|Duluth Yacht Club burgee|
I have never been one to place a lot of emphasis on celebrating my own birthday. I mean, I appreciate it when people wish me ‘happy birthday’ and I certainly wouldn’t turn down ‘free cake and ice cream for the birthday girl’ at those fun family restaurants that do that sort of thing. But as for planning some special, unusual birthday event, that has never seemed especially important to me. When my birthday fell on a race day, as it did that year, there was certainly nothing, in my estimation, that would have been more special for my birthday than to race as usual. As it turned out, this was to become, for me, the most outstanding birthday ever!
|Sunset in the Apostle Islands|
|Grand Marais, MN Coast Guard station|
|Moose cow grazing on Isle Royale|
|SweetWater comes to Lake Superior.|
My husband and I genuinely loved to have new people sail with us, especially ones that had never been on a sailboat before. I helped the newcomers get fitted with life jackets from SweetWater's ample supply and then oriented them to the sailboat;
"Bow" - the pointy end on the front of the boat;
"Stern" - the opposite end of the boat behind the guy (otherwise referred to as the Cap'n) at the
"Helm" - where someone stands to steer the boat;
"Port" - the side of the boat that would be on one's left IF that person were standing at the helm and facing the bow of the boat;
"Starboard" (pro. 'star'burd')- the side of the boat that would be to one's right IF standing at the helm and facing the bow of the boat.
"Mast" - the tall stick. Look up, you can't miss it. (Sailors sometimes do refer to masts as "sticks." It's kind of a "cool" thing to do, If you want to feel nautical, try it out. Sounds authoritative.)
"Tack" - the process of an upwind sailing boat to change her course which includes moving her mains'l and headsail to the opposite side of the boat. This causes the boat's high side (windward side) to become the new low side (leeward side, pronounced "lew'erd") and vice versa.
"Jibe" - the process of a downwind sailing boat to alter it's downwind course by having the mains'l and headsail move to the opposite side of the boat. Unlike the tack, which causes a dramatic change in the angle of the heel, the jibe does not because the boat is moving downwind. If that sounds confusing, I am sorry, but that is just the way it is. A boat sailing downwind rides fairly level on the surface of the water.
"Heel" - the sailboat leaning over with the force of the wind, see "tack" above.
"Boom" - the long horizontal pole that holds the foot of the mains'l and which should under no circumstances have an uncontrolled, unexpected change of its' position.
"Accidental jibe" - an extremely undesirable event that could seriously damage the boat, not to mention alter the life of any crew member whose head or other unfortunate body part made unexpected contact with the boom sweeping across the boat. I was usually the one to educate new crew on details such as to where to stand or sit so as to not get struck by it, nor to get
"Thwhapped" (<--technical term coined by our boat that I have been hoping catches on, so far no luck) by the sails; nor tangled in the
"Sheets" - the lines that control the headsail; nor inadvertently sit or stand on lines that would be expected to move rapidly across the deck thereby producing the proverbial
"Butt Cleat" - one way of preventing a line from moving freely across the deck and thereby inhibiting its' performance as intended.
|Mast of our sailboat going under the Aerial Lift Bridge|
"STAY ON THE BOAT" <-- self-explanatory.
My husband, the Cap'n of our vessel offered his standard contribution to the orientation of the new crew. He would ask alarming questions like, "Do you think the mast will fit under the lift bridge?" as the boat was heading under the partially raised bridge. And always, ALWAYS he told new crew that as the boat passes under the lift bridge and through the canal leading out to the lake that they are required to "Wave to the tourists from Iowa." My dear husband holds an inexplicably strong belief that tourists in Duluth ALWAYS came from Iowa (not Wisconsin, or southern MN, or Chicago, but Iowa) and the new crew was told "You are now starring in the photos and home videos of the tourists from Iowa." The regular crew never seemed to tire of this routine by our Captain; or at least never let on that they did. Our crew was nothing if not astute when it came to appreciation of who owned the boat they were riding on. Loyalty ran high on SweetWater and was always greatly appreciated by both my husband and me. The final bit of orientation by the Captain was that the new crew's job was to be rail meat.
"Rail meat" - term used to describe the crew members who position themselves on the high side (windward) of the boat, even hanging their legs over that side in order to most effectively counter the effect of a strong wind on the sails, which sometimes produces a dramatic heel to leeward. "Rail meat" is a real job. However, on SweetWater, this job was sometimes referred to as "Rail Brie" given our aforementioned determination to be the boat that would never be known to have light beer onboard. Truthfully the term never really "took" but the urge to make it work was slow to die. Were we snobs of a sort? Probably.
|DYC racing boats heading out onto Lake Superior|
|Beyond this photo, dark cloud bank|
The wind built rapidly over the next few minutes. The waves were being blown toward shore from the east, producing a fair bit of chop. Even before the start of our Jib & Main class race, we could see the dark, angry looking cloud bank moving purposefully now over the lake and coming toward us from the northeast—an impressively compact rain-making storm system. No doubt there would be significant wind and certainly rain as well. “Might as well get the foulies on before the race starts”
|Time to put on foul weather gear|
|Me crouched in cockpit|
|The rest of the DYC fleet, resuming their race|
|My favorite, carrot cake|
My clever husband had tucked the cake away somewhere safely where amazingly enough, it rode out the storm quite nicely. The crew sang “Happy Birthday” and that, ladies and gentlemen, is how my most outstanding birthday was born. Later I asked our new teenaged crew member for the camera. I smiled. He had not taken any pictures. He had been busy hanging onto the boat, for dear life, no doubt. But I saw thegrinning. I suspect he's grinning still.
|Best birthday EVER!|