Sunday, October 31, 2010

Words Words Words! Cape Cod Trip (Part 1, as it happened to work out)!


(tap tap tap)

Is this thing o(SQUUueeeeeAAAAAAALLLLLlLLLL!!!!!!!!!!!)

(frantic fiddling with squelch button)


(ascending/descending scales)
mi mi mi mi mi miiii

no ah no ah no ah no ah no ah no ah no ah noooooooooo...

I am a mother pheasant plucker
I pluck mother pheasants
I am the most pleasant mother pheasant plucker
e'er plucked a mother pheasant

OH for a muse of FIRE that would ascend the brightest heaven of invention
A kingdom for a stage, princes to act, and men and women to uphold the swelling scene
Then should the warlike Harry, etc etc etc...

'twas brillig and the slithy toves...
Oh, alright, enough warming up with random words by other people! Although TQ was rather impressed that I was able to recite the entire Jabberwocky poem by heart, I'll spare you the full recitation. I'm back, "minimalist blogging week" is over & here's a little more explanation of what was going on.

Tillerman nailed it on his Experimentation post - TQ & I just took the most marvelous vacation up in Cape Cod & although I did consider not blogging at all, I decided to just post my favorite picture at the end of each day. Just never bothered to explain it, sorry!

Quick recap time now! We simply couldn't have had a nicer 6-day sampling of the Cape's offerings, and we think we may have to go back sometime.

Day 1:

We started our visit by spending a very pleasant afternoon on Buzzards Bay with Dan Kim of Adrift at Sea and his friend Dave, aboard Dan's Telstar 28 trimaran, Pretty Gee. It was a light air day but a trimaran can take advantage of those better than a heavier keelboat, so we got a nice sail out into Buzzards Bay. Here, we're motoring back into the marina, with everyone (or at least almost everyone) keeping an eye out for lobster pot buoys and/or harbor seals. It cleared up nicely by the time we got back, and Dan & Dave gave us a quick tour of the Fairhaven side of the harbor entrance, where we saw the Revolutionary War-era Fort Phoenix and the massive, circa 1950's hurricane barrier & gates -

That's where I took the tree/rock/harbor picture that started me off on the no-words-only-pictures thing). Good stories continued to be told over a delicious dinner at one of Dan's favorite local restaurants, Margaret's, where I got in my first seafood of the trip (scallops, yum). Thanks again, Dan & Dave, for a wonderful day!

Day 2:

More great sailing, once again through the wonders of the Internet. I knew that tourist season was over but I was hoping to line up a sailing lesson, so I sent out a query over Facebook & through Joe Rouse at The Horse's Mouth, I got in touch with a gentleman who still had a boat in the water & was kind enough to take on a couple of relative novices. Flexibility really paid off on this one - he'd suggested waiting until we could look at 3-day forecasts to pick the date; Monday looked promising, but then on Monday morning he called from the boatworks where he works to say there was no wind & maybe we should shoot for Friday instead (which looked like the best day after Monday). We agreed & started getting ready to go kayaking instead - fortunately getting ready to go kayaking & getting ready to go sailing aren't all that different, so when he called again around 11:30 to say that the promised wind had finally filled in & that he was game for a sail if we were, we were able to run with that! And it was really, really great. We sailed from Cataumet to Marion and back, learning a few things along the way, we got to fly a chute (I don't think I've ever gotten to do that before), and his boat was fantastic, an Etchells which he bought 2ndhand, the deck was too waterlogged to save so he simply took a Skilsaw to it & rebuilt her as a lovely, fast, yet comfortable daysailor that he can singlehand or sail with friends.

Another really nice thing about this day? The owner of the Etchells has been instrumental at getting a sailing program started at Bourne High School. He asked that rather than paying him directly for an incredible afternoon, I make a donation to that sailing program. Couldn't help but thinking of the discussions I've seen on the sailing blogs about "Saving Sailing" - with people like this gentleman, and Jim and Holly at Sebago, and volunteers like them up and down both coasts and lakes & rivers across the country, seems like sailing is in some pretty good hands.

I'd originally thought this would be a nice early Christmas gift for TQ but I kinda hogged the tiller the entire afternoon, oops, so I'm back to the drawing board for that - may give him a "gift certificate" good for one dinghy-sailing weekend class at Sebago next Spring instead, I felt like this one ended up being more for me than him (although he did enjoy it)!

Day 3:

Day 3 was probably the touristy-est day of all - despite having grown up in Hawaii, I'd never seen a whale, and at some point it hit me that hey, they do whalewatching in Cape Cod! TQ did a little websurfing before the trip & found Capt. John Boats, which ran very affordable trips out of Plymouth. They took us out to the Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary where we had a very satisfying afternoon of whalewatching. I posted my flukes picture, which was the best of the day's whale pictures for me. I wasn't trying too hard to take pictures, the whales were a little too far away for my little point-and-shoot Optio, but their on-board volunteer naturalists came equipped with a serious camera & you can see more of what we saw on their blog post for the day!

We finished the day with a look at Plymouth Rock, and the Mayflower II, and then dinner at a local restaurant where I got a good lobster roll fix.

And since I'm back to using more words, words, words than I ever meant to when I started, and since that Capt. John blog I just linked to really gave a great recap of what we saw that day, I think I will break this off here & continue tomorrow!

Friday, October 29, 2010

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Monday, October 25, 2010

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Thursday, October 21, 2010


Shiny new toy -- twice the pesto in half the time! woohoo!

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Dark Spots

I believe I mentioned that dinghy race #3 did not go so well? Yes, I did.

As suggested by the photo I chose to illustrate "Dark Spots", I was the rear. In every single race. In fact this time I didn't even make it around the same number of marks as everyone else - I was SO far behind in the 2nd to last race that the committee told me they were calling me finished as I was passing them on my way to the last turning of the leeward mark, so that we could get on with things.

I do still plan to do a "Bright Spots" post, a la Tillerman, but in the meantime, I'd written a comment that struck me as a nice concise description of why I did so badly & I figured I'd toss it up as a quick lunchtime post:

I'm just not as experienced as the rest of the sailors who were out that day - I can have a blast in 10-15 kts if it's steady; Sunday was very gusty & shifty & I still get a bit flummoxed in those conditions - not good enough to respond instinctively to rapid changes, I have to think everything through & then try to do what I've thought about & by the time I finish doing whatever it is the wind has shifted 3 more times & then I look around to see where the mark has gotten to, shoot, how the heck did I end up all the way over here???


BTW, the handsome Appaloosa rump I picked to illustrate this post (one of several wonderful photos of a Nez Perce memorial ceremony I found at really makes me wonder why it was that we humans picked the horse's rump as the one we would specify when we want to be particularly derogatory. A healthy horse's rear is a lot nicer to look at than an awful lot of human ones.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Sunny Sunday Sunfish

Dinghy Race #2 was a decided improvement over Dinghy Race #1 (and a major improvement over the weekend before when I got towed home).

Dinghy Race #3? what a gorgeous day. Oooh. Aaah.

I will try to find a few more of Tillerman's bright spots one of these evenings!

Monday, October 18, 2010

Quick Safety Reminder - NYS Lifejacket Regulation Kicks In Soon.

Fall must be here, I broke out the drysuit for sailing on Sunday. With a Sunday morning forecast involving winds gusting to 20, I figured I might as well suit up for multiple dunkings. Never actually swam, although I was on the verge more than once, but just getting the drysuit out reminded me that the start of the NYS small-craft lifejackets-required period is right around the corner!

Seems worth posting a reminder here: If you venture out in any pleasure craft of under 21 feet in New York State, you must wear Coast Guard-approved personal flotation devices while on lakes, the ocean or other waterways from November 1st through May 1st.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Upcoming Event: Marvelously mad Marcus Demuth on his 2010 kayak circumnavigation of Great Britain!

Not just in, but just reposted to a couple of the kayaking lists I'm on - this should be lots of fun. I'll be there if there's any way I can manage (work's been insane lately, that's the only question) - Marcus is not just a great paddler but a wonderful human being, warm & with a great sense of humor. Most of us NYC paddlers who know him feel the same way - the following "press release" was written by one of the Pier 66 crew who paddles with him & that same affection is there.

He does these crazy trips out of sheer love of being out on the water, nothing else, and that just shines through when he talks about his trips. Oh, yeah, and he's also no slouch as a photographer!

Should be a fun evening -- and might be one of our last chances to hear him speak before NYC loses him to Wales next year! :(

Right. Enough preamble, here's the announcement:

Kayaking Around Great Britain in 80 Days
One Kayaker’s Search for the Best Fish and Chip Shop West of Germany

-- Marcus Demuth

When: Tuesday October 19th, 7pm to 9pm (presentation will start promptly at 7:30pm).

Where: Pier 66 boathouse, Manhattan (three blocks north of Chelsea Piers, at the intersection of 26th Street and the Hudson River).

What: Expedition presentation, slide show, charts and photos, followed by a smelly neoprene booty ‘Round Britain’ quiz and heckling from the Brits.

In May 2010, Marcus Demuth set out from Skegness, on the East Coast of England, to attempt to circumnavigate Great Britain (GB). Since 2005, all attempts to circumnavigate GB ended unsuccessfully, mainly due to bad weather and unfavorable winds.

After 80 days of paddling and 2,468 miles, Marcus became the 16th kayaker to circumnavigate GB successfully. To put this into context for New York City paddlers, this was the equivalent of paddling 88 times around the 28-mile loop of Manhattan. Marcus took the Mayor's Cup option and paddled clockwise.

The circumnavigation should be the fastest solo circumnavigation of GB, tying the previous 80-day record of the kayaking trio of Barry Shaw, Phil Clegg and Harry Whelan in 2005. Nigel Dennis and Paul Caffyn completed the 2nd fastest circumnavigation of GB in 85 days in 1980.

Please join Marcus at the Pier 66 boathouse on October 19th to hear all about his adventure around the island that many paddlers at Pier 66 used to call home. Intertwined with Marcus' presentation about his expedition planning, logistics and the realities of the kayaking journey itself will be a few stories about the places and the people that make such formidable trips possible, bearable and sometimes a joy. Is weather really the most talked about topic in the pub? Did it actually drizzle every day? Is beer genuinely considered a food group? Do the British
intentionally deep fry chocolate bars in their fish and chip shops? Is the ‘Local Hero’ red telephone box still working up there in remote Scotland? Are you more likely to encounter a sheep than a human in Wales? How did the English cope with the USA tie in the football World Cup? Has the music moved on since The Beatles? Do the Brits really like nothing better than a hot cup of tea?

Great Britain, UK…?
This nice website from a junior school in England provides some simple explanations and maps so you can see where Marcus went.

Here is the important bit:

Great Britain (GB) is an island comprising the two kingdoms of England and Scotland, and the principality of Wales.

Great Britain and the United Kingdom (UK) refer to different geographic areas. The UK includes Great Britain and Northern Ireland. Marcus circumnavigated the whole of Ireland in 2007.

The British Isles includes two large islands, Great Britain and Ireland, and lots of small islands, of which one is Jersey in the Channel Islands! Marcus did not circumnavigate the British Isles -- the slacker -- so perhaps this should be next?

People who are born in England are both English and British. People who are born in Jersey are British, but not English. The Scottish and the Welsh are British, but you had better think twice before you call them British. Definitely don't mix up the Irish in all this.

About Marcus Demuth
Marcus Demuth is a local paddler based at the Pier 66 boathouse in New York City. Over recent years, Marcus has been adding to an impressive resume of international kayaking expeditions, some fully completed as planned and others abandoned at just the right time -- equally impressive in the minds of many. In 2009, Marcus Demuth became the first kayaker to successfully circumnavigate the Falkland Islands, a grueling trip of over 680 Miles in 22 days. In 2007, Marcus circumnavigated
Ireland as a fundraiser for the Royal National Lifeboat Association, a trip of over 1,100 Miles in 42 days. Other expeditions have brought Marcus to Tierra Del Fuego (2010), Iceland (2008), the South and West Coast of Australia (2007) and Patagonia/Chile (2006). When Marcus is not on a kayaking expedition, you will find him tearing up the Hudson River on his surfski, upside down in the Pier 66 embayment reminding himself that swimming is not always a good option for a solo paddler, or
loitering around the boathouse passing on his enthusiasm for kayaking to others as a Manhattan Kayak Company guide. Read about Marcus' kayak adventures, paddling tips and more at:

This kayaking presentation is sponsored by the Manhattan Kayak Company
and New York Kayak Polo:
(where the women are the new 2010 National Kayak Polo Champions -- great

See you all on October 19th!!!

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Hooray, Chile!

I was all ready to leave work last night & then a Facebook comment from a friend alerted me to what was happening in Chile at that moment.

I turned on The first miner had JUST gotten out of the rescue capsule & I was just glued to the screen until the 2nd had surfaced, left the capsule hugged his wife & headed for the medical area. Wonderful! Wonderful! WONDERFUL!

Kept thinking of a favorite book of mine, one about the rescue of the crew trapped when Squalus went down. By an interesting coincidence, that was also 33 men.

Wonderful story & I was so happy to tune in again this morning to see that it was all still going well.

Best thing I've EVER seen on the internet!

Saturday, October 09, 2010

Monarch Migration Time

Grassy Island, Norwalk Harbor, CT. Taken during yet another great Sebago paddle, this one hosted by a friend at the Norwalk Yacht Club. A gorgeous day in a favorite location & it's always particularly incredible to paddling when the monarchs are heading for Mexico - the air was full of them today.

Thank you Pete and Norwalk YC for a wonderful day!

Thursday, October 07, 2010

Spam Musubi

Just because.

BTW, speaking of spam, has anybody else noticed that there's been a strange spate of linkless spam lately? I thought that the whole point of spam was to try to get lots of people to come look at whatever it is that the spammer is trying to promote, but the latest trendlet in spam (based on the sample that ends up in the filter) seems to be just random short anonymous notes with no apparent commercial intent. No links, no names, just a note.

They frequently claim great enthusiasm about finding "this forum", which might make sense except that blogs aren't really forums, and might still make sense if they were being left in recent posts where there are sometimes actual discussions in the comments, but they aren't, they're always back in the older posts where there aren't any comments because JS-Kit took down the Haloscan system I used to use & replaced it with something that insisted I wasn't a member of my own blog every time I tried to sign in.

There are requests to exchange links or be added to RSS feeds, also with no contact info - how is that supposed to work?

There was a joke that had been a chestnut originally, rendered near-incomprehensible by translation & re-translation via Google...

Strangest one so far was philosophy, I think:

To be a adroit lenient being is to have a amiable of openness to the world, an skill to trust aleatory things beyond your own pilot, that can govern you to be shattered in very outermost circumstances for which you were not to blame. That says something uncommonly impressive relating to the fettle of the righteous compulsion: that it is based on a conviction in the up in the air and on a willingness to be exposed; it's based on being more like a weed than like a prize, something somewhat fragile, but whose very item attractiveness is inseparable from that fragility.

I think it might be brilliant, but it's way too deep for me.

What's up with this stuff, anyways? Some new purehearted, noncommercial spam movement? Electronic performance art? Spam for spam's sake? Recognition, at long last, of the fact that spam doesn't come in links, that would be sausage? Or is it just the electronic equivalent of "Kilroy Was Here"?

Tuesday, October 05, 2010

Sunday, October 03, 2010

My 2nd Dinghy Race: Well That Didn't Go Exactly The Way I'd Hoped It Would.

Goal for my 2nd Dinghy Race Ever, as optimistically posted on Facebook on Friday:

Sail around the buoys the same number of times as everybody else does.

Well, technically I did achieve my goal - but not in the manner in which I'd envisioned doing so. There was a little too much wind for a less-experienced sailor (and also for some of the club's more-experienced gear), a little too much hell broke loose at the same time, and in the end Jim, who usually serves as our Principal Race Officer, decided that with the crew that he had & the wind there was, he wasn't going to be able to keep things sufficiently under control. So he called the race in the end, which means that I made it around the same number of buoys as everyone else, which was Zero Nada Zippo Zilch.

So as I said - technically, yes, I achieved my unambitious little goal. But there was no satisfaction in it at all - and I ended up being taken back to the dock in the ignominious style you see above.

I had had a feeling things were a bit over my level. I actually volunteered twice to switch out committee duty - the guys who were doing it today were better than me & I thought they might have more fun with it than I did. But they said no, I should sail. OK - at first it was fun, although a bit hairy. I wasn't sure how much luck I was going to have actually sailing a set course, but there was some fantastic surfing getting to the course. But then I let things get out of control going downwind (note to O-Docker - Joe is right, zombies CAN'T sail downwind, not in a decent breeze anyways!) & capsized for the first time in a long time.

Note to self: rescue drills, dummy.

As a paddler, I do rescue drills ALL THE TIME. Partly because it's fun & a good way to cool off on a hot summer day, but also to make sure that if I end up in a situation where something goes wrong & a person (me, or anyone I'm with) needs to get back into their boat, the drill is a familiar one.

Why it never occured to me that I should be doing the same thing with the Sunfish is really beyond me. If I had just done one or two capsize drills before lunch on the sailing cruises over the summer, I probably would've up & going again within a reasonable space of time. As it was, it took me an absolute eternity to get the boat rightside-up (including a little bit of a rest break between attempts), and then when I did, I was alarmed to discover that I couldn't get back in. Got my chest up onto the boat but just didn't seem to have the "oomph" left to get the rest of the way. I didn't try for too long - I was pretty close to shore, at that point I think I was already thinking I was in over my head & should probably just throw in the towel & get back to the basin, but we were a way away & I decided that instead of wearing myself out getting back in, I'd swim into shallow water to get myself back in order. I was wearing a wetsuit, I was comfortable in the water, the wind was pushing me that way anyways, so I started slowly swimming the boat to shore.

That was the point at which Jim came over & said I should drop my rig & let him tow back.

For a minute, I did think about saying I wanted to try sailing back - there's the whole get-back-on-the-horse thing, drilled into me through years of riding lessons, and I do think the same thing applies pretty well to boating - but I was also feeling more than slightly shaken (and stupid) about my inability to get myself back in the boat. That was weird & a bit scary.

There's something I've heard experienced paddlers quote as a rule of thumb - that being that when a person is out in conditions that are past what they're used to, once they get knocked out of their boat once, it's quite likely to be all downhill from there, with a lot more capsizes to follow as the person stiffens up & loses confidence.

And I realized that I was in the perfect position for that rule to apply.

So I admitted, "Yes, I'm in over my head today", dropped my rig, handed Jim my towline, jumped back in my boat (I'd made it to the shallow water I'd been aiming for), and quietly took the tow back.

she who takes the tow away
lives to sail another day...


Next Sunday.

Praying for a more moderate day!