Saturday, April 30, 2011

my home club Davis Island YC

I sail out of the Sailingest Club in the South: Davis Island YC
In this day and age where sailing seems to be ailing and the sport is always being marked as a dying one unless we become nascarlike and primed for tv in color, stereo and dolby sound bytes, etc. I find very refreshing to be a member of the Sailingest club in the South.
What we hinge about is sailing, racing, promoting sailing, teaching sailing, having a great youth sailing/racing program, cruising the general area and did I mentioned sailing already?! Our Thursday night racing series goes from daylight savings start to finish (or thereabouts). Every Thursday night we have 5 starts for different classes from centerboard (where I enroll my Laser every week) with Lasers, Windmills, Flying Scots, Fireball, Snipe, etc. to Spin “A” with J120, J109, J35, etc. Yeah, we also have non-spin A & B, racer-cruiser, J24-Melges 24 starts, etc. Every night 30 to 50 racing sailboats on the water. An all volunteer race committee takes turns serving or racing, four co-captains share the responsibility, all racers take turns serving as race committee. On Thursday nights, we are open to the community, dinner and drink tickets. Around 300 or more folks visit our facilities to participate in the races. The truest lung for the city of Tampa and surrounding areas.
Every other Sunday we have races as well. A pursuit start format, all against all. A little less formal than Thursdays but equally competitive.
We sponsor several classes aside from my beloved SunCoast-DIYC Laser Fleet, we have a new Sunfish Fleet, J24 Fleet, Flying Scot Fleet, Melges 24 Fleet, all based out of DIYC. We have a fantastic youth sailing program 501c3 protected which teaches sailing to 200 kids every summer! Develops great kids who grow up racing optimists, Lasers, 420’s all the way into college. Our Dinghy Dames are very active ladies who are always cooperating with everything that has to do with the club, teach women how to sail, race their Clearwater Prams on Tuesdays and their Sunfish/Laser wing sails on Fridays.
On top of that, we sponsor tons of races through the year, ladder events, qualifiers for several classes, Pan Am trials, etc. Plus, our sailors participate actively in all the local West Coast PHRF big boat circuit.
All of that on the back of club volunteers that hold 3 or 4 work parties per year, attend board meetings, repair all sorts of facilities from loud speakers to planks on the docks. A true blue collar membership. Yeah, it takes a year to become a member!! We need your money but we need your involvement in our sailing community more.
So, the reason for all this rant has a dual purpose. Obviously, I am a proud member, DIYC is a fantastic sailing organization. DIYC may as well stand for do it yourself club. The other reason is that there are hundreds of clubs, sailing centers, sailing squadrons, etc . that provide similar enjoyment to their members and fellow sailors in those areas. I can mention several in my area that are similar in intent and efforts (DIYC still is the sailingest club in the south though). Plenty, that if I happened to live in their area, I would be a proud contributing member as well.
So, is sailing a dying sport?...I don’t think so. The grassroots are fine. Just look at our little SunCoast Laser Fleet. This year we are having a series of Saturday races, ten dollars entry fee, trinkets for trophies, tons of fun and visiting 4 other such sailing centers, clubs, squadrons, etc. to make our Laser Fleet grow and show our little boats all over the place. The folks of the Treasure Coast Series on the East coast are doing the same (we copied their format actually). Look around, your club is probably having tons of sailing activities that you can join up and make better.
Perhaps all the glitter needed for tv and for the sponsors has a place at some level and the measuring parameters for success are different at that level but do not let that vision cloud yours. Don’t just sit there, sail something!
You can find DIYC at the top of the picture, at the bottom South end of Davis Islands, that area is called Hillsborough Bay and it is located in the downtown area. The peninsula to the left is where I live and also home to the MacDill Air Force base, home of the Southern Command.

Friday, February 25, 2011

am I naive?...I guess by choice, I am

Am I naïve?.....I guess by choice, I am

Here is a definition from the Merriam Webster Dictionary:
Definition of NAIVE
1: marked by unaffected simplicity : ARTLESS, INGENUOUS
2a : deficient in worldly wisdom or informed judgment; especially : CREDULOUS

Examples of NAIVE

1. a naive belief that all people are good
2. a naive view of the world

Silly boy…always so trusting, that is me. Let’s break down these definitions:

1- marked by unaffected simplicity. Guilty as charged, simple as they come. To loosely quote Hootie and the Blowfish on their song “only wanna be with you”, “you look at me, you got nothing left to see”. No need to try to be something I am not. Not a poser, not in need to represent myself beyond what I feel is my true self. Not grand, but not pumped by artificial additives without substance.

2- deficient in worldly wisdom or informed judgment; especially : CREDULOUS.

Well, here I have worldly wisdom but I never think that said worldly wisdom is being used or will be used against me. Especially credulous to a fault. If you are telling me something, I have no need to doubt that what you are saying is so, why would it not be?!

Both examples of NAÏVE apply to me. I believe that all people are good (until proven otherwise). I accept there are some really bad people out there. I have a naïve view of the world, I believe that all people want to be happy, have peace in their life and enjoy the love unconditionally given.

So, does it bother me to be such?, not really. I choose to wear my pink colored glasses on a daily basis. What bothers me is the realization that some people acting on purpose, actively engage in deceit for their stupid gains. What are they winning but the accelerated loss of their souls?

So, if I know these things and I know I am not changing my ways and I know there are bad people out there on the prowl for trusting souls, why am I in conflict? Since you would ask if I we were having this conversation face to face, here is my answer. I believe in fairness. I detest being the recipient of unfair acts. I hate lies. Did you know that lying is not one of the seven deadly sins? Go figure.

Here is the easy way to remember the deadly ones:
"SALIGIA" based on the first letters in Latin of the seven deadly sins: superbia, avaritia, luxuria, invidia, gula, ira, acedia. Or in plainer English, superbia = pride, avaritia = greed, luxuria = lust, invidia = envy, gula – gluttony, ira = wrath, acedia = sloth. There are though some other bad traits that God himself hates. Six things the Lord hateth, and the seventh His soul detesteth. Namely, a proud look, a lying tongue, hands that shed innocent blood, a heart that devises wicked plots, feet that are swift to run into mischief, a deceitful witness that uttereth lies, him that soweth discord among brethren. Lying though is one of the detestable actions. And who does not detest being lied to?

Nobody is justified in deceiving a naïve soul. I recently read a Bible verse that is so clear and bright, I felt compelled to make it as my facebook status line, two days in a row. It certainly works in any belief system. Here it is, “Therefore, rid yourselves of all malice and all deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and slander of every kind. Like newborn babies, crave pure spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow up in your salvation” (1 Peter 2:1-2).

What do you think? Sounds like a worthwhile goal. Let’s change the human in the mirror first.

Friday, October 29, 2010

night sailing on CHEESECAKE aka Jolene

Night Sailing

There is a certain magic in night sailing. Starting with dusk and the anticipation of sunset, the senses take on a new perception. The sun, seems less hot. Not the god of war and destruction now but a soothing light enveloped in all the hues of love. The moon will now be visible and eternal lovers will encounter each other in the heavens. Stars light up the evening sky and the world readies itself to start the night shift. Like all creatures, we welcome the change and prepare for it.

Ever since I started sailing the Sunfish back in Puerto Rico, I enjoyed the dusk sail. On the Sunfish it was my custom to sail around the Fajardo waters, arrive at Icacos Key beach for a short lunch and beach time and then lazily sail back in the afternoon hours to enjoy my dusk sailing back to my launch area of Playa Sardinera on Puerto Rico’s East coast. On big boats, the same applies. As dusk approaches, I prepare for the night watch in two ways. Always safety minded, out comes the harness, the life jacket, the extra flashlight, flood lamp, etc. Inside, I also prepare, settle the mind down, contemplate the sunset, ponder the gentle rotation of our planet as we fly through the cosmos, appreciate being alive as the stars light up my soul. And before I get mushy, let us turn to Laser sailing.

My laser’s name is CHEESECAKE, ‘cause she is so sweet to sail. Lately her name has acquired a very appropriate and fashionable “aka”. CHEESECAKE is aka Jolene. And like a biker trash friend of mine would say, “if I have to explain, you would not understand”. I try to race as many Thursday nights as I can on the laser. As the season progresses, the last Thursday nights have us finishing in darkness. This make finding rounding marks tricky, especially since we do not carry GPS or chart plotters on the lasers. We all manage one way or another and there are always big boats around so you can pick up marks by following the parade of running lights.
These last Thursday night races provide me with wonderful sunsets on the water and my beloved dusk sailing. Racing aside, there is certain awareness that only happens at night.
Perhaps not being able to see the puffs or the waves, incoming wind lines or lulls in our path, we automatically augment all the senses. The heaving water has a pattern that needs to be felt, the sheet in your hand, taught as it is transmits the gentlest information about the wind’s behavior. Suddenly, you instinctively feel the pressure on the tiller and even if the tiller extension is not yet crowned with a jade knob, you come know the ways of the sea. Alone as you may be on that cathedral of creation, dimly lit by the night lanterns of stars, moon and other heavenly bodies reflecting the sun’s light beams, there is peace to be found. “You ARE a child of the universe, no less than the trees or the stars, you have the right to be here and whether or not it is clear to you, the universe is unfolding as it should”….quoted from DESIDERATA.
Solace is found.

If you have never sailed at night, I invite you to try it. Just go sailing on a regular day and refuse to come in until the sun has set and dusk is upon you. Then, enjoy the moment.

Dry notes department: for night sailing on a little boat as the laser or sunfish, the Coast Guard Minimum Safety Requirements call for having a flashlight on board. I have found that one of those that you charge up by shaking, serve well and being sealed, they hold up fairly decent against the water environment; also not having to deal with trashed batteries is good. I also tie a glow stick to the webbing on the top of my sail. At that height, I am showing a light all around that reaches well above the water to be seem by passing boats in the area.

Saturday, July 31, 2010

Tiller Time and a jade knob on my hiking stick

Tiller Time and a jade knob on my hiking stick

It seems that with all things in life, doing it often produces the best results barring the natural talent some folks are born with. The musicians tell the joke of the tourist who asked the cab driver, “how do you get to Carnegie Hall?” and the cabbie (perhaps a musician himself) answered, “practice, practice, practice” Thus it is obvious that in order to master something we must serve that something first. Surrender to its allure and give ourselves to the magic pull of the practice. Force ourselves to trudge in failure and surmount the obstacles with courage in the knowledge that enlightenment sometimes occurs in subtle rays of light as we open our morning blinds or it strikes with enough force to knock you off a horse.

My sailing is certainly full of romantic passion, I know about laminar flow and my nautical exploits cover racing and cruising the Caribbean, Tampa Bay and the Gulf of Mexico all the way to Isla Mujeres and Key West. Many high performance platforms have I sailed. Even though we do not carry one on the laser, I even know what a triatic stay is. Yet, I am not there yet. Mastering sailing takes a lifetime of doing. On the Laser, on the Lippincott 30, on the J120, on every boat, every outing teaches us some nuance that brings even more value to the experience. If only our senses would always be open to the teachings of the sea, the winds, the currents, the immense cathedral of creation. And I continue to ask, “would the waters remember my wake?”

The story about the jade novice and the jade master comes to mind. With credits to whom they belong as I do not know the author of the story and I affirm I read it many years ago.

As I remember it, the story loosely goes like this….

In the ancient Orient, Jade is considered primal matter. Jade is assigned virtues and powers as honest, true, longevity, god like. Hence, it is not a rock but a state of being to accept Jade as this valuable element. So, a Jade novice is said, wanted to learn everything there was to be known about Jade. He had already studied its composition, the many variations of Jade, the way to carve it, the way to present it, the many ways Jade could touch the soul, still he wanted more Jade knowledge. In his quest he was directed to the door of the Jade Master castle. There the honorable Jade Master received him into what the novice thought was going to be the apprenticeship of a lifetime. That first day, the Jade Master placed a piece of Jade in his hands and proceeded to talk about the mysteries of life. At the end of the day, the Jade Master wished him a good evening and left him alone. The second day, the Jade Master received him again, placed another piece of Jade in the novice hands and proceeded to talk about the wonders of nature all day long. Like the day before, when evening came, the novice was left alone. Every day went the same, the Jade Master would place a piece of Jade in the novice’s hands and proceed to talk about animals, the sea, religion, politics, etc. Our novice though respectful was becoming irritated and some desperation was affecting him. He had been respectful, he had been attentive to the Jade Master, day after day he had heard the Jade Master speak about wonderful topics but not one secret about Jade, no Jade magic, no Jade cryptic origins. He was ready to tell the Jade Master how disappointed he was and that either the Jade Master started teaching him about Jade or he would quit. Set this way in his mind, the novice went to sleep.

The next morning, gathering all his courage and determination he presented himself to the Jade Master. As all other mornings before, the Jade Master placed a piece of Jade in his hands though this time the Jade Master had replaced the piece of Jade by a rock that just look like Jade. Before even thinking about how to address the Jade Master about his short comings, the Jade Novice feeling the impostor in his hands exclaimed, “this is not Jade!” Thus the Jade Master told him, “now you know everything there is to know about Jade”. It was obvious to our Jade Novice now that he so intimately knew Jade that he could tell by the touch of his fingers the structure of real Jade. With a deep bow he honored his Jade Master and went home.

Hence, Tiller Time is what we all need, an open mind, friendly competition, a willing heart and a trusting soul. “We are the children of the Universe, no less than the trees or the stars we have a right to be here and whether or not it is clear to us, no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should” quoted from DESIDERATA by Max Ehrmann).

So, if you spot a Jade knob at the end of my hiking stick, now you know the rest of the story…good day. Quoted from Paul Harvey.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Arriba los viejitos

Arriba los Viejitos!! Or I’ll rest when I die.
Arriba los viejitos is a popular “saying” in my dear Island of Puerto Rico. It loosely translates to “up with the old guys/gals”. Los viejitos can when they do. We all have the will and the spirit, it is typically the body that gives in before the spirit does. It is a great spirit which pushes and carries the body pass exhaustion and pain into glory. The results column invariably misses the struggle, the clawing, the unyielding character of those who choose to battle until the battle is done or until the last breath escapes our bleeding lungs. The ones that strive and push beyond the limits of what is expected are always praised and admired. Secretly, we all appreciate those who refuse to go quietly into the night.
Laser masters come in all sorts of shapes, colors, sizes, etc. but they all share those characteristics embodied by their many colorful bumper stickers. “Cheat the nursing home, die on your laser”; “too old to hike, too young to die”. As we prepare for one more regatta, that cautious but challenging Spartan farewell comes to mind, “e tan, e epi tan” almost translates to “return with the laser or on the laser but not without the laser”. Another quote that comes to mind was used by Shane Falco (Keanu Reeves) on the movie The Replacements, “pain heals, chicks dig scars, glory lasts forever”. And so we dress up for one more. In the company of kin minded friends we launch our lasers into the eternal waters that saw our birth and will remain after our passing. Will the waters remember our wake?
And so I call on you as I call on myself, strive, fight, struggle, refuse to yield, roar like the storm. We can all hike more, point higher and better our lot. There will be plenty of time to rest when we die. But we are not there yet sailors. So while there is will, let’s make a way.

Monday, June 7, 2010

SunCoast-DIYC Inaugural Laser Regatta

SunCoast-DIYC Laser Fleet’s Inaugural Regatta

Based out of Davis Island YC, the newest SunCoast-DIYC Laser Fleet is certainly up to something big. This last Saturday, June 5th, was our first event. 12 sailors from this area including some that travelled from Lake Eustis, Sarasota and Orlando enjoyed a fantastic set of 7 races. Conditions varied from a light air start to a slow building wind which topped the 15 knots for the last few races.

Our race committee performed an outstanding job reconfiguring the starting line to adjust for the afternoon sea breeze. And before we get any further, let us mention the R/C volunteers by name as without them none of our racing could happen. The signal boat was Sofa King, skippered by Captain Robi Robinson, serving on the signal boat was our PRO Mike Dawson and his enthusiastic assistants Del Palmer and Louise Neuburger; both coming from the ranks of our Dinghy Dames. The mark boat was our venerable club launch Guardian which was smartly operated by Tom Turton and his assistant Jack Whitwam.

Our own Buzzy Heausler left us with a template to follow as he posted nothing but bullets across 7 races. Way to go Buzzy! The rest of the competitors fought hard and well as the appended results will show. What the results will not show is the tenacity and dedication of all the sailors to do well and better their skills. In a class where you are considered a Master at 35 years old, it takes a lot of stamina and will to go around the course in such a tippy and high performance boat. We had 9 standard rigs and 3 radial rigs. After the racing was done, quick friendships were made at the Tiki Bar and promises for more Masters and regular Laser racing out of our Davis Island YC. The competitors commented on what an active membership we have and were impressed by how welcoming our members and facilities are. They will be back with their friends to help us continue to be the sailingest club in the South.
Rounding up the event we had a trophy ceremony amongst much laughter and some serious commitment for more of the same. Jackie (our bar tender) kept the Tiki Bar and the sailors in very good spirits. The goodies included US Sailing decals and bumper stickers as well as Laser Class decals and bumper stickers which included handing out the much celebrated “Laser Master’s” bumper stickers. One reads, “Laser Master – too old to hike –too young to die” and my favorite which reads, “Laser Master – cheat the nursing home – die on your laser”

Here are the results:
DIYC Laser Suncoast Regatta June 5, 2010

Race Race Race Race Race Race Race Base Throw Final
Place Sail# Name 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 Pts out Points Prize

1 18 1131 Buzzy Heausler 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 7 -1 6 1 – Davis Island YC
2 18 5456 Jeff Olson 2 3 2 3 2 2 2 16 -3 13 2 – Sarasota Sailing Squadron
3 18 4547 Eric Robbins 4 4 5 2 4 3 5 27 -5 22 3 – Davis Island YC
4 19 1963 Dave Hillmyer 5 2 3 6 7 7 3 33 -7 26 – Sarasota Sailing Squadron
5 16 4806 David Olson 7 10 4 4 3 5 6 39 -10 29 – Sarasota Sailing Squadron
6 19 1581 John Poulson 3 7 6 5 dnf 6 4 44 -13 31 – Davis island YC
7 15 5481 Kevin Ratigan 12 6 8 8 5 4 11 54 -12 42 – Sarasota SailingSquadron/Orlando
8 17 5556 Anthony Scott 6 8 9 7 6 9 8 53 -9 44 - Sarasota Youth Sailing Program
9 5 6566 Alejandro Illera 8 12 7 10 8 8 9 62 -12 50 – Lake Eustis Sailing Club
10 15 5456 Antolin Rivera 9 5 10 9 11 10 10 64 -11 53 – Davis Island YC
11 17 6267 Donna Steele 10 11 11 11 9 11 7 70 -11 59 – Sarasota Sailing Squadron
12 19 1959 Carrie Greene 11 9 12 12 10 12 12 78 -12 66 – Davis Island YC

As the SunCoast-DIYC Laser Fleet captain, Antolin Rivera acted as Regatta Chairman but my job would not have been possible without the assistance and guidance provided by Eric Robbins and Carrie Greene. The regatta fairies worked really hard to make this one possible, thanks so much Eric and Carrie.

Friday, June 4, 2010

cheat or fair is fair or mom really did a number on me

Cheat or “fair is fair” or, my mom really did a number on me.
Mom never heard the famous sailing quote of Mr. Elvstrom, "You haven't won the race, if in winning the race you have lost the respect of your competitors." Neither did she ever sailed a Laser or any boat for that matter except day sails aboard Shipajoy I in Puerto Rico and Shipajoy II here in Tampa Bay. She in fact only went to the beach occasionally or at least far less frequently than the average Puerto Rican. I for one could have been a remarkable beach bum but that is another story dear Linda Litke.
She, the one that I remember as a lion with a woman’s face, had a different upbringing. She worked hard all her life, unabatedly strove to better her lot and refused to yield no matter the foe. Her tiny frame contained a huge heart and if the spirit had mass, hers would have been the proverbial unmovable object. Yeah, you could say she was bull-headed too but in a nice way. Mom hated falsehood above all other human faults. Her soul was open to all in the most sincere of ways but cheats were branded as such for life.
There are so many examples about those life lessons that I could fill tomes and manage to bore you out of this blog. Growing up with her meant a strict adhesion to the principle of fairness…”what is right is right and that is that”. To find a wallet full of money and credit cards meant an immediate call to the owner. Being deceitful to get and advantage was beyond her understanding.
Growing up with her meant these precepts were a fact of life which brings us back to Mr. Elvstrom. "You haven't won the race, if in winning the race you have lost the respect of your competitors." How many times have you witnessed a guy in front of you ooching downwind repeatedly or rock ‘n rolling or worse yet, rolling and fanning the main with a tug on the tiller effectively “rowing” the boat? He may be a better sailor but he is also ahead because of his deceitful ways. Is he beating you? Perhaps, but not really. He is not competing like you, he is cheating. He is the kind of guy who may “rub” a mark and not do his turn unless somebody protests him. But, you can tell that if the infraction occurs and he perceives that nobody saw it, he will smile and keep going.
Our sport is too precious to spoil it with that conduct. Life is too precious to go through it constantly thinking in terms of “The Art of War” chapters. If anything, we should go through life in the terms of “Desiderata”. All except the part that goes, “Take kindly the counsel of the years, gracefully surrendering the things of youth”. There I believe we should “cheat” the nursing home and die on our lasers! And I quote, “Therefore be at peace with God, whatever you conceive Him to be. And whatever your labors and aspirations, in the noisy confusion of life, keep peace in your soul.
With all its sham, drudgery, and broken dreams,
it is still a beautiful world. Be cheerful. Strive to be happy.”