Thursday, 30 September 2010

Did you know....

That you can fit two parents, a 13 year old, a toddler, nine chickens, and a dog in a mini-van?

And that when you stop for gas, and open the side door to let the puppy out for a walk, and there is a giant dog cage holding four of those chickens... people are going to look twice.  At least.  But think of the story they will have to tell when they get home that night!

(I'm just glad we didn't enter the bunny in the fair too!)

Friday, 24 September 2010


Prospector to Mama on the drive to work this morning:
"on the one hand, the dog is waking us up earlier so that we are getting to work earlier. On the other hand, there is nothing quite like being greeted by a wagging tail flinging dog pee at you."

Monday, 20 September 2010

Fall Tally Again

7 Jars Apple Jelly (250ml)
Apple Butter waiting to be processed tonight.

Apples from the trees on the property.

Edited to add... 7 jars of Apple Butter 

Friday, 17 September 2010

An Option

That every mini-van should have.....

Stow 'n Go Potty!!

(otherwise titled, how we made it to Montreal & back without any accidents!!)

PhotoStory Friday
Hosted by Cecily and Lolli

Tuesday, 14 September 2010

It followed us home......

Almost a Bride - but still a Bridesmaid. Hawkestone Race 4

Dinner on Sunday night was a wonderful BBQ supplied by the crew of Trumpet. Its a lot of work feeding a full yacht club of hungry sailors, but somehow they pulled it off and everyone went to bed with full tummies. Well, almost everyone.

SWMBO had gone home during the race, leaving Chuck and I alone at Hawkestone. And after the Sunday race, we got a slip right in the middle of the club. To go to bed would be a waste of a great night. We went boat-hopping. I got a few beers passed my way, and then a few more. I was feeling alright. Chuck was feeling embarrassed. Eventually we ducked into the salon aboard Icarus, and dedicated ourselves to hanging out there. Soon 2 more friends followed. We had 5 adults stuffed into the salon of a 21 foot boat, and the drinks started coming.

I had a game on board Iris called "Bingo Bunch" and we started playing. The more we played, the more we drank. The more we drank, the more fun the game was. I am not sure how loud we were, but we were loud. Eventually, I was shuffled back to Iris by Chuck, and slept off the party.

I woke up early with a headache and dry mouth. Damn that Icarus - his Trojan horse had worked. I swallowed a few aspirin, and had a coffee. The fog cleared a little. I need to come up with a drink to get Icarus all drunk at the next race.

After breakfast, we had another skippers meeting, and got ready for the last race of the weekend. A modified Olympic course with a triangle and a sausage, and a hot dog -or half sausage, or extra leg. Everyone was confused.

Chuck and I motored out to the start area, and hove to. The VHF was working again, but our kitchen timer was decidedly dead. Luckily, the GPS was back. other boats came out and joined us. No one knew which direction across the line was the start. Everyone was everywhere. We just stayed hove-to and watched the mayhem unfold.

The committee boat put up a prep flag and then started the countdown - then aborted the countdown. Then started again, and aborted again. On the third attempt, the sequence stuck. The spin fleet started.

I sailed Iris up behind the committee boat, and pointed her in the general direction of the start. Newfie was nearby. So was Icarus. Another Catalina 25 was also circling the start. My instructions to Chuck we short.

"We have to beat Newfie for the championship, but we have to beat Allegro for respect." Since Allegro is the same design as Iris, racing her is a good measure of our abilities. In our first match with her, we won handily. Last year though, she had beat us like an old rug. Today was the rubber match.

I watched the flags on the committee boat and the time on my GPS. As soon as the whitesail countdown began I marked the time, and started lining up our approach. Chuck manned the sheets and I manned the tiller. The clock neared the start time, I watched the committee boat in case of a recall, we picked our spot on the line and sailed along.

When the flag snapped down, we were a little late and Newfie and Allegro were both ahead of us. Icarus was close behind. Apparently he had a headache too.

We sailed for the first mark, and got closer and closer to Newfie as we went. eventually we were close enough to speak with him. I called out.

"Sorry about that guys."

The skipper looked confused. "About what?"

"About whats gonna happen at the first mark if I hit you." I said. Newfie laughed, and we passed him just before reaching the mark, eliminating a mark rounding situation.

Ahead of us, Allegro rounded the mark, and ran into trouble. Her genoa backwinded, and she was having trouble finding the wind again. Chuck and I aimed Iris into the wind, and sailed close hauled to the second mark. Newfie followed only seconds behind. We tacked, and Newfie tacked, we pinched, and he pinched, we footed off, he footed off. It was boat to boat.

Eventually, we tacked to go for a course away from the shore, and newfie tacked toward shore. Our course carried to the mark with 2 fewer tacks. We were ahead of Newfie when we rounded, but only by about 2 boatlengths. We had worked hard to gain those boatlengths.

On the reaching leg, Chuck went up on the high side, and I tried to sail without making any corrections. Our course was the rhumb line straight to the gybe mark.

We rounded the gybe mark with Newfie's bow wave hissing through the water behind us. The Mainsail flipped across the boat, and chuck scrambled to get in position, then I realized that the there was no downwind leg in this course, just 2 gybes. We ran down to the bottom of the course on a broad reach on the opposite tack, and held Newfie back, maybe gaining a little on him.

At the bottom of the course, we would have to go from a broad reach to a close reach, and we couldn't afford to miss the tack. I made it clear to Chuck exactly how things had to go. We braced ourselves and waited.

When Chuck and I were racing in our first season at Sail Georgina, we used to aim to be able to spit on the race marks when we rounded them. We wanted to cut close, but keep speed. Here it was critical that the boat hold its speed through the reversal from a broad reach to a close reach. I wasn't sure how we would do.

The mark got closer and closer. Chuck scrambled from the cabintop to the cockpit. She released a turn from the winch and braced herself against the force of the wind in the sail. I asked her - you ready?

Steely eyes met mine, and a short nod.


The boat spun around the mark. The jibsheet flew through the pulley to windward, and came in on the leeward side. The ratchets in the winches hummed, and we were set back on our upwind course. We had pulled it off. A 180° course change around the emark without any loss in speed, and Newfie still behind us. But, Newfie was still right there. As precise as our turn had been, it wasn't enough to shake him.

We hadn't given him room to come up inside, and we hadn't lost speed, but "The Screach" had done exactly the same manoeuvre we had just as well. Dammit, we were gonna have to keep trying.

I held our course as close to hitting the final mark as I could without pinching too much, or falling off. The wind shifted and we played the sheets. Newfie was sitting off our stern, just waiting for his chance. I was determined not to give in. The two boats were closely matched, any mistake would be to give up the race. We had another tack, and then the finish line.

Chuck knew what we were up against. She perched on the cabintop calling out Newfie's position and moves. We sailed fast and hard, taking advantage of everything the wind gave us. And then we did it again, another 180° course change to head back to the finish line, with Newfie following us around the corner. His bow pulpit to our transom.

We sailed all the way down to the start line, and held him off every step of the way. Then we crossed, and breathed a sigh of relief. It was over. We had beat Newfie again, and this time on the short course. I knew that the difference in times wasn't enough to hold the win once our handicaps were applied, but boat to boat, on the course we had gotten the lead and held it.

Once handicaps were applied, we would come in second to Newfie by 26 seconds. Now that's not much time, but that doesn't matter, what matters is that through some hard work, good sailing, and a little luck, we put together a plan and pulled it off - and crossed the line in front of Newfie.

Because of those 26 seconds, Iris lost her first place standing in the summer race series. She now stands in second place by one point. In order to get back in first, and win the championship, all she has to do is beat Newfie. Twice.

The next Regatta is this coming weekend.

Monday, 13 September 2010

Road Trip

Deaprted around 6:00 am.

Reached Montreal around 2:30 pm.

Deaprted Richelieu around noon.

Arrived home around 9:00pm

1 boy in underpants for the whole ride

0 Accidents.

Many, many rest stops.

One potty permanently set up in the middle of the mini-van

The look on Mama's face when Daddy advised that the hotel we had booked included valet service, with no where to hide said potty??


Friday, 10 September 2010

Helter Skelter... Hawkestone Race 3

"When I get to the bottom I go back to the top of the slide,
where I stop and I turn and I go for a ride
till I get to the bottom and I see you again
Yeah Yeah hey Yeah..."

Paul McCartney & John Lennon

On Saturday Morning, Iris was nestled in beside Tecumseh, quietly tugging at her docklines while a light breeze moved across the lake. I woke up SWMBO and Buddy, went for a stroll ashore, and came back to let everyone know breakfast was ready. Chuck had spent the night sleeping in the clubhouse, and was eagerly eyeing the breakfast that the folks at Hawkestone had prepared.

We all had a delicious breakfast of bacon and egss and sausage and fruit and yogurt and cereal and toast and bagels and all the fixings, toppings, and garnishes that can be imagined, then I went to re-rig a mainsail on the boat.

The ferocious winds of the previous races, our already torn sail, and the damage we had sustained were all on my mind, but so were the great results we had enjoyed. Today was going to be race 3 of the weekend, a long distance race from the yacht club to Maynard’s Shoal, and then around Thorah Island and back to the club. Last year I had finished this race in second place.

As I rigged the boat, the skipper from Icarus came over to lend a hand. We talked about rig tension, and sail choices, and the job went quickly. In no time I had the main on. The bell rang for the skippers meeting. I dropped everything and ran for the meeting. I would rig our reefing lines later. As I went to the meeting a light breeze rippled the surface of the lake.

At the meeting flags were handed out for our previous races. Iris was awarded 4 second place flags and 1 first place flag, bringing our total count for the season to 7 flags. Newfie handed Chuck his first place flag from the night race, giving her credit for his finish. I was a pretty proud skipper at the end of the ceremony.

From the flag ceremony, we moved into the details of the race at hand. The course was defined and procedures laid out. At the end of the meeting we were told the race would be starting in 30 minutes. That gave us 10 minutes to get out of the harbour.

10 minutes isn’t enough time for me to rig reefing lines. I looked out on the lake again. The riffle had built to small waves. I looked at the reefing lines sitting in the cabin, coiled them up and hoped I wouldn’t need them. The engine started on the first pull, and we were away.

The wind wasn’t nearly as strong as it had been the day before, and as we sailed out to the lake, folks lined Hawkestone’s breakwall waving and shouting to the boats as they passed. We cleared the club, headed out to find the committee boat, and settled into sailing. With the full main and 110% jib out, Iris was behaving quite nicely, and we were able to sail without much trouble.

I don’t remember much of the start sequence, except that we didn’t have a fantastic position, but it wasn’t awful either. Iris seemed a little blasé and neither inspired nor let down. She just sailed without spirit as we headed downwind toward the Maynard shoal marker.
The fleet passed us as we plodded along, and I soon saw Newfie and Icarus pulling ahead of us as we sailed along next to Canadian. He puffed on a cigar, and we did what we could to keep our jib filled. We really needed a whisker pole.

Our whisker pole was sitting at home, in 2 pieces, broken on the night race.

Chuck and I could both feel the wind building as we sailed, and the boats ahead of us were taking advantage of that wind in ways we couldn’t without a pole. I looked around the boat for a way to devise a pole.

Running below I grabbed a boathook, and extended it as far as I could. It looked about the right length to work for our jib, good thing we didn’t have a genoa up. I quickly fastened it to the jib and pushed it out over the water. Now I had to find a way to attach the inboard end of the pole to the mast, or risk being protested.

Using the spare halyard, I could attach the end of the pole to the mast, but I had to get the right knot on it to prevent the pole from sliding back inboard. In my mind I ran through the list of knots I knew. Rolling hitch, timber hitch, round turn and two half hitches, clove hitch – which one was best to attach a rope to a pole at a right angle? Would the load on the pole be axial or perpendicular if the sail was flogging out there? Could I tie it and have enough tail left to cleat the line off to the mast?

In the end I decided I was overthinking things and just tied a rolling hitch, then left it be. It worked.

The boathook flexed madly, but held the sail out, and the knot never slipped. We picked up a little speed and alternated between flying wing on wing and broad reaching. Canadian slowly moved aft, and we sailed away from him.

We reached Maynards Shoal ahead of Canadian, and barely able to see Newfie and Icarus ahead of us. Tobasco’s bright red hull was easy to see on the horizon, and a few of the other white sail boats were up ahead. One of the spinnaker boats, a Sonic 23, that had run into trouble was close by, recovering their sails after losing a halyard. They rejoined the race just as we rounded the shoal marker.

I handed Chuck the tiller and went forward to bring down the boathook. With Canadian and the Sonic nearby, we at least had folks to race, even if we were at the back of the pack.

With the boathook stowed, I took back the tiller and aimed Iris at the back of the fleet. As we came up to the wind, I could feel its intensity growing. The waves came up, and we found it increasingly difficult to hold our course as we sailed the gap between Thorah Island and Lake Simcoe’s East shore.

The water behind Thorah Island is very shallow, and as we sailed along the waves came up quickly. The Sonic struggled along behind us, and we worked the mainsheet feverishly to keep Iris on her feet. We watched the fleet turn and head west back toward the yacht club, and we continued sout, deep into the area between Georgina and Thorah Islands. The sonic tacked and headed back toward Hawkestone. Newfie worked his way along the south shore of Thorah. Canadian slipped further and further behind. Icarus was following Newfie. I wanted to time my tack to take as much advantage of the wind we were facing, and held on, waiting for the right time to tack over.

Then it was time. Chuck released her sheet, I hauled in mine. The main snapped across the boat, and the tiller went to leeward. We were aimed at the open water of Lake Simcoe, waves crashing over the windward side of the boat, troughs deep enough to swallow us. We headed out to the middle of the lake, and watched as Newfie sailed his course aimed at Strawberry Island on the north shore of the lake.

Shortly after we tacked, we saw Canadian lower her sails. She was out of the race. The Sonic tacked over and joined us. Then Icarus did the same. Soon we were sailing in a pod of three boats, Iris leading, followed closely by the Sonic, and Icarus close behind. We were baffled by Newfie, watching him sail north to our west, looking like he was going to visit Orillia. Later he would jokingly tell us he was headed for holy ground, looking for the Pope.

My idea was to hold a course in the middle of the lake. Here the winds would be strongest, but Iris had shown the day before that she was up for the task. I could dump wind out of the mainsail by playing the mainsheet, and out 110% jib had performed without issue in all the races. With our high freeboard, I wasn’t too worried about the big waves. Chuck was having fun getting wet from the waves breaking over the bow.

We Aimed to sail as close to the wind as Iris could, pinching just a little, and worked our way toward the centre of the lake. The Sonic set his sights on us and followed. Icarus surged along beside the Sonic and the three boats, sailing about 30 feet away from each other formed a triangle of solidarity, fighting the wind.

Behind us we could see Icarus trying different things to gain more boatspeed. He seemed to struggle to keep up with Iris and the Sonic, and eventually he footed off, heading toward the lee shore. We held our course, the Sonic pushing us along.

As we sailed thewind grew more and more intense. We rounded up once, then again. The Sonic gained ground. Eventually he was sailing behind us. A wave would raise us up and the Sonic would be below us, then we would fall into a trough and the boat would disappear entirely behind the wall of water, reappearing as he rose on the next cres, up above us.

Again and again the two boats changed places, appearing and disappearing from each other, barely a boats length away crashing down on the waves as the wind drove us toward our goal.

As we got closer to shore, I decided that staying in the middle of the lake would be fastest for us. Shoreline effects would act to funnel and swirl the wind, but in the centre of the lake it would be more consistent in terms of direction and intensity. I tacked, heading back out to the middle of the lake. The Sonic continued on its course for a few minutes, then tacked, following us. We would sail alongside each other for a mile or two before he decided to tack back toward the shore and calmer waters, leaving us to finish the race on our own.

As we recrossed the lake, Chuck and I kept an eye out for other boats. We were headed west, and the Sonic headed North. Far in the distance, barely a pinprick, we could see Newfie, and between the Sonic and Newfie, we could see Icarus. Being so far from them it was impossible to tell what they were doing, so we stuck to our own plan, holding our tack as long as we could, focusing on steering a straight course in the wind, and not allowing the boat to round up or the waves to push us around too much. The GPS ticked off the miles as we went.

Navigating by GPS I advised Chuck that we would only do one tack to get to Hawkestone. Since we were so far out in the lake, we would need to keep a diligent watch for the finish mark, and only make our move once it was about 100° off our course. The little dot on the GPS moved closer and closer to us. We watched the waves for a finish mark floating off our starboard side about 3 miles away.

Eventually I caught a glimpse of something orange off in the distance. Then Chuck saw it. We watched for it to be dead abeam, then overshot it. Finally it was time –TACK!

Iris turned, I lined up the mark, we looked down the shore and saw the Sonic coming towards us. Iris sliced through the water, making a beeline for the finish mark. We were high on the mark. I put the tiller over and pinched. A wind shift put us low on the mark; we fought to keep lined up. The mark got easier to see. Then it was defined. We were lined up on an orange barrel floating in the lake.

I checked the GPS – the finish mark was over a mile away but still on our course. We might make it, but would need a little luck.

I started putting a little extra space in the bank and tried to feather our course to make it to the mark without any extra tacks. The Sonic got closer and closer, eventually passing astern.

Down the shore I saw Icarus, and behind him Newfie making their way towards Hawkestone. The Sonic tacked and gave chase as we made for the line. I slipped Iris in behind the finish mark, rounded the mark, and finally rested. After the fury of the lake, the bay in front fo Hawkestone was like a millpond. Chuck and I exchanged High fives, took down our sails, and motored into the yacht club.

After the race we found out that Newfie had started taking on water someplace behind Thorah Island, and had to bail for much of the race. He had been heading for the closest shorelines in order to keep out of the big waves in the middle of the lake. When he tied up at Hawkestone, he was sitting about 6” low on his waterline. Canadian had suffered similarly, and abandoned race when he took on more water than he was comfortable with. In the end, only 3 boats in our class finished the race.

Iris finally took a first place flag from Newfie.

Thursday, 9 September 2010

From the Garden

Meal as Cooked by my husband, and post as written by my husband:

Autumn Veggie Hotpot.

Cut up 3 slices of Ontario Bacon and fry in Dutch oven.

Add 2 cups of coarsely shredded Ontario cabbage

Add 1 cup of coarsely shredded Ontario carrots

Add 1/2 cup Ontario chives, chopped

Mix well and wilt.

Transfer to 1 litre corning casserole dish (Made in Canada). Add 1/2 Cup of milk.

Cover with grated Ontario cheddar cheese, homemade breadcrumbs, and Grated Ontario Parmesan cheese.

Bake for 30 minutes.

Serve hot.

Iris Fights Back, Hawkestone Race 2

With the first race behind us, and feeling pretty confident that we had won it, I worked quickly to strip the torn mainsail from the boat. I was working a little too quickly, and lost one of the screws that hold our mast gates, a pair of metal covers that hold the sail slides in place. The gates are supposed to be held by 4 screws, and now I was down to 2. Not a critical problem, but still, a problem.

I slowed down and starting thinking more critically. Without a mainsail, there was no need for a boom. An empty boom would just flop around in the wind, and get in the way. It may as well come off.

In a matter of minutes I had taken the mainsail, boom, mainsheet, and boom vang off the boat and stowed them all below. Chuck and I folded the main up, and headed back out into the raging wind under jib alone to face the race. We got some strange looks from folks on other boats, but het, there we were, and we were still in the running.

After a quick sail past the committee boat to thank them for waiting for us, we got some practice sailing with half a sail plan in wicked winds. We quickly discovered that going upwind was not a very good thing to try to do the way we were set up. We also struggled to tack the boat without the main sail pushing the stern around.

I got the boat set in a good spot for the start and we guessed the time by the flags on the committee boat. Our electronics were still soaked, and refusing to come on.

The one minute flag went up, and we turned for the line. I made “S-Turns” to blow speed and tried to stall the boat. We sailed closer and closer to the start line, then past the committee boat. Just once we were too far to make the line, the start flag went up.


We tried to turn the boat back to the line, but our tack failed. Another attempt, and another fail. Someone lost crew overboard up the bay. The committee boat started pulling up its anchor to assist with the rescue. We were 5 minutes late to the line and had to get between the committee boat and start float before they left.

Finally, we just dipped below the start line, and crossed it legally, then turned Iris toward the fleet.

Being under powered may have been an advantage in the downwind race to Hawkestone Yacht Club. The boat that had lost its crew, had broached trying to go up spinnaker, and 2 people had gone overboard. One of the crew made it back on to the boat, the other was picked up by another boat. Iris chugged along like a freight train, surfing the waves and slicing a path toward big bay point, rarely being over powered, but always on the edge of control.

From Big Bay point to Long Shoal was a close reach, and we managed to hold a reasonable course, making time on the boats ahead of us. By the time we rounded Long shoal and pointed the bow at Hawkestone, we were back in the mix of things. The wind was strong, and waves were big, but Iris handled everything thrown at her without pause.

Other boats, especially those with full sail plans struggled against the wind. Canadian started the race, but dropped out shortly after the start line, still shaken from his near-sinking in the previous race. Second Wind, another of our usual competitors tore both jib and main sail, and was forced to drop all sails and retire just before reaching long shoal. Newfie Screach and Icarus carried on through the race, but we managed to pass them both on the way to Hawkestone.

Chuck and I shared the effort of fighting the wind as we sailed across the lake. She would drive allowing me to fix things as they broke, and I would relieve her when things were going well. The effort paid off. We crossed the finish line behind Icarus, but ahead of Newfie Screach, totally drenched, and with everything on the boat holding water.

Once handicaps were applied to our finish times, Newfie would come out ahead of us and Icarus behind. We were left with another 2nd place finish behind Newfie, but our time was very close to his.

In Hawkestone Harbor, we tied off to Tecumseh, plugged in the boat, and began to assess the damage we had suffered through the day. Everything on the boat was wet, from the V-berth to the transom, and up to the top of the mast. The wind howled and rain continued to come on and off through the evening. A double rainbow appeared over the finish mark, and as Iris quietly sat next to the Indian chief, Zephyrus abated.

I phoned SWMBO and told her we needed an emergency delivery. A second mainsail was in the basement, and if she could make the drive to bring it to us, we could do well the next day. SWMBO agreed, and a couple hours later arrived with the sail, and Buddy, who is always a hit at the yacht clubs.

Someplace between the finish of the first race and the BBQ following the second race, a rumor had started that the wind had torn our sail and boom off the boat together. When SWMBO arrived with the replacement sail, a few folks asked how I was going to rig it. When I heard the rumor I quickly set things straight. It’s funny how stories spread.

By bedtime, we had cleaned out the boat, hanging as much as we could to dry, and had taken the torn sails to the van for transport home. I hadn’t had time to put the boom back on and rig the new mainsail though. That would have to wait for morning, and be ready for race 3 of the weekend, a long sail around Thorah Island, in winds to match those from the day before.

Wednesday, 8 September 2010

An angry Zephyrus visits on the Long Weekend

Sailing across the lake to Barrie for the Hawkestone weekend, I was worried that without a whisker pole or my biggest sail, I would come away from the long weekend with nothing but a sunburn and a long face to show for my trouble. I was hoping the party would at least be good enough to offset the looming race results.

Chuck and I sailed across the lake then motored up Kempenfelt Bay to Barrie Yacht Club, tying off to Newfie Screach shortly before midnight. The sky was overcast and the air was cool, but there was no rain. Hardly anyone was out on the docks, and it didn’t take long for us to retire to the boat. I slept lightly, not tired enough or calm enough to really get much rest, and then it was morning.

On Saturday morning the folks at BYC put out a breakfast not to be trifled with, and we ate our fill and then some. It was great. The usual suspects had trickled in through the night to compete in what looked some real sailing weather. We sat with crew we would soon do battle with, and discussed sail choices and tactics over hot coffee while flags snapped and whipped and whitecaps were tossed around the bay. The wind had arrived, delivered by Zephyrus, and it wasn’t letting up anytime soon.

At the skippers meeting the usual warnings and announcements were made. There were to be 2 races, the first, a windward, leeward course would take us up and down Kempenfelt Bay from BYC to the fountain in the public park twice. The second race would start shortly after the first, and be a race from BYC to HYC where a corn roast awaited us.

I grumbled about how poorly Iris did in windward leeward races as I prepped the boat. In these conditions though, at least the torn genoa wouldn’t be pressed into service, and I would be able to get away with not using the pole. I rigged the 110% jib, set the motor in gear and backed out of the marina.

Since BYC is a tight marina, and there were a dozen boats trapped behind me, I figured I would simply continue in reverse right out of the yacht club and into the bay. Big mistake. As soon as Iris met the waves out in the bay, the engine cavitated, and the force of the waves against the transom pushed her toward the breakwall protecting the yacht club.

I fiddled with the engine for a few seconds trying to get some traction in the waves. No luck. Try going in forward back to the club. That didn’t work either. Frantic messing with the throttle and still headed for the breakwall. Only one choice left.

I handed Chuck the tiller and told her to steer us away from the wall while I grabbed the halyard and pulled up the jib. The wind grabbed the sail, and Chuck held tight. Iris carved a beautiful arc in the water and sailed away from what would have spelled an early end to the weekend.

Iris move through the water beautifully, and was quite manageable under jib alone, but since this was a windward leeward course, we needed some kind of mainsail in order to get a better course upwind. After a few seconds thinking about it, I decided to go for it. I threw the tiller over, putting Iris hove-to, and asked Chuck to drive. “Whatever you do, don’t let the boat start sailing.” Holding a boat Hove-to is pretty easy. You simply keep the sails facing the wind so that they are backwinded. Anytime the sail starts to fill you shove the rudder over and show it to the wind, pinning it against its proper direction. By having the sail filled in the opposite direction to how it is supposed to be, the boat is stalled out, unable to sail, but moving at the same pace as the waves it is riding. It is a very comfortable way to sit out a blow.

Chuck held the boat hove-to without so much as a blink, and I went forward and shortened sail for the race.

Shortening sail, or reefing, means you make your sails smaller so the boat isn’t overpowered. In the wind we were facing, I wanted to be sure I was shortening sail as much as I could. Our racing mainsail has 2 reef points, which means you can sail with it fully deployed (when the wind is lightest), with a single reef (in medium winds), or with a double reef (for strong winds). Today I definitely wanted it fully reefed. The wind was whipping spray from the wavetops with such ferocity it stung when it hit your cheeks.

Once I had the reef set in the mainsail, I hoisted it up the mast, and we sailed away, making very good time, but still having good control of the boat. I was happy with my decision, and we started circling, waiting for the start sequence.

It wasn’t long before the committee boat arrived, and the “cat in the hat” flag went up. I reached for the countdown timer that we have used since we got the boat – a kitchen timer from Lee Valley. It was waterlogged from spray, and showed a series of strange symbols. I tossed it aside and reached for the GPS. It too had water in its display, and its batteries were dead. I turned on the radio hoping the race committee would be broadcasting the start. It squealed and made strange noises, then went dead.

Dammit. We were sailing without electronics.

We hovered near the line, depending on the other boats to get a good start, and went when they went. It worked out OK. We started with the pack and headed for the first mark, zigzagging toward Barrie, looking for the best route. Picking the route was tricky. If you went to the wind lines, you could be flattened by its ferocity, but if you stayed away, you got passed. We clued in quickly that by playing the mainsheet, and staying about centered on our target, we could hold a respectable course and minimize the times we got pushed down hard.

In the first leg we were pretty close to our usual group, fighting off Canadian and Newfie, holding on ahead of Icarus, and really just hoping for the best. WHAM! We’d get hit by gust and lay the boat down, then we’d see folk behind us lay down their boats. We were outpointing the folks who were sailing more conservatively, and we were being outpointed by folks who had better skills and gear. Regularly waves broke over the hull spraying the cockpit, and we watched the lee rail get doused lower and lower into the water as the wind picked up. Windows went under water. The winches were doused. The cockpit coamings went under. Iris refused to give in.

Canadian stumbled behind us, righting herself, then getting hit again and again. Newfie fought on behind her. We were leading our pack, and doing OK. Rain set in, hiding Barrie even though it was only a mile away. We struggled up wind, then sped downwind surfing the waves. The wind rang through the rig, not just humming or whistling. Ropes creaked and moaned, and the shrouds looked like steel bars they were so loaded with the wind.

It was on the second upwind leg that we were tested.

First the wind caught us unsuspecting, and threw Iris from a wavetop into a trough, holding her down hard. A wave broke and filled the cockpit. The gas tank floated up out of its locker, and the smell of gasoline filled the air for a moment. Chuck and I were both standing in water up to our knees. Then Iris struggled for a moment, swore at Zephyrus, stood up, and raced off.

Behind us, Canadian faced the same condition. Since his boat has less freeboard, when his cockpit filled, so did the cockpit lockers. When his boat righted itself, he took down his sails, turned on his engine, and headed home. He had almost lost his crew (I don’t think he uses tethers) and his crew had lost its nerve. Chuck and I were more resolved to continue on.

Zephyrus wasn’t very pleased though at Iris’ audacity. He decided to teach her a lesson. Not long after our knockdown, another puff took the boat to a new level of dismay. The 110% jib was overloaded. I didn’t see it, but Iris knew she had to spill some wind and spill it fast. The jib sheet suddenly rocketed forward, ripping the sheetlead out of its track. The pulley flew out ahead of the boat, dangling on its rope out over the water.

The wind at this point was clocked in the neighbourhood of 45 knots (+/- 80 km/h). I handed Chuck the tiller.

How many 13 year old kids are there that could sail a damaged boat in that sort of wind, and hold their course? How many could you trust to keep things together while you crawled out on the foredeck of a boat heeled at over 45° to the horizon, with spray and rain and a flotilla of other boats in close quarters? Chuck amazed me, and what happened next amazed me even more.

I crawled forward and retrieved the sheave, returning it to its place on the deck, then returned to the cockpit. Chuck refused to let go of the tiller. She pointed to the mainsail. “Dad,” she yelled over the wind, “You need go fix the main now, I think it broke too.”

Looking forward I saw that the mainsail had been torn from its track. Every sail slide holding it in place had snapped in succession, and all that was holding it to the boat was the headboard and the reefing line. Chuck had held us on course while the slides had broken, pelting her with plastic shards. Holding the course in that fierce wind with so badly deformed a main must have taken loads of strength and concentration.

I brought down the sail, lashed it to the boom, and headed back to the cockpit. While I lashed it down, I noticed that not only had the slides all broken, but the strength of the wind had torn the sailcloth 2/3’s of the way across the sail below the headboard. Since we were still on course though, and ahead of everyone else, there was no way we were going to quit.

One last tack brought us to the weather mark. Newfie was behind us. No one else was still around. We rounded the mark, and headed downwind to the finish. Sailing with only one sail, we had a hard time keeping ahead of Newfie, but managed to hold our lead. Canadian had retired. Icarus was noplace to be seen. We surfed and raged and fought to hold course while the wind shoved us toward the line. Then it was done. We had crossed the line. Newfie was still back there. We had done it.

Iris limped into BYC, and we radioed th ecomittee boat that we were doing repairs. They should start the next race without us if we weren’t out in time. Chuck and I high-fived each other, and I looked things over. If I just took off the boom, we might be able to get back out in time for the next race. She set off to visit friends, and I set to work.

How Long will this Last?

Yesterday, while cooking dinner, a little boy showed up at my elbow.

"Mommy? A cloth please?"

"Why do you need a cloth?"

"A Mess Mommy, a Mess!"

"A mess? Where is the mess?"

"Over dere"

"Oh my, that is a lot of milk on the floor.... Did I even put that much milk in your cup? Let's go clean it up."

"No Mommy, I do it... Buddy job!"

Tuesday, 7 September 2010

Fall Tally Again

4 jars baby food (plums) (250ml)
4 jars baby food pears (250 ml).

I was planning on doing peach baby food as well, then realized I still had five jars left from Buddy!  So I think I'll either can the peach slices, or freeze peach pie filling.

Monday, 6 September 2010

Taking our Chicks to the Fair

The six Chanty's are going to be entered into the local fair Sept 28 - Oct 3.

After sending three roosters to freezer boot camp, and anther going this weekend, we'll be down to just these six Chanty's.

The three boys will be entered two into the rooster class, and the last into the cockerel class

The three hens will be entered two into the pullet class, and one into the hen class.

As far as we know, we're the only local folks around raising this breed.

We also may enter the two Americauna's, just for the heck of it.  I'm kind of nervous though, cause those two?  Are a pair of love birds.  Have you ever heard a chicken cry?  I have.  When I put the boy into the coop yesterday, and the girl was still in the chicken yard.  She hid under the coop & cried for him!  I don't think they'll allow us to enter the two of them in the same cage.   But I'm afraid to split them up!  They follow one another around the yard, & when I go to close up the coop at night, they're snuggled together up on the roost!!

Anyway, to enter the fair cost $5, +$0.50 per enty.  Entering the 8 chicks is $9.   Prizes are $5 for first, $4 for second, and $3 for third.

Plus, each entrant gets a pair of passes to the fair (reg $15 per adult.  Chuck is $2, and Buddy is free).

So, as long as we are indeed the only ones who enter our breed of bird... we come away with four firsts, two seconds, and passes for Mom & Dad, Buddy is free, and we'll just have to pay for Chuck (plus a few midway rides, of course).

Even with the passes, and assuming we don't win, it still makes sense to enter the birds!

Only thing is... we'll have to figure out how to load them all into our mini-van!!

Sunday, 5 September 2010

Score #2

3 more Motherease one-size: $4.50 for all (retails about $13 each)
5 diaper wraps: $15 for all (retails for about $15 each)
7 diaper liners: $15 for all (retails about 3.50 each)

Saturday, 4 September 2010

Mommy, What You Doing?

While driving in the car:

Buddy "Mommy, what you doing?"

Mommy "I'm driving, what are you doing?"

Buddy "Looking!"

30 seconds later:

Buddy "Mommy, what you doing?"

Mommy "I'm driving, what are you doing?"

Buddy "Looking!"

Until a few days ago:

Buddy "Mommy, what you doing?"

Mommy "I'm driving, what are you doing?"

Buddy *blows a raspberry*

Huh. So much for "looking"

Friday, 3 September 2010

Fall Tally Continued

5 jars of plums (500 ml)
7 jars of dill pickles (500 ml)
(both done on a week night. Mommy did the plums while Daddy made dinner, then Daddy & Chuckles did the pickles while Mommy tidied up)
we've now gone through 3 kg of sugar since Saturday.

Thursday, 2 September 2010

Peer Pressure does have it's Uses

Like, for example, when one's preschooler is toilet training.

And, at daycare, all the kids go to the toilet at the same time.

There's a little pressure there.

So far, the boy has made it at home a grande total of twice (Since Friday night).

And when requested to sit by a parent to 'try,' he'll sit, but that's it. Then he'll make a puddle five minutes later

Yet at school.... no problems. When everyone goes, he does too.

We'll see how it goes over the long weekend.

Wednesday, 1 September 2010

Almost a year ago....

So, the other day, Chuckles says to me:

"Guess what I figured out today??"

Mama "What"

Chuckles " I discovered that I'm left handed."

Pause.... while Mama is thinking "You know what, just don't ask. Just don't go there... just smile and say ok cool....."

Mama "Um, how have you discovered this, Chuckles?"

Chuckles "Cause when I write, I use this hand (holding up right hand)"

Mama "That, um, would be your right hand, Chuckles"

Chuckles "But I thought I broke my left leg?"

Mama "You did."

Chuckles "But if this is my right hand, how come this is my left leg?" (pointing to right leg)

Mama "That would be your right leg, Chuckles"

Chuckles "really? I thought that was the one I broke?"

Mama "um, no..... it was the other one."

It was one year ago on Aug 21 that she broke the leg..... It would appear that she has no lasting effects, seeing as, well, she can't remember which of the two legs it was that she broke."