Merry Christmas and Happy Old Year

shapeimage_2 (23)Nick and I up early. Start the coffee. Light the fire. Turn on the Christmas tree lights. Catch up on Christmas Eve at Nick’s girlfriend’s home. Then Ann and Hadley are in the kitchen, still on the cusp between sleep and consciousness, easing back into the holiday that started Christmas Eve with Mass and then drinks and dinner in the bar at the Arizona Inn. The only thing scheduled–being together.IMG_2273

2007 has been a big year. Nick and Hadley graduated from high school and middle school, respectively. I turned 50 and our marriage turned 20. It was the 10th anniversary of starting my own law practice.

Winter sailing. The last weekend of the Lake Pleasant Fall series, which was the first weekend in December, started on Saturday with rain, then fog, followed by thunder and lightning. After the Merit 25 fleet captain cancelled our class races, in the time it took our crew, sitting in Roger’s truck, to eat a sandwich and drink a beer, the sun came out and provided dramatic lighting to the remaining low-lying gray clouds. The wind was blowing around 20. “Why not go out anyway?” I proposed to Roger. Three of us, along with two others from Circuitous, put the boat in.

In short order, we were plowing through waves, the kind only rarely conjured up on Lake Pleasant. Even with a jib instead of the usual overlapping genoa, Hydropathy was overpowered and Roger called for changing the head sail to a blade. On the bow with two others to take down and stow the jib, I got a taste of what it must be like to do the same task in a blue water storm, realizing that the ride would be even wilder.

Changing the sail reduced weather helm and kept the boat from rounding up in puffs which left us sailing straight through waves that sent spray over the bow and doused the crew on the rail. To stay on the weather side of the cockpit, I cross-trimmed the blade from the winch on the high side. We sailed for its own sake, cutting across the course being raced by the Vipers and PHRF non-spin fleet, around Horse Island, and south toward the marina. The only disappointment was that my camera had fallen out of my backpack and was in the back of Roger’s truck. I wanted to try to capture the light reflected on and filtered through the clouds, the shadow outlines of the Bradshaw Mountains to the north, and the waves on the dark gray water. It will be a long time before the lake looks like that again. It was a magnificent day. Sleeping on my boat that night prolonged it.

The season ended the next day. Strong breezes in the morning gave way to near calm conditions where the proper sail trim eluded us, as it had so often over the past year. We watched as two boats in two different races slid by us. Comparing fair lead position, traveler position, crew position and sail trim revealed no obvious differences between us and the boats passing us. It was a frustrating end though I learned more every time I sailed.

On 12/19/07, after an investigative interview at the Dental Board, I sailed with Mike Ferring at Tempe Town Lake on Lasers. The afternoon started light as we sailed west to a windward mark and eventually the wind all but died as we practiced mark roundings. In the meantime, I practiced tacking, sometimes almost in slow motion, to work on passing the tiller extender behind my back and changing hands with the mainsheet. (Attempting that, even with a shorter tiller extender, had been nearly impossible during a lesson at Bitter End while sailing a beam reach past the wind tunnel that is the passage between Saba Rock and Bitter End.) Close to 5, with barely a breath of wind, Mike and I stood in the Lasers with the booms pushed out and ghosted back to the dock.

Sailing Sunday, December 23 with Mike and Maryellen Ferring on Sloop Dogg was a joy. The breeze proved the weather web site wrong and having experienced sailors on board provided helpful perspectives on the boat’s handling and sail trim. (Click here to see the photos.)

Happy New Year!


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