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"There is nothing like returning to a place that has remained unchanged to find the ways in which you yourself have. " -- Nelson Mandela
|Episode 44: Gentlemen, Stop Your Engones|
@ Where`s Cherie?
Aug 05 2002 - 21:45 PST
|cherie writes: October 30|
Gentlemen-stop your engines. Today at 10:50 we stopped our engines, jockeyed for position (kind of) with a 110 other boats and set sail for the Baja Haha race. Note: if we win, it was a race. If we lose, it was just for fun.
For starters, let me introduce the boat and crew. 'Mistress' is a 53 ft Swan (hull #5) built in 1987 in Finland. She's worth about a million bucks and is a mixture between a performance boat and a luxury boat. Luxury is defined as having a whole bunch of 'acronym features' like HAM, SSB, GPS and VHF.
Let me take this opportunity to introduce Mistress's crew of 7.
Tom's not ashamed to say that his boat is his first (and only) 'Mistress.' He's had his 'Mistress' for two years, and his wife even knows about her. In fact his wife came down and stepped on her today, as most wives would probably like to do to their husband's mistresses. Tom is quite the family man, with 6 siblings, 3 kids and one wife. Tom used to be the Vice-President of Qualcomm's engineering department, which means he has lots of cool gadgets aboard the boat. Tom's favorite boat doohickey is a $9 'throwable device' which doubles as a football game seat cushion. It's worth 3 bucks max, but they charge another 6 bones to print 'Coast Guard Approved' on it. We do the same thing in 'the real world' when we pay three times as much for our jeans to say 'Calvin Klein.'
Tom is retired and for 'fun' he starts other companies. His biggest pet peeve is when people don't come through on their word. His favorite vegetable is asparagus, and least favorite vegetable is a beet.
Ray is Tom's brother, and he says he is 'just crew' on the boat. That's okay, I got the inside scoop he's another 'part-owner' of 'Mistress'. Ray notes his biggest accomplishment in life as 'getting along with Tom.' But Ray is 54 years young, so he's got a lot of life left in him.
Ray is a guy who is very secure with his masculinity. He has to be--he walks around all day with a hat that says 'Mount Gay.' Ray is a pilot in the air, a captain by sea, and a marathon-runner by land. He has a wife and two kids, which mean he never gets to be 'right.' His favorite fish is tuna and the country he'd most like to visit is Australia.
Scott is another ex-Qualcomm employee. He is 32 years old and unemployed by choice (so he says.) In Scott's last position he was the CEO of Dashbit, a company that did technical internet stuff. He's a simple man who likes a good hydraulic wench. His favorite boat gadget is the 'swivel' stove that rocks to keep a level-cooking surface even in the most disturbed waters.
Scott's dream is to own a bigger boat than Tom's 'Mistress' and sail around the world with a dozen Playboy Playmates (one for each month). Then he wants to go to Russia, fly a Mig 21, and then blast off into space and kick back on the Space Station for a month. I think Scott should be a little more specific when he dreams. Scott's favorite ethnic cuisine is 'French fries' and he speaks 4 foreign languages: C, Pascal, Fortran, and Cobol.
Joe is the 4th crewmember. He actually still works at Qualcomm, which means he has a large growth on his ear that looks like a cell phone. He's an ex-Navy guy who speaks a little Japanese. We get along well because I also speak sushi. He gets a thumbs-up in my book since brought a hammock, wasabi and good coffee aboard. He is 42, married and has two kids. His dream is to buy a boat, sail through the Greek Islands, trade stocks during the day, and spearfish at night.
Dustin Ezra Fox (that's his real name) is the only guy on this boat that is being paid to be crew. That means he gets to do all the 'fun' stuff like climb up the mast (which is 72 feet off the deck.) Dustin has been sailing for 11 years and claims he is 'better than Ezra.' His favorite boat gadget is the coffee grinder, and he makes a great Margarita. He also caught the first fish of the trip. It was a 'Skip Jack.' Actually, it still is a Skip Jack, since Dustin threw it back.
Jean has been my best friend since grade 4 when she was assigned to 'show me around' Cox Elementary School. Yes, our grammar school was called Cox. She likes salt bagels and Dustin's Margaritas. Her least favorite food is zucchini. Her favorite male body part is the kneecap (I guess Dustin must have nice ones, since Dustin is her boyfriend. Did I mention Dustin is 21 years old? Nice job Jean!) Her dream-come-true is to captain a sailing boat and swim with a whale. (Since a lot of the boating-community (NOT ANYONE ON OUR BOAT) is over-weight, she might be swimming with whales sooner than she thought.)
I'm the last one I need to introduce and my name is Cherie. About 3 years ago I came down with the Amelia Earhart Complex. The complex is simply defined as the sudden need to get on a plane and just disappear. I used to manage a used-car dealership in Los Angeles (forward any bad jokes along with the Mistress jokes.) I left the corporate world of short attention spans, fast food, racy cars and quick men. My dream was to travel through 30 countries before I turned 30 years old. I reached that goal in May 2001. I turned 30 in June and now I am looking forward to either growing up, or having a mid-life crisis. My favorite food is Lebanese and I hate mushrooms.
Some of you may be wondering how I managed to get on the Mistress since I have very little ocean sailing experience. I am the unofficial Mistress 'fehc.' That is 'chef' backwards, because I can't cook. But since I have been aboard, I have found I can do other helpful things like NOT find the switch that Tom tells me to turn on that is well labeled and staring me directly in the face. Somehow boat switches have the power to remain completely invisible to me until the very person who described their exact location points them out.
Thus, Jean and I are the cooks, which means everything is homemade (by someone) and packed in shrink-wrapped Costco packaging. Jean is doing all of the menu planning, since my idea for the first '11:00am snack' was 'champagne and Reese's Peanut-Butter Cups.' No one liked my idea. But I have other ideas in waiting. It may be worthy of notation that it only took me 7 hours to figure out how to get out of cooking dinner. 'I feel sea-sick,' works like a charm.
Jean brought out the first snack of veggies (who eats those?) and chips to the hard-working crew. Tom was aghast when he looked at the chips! 'Hey, these chips are 50% less fat!' He said anticipating their reduced flavor.
'That's O.K.' Jean consoled him, 'Just eat twice as many.'
My scariest moment of the day was when Tom woke me from my deck nap up by shouting, 'Is that a shark?' It was a Sunfish. But my goal is to win the race and catch a shark along the way. I think if we get a lot a little stronger test (fishing line for non-anglers) we can manage it.
It took me less than two hours to get behind the helm and do my part to steer the Mistress to victory. After 45 minutes, I removed myself from duty. I would like to offer my finely tuned steering services for anyone who would like to have a future boat barf-a-thon.
The Baja Haha race is about 900 Nautical Miles. Another thing about sailing people (and I am a member of this community) is that they rename everything on a boat so no one else knows what they are talking about. Most of us aren't sure what a 'Nautical Mile' is so we feel stupid. Is it more than a real mile, or less than a real mile? (A nautical mile is 1.15 actual miles.) Nothing is simple in the sailing world. If someone says, 'grab the main sheet,' they don't mean take the sheet off the King size bed. (Note: as nice as the Mistress is, there are no King size beds on the Mistress.)
Sailors have created their own sailing language. Ropes are not ropes--they are lines. Right is starboard, left is port. The bathroom is the head, and pulleys are blocks. Even a hammer isn't a hammer. Once onboard, a hammer is an adapter.
For all their technical terms and fancy gadgets, sailors certainly have outdated clothes. People who sail are about 15 years behind the rest of the world in fashion apparel. In other words, they still think the 80's Topsiders are still 'in'. For the race, Tom and Ray had hats, T-shirts, and Polos made for the entire crew. Of course, I've never been so happy to have my clothing embroidered with the word 'Mistress.' Even better is that the boat number is stitched into the fabric with big block red numbers: the number begins with 69, somehow appropriate for a boat named 'Mistress.'
But having a boat named 'Mistress' (and I think I will get in trouble for calling her a boat because I am sure she is named something else) opens the floodgate for an entire slew of bad 'Mistress' jokes. Most notable so far is: 'Have you ever come onboard a Mistress before?' I encourage you to create your own Mistress sailing jokes, and send them my way.
It's hard to judge a sailor, unless you're out at sea. Many sailors have the ability to look really cool in the harbor, and when they set out to sea they just flip on the autopilot and eat tamales. That was our plan except that our 'auto pilot' didn't work. Then the crew on our boat did something I would have NEVER thought to do. They, in this urgent moment, got out the 'Autopilot manual' and actually read it. Sadly, this didn't work, so we called (on the very cool Globalstar satellite phone) the Autopilot tech support.
Have you ever seen that piece of mystery machinery that is in every guy's garage that doesn't work, hasn't ever worked, and will never work? But, every weekend the guy 'works on it' anyway sure it will be fixed 'very soon.' This is what the Mistress looked like out at sea on October 30th--an unrecognizable piece of garage machinery that threw up its parts all over itself. Of course, this didn't matter because we were 'sailing', and not using the engine anyway.
To make a short story long, we never fixed the autopilot, meaning we had to manually steer 'Mistress' into the blackness of the Mexican Sea. (Okay, so it was the Pacific Ocean, but 'Mexican Sea' sounds cooler.)
Then we had to set up 'night-watches' where we broke up into groups of three and had three hours on, and three hours off. When you are on a night watch you watch the night to make sure you don't hit any icebergs or other boats. In other words, this means you don't get to sleep, except in fragments. We counted the flying fish by day, and the falling stars by night.
In my new 'night-watch' job, I learned how to excel at tasks like singeing the tiny hairs on the back of my hand by spilling coffee on them while slipping on a wet deck lurching about in 20 knot winds (They can't say miles per hour, no, that would be too easy. How fast is a knot anyway?)
When you go to sleep you have to harness yourself into your bed so you don't fly all over the boat. And even when you strap yourself in, you aren't completely safe, as I learned as my entire bed became disconnected from the wall. (Perhaps this is just another hint that I need to lose some weight.)
Stay tuned as the Mistress tries to pull into the lead for Halloween.
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