Tuesday, August 31, 2010
Well, Friday night football went off without a hitch last week. The first round of regular season games were played and I was assigned the Central/Killeen Shoemaker game at San Angelo Stadium. Both the teams had pretty dismal seasons last year, Central only winning the last two games and Shoemaker not winning any, so Friday's game was up for grabs. Another interesting sidenote, Central has not won a season-opening game since 1991.
I usually get to the field about an hour before the game starts so I can shoot a few features of fans, bands, cheerleaders and other students that might be getting ready for the game. These photos will be sent at halftime along with first-half game photos to be used in our Blitz football section. I always seem to struggle with finding feature photos when I shoot at San Angelo Stadium. It's so spread out and you have to hike a mile just to get anywhere. Not to mention the fact that the student section for Central is on the visitors side of the stadium. I feel like my photos are a little more personal when I'm shooting at the smaller schools. Fortunately, I'll be shooting more area games this season as I will only have to shoot at San Angelo Stadium when Central is playing at home. Last year I was stuck shooting both Central and Lake View games at home.
Central took an early lead with a punt return for a touchdown and then a two-point conversion to follow. The Bobcats never looked back. They ended up winning by a score of 42-7. They were pumped, and so was the crowd. It's always nice starting off the season shooting a winning team. This week I'll be shooting the game of the week down in Junction (about 100 miles southeast of San Angelo) for the Eagles' game against Mason. Both teams are in our coverage area so I'll have to be sure to get photos from both sides. If you would like to see photos from the game we covered last week you can see them HERE.
Monday, August 23, 2010
Over the weekend the Standard-Times annual high school football preview hit the news stands. This is the cover of the 116-page glossy cover "magazine" we put out this year. It basically covers all the schools in our coverage area from Central, Lake View, and TLC Academy (the schools within the San Angelo city limits) and the surrounding 14 counties. The photo staff spent the better of two weeks driving to every school taking mugshots of every single player. If you've ever tried to track down football coaches in the middle of summer then you know what it's like to be at your wit's end. But everything came out fine and the tab seems to be better than last year's.
This week also marks the start of Friday night football here in Texas. Actually, our football coverage begins on Thursday and will continue through Saturday. Poor Cynthia will cover five games in three nights: 1 Thursday, 1 Friday and 3 games on Saturday. Fortunately, those Saturday games are all in the same place. I'm really excited about the upcoming season. Last year I got stuck shooting all the home games at San Angelo Stadium, but this year I'll just be covering Central High School when they are playing at home. That means I'll be shooting more area games this season, which I love to do. I really enjoy heading out to the smaller schools in the area to cover games. The excitement level seems to be a notch higher at the small schools. Plus you don't have to hike a mile to find great photos like you do at San Angelo Stadium.
We will also continue to do a Saturday section called Blitz!, an 8-page section that highlights the game from Friday night locally and from around the state, as well as a new web feature that can be found of the Standard-Times website. Go HERE if you want to check it out. Right now it just has the stories that appeared in the football tab.
Thursday, August 19, 2010
Well today is the day we have to say goodbye to our home for the last ten days, the Panache II. She had her issues, but she was always there when we needed her. (Like during a tropical storm.) We had to have the boat back to Road Town by noon, so we left Trellis bay early. We rounded the far point of Tortola and headed down wind the entire way. There were storms brewing over by Virgin Gorda that were churning up the water and pushing out huge rolling waves. Beth decided to see if she could go a day without her motion sickness medicine... she couldn't. Fortunately, the sail was just a few hours and we put in to harbor at 10:00 am. After cleaning, double-checking our bags to be sure we had everything, and checking out with Conch Charters, we schlepped all our bags up a near vertical slope to our hotel directly behind the docks. (See that white building with the red roof at the top of the photo? That's our hotel.) I got the key to my room and the second I opened the door I was blasted by a wave of freezing air. AIR CONDITIONING! It was the first air conditioned room in over a week. I tossed my stuff on a bed, faced-planted on the other bed, flipped on the TV, and wouldn't you know it, the first program that turned on was a Bruce Lee movie. YES! Dad, Julie, Andy and Beth said they were going to hike up to the top of the island and have a look around. I decided instead that I would take a shower, finish the Bruce Lee movie, take a nap, and then take another shower before dinner at 7:00 pm. We all gathered at the hotel restaurant for a great meal. We opened several bottles of wine, the manager treated us to a bottle of champagne to celebrate Andy and Beth's engagement and finished the night with a night-cap at the bar. What a great day and a fantastic trip. I can't wait for 2012!
Wednesday, August 18, 2010
This photo of me was taken by my dad as we are making our way to Trellis Bay on the last full day on the boat. One thing I've realized is that as a professional photographer, there are loads of photos of your friends and family, but almost nothing documenting the fact that you were there as well. Granted, I'm not the biggest fan of having my photo taken (what photographer does) but it would be nice to have a few photos of myself in the places that I love. Today we said goodbye to Virgin Gorda and the North Sound. We didn't have any plans other than to meet the rest of the crew at The Last Resort, an excellent restaurant in Trellis Bay. The sky was clear, we had no specific place to be, so we decided to head over to a grouping of small islands known as The Dogs to do some floating and snorkeling. We had read in the handbook that came with the boat that there was some good snorkeling in the area and Jeff, Valarie, Dad and I all felt like doing some exploring while Andy, Beth and Julie wanted to do some floating. Fortunately, we got there when we did because there were only six or so mooring balls and there were only three left. We pulled the fins and masks out of the hold, jumped in and swam about 50 yards to the island and surrounding reef. As we were exploring the reef I was kicking myself for not bring a small underwater camera. As a matter of fact, I don't even own a point-and-shoot camera that I can carry around in my pocket. Don't get me wrong, I love my digital SLR, but sometimes I don't want to carry that heavy thing around everywhere I go. And I certainly can't take it with in the water unless I spend a few hundred dollars on an underwater housing for it, and even then I would worry about whether or not I have it securely closed. I guess the point I'm trying to make is this: I'm an idiot for not having the right gear at the right time to make the photographs I want to make. All of that aside, this was one of the coolest places I have ever snorkeled. As Dad and I made our way around the island we swam into a school of brilliantly colored cuttlefish. They kind of look like squid, with that bullet-shaped body and the tentacles. There must have been around 20 or 30 of them, all with a neon, iridescent look to them, feeding on a school of small fish. It was awesome. The coral, the sea life and the varying depths of the water provided for an amazing swimming experience.
After we all got back to the boat, we set sail for Trellis Bay. It was a casual sail, all downwind and relaxing. After picking up a mooring ball and a quick trip on shore to pick up a few t-shirts, we headed over the The Last Resort for dinner. The food is pretty good for the most part, but the service is pretty bad. Don't expect to be waited on hand-and-foot anywhere in the islands. You just kind of have to go with the flow. Also, that night Andy and Beth officially got engaged. They will probably not get married until Beth finishes her degree in architecture in a year or so. It was a good day, but it was sad to think that our trip was quickly coming to an end.
Tuesday, August 17, 2010
After a good night's sleep with virtually no rain, we got up early, gathered a day pack and took the dinghy over to the "Hotel" a few moorings over. We were exited about today's run up and back from Anegada because we wanted to see how the catamaran handled. Dad and Julie had talked about getting one instead of the monohull for a few years now because of all the room you get. Today would be the day that they would decide if it was worth the investment. I can honestly tell you that within the first five minutes of leaving the north sound and raising the sails... it wasn't. I felt less stable walking around on the Hotel's 25-foot wide deck than I did on the Panache (our boat) at full heel. Because of the Hotel's dual hulls, the boat seemed to rock on four axis resulting in what felt like the boat fighting to get where we wanted to go. As opposed to the Panache, a monohull, that went with more of the flow on the water and cut through the waves as we went. Most people who are not familiar with a monohull sailboat find the heeling over of the boat unnerving, but I enjoy it. But, no matter how the boat was handling, we were going to have a good time with friends and I was on my way to an island that I had never been to before. I was anticipating a longer sail but it only took us about two hours to get there. Anegada is as flat as a pancake so as you near the halfway point of the sail, instead of seeing land you just see the tops of palm trees appear on the horizon. Another reason why we wanted to take the Hotel California up to Anegada was because of the really shallow waters that surround the island. The Hotel has a shallower draft than the Panache. But the shallow water and the white sandy ocean floor results in beautiful water color.
After picking up a mooring ball for the day, we threw out the float line, made drinks and hit the water. I'm sure you've figured out by now the routine we would normally take each day on the Dove & Family sailing vacation: Sail, float, drink, eat. This year's routine was broken up by Tropical Storm Bonnie. Otherwise these blog posts might get a little boring after the third day. (Who knows, you may be bored with them now.) After a good soak, we headed for shore. The trip up to Anegada is really all about the sail as there is just about nothing to do or see on the island itself. There is a bar, a t-shirt shop and that's it. And sometimes the shirt shop isn't even open because believe it or not, the summer is considered the off season in the islands. They have more tourists escaping the frigid winter months for the warmer climes of the Caribbean. We knew we were not going to be there long so I quickly found a few shirts for Brooke and myself, had a beer with Dad and Julie at the bar and we headed back to the boat for the sail back to Virgin Gorda. The sail back to the north sound was uneventful, but very relaxing. It was a good day. We grilled up a pork tenderloin for dinner and vegged out for the rest of the night.
After a long and mostly sleepless night on the boat due to the fact that we had to keep the hatches shut because of the rain, the sun finally rose in a partly cloudy sky. The day before I think I mentioned that the wench used to trim the jib broke and we had to call the charter service to come out and fix it. However, because of the rain, two of the major roads on the island (Tortola) washed out making them impassable. The repair guy, Ross, would not be able to get to the boat until almost 10:00 am. We decided to make the best of the situation so we all boarded the dinghy and headed to shore. Everything on the boat was soaked after a week at sea, so we gathered all the sheets, towels and clothes and found a laundromat. We took shifts watching the clothes; half of us would watch, the other half would go find breakfast. Ross finally made it over from the far side of the island, fixed the wench and we were on our way by 11:30 am. We needed to make it all the way over to the north sound of Virgin Gorda to meet the "Hotel" because the next day we were going to all pile on the "Hotel" for a day sail up to Anegada. The problem was that there was going to be a headwind the entire way, and since we were leaving at such a late hour, we were not going to make it to the north sound before sunset. We're sailors, and we charter a sailboat for a reason: to sail. But, we sucked up our pride and decided to motor the entire way to ensure that we would get there in time to get a mooring. The motor over was actually pretty nice. I was at the helm for most of the way. This is one of those legs of the trip where you get to see a lot of the island chain and I had forgotten how pretty some of the little secret places on uninhabited islands are.
We made our way into Virgin Gorda under clear skies with plenty of time to spare. I feel a float coming on. We picked up a mooring, poured ourselves a drink and threw out the float line. Virgin Gorda is my favorite mooring. I'm not really sure why, maybe it has something to do with how spacious the sound is. It's also the home of the Bitter End Yacht Club, a five-star resort on the island. We all floated for a few hours and met some of our neighbors on the moorings next to us. I got to talking with a young couple from Seattle who just completed the first two weeks of a 50-day vacation! What!? The craziest part of their story was that they had only taken two sailing lessons before coming down to the islands for a 50-day solo run. They're a lot braver than I am. After the float, we gathered up clean clothes and headed for the free showers on shore. It had been a good day, especially because it didn't rain on us. We had dinner over on Saba Rock, not a great dinner, but it was food. I spent most of the rest of the evening on deck in the cool breeze. I even saw the moon out that night.
Wednesday, August 4, 2010
First, let me start by saying that the photos that I post today are not photos that I actually took on Day 6 of the trip. But, I wanted to post photos of everyone relaxing and having a good time because I didn't take any photos on Day 6. Let me explain why.
Okay, not every day on a vacation can be fun, and not everyone can be happy all the time. Today was the low point of the trip and it had everything to do with the weather. We all got up early and took the dinghy into shore at Foxy's to use the shore facilities. (When you're living on a boat for 8 days, you use the shore facilities whenever you can.) While I was waiting for everyone to head back to the boat, I spotted Foxy himself with a group of young students, strumming the guitar and singing songs. I'd never met Foxy before so I chalked it up as one of life's special moments. Foxy is actually a pretty big deal. He was called back to England to appear before the Queen to receive an award for everything he has done to bring in tourism to the area.
Anyway, as started to head back to the boat, it started sprinkling again. Great. Just what we needed, more rain. We dropped the mooring ball and set out for the north side of Tortola to Cane Garden Bay. The sail itself was to be pretty short, so we raised the sails and set a course. Unfortunately, the weather had a different plan. Another large storm front was approaching and caught up with us half way across. It wasn't the all-out blitz of wind and rain like it was when we were on our way to Soper's Hole, but this time we were more in danger of being struck by lightning. The rain was coming down so heavy again that we lost sight of land. Fortunately, we were following our friends on the Hotel California who had better charts to navigate the shallow waters on the north side of the island. I've never seen so much lightning in such a small, compact area before. It's an uncomfortable feeling watching lightning strike a few hundred yards away from you, especially if your riding around in a vehicle with a giant lightning rod attached to it. A bolt of lightning struck so close to the boat that my dad said his hands began to tingle while holding on to the metal steering wheel. Looking around the boat at all my soggy shipmates, I could tell morale had hit rock-bottom. We'd been wet for the last three days with no way of drying out our clothes, we were exhausted from having to jump up every hour to close the hatches each night due to night-time rain, and the starboard jib wench broke as we made our way across to Cane Garden Bay.
The rains finally lifted for a moment and we followed the "Hotel" into Cane Garden. I use the word "lifted" loosely because the rain never really stopped. It would go on as a steady downpour for the rest of the night. With our spirits low, we didn't even feel like cooking dinner. Fortunately, our friends on the "Hotel" had already invited us for burgers and hotdogs on their boat.
This was also an opportunity for us to inspect the "Hotel" to see if it might be an option for us in two years. The Hotel's roominess and space was unmatched. I couldn't believe how big it was. But, to tell you the truth, we were all pretty tired and miserable, the "Hotel" crew was already pretty red-nosed, and we just wanted to go to sleep. After dinner we headed back to the Panache II to change into whatever dry clothes we had left to sleep in. The rain never stopped that night so the hatches had to remain closed. With no air movement it was hot and sticky, and I prayed for sleep to come fast.
Tuesday, August 3, 2010
After our "Perfect Storm" moment the day before, we decided that we would not tempt Mother Nature today as we made our way north to Great Harbor on Jost Van Dyke. We were listening to the weather radio that morning while eating breakfast and it was calling similar storms as the day before. The sail was nice. It was all downwind, so the pace was casual and slow. The last time I came to Great Harbor was in 2006 and there were no mooring balls, but this year we were pleasantly surprised to find them, saving us the headache of having to drop the anchor. Jost Van Dyke is famous for a few things, the greatest of these is Foxy's, a local bar on the island. It's my favorite bar in the BVIs. It's very eclectic, laid back and cool. As you can see from the photo above, it's visited quite often and encourages patrons to leave behind a memento.
2006 was the last time any of the kids (myself, Daniel and Andy) went on the trip. Even that year it was just Daniel and I, but my smart step-mother Julie brought along a life sized cutout of Andy's head, put it on a stick, and toted him around taking pictures where ever we went. Then at Foxy's we decided to tack Andy's likeness up on the wall. Fast forward to 2010 and the photo is still there! I had to get a photo of Andy standing next to himself. This year Daniel and Brooke (my wife) were unable to make the trip and we wanted to bring their photos as well and tack them up next to Andy's. But the night before we left for the airport they were some how left unpacked. I was bummed. I didn't even know the photos hadn't made it until we got to Jost Van Dyke. After a few drinks and a massive plate of chips (french fries) we headed back to the boat, floated in the bay for a while and called it a night.
Monday, August 2, 2010
On the morning of the fourth day the air was cool, the sun was shinning, the seas calm. We released the mooring ball for a quick sail to Soper's Hole, a cool little harbor tucked away on the east side of Tortola. The sail itself was only going to be a few hours, but because it was such a beautiful day, it was put to a vote, and it was unanimously decided that we should take advantage of the weather and sail for the rest of the day. We were there to sail for crying out loud!
As we made our way around the east side of Great Thatch, the skies began to darken and the sea began to swell. A storm was forming to the west over Tortola. It was going to be big. We decided to make a run north to Jost Van Dyke hoping that the storm would keep it's course and pass on by. But there was so much energy for the storm to use that it built incredibly fast and right on top of us. This was not the same kind of shower we went through the day before. This one was stronger. The winds immediately jumped up the 30 or 40 knots pushing the Panache II (our boat) onto her starboard side, throwing everyone across the cockpit. We didn't have time to bring in the sails which means we were catching the full force of the wind, keeping the boat at a severe tilt. I had to grab the bimini (the cover of the cockpit) so I wouldn't get thrown out the boat. Under my weight, I managed to rip the metal poles right out of the hull of the boat. Jeff and I managed to crawl forward to bring in the sails, Dad started the engine as Valerie and Beth contemplated passing out the life jackets. The rain was blowing in sideways, land disappeared and the temperature dropped 20 degrees. We decided to make tight figure eights to avoid coming close to any shoals and running aground. Eventually, the storm weakened and Tortola slowly appeared. Another storm was coming so we put the hammer down and motored as fast as we could into Soper's Hole.
Whew! I had never been through anything like that before. Turns out that all of those storms formed to create Tropical Storm Bonnie. Pretty cool though. As we made our way into Soper's we saw the Hotel California and picked up a mooring right next to them. For braving the open water in a tropical storm, Dad treated the crew to a survivor's shot of rum. We all had a plate of traditional fish and chips, went back to the boat and crashed in our respective bunks.
Just in case you were wondering who the people in the photos are, that's my dad in the top photo, and that's Glenn facing the camera on the "Hotel", my parents' oldest friend.