Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Storm a-comin' ...

On Sunday morning it looked like hurricane Irene, which was just aiming toward Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic, might be on a path that could take it right across the Florida Keys and on up through the state.  Jeff Grant at our marina gave me a call and said he'd be getting boats ready for the onslaught starting on Monday, so I decided to drive over and prepare Alizee.

I arrived Monday around noon, and already it looked like Irene's course was moving east of Florida's Gulf Coast, but since I was already there, I went ahead and added lines, put a Jacobs Ladder on the mainsail, hooked up the main halyard at the foot of the boom to give added support to the topping lift, and threw on a couple of more fenders.  The head sails are already off the boat and on the shelf in Advanced Sails' loft, after having new sunbrella added to the leaches.  The loft's owner Keith is good enough to store them there until we can get them back on the boat in October.  The only thing I didn't do was to remove the dodger and bimini.  Instead, Jeff agreed to remove them and put them below if Irene suddenly turned back toward the Gulf Coast, or in the event of another storm hitting St. Petersburg in the next several weeks.

So, Alizee is ready for Irene, but Irene seems bent on wreaking havoc in the Bahamas rather than Florida.  On the course she's now following, she'll miss Florida completely but is surely going to go right up through the far Bahama islands.  We remember anchoring all along Cat Island, one of our favorites, and along Eleuthera, and now we cannot help but think of the residents of those spots that welcomed us so warmly last year.  Perhaps Harbor Island and then the islands surrounding the Sea of Abaco will be spared the worst, but they'll still get hit pretty hard as well.  Of course the eastern seaboard is on alert, and Irene still remains a really threat to North Carolina, as her track points northeasterly toward Long Island and Massachusetts.  I zoomed in on the Stormpulse map and saw that Irene will probably come awfully close to Oriental, where I was when tropical storm Hanna came through in September 2008.  That was pretty rough and I can't imagine Oriental Harbor standing up well to even the edge of a category two or three storm.  Well, at least I find that our friends Karl and Lucy Lichty have sold their boat Lu Sea, so they don't have that to worry about.  But we wish all the best to other sailors in and around Oriental.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Memories ...

Friend Chris James sent me this photo of Dog Days at rest in the DeltaThe scene reminds me of my trip up to the Delta with Paul Poirier, sun-shower hanging from the mast and all.  New owner Rochelle seems to be taking pretty good care of her, and has converted her jib from hank-on to roller furler.  She also put in a new head, replaced some running rigging, and replaced the fuel guage and sensor, which had recently bitten the dust.  I wonder if she's as balanced on a close reach with the new sail? 

Monday, August 15, 2011

Glasgow, Scotland ...

We had a great trip to Glasgow, Scotland for the 38th symposium of the International Committee for the History of Technology, for which James is currently serving as president. While Edinburgh, not Glasgow, is usually the first destination for visitors to Scotland, we loved Glasgow.  The people were uniformly friendly, the restaurants were all superb and the weather cool and comfortable despite some rain ... a far cry from sultry hot central Florida.  We especially enjoyed walking along the Kelvin River that runs through Kelvingrove Park adjacent to the University of Glasgow, and we thought the Kelvingrove Art Museum was one of the most interesting we've ever visited ... very eclectic, drawing very well on the local environs and filled with clever ways to engross the viewer.

The symposium itself was fun.  Lots of good papers on a myriad of topics from technology in military history to environment and technology issues to technology and music and technology and play.  James's paper was on in the latter session on play, and looked at sailing through the role of consumers in affecting technological change and how the sailing has become a "hedonized" technology, a technology of pleasure and play. 

Of course a great deal of the symposium was taken up in meeting with old friends, making new ones and sipping a wee dram or two.  Friday night of the symposium was the group's jazz night, an affair that has gone on at each symposium since the 1990s and which is the occasion for the Email Special to reunite and play jazz standards while others find their way to the dance floor. 


Thursday, August 11, 2011

Thinking about sailing...

We just returned from a lovely ten-day trip to Glasgow, Scotland, and the moment I checked my backlog of emails I began to think about stepping on Alizee again for some sailing.  To be sure, the trip to Glasgow (for which I'll post an entry soon), but, as my friend Bruce Sinclair said in response to my spotting his photo sailing his little dinghy T/T Aquavit while I was gone: "I would have liked to have been there ... apart from this lovely boating life." 

I sailed with Bruce and his wife Gail down from Vallejo to South Beach Marina in San Francisco on their new-to-them Swan 36 Aquavit when I was last in California a month ago.  When I looked at the 'Lectronic Latitude edition recapping the bay area's week-long Delta Doo Dah 3D cruise up into the Sacramento and San Joaquin River Delta, there was Bruce sailing his dinghy in the event's dinghy race.  And I could spot Bruce and Gail among the crowd on the bow of Buffalo Spirit (Gail's wearing a black shirt and waving and Bruce sports a white cap and shirt).  Had I been there, I no doubt would have wangled my way into playing the keyboard that is almost next to Gail.  And, yet a third photo of the four in 'Lectronic Latitude shows their Swan anchored in Potato Slough with their little wooden dinghy floating off Aquavit's stern.

This lovely boating life, indeed, dear friend Bruce.

Another glimpse of the sailing life came in a check in the mail from Good Old Boat which alerted me that they had published my review of Frank Rosenow's Ditty Bag Book, a fun little guide to sail-making and canvas work for sailors of all stripes.  You can find the review here.

Finally, an email from the Seven Seas Cruising Association reminded me that Penelope and I have to decide whether we're going to try and make it to the gam in the middle of October which SSCA is holding in Punta Gorda at the top of Charlotte Harbor on Florida's gulf coast.  Meanwhile, the Dolphins Cruising Club of Tampa Bay, which we just joined a couple of months ago is planning their cruising schedule for the upcoming season, and we're looking forward to participating.