Monday, 27 December 2010


"Buddy, that's a nice horse... what's your horse' name?"


"Good name for a horse!"

Santa came!

Buddy Had no clue what Santa was bringing... he opened his stocking & thought he was done!
Chuckles, obviously a little more experienced, asked to load her brother's sock up for him, then wrote him a 'letter from santa'

The Carnage after
Both kids got their own, age appropriate computers from Santa this year

Sunday, 26 December 2010

What Buddy Thought.....

Santa would like with his cookies:

Chuck wanted to know if we thought one beer would make it illegal for Santa to drive his sleigh!

Monday, 20 December 2010

A Sailor's Winter...

Winter for a sailor begins at haulout and ends with spring launch. Between is grieving and work, and not a lot of fun. Its a funny thing to look out your back window every morning and see "summer" sitting there wrapped in tarp, waiting for a robin's song and an early thaw.

Iris is coated in a light layer of snow right now, her mast lying along the deck, antifreeze in her veins and her heart barely beating. The sun sets over her, and an early sunrise makes the snow on the tarp sparkle like a thousand diamonds. She is sleeping.

I on the other hand, am very awake.

It is funny that retailers try to entice sailors in the off season. It is as if a boatshow or sale or seminar can replace a day on the water. Buy a can of varnish, you'll feel like its summer! It just doesn't work. I can't vernish a boat under a tarp in frigid weather. Looking at the ads of barbecues and cleaners and gear only makes the longing for a warm day out on the lake stronger.

The charter companies offer real winter sailing - but you have to get all teh way to the BVI's or Bermuda to enjoy it, and then you have to pay a full season's worth of fees for a week of sun. That's just not in the cards right now.

Some guys take up a winter hobby. There's ice-sailing, skiing, drinking, and hibernating as alternatives. Drinking is the most natural fit. That or sitting around around watching youtube videos while drinking. For me, a beer a day is about as much drinking as I get in on the off season, but I still don't have a real "winter hobby."

I've pulled the hatchboards off the boat and I think I'll strip them and refinish them. I want to have them engraved, but I'm not totally convinced on that either. I need to get to work with that project though or it just won't happen. I also promised myself that I would get the liquor cabinet done this winter, but that isn't looking too hopeful right now. Maybe I should just hibernate.

Fun with the sitemeter

Who knew Santa coming through the toilet was so exciting?

Since that post, some of the Google Searches that have found my blog include:

onde fica o santa claus em rookgaard
santa claus comes up the toilet
santa claus rookgaard
reindeer toilet
santa using chimney for toilet
santa on the loo on the chimney
photo Santa using chimney for toilet
santa's mouse no chimney

Go figure. I really didn't think it was that exciting of a topic!!

Sunday, 19 December 2010

Most Families....

Decorate their yards with Santa's & snowmen & Nativity scenes at this time of year.......

Not us.

(Yes, that's a real chicken in my house.  Again)

Friday, 17 December 2010

A letter from Chuck:

Dear Mother Nature:

I am not sure if you noticed this, but my school board has not had a snow day in the last two years.

Not one.

Now normally, I wouldn't complain... but in the past two weeks, EVERY.SINGLE.OTHER school district AROUND me has had at least one.  The kids on the other side of the lake had THREE IN A ROW even.  Some areas, not too far from here, have had FIVE.  In TWO WEEKS!!

On Moday, they made a circle.... buses cancelled here, there, everywhere.... except my region.

If you could kindly even things out a little, I would appreciate it,



Tuesday, 14 December 2010

Merry Christmas 2010

In an attempt to save paper this year, Our "Christmas Letter" is online instead of being mailed out!  Here is a  "snapshot" on us in 2010:

We started off 2010 with Prospector throwing a surprise 30th birthday party for Mama.  He was very sneaky.  We thank all of our friends for coming out that day.

Another big event of 2010 was Chuck finally getting her cast off!  She broke her leg on Aug 21, 2009, and was finally castless, caneless, and crutchless on Jan 21, exactly five months later.

The kids enjoyed playing in the snow all winter.  They spent a lot of time tobogganing together outside the back window.  We didn't get enough snow to build a run like the previous year, but so far this year, things are looking good for a sled run!

In March, we starting renovating our main floor.  We completed the tear out, and then... the summer weather came along, and we played outside instead of finishing up!  We've started working on it again though, and the goal now is to be done by New Years.

In April, we added these 10 fuzzy little guys to our family:

They ended up being 7 boys and 3 girls though, so some of the boys were sent to freezer boot camp in the fall.
We also added two of these guys:

And towards the end of January, we'll have this addition:

And recently, one of these:

And six of these:

Chuck was in her school play last winter, in the role of "Cathy" in "High School Musical."  She had a great performance, after several weeks of hard work.  She celebrated her 13th birthday in the spring with a sleepover party.   She also decided that she was done with her long hair, and cut it short! She's now trying to grow it back.....She loves sailing with her Dad in the summer, and goes to all the regattas with him.  She spent last winter in Pathfinders, including completing a winter camping weekend in a tent, something Mama has never done.  She's anxiously looking forward to high school now, and has decided that she's going to audition for the school of the arts.  Wish her luck!

Buddy celebrated his 2nd Birthday in April.  He also started "school" towards the end of August, when Mama got a new job.  He loves going and learning, and is very happy there.  He is very happy to see his school in the mornings, but happy when we come pick him up at night!  He chatters during the drive to and from school every day. He decided after four days at the new school that, being one of the few children still in diapers, he was done, and told me "No more diapers Mommy."  It was a long haul, but he is fairly well trained now.  He likes the chickens a lot, and the cows next door.  Any farm animal he loves.  He likes things done his way though, and has a very strong personality!  He moved to a toddler bed in the winter, and will be moving to a twin bed shortly, so that his crib is free for the new baby.  He loves sailing on the boat with his Dad, and gets upset when daddy goes to the boat without him!

We spent some time in Algonquin this summer, where we visited the logging museum and walked a few hiking trails.  Buddy was a trooper, and walked them all really well, except the last one. Mommy decided that he'd done so well on the 2km trails that we would try a 3.5 km trail.   It was maybe a smidge too long for him.  Mom & Chuck took turns piggy backing him along towards the end.

We entered our chickens in the local fair this year, just for the heck of it.  Our Chanty chickens are rare, and so we were hoping to win from them.  Unfortunately, we entered them all (including the Americauna's) into the wrong category.  We were allowed to let them show, but not be judged.  A few weeks after the fair though... we received a cheque in the mail for $24.  It would seem that, although they were not publicly judged, since we entered the only Americauna's, and there was only one other Chanty, they were 'quietly' judged on the side!

We travelled to Montreal in the fall, to pick up our new puppy, Bernie.  Chuck is learning to take care of Bernie, and Buddy is tolerating her.  He tolerates her best when she is sleeping.  Then, he wants to play!  As far as the puppy is concerned, Buddy is a another puppy like her.  If he leaves us, she tries to heard him back.  That strong personality of his doesn't appreciate being told what to do by a puppy though!

Prospector and Mama both took new jobs this year, and are now working together.  It is a different environment for both of us. 

We've been attempting to eat locally grown food over the past few months, which has been an interesting challenge.  So far, we've purchased a quarter cow (butchered & frozen) from a farmer down the road, we've done lots of canning of fruits; peaches & pears from Niagara (though grocery store bought), Apples from the farmer up the road, Strawberries from another local farmer, we have squash stored from a third local farmer, and our chickens are starting to produce eggs for us.  We were amazed at how different one of our own chickens tasted compared to store bought chicken.  We're trying, as much as possible, to eat Ontario or at least Canadian grown & packaged food.

That's all for us, and we hope to see you all soon!
Prospector, Mama, Chuck, Buddy, Baby, et al

Sunday, 5 December 2010

Buddy's Christmas List

(If he understood the concept)

Dear Santa:

Pease a-have a Thomas

Pease a-have a Moooo---ie

Pease a-watch a Lurlee - Bob

Pease a-have a Yo-urt

Tank tou!

Needed: One Fat lady, Must have good voice.

Waking up after a yacht club party always happens the same way. Someone is stomping around on the dock or clanging some gawdawful bell or cooking bacon. It is always too early, and often too loud for any reasonable person.

You roll out of your berth, hunt down a cup of coffee and a shower, and get ready for the day ahead. This day it was the last race of the season. We had already cemented our position in second place, and this showing was mostly for fun.

I sipped my coffee and watched the sun rise over a limp flag and a lifeless lake. No ripples, no breezes, not even a fish jumping. I ate a donut and waited for the skippers meeting. It was looking like a long day.

Judy had spent the night aboard and was here to stay, saying she would just leave as soon as the race was over to go and check on her Mom in hospital. I nodded and looked out at the lake, thinking of jobs at home that were waiting for me. I had a chicken coop to build, and a front entry to reno. I had a dozen reasons not to race a race that didn't count. Then the skippers meeting happened and just like that I found myself motoring out to the start line.

The wind at the start line was no better than the wind at the docks. Actually, to call it wind is to lie. We sat while our sails hung down like spaghetti fresh from the pot, and tried to figure out what we could do to get the boat to move.

The countdown went for the spinnaker boats, and they sat.

The countdown went for the whitesail boats and we sat.

Eventually one boat crossed the start and everyone cheered. Then another, then another. They would drift across the line, then head off in whatever direction they could. Any movement was better than sitting still.

We got across the start 20 minutes after the horn. There were still about 4 whitesail boats trying to reach the line, and one spinnaker boat sitting there. It was a disgrace.

Once iris got moving, we found that we could sail from puff to puff, never leaving wind to find wind, but hop-scotching on our momentum to move through the fleet. By doing this we managed to make up most of the time we had lost sitting at the start and catch up to the leaders in our fleet. Then the wind died. Again.

To say the wind died is to say that piece of fish that has been rotting in the fridge for a week and is starting to smell got worse. What I am saying is that we went from light and variable, to variable, to a vacuum. The wind just up and left.

I radioed the comittee boat asking for the course to be shortened, and was told that that wasn't in the cards. I looked at Judy. She looked at me. I thought about her mom and my chores. I decided there wasn't much sense in sitting this out. I radioed the comittee boat for a second time.

"Hey guys, I said, its pretty far to JP and moving at this speed I won't get done the race untill next week. Iris is retiring." It was my second DNF of the season, but I felt it was worth it. We motored to the slip, tied up, and headed home.

Less than a spectacular ending, but the rest of the season had been great. Our heavy weather races will not soon be forgotten, nor will the great parties and friends we met this year. Between that last LSIS race and haul out, there isn't much to talk about. Iris is now sitting in the backyard waiting for the spring to come, and I am absorbed in a dozen other tasks around the house.

I am hoping to post some upgrades and innovations that show how we get our boat working for us, mostly to give back to the guys at the C-25 forums, but beyond that there isn't a whole lot to report right now.

Saturday, 4 December 2010

Seven Little Eggs that I once knew.......

Fat ones tall ones thin ones too.

Our Chanty's finally gave us enough eggs to all have breakfast yesterday.

Bacon from Amish Country, Eggs from the backyard, toast & coffee... yum yum!!

The Georgina Cup Party - 2010 Edition

Sometimes it seems like the goal of Sail Georgina is to introduce all of the town to Mount Gay Rum. Or Maybe that is Mount Gay's goal and they use SGA as the vehicle to move their quest forward. Its hard to say. Either way, "Wasn't that a party..."

Everyone involved was more than a little concerned about the way the party would go this year. For starters, every establishment in town seems to have heard about the party the sailors throw at the end of the year, and it is getting difficult to find a venue that is a big enough sucker supporter to take the risk of hosting the event.

This year a local caterer offered to get the food together if we could find a hall. The marina next to ours offered use of their boatshed. We thought we were in luck. Then a large boat was dragged into the shed and the doors locked shut. Days before the event we had to find a venue.

A tent was rented, chairs were scrounged, BBQ's lit, and a backyard party evolved at the caterer's home. And what meal he Catered! Beef tenderloin medallions and Chicken breasts, glazed veggies with fried/grilled/spiced potatoes. A dozen salads and a billion dessert treats. It was a great spread.

A couple posts back I posted about the weather during the race. We had good wind all day. That wind was carrying rain. It was a wet evening. The tents were smallish. We made friends and huddled. There was only one way to keep warm and not notice the water. It came in a bottle.

Everyone was feeling pretty light headed by the end of the night, but it was a good party. Chuck and I got flags for our races (seconds, all) and we won some super amazing door prizes. Chuck got a Ronstan Rain jacket, and I got a gift certificate for the Rigging Shoppe. I still haven't gone shopping with it yet.

Judy, Chuck, and I spent the night on the boat and slept well. The next morning was to be the last race of the season. We needed our rest.

Friday, 3 December 2010

The Totally Integrated Sailboat

I have been accused of owning every gizmo gadget, and doodad that is electrically powered possible by some of the traditionalists in our marina.

I think that is an overstatement.

I mean, sure I carry a GPS on board - but so does everyone else in the marina, and I have to admit that I did run out and buy an anchor light that automatically turns on at night, but that is just being safe. And I have spent hours trolling the Catalina 25 owner's forum while sailing in my mind, but I cannot say that I am totally teched up.

So when I saw this contest to win a laptop, I thought, what would the perfect on-board computer do, and what would it look like?

First the components would have to be tough enough to survive the conditions inside the boat while I wasn't there. Searing heat in the summer, and horrid cold in the winter. Hardened components would definitely be required. The system would have to be waterproof enough to handle the moisture that can build up in the hull, and be daylight viewable for the days cruising and at anchor.

Batteries would have to be long-life. Really long life. The battery would have to be able to survive a long crossing of the lake - 8 hours plus, while running GPS software.

Speaking of software, the laptop would need to double as a chartplotter, while also keeping a running inventory of gear aboard - especially food and first aid, fuel and water. I wonder if I could hook up a blue tooth probe to monitor fuel and battery levels. Hmmm.

Of course in systems monitoring, things could get really cool. In light of the recent Clear Lake Trial it would be good to have the laptop automatically turn on the running lights at sundown, and it would be groovy to have it log when it did it.

Of course racing software would have to be run constantly, maybe with a display on a remote monitor in the cockpit. Where is the mark? What is our tacking angle? How long till we get there? Can we go faster, stronger, higher? Man, I should join the Olympics.

Finally, what I wouldn't want. I wouldn't want the system to sail the boat for me. I still regale against autopilots and I still believe a race involves hand sailing and deciding for myself when to pinch and when to fall off. I don't want a computer making those decisions for me. In my professional life, we call this positive guidance. You can tell a person what is going on around them, but you never tell them what to do. Its the difference between a sign saying "Construction Ahead" and a sign saying "Follow Detour." One message gives you information to make the right choices, while the other makes the choices for you.

The most important thing the computer could tell me is to relax and enjoy myself, and remind me to take time to look at the sunset, share some appetizers, and enjoy the company of friends.

Thursday, 2 December 2010

Months late is better than never - maybe?

Seems I did the same thing last year. Strung along a tale of high drama right to the end of the racing season, then left everyone hanging until December to wait for the rest of the story. Well, holding true to tradition, here you go.

Between Hawkestone weekend and the Georgina cup there is a dry spell of 11 days without any real sailing activity. Sure a club race falls in there, but since it would be unfair to SWMBO and the kids to hide for 3 weekends straight, I usually try to make myself useful around the house that weekend. Useful by doing things like studying the season stats and calculating how I can win the season while SWMBO tends gardens and cleans out the gutters.

I had it figured out before going into the Georgina Cup. My choices to win the series were to either take both races with gusto, holding first place and beating Newfie (not a likely scenario) or to play the defensive role and hold up Newfie with whatever tactic would keep him from getting in first place. Or Second. And preferable not third either. Basically match race Newfie, let the fleet pass us both, and finish ahead of him.

Race day came, and so did Newf. He didn't have his usual crew and had friends with him. They were Russian. He was Newfish. I was with Chuck, and Judy was coming to help out. Until I heard she wasn't. Apparently Judy's mother was in hospital, very ill, and so I shouldn't expect her to come.

The wind was strong. Extra crew would be good. I knew I count on Chuck, but I wanted the extra person, especially after our previous experiences in strong winds. Finally I decided that whatever would be would be. Chuck and I would sail hard and beat Newf, let the chips fall where they may.

We lallygagged around the docks making small talk and waiting for a skippers meeting after breakfast. A lot of talk about the previous races and sail choices and tactics. The usual crowd had trickled into the harbour through the night and we saw Icarus and I am Canadian and Second Wind. Everyone was looking forward to good racing in a stiff breeze. Then Judy arrived.

To say I was surprised would not be the right words. I was surprised and elated. I was thrilled to have her, but I also wondered if she should be here. What if her Mom needed her? Where would her mind be? She assured me she was fine and that a break from the drama was needed and appreciated. We sailed off to start the race.

The Mount Gay Rum Georgina Cup is a 2 mile triangle course off Jackson's Point. Every September we get together to race this critical deciding race in the series and every year it delivers something different to the scrabble of boats that arrive. By this time, most of the contenders know who they are, but the host club (Sail Georgina) has some pretty good racers who join in as well. It ends up being a great mix with a pie of boats on the start line. This year's edition brought lots of wind, and 25 boats to the start line. Of the 25 boats we were only racing 6 in our class, and in those 6 the only boat we were really racing was Newfie Screach.

I explained to Judy that there were 2 ways for us to win this race. We both agreed that the start would determine what happened for the rest of the race.

We Circled the start line looking for Newfie. Newfie circled staying clear of us. Newfie went deep in the back of the start box, we cut across the front looking to steal his path. The pennants flew, the horns sounded. The race began.

Newfie & Iris at the start

Newfie Charged for the line, we turned in to join him, turning a little too early, we ended up missing his path, and crossing the start line abreast of him, but far to leeward. We tightened up our spacing in the race to the windward marker. A new boat, a Hinterhoeller Shark joined in our fun, and between the three boats we crossed, recrossed, and wove a trail through the water.

At the windward mark we were ahead of Newfie. Not by much, but by enough for him to be concerned. I tacked over early and we had to fight hard to make the rounding. Dammit. There went my lead.

I pinched up and tried to shoot the mark. The boat bumped the tetrahedral. We would have to do a penalty turn. I watched as newf rounded behind me. Once I had him in my sights I pulled into a spin, and did my penalty turn, coming out of it next to the little Tanzer.

A quick change of strategy, maybe I could hold him up and screw up his race, letting others by. I tried heading him off his course. He kept chugging along, passing us. This plan wasn't working. Switch back to plan A. Sail hard.

We regained some speed as Iris broad reached toward the gybe mark. By the time were there we were in the thick of things with Newfie and the Shark. None of us were more than a boatlength apart, and I knew that with PHRF the 2 other boats were leading me on handicap. I needed a strategy that would buy time on the next leg of the race. In the running leg, everyone worked together and we established a tentative lead on the 2 smaller boats, rounding the start pin barely ahead of both of them.

Rounding the mark

We rounded nicely, hardened the sheets and headed to windward, keeping a close eye on Newfie and the shark. The Shark followed Iris after we rounded the mark, but Newfie didn't. Newf headed up on the port tack while we stayed on starboard. Splitting tacks. According to just about every tactics book I have read since this race, in a close contest, you should never split tacks unless you know you have an advantage over your competition. Newfie heading off on port should have been a strong hint to me that I was headed off on the slower tack. I watched him sail away.

The shark and I fought hard back up to the windward mark, meanwhile Newfie cruised along close to shore. He tacked and I worked out his trajectory to the mark. He would arrive well ahead of us. Dammit. I had lost the race. Now it was just between the Shark and I. I watched Newfie round the pin. I looked back at the shark. I wanted to be up there with Newf. I tacked.

One of the things I have been very good about all season long is not tacking until the pin is lined up at just the right point so that hitting the mark or coming in high isn't an issue. Now for the second time in the same race I pinched up on the mark. I started getting frustrated. Iris shed speed like a snake losing its skin. We went slower and slower as we pinched up on the mark. Finally at the last minute, I shot the mark making it around, but barely moving. In the interim, the Shark had passed me, and Newfie had accelerated toward the finish line.

We worked hard on the final leg of the race, but knew we would never regain our position on Newfie. He ended the race four minutes ahead of us on straight time - five and a half on corrected time. The shark finished four minutes behind us, but because of handicap scoring, they beat us as well, but only by about 20 seconds.

Our fate was sealed. Iris had secured a second place finish to the season regardless of the results of the final race. We went to the post race party secure in our position and happy to be second, but wishing we had done better.

The party was great, despite a little rain. We ate well, and Chuck and I both won door prizes - a Ronstan Sailing Jacket for her, and a $25 gift certificate for me. At the end of the night we went back to the boat exhausted, and slept well, eager for our last race of the season in the morning.

Ma! Ma!

Stuck! Stuck!

That'll teach him to climb on the counters!!

Wednesday, 1 December 2010


Showing us where their 'babies' are.... since both are expecting new siblings shortly, Sweet Pea around Christmas, and Buddy at the end of January:

Look at Auntie!!

No, look at Mommy!

No, Buddy, you look at Mommy, Sweetpea, you look at Auntie!!! (can you tell where my Sis-in-Law is sitting by where they're looking?)