Greasy calm, greasy luck

The whalers had a term for a ship filled with whale oil — greasy luck — and if you think for a second about the conditions on a fully burdened whaler, a floating platform for rendering or “trying” whale blubber into oil, the smell, the slick deck planks, the lack of showers … you’d consider yourself lucky not to be aboard.
Sailors have a term for calm seas, so calm that the water appear covered with a sheen of oil that flatters the slightest ripple or catspaw — greasy calm. This morning was a greasy calm morning, grey skies, fog, and the prospects of a long tedious race to Popponesset for the annual picnic at the Lloyds, so I skipped it to blog, work through some paperwork, configure a new laptop (legally we are supposed to only refer to them as “notebooks”) and muck around in the garages. Definitely too greasy and too grey a July Saturday to get excited about sailing or the beach, but not foul enough to cocoon in front of the Tour de France individual time trial.

Yesterday’s 1/2-day-burnout-prevention cure worked wonders. It helps that the decision was made to turn off the air conditioning in our North Carolina headquarters at noon on every Friday, in the hope it would drive workaholics out to the golf courses and beaches a little earlier. Some grumble about having to work from home, but yesterday I pulled the plug, fired up the mower, trimmed the grass, and pressed my eldest into sailing the Senior Series with me as crew. There were no regrets about missed mail.
He did pretty good, beating five out of 13 boats and I realized I haven’t lost my touch as far as race starts go, able to now talk someone through the count-down like I was driving a radio controlled boat.

Author: David Churbuck

Cape Codder with an itch to write

0 thoughts on “Greasy calm, greasy luck”

  1. Interesting nautical triva concerning whaling days and an oil economy of a different sort.

    Now your last paragraph on sailing race starts really piqued my interest. Everyone understands the idea behind a standing start with powered races – when the signal is given, hammer the throttle. But, with sailing, what are the high points of the launch technique? I’m envisioning the sail rigged and allowed slack to flap without moving the boat, and then you haul the rope to tighten it to launch? On vacations from time to time, I’ve fooled around on small boats, and so much time passes between each session that I need new instruction on the various ways to come about without flipping the boat.

    Tell us landlubers more about it…

  2. I’ll never forget our double breakdown in the Laser club championships, when your mast step tore through the deck & both of my blocks snapped off the boom @ the starting gun. We were both match fit from spring rowing & the wind was howling.

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