I am never. getting off. the dock.

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Let me preface this entire entry by saying: Normally, I’m actually pretty decent with rigging. I’m not an expert or anything, but when I started rowing, setting up boats was just something that I found to be a fairly peaceful activity, so I actually like doing it. (which I know some rowers will find sad & wrong)
As time went on and I was running a team and rowing a single, need and my own natural pickiness regarding having things just so would lead to me pestering several coaches into teaching me what I wanted to know. At one point, Z handed his copy of The Nuts & Bolts Guide to Rigging.

Looking back, I suspect he gave it to me so that I left him alone before he threw it at my head — just because I insisted I could feel that the oars weren’t set evenly & it turns out they were off by .3 does not mean I’m crazy. It means I’m precise, so there’s no reason to ask if I’m the Princess & the Pea like it might be a bad thing, it means that I now know how to change out handles & set even lengths on oars, and I think that’s a good thing.

…right? Right. Totally!

Note: For the record, I gave Z his book back, because I’d gone to Amazon & ordered my own in case I wanted to be able to take notes.

The point being that rigging a boat & doing wiring — normally these things & I are, if not Great Friends, then at the very least, Fairly Amicable Acquaintances.

Sadly for me, the following story is not normal.

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Saturday. The day I thought I had it figured out.

So for those of you that actually read my blog entries that have #rowing in the header:
first off – thanks for putting up with me
second, you probably know that with my new boat, there’s been a slight… struggle with setting up my wiring.
(“struggle” : trans. MTV called from the 90’s, they’d like to know if I would participate in Claris vs Boat wiring as a Celebrity Death Match.)

Thus far this process has involved discovering that my wiring set didn’t have a magnet on the seat (my fault for not checking & assuming it’d be there), switching out the original wiring that came with the boat for a new set, trying three different magnets before I found one strong enough (really NK? What’s up with a weak magnet in my NEW wiring set? A couple of rowers at Beach!boathouse say they had that problem too, you might wanna check your supplier.)

The point being, two wiring sets & three seat magnets later, I finally had a rate.

Unfortunately, it appeared to be the horribly wrong rate, unless I’ve suddenly developed the heretofore unknown to me superpower of thinking I was paddling and in fact rowing a 46. (for non-rowers, you paddle at like, a 16. Slight difference, that.) G-mo borrowed my 1x for his heat at SW Regionals* & it told him he raced his 1k at a 108 stroke rating, a skill of which we were all appropriately in awe.
*because of my vertical proportions, I discovered my best hardware fit was a mens’ F-15 with a 165 weight cap. As such, my boat is the envy of every lightweight male on our team.

Since everything appeared to be installed correctly, we declared that I’d gotten a crap wiring set, & I ordered another from NK. Got it, put it in… same. damn. problem. Stroke rate: approx a bajillion.

Em. of. effffffff.

Attempt at Silver Lining:
Well, I have been working on improving my ability to hold a higher rate.

At this point, I gave up, admitted that I’d hit the edge of my troubleshooting capability, & asked DaddyMcG to take a look. So after team practice on Sat morning, we took my boat down, & by the time I’d gotten my speedcoach & came back, he said, “I can see the problem right here.”

The magnet was too far back.

JTG, whom I’d bought the boat from, already had wiring in there, so when I put the new sets in, I used his old spots thinking, “Okay, he’s already proven this is the right place. As they say in Beauty & the Beast, if it’s ain’t Baroque, don’t fix it.”
@Steeesh: B&B reference is totally your fault. I’ve had that song in my head on & off ever since you said “Hey gurl!”

Realize you’ve put the seat on backwards.

Sit 100m away from the dock & go, “Son of a b*tch!”

Paddle back to the dock. Get out of boat. Pull oars in. Take seat off tracks.
Turn seat around.
Put seat back on tracks.
Run oars out. Get back in boat. Push off dock.

Five strokes… no stroke rate again.

I just… I don’t, I can’t… it’s not fair.

Okay. Stop. Breathe. Engage yoga breath. Apply brain. You had a stroke rate last time, then you put the seat on correctly.

…if the magnet was at the front when the seat was on backwards, putting the seat on properly moved it to the back again.

When I stopped to talk to the other rower & explain that I didn’t come back in because Something Dire Had Occurred, I must’ve not been paying attention & put the magnet right back where I’d just taken it off from.

Go. Team. Me.

Paddle-back-to-the- dock. Get-out-of-boat. Pull-oars-in. Take-seat-off-tracks.
Put the damn magnet in the right damn spot.
Make sure seat is facing right freakin’ way.
Put seat back on tracks.
Run-oars-out. Get-back-in-boat. Push-off-dock.

Obligatory five strokes.
Achieve stroke rate.
:fist of triumph!:

Start to paddle away… realize that there’s a click & slight bump when approaching the catch.

What. What now? What the freakin’ bloody hell now???

With the added weight of… well let’s just be honest – my ass, the seat now bends in just enough that the two magnets don’t pass by one another, they hit each other.

Really? Really? It’s not enough that I’m having this morning of mornings, but now you gotta make a sister feel fat, too?


Seriously, people – I’d put up with a lot from the Cosmic Muffin that day, but the fat joke — oh, that put me right over the edge. I just started mumbling stuff like, “You wanna go, b*tch? Really? You wanna go? Fine. Effin’ bring it, and we will em’ effin’ go. And you will lose, because right now I’m in the mood. I am from New York. My mom works at Wal-Mart. My parents live in a trailer. I was the first to get a freakin’ degree. You know what that means? Underneath all this nice, civilized, well-spoken, meditation-practicing, educated-up guise, I am a Long Island girl with a bad temper whose parents are technically trailer trash and if need requires, do not doubt for a moment that b*tch, I will cut you. ”

Backtodock. Outofboat. Pulloarsin. Seatofftracks.

Let’s look at what we’ve got here.

Okay. Seat – magnet cannot get any higher, it’s on the frame for the seat wheels. No give there.
Boat. We’ve got the deck, the tracks, the porthole cover.

Dude, wtf, I lost ten pounds & shifted BMI this summer because I’m freakin’ allergic to mother-lovin’ wheat. What is wrong with the world when I have to give up bread and my own damn boat is still telling me my ass is too big? Why you gotta be like that, Baby? Didn’t I get you new wiring? I’m gonna order the new shoes soon! Momma loves to row you, why you gotta be so mean?

Okay. No. Stop that. Focus, brain. Focus. Let go of the leftover childhood insecurity borne of being taught an unrealistic body image and focus on the now.

Porthole cover. That’s inset, so it’s lower than the deck. Unless I flip the boat :pause to knock on internet wood: I’ll pretty much never take that cover off, so it really won’t move.
I can try putting the magnet on that, and it should be low enough so that the magnets will clear each other under the apparent weight of my ginormous ass.

Hey hey! Focus, remember? Focus. Before we descended into allowing Bridget Jones’ neurosis to control thought process, there was an actual good applicable solution there. Let’s focus on that.

As you might guess by… most of the entries in this blog, my life often falls into the category of… special, and as such I’ve learned to contingency plan, which is why, when I’d first come down to the dock, I’d brought a roll of electrical tape & a small pair of scissors which I keep in my toolbag just in case.

This, it turned out, was just such a case.

I gently pried the hull-magnet (attached by double-sided tape) off the deck, scooted enough slack in the wiring to stretch to the porthole over, and pressed the hull magnet onto the cover, using my handy-dandy electrical tape to tack things down for testing purposes.

Run the oars out. deep calming breath.
Get back in boat. it’s gonna work. it’s totally, totally all going to work.
Push off dock. Things will be fiiiiiine…

Obligatory five strokes.
Achieve stroke rate. yay!
Five more strokes, listening carefully….
No clicking noise.

No way.

I’m almost afraid to say this, but I think it works.

It’s possible I almost started to do a victory dance before I remembered I was in a slightly tippy conveyance out in the middle of a body of water and thus needed to hold on to the oars in order to stay upright.


I paddled out clear of the dock & the stadium which was no longer open to rowers & thus meant I couldn’t calibrate that morning, & started up the channel towards the yacht club. Held water, took a minute to check things before I started my workout an hour & fifteen minutes after I first put my boat in the water (Not that I’m bitter. Not at all.) Looked up as I was putting my sunglasses on, & saw…

… the rest of my team rowing by from the bridge to the dock as they finished their practice.

Hey guys… :sad little wave:

At that point, it was about 8:30am, the sun was up & in the sky at full shiny brightness, the rest of my team was headed home, & I’d accomplished jack-all for a workout that morning.

There was really only one thing to do.

…and so, 3×30 minutes of steady state later, I was done.

What? Of course I did the workout after all that — even my boat is saying my ass needs to train! ;)

Music: Henry Nearly Killed Me [It’s a Shame] – Ray LaMontagne Gossip In the Grain (Bonus Track Version) - Ray LaMontagne

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  • http://www.candlemarkandgleam.com Kate

    Good god. I spent most of that post wincing in sympathy. And fear.

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