Monday, October 09, 2006

Boys and their toys

We went sailing today, in honor of the Admiral of the Ocean Sea.

Or because it was a pretty day and we didn't have to go to work.

There was a very gentle breeze, steady, easy for quiet sailing. There were few boats on the bay. Captain Bligh, my husband, decided to go below and take a nap, and leave me with the boat. He doesn't do that very often, because he'd much rather give orders.

I prefer he takes a nap, until it's time to pull on some rope really hard.

Anyway, so, I was holding a course with the wind about sixty degrees off the starboard bow, getting about three knots out of a wind that wasn't ever more than five. Along side me, about 200 yards off the starboard side, was another boat with several men in the cockpit. I say they were men; they could have been ugly women, but they were topless and hairy. I'm betting on men. They were friendly and waving, and I waved back, friendly-like.

When men are on their boats, they are racing, even if no one else knows it. But I know it. Because I've been sailing with men, and they all do it. This isn't even a stereotype. It is a fact.

I knew these turkey, I mean gentlemen, were going to have fun racing me. But I was going to have more fun.

Our boat is sort of the Chevy station wagon of the sailboat world. It isn't very sleek, or very sexy, but it is roomy and comfortable, and like Chevy station wagons, there are things that our boat will do better than any other. And one of those things is sail very well in very light air.

Now these ugly topless hairy women/men folk were in a 38-foot Hallberg-Rassy. H-Rs are Swedish built yachts, and the new ones the same size as our boat cost about a quarter of a million dollars. They are sleek and they are sexy. But they just don't do as well in light air as a plain old 34-foot Hunter that's twenty three years old.

Our Hunter has more than 500 square feet of sail area, and a very wide sweet spot, making the sailing very simple. I just held the course according to the wind, holding between 55 and 75 degrees to the wind, mostly with my hands in my pockets and guiding the boat with the occasional tap to the wheel with my foot. I sheeted in the headsail a couple of times, let it out a couple of others, and just sat there and watched my great big headsail sit there puffed out like a balloon, pulling us along at a steady 2-3 knots. The telltails on the headsail streamed straight back in a manner which, had the H-R boys been able to see them, would have simply pissed them off.

I also watched over my shoulder as the Hallberg-Rassy dudes' sails flapped and snapped and did not fill at all. Their heading was off about 5 degrees, and since they didn't have a broad sweet spot like my cheap boat, they couldn't get anywhere near me.

The other thing is, in my experience in these mid-sized boats, the more they spent on the boat, the less they spent on learning to sail it. I mean, in Washington, people like to say, "Oh, you must visit me at my yacht on the Chesapeake." When you actually ask them about sailing, they do very little sailing, and mostly ignore the boat except to mention it at cocktail parties.

The H-R boys could have adjusted the boom vang, let out the main and sheeted in the jib and made a go of it. But I don't think they knew how to do that.

The other possibility is that they had enjoyed too much fine imported ale from Sweden to sail their boat.

In any event, when I left them eating my wake, they turned around, started their engine, and put putted home.

They have no stomach for being beaten by a girl.

1 comment:

pooks said...

I refuse to believe they drank too much Swedish beverage. I much prefer to picture them tied up in knots, strangling on testosterone. Heh.