Last year's New Years Day race for the True Grit was a blow out. Forecast for tomorrow looks entertaining. Hopefully not boat breaking?
Monday, 29 December 2014
Friday, 26 December 2014
Wednesday, 24 December 2014
years ago; Hels (my crew and co-owner of our Enterprise "Buffy") brought
me a copy as a thank-you after I introduced her to sailing.
On first completing it, for some reason I didn't lay hands on the second
book or carry on through the series, which I think was an opportunity
missed. It was a little while before my first Kindle, so reading
sequentially through a given series of books wasn't so straight forward
back in the day. You actually had to go out and find the book, or order
it from Amazon then wait on the post. None of this "One Touch Ordering"
and instantaneous delivery.
Easy to get distracted into another story along the way, I guess.
With the ease and convenience of a Kindle and Amazon, it's been a while
since I've actually re-read any book. I used to do it all the time,
reading to one end of the figurative bookcase then often starting back
at the beginning if I had nothing new to hand. The house is profusely
littered with paperbacks, they quite drive my wife to distraction.
I should probably do something about that, as they're all now redundant.
I've got at least three different devices I can use as an e-reader, so
even if I drop my mobile on yet another pub floor, I'll only be
temporarily frustrated if I'm far away from home and haven't brought a
backup. In which case, the myriad stacks of books littering my home
won't help me either.
But I find it strangely difficult to part with the books I've read, even
if I've no interest in reading them ever again. It feels oddly like
I am enjoying the O'Brian.
I really want to go sailing though. Which is a little tricky, as Calstar
is sat on the hard in Swansea, Ondine laid up on the drive out the front
of Dad's house, and there's nobody to race Buffy against until Boxing
Day. Oddly, although my elbow was giving me a lot of trouble by Sunday
night (two gigs and a pretty energetic race over the course of the
weekend, I have to admit I'd all but asked for it) it's doing quite well
today; I can hardly feel it.
I'm feeling quite unfestive this year, which could be why Boxing Day
feels like a long way away. Hopefully tomorrow will cure that. Nikki is
cooking, but we're all piling over to Dad's house along with my brother
and his wife to eat. To be honest, I'm not a great fan of turkey, but I
always enjoy the company at Christmas Dinner. We're going to miss Mum,
but it's good that we'll be together.
Tuesday, 23 December 2014
race of the Winter Series at Frampton, this Sunday just gone.
As previously mentioned I think, it proved to be our worst result of the
series, finishing 7th out of 17, but it was fun.
I've been reflecting on our sailing at Frampton. If you'd told me eight
or nine years ago when I first came back to this game and joined the
club there, that I'd get so involved with the racing scene, I'd probably
have scoffed. That I did get lured in, and relatively quickly at that,
is very much credit to the inclusive, welcoming racing fleet and the
overall friendly atmosphere at Frampton. The racing is a big part of
what's kept me tied to the Club, but it's been as much about the friends
I've made and the people I sail with as it's been about the sailing.
Actually, that's not fair. I'd say more so; much, much more so.
And that says a lot for the people at the Club, because I think we've
already previously established how I feel about sailing. With Calstar,
we've now got a bigger boat and wider ambitions than can be contained on
the lake at Frampton, but I don't think it matters much where we go with
her, Frampton will remain home.
But I digress.
I thought that racing at Frampton was initially about providing enough
variety to such a small lake to enable the sailing to keep its interest.
You can only cruise past the same old swan, duck or willow tree so many
times before the repetition starts to wear. When you're racing, the
landscape is set my the wind and the other boats on the water, and
that's never the same from one race to the next. It's endlessly
challenging, at least viewed from within, and from the perspective of
somebody at my level of racing. Perhaps in another twenty years time or
so when I'm consistently beating everybody I meet out on the water it'll
finally grow dull.
So I originally thought that the racing was simply about maintaining
engagement. The actual result didn't really matter, and as well, because
for the first year or so pretty much every race was a futile chase and a
study in transom spotting as I struggled to keep up with the back of the
fleet. Of course, I'm only studiously non-competitive when I feel I've
no chance of winning. The result does matter, and the race kept dragging
me back week after week. And so the results improved.
And it's been a study in psychology through each season. In the
beginning I'd have exulted to have simply not been last. By the time I
was catching the back markers, that didn't feel like enough and I
hungered for a mid-fleet finish. For the last couple of years or so I've
usually picked up a bit of glassware with a 2nd or 3rd place overall in
any series I've completed, but even that success, grand by the standards
of the early years, is dulled by the fact it isn't a win. So I get a
buzz from the competition, and that is probably as much a part of the
enduring engagement as the variety racing brings to my sailing.
But actually, I think the greatest attraction and benefit of racing at
Frampton is simply the huge amount of time spent on the water over the
year and the tangible benefits all that practice brings to my boat
handling and sail-craft. Because we're racing, we go out all weekends,
in pretty much all weathers. I know my boat and her limits just as I
know my own, and I get a real rush from exploring them and occasionally
pushing them. I know the waters I sail on, and how they're likely to
behave on any given day in any given conditions.
Whether drifting through the fog taking a best guess at where the next
mark is and trying not to breath for fear of upsetting the balance of
the boat and setting of the sails, or screaming down a planing reach in
the teeth of a gale wondering how on earth we're going to manage the
gybe coming up at the end of it, you feel alive, utterly trapped and
embraced within the moment.
I think we're going to have to find people to race Calstar with. Sure,
she's a cruising boat by design and intention, not a racer, and we
brought her wanting to explore, not chase around the cans. But I'd like
to get to know her as well as I know Buffy, and I want to get to know
her home waters as well as I know my home lake at Frampton.
I think to do that, we're going to need to race.
Monday, 22 December 2014
Sunday, 21 December 2014
Sat in a dark corner of the stage between sets reading. Exhausted but enjoying myself.
Today, my eldest boy asked me incredulously how on earth I managed to function on so little sleep.
The youth of today, I ask you.
Still, nice to have him back from Uni for Christmas. We're racing together on Boxing Day.
On that note, today's race was an indifferent performance, but we've managed 2nd place overall in the Winter Series.
Thursday, 18 December 2014
Around the end of November I briefly mentioned Stan and, in passing, his then kennel-mate Luna in a couple of posts to this site when we moved them out of kennels and delivered them to their new foster homes at the beginning of this month. I also posted a couple of pictures of Stan.
I learned last night that Stan has been adopted and is now with his lovely new family, and then learned this morning that the foster family we delivered Luna to have failed completely in that role and fallen utterly in love with her. So she'll be staying with them.
Such fantastic news for both of them. Stan is the handsome fellow at the top, Luna is the lovely girl below.
Wednesday, 17 December 2014
The GPS on my watch has been resetting itself about three minutes into
any race, which has been very frustrating. It stops the track recording
(but seems to leave GPS draining the battery in the background, but not
reporting that it's still running or giving any information) and, more
importantly, was leaving me lost and guessing as to exactly where I was
in the race time wise because it was resetting the timer.
In a pursuit, the time in can have a big impact on your tactics when
dealing with other boats. Early in the race, you avoid them and go for
speed. Towards the closing stages, you play them off, holding them back
and not letting them pass at any cost. Played right, a slower boat can
make it quite difficult for even a significantly faster boat to get
past, but it comes at a cost to the boat speed of both parties.
I logged a call with their support via their website this morning,
didn't really expect to hear anything back. Within the hour, a guy had
emailed me, asking for further information as to the symptoms,
suggesting a hard reset and providing instructions on how, and a
software update, providing a link to do it.
Always a pleasure when you approach a big, faceless corporation asking
for help and get a swift and effective response from a human being,
rather than an automated response from a robot directing you to more
worthless links on websites you've already spent hours trawling through.
I like dealing with people when I have a problem, not robotic automated
As I said, very impressed.
Tuesday, 16 December 2014
Monday, 15 December 2014
Pictures from our office car-park as I rolled up to work this morning. I took the Pentax in with me today. Not sure why, just idle opportunism. Perhaps because I'd had it out at the Club yesterday, so it was present in my dawn-bleared mind as I readied to leave for work.
The jackdaws are present all the way through the year, but seem most bullishly active in either the early spring or the fading breath of autumn.
Our landlady, Mrs P, is not a fan. I think she not unfairly resents their bullying, mob-handed nature on behalf of the more delicate, less gregarious birds that grace the surrounds of the mill.
I can sympathise, having never been fond of either mobs or bullies. And I have an inordinate amount of respect for Mrs P and her invariably sound and well-founded opinions. But I think even so, this lot have a certain thuggish charm about them.
I likewise have friends that live by the sea that refer to gulls as "aerial rats" and, again, they have a point. But I can't help but watch a gull hovering on the uplift from the breeze against a quay wall, even as he eyes up my supper of harbour-side fish and chips, and not envy him the grace of his soaring.
It took a good while to catch them up, and longer to weave our way through them. They had us every time on pure boat-speed downwind, but upwind we slowly abraded their weather advantage and snuck through.
For once, our only collision of the day wasn't my fault and had one of the lasers doing turns. Not enough of a delay to catch him, and Jon still beat us by a single place. And well deserved for him, I reckon.
About half way through I'd pretty much resigned myself to a middle of the fleet finish. The wall of Solos seemed insurmountable. But that's the lovely thing about a pursuit race. By design, the format brings everybody together at the end of the hour, so it looks insurmountable, but if you keep climbing, the end is always skin of the teeth, boat on boat climactic entertainment.
[EDIT: realistically, looking at the boats that have yet to qualify, but could do if they race the final on Sunday, combined with the forecast wind, which is promising to be Laser country, I'm in with a chance at a 3rd overall, if we sail well]
Saturday, 13 December 2014
Dad and I took a trip out to Swansea this morning to check on Calstar. Pete of Wraymarine has worked magic on her, Dad's very pleased. A very pleasant morning all round, if something of a chilly start. The decks were very icy till the sun spread over them.
Can't wait to sail her home. Won't be till the new year now; the crane shuts for the festive season, so she's going to spend Christmas on the hard. We'll have her lifted back in first thing in the new year though.
My wedding anniversary is in the first week of Jan (I think it's twenty years now, but will have to double check pretty sharpish) but after that, we'll look to sail her over to Portishead as soon as possible. That said, if things get in the way, I've no objection to exploring Swansea Bay and the Gower coast for a few weeks whilst we wait on the perfect timing.
Thursday, 11 December 2014
[WARNING: whatever mechanic YouTube uses to share the video below here causes it to run into the next video on my YouTube channel and so on.... so if you do watch/listen through to and beyond full 6 mins+ of the song beware of the volume at the end and apologies for the clown loach ambush]
Always struck me as a Christmasy song, so I'm feeling quite festive now. Possibly because my weekend started some hours ago, as I've Thursday and Friday off to use up some excess leave.
Wednesday, 10 December 2014
typically interfere with my breathing and most make me want to gag, so
I've by and large got away without one these last eight years.
Of course, the better plan would be to not get hit in the first place.
But sometimes, that's just where the main lesson needs to be found.
Saturday, 6 December 2014
That's the dog transport all done, three dogs shifted to their respective foster homes, happy endings all round.
Home in time to chill for half an hour before heading out for the gig.
The pretty face in the photo is Izzy, sat in the crate in the back of my car after we'd dropped Stan off and picked her and Tatty Ted up.
Friday, 5 December 2014
Taken this evening, having turned left just as I reached the park with Bear. Looking east, the name of the star to the left of the Moon is bugging me. Didn't stand out as I took the snap. Bright enough to show despite the spring moon. Possibly not a star, but Venus?
Was a pretty night for a walk through the park, in any case.
Just over half way through the RYA Day Skipper theory course, and classes are finished now till after Christmas. Apparently, we've got all the navigation related maths stuff done. Just have to remember how to do it all now till we take the exam some time in February, after which I guess we go back to cheating our way across the wide waters using GPS waypoints and chart plotters....
It's been fun, but I can't say it isn't a nice break getting my Thursday evenings back.
www.yachtingworld.com - Elaine Bunting - Never Say Never
Thursday, 4 December 2014
picked up his kennel mate Luna to take her to her new foster home in
South Somerset, but had to leave him behind; a question of fees
outstanding and no suitable foster home to take him to.
We're going back for him this coming Saturday. The Rescue has, with the
hugely generous support of its friends and members, raised the money to
cover the significant but not unreasonable fees owed to Droveway, and
we've secured him a foster home in Weston. One of the trustees of the
Rescue with lots of experience with shy and nervous dogs has agreed to
take him in.
It's a relief, and a weight off my mind, even if it does mean a whole
Saturday's worth of driving around the South West again for yours truly
before the Saturday night gig.
The gig is a Christmas bash for a Bristol biker's club called The
Management MC, which should be a bit of fun. Ben, a long time, good
friend of mine and the Band's is a member, and was asked to organise
their party, but got let down by the band he'd booked at the last
minute, so asked us. We had nothing booked that Saturday at the time
because our drummer was booked out elsewhere (doing a school musical of
all things, not exactly rock 'n' roll, but earns a living) and the
guitarist had his own work's Christmas party to go to.
But it was Ben asking, so we've asked our friend Jake to stand in for
Bean on the drums (miraculously, he was free) and our guitarist Matt has
forfeited his deposit for his work's party and said he'll come play with
I'm looking forward to it, despite the long-haul day I'll have to get
The rewards come Sunday. Hels is back and will crew for me, so I don't
have to rely upon that wastrel eldest son of mine not oversleeping
again. It's not going to be a Sunday to solo the Enterprise. Windguru is
suggesting 12 knots gusting 23 from the west; seems almost too good to
be true, but I've double-checked with the Met Office forecast and that's
largely the same, so I'm going to cling to the hope.
Temperatures are finally dropping towards winter. We've had a hard frost
or two this week, and the Sunday looks like it'll be a little above
freezing. But the wind should need more than enough work to keep us warm.
First race is 11am, second 1pm, so should be home to walk the dogs just