Tuesday, February 25, 2014

It Should Have Been Easy!

Yesterday I decided to finally throw off some of my old ways and move into the modern era with a smart phone. I have not bought a new phone since I had to replace my phone with a new flip phone four years ago after the old flip phone fell into the cats water dish on the boat. And since I did not use my phone much, I went with a basic voice plan. Since then, I have found myself doing some texting(extra cost) and longing to have a way of accessing the Internet and email without carrying the net book and finding a WI FI hotspot.

Last week at Costco, while I was waiting for the new tires to be mounted on the Mustang, I went into the Mobile Phone Kiosk and talked to the staff there. They briefed me on the various plans and what phones were the best deals at the time. The upgraded data plans were a lot cheaper than I thought they would be and a massive at checkout rebate was being offered on the phones.

Yesterday I went in and started the process. The salesman brought up my information on the computer. After reviewing the data, he says "Oh, it says here that you got a new phone last year and you are not eligible for an up grade until next year".  I immediately knew what happened. Last August, my phone bill came in VERY high. A little research and it looked like someone had bought some equipment on my account. Furthermore, my address got changed to Cleveland Ohio. I called the cell phone provider and reported the fraudulent charges and after a couple of hours on the phone got them reversed. So. I left Costco, drove home and got on the phone to the cell phone people. Conversation went like this:

Tech: Yes, we agree with what you are saying and we did reverse the charges, but for some reason it still says that you bought and Iphone5 in August and that became the upgrade date.

Me: Can you fix that so I can upgrade to a new phone?

Tech: Yes, give me a couple minutes.

Tech: OK, I fixed the upgrade date to today.

Me: Good, so now I can go buy my new phone as an upgrade?

Tech: Yes!

So I went back to Costco and started getting set up for a new phone. This time the salesman stops and says "I have never seen this before". He tells me that in my records that a flag has popped up requesting that additional proof of identity and address has to be faxed in before they can approve a phone upgrade: drivers license and utility bill, vehicle registration(from Washington State) or some other documentation that I cannot remember. So now, I walk out to the car get the registration and he faxes the info to the provider. After a few minutes, the flag is removed and we completed the sale of the phone.

I think I will like my new smart phone(it is smarter than I am) and it will surely take me a while to start realizing it's potential. But it literally took most of the day to get this completed. It should have been easy!

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Port Madison Jim DePue Memorial Race-WSSA #1-Persistence Pays

The Jim DePue Memorial is the first race of the seven race West Sound Sailing Association (WSSA) series. It is a 16.5NM race run in the waters of Puget Sound, starting at Point Monroe and sponsored by Port Madison yacht club. All week before the race, the predicted wind were reported to be light. Furthermore, as the weekend drew near, the weather forecast started predicting a chance of snow. The prediction was pretty close as we saw winds up to 5-6 knots for a while after the start with overcast skies and a light soaking rain that lasted throughout the day.

The winds at the start was blowing out of the north. We got a good start in the middle of the line on starboard. It was not long before we tacked to port and our heading was straight toward the weather mark. Three quarters of the way to the first mark, the wind shifted suddenly to the NE. We tacked and by now had overstood the mark a little bit and two boats rounded just ahead of us.

After rounding the mark, we sailed for a while close reaching with the jib. The wind lifted and we were finally able to set the spinnaker. We talked about heading high to get across the sound before the ebb current started flowing stronger, but the wind stayed steady and we were headed to the second mark at West Pt. We passed the two boats ahead(actually three, one was a cruising division boat) before the wind died and started coming ahead. Down with the spinnaker and up with the jib and we were close reaching on starboard with a light SW wind. We drew away from the boats behind and slowly made up ground on another boat that had passed us.

As we started closing on West Pt, the wind died entirely and the current swept us back to the north. A few boats from behind worked to the east and avoided the current and found a little breeze along the shore. We finally got some light south wind and sailed close hauled toward the east shore. By now we had slipped to at least fourth. We worked the beach north of West Pt and sailed close to the land where we obtained great current relief. The committee boat moved to just off the tip of West Pt to shorten the course. Our last tack took us very close to the beach at West Pt and when we tacked to port, we were inside of the boat just ahead of us. And two of the leaders were now on starboard trying to sail up to the finish against the current. We sailed close to the stern of the committee boat and tacked across the finish line in first place easily in front of the starboard tack boat. The boat just ahead of and below us went behind the starboard boat and lost more than the time that we owed them. The cruising class boat finished ahead of us, but as time after finishing got longer before other boats finished, it looks like we corrected to first in the PHRF Division 1. And if my times are correct, I think we probably corrected ahead of the PHRF Division 2 that finished behind us. Results when they are posted can be found here: Jim Depue Memorial Race Results

It was a fun day for a race: cold, rainy, no wind. But the crew worked well and we had a "never give up" attitude that carried us through to a good finish. Thanks to the crew of Jim and Tim for all their hard work.

Following the race, there was a social event at Port Madison Yacht Club. I did not attend(my Social circle is limited), but I did sit down with some of the sailors for some nachos at the Deli at Brownsville Marina and dissected the race

Jim trimming the spinnaker on the second leg of the race.

Our track for the day. If you look at the track in Shilshole Bay, you will see a big "S" where we were swept north by the ebbing current.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Bicycle Ride Around Tacoma

I like bicycle riding. I feel good when I ride and my mind is a lot clearer when I ride a lot of miles a week. But for some reason, I have been in a funk and have not spent much time riding lately. Maybe it has been the inclement weather. So it was a surprise this morning that the sun was out. I started planning for a longer ride today and I wanted to go somewhere that I don't normally go. First I thought about taking the mountain bike to some of the trails systems away from home. But then I decided to pack up the road bike and head to Gig Harbor where I could hook up with the Cushman Trail, ride across the Narrows Bridge and access the Scott Pierson trail system. I had a reason for riding the Scott Pierson trail(described later).

I got to the Wollochet park and ride at Gig Harbor and on the bike by 1100. I had a pleasant ride to the Narrows Bridge, but there the wind was really blowing. Across the bridge, I crossed Bridgeport Way and started riding the Scott Pierson Trail. This trail parallels SR 16 so it is quite noisy and crosses many city streets where the only way across is to cross in a cross walk and act like a pedestrian.

At 9.7 miles from Gig Harbor, the trail ended abruptly on South 25 ST in a quiet neighborhood. The streets were wide without much traffic. So like Forrest Gump, I decided to continue riding farther and headed east. I continued downhill toward the downtown area and ended up on Pacific Ave. I portaged across the sky bridge to the Glass Museum and onto Dock Street. I rode north on Dock Street and eventually onto Ruston Way. 

Ruston Way heads north toward Pt Defiance and the last time I rode there, the street ended near the old tunnel. Now it bypasses the tunnel and continues on up the hill to Pearl Street and the entrance to Pt Defiance Park. I thought about just continuing back to the Narrows Bridge, but at the park entrance, I thought "maybe I will just ride a bit farther around the point". So I rode the "Five Mile Loop" around the park, exited at the back side and found my way back to the Narrows Bridge. Across the bridge and three more miles on the Cushman Trail and I was back to the car after 31 miles.

This was a good ride. The wind made for some tiring riding while heading into it, but the day stayed clear with no rain. I was not impressed with the Scott Pierson trail, but I was able to reconfirm some of the routes that I have done before (Ruston Way, Pt Defiance Park) and found ways to link them together. 
 The Narrows Bridges
 The pedestrian/cycling route across the bridge.
 This is the main reason for trying the Scott Pierson trail. A couple of weeks ago on another site, someone showed a picture of this tunnel, said that it was on this trail, but did not say where. Furthermore they said that most people would probably not see this. Hmmm! It was not where I thought it would be, but I found where it passed under S 19th Street near Cheney Stadium. Kind of hard to miss.
 An old Tacoma Fire Dept. fireboat along Ruston Way.
 It is only five miles around Pt Defiance.
 Looking toward the entrance of Gig Harbor.

Progressive International Motorcycle Show

Saturday I went to Seattle to go to Progressive International Motorcycle Show at the Washington Convention Center. I caught the 0845 ferry and after a brisk 20 minute walk up hill to the Convention Center. I arrived about 5 minutes after the 1000 opening time. Each year that I have gone to this show, the entrance procedure is different. This year they again moved the entry gates and a long line extended through a narrow hallway for about 100 yards. It went quickly and soon I was on the show floor.

This show is mainly for manufacturers to show their new motorcycle lines, equipment and apparel. As always, there were many vendors trying to clean your glasses with their anti fog coating and numerous booths that could heal your sore feet or achy back. As always, there was also displays of custom bikes that could be voted for best in show as well as a corral of  restored and custom motorcycles.

I toured the displays and looked at the new motorcycles. I was disappointed that the Ural and Eric Buell Racing motorcycles were not shown. Both have local dealers. Before heading out, I attended a interview session with Scott Russell, a champion motorcycle road racer.

When I left the convention center, it was pouring rain. I headed downhill through Pike Place Market to the waterfront and after a stop for lunch at Ivars, I caught the 1500 ferry home.
 Nitro methane fueled drag bike. The rider cranks the throttle wide open at the start and does not let off for the entire run or it could blow up. When the throttle hits wide open, a switch activates the computer that engages the clutch, the bike launches and the driver hangs on! If I remember correctly, it has ET's in the low 6 second range and a top speed at a quarter mile of around 200 mph.
 Allstate Insurance had this Arlen Ness customized Victory motorcycle.
 This is a working replica of Bert Munro's Indian Motorcycle that he raced at Bonneville in the early 1960's. His story was portrayed in the movie "The Worlds Fastest Indian".
 It is tight squeeze to get in this thing. And for accuracy, this bike had a wine bottle cork for a gas cap.
 How appropriate, a Seahawks Motorcycle!
 The ultimate cruiser, with a 502 CI Chevy V8.
 I was surprised to see Royal Enfields from India. There is a new dealer in town.
 There seemed to be a lot more people than previous years.
On the way back to the ferry, I took the compulsory side trip to Post Alley and the Gum Wall. 

Monday, February 10, 2014

The Big Chill-Toliva Shoal(not Shoals) Race

It is February and once again the crazy sailors are released from the asylums and they make there way south to Olympia for the Toliva Shoal Race. This is the third race in the four race South Sound Series. It is a 37.4 NM distance race from Olympia to the Toliva Shoal buoy and return through Balch Pass and other narrow passages. Even though it is still winter, this race has a reputation for light winds and shortened courses. I enjoy this race even with sometimes cold, wet, windless conditions. I must be one of the crazy sailors!

My race started on Friday morning when I got underway for Olympia. It was 23 degrees before the sun rose and the decks were slick with frost. The currents through the Narrows were going to become favorable around 0800 and remain favorable the rest of the way to Olympia. I got underway at 0400 from Brownsville. I had to break ice to get out of the marina. I had slack current through Rich Passage. As always happens, the north flowing current in Colvos Pass slowed my progress to the Narrows. At the Narrows, the favorable current helped boost my speed and lasted through Balch Pass and past Dofflemeyer Point at the exit to Dana Pass. I arrived at Percival Landing in downtown Olympia at 1135 where I again had to break ice to get to the dock.

That night Olympia Yacht Club hosted a pre race party and dinner of prime rib with several veggies and salads. After a quiet night on the boat, I again went to the Olympia Yacht Club for their hardy breakfast. After the crew arrived, we talked weather. All week I had monitor various weather models that indicated light winds less than five knots. But when the crew gave me the most recent weather briefing, things had changed and winds were predicted to be as high as 18 knots all day. Sail selection decision time!

We got to the starting area just as the winds started to fill in. Soon it was blowing 10 knots. Time for the Heavy No. 1 jib. We got a good start in the middle of the line. Even though the far end was favored, I elected to let everyone crowd that end, we had clean air. The wind was somewhat NE and we carried one tack down the west shore of Budd Inlet. Whenever we thought of tacking, the wind would lift and increase. We gained on many of the boats in our class, but Tantivy and Absolutely gained some on us. 

We had a great beat out Dana Pass with now favorable current and rounded Johnson Point for the reach to the Number 3 marker. The wind was too far forward for us to set a spinnaker until we were about halfway to the marker. Rounding the marker, we again were close hauled on one long tack to Ketron Island where we tacked several more times until we rounded the Toliva Shoal buoy. By now, the wind had increased to about 18 knots.

We rounded the buoy and set the spinnaker for the reach toward Balch Pass where the current would still be ebbing. We could see several of the boats ahead of us struggling to get through Balch Pass, so we worked left away from the McNeil Island wind shadow. We gained on Absolutely and reached through the pass. A couple of boats went too close to McNeil island and were stuck for a while.

We had a great run down Drayton Pass where we were seeing speeds to nearly 10 knots. But again approaching Devils Head, we could see some boats struggling in the wind shadow. We also could see some well sailed boats head more toward the south away from Devils Head. We chose this tactic and again gained some on Absolutely. We took the spinnaker down and reached toward Johnson Point where again we set the spinnaker for the run down Dana Pass. In Dana Pass, the wind rose some and we observed velocities of 25 knots on the instruments(if you can believe them!).  We stayed to the left to try to avoid adverse current and saw speeds of over 10 knots. One last jibe at Dofflemeyer Point, a reach up Budd Inlet and we finished at 1629 in third place in our class.

We got to the Percival Landing dock at 1700 as it was starting to snow. After cleaning up the boat, I was underway at 1730 to deliver the boat home. Dulcinea traveled with me and after enduring white out conditions, head winds, adverse current and  a tug/barge/logboom, we found our way back to Brownsville by 0130 Sunday morning to find the docks covered in 2 inches of snow. Actually, the delivery home with air temperatures at the freezing point was still warmer than the delivery to Olympia on friday.

It was a great weekend for a race. The temperatures during the race were not too cold and the winds were pretty consistant. Thanks to my crew of Tom, Jim, Walter, Tim and Rainer for working hard at keeping us heading in the right direction. And thanks to Olympia Yacht Club for the great hospitality.

Results can be found here: Toliva Shoal Race Results

And the race website with reports and links to photos: South Sound Series
Mt Ranier looming over Tacoma early Friday morning.
The Tacoma Narrows bridges.
Tom trimming the spinnaker on the reach to the Nisqually Reach Buoy No. 3
Boats behind in the Nisqually Reach.
 Rainer trimming the spinnaker on the run down Drayton Passage.
 It was snowing hard when I left Olympia and it did not take long for the snow to accumulate on the decks. The visibility was very limited for about half of the trip home and I had to rely on the chart plotter for the courses to steer. 
Our track for the day. We beat out through Dana Pass, reached to the Number 3 buoy, beat to the Toliva Shoal buoy and had a great reach and run back to the finish at Olympia Shoal.