaster in our nation's history and then buggers off to the Isle of Wight to enjoy a bit of yotting, he's subjected to some sort of publicity that again, in my words, amounts to humiliating ridicule.

So I apologize.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Truly Awful Poetry

Some days it's far too windy
to sail on the bay alone.
Some days there is no wind at all
so I may as well stay at home
Some days make you want to sail
when you should be doing laundry.

Tuesday was a day like that.

Some days I just goof around
and have no plan at all.
Some days I do random practice
like this day when I did it all.
Some days I want to work on a single skill.
It's just another way to train.

Tuesday was a day like that.

Some skills evade me after all these years
like roll tacks in light air.
Some coaches have tried to teach me the tricks
but I really can't remember where.
Some things I have to learn by trial and error
until they are as familiar as eating cornflakes.

Tuesday was a day like that.

Some places are cold and shifty
like Newport on a winter's day.
Some places are full of sailing friends
like Bristol after work on Tuesday.
Some places are remote and lonely
like the Sakonnet River near Fogland Beach on a summer morning.

Tuesday was a day like that.

Some posts are angry
and on others I just ramble.
Some posts are so darned silly
that my readers want to scramble.
Some days I just scribble bad poetry
with lines that go on and on that I never should have written.

Today was a day like that.

In memory of William Topaz McGonagall.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Mad Farmer Liberation Front

Manifesto: The Mad Farmer Liberation Front
by Wendell Berry

Love the quick profit, the annual raise,
vacation with pay. Want more
of everything ready-made. Be afraid
to know your neighbors and to die.
And you will have a window in your head.
Not even your future will be a mystery
any more. Your mind will be punched in a card
and shut away in a little drawer.
When they want you to buy something
they will call you. When they want you
to die for profit they will let you know.

So, friends, every day do something
that won't compute. Love the Lord.
Love the world. Work for nothing.
Take all that you have and be poor.
Love someone who does not deserve it.
Denounce the government and embrace
the flag. Hope to live in that free
republic for which it stands.
Give your approval to all you cannot
understand. Praise ignorance, for what man
has not encountered he has not destroyed.

Ask the questions that have no answers.
Invest in the millenium. Plant sequoias.
Say that your main crop is the forest
that you did not plant,
that you will not live to harvest.
Say that the leaves are harvested
when they have rotted into the mold.
Call that profit. Prophesy such returns.

Put your faith in the two inches of humus
that will build under the trees
every thousand years.
Listen to carrion - put your ear
close, and hear the faint chattering
of the songs that are to come.
Expect the end of the world. Laugh.
Laughter is immeasurable. Be joyful
though you have considered all the facts.
So long as women do not go cheap
for power, please women more than men.
Ask yourself: Will this satisfy
a woman satisfied to bear a child?
Will this disturb the sleep
of a woman near to giving birth?

Go with your love to the fields.
Lie down in the shade. Rest your head
in her lap. Swear allegiance
to what is nighest your thoughts.
As soon as the generals and the politicos
can predict the motions of your mind,
lose it. Leave it as a sign
to mark the false trail, the way
you didn't go. Be like the fox
who makes more tracks than necessary,
some in the wrong direction.
Practice resurrection.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Ummm... No!

I had to chuckle at yesterday's press release from the New York Yacht Club which was faithfully republished by that well-known faithful republisher of press releases, Scuttlebutt. The opening paragraph reads...

Known as the longest running regatta in America, the New York Yacht Club’s 156th Annual Regatta presented by Rolex also has the distinction of kicking off the sailing season in New England. This past weekend, June 11-13, over 1,000 sailors on 111 boats gathered from across the U.S. and Europe for three days of racing on Narragansett Bay and Rhode Island Sound.

"Kicking off the sailing season" on the second weekend in June!!!

Ummm... No!

Who are these people? Don't they have eyes to see?

Dear New York Yacht Club, some of us have been sailing in New England since January. If you had bothered to look out of the windows of your Harbour Court club house in Newport on January 10, you might have seen us. That's when the sailing season started around here. Not June 11.

Friday, June 11, 2010

The Rhubarb Man

Carol Anne of Five O'Clock Somewhere has challenged us to describe a dinner we would prepare for fellow waterbloggers on a fantasy food tour. What meal would I prepare for these friends after a long day Laser sailing on the waters of Narragansett Bay with me?

Carol Anne says it has to be...

  • easy - because I would be too tired from sailing to spend much effort on it
  • yummy
  • prepared on or near the water.


I think I'm going to change the rules a little.

  1. The meal will be prepared close to the water and eaten in sight of it, because we are lucky enough to live in a house high above the shores of Mount Hope Bay with superb views across the bay to Bristol and Warren.
  2. The meal will definitely be yummy because Tillerwoman is an excellent cook, and I am smart enough to let her do most of the cooking in our household. I am sometimes allowed to do simple preparation chores like peeling shrimp or making guacamole but she is definitely in charge in the kitchen.
  3. Which gives me an opportunity to circumvent our stern taskmaster's first rule. Tillerwoman doesn't sail but loves to cook. I don't cook but love to sail. So she will be doing most of the work to prepare the meal and as she won't be tired from sailing, it doesn't have to be all that easy.

But what to serve? Something traditionally English, I think. Roast beef and Yorkshire pudding perhaps? Or more likely a slight variation on that theme, Beef Wellington, beef tenderloin coated with pâté and duxelles, which is then wrapped in puff pastry and baked. Some would argue this is really French, it is only filet de bœuf en croûte after all, but the name Wellington is English enough.

The beef would be accompanied by fresh vegetables from Tillerwoman's garden... peas, beans, carrots, onions... whatever is in season. While the beef is cooking our guests would enjoy cocktails on our deck overlooking the bay and we would relive the events of the Laser racing at the day's regatta...

Who knew that O Docker would be so fast upwind? What about that move that Baydog pulled at the start of the third race? Where did JP learn to do roll tacks like that? Did you see Carol Anne ride those waves? Did anyone get a photo of Bonnie's hat?

And how about that spectacular death roll that Joe Rouse performed the only time he was leading a race? Someone got it on video? It's on YouTube? Great!

After the main course we would have dessert of Rhubarb Crumble. The rhubarb would also be fresh from Tillerwoman's garden. Her rhubarb crumble is the most delicious pudding I have ever tasted and I'm sure she's not going to release her recipe to a bunch of bloggers, so don't ask. It's marvellous with heavy cream, and even better with ice cream.

Rhubarb reminds me of growing up in England. Everyone in our family had a rhubarb patch at the back of the garden. I guess it grows well in a cold, damp climate... and it's quite rampant in our Rhode Island garden too.

I only discovered how much rhubarb is part of my heritage a few days ago. My mother is almost 90 years old and now lives in a care home in Oxfordshire in England near where my sister lives. Her physical health is in reasonable shape for her age but she is definitely losing her short-term memory. However, her long-term memory is excellent. I phone her several times a week and she usually can't recall who has visited her this week or what she had for lunch. But she will retell stories from the 1930's and 1940's which she remembers vividly.

I mentioned the other day that we have a rhubarb patch in our garden here and she excitedly told me that her father, my grandfather, who died when I was only a few years old and of whom I only have the faintest memory, was known in their neighborhood as... "The Rhubarb Man." Apparently it was because he grew rhubarb in such vast quantities that he was always giving it away to all his neighbors.

So now I know that rhubarb is in my blood. I am The Rhubarb Man.


Wednesday, June 09, 2010

A Man with a Goat and a Stick and a Cessna

What can I say? Another superb Tuesday evening of Laser practice racing in Bristol Harbor, this time in a gusty north-westerly.

This week there were seven of us and we were on the water for a couple of hours racing windward-leeward courses with rabbit starts. My upwind speed usually placed me about fifth out of the seven, so I really had to work hard to place higher than this... which I did occasionally when someone in front of me made a mistake. Downwind I seemed to be slow early in the evening but later found more speed and was passing other boats in some races.

This kind of small group practice is exactly what I need to work on my boatspeed and tactics. Training with such quality sailors is all good.

Afterwards it was off to Redlefsens where I enjoyed the Wurst Platter and a couple of glasses of Pilsner Urquell and a wide-ranging conversation with all the other sailors. I know that we talked about saving sailing and how to beat a man with a goat and a stick, but the rest is a blur.

If you are a Laser sailor in this area and can get out of work early enough to make it to Bristol, you owe it to yourself to come and join us. I promise you won't be disappointed. Meet outside the mooring field at 5:30 pm.

I think I've exhausted my store of verbal and visual puns around wurst and sausages in previous posts so I won't bore you with those. I think I've exhausted my ways to describe how much fun Laser sailing is too, so I won't even try to do that. Actually, after last night, I think I'm just exhausted.

Last week I mentioned that in the parking lot next to the beach there was an army veteran with an old day sailer and a van. One of my readers surmised it might be Larry Ellison playing a joke on us. Huh? Anyway, this week "Larry" was still there pottering about with his boat. But there was also a plane. Honestly. I saw it before drinking the Pilsner. There must be a story as to why there is a Cessna in the parking lot but I have no idea what it is.

Tuesday, June 08, 2010

Let It Be... Random

How to practice?

I went over to Bristol on Monday for some solo practice in a puffy, shifty, westerly breeze. For some reason I recalled a post I wrote about Practice almost five years ago in which I discussed the relative merits of "block" vs "random" practice. Block practice is repetitive practice over and over again of a single skill, like doing 100 roll tacks one after the other, and then moving on to blocks of practice of other skills such as gybes or mark roundings; random practice would be to practice different skills one after the other such as a gybe, a leeward mark rounding, sailing fast upwind, a tack, a windward mark rounding. Research has shown that block practice improves the given skill on the practice day; but random practice has more beneficial effects when tests are conducted on another day a.k.a. as using those skills in a regatta.

Go figure.

So I did some "random" practice. Actually I sailed round and round and round a windward-leeward course between a couple of "No Wake" buoys. Had a chance to work on all the things I am total crap at such as upwind sailing, downwind sailing, tacks, gybes, judging laylines, sailing fast in a steady wind, sailing fast in a shifty wind, windward mark roundings and leeward mark roundings. Come to think of it, what else is there?

For light relief I did do a bit of "block" practice on reaches and gybes, a.k.a. just goofing off and having fun.

I also remembered something that Jay Livingston wrote a few weeks ago in Practice Towards Perfection.

For me, practice is a form of meditation. And just like sitting meditation, I find my attention wandering. And just like meditation I need to draw my attention back to the present moment – the motion of my body and the boat. No recriminations for the slip in attention, just a nudge back to the task at hand. With practice my attention “learns” what it feels like to be placed in the moment and I can keep it there a bit easier, for a bit longer.

No recriminations. My performance is what it is. Let it be.

Sunday, June 06, 2010

Visualizing the BP Oil Spill Disaster

Thanks to Bowsprite for directing us to Visualizing the BP Oil Spill Disaster, a site which enables us to appreciate the size of the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico if it were in our home waters.

The graphic above shows how far the oil spill would extend if the Deepwater Horizon rig had been in the vicinity of Block Island.


Not only all of Narragansett Bay but all the coastline of Connecticut, Rhode Island and Massachusetts including Cape Cod and the Islands would be affected, not to mention all of Long Island Sound and the south coast of Long Island. Basically everywhere I would ever sail.

This really brings home (literally) the enormity of this ecological disaster.

Anyone want to argue for more deep water offshore drilling in their own backyard?

Friday, June 04, 2010

Tuesday on Wednesday

A few days ago I wrote about my new-found enthusiasm for training with the guys who sail Lasers on Tuesday evenings in Bristol.

This week on Tuesday there was thunder rolling around the bay and rain in the the forecast which totally dampened my new-found enthusiasm for training with the guys who sail Lasers on Tuesday evenings in Bristol. So I wimped out and went sailing by myself on Bristol Harbor on Wednesday afternoon instead.

There was an old dude wearing an Army Veteran cap who came across to talk to me as soon as I pulled into the parking lot. He had an old day sailer on a trailer and he proudly informed me that he was sleeping in the van parked in front of the boat. He asked me to go over and admire the boat name graphic, FREE BEE, he had just constructed out of black electrical tape on the side of his boat. I looked to see if he had put the name on the other side of the boat. No, not yet. He had run out of tape. I asked him if he was taking his boat out sailing, but he muttered something about needing to repair a hole in his hull. He then started dropping hints about needing "donations" so I told him that we all needed donations these days and beat a hasty retreat to rig my Laser.

He came across again a few minutes later and asked if I had been there last night. No, on account of the thunder, I explained. He said that there had been three Lasers there on Tuesday evening and they sailed "way out there" as he waved an arm in the general direction of Bermuda. Damn, I should have gone. Four would have been a good practice group.

My new friend then asked me what my sail number was. This was a little strange because it was written in large on both sides of the sail which was now hoisted. After I had repeated the number three times, he then proceeded to write it down. No idea why. Maybe it's like train spotting with him. Or maybe he has a laptop with WiFi in his van and he's going to look up my racing results online.

Eventually I managed to break away and launch my Laser and enjoy a most rewarding solo sail in a hiking breeze on a sunny afternoon (with no thunder.) I practiced a whole bunch of stuff but mainly lots of simulated racing starts. I figured that starts are the weakest part of my game right now, so I practiced holding position on an imaginary start line, then bearing away, accelerating and sheeting in for a fast start. Then I would sail flat out for a couple of minutes as I imagined trying to hold my lane against a whole bunch of imaginary friends. It's funny. I always have great starts when I'm sailing with my imaginary friends.

One of my non-imaginary Facebook friends, SAILFIT, Inc, had posted a most excellent piece of advice for Wednesday: When sailing upwind focus mostly on the water, not your tell tales. Keep your gaze two lengths forward and one to windward. So I concentrated on doing that too. Very Zen-like after a while.

When I had had enough and sailed back to the beach, my new non-imaginary veteran friend was showing off his electrical tape boat name to some other guy he had managed to buttonhole. My "friend" later came over and asked me where I live. When I told him Tiverton he said that he didn't think the waterside parking situation in Tiverton was as good as Bristol and that I should seriously consider buying some waterfront property in Tiverton and constructing a parking lot.


One of the most rewarding things about sailing is the people you meet...

Wednesday, June 02, 2010

This is not a post

This is not a post.

The US Supreme Court recently ruled that if you wish to invoke your right to remain silent, then it is not sufficient merely to remain silent. To have the right to remain silent then you have to break your silence to say that you wish to remain silent.

Can anyone else see the logical problem with this concept?

I was hoping not to write a post on this blog today. I wished to remain silent today.

However, under the new interpretation of the law I have to write a post to say that I'm not writing a post today.

This is the post saying I am not writing a post today.

This is not a post.

Tuesday, June 01, 2010

A Run to Remember

I read somewhere that there is a boom in half-marathon running. More and more people are running the half, a distance of approximately 13.1 miles. Participation has been surging for five years now.

Sounds about right. It usually takes me about that long to latch on to a new trend. To be fair I did run my first half-marathon in 2007, but this is the first year that I somehow got the crazy idea to run several of them in one year.

According to running guru Jeff Galloway, "The half-marathon gives you almost all of the satisfaction and achievement of the marathon and far less than half of the aches and pains and fatigue." I'd second that.

Jeff has identified three segments among the people that ask him for advice. About 20 percent, he estimates, do the half-marathon as a stepping-stone to the full marathon. About 40 percent, want to focus only on the half, with no interest in the full marathon. Another 40 percent are "people who used to run just full marathons, but are now primarily doing halves."

I'm in that last group. I ran three marathons from 2005 to 2007. I don't know if I'll ever run another. For now I'm concentrating on the half-marathon.

On Sunday I ran the Run to Remember half-marathon in Boston. It's a great course that starts in South Boston, winds around the historic center of Boston and then alongside the Charles River past MIT and Harvard, returning around Boston Common.

It was hot. I drank at least two cups of fluid at every water stop. I remembered Jeff Galloway's advice to take walk breaks, walking for a minute at every mile marker and again at water stops.

In spite of the heat I ran the course four minutes faster than I had run the half-marathon in Providence four weeks before. I kept up a pretty steady pace through the first twelve miles and still had some enough juice left in the tank for a sprint in the last half mile.

Maybe there's some life in the old dog yet.

So that's half-marathons in Rhode Island and Massachusetts so far this year. Two out of six New England states. Wonder if I could do a half in all six states before the end of the year?


Update: I just realized that the photo I stole to head up this post has snow on the ground. Just for the record, there wasn't any snow on the ground in Boston this Memorial Day Weekend. Even in New England, the winter isn't quite that long.