Dear Friend of CHARIAD:

This is the time of year when the days are getting longer – daylight savings time just started – and we tell ourselves that the warm days of summer and sailing must surely be near. We try to visualize gliding across a sparkling sea driven by soft afternoon winds with a cool rum drink in hand. With all of the snow, ice, frozen pipes, no parking, leaking roofs, etc., thinking of summer is a challenge.

Here is my report from the beginning of March 2015.

Stratton Ski Weekend Postponed

Our weekend at Herb and Shayna Loeffler’s ski chalet in Stratton, VT, did not happen. Last minute conflicts forced a postponement. We have a new date – and a new opportunity.

The new date is March 21/22. I have polled the folks scheduled for the original date. Most can make the new date but a few cannot. This is a really fun away weekend. We have H & S’s house and have rented a nearby house. The irony is that we have to go to Vermont to get away from the snow. There will be a mix of skiers and non-skiers and a mix of racing folks and non-racers. We will have a casual “when you arrive” dinner on Friday night and fantastic breakfasts Saturday & Sunday morning. I ask for blueberry pancakes and sometimes get my wish. There is a really special dinner Saturday night. Everyone going pitches in to help with the provisioning, cooking, etc. The cost for everything is usually about $100/person.

In the past some folks with stayed with friends nearby and come for the Saturday night dinner. That works fine. Let me and Bill Nichols know. We need to provision enough for everyone. If you are just coming for the dinner, you can chip in $25 bucks for the dinner and drinks. And you are likely to get a pot scrubber to help with the cleanup!

Please let me know if you want to be part of the gang. Remember we are limited in space so we are on a first come first served basis.

Block Island Race Week

CHARIAD will do the Block Race Week this year. The regatta is June 21 – 26, Mon – Fri. We have rented most of a hostel and have reservations to get a car over to the island for the week. This is the 50th anniversary of the regatta, so there will be lots of extra events and celebrations.

We need to finalize the crew for the week well ahead of time. I know that some of the regular guys and gals on the crew will not be able to take the week off from work. I may reach out to you guys to see if one or two of you want to come down to Block. Lots of fun and truly great racing.

Snow Closes Boston

I feel an obligation to record some thoughts and impressions from the last two months. The snow has had a profound impact on life here. Even though the national news has highlighted the record breaking amount of snow, our daily lives have changed in many ways that are not evident without being here.

I heard someone on the radio this  week who lives on Beacon Street in Back Bay say that a count was made of the cars on few blocks of Beacon Street near her. 200 cars are buried in snow and have not been moved since the middle of January. If you dig out your car to drive somewhere you may not be able find parking when you get there and the chances that you will be able to re-park your car when coming home  are slim to none. I moderated a program at the Harvard Club last week on Com Ave in Boston. The strip along the sidewalk that normally has parked cars was piled almost to eye level with snow. I parked with other cars on what is normally a travel lane for Com Ave. The parking meters were below the tops of the snow piles.

I know that those of you reading this in Southern CA are just snickering saying “you are living the life you chose.” Phil Mallon in Switzerland is saying to himself, you don’t know snow until you come to the Alps. OK – this is Boston. We have snow but after a few days we get some warmer weather and most of it melts. That is our pattern on this coastal plain. This year we have had a lot of snow, but the real problem is that temperature has stayed really cold. The snow has not melted.

I have been telling people that we have had so much snow that I cannot see out of the windows in my condo unless I get on a chair. And I am five stories up. This is image is from my living room looking onto my deck.

Here is a picture from my bedroom. I cannot see over the snow without standing on a chair.

OK –  the snow is not pile up five stories. But the accumulation of snow from one storm after another has piled up against the windows and the patio doors so that it is taller than I am standing in my bedroom. If you look carefully at this picture, you can see the layers of snow from each storm.

Here is a picture of Newbury Street.

This past Wednesday was the first time I noticed that most of the streets did not have some snow still on the street. The snow piles are still there but the street surfaces are mostly clear. If you are driving at night you see these huge dump trucks hauling snow. Bulldozers are clearing snow so the primary streets and highways have all of their traffic and parking lanes open. The neighborhood streets are still piled with snow.

For days at a time, the subway – Charley’s T, the MBTA – was shut down. Today, the commuter rail that comes into Boston from the suburbs is only running about 35% of its normal service. This is a picture of a commuter rail stop – as in Rail Road. Do you see any evidence of a Rail Road track? No wonder the trains are not running.

Offices have been closed because staff could not come to work. Meeting had to be cancelled because there was no place to park if you got to the location and no public transportation. My dentist in Cambridge has a voice message on their office phone updating the parking ban notice so we would know if there is any place to park for an appointment.

Of course our enterprising crew members are taking advantage of the opportunities offered by the circumstances.

Elizabeth Church went skiing from Southie to Quincy Market and along the waterfront in Boston. Jessie Witherspoon spent most of the time in Costa Rica. I got notes from others in Mexico, Barbados, Kenya and Thailand. My daughter keeps reminding me the she is living in Naples, FL, with a pool for a reason.

You get the picture. Roofs collapsing under the snow. Water is coming through the roofs of almost everyone because of ice dams on the roofs. Our new governor, Charlie Baker, was on the radio saying that he has a bucket in his bedroom to catch the water. Of the 350 or so people receiving this note, I have heard that five of you have had pipes freeze causing tens of thousands of dollars in water damage. How many have I not heard about? You may remember that Dan Sterling hosted two wonderful parties for our gang at his home overlooking Beverly harbor – including the Casablanca party. Dan has launched a new business called Water Hero specifically to detect burst water pipes and automatically turn off the water supply.  See  Check this option out for yourself. I have signed up.

In spite of the snow, this is an exciting time to be living in the Boston area. There is an incredible energy around our innovation economy. Boston as a city is being re-created in front of our eyes. Planning for the Olympics will force this community to get its game plan together and move at least to some degree away from our usual provincialism and tribalism. Will be interesting to see if our leadership including the new mayor and governor are up to the challenge of somehow satisfying the “I only care about my neighborhood” or “I only care about people like me” folks who do not want anything to change and the needs of the broader community. We can only succeed as a world class city if we work together.

Herb Loeffler Update

Herb Loeffler has been a huge supporter of the CHARIAD extended family. Herb and Shayna have generously opened both their Stratton ski chalet and their Lakeside Pleasure Palace – huge hot tub – to the CHARIAD community for countless parties and gatherings. Herb has been an invaluable member of the racing crew.

You may or may not know that Herb is quite ill. Over several months, he developed a blood disorder that severely damaged his kidneys. The weekend that we were going to Stratton and the following week, Herb finally went into the hospital after feeling worse and worse.

Herb on CHARIAD bow

For the foreseeable future, Herb will be on some form of dialysis machine every other day and he will be taking a cocktail of drugs to reduce the effects of the blood disorder.

I was with Herb and Shayna last weekend. While he has less energy than normal and is frustrated by not being able to get out of the house to do all of the super activity that is normal for him, he is in good spirits. Herb did not hesitate to boss me around on a little project we were working on. All good signs.

We will have to see how the meds work and how Herb builds his strength to get as close to his normal activity levels as possible. I know he will continue to be a vibrant guy with by far the best repertoire of jokes and stories of anyone we know.

A day will come when warm winds will once again blow across the lands. Sea birds will glide just above the surface of the waters. Our hearts will fill with wonder as the skies turn red in the evening and the sun slides behind the western lands. So it is written and so it shall be.

Until then stay warm and stay safe.