Friday, December 17, 2010

Nautical things to do in the cold

As I sat in last night enjoying my hot buttered rum and White Christmas (it isn't Christmas unless Bing Crosby is dancing with Danny *frickin* Kaye) leafing through volumes of Chapelle and huge sheets of drawings spread over my coffee table, when I suddenly thought - this CAN'T be it - there must be something a little more nautical and hands-on that I could do to get out and away from the books if I wanted to. Not that I'm uncomfortable, but there is a certain part of me that definitely doesn't like sheltering inside.

So after using time thinking about this prospect to help me procrastinate on my other work (as usual) I came up with several options for those of you who want to get out to the water this winter.

Obviously, you have the polar bear clubs. I've done this several times, but the only one I regret was the time I went a$$ over teakettle into New York Harbor in March. It wasn't about the cold - it was about the East River Whitefish and the dead bodies. *shudder*. Shifting back to the original subject, some of these are a good time and are set up to support some very good causes.

Of course for those who live in colder climes where large waterways freeze over, you have the option for some additional fun. Where I'm from in Upstate NY you have several options for winter playtime on the ice. First, you have the classic sport of ice fishing. Never underestimate the recreational value of walking out onto the ice - way out in some cases - cutting a hole through the ice, then sitting around it barbecuing while you drop your line. Some days you'd be amazed what can emerge from that tiny bore.

Another great ice-top past time is ice boating. These racehorses are a long way off from the days when mariners strapped blades to the hulls of their summer boats - it's now a fully-developed sport on its own. And for those who love going fast under sail, I don't think you can beat this for speed. In fact, check out this short video from the Netherlands - some of those cool little gaff riggers appear in Chapman's Navalis Mercatoria (see "what I'm reading" on the right) - 18th century! Now THAT'S what we need! We could use it for about one day a year on the one tiny ice flow that might pop up in Hampton Roads, but the coolness factor is so high that it all balances out.

At any rate, I hope everyone gets a chance to go play outside and enjoy whatever aspect of the winter climate in their area that you're able!


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