Tag Archives: Sailing

So what happened to 2012 and how is 2013 going?

After creating posts regularly for two and a half years, I seemed to stall out somehow around mid-year of 2012.  I still cycled, I still sailed and I sure as heck survived so … well it is pretty simple.  I fell into the habit of just posting stuff on Facebook rather than going to the trouble of writing a blog post. 

For a variety of reasons, I made no great new rides in 2012, but I rode my favorite routes around the Llano and Burnet County areas adding in adventures into San Saba, Blanco, Gillespie and Kendall Counties.  All of this took place on familiar routes.   After going to Shreveport for the Holiday in Dixie Regatta in early May, most of my sailing was of the much more important variety.  The high point was when our 6 year old granddaughter asked if she could sail the Minifish solo. 

The wind was light and I was so proud that I could have almost walked on water as Anna untied from the mooring bouy, then climbed on the boat and trimmed the sail just right,  as she got into deeper water she  lowered her daggerboard (without a word from anyone) and sailed all around the cove in front of our house for about an hour.  Peggy was on her Sunfish with Anna’s little sister, Chase, nearby.  I fired up the little Seadoo and followed Anna at a respectful distance, showing my confidence that she was perfectly able to handle the boat after a couple of years of sailing with me, Peggy and her dad, Brad, on the slightly larger Sunfish.

On the cycling front, I achieved my 3,600 mile goal for the year with a bit to spare at 3,644 miles.  Garmin thinks I burned a bit over 237,000 calories in the course of those rides.  In late September my trusty Catrike Road broke.  Though I rode it nowhere that my fellow (mostly) over 65 friends did not go on their up-right prostate crusher bikes, the frame on the Catrike just broke.  In classic great service, Catrike and the dealer I work with, Easy Street Recumbents, worked with me to ease the financial blow of replacing the mortally wounded Catrike Road with a much snazzier Catrike 700.  They did this though the trike was WAY out of warranty.  For that I am very thankful to be dealing with such committed capitalists who did things the way capitalism is supposed to work (and generally does so long as government keeps its corrupting snozz out of the way.) 

I was only off the trike for about two weeks while Catrike built me an almost University of Texas burnt metallic orange Catrike 700 rig, got it to Austin and then Easy Street Recumbents assembled it adding some upgraded components and a few goodies they moved over from the dearly departed Catrike Road.

Earlier in the year my old high school classmate and frequent cycling companion Gil Jones decided that there was wisdom in “The Catrike Way” and bought himself a shiny new Catrike Expedition to replace his 18 month old Scattante road bike.  At the same time his wife Jen decided she needed to get out with us as well and they got her a Catrike Trail.  Catrikes are proliferating in them thar hills… for good reason.  Though it takes more effort to drive them up hills, they give a great workout without the many repetitive motion injury issues of upright bikes with their up-the-chute seating, hunkered over riding position and tingling hands effects.   Added benefit… very few people have ever gone over the handlebars of a catrike, to smear their lipstick all over the chipseal pavement. The few who have done that on a Catrike seem almost as likely to require medical attention as those who did it from a two-wheeled machine, but the attention does not seem as likely to involve a helicopter ride.

In early July, our Son Russell, his wife Lisa and the Granddude (Steven) came for a week.  Lisa borrowed Peggy’s Catrike Trail and we logged about 80 miles in 5 rides.  She is hooked, but Russell is too cheap to let her get her own trike.  Gotta work on that.  

So that brings me to 2013.  Having put over 1,000 miles on the new Catrike in the last 2-1/2 months of 2012, I had quickly become comfortable with it.  The 700 does not corner as well as the road did, but suffers from less drag as speeds go up in a straight line.  My average speeds are now running 2+ mph faster on the 700 than I was able to do on the old Road on the same routes.  It is a little faster up hill and usually a lot quicker on the flats, then a little faster downhill.   In January I got in 322 miles in spite of some weather that was not cycling-friendly unless one enjoys cycling in one’s ski wear.  February was a bust with many distractions and I only got in 143 miles.  This has put me WAY behind my plan of doing 4250 miles this year (averaging 350/month).  It has also contributed to an 8 pound weight gain! 

Ah but it gets better.  In mid February our son Brad, his wife Jessica and the two grandchicks (Anna and Chase) came down and while they were here I took Jessica out for a short Catrike ride, with her on Peggy’s Catrike Trail, in the neighborhood on Saturday then took her for a 6+miler on Sunday morning.  She was hooked.  As her birthday was coming up, Peggy, my mother and I conspired to find a lightly used Catrike 700 as a birthday present, which Peggy and I picked up and delivered last Friday evening.  Today Jessica posted that she and Brad had logged a 12.5 mile initial ride (he rode his prostate crusher).

Maybe I will have the motivation to get back to blogging regularly.  As convenient as a quick post on Facebook is, I hate the overall banality of what I find on Facebook and enjoy reading blog posts, far more than Facebook posts, by friends, because they usually paint a richer, more interesting word picture… often with actual pictures and videos to boot.  I guess I should do unto others as I most enjoy them doing unto me.  So watch for more regular blog posts.   

When someone does something really irritating, don’t just smile to play with their head.  Grin… then they also have to wonder if you are grinning or actually baring your fangs and THAT really plays with their head.



Sailing – First Day Out on the Sunfish in 2011 – Windy!

Yea!  I got to go sailin’ today! 

Sunfish, Sailing, Texas, Hill Country, Llano County, Lake Buchanan

Time to go Sunfishin!

Today the winds were fearsome out of the northwest.  Cycling was gonna involve a lot of drag and therefore be a drag.  The temperature was near 80F and I had checked and the surface water temp was just over 68F.  So,…  the Sunfish parts got rounded up and rigged for a 45 minute workout.  Legs and abs got worked when hiking to keep the boat from blowing over and that involves some muscles that I had clearly forgotten about while cycling the last 1200 or so miles (groan).  My upper body got really worked out trimming the sail in winds of 17 gusting to 28 mph.  I will be sore tomorrow.  Not a problem though as tomorrow I am riding with some folks on prostate crushers.  They have come up from San Antonio with Phyllis Terry (they ride as a club there).  We will ride from Black Rock Park to the Fall Creek Vineyards and back.  That will work out any muscle soreness and besides, after the wine tasting we should be feeling no pain. 

Back to sailin’!  I fell off the boat several times when the wind would shift and backwind my sail with me all the way out to my toenails in the hiking straps.  That was good practice for regattas (and I could just hear Ellen Burks yelling at me for falling off the boat right in front of her).  And it was pretty refreshing each and every time.  

There was plenty of wind to practice planing downwind.  I stayed fairly close to shore as the wind direction was such that had I broken anything on the boat, the next stop would have been the dam, some 5+ miles across the lake, with what looked like 3+ foot rollers out a mile.  There were not mere “whitecaps”  They were “whippedcreamcaps”!  Woulda been a blast to go out there, but with few other boats on the lake, it did not seem like the adult thing to do.

As I came in, to Casey’s great relief… she was already barking furiously, my daggerboard ran aground and the boat stopped (suddenly), healed up and I slid forward, letting my left leg come clear of the hiking strap.  Unfortunately it also rotated me to a position from which I could not extract my right foot from the strap.   Whoo boy! It tested the strength of my shin bone as my whole weight was suspended with my calf/shin most of the way off the boat and my foot wedged under the hiking strap in the cockpit.  It will be a little more sore than the rest of me.

I have posted a collection of clips from several minutes of videos that Peggy shot in the course of the adventure.    The collection can be seen on youtube at:


It was great to be back in the boat and I do love it when the wind howls (and it did today). 

Tomorrow (Saturday), my old high school classmate and current day cycling partner, Gil Jones sets out from Houston with a crowd of about 13,000 (no kidding) to ride from Houston to Austin in two days in the MS150.  One of the people Gil is “riding for” is Bill Terry, husband of the above mentioned Phyllis Terry.  This is a great cause to raise money to fight a damnable disease.  If the urge strikes you, you can donate by going the MS150 site at:



Cycling and Sailing – A couple of exclamation points for 2010

As 2010 rolled to an end, Christmas was barreling towards us. Out of the blue, I was contacted by a person I had never heard of, who wanted to give us a boat for our grandchildren. 

4 year old Anna takes Grand Dad sailing

Anna - Age 4 and yes, she has the tiller and I am very proud of her growing skills.

Steven - Age 2... I told him to watch for pirates to keep him comfortable on his first sailing experience

He had run across my blog post a few months back which recounted introducing our grand-daughter and grandson to sailing on my little Sunfish.  It turned out that he had an old Minifish, a smaller version of the Sunfish, sitting unused.  He wanted to see if it would be used here. What a generous offer!

Peggy and I took him up on his extraordinary offer and picked the boat up at his hanger at a small airport near Kingsland (about 15 miles from our place). While there we admired his rare Piper J-4 Cub and even rarer Air-Cam… gotta go fly with Jim some time; I miss flying.

Once back at our place, Santa’s elves (me) went to work cleaning the boat up and rounding up a good daggerboard and rudder for the Minifish.  A few days later, on Christmas morning, our grand-daughter Anna (4) came groggily into our living room to verify that Santa had found and enjoyed the cookies she and Peggy had made and left out for him, and to see what he may have dropped off for her.  She was looking around blinking and seemed to not notice the boat, with its Tequila Sunrise-themed sail up and sitting on the patio.  My suspicion was and is that she is so accustomed to seeing colorful Sunfish here and there at our home that this one, looking so much like a full-sized Sunfish, was most likely an indigenous boat, not something unusual.    Once her Dad (Brad… our younger son), my mother, Peggy and I all expressed curiosity, she focused on it with cautious interest and was headed out the door to check it out in the 22 degree weather.  We got her stopped and wrapped up in a blanket, then took her out and explained that it is for her and Cousin Steven (age 2) to sail when they are here in the summers. 

I was unsure that she had really understood, until we did a video conference (how did we survive when one went by Studebaker to get face time with one’s grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins?) with Steven, Russell (his dad) and Lisa (his mom.)  Anna informed Steven that Santa had bought a Minifish “for her to teach you to sail on with me.”  After all the Christmas presents had been opened and marveled over, we got Anna bundled up and went out to the patio again, where she climbed into the boat, gripped the mainsheet and the tiller and started pretending to sail the boat… including getting her feet under the hiking strap and sheeting the sail in until it filled and the boat and dolly started to tremble a little.  Share this moment (video); it was the exclamation point for our Christmas day!

In the warm afterglow of the time with all of our family that still lives in America (Russell, Lisa and Steven live in the People’s Republic of California), I set about convincing my old high school classmate and current day frequent cycling partner, Gil Jones, that we should try to add an exclamation point to our year of cycling activity with a huge ride of unfathomable difficulty ( for a couple of 66 year olds who are still working on getting into really good cycling condition ) sufficient to worry our wives, amuse our children and cause our Big Spring High School Class of 1962 classmates  to shake their heads that we have still not grown up all that much.

The Texas Hill Country is rich with opportunities for such self-abuse, so I laid out a course which… if we could live through it and get it done in 8 or 9 hours… we could do in one day.  If we did only the outbound half of this ride, we could with confidence challenge any of our classmates to come ride it with us the next time.  Ohhhh we do feel most superior in our aged manliness!   

So on News Year’s Eve we set out on a ride from Lake Buchanan to Llano, thence out RR2323 to the southwest of Llano to the intersection with US Highway 87, about 8 or 9 miles north of Fredricksburg.  The distance is only 51.8 miles each way.  I have ridden longer rides this year and Gil has made rides of very close to that distance.  The distance was not the reason for taking this route.  I had ridden from Llano out almost to US87 back in the early Fall.  On that ride I turned off of RR2323 about 3-4 miles before US87 and went down a really beautiful county road (Cherry Springs Rd) to hit 87 a bit farther north.  That ride had been challenging, because there was a good bit of climbing before the turn-off onto Cherry Springs Rd.  I had driven the whole route to US87 on RR2323 and knew that the toughest climbs were beyond where I had turned off on my earlier ride.  I lured Gil into joining me in taking on not only those climbs, but doing it about 40 miles into a 50+ mile ride!  

Gil rode his new Scattante 570 Prostate Crusher up-right bike.  I rode the 3-wheeled barco-lounger of a Catrike Road, on which I recently scared the whiz outta myself on a wild descent which has been memorialized on youtube.

An exclamation point for our cycling year

The route for our New Year's Eve ride.

Approximately 36 miles into the ride we arrived at the old Prairie Mountain School and Community Center waaaaayyyy out RR2323 and a few hundred feet higher than we started.  Peggy had apples, bananas, water and a skeptical look on her face (she knew what the next 14 miles looked like.)

Gil and I arrive at the Prairie Mountain School for a short stop

bison in a pasture across from the Paraie Mountain School in Llano County, TX

Pasture across the road from the Prairie Mountain School. Where is Kevin Costner when we need him?


At this point I explained to Gil what to expect in the next 14 miles.

We are gonna climb how much in the next 14 miles?

Gil and I right after I explained the next 14 miles to him.

We did survive the rest of the ride.  Near the top of the most demanding part of the climb our old classmate Eric Brewster came roaring down the road in his Mustang looking for us.  He had come out to our destination on his way from Kerrville to Waxahachie, visited with Peggy for a while (no doubt sharing some laughs at the expense of “His Honor” and Yours Truly).  Now, I must draw you a word picture of the climb he found me on.  He passed by Gil before realizing it was him, but stopped a couple hundred feet below the top of this hill (there was another one lurking over its crest!) when he saw the Catrike grinding up toward him.  He got out, put his little dog on a lead, crossed the road, walked down towards me 25 or 30 yards, then turned around and walked slowly back uphill along side of me.  We were going so slowly that his “shitzu” walked along right next to me so I could reach over and scratch her ears while pedaling yard-by-yard up that precipice!  After determining that I did not think I was actually quite at death’s door, Eric gathered up the dog and walked on up the hill ahead of me crossed the road (I was was still pedaling away in my lowest gear), then got in his car and zipped away waving and laughing his ass off.

As we neared our destination (or turn-around point) I caught up with Gil, and seeing his level of suffering, valiantly suggested that we need not be embarrassed to stop at US87 and let Peggy haul us back home.  Well…  Ok…  actually I think I said something like, “I think I am ready to tell Peggy to stick a fork in me ’cause I am done.”   I saw a wave of relief wash over Gil’s whole body.  I swear his toes grinned so big that it could be seen through his riding shoes.

Gil could still grin when we made it to US87 where Peggy waited with her SUV ready to haul our rode-out old bones home

Gil has done a post about this ride.  It is worth reading if only to realize just how much data can be electronically collected on a bike ride these days… and then presented in a humorous narrative about two old goats trying to pretend they are still young.  I recommend reading his post to get a Judicial Review of the proceedings (as he is an actual  judge, with robes and all!)

What a great way to spend the day!  What a great exclamation point to put at the end of 2010’s cycling endeavours! 

I hope all who read this can have this much fun in their lives and wish you one and all a Happy and Prosperous 2011.

Sailing – The answer to the question, “Why the heck did a Sunfish sailor make a 50+ mile bike ride Thursday?”

Many who view this post will already be aware that last Thursday, Oct 7, 2010, I made a 51.7 mile ride on my Catrike. The map below shows the route this ride took.   I did this ride two days before the Lake Worth Sailing Club Sunfish Regatta.

The route for my 51.7 mile cycling excursion

The ride was not only long, it involved more than a little climbing as shown by the elevation profile below. 

Elevation profile for 51.7 mile cycling trip around northeastern Llano County TX

In total all the climbs add up to a bit over 1900 feet, according to my Garmin GPS

In the course of the 4 hr 43 minute ride my heart rate averaged 119 with a max of 151 and I burned a bit over 2300 calories.  Rides like that will take off pounds pretty quick and get one’s legs ready for the rigors of sailing (or the wheel chair races at the local nursing home).  For those not familiar with how one’s legs get to work while sailing, I refer you to the picture below, of a couple of the hot juniors that I have to contend with on the race course.

Lake Worth Sailing Club Sunfish Regatta

Steven Pracht and Stewart Draheim hiking out

What they are doing is called “hiking out”.  They have their feet under a strap in the cockpit, called a hiking strap, and hang all the weight they can muster out on the windward side of the boat to keep the boat from heeling over too much, or worse, turning over.  Note that considerably more of them than their head and torso are off the boat and hiking.  Now, think of my 215 pounds (used to be much more, before all this cycling) suspended off the side of the boat and what demands that places on the thigh and gut muscles.  Now think of doing that for 20-30 minutes at a time, broken up only by having to throw yourself into the boat, roll under the boom at the bottom of the sail and get hiked out on the other side of the boat every time you tack, changing the side of the sail the wind is hitting.  Racing a small boat, like the Sunfish or a Laser, tacking 40-50 times in a race is not unusual.  Now look again at that picture and try to imagine me tacking and getting my earthly remains heaved into the boat, under that boom at the bottom of the sail and hiked out on the other side, and doing it in under 3-4 seconds each time.  Losing weight and inches is a serious benefit.  I used to occasionally capsize because I got stuck under the boom the boat just rolled over.  Capsizing is, by the way, both slow and a source of great amusement for one’s competitors.  So that, friends, is why I am working up to a 100 mile cycling ride by the end of the year.  Come next year, I want to be under 200 pounds and skinny (and limber) enough to make those tacks easily. I don’t care if it makes my friends and family think I have multiple screws loose. 

Even when I achieve those goals, I will not win regattas because I am competing against world-class sailors who weigh 140-160 pounds.  that means giving them a 40 to 50 pound advantage.  This may not seem like much, but, the boat itself only weighs about 120 pounds, so I will be giving up a load equal to 40%-50% of what the boat weighs and that is a lot to give up.  I will not beat the top skippers very often, but I will worry the heck out of them and that is fun.

Now to bringing everyone up-to-date on the Lake Worth Sailing Club’s Sunfish Regatta this last weekend.  I arrived at the club Friday evening with son Brad (to help the old man unload the ‘fish out of the bed of the truck)  and as we drove in, I was stopped dead in my tracks by something I had not expected to ever see again.  Sitting off to the left of the entrance in the dry storage area was PFLASH!, Snipe Number 19261. 

Snipe number 19261


 This was the Snipe class boat in which Peggy and I won many Snipe races back in the early 1970s.  We sold it, reluctantly, when TI sent us off to England in 1976.  No boat has ever been as emotionally linked to the joy and fun of our early married years as PFLASH.  In 1971 we ordered this boat and went to California to pick it up, found the hippies there were not quite ready and spent several days helping get it finished.  It was an extraordinarily fast Snipe.  Everyone who ever sailed it found it to be an inexplicably “special” hull.  PFLASH is now sitting covered in mold and tree droppings, but still just looks different than other boats, even other Snipes.  It deck is still firm, not spongy like other boats of that vintage are today.  I lifted the hull off the trailer at the bow and was astounded that it is still light, likely within 10 pounds of the class minimum hull weight.    Brad had never seen this boat, but was well aware that most of the trophies that used to line our gameroom walls and bookshelves were won when Peggy and I were campaigning PFLASH.  He thoughtfully walked off to one side to give me some space to share some time with this old member of our family.   Her deck is filthy, spray rail missing, some of the teak rub rails around the deck are gone, the floorboards are loose and slid back to the back of the cockpit, and lord only knows when she last sailed, but that was our PFLASH and I still love her.  What a trip down memory lane that was.   Trust me, I have understated the emotions of that moment.  

Brad and I unloaded the Sunfish and, after meeting PFLASH’s current Master (Jim Holcomb), we headed back to Brad’s place for the night.  The next morning the regatta got underway.  We had 18 boats competing.  The wind forecast was dismal for us Clydesdale-sized competitors but was exciting for the lightweights.  Winds on Saturday were forecast to be 5-10 mph out of the south to southwest.  I sized up the competition and figured that if I could finish above the middle of the fleet in the forecast winds, it would be a great performance.   The Olympian who usually pounds me, though graciously, like cheap veal and three other fast guys were off in Mississippi for the selection regatta for the US representative for the Sunfish at the Pan American Games, so top half might just be doable even in light air.

We sailed 7 races Saturday and at the end of the day, Stewart Draheim and Doug Peckover, a world-class Laser champion who is sailing Sunfish some now, were way ahead of everyone else.  One of them was gonna close the deal Sunday for sure.  Ellen Burks (regional Sunfish Diva, and competitor at the Sunfish World Championships in Italy this fall, Warren Fitzpatrick (a fellow geezer, but a 160 pounder!), and Steven Pracht (one of the pesky hot juniors… from the Shreveport Yacht Club) were pretty close together.  James Wilson and Marshall Woodson were close together in the standings.  Close behind James/Marshall, Kyle Pippi (another of the pesky hot juniors), Ed Owen, myself and Kyle’s twin brother Brad were fairly close with Ed and me tied.

 Sunday morning started with slightly better wind than we had most of Saturday. The wind got mostly better as the morning progressed. 

Starting lines were a place of great and spirited sharing of sailing terminology.  A couple of competitors, perhaps because it was Sunday, seemed to be seized by something or other and must have been speaking in tongues or something.

Lake Worth Sailing Club 2010 Sunfish Regatta

Stewart Draheim (80749) gets a near perfect start

In the photo above Stewart crosses the line, with the race committee officer looking through the orange flag, down the line to a buoy just off camera to the right.  Most of the other boats seem unaware that they need to be accelerating to cross the line as the starting horn sounds.  OK, some quick explanation.  At three minutes before the start, the committee boat will sound three long (about 1 second each) blasts on their horn and we are all supposed to start our stop watches.  The starting line is an imaginary line between an orange flag on the committee boat and a buoy some distance away.  The objective is to have your boat trimmed close to the wind and accelerated to full speed and to have your bow cross that imaginary line just as, but not before, not even a nanosecond before, the horn sounds for the start.    But, that is not complicated enough… there are a bunch of other factors that would only confuse the uninitiated more, so let’s leave it at that.  Y’all can put the Excedrin bottle back down.  Suffice it to say that Stewart got a good start!

Once on the course, which consists of a couple of buoys a few hundred yards upwind and a single buoy a few hundred yards downwind from the starting line, things can get interesting, though usually in slower-motion than seemed the case at this regatta.

Arriving at the windward mark (the first one upwind) one leaves it on the left side of the boat and goes over to a second mark nearby, called “the offset”.   The offset is a great invention which came along after Peggy and I quit racing Snipes.  It serves to keep leading boats from rounding the windward mark and coming roaring down wind through the glom of boats all arriving at the windward mark at once, usually from two different directions and hollering friendly greetings to one another about who has the right-of-way.  By having the offset mark (another word for buoy), boats are only coming from two directions, not three.  That is a good thing.

Doug Peckover(41), Stewart Draheim (80749) and Don Bynum (79138) round the offset as Warren Fitzpatrick (88640) prepares to round the windward mark.

As the first three boats rounded the windward mark (the orange ball behind 80749) and the offset (the white ball to our right of 79138) things still looks sorta peaceful.  The first 3 boats, Doug Peckover (41) followed by Stewart Draheim, and Don Bynum (79138… don’t worry, I won’t stay up with those two much longer) appear to be being followed by just Warren Fitzpatrick (88640).  Here is what it looked like about 15 seconds later.

Warren Fitzpatrick, Ellen Burks, James Wilson, and Ed Owen round the offset

Warren (on the right edge) is around just ahead of Ellen, James and Ed

Busy place, and that ain’t the half of it.  11 more boats are just barely out of the frame coming upwind from the right, to round in a gaggle.  This was in light wind so it took 15 seconds for the last two pictures to “happen”.  Later in the morning, as the wind freshened, this would all be taking place in half the time and with more rocking and careening around and sportsmanlike “communicating” taking place.  

As winds pick up in a later race, Doug Peckover (background left) rounds behind Stew (off picture to the left) while Ellen Burks, Marshall Woodson, Steven Pracht, and Don Bynum sort out right of way with things happening much quicker.

After going downwind, the fleet begins to arrive at the downwind, or leeward, mark and there is great enthusiasm expressed again for discovering just exactly who has which rights of way.   The picture below shows a whole bunch of us on our way to arriving at that orange buoy about 3/4 of the way across to the right of the picture.  I don’t have a picture of the casual and relaxed state in which we all, in the most stately imaginable fashion, sorted out who got to fill which piece of the lake surface and when and in what order.  This one got pretty intense. 

A whole bunch of us head for "the great hollerin' and shoutin' ceremony" at the leeward mark.

We had a fair bit of that “intensity” stuff between laughs. 

From Left: Bob Crow, Jennifer Crow, Judi Foote, and Steve Blake on a run

Amanda Boers prepared to gibe at the leeward mark.

Ellen Burks (7), Marshall Woodson (80091), James Wilson (920), Patsy Haines (80110), Stewart Draheim (80749... but we cannot see the #), and Jennifer Crow (right edge of picture) approach the windward m,ark in one of the early races.

Just about everyone got to feel “included” in the exciting buoy roundings and aggressive starts at one moment or another in the course of the morning.  It was great! 

Final Results with throwout races highlighted in red.

Lake Worth Sailing Club Sunfish Regatta - Winner Doug Peckover

Doug Peckover 1st

Lake Worth Sailing Club Sunfish Regatta - Second - Stewart Draheim

2nd - Stewart Draheim

When the dust had all settled, Doug Peckover had won and Stewart Draheim finished second.  But that result was still unresolved as we started the last race.  The competition was fierce, but friendly, on the water and that is what makes it fun.   

Jennifer Crow, Kyle Pippi (8864) and Brad Pippi (79406) start at the pin end of the line, which was favored on this start. Though Kyle got the upper hand at the start, I believe Brad finished 3rd in this race, ahead of both Jennifer and Kyle in an impressive bit of sailing. Kyle, however finished 9th in the regatta ahead of Brad's 10th. Ah sibling rivalries!

To the members of the Lake Worth Sailing Club, a “Thanks for being such great hosts!”  This year is the 75th anniversary of the founding of their club. They are developing some serious sailors in their Sunfish program.  The Pippi twins, Brad and Kyle, two pesky hot juniors both had good perfomances with very different sailing styles.  At the start of one race, they actually started together (tough to do on purpose in the melee of those starts) and showed good form side-by-side.  From this crusty old goat, all I can say is you guys are gonna wear me out!   My only hope is to do enough cycling to become delirious and think I too am 16 again and feel that way when racing these hot juniors.  Stewart Draheim, Steven Pracht, Brad Pippi and Kyle Pippi, I got your numbers!  Watch out, here I come!  And y’all be kind to old fools who think they can beat you for long.

Profuse thanks to Chuck Haines for the photography to help those who participated remember and those who did not participate to imagine more vividly.  Chuck took around 700 pictures on Sunday and you can see them all at his smugmug page.


Sailing – Teaching a 4 Year Old Girl to Love Sailing

The Princess Regent, our 4 year old granddaughter, just wound up  a week at the lake with Peggy and me.  It was a wonderful time. Activities were varied and ranged from Peggy and Her Highness doing chick things like icing cupcakes and going to the Llano City Park playground, to helping me clean up a tree (I used the chainsaw, she dragged the cuttings off into a pile), to fishin’, to my favorite recreational activity… sailing. 

Her Royal Highness(HRH) had been on our Catalina 22 a couple of years ago and sorta vaguely seemed to remember it, but even with a crisp Technicolor HD recall, that is like sailing the house from the front porch.  The C22 is a ponderous thing when compared to sailing one of our Sunfish, much less her Dad’s elderly Laser that graces our yard.  So on her first day here I started to prepare her, mentally, to enjoy sailing.  

We have a life-jacket rule, which has followed us through several lake community homes, vacation joints, yacht clubs, and family outings.   Children under 12 are not allowed anywhere in the direction of, much less near to, water not squirting out of a hose…  unless they wear a properly secured and fitted life jacket appropriate to their age.  Every year I read of families losing children to drowning due to a split second of distraction and some accident.  We have had guests who thought it was just too much hassle to convince their little darlings to wear the jacket and have asked them to leave if the kids appeared to be in charge of safety.  Her Texanic Magesty is well familiar with this rule, understands that she does not have a say in the matter and is very well adjusted about it (note to others… your kids and grandkids will be this way too, if they understand that YOU are in charge and that they will not get to have all that fun if they resist, in the smallest way, your wisdom regarding ALWAYS having a jacket on children.)  A good side benefit is that, knowing what the life jacket is there for, kids will quickly learn to use it and be a more comfortable as they learn to be around boats and the water.

 Having raised two sons and introduced them to sailing at age 3 or so, I know a bit about getting kids into the sport.  But little girls are different.  “They are not just soft boys”, as Sid Nolte, an old friend from my TI days once explained (he had two of each, so I figure he knows a lot about the subject).  With this in mind I took a step-by-step approach to getting our granddaughter morphed into a raving, giggling, squealing little sailing nut. 

Even with her dad trying to make it fun, she was not too sure about it.

Teaching a 4 year old girl to love sailing

Her Highness peers over the edge of the slide, not too sure she wants to risk this!

Her Highness spent 2 days doing non-sailing water activities, to build up her confidence, before we introduced the Sunfish to her world.  She was pretty timid about sliding down the slide from the inflatable trampoline which Peggy had (wisely) insisted we get, but after an hour or so she was comfortable going down it feet first.  She would not, however jump off it into the water, nor go down the slide facing the water or head-first.  We did not push that but used each splash down the slide into the water to get her to remember to not inhale water and to roll over onto her back and get stable as soon as she hit the water. 

Pointers from the old guy.

Down the slide she goes, landing with a splash!

After a couple of 1-2 hours sessions she was getting to where she knew how to move about, even in a dog paddle position, with the life jacket on.

The next step was to get her to the point that she could struggle her way from shore to where we moor our powerboat in about 3 feet of water about 30 yards off-shore, then with just a little help, get started up the ladder and up onto the boat.  We did that 4 or 5 times over a day and a half, with lots of other splashing and wading and some of the water slide activity mixed in, as well as using the event of having made it to the boat and on it, to go fishing or to motor out to the Catalina to tie up to it and go aboard to “check on things”.  The tie-up to the larger boat involved discussions about not getting hands, feet, legs, arms or other body parts between the two boats as they might get mashed.  We also, after a couple of these “out to the Catalina” adventures, tried climbing down the ladder on the power boat and floating around, checking the waterline on the Catalina all the way around.  By then she was getting very comfortable with being safe with her life jacket even in very deep water and with always keeping a hand on one of the boats or a line off one of them.

Now it was time to introduce the fun.  So I asked if she would like to go sailing with me on my racing Sunfish (it has a special sail and some extra strings for adjusting the sail that are not on recreational Sunfish… and I polish and fondle its bottom several times a year.)  She knows I race that boat and that it is sorta a big deal, so she was onto that invitation in a heartbeat.  Thank goodness she does not know how poorly I sail these days!

We got the daggerboard and rudder…  racing “blades” made of some sort of plastic, not the wooden ones seen on recreational ‘fish, and carried them out to the boat which was on its beach dolly in the yard.  The sail was already with the boat, bent to the spars in a long skinny bag which protects the sail from the the sun.  We worked together on getting the spars and sails out of the bag and ready to put on the boat, then stepped the mast and since the wind was fairly light and blowing more or less from the lake, we raised the sail and secured it.  All through this I showed her every part and explained what it does.  A Sunfish does not have a lot of parts, so this was within the attention span of a 4-year-old. 

With the boat rigged and ready to launch I stopped for a minute and explained that we would go out and sail, that I would sail some of the time and that if she wanted, I would show her how to steer the boat, but that I would need her help pulling the rope which pulls the sail in or lets it out.  Then I told her that we would also do a practice capsize and explained what that meant.  She looked a little anxious about the capsize so we discussed the dreadful consequences of a capsize … you get to go swimming!  Then she was actually grinning about the prospect.

Her Magesty has already boarded, now time to get the human ballast aboard!

Ready to sheet the main and get sailin'!

We rolled the boat down to the water and floated it off the dolly in about 2 feet of water.  I then asked HRH to please hold the rope on the front of the boat while I took the dolly back on shore.  Again there was some apprehension, but she took the rope gingerly in one hand.  I asked that she use both hands and hold on tight since this was my racing boat.  I then turned, nervously myself, and took the dolly ashore without looking back, then came back doing my best to look comfortable.  No problem.  She had a good grip and hung on and stood her ground even as a small puff came through and pulled harder on that rope. 

Thanking her for holding on, I asked that she continue while I mounted the rudder, dropped the daggerbboard into its slot and attached its safety cord.  She was fine with all that.  Then we got her aboard and I told her to hang on while Granddad the Walrus climbed over the side and into the boat with her.  She had already figured out which rope pulled the sail in and asked if she should pull it in… this was getting very cool!

We sailed out beyond our Catalina 22 to get the feel of the boat

She immediately "got it" about getting her head down as we came about. Not a single knot on her head the whole time!

We sailed out and around the Catalina, then back in and around the power boat (while Grandmother took some pictures) then back out near the Catalina.  I asked if she was ready to practice capsizing.   She nodded but said nothing, so I grinned broadly and recounted for her how her Dad and Uncle Russell used to take the Laser out, when they were not a lot older than she is and capsize it over and over, even though they were too little to right it, unless they worked together on it (a rare moment when Grandmother and I knew they would not be fighting like brothers do.)  I described Uncle Russell struggling up onto the bottom of the boat then helping her dad climb up with him where they would stand together on the bottom and hang off the daggerboard until the boat started rolling back up onto one side,.  then they would BOTH climb onto the dagger board and sit straddling it, as far out on it as they could get, sometimes farther than they could get, kersplash, until they got the boat to come back upright.   By this point Her Highness was giggling at the image of her 6’+ Dad doing that with her also 6’+ Uncle Russell on a little bitty boat.  I don’t think she is able to picture her dad as being her size, ever.  Sigh… time passes so quickly.

The first capsize - after lots of building up to it being a chance to swim.

With the boat righted and Granddad back on board, HRH gets lifted aboard in a fit of giggling

She then said “Lets capsize, Granddad!”  I took a minute to explain, again, what I would be doing, what I wanted her to do, and what to do, other than freak, if she got uncomfortable about what was going on.  And then we did it.  We were easily 150 yards offshore and Peggy told me she could hear the giggling and shrieking clearly.  As this was HRH’s first capsize, I had her swim with me around to the other side of the boat, hold onto the bow of the boat as I climbed up onto the bottom (it had “turtled”… was completely upside down by then) grabbed the daggerboard and gently rolled the boat upright.  I then had her come down the side of the boat  to where I was and hold onto the edge of the boat.  I climbed onboard then reached over and helped her climb up and over the side.  She immediately said,”let’s do it again!” and I knew that there was a newly confident young sailor-in-the-making with me.

We capsized the boat several more times.  I showed her a way that she could stay on the deck side of the boat… and if I got around to the daggerboard quickly and kept the boat from turning completely upside down… she could hold onto the rim of the cockpit as I rolled the boat up.  That would just pull her up and into the boat as it came upright.   Long sentence but a great technique for a kid to learn.  It gives them confidence that they have some control over not being “left” in the water when the boat gets righted.

At this point she asked if I would show her how to steer the boat.  Glowing with grandfatherly pride, I did and she did fine with it.  She even learned how to tell that the sail needed trimmed in a bit more, though she was not as quick to understand how to tell when it was too tight.  We have many years for her to master that, and the many other nuances that make sailing a never-ending learning experience.

HRH climbs aboard after jumping off, me circling back and stopping the boat beside her

A high-five to celebrate a successful recovery of a crewchick overboard!

The next day I was thinking maybe we would put the jet ski in, as she has always enjoyed riding on it, but she asked if we could sail the sunfish some more, before I could even ask.  So we did and on that day we added “man overboard drills” to our repetoire of fun stuff to do on a little sailboat.  I would tell her when to slide off into the water then shout “man over-board!” and come about, then go past her and  turn back up into the wind and coast to a stop right by her and help her get started back onto the boat.  After the 3rd or 4th time she took to jumping off, rolling off, rolling off backwards, … you name it, she did it. 

Her Royal Highness sails us in and drops me off to hold the boat for her

The next day HRH’s Dad came back to spend part of a day then escort Her Ladyship home.  Early that morning he was asked if she could take him sailing.  They rigged the boat, went out and she stunned her Dad with her comfort with the water and the boat in her lifejacket.  As they sailed along, with him steering (her request)  she suddenly shouted “Man Overboard” and rolled backwards off the boat.  Luckily I had warned him and he is an excellent, if somewhat rusty, sailor.  He knew what his part of a “man overboard drill” should be and I beamed in pride at both of them as he executed his part with precision … as if it had been only yesterday that he and Russell practiced this drill over and over…  and they both, son and granddaughter, laughed and giggled as they shared a love of the water and sailing.

This is pretty cool stuff.

HRH holds the boat (get that smile!) while I get it ready to pull out of the water

Tomorrow… cycling!  Maybe a ride out to Castell for a BBQ Sandwich and a beer!  I will let you know how it goes.

Sailing – launching/harbor facilities at Lake Buchanan

Watching visitor data for this blog, I have seen a fair number of visitors coming in off search terms such as “Sailing Lake Buchanan”.  This leads me to suspect that a guide to the limited launching choices and huge, excellent, sailing areas on the lake will be of interest. The first report, tomorrow afternoon, will be on the Llano County Park near the intersection of Hwy 261 and RM1431 on the west side of the lake. 

Some things I can forewarn visitors about is that there is not a single facility that I have found which has a mast rigging hoist, so sailboats over about 22 feet will not find visits to the lake easy or maybe even possible.  Also I know of at least one facility which has a power line strung across the parking lot at what looks like about 20 feet off the ground, making over half the parking area unsafe for most sailboats bigger than a Sunfish or Laser.

Offsetting the negatives is the huge open main basin of the lake which does not have high bluffs near it like most of the highland lakes and the fact that the very limited access to fuel on the lake and dearth of slips for powerboats over about 25 feet has discouraged the development of squadrons of idiots in cigarette boats blowing down the lake 3-4 abreast at 50-70mph like I have seen on Lake Travis.  

I have recently checked out one of the local waterfront resorts which has an excellent granite sand beach and is perfect for dolly launching Sunfish, Lasers, or Hobies , but the beach is open only to guests staying at the resort’s cabins.  More on this place later… it has some promise for those of us who have ‘fish or Lasers and want to come do some sailing on great open, uncrowded, water.

Launching facilities at the Llano County park adjacent to LCRA’s Black Rock Park – This year (2010) the launch ramp and parking areas are new and improved.   The ramp is useable at lake levels down to around 995 feet MSL.

Llano County Park Launch Ramp next to the LCRA Black Rock Park

Sailboats should not use the unpaved parking area due to the overhead power line

Llano County Launch Ramp next to LCRA Black Rock Park

The parking was not full at 3pm on July 3rd, so it should usually be adequate.

 There is a paved parking area with pull-through spaces for about 20 cars and trailers.  There is a large unpaved parking area also, but don’t even think about rigging a sailboat there.  There is a power line drooped across between it and the launching area.  In the paved area there is not really a good place for rigging a sailboat, but unless the place is swamped with visitors, which is not often, one can easily find a place to rig boats up to the  22 foot range. 

Drive out to the circular turn-around, then back the boat in without delay. Do NOT rig on the turn-around. It makes people HATE sailors.

KEEP RIGHT - unlike the driver coming off the ramp in this picture.

When ready to launch you drive car-first down to a circular turnaround right next the actual ramp.  Do not back all that way.  Then… make the circle and back down the ramp.  The ramp is not wide enough for two boats on the ramp together, so wait your turn.  When driving out to the circular area keep close to the right curb to give cars/trailers coming back off the ramp room to pass.

There is no-where to wait near the ramp after launching. IMMEDIATELY Skull, paddle or motor somewhere else to pick up crew, set sails, and/or contemplate infinity.

A challenge to plan ahead for is that there is no dock anywhere within (literally)  approximately one mile.  Since the wind is normally pretty much right up the ramp, launching with sails already set will not normally work.  Since the area around the ramp itself is faced with large granite rubble, launching and having someone hold the boat off somewhere off the side away from the ramp will not work.  You better have a motor or be able to paddle over to the swimming beach area across the cove to the south of the ramp.  It has not occurred to the powers that be to buoy-off the beach for swimmers only… so far… so if your boat can be beached that is your best bet. 

Once past the rigors of launching and getting underway, without normal facilities found even in third-world environs, you are in for a hoot.  Lake Buchanan is great.  It is big enough that if the wind comes up you will experience some big waves and this is in Texas so the wind often blows immoderately, so be prepared to deal with and enjoy them.