Thursday, June 28, 2018

San Diego to Sugarloaf Race

The boat was a DB2, about 10m LOA, German built purely for racing, there was no teak down below, no settee, no cushions or berths, nor even any bulkheads, just a VHF radio, minimal instruments, hooks to hang sail bags and struts that were placed in a way most likely to yield concussions.  It wasn’t even a nominally functional cruising boat, it was made with a single purpose in mind.

The hull was a Kevlar-reinforced composite, sails were Mylar/Kevlar, mast was high-tech carbon fiber, with running backstays and other controls to make it bendy in multiple ways.  It had dual jib halyards and dual luff tracks up the forestay, and the same redundant arrangement for the main.  It had three spinnaker halyards, the third being a spare in case one got lost, stuck or tangled.  Any sail could be changed while underway without taking anything else down first.  And the boom had adjustments we couldn’t even put a name to.  As a whole the rig made it endlessly possible to shape the sails.  The difference between fast and slow was micro-fine.  It was a challenge to sail well, to say the least!

Bob K., the boat’s owner, took the helm and was de facto tactician (although he rather sucked at the latter.)  Bobby R. was the jib trimmer, Joe H. was on foredeck, Steve W. trimmed the main and running backstays, and would’ve been a great tactician if Bob had listened to him more often than not.  I was in the pit, aka the sewer man, the hardest position I ever loved.

The start line was near Ballast Point, instructions were to leave Coronado Del Sur to port and Sugarloaf to port, finish outside of Zuniga -- about 65 nautical miles worth of race course.  It was a popular race, there were a hundred+ boats in the fleet, out for a beautiful day on the water.

We had quite a bit of company rounding South Coronado, about 15 nm into the race when we left it astern, but only a handful of boats were in sight when we rounded Sugarloaf and started the long beat home, against the current.  Around sunset the wind clocked 180 degrees, we hoisted a spinnaker and flew for half an hour or so.  We were really in the groove most of the race, paying no mind to the rest of the fleet.  As the wind backed around towards its predominant direction and died down, we doused the chute and put up the #2 because it held its shape better in light winds and a moderate swell.  Daylight was gone, we were still a long way from home.

This was before the GPS satellite system was deployed, SatNav (precursor to GPS) was probably up but often it took hours for it to plot a fix, so useless for short off-shore races.  We had Loran C on the boat that didn’t even give us geo coordinates, just Loran lines of position.  Seamless electronic maps for civilians were still a long ways off, paper charts were the standard of the day, but we weren’t even using those…  And as usual the fathometer was off, because it “burned too much battery” and because there “weren’t any shoals we needed to worry about.”  (Except for a little one called “North America”.)

Bob the skipper was a senior pilot for American Airlines at his day job, which he somehow figured gave him magical powers of navigation.  He disdainfully rejected doing any ded-reconing. He said he knew which way was home, just sail the damn boat, so we did, for a while.  We were all very familiar with the area, but it’s amazing how perceptions can distort at night, the shoreline becomes indistinct and the lights become a puzzle.  A responsible skipper plots a course and takes bearings from prominent features on land to track and verify his position as he goes.  Old Bob figured all that fussing was a waste of time.

Looking around, 12 hours into the race, we noticed that we were miles ahead of the entire fleet!  The reason we got so lucky was that Bob the skipper was badly disoriented, we were way closer to shore than any sane boaters would be.  This gave us some current advantage and at times better winds, but it put the boat at risk, and placed us on the wrong side of the kelp beds.

Steve had suggested a tack 3-4 miles earlier and the rest of the crew concurred, but Bob the skipper was having none of it, he was certain we were 5+ miles from shore; he was wrong.  Bobby the jib trimmer and I were becoming quite concerned, especially as we started to hear, and then could see breaking surf in the [not enough] distance.

We urgently asked the skipper to tack, he argued.  We demanded that he tack, he was convinced we’d be sailing “180 degrees from the mark” if we tacked.  Bobby the jib man says, “dude, at 100 yards from shore I swim for it!” I tell him to cut the jib free and he does. Main trimmer luffs his sail too, and I tell the skipper, “I’m dropping halyards in 10, 9, 8…”  The skipper flips his lid and starts yelling.  “Tack the god damned boat right the fuck now,” we shouted in unison, over top of him.  Finally he did so. 

Of course we ended up in irons the first try, starting the turn with sails flapping.  It’s such an odd feeling to steer straight for destruction just to get enough momentum to avoid it; a little bit terrifying when you don’t know exactly where that destruction lies; a lot terrifying when you know it is very close! 

It wasn’t long after that we could see reality sinking into Bob’s expression.  There’s no getting around the fact you are indeed in breakers when you have to plough into them.  He didn’t have a lot to say as we watched the fleet tack on their lay line (that we had so massively over-sailed) and parade on past us.

For a sickening minute or two after tacking successfully we weren’t even holding our position in the steeping swells.  We felt the keel kiss the bottom a couple of times as we slid into the trough behind a swell.  We tried to get him to work the surf, bear away as the wave lifted us, then head up as we went down the back side, the skipper balked at every suggestion.  We were trying to save his boat; he was still racing, I guess he was just hell-bent to point the boat at where he perceived the line to be.

Of course we hit kelp about 25 times and each time the skipper argued about going head to, to clear it – I was starting to wonder if he had suffered a stroke or a brain injury along the way.  We were forced to re-assert that if not for us his boat would be hard aground in pounding surf.  We would’ve let him live it down, eventually, but we were not about to let him pretend it didn’t happen.  It may have been a little harsh, but the time for allowing him to call the shots from inside his bag of delusions was over.  He was lucky we didn’t tie him up, gag him and stuff him in a lazarette!  His bad judgment had almost left us hard aground, god damned if he was going to pull his “my boat, my call” bullshit on us not even an hour later! 

We finally cleared the kelp, converged with the fleet somewhere near its middle, and still took 2nd in our class after corrections.  If Bob had tacked when we first suggested, we would’ve been first over the line by a substantial margin, ahead of boats that had to give us a half a minute a mile.  We might even have set a record and got our pictures in the paper.  Instead we were off playing kelp cutter, .

We got back to the marina a little before 2:00 AM, long day on the water.  As we were putting the boat away we realized that Bob the skipper was actually still pissed at us, he made some off-handed comment about insubordinate crew tending to be replaced.  Bobby the jib man lost his cool, “dude we saved your ass, you’d be waving bye-bye to your boat from the beach!”  He drew a breath to go chapter and verse but I cut him off with,  “I think that’s his way of thanking us, ‘you are replaceable’ actually means, ‘so lucky to have you on board.’”  Bobby stopped long enough to laugh, “in English we say ‘you’re welcome’,”  he said to the skipper, slowly and deliberately, as if he didn’t speak it.

Then we went to Bobby’s house and ranted and raved until the sun came up!  If we had bought that beachfront real estate he would surely have considered us responsible for the destruction of his boat, since we luffed the sails – the irony would’ve been mind-blowing!  And not even the positive outcome detracted from his epic idiocy.

The events of that night never came up again while the skipper was present, though we sailed a few more races with him.  He seemed to harbor some resentment and the atmosphere on the boat had changed.  I got involved in a one-design fleet of 22’ pocket cruisers, that was very competitive and a lot of fun.  Bobby the jib trimmer, Steve the main trimmer and Joe the foredeck man found crew positions on bigger boats.  They wanted to move up the PHRF food chain, I wanted to get back to basics and control my destiny.

One by one each of us moved away, we lost track of each other after parting ways… but, in the immortal words of Metallica, the memory remains, like a faded prima donna, yeah!

Sunday, April 1, 2018


4 quarts popped popcorn
1 teaspoon Vanilla Extract
1 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup Karo® Light OR Dark Corn Syrup
1/2 cup cannabutter (equiv to 1 stick of butter)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda

Optional: a couple of handfuls of beer nuts or butter toffee nuts or whatever, to taste.

  • Spray large shallow roasting pan with cooking spray.
  • Add popcorn and place in preheated 250° F oven while preparing caramel.
  • Mix brown sugar, corn syrup, butter and salt in a heavy 2-quart saucepan.
  • Stirring constantly, bring to a boil over medium heat.  (Tip: heat/stir until all of the brown sugar has melted and the liquid doesn't look cloudy.)
  • Boil 5 minutes without stirring, at heat so it's just barey boiling. (Tip: if your burner won't go low enough, gently move the pan off the burner until it just stops bubbling, them move it back on.  You might also try a double-boiler, but whatever you do, do not allow it to boil rapidly for 5 minutes, it should be just barely to the point of boiling.)
  • Remove from heat.
  • Stir in baking soda and vanilla; mix well.  Liquid should turn a lighter color and become opaque.
  • Pour liquid over warm popcorn, stirring to coat evenly.
  • Optional: sprinkle peanuts in; stir
  • Bake for 45 minutes, stirring every 15 minutes.
  • Remove from oven and spread on foil that has been sprayed with cooking spray. (Alternative: bake in a no-stick pan big enough to stir it, and stir every 5 minutes until it isn't tacky)
  • Allow to cool; break apart.
Store in tightly covered container.

Sunday, October 8, 2017

A bar in Cabo San Lucas called the Giggling Marlin makes the ultimate drink, aptly called:

Skip and Go Naked

1 shot tequila
Splash gin
Splash vodka
Splash rum
1½ shots Amaretto
¼ cup fresh orange juice
½ cup pineapple juice
½ banana

Put it in a blender until it's slushy.  If mixed in correct proportions (follow the recipe to the letter) you can't even taste the alcohol -- as dangerous as it is good!

Drink responsibly!

Friday, April 21, 2017

Gourmet Meatloaf Recipe

pounds lean ground beef
¼ pound Italian Sausage
1 cup milk
½ - 1 cup Monterey Jack Cheese, cut into ¼ - ½” cubes
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
¾ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon pepper
1 garlic clove, finely chopped (or ⅛  teaspoon garlic powder)
1 egg
½ cup italian bread crumbs (or 3 slices bread, torn into small pieces)
1 small red (or yellow or white) onion, coarsely chopped (½  to 1 cup)
½ teaspoon ground mustard (or 1 heaping teaspoon brown mustard)

Optional Ingredients:
½ cup thinly sliced mushrooms
1 teaspoon chopped fresh sage leaves or 1/4 teaspoon dried sage leaves

½ cup ketchup, chili sauce or barbecue sauce

  1. Heat oven to 350°F.
  2. Mix ingredients all together in a bucket
  3. Spread mixture in ungreased loaf pan
  4. Spread topping over top
  5. Bake uncovered at 350°F for 1:00 to 1:30 or until temperature at center is 160°F.

Pan options:
  • 8½ x 4½ x 2½ inches or 9 x 5 x 3 inches
  • Or improvise
(Shape of pan may affect cooking time, always use a meat thermometer.)

Based on the best meatloaf in the world, as made by my friend Chrissy, taken way too soon.  I found a recipe online, and experimented with the proportions of onion, cheese and other ingredients, from my memories of the wonderful meals she used to make.  (Ironically she would’ve laughed at my writing it down. I asked her for the recipe one time and she said, "what recipe, it's fuckin meatloaf!"  And I can almost hear her Brooklyn accent, “Always use a fucking meat thermometer? What the fuck is that all about?  You know where you can put your fucking meat thermometer, fuck!”)  RIP Chrissy, for all of your tough New York exterior, you were the kindest person I’ve ever met.  You may be gone, but will be never forgotten.

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

12-Step Douchebags: Step 9 Bullshit

Ever had one of those 12-step assholes come slithering up out of your past, trying to “make amends”? What pisses me off is, they do this shit for benefit of no one but their own damn selves.

“I just wanted to say I’m sorry for the shit storm I caused for you. I know I was a real asshole back then…”

True that, and you’re still an asshole right now for thinking a few words from a boilerplate apology will mean a fucking thing to me.

“I know there’s nothing I could ever do to make it up to you…”

Yeah?  Have you ever even thought about trying?  Have you ever even begun to imagine any portion of the tangible costs your bullshit incurred for me?  Oh sure there’s all the intangible damage you’ve done that can’t be price-tagged, but does all the shit that’s impossible to repay, absolve you of responsibility for the shit that is possible to repay?  

So in reality it’s not that there’s nothing you could do, more like there’s nothing you actually *would* do, besides spilling balloon juice trying to cleanse that filthy train wreck you have for a soul.

“If there’s any way you could find it in your heart to forgive me…”

That would be up to my heart, hold on a second, I’ll ask… well… sorry but my heart says FUCK THAT!  It doesn't seem to be negotiable.  Did you really think that shallow words and empty apologies would make me feel like you’re right with the world?  As if a history stained by your actions magically washes clean?  Hey everyone, did you hear that?  He says he’s sorry… yeah, "sorry"... imagine that!  Isn’t that special?

Why don’t those 12 step programs teach them to really try to make amends?  “I know it’s not enough, but here’s a month’s salary, and a picture of me of me on day 10 of eating nothing but Japanese noodle soup and soda crackers.”  That’d be something, wouldn’t it?  But sadly it’s something we’ll never see, because Step 9 isn’t about righting all the wrong they’ve done, it isn’t even about righting any of it, it’s about helping them to ease the guilt for all the mayhem they’ve caused.

Effectively they want your permission to forget their bullshit actions and pretend the slate is clean. As if "working the steps" cancels history and makes them worthy of your trust.  Really all they want is permission to feel better about themselves as human beings -- DENIED!

AFAIC, they can stick all that happy horseshit right up their asses!  Live with the guilt, bitches, it’s appropriate.  Want to make me feel better?  Then go fall under a bus, or suck-off a 9mm, because to see that you’re still wasting oxygen makes me sick, and the only cure would be to drink beer out of your empty skull.  Now that’s what I'd call making amends!

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Expensive Paint Brushes

Until about a year ago when it came to painting, I always bought cheap brushes and such, figuring that way, if I didn’t feel like cleaning them when I finished, I wasn’t out much.  How an expensive brush could be that much better than a cheap one escaped me.  Then last year for whatever reason I started handling a nice brush in the store (Wal-Mart, to be exact.)  The handle was rubberized for better grip, and molded to fit in my hand, and its bristles were soft like a chick’s hair, but firm enough to keep its shape when soaked with paint (rather unlike a chick’s hair, but I digress.)  So I bought a set of them, sized between 1” and 4”… that changed everything.

A good brush is more efficient, it makes painting go faster, it’s easier to control and it doesn’t drip as much.  But it quickly becomes worthless if not cleaned properly. 

I now rinse my brushes until they squeeze clear in the water – if you can see paint in the water you wring out of it, the brush isn’t clean yet.  I also scrub the paint off the metal part and the handle – it surely doesn’t change the way it works… I don’t really know why to be honest, maybe just a pride thing, but when I put them away, my brushes still look brand new.  I even go so far as to rinse them out every hour or two while I’m painting, to keep the paint that soaks up to the top of the bristles from drying to the point it won’t come out. 

As a result, the next time I go to use them, my brushes work just as well as the day I bought them, the bristles are still soft and absorbent and the handles still feel good in my hand.  Maybe the reason for keeping the handles clean is just to benefit my frame of mind each time I start to paint?  I may never fully understand the reasons, but I know for sure I like it, it’s well worth the extra time.

I also figured that bigger was always better, but now I realize that, for starters, a bigger brush takes longer to clean than a smaller one, which logically means it also wastes more paint each session.

Beyond the Harshness of Reality

The harsh reality I have to live with is that my hopes and dreams of finding a soul mate are now, always have been, and forever will be, worth absolutely nothing.  This condition is acceptable only in absence of any other context, for once I see what’s been missing, I tend to long for it… and it hurts.  Thus the dark Irony: loneliness, lack of companionship, and the sometimes paralyzing despair that comes with them, are only made worse by the times when they are briefly interrupted. 

Only the cruelest of souls would fuck with my perception of this reality for profit or gain.  You’d think such souls would would be few and far between,  yet I seem to not only encounter, but embrace and encourage them, regularly.  It takes way too little to draw my heart into these deals, and way too much abuse before it will finally concede and cut its losses.

For whatever period of time the illusion seems real, it does bring some real happiness… alright, a lot of real happiness… if only the highest highs were not immediately followed by the lowest lows, this roller coaster ride wouldn’t be quite so sickening.