Thursday, September 30, 2010

How Not To Sail.

Good grief. If you think it's exciting when the sticky-uppy pole-y thing in the middle of the boat is pointed down, you should just buy a Laser in the first place!

(Thanks John!)

Monday, September 27, 2010

USS Olympia - The Bridge

I'm going to start this post with the same confession I made in the comments on yesterday's post.

Before this weekend, despite the fact that bloggers who are better than I have been repeatedly trying to draw their readers' attention to the fate of this historical ship, I would have failed my own quiz. Sometimes I just don't pay close enough attention to things that I should.

But I didn't go to Philadelphia for the maritime history - or at least not the maritime history that's on the verge of being lost forever. Nope, I actually went to Philadelphia to see Cabaret Red Light's pirate show on board the tall ship Gazela! I'd planned to take TQ to see one of their shows at Atlantic Basin here in Brooklyn; unfortunately the Sunday night performance to which I'd bought tickets was rained out, and the next day, the day of the rain-date performance, the bug I'd been trying to brush off as "a little bit of a cold" all weekend finally just knocked me flat about 2 hours into the work day. My boss told me to go home & as soon as I finished my morning report, I did, and once I got home I didn't leave the house again until Wednesday. When blogging/boating friends Will (Tugster) & Elizabeth posted about going, I left a comment on her post mentioning how disappointed I was to have missed it. She instantly suggested a Philly road trip & the rest, as they say, is history.

I wasn't even thinking of how short the time for visiting Olympia had grown. Tugster Will gave me a ride down, Elizabeth was meeting us there after spending a couple of days in DC. We were getting there in the midafternoon, so we had some time to play with before meeting friends for dinner; not having had time during the week to do any research on interesting ways to spend an afternoon in Philly, I simply asked Will what we should do & he immediately reminded me that we are running out time to visit the ship that was Dewey's flagship at the Battle of Manila Bay.

So of course we went - and having SEEN her, I am now properly, deeply, and thouroughly appalled at the fate that may be facing this ship.

Not just because of the tremendous historical role that she played in our nation's history as a naval power, either.

So many of the historical sites and objects that we treasure are primarily of interest because of their associations. Take this house, for example -

Nice enough old place, right? Classic design, dignified & simple, without ostentation, pleasant enough to look at, but with that ugly blot of a blue tarp spoiling the basic scenic-ness of the view, why did I bother taking (and saving) this picture?

Because this was General Washington's headquarters. That's the backside of the Ford Mansion, in Morristown, NJ. The front is definitely more photogenic -

- but still, I don't think I would have thought of taking a single photo of the place if it hadn't served the role that it did in the winter of 1779-80.

But Olympia?


I think that even if I'd somehow managed to find my way on board without having even an inkling of the role she played in our nation's naval history, I would've still been amazed, fascinated, and TOTALLY shutterhappy!

The bridge shown in the photo that leads off this post is perhaps the most famous site on the entire ship. It was there that Dewey (a commodore at the time, promoted to rear admiral 10 days later*) began the Battle of Manila Bay with the command, "You may fire when you are ready, Gridley".

But that's not the only kind of bridge that I found myself thinking of as I toured the ship.

She was built in 1893, 50 years after Great Britain, the first large passenger ship ever to use a combination of steam power, screw propulsion, and an iron hull.

That earlier was a technological breakthrough, but she still had the appearance of a full-rigged ship.

Olympia, on the other hand, struck me as really being something of a bridge between ship designs (especially warship designs) as they passed from the age of sail to the age of the modern vessel (steam, and eventually diesel and beyond).
Look one way, and you could be on an old square-rigger.

Another, and it could be the 20th century -

It wasn't the purpose of the trip at all - but I'm SO glad I had the chance to see her, and hope that in the end, it turns out that we weren't among her last visitors after all.

If she goes - it's not just a loss of a vessel that played a pivotal role in our country's military history - it's also a loss of a remarkable piece of boatbuilding, engineering, and technological history. It's mindboggling that something that's this old & interesting in & of itself (on TOP of being Dewey's flagship at the Battle of Manila) is facing a future as scrap metal, or a condominium for fish. Insane.

The really infuriating part in this horrible story is that the imminent loss of this treasure was caused, at least in part, by corruption & greed. Want to read more? Tugster's post (linked yesterday) included a link to a very good article in Proceedings, the magazine of the US Naval Institute.

Well. May the outcry continue to grow, and may she find her benefactors, as did the SS Great Britain herself.

Want to help? Visit the Friends of the Cruiser Olympia website.

*I did a fair amount of internet surfing while writing this post & having spent the weekend with college professors who have strong feelings about attribution, I'm feeling self-conscious. Plus you might even find the information interesting - this being a blog post, not a research paper, I didn't really GIVE that much info, but it's all good background, I think.

Naturally, I have spent some time visiting Wikipedia's articles on the Olympia, Admiral Dewey, and the Battle of Manila Bay.

In addition, I found myself getting very interested in finding out where Olympia fits in on the timeline of the development of the steamship. Found a couple of helpful spots for that:

A Timeline of the Industrial Revolution on

Infoplease had a nice little summary (although at least one date seemed to be off by a couple of years) - had information about the Great Western Steamship Company, the owners of Great Britain, including the detail about her restoration. A bit more searching led me to the website for -- which it turned out I'd actually been to before through some blog or another, anyone want take credit? - where I found more of the ship's history & pictures of her looking exactly like a full-rigged ship.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Frogma Naval History Pop Quiz

No prizes, just salty bragging rights to the first person to name either or both the vessels (extra credit if you know the sub) & tell me where I was this weekend without using Google.

Much more later in the week. This was a remarkable thing to see & I need a little time to sort out a post.

P.S. Those who were present or even considering being present are not eligible to win.

P.P.S. Those who were considering being present but weren't - you missed a wonderful time!

P.P.P.S Stumped? Two-thirds of the answer can be found here.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Ala Wai Community Garden

Digging back into my Hawaii pictures - because I really enjoyed seeing the Ala Wai Community Garden, which I just stumbled over in my ramblings (it's about a block from my high school, which was my actual destination) - and because I just CAN'T let a fart joke be the top post on Frogma all weekend!

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

A few more words about the race -

From Sebago Fall Dinghy Series - Race 1, 9/18/2010

Had an idea for another Hawaii picture-story-post tonight, but ended up working later than expected & that post is going to take some time to put together, so I'm not trying tonight.

Instead, how about a little more info about the races on Saturday?

You can see from the pictures that it was gorgeous. Winds were very nice too - 5-10 knots & very consistent. The racers said we set a good course and we didn't have to shift anything once all day. The more experienced racers probably would've enjoyed a bit more but the speeds we did have let the less experienced sailors have a good time too.

I was happy about people being happy with the course because I ended up helping out a bit more with bearings than I have in the past. Jim had left his good hand compass at home & we ended up using the little orienteering compass I keep in my PFD quite a bit. That's actually first time I've ever used the thing in earnest in NYC, so that was kind of fun - I mostly carry it in case the fog rolls in while I'm out, which has happened, but never where the fog's so thick I needed the compass to get home.

We had a very nice crowd, especially considereing it was just Sebago members this time. We'd love to have visitors, the series is open to all area Laser, Sunfish, or Force Five sailors (interested? Full details here!), but we had a respectable fleet on our own - 11 boats, 4 Lasers, 7 Sunfish. Every working club boat was out!

4 races. Nothing fancy for this first one, just various numbers of legs on a windward-leeward course.

Funny thing about the Sunfish fleet - there were 3 recreational rigs & 4 race rigs. One of the rec rigs ended up being sailed by a guy who's usually a Laser sailor - but he was very late arriving at the club & Swamp Fox was what was left, so he sailed Swamp Fox. He hadn't sailed a Sunfish before but he's a really good Laser sailor, the shift was a piece of cake & he ended up consistently dueling for first place with one of the guys in the race-rigged Sunfish, with the other racing-rigged boats duking it out for the next spots.

We have got some new sailing blood at the club, which is really livening things up a bit. Jim & Holly, our sailing co-chairs, were the ones who taught many of us to sail dinghies, and for a long time, they've quite clearly been the best sailors at the club. Somehow, though, we're starting to be found by people who bring their own experience - years of it in fact. Made for some pretty exciting races on Saturday, including more than one finish where the recorder & I were just assuming that one boat was going to be the next boat across the line - and then suddenly the boat right behind them would tack in some strange & sneaky way & make up JUST enough time to turn the tables.

Most exciting finish, the winner's bow was only about a foot ahead of the next guy.

Anyways, it's pretty cool to suddenly have things sort of shaken up this way - and I think Holly & Jim are particularly psyched about it. Much more fun for them & we are all going to learn from watching these folks.

Oh, and one of the guys in the most exciting finish of the day was sailing co-chair Jim, and the fact that he got to race was another thing I was pretty happy about. The last 2 formal races in which I was involved, Jim was in the committee boat with me - this time, he was still the Principal Race Officer, drove the committee boat, laid out the course & all that, but with another new member being willing to help out with committee duties, and me having done the job a couple of times, Jim decided that his actual presence in the committee boat was not required during the racing itself - so he towed out a Sunfish & had a good time racing (and then I had a good time sailing his boat back, towing it turned out to be a bit of a hassle).

The Tail End of Summer/Beginning of Fall Sebago Dinghy Series continues for 6 more weeks. I've got plans away from the Bay this weekend - but I'm keeping my fingers crossed for good weather on October weekends, because I DO plan to have another go at racing - maybe even two or three goes! I'd been thinking maybe 2 races & another stint in the committee boat (other weekends in October end up already having plans, it's 3 I have to play with), but Jim & Holly have added an eminently sensible rule for Sebago members - being scored in the overall series requires a minimum of 2 days of racing, and one day of race committee duty, and with the number of sailors we have these days, if everybody serves their turn, there may not be any call for me to do it again.

If there do end up being any holes, I'd still be up for filling in (I do actually enjoy it), but the weekend after this coming weekend, weather permitting, I am absolutely, positively going to be SAILING in the races!

Wish me luck - or at the very least, improvement over my last one!

Saturday, September 18, 2010

it was a glorious,




GLORIOUS day we had for the first race of the Fall series.

Google Chrome Hates Blogrolling. And we have a lovely day for sailboat races.

Technical update: Blogrolls are out again. I started reloading blogrolls last night, clicking on every link & getting no bad messages, and sure enough Google Chrome users immediately started getting malware warnings. Sample messages were sent to me this time & Google was definitely & specifically warning about . Went to the Blogrolling support forum & found several similar complaints, so that's definitely where the issue is. Have taken all blogrolls down until such time as the issue is solved. If it doesn't get solved I guess I'll rebuild the lists in Blogger - what a pain. :(

On a happier note - today's forecast - winds 5 - 10 kts NE in the AM, switching to SE in the afternoon, mid-70's & sunny - looks like a lovely day for the 1st day of our Fall dinghy racing series!

Friday, September 17, 2010

Sunday's Annual Meeting of the Sebago Canoe Club Could Be Livelier that Usual...

I think me & most clubmates agree - meetings are absolutely necessary to run a good club, but they can drag on a bit. Well, I've made a suggestion over at the Sebago Canoe Club blog & our Facebook group & if people play along this year's meeting could be the BEST EVER!

ARRRRR! Avast ye scurvy scallywags o' Sebago! I would like to bring t'yer attention that Sunday is not only the day o' th' Annual Meetin', but also Talk Like A Pirate Day!

In honor o' th' arrrrr-spicious arrrrr-ccasion, let's have all debates settled by cutlass and pistol, an' a keelhaulin' or two!

That'll liven things up an' mayhap move things along, too, aye? What think ye me hearties?


Thursday, September 16, 2010

Buggy blog.

horrid little pests

Pardon the temporary removal of blogrolls. I got a note via Facebook that Frogma was setting off malware alerts (thank you Carol Anne!), went & asked about it on the blogger help forum & found out that that can happen if one of the sites on your blogrolls has been hacked. Can also happen through 3rd party gadgets, but since I don't really have many of those, I think it's far more likely that it's something in the blogrolls, which were past due for a cleanup anyways. Until I can do that, I thought it was just better to take the blogrolls down & spare visitors the risk of infection.

Friday evening note - As you probably noticed, I'm adding the blogrolls back in after checking all the links. So far nothing has set off any alarms with my own antivirus software, so I think everything that's up should be OK.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

The Really Silly Map of our Long Long Island Paddles

Forgive me, all I have is Paint.

But I couldn't resist it. Here's the trip so far.

Click on the map to read!

original Long Island Landsat Mosaic image found via Wikimedia Commons.

Water parks? Who needs 'em?

Stevie & Minh playing in the water at Goldsmith's Inlet, our lunch break spot on Day 2 of this year's 3-day leg of Long Island.

This place definitely makes my list of "favorite lunch break spots" over the years - not only did it have that fun little horizontal flume ride (and yes, of COURSE I went!), but there was also a very nice dog to play with -

and an ice cream truck with perfect timing (drove in just as we were finishing lunch)

and it was just incredibly pretty there.

BTW, those pictures are from my now properly-captioned gallery from the trip, now up over on my Picasa page!

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Dawn Patrol

Saturday morning, 7 a.m., Orient Point, NY

Google "My Map" (not precise) of this year's 5 Years Around Long Island leg: click here.

And after 3 days of paddling, averaging a bit over 20 miles a day, that is ALL I have got the energy for tonight!

Lunchtime update, 9/13 - My friend John has posted a great writeup of the 1st 2 days of the trip over on Control Geek - why only 2 is explained in the writeup.

Thursday, September 09, 2010

Best Wishes...

for a sweet New Year,

a happy Eid,

and peaceful remembrances on 9/11.

And may it rain torentially on the site of any holy-book burnings.

And on a slightly different note -


Images, er, "borrowed" from:
apples & honey:"
Henna'd Hands: Khalid Tanveer/AP via Life in the City
Me at the WTC: Not borrowed, that was a wonderful post-9/11 gift from my friend Omer.
Tillerman: Proper Course

Off for the next few days - it's time for Leg 4 of 5 Years Around Long Island - Orient Point to to-be-determined point west of there - we hope to make up some of what we've lost. I'm a bit handicapped this year, so we'll see how I do - that stupid cold I got three weeks ago continued to hang around, ended up in my chest & was giving me some significant breathing problems. Sunday's 16-miler was in part a test to see if that was going to give me paddling issues - I did fine, plus I finally got medical attention on Tuesday & was given a course of antibiotics & a couple of other things to ease the symptoms in the meantime, so I have my fingers crossed that all will go well.

BTW, if you've been following this "5YALI" expeditions, you may wonder what happen to the Montauk to Orient Point crossing - well, we have this wonderful group of people who have been our land support for the entire trip, and somehow the further out we got, the worse the pickup, dropoff and camp-moving logistics got. It went from them dropping us off & then having a nice day of sightseeing or biking & then coming to pick us up to them dropping us off & then somehow having to spend the entire day taking care of trip business...not so great. The Orient Point - Montauk leg was promising to be more of the same - so it was decided that the paddlers would sort things out for themselves on that one. Our land crew gets a break this year - no moving, accomodations are all properly in line & so their duties are back to drop us off, pick us up. HOORAY for our land crew!

Trip report Monday!

Wednesday, September 08, 2010

A Schooner, Two Kayaks, and a Yellow Submarine - the boats of Labor Day Weekend 2010

A Schooner:

Two Kayaks:

And a Yellow Submarine (or at least it was yellow at one time)

I do plan to do a blog-post writeup with a few of my favorite shots for both of these trips, but my friend Tugster Will is after me for pictures & I promised I'd have 'em up tonight - here's the gallery!

And speaking of my friend Tugster reminds me that the REAL Boats of Labor Day are, of course, the ones I missed yet again this year - namely, the fine fleet of tugs who turn out for the fantastic Annual Tugboat Race & Contest. I was at one point thinking of going to that, and it would have been the total trifecta of a boataholic's weekend, but we traded it in for a dimsum feast in Flushing with some friends I haven't seen for too long, and that was great too (and all the good food was a good motivator for the 16-mile paddle on Sunday, which turned out to be lots of fun). But Tugster, of course, was there - head on over there for some great shots of the harbor's heavy horses, hard at play!

Saturday, September 04, 2010

Earl Sent His Greetings -

So in the end, Earl sent his greetings from a good distance offshore. What we got in the end made for perfect conditions for a sail on a heavy cargo schooner!

More pix next week!

Friday, September 03, 2010

Waiting for Earl

But mostly, it looks like we get off light this time - I've been watching the forecast all week & there were times when the predictions involved gusts up to 45. 30's still feisty, but a big improvement. Bet all my big-boat friends are happy!

FZUS51 KOKX 032318 AAA

718 PM EDT FRI SEP 3 2010
718 PM EDT FRI SEP 3 2010





2 FT.



So - Nice dramatic skies tonight --

but the wind has yet to come.

Wednesday, September 01, 2010

This Is Not Ground Zero

From Park51 Community Center Site & Vicinity, NYC


I live in NYC. I have a blog. Hasn't almost every blogger around here had something to say about the whole "Ground Zero Mosque"/Islamophobia thing? Have I said one thing beyond "right on Mayor Mike"?

I'm occasionally opinionated, what's wrong with me?

Well, quite simply, I've just been too blown away by the bizarreness of people suddenly apparently thinking that it would be right and just for the government to throw the whole separation of church & state thing out the window & take up zoning by religious discrimination. It's so totally against one of the things I was brought up being told makes this country great, I just can't manage a coherent argument against it. Have spouted off a couple times on Facebook but that doesn't really require thinking in the same way. Every time I do try to think of something to say, all I can think of is one of the first TV interviews I saw with one of the people who are trying to create the Park51 community center - the poor guy was still clearly unrecovered from the total blindsiding their project has gotten at that point, and he just kept saying "It's a community center! With a mosque component!" with this horrified look on his face. Somehow I found his ineloquence terribly moving.

And last night I found myself echoing his words over on Facebook - and then carrying on with a little of what I had been thinking myself all along -

"It's a community center with a mosque component, and as far as I can tell it's only causing rifts with the people who are somehow holding an entire religion responsible for the nightmare actions of the lunatic fringe. That's completely & utterly unfair. Muslims were among the victims that day. Muslims were among those who ran to help that day, and Muslims are a part of the beautifully & blessedly recovered fabric of the downtown area. It's a blow to that healing to deny that the Park51 developers shouldt have just as much of a right to weave in this new thread because of their religion. They will have a million beauraucratic hoops to go through if they are to attain their goal anyways - I think they have just as much business trying to make it happen as anyone.

And then Carol Anne followed that up with -

The cultural center must go where it is planned specifically BECAUSE it is close to Ground Zero. It will be a symbol of reconciliation and freedom of religion, and an acknowledgement that the terrorists are NOT the true face of Islam.:

One obscure fact that makes it even more appropriate, in my mind: The building that will be replaced by the cultural center was hit by the landing gear of one of the 9/11 aircraft, and that is why it is vacant and uninhabitable.

God, she's amazing.

Anyways - at that point I decided that I was going to come home tonight & finally put up the photos I'd taken on Friday, on a special trip I had made downtown, just for the purpose. My thinking was - I don't know what to say. But here's what I CAN do -

I can go down there and I can take pictures, and maybe that way I can show people the difference between Ground Zero, and Not Ground Zero. Maybe they would like to have a better look at the neighborhood that they've been hearing so much about.

I came home that night & promptly lost all headway on the project. Chickened out a bit maybe. Felt like it was too big a topic for me...well, whatever. FWIW, though, here we go - allow me to share with you Ground Zero, and the very well-healed, lively neighborhood just to the north

Public Meetings re: The Future of Floyd Bennett Field.

Just a quick copy & paste from my email to spread the word.

Please find attached, and below, the information for two upcoming public meetings on the future of Floyd Bennett Field. Please distribute the flyer and this information to your contacts and anyone you think might be interested in attending.
Maya Borgenicht
Regional Plan Association
Governors Island Alliance
4 Irving Place, 7th Floor
New York, NY 10003
Phone: 917.652.6359
Fax: 212.253.5666
twitter: @govisalliance
Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz and Queens Borough President Helen Marshall invite you to join a conversation on the future of Floyd Bennett Field.
Senator Charles Schumer and Congressman Anthony Weiner have formed a Blue Ribbon Panel to provide recommendations on possible improvements to Floyd Bennett Field.

The 1400 acre Floyd Bennett Field, part of Gateway National Recreation Area, is one of New York City’s largest public spaces. It provides many environmental, recreational, and cultural benefits to the people of Brooklyn and Queens and visitors from the rest of the City and beyond. The National Park Service is now drafting a plan to shape the Field’s future. Please share your thoughts on the Field’s current use and potential with the Borough Presidents and other Blue Ribbon Panel members as they develop recommendations for the Field’s plan for the Senator and Congressman.

For more information go to:

Queens Meeting:
September 27th, 2010, 6-8 PM,
Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge,
Queens, N.Y.

Brooklyn Meeting:
September 21st, 2010, 6-8 PM,
Aviator Sports, Hangar 5,
Floyd Bennett Field,
3159 Flatbush Ave.
Brooklyn, N.Y.

For more information please contact Maya Borgenicht or at (917) 652-6359.