In the continuing saga of my Duck Dodge experiences, last night I had the chance to crew on my first boat. I use this term relatively loosely, as there were about 20 people total aboard, however, I was one of the handful who actually worked, and wasn't just along merely for the ride.
A friend's boss co-owns a 40 foot sailboat "Beluga", and we all arrived at Queen City Yacht Club (for you Seattle newbies, before the Chamber Of Commerce went all gaga on us in the late '80's and started referring to Seattle as "The Emerald City", for most of the 20th century the city had the monniker, "The Queen City" -- albeit the origin of this seems to be somewhat shrouded in mystery) at around 6:00 p.m. dressed in our finest formal wear, as the theme this week was "Prom Night".
After a leisurely motor through Portage Bay and into Lake Union, we hoisted sail and did a bit of simple maneouvering to get those of us more interested in racing than drinking (although, this being Duck Dodge, this was no crew of teetotalers), used to the skipper's commands and the characteristics of the boat itself. I was assigned the position of Starboard Jib Grinder, which essentially means I was responsible for winding the windlass on the right side of the cockpit, which controls the tension of the jib (forward) sail on the boat. In racing, even an informal one like this, it's not a particularly glamorous position as it entails actually doing physical labor. Still, it's a good location to observe both how the skipper handles the boat in general, as well as how the sails are adjusted for maximum performance.
Unfortunately, we didn't get a very good start, being somewhat behind the main pack of boats, and although we did manage to gain on and overtake several, ultimately our size worked against us in the light air, as did the fact that we were somewhat overloaded with extra weight. Still, even though we finished fifth overall, we did manage to snag the coveted "Black Duck" for having the most people in costume. The awards for placing in Duck Dodge heats are a small duck decal, which most skippers apply to either their masts or to their aft transom (in case you've been out on the water and wondered why that boat had all those little ducky decals on it, well now you know). However, this particular skipper has a different tradition; since the majority of his "crew" consists of his employees, instead of taking the full credit by applying the Duck to his boat, he takes them into his office, where they are framed and put on display as a reminder to everyone that winning it required a team effort, and thus everyone gets to share in the sense of accomplishment.
Sounds like the kind of guy I'd like to work for.
on 1:11 PM