Saturday, June 14, 2008

The Perfect Boat

Since moving to Port Townsend, I've been longing to go sailing. I'm very greatful to the generous folks who have allowed me to come along on their boats, like Mycia. But what I am missing the taking a boat out myself. I've learned a lot on other people's boats, but there are some things you can only learn when you are responsible for the whole outing. The Center for Wooden Boats gave me the chance to do these things, but there's nothing like that here.

So it's time to break the first rule I set for myself when I started sailing: don't own a boat.

First, I have to decide what I'm looking for. Here's a short list of everything I can think of:

  • Traditional wood construction, which I love
  • Within my ability to maintain (which isn't much!)
  • Small enough to pull behind the bicycle, since I abhor driving
  • Small enough to car-top, so I can skip the car trailer
  • Small enough to launch at a beach, so I can avoid the boat launch
  • Small enough to row, so I can skip the motor
  • Cheap, so I can continue my adventure without running out of money
  • Safe, stable, and dry enought to take the kids out on Townsend Bay
  • Big enough to be comfortable.
  • Big enough to carry not just the 5 of us, but also our dear friends in Mill Creek, who are also 5.
  • Big enough to take a multi-day trip with the family, and explore various anchorages
  • Capable of transporting us to visit my brother in Hilo.
  • Big enough for us to live on, as we explore the 7 seas.

Obviously, there are many contradicting items on my list. Note that speed is not on my list. Nor is status of a fancy boat.

After pondering my options, I decided to buy a cheap, used El Toro or similar. It meets the small, easy to launch, easy to haul, etc. However, I got advice from some wise folks, and decide that I needed something a little bigger to be able to sail in comfort & safety, especially with a kid on board. So, I'm now looking for something between 10' and 22'.

Wish me luck finding the right boat!

Monday, June 09, 2008

23rd Classic Mariner's Regatta

This past weekend was the Classic Mariner's Regatta in Port Townsend. I headed down to try get on a boat, as I haven't been sailing in a while.

First stop was the skipper's meeting. The sun was out, and the sky was gorgeous. I was worried about a sunburn, and didn't bring a hat, so I bought a hat from the Wooden Boat Foundation with "23rd Classic Mariner's Regatta" on it. In case I forget. Before we had cast off, the sky had clouded over, and we didn't see sun again all day.

There were two other folks who were looking to crew but didn't have a boat. All 3 of us ended up on Mycia. She's a 73' LOA schooner, with a large deckhouse. We came on board & met the other crew who were already there.

After getting the grand tour, I realized that I hadn't brought enough food for the full day. The skipper said we had 15 minutes. We were docked right by the Otter Crossing Cafe, so I went there to order a sandwich and use the shore head. Turns out they were really busy, and took 25 minutes to make the sandwich! I stepped back outside, and saw that I had missed the boat.

I considered going home, but all my gear was still on board, including my keys*. They bay was now dotted with sails. Finally, I saw one more boat motoring through the marina. I ran down to the end of the dock and hailed them, asking for a ride out. They pulled up close, and I stepped on. Once out on the water, they motored to Mycia. Mycia was pulling an inflatable dinghy, so they came up next to the dinghy, and I jumped down in to it, sandwich in hand. Then I hove on the painter, boarded the schooner, and said hello to my shipmates. What a way to start the day!

I had a blast. Worked my butt off heaving on lines to get things trimmed as best we could. My hands were sore all the next day. Thoroughly enjoyed my sandwich (egg and bacon on a tasty roll). Plenty of wind, which Mycia likes. And after the race, we kept sailing out towards Fort Worden, where the wind was even stronger. She was heeled well over, and really moving. Finaly we came back in to port, said goodbyes, and I headed home.

I was so tired that the next morning I got up, made fed breakfast to the family, and was back asleep by 10:15am.

Today I took a paint pen and wrote "CREW" on the bill of my cap. Again, just in case I forget.

I want to thank the boat that delivered me. I didn't get her name, nor the chance to properly thank her captain. One notable thing about the boat: the cleats and winches for the jib sheets were held in place with woodworking clamps. I figure that's a good way to experiment with positioning.

I left my phone number with Mycia's skipper. I look forward to getting out with them again.

*Keys to my bike, of course.

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Dinner with Alexander

While in Richmond for the wedding, I asked my grandmother to help me learn some of her cooking. I grew up eating this stuff, and it has deep meaning for me. It's to the point that feeding people is a way of showing them my love. I think it's the same for her, and I've watched her feed & otherwise care for us all for many years.

I wasn't able to do as much hands-on as I had hoped, because I was chasing my 3 kids around and needed to spend time with other family. Still, I got to learn more about how to make these dishes:

When we got back home, I first made a batch of hummos, which turned out awesome. I particularly like hearing Dylan say "hummos". I also cheated at making lebneh, by just straining Strauss whole milk yogurt. Good news, though: it's really good yogurt, so the result was very tasty lebneh. Unfortunately the food co-op put Strauss yogurt on sale, so now they're out of stock.

Yesterday I made wara' dawali. It turned out really good, especially considering it was the first time I made it on my own. I particularly liked the fact that it tasted like what I grew up with, which is different than what you get at retaurants around here. I used way, way too much salt, but still not as much as my grandmother!

I still have some leaves left (I ran out of rice, and couldn't stuff them), and I need to figure out how to get brown rice to cook well in this context (my family always uses Uncle Ben's converted), so more practice to come.

I look forward to making this dish for friends.

Guess who got married?

I have a new sister an law! Chances are if you're reading this, you already know that. Here's what you don't know: the minister is an awesome kisser. Thanks Alane! I guess that's a priviledge of being best man.

Mixed thoughts: I think these two make an awesome couple. Their leis looked very cool. I got to help dress the groom. At the reception, I toasted them without a mic. I know I was loud enough, becausehwen I screwed up, the people in the back laughed.

I didn't lose the rings.

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