Crushin’ it at Family Hour With Summer and Smoke

Skipper Pat looking for a lift from the back of the boat.

Skipper Pat looking for a lift from the back of the boat.

We had a decent start, not that conditions were all that exciting or the line was intense, but skipper managed to get us to the left hand side of the line as usual with wind on starboard. “Give me all you got, trim in for speed.” There’s always that immediate adrenaline rush to execute, then the lull; we’re racing in 5 – 7 knots, if that, and we’ve got a long ways to go. SOG stinks. We get passed early on by an Etchells. On port we’re aside a navy hull that no one seems to recognize, IMHO, the epitome of beer can racers—a ragtag set of plump dudes in baggy jeans, oversized old school fleece pullovers and baseball hats worn backwards. The boat has one of those upright navigation systems, the type encased in white plastic and rimmed by the protective chrome bar. I’m going to give ‘em a nickname, Candy Crush, after that dorky online game; I bet he’s got it onscreen while racing.

Ten minutes in and Skipper runs the standard routine of keeping apparent wind vacillating tween 25 and 93.9 degrees from the pointy end as we move south. The crew on the low side and they’re shooting the breeze. Looks like a nice moment for a photo, so I hand the main to Lucky Lou. Skipper launches into a joke (we all know when he’s primed for this by his facial expression). Today it’s got something to do with tailoring men’s pants and migraines. Marilyn Monroe somehow gets into the mix, but the resolve is that the man needs a 34L to reduce his headaches. Seems he’s been wearing a 32L. I guess going forward we’ll be referencing 32L as measure for our personal performance levels.

End of the channel and into San Pablo Bay, so we turn up a touch. Confirmation of course 55: X, 15-P, OW-P, CM2-P, X. Yep, this will be a long day with that course and these conditions. We’re cruising in the 4s and 5s now, and the Etchells is way ahead. Finally: marker 15 to port. We’re questioning one another whether or not the Etchells rounded to port or starboard; starboard I’m thinking. One-eyed reviews the course again and confirms course 55 has marker 15 to port. We’re to the mark and taking in the Etchells' leisurely chute set and less leisurely motion forward. Are we going to strike the red flag for rounding penalty or not? Nope, last race of the season. It will probably be a toss-out any way.

On slow days there’s ample chatter. This crew can entertain itself with just about anything that is sexist or has funny words.

MIA Mark
Now we’ve got a hunt for the next mark, oil wharf, because it has a tendency to go missing. I’ve been on this course several times and that marker is not always present. Thing is, we’re moving left on the course, and the Etchells is slowly drifting to RHS.

Young eyes are on the bow now. One-eyed is using navigation tools to confirm coordinates in case we need to ping the spot, and there’s a spicy conversation back ‘o boat: “It’s in this region—no, no, the mark is in this region—no, that’s too close to oil wharf.” Determine MIA, we take a sea muck rounding. I hand toss the main to starboard, then turn to observe spinny set. We’re running things on beam, which with this boat is usually a call for punishment, but the wind is piddly so no worries. Sandwiches!

We’ve been keeping an eye on the Etchells, which is clearly on another course. The crew clearly noted “55” hanging from the crow’s nest. The next boat to round 15 is Candy Crush, but they are not making lay line for mark MIA; skipper says they’re cutting the course. I’m dining with a view by standing against the main, so I strike up a conversation with Hair Farmer who’s trimming the spinny. I tell him about Candy Crush, then ask if he plays Farmville. Meanwhile Lucky has called RC and pops up to say the course was shortened to 15 (virtues of keeping a radio on, I suppose). We’ve clearly been running our own scenic tour, so now it’s adjust trim and correct to re-join most of the fleet other side of the bay.

Checking the course listings yet again, oil wharf aft. Obviously we are not the only ones thinking it's course 55. And that red spinny is Candy Crush--clearly cutting over.

Checking the course listings yet again, oil wharf aft. Obviously we are not the only ones thinking it's course 55. And that red spinny is Candy Crush--clearly cutting over.

Hair Farmer is ‘young Spicy’ and ‘Young Hung Lo.’ If you are sailor you probably know to what he refers.

Pooty Ti and Kitty Bites
On slow days there’s ample chatter. This crew can entertain itself with just about anything that is sexist or has funny words. We are now talking about Korean BBQ, and I think burritos at Le Cheval. Skipper says the meat comes from cats or lungs. Then, in his best Korean accent, prattles on as if listing items from a virtual menu. He calls Hair Farmer “Young Spicy,” then gives crescendo with label “Young Hung Lo.” If you are sailor you probably know to what he refers.

We’ve reached the waterway entry and a mark to steer round. Drop chute, trim to suit, veer to RHS of channel. A third of the way up the channel and we’re hugging the RHS. Like clockwork, the crew is back to the chat. “Depth at 5, 4, 3.1…” I am not getting much reaction. “Depth at 2.9, 2.1, 1.4.” Ok, I’ve roused Skipper from discussions about cruising in the blue waters. He waits til .9 and we tack. Aside from that mild maneuver, about the only new and notable worth mentioning is the marker with faded orange belly stripe. Caution, steer clear, danger, don’t go inside? Alter course and put it to starboard? Ah, why bother. What could happen? The bow goes forward and cannot read it off til we drift aside. Guess not a biggie.

Our finish gets a ding and we clock the time. Marilyn Monroe sleeps in only Chanel No. 5.