Wednesday, May 31, 2006

I Hit Two Boats and a Mark

The title says it all. Not a good night on the water. But there is always more to the story. Everywhere on the race course tonight was carnage. In the IODs, Knarrs and Folkboats. I'll spare you all the details except I had a the worst start of my short sailing career, made bad decisions and wound up in situations I know to avoid and ended up hitting the windward mark. It spun me on to port and I hit another boat coming in on starboard. My fault, yes, but the boat I hit could have and should have rounded up to avoid contact. Why they didn't I don't know. I'm just glad no one was hurt. I was pinned in by boats all around me downwind and had no opportunity to do my turns until after the leeward rounding. However, at this mark another FUBAR occurred. There was a multiple over lap situation that denied rights to a boat who only saw a whole to dive in where he had no business being. He wedged me in with a boat to leeward and another in front of me... the boat I choose to hit was trying to sneak inside at the mark. I felt helpless from at least 10 boat lengths out seeing the events unfold and knowing full well how close it was all going to be. So we all round the mark in this big cluster-f&#$ I couldn't avoid and instead of riding up the stern of this pretty varnished wooden boat, I roll up on the stern of the boat I thought I could beat in the protest room. He says he had rights. Everyone I talked to said he didn't. He says I could have avoided contact. Hey, I may be young, but I can drive a boat with the best of them. If it were possible to avoid him I would have. I felt bullied and nervous in the club talking with him and having no experience in the protest room helped in second guessing myself. So I dropped the protest. Usually, when there is an incident on the water we get together at the bar and talk it out over a beer because in my fleet we handle things like gentlemen and besides, I really don't enjoy confrontation. But tonight I made a mistake. I should have taken him to the room to see what would have happened and I chickened out. I could have used the experience and not looked like a push over. Dad never told me how to handle these situations. I think I'll ask him and see what he thinks.
Oh, by the way... no damage to my boat except a bent goose neck.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Jake the Kite Wizard

So I got a bug in my butt to fly my kite down at Ocean Beach after work today and was gravely disappointed to get there and discover a serious lack of wind. In about 4-5 knots of wind I attempted to fly my kite with marginal success. I guess I like wind. It truely facinates me. I can see it, sort of. Or more like I can feel it and anticipate it, projecting it's demensions and studying it like a living entity. I crashed my kite enough to be done for the day and throughout the flight I kept looking over my shoulder at this dude putting up some rather creative kites. They were single sting kites with all kinds of different building materials that float in a very intreaguing way. They remind me of dementors from Harry Potter in that they are dark, mysterious and evil and yet they are commical as well. I see them as works of art and often when I pass OB in the morning there are a few of these floating majestic wonders and I often wonder who builds these things? I carry my little store bought trick kite down the beach and make a B-line for this shaved bald dirty dude with black fingernails chaoticly working with an array of materials and I say, "Dude, I love your kites."
Well this is all it took to open this guy up to a serious amount of information... too much information, but he seemed realatively harmless to me. He greets me in a traditional SF manner and blabbers on and on about being homeless, making kites, dedicating them to things such as his latest creatiion... the "Ode to the Bay to Breakers" aptly named for the banner being used for the basis of the main kite. It also had 4 smaller pirate kites off the same line, again, remnents of Bay to Breakers costumes and the like. He had been recently given a large brown tarp with tar stains and was binding pvc pipe together and lashing the tarp down when I walked up. There is no doubt this dude is nuts, but a creative nut and I think everyone is nuts, so I just decided to be myself and start talking with him. The story goes somehting like.....Apparently the cops are now on his side and don't hassle him anymore, but he still gets peeved when people "steal his kites". He's trying to sell them since he is homeless and "refuses to live in a homeless center or crack house." He muttered a story about his wife getting hit by a drunk driver and ruining his life, but he quickly moves to the festering annoyance of this yuppy party trying to set up a fire in the drop line of his kites. He asserts himself in a forceful tone and asks them to move to their right at least 25 yards for their safety, but as has become a normal reaction of anyone being asked anything by someone they don't know, static. They put up this, Why are you telling me anything snobby MTV reality show predictable as a fat ugly drunk on Jerry Springer reaction, which of course he counters with more intensity than they wish to deal with and they reluctantly move. I tell Jake, "They just don't understand wind... they can't see it." He paused for a moment and pondered my statement and started to laugh. "You're right", he said "I used to be more patient, but it didn't get me the results I wanted fast enough and it often backfired creating more of a problem than just being more aggressive." I have to agree with him... most adults are stupid and so self-absorbed they can even see 3 steps in front of them. They get so wrapped up in the hectic frantic mess they've created that when they do get into a space outside the normal routine, they just sort of lose all sense of awareness. They lose their awearness of others needs (if they ever possessed that skill in the first place) and without warning find themselves invading someone's space. But instead of reacting in a manner that includes an appology, most snap back with an agression that in a world without rules or consequences would yield certain death. Particularly annoying are the smaller frail people who feel entitled... somehow. It's like the chihuahua that growls and barks at the St. Bernard... I just don't get it. Jake seemed in a hurry to get his kite built before sun down and I could tell he wanted his space. So, I went back up to my car and put my kite away. I was going through the trunk when I realized I had a length of rope that was long enough to use for this monster of a kite he was making. I brought it down to him and asked if it was too thick to use... He spread his arms wide and walked toward me making a kissy face. I held him at arms length with the rope pushed up against his chest and said, "no dude, it's just a piece of rope. Take the rope, bro." He took it and said thanks, it was perfect. I hope he gets his kite launched, I hope no one steals it and I hope it flys for several days. It makes me smile knowing I helped an artist complete his vision today. It makes me smile when I see his kites. It probably makes other people smile when they see his kites. I'll probably bring him a roll of duct tape or a tarp tomorrow.

Saturday, May 13, 2006

The Amazing Blessing

For those who had the sense to get a Folkboat and race on San Francisco bay...

Congratulations. We are a very fortunate group. I shake my head in wonder everyday I think about what we have and where we have it.

To put it in perspective for those who don't know....

If you ever get the chance to glide downwind in the SF Marina, past the Golden Gate Yacht Club, turn the corner at the Wave Organ, pull the sails in to a close haul from the rail, allow the strong wind to fill the sails as she heels over, you survey the set of the sails, enjoy the stability and balance of a Folklboat heading toward the Bridge....

... you then understand the blessing I have.

It is a crazy idea to buy a boat. Any boat owner will tell you. You have to really, really love all aspects of it because so much of it doesn't make sense. The time, money, sweat and tears are completely out of balance compared with the moments of joyful bliss. But it's those precious moments that keep me coming back for more. And if it all ended tommorrow, it was worth it.

I started this blog to tell a story... my story.

More to follow.