Monday, February 12, 2018

workboat finish, of course

Two new coats of steel grey interlux paint on Spartina.
Cold, rainy weather continues, and it appears that
it may last a few more weeks.

Friday, February 9, 2018

a dog's life

From Tom, who is gearing up to sail his Pathfinder
FIRST LIGHT in the Everglades Challenge.

Monday, February 5, 2018

fine dining in Saxis

The internet tells me that the the number of fine dining establishments in Saxis, Virginia has doubled.  Yes, at one time there was just one restaurant, Martha's Kitchen, and now there are two with the addition of Capt. E's Hurricane Grill & Tiki Bar.  This is good and useful information as I may well be heading across Pocomoke Sound near Saxis during the spring sail.  I have been to Saxis just once and while leaving there I took one of my favorite all-time photos, above.  Don't know why I like it so much, I just do.  Saxis is not exactly an island, it is connected to the mainland with a long road through the marshes, but it is so isolated it may as well be an island.

Capt. E's appears to be located next to the boat ramp and docks on Starling Creek with indoor and outdoor dining and a menu that relies much on the food of Smith Island.  I hope to pass through Smith Island too later in the trip and will definitely compare Capt. E's with the real deal island food.  The last visit to Saxis included lunch at Martha's Kitchen, below, an interesting visit that I wrote about here.  

Onancock is the reason I'll be crossing Pocomoke Sound.  I would like to head out of Crisfield, cutting behind the marshes on what I have seen labelled as both Broad Creek and Daugherty Creek (last photo in this post shows sailing through the creek wing and wing).  You can see the line that connects the Little Annemessex to Pocomoke Sound.  Depending on the time of day I could head east to Saxis or south to Beach Island or Island Bay.  Onancock would be a day's sail south of there.

This is just thinking out loud now, it will all depend which way the wind is blowing the first few days of the trip.  I'll certainly visit Tangier and Smith Islands, plus there are the countless tiny creeks and bays and coves.  We might even work our way up the Honga River.  We'll see.

Much too cold and windy today for a sail.  I spent the morning stowing all the sails and spars on SPARTINA.  We are ready to go as soon as the weather warms.

Wednesday, January 31, 2018

separation anxiety no more

The sails arrived from Stuart's loft and I am very glad to have them back in hand.  Bending the main and mizzen on to the spars today, making a few adjustments suggested by Stuart.  It amazes me that he can just look at the sails and tell from their appearance how I rig them.  

The weather outlook for the next couple of weekends is not good.  Cold and rainy, wind out of the north.  February is typically when we get the little batches of warm days.  I will be rigged and ready.

My escape from the cold, a work related trip to Hilton Head, has been cancelled due to budgetary considerations.  Bummer.  The "working" point of the trip was to go fish for a great white shark.  Yes, sure that sounds like fun.  But mostly I was looking forward to seeing Webb and GANNET at their new island home.  That treat will have to wait until later.

Friday, January 26, 2018

Staniel Cay, circa 1980 / extended family / creek sailing

I had reason to see my sailmaker, Stuart Hopkins, last weekend.  It was a fun drive up through tidewater Virginia, across the York and Rappahanock Rivers, over the beautiful winding Piankatank and through the little towns of what is known as Northern Neck.  Though I had emailed with Stuart many times over the last few years, I had not talked to him in person since picking up my finely crafted set of sails. 

Because of a post I had done a few day earlier (that's my photograph below of a sloop near Port-au-Prince),  Stuart and I talked about each of our experiences relating to Haiti.  Stuart brought out a work of art - though it wasn't originally meant to be art - a wooden mainsheet cleat, worn by a taut line, the sun and the salt water, that he recovered from a sunken Haitian sloop at Staniel Cay in the Bahama Islands.  Stuart told me he made repeated dives to loosen the cleat from the sloop while Dee, his wife, sat in the cockpit of their ketch SEA WIND and made a sketch of the sloop, which you see above.  


SPARTINA'S sails are now five years old.  They have seen a lot of wear and tear during that time, including quite literally a tear between the bolt rope and sail cloth on the mizzen, something that happened when I hooked the sail on a line cleat a few years ago.  Stuart will repair the small tear for me and offered to check over the stitching on the sails, which is very kind of him. 

While looking over the sails I lamented to Stuart about my failed plans for SPARTINA.  I told him I built the boat so I could go sailing and get away from people.  Instead, I went sailing and met some very creative and interesting people who have become my best and truest friends.  Stuart, who sometimes reads this blog, nodded and smiled, telling me he was well aware of my "extended family."  I had never thought of it that way, but yes, an extended family.  I went sailing and found my extended family - which of course includes Stuart and Dee.


Webb has completed his sail from Marathon in the Florida Keys to Hilton Head, South Carolina.  It was a much shorter sail, if you go by mileage, than Webb's typical sail.  And it was an even shorter sail by time if you go by Webb's expectations.  You can read his passage log here.  Below you will find part of the log which makes me smile, most likely because it reminds of my kind of sailing.

"Coming into Skull Creek for the first time was beautiful.  A sunny sky.  Wind light.  Mansions along the shore.  A flock of birds standing on a sand spit off the Pickney Island Nature Reserve to the north.  A dolphin broke the surface and came and swam companionably beside GANNET.  A pelican glided past."

Monday, January 22, 2018

north to Hilton Head

Webb's Yellow Brick track shows he is making incredible time on his way north to Hilton Head, South Carolina.  Winds will be picking up on GANNET'S stern tomorrow.  I wonder if he will make it in before contrary winds Wednesday.

Saturday, January 20, 2018

gone, sails so bright

Webb is gone, leaving out of Marathon on GANNET sometime around 9:00 or 10:00 this morning, on his way up the coast to Hilton Head, South Carolina.  You can read about his plans here.  If you read this earlier journal entry you will see that he will be doing coastal sailing this year, including, if weather cooperates, sailing up to Chesapeake Bay and St. Michaels where he will be the guest speaker at this fall's Mid-Atlantic Small Craft Festival.  That will be an interesting talk.

You can follow Webb on his Yellow Brick here.  


Most of the mildew is gone from SPARTINA'S mainsail, courtesy of a 30:1 water:sodium hydrochloride mixture.  It was easier than I expected.  I appreciate all the advice that was given to me, particularly some thoughts from Dory Man.  

I used a spray bottle so that I could apply the solution to specific areas, avoiding the threads that hold the sail together.  Less than an ounce of sodium hydrochloride was used.

Excuse the color balance shift in these before (above) and after photos, that has to do with the light, but look closely at the top image and you will see specks of mildew.  They were gone about 10 minutes after the solution was applied. I used that little piece of tape to make sure I photographed the exact area before and after.  Not too bad.  After general washing with woolite and vinegar, plus the spot mildew work, the sails are so white, so bright, I'm gonna need to wear shades.

Friday, January 19, 2018

five winter coats

Just got the fifth coat of varnish on the refinished gaff jaws, two more to go.  You can see the double sets of dowels, each set put in each time I replaced the leather.  It may look a little messy here but all those dowels will be covered by the new leather.  

Using my sailing duffel bag, made out of used sail materials by Seabags, I did of test of the 30:1 water:sodium hydrochloride solution.  I sprayed the solution on a patch of white sail material that had tiny dots of mildew, let it sit for an hour then rinsed it off.  I was pleasantly surprised to find most of the dark spots gone.

Washing the sails in Woolite and vinegar worked so well that I had considered forgoing the mildew treatment.  But looking closely I found two areas, probably not even a square foot in total, on the sail worth treating, both on the lower panels of the mainsail.  I will spray those areas this weekend, making sure I spray only the sail material and  avoid the stitching, let sit for an hour and then rinse with fresh water.

There will be weather for sailing this weekend.  I thought about rushing the work Saturday to be ready for a Sunday sail.  But instead I will take my time and use the good weather to get SPARTINA put back together just right.  There will be plenty of sailing to come.

Thursday, January 18, 2018

enough with the snow!

Three coats of varnish on the gaff jaws, four more to go.  Leather, whipping line and brass cut tacks in hand to finish the jaws.  Sodium hypochlorite arrived from Amazon for the last part of sail cleaning this weekend.