Posted by: Blue Lou Logan | August 4, 2012

The Dodge With No Name (A Cautionary Tale)

Tuesday was a long day.  Normally I get up at 6:00, but this time my alarm was set for 5:00…and I was awake well before that.  I got to work by 5:45.  As Safety Captain for my department, I conducted the “Hazard Surveillance,” meaning that I made sure extension cords weren’t loose, ceiling tiles weren’t falling, and fire extinguishers were properly signed.  Most everything was good, save 18 unapproved space heaters and, most remarkably, a toaster sitting on the floor, plugged in, under someone’s desk.  Holy fire hazard, Batman!

Dan and Gomez ready the boat
After over ten hours at work—and almost 50 calls to me in Customer Service—I at least knew that I had the Duck Dodge that night.  The theme was “Captain’s Choice,” meaning there was no centralized theme.  Lots of crews didn’t dress up at all, including ours.  Those who did, for instance, all wore neckties, decorated for a Mexican fiesta, or hung their entire hull with gold tinsel.  There was even a man dressed up in a pink bunny suit slung in a harness halfway up the mast.

Santa boat

Tinsel boat

Bunny boat…?!?

What we did have was a lot more people than usual.  Zanne, Dan, and I were joined again by Gomez, who brought more Bombardier and slightly squished vegan carrot cake.  Dan was joined by his girlfriend, Vanessa.  Back after an extended absence was the other co-owner of the boat, Brian, who was finally back out in the world after an aneurysm.  He in turn invited his younger cousin from Maryland, Francis, who was with his college buddy, Kevin.  These two were on a grand, multi-week road trip in a Jeep Cherokee loaded to camp.  They had started in New Jersey, swung south to New Orleans, got arrested for public drunkenness in Austin, camped around the Four Corners, climbed a mountain near Telluride, and finally came to Seattle.  Even more interesting, Kevin is from a family of professional mariners on Chesapeake Bay and spends his time seasonally fishing, crabbing, and chartering.  A great fellow to chat with.

Example of a Hunter 23
A quick bit on Dan’s boat.  I finally learned that the Mirus is a Hunter 23.  For you lubbers, this means that she is 23 feet long.  Wikipedia classifies the Hunter 23 as a dinghy, although I wonder if that’s just because of the size, when really at least by rig it’s a sloop.  This boat has a reputation for being unsuitable for heavy winds but great in light winds, which makes it perfect for protected sailing like in Lake Union.  It has an iron keel that makes capsizing next to impossible in all but the worst conditions.  Her cabin is small but does have a v-berth you can squeeze into to sleep.  In short, the Mirus is a compact, maneuverable daysailer.

Brian and Francis
Brian steered us out, but I took the tiller while he ate his Subway sandwich and Dan got the sails up.  The wind was out of the west to north.  We tacked around until our start and headed north towards the first marker near Freeway Bridge.
Here is a cautionary note to all those who sail or at least ride on sailboats:  Safety first.  If the Captain yells “helm’s alee,” you need to pay attention and either be helping or be out of the way.  The Duck Dodge may be about having a fun time, but loitering with your beer and not getting out of the way of the jib—much less getting tangled in the sheets—is more than uncool, it’s dangerous to yourself and to your mates.  I am not naming names, but this was exactly what was happening as we raced the first leg.  Then it got worse.  When we couldn’t make our tack at the first marker, we were on a course directly at the side of a yellow boat on which everyone, for Captain’s Choice, was wearing a bathrobe.  Our Captain yelled foreward to shove off the boat, but the order was not heeded.  Crunch.  We fell off, and the yellow boat sailed away, apparently undamaged.  The Mirus suffered a bent bracket on the bow.  Fortunately, no one was injured.  Accidents will, of course, happen.  Nevertheless, you also have to learn from mishaps.

starboard tack
On the fourth try we finally made the mark and headed west towards the Aurora Bridge.  I took over the entire management of the jib, both sheets, and for the rest of the race was never late jibing (although I was early once).  The turn at the second marker was great.  Zanne got her time on the bow.  The mood relaxed, I chatted with the travelers.  As they were heading to Vancouver next, Zanne recommended the cheap and fabulous Victorian Hotel.  Marker at ACG, also great.  Then one nice port tack to the finish line, better late than never.  We went leisurely back to dock.  For the first time on this trip I went forward, if only to help bring the sails down, nice, efficient, and tidy.

Because Dan has other obligations, there won’t be any Dodge-ing for a few weeks.  But, dear readers, I have a few blogs already being drafted.  So, stay tuned…and stay safe.

Still what it’s about

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