Monday, November 12, 2018

six degrees of sailing


It was 44 degrees when I pulled into the ramp at Elizabeth City yesterday morning, and blowing a bit more than forecast.  I thought about tucking in a reef but decided to see how it felt with all sails up.


How did it feel?  Spectacular!  From the town's waterfront to Forbes Bay and Cobbs Point, I spent the entire day riding the breeze.  Always appreciative of my Ice Breaker thermals, they kept me warm and comfortable.


I was even treated to a small regatta from the local yacht club.  Plus a few snowbirds came through by the way of the Dismal Swamp Canal.


Days don't get much better than this.  Late afternoon as I began the drive home I noticed the temperature had soared to 50 degrees.  How nice!

Saturday, November 10, 2018

day eight - hard hat required



Cool, peaceful night.  Sail off anchor 7:25, sitting motionless is SPARTINA and making less than I kt in a ghost of a breeze.  Motor sailing by 8:00, lose a small striper on the trolling line.   Wind arrives just after 9:00.


Tacking across the mouth of the Corsica catch and release a small striper.  Blue skies and close-hauled up the Chester River at 10:30 just off the marsh at Spaniard Point.  Making 5 kts near Deep Point, just wonderful sailing, an old white house tucked back in the trees, a dog barking at the point.


I set the solar panel on the foredeck to charge batteries and phone.



It's a peaceful, winding river with little traffic.  Farms port and starboard.  A group of kayaks paddle along the western shore.  Sailing up near the eastern shore I listen to the birds in the marsh.  At noon playing the shifting breeze and working against the ebb tide, making 1.5 to 2.5.  Motorsailing at Shell Point.  The wind comes and goes, I sail when I can and motor when I can't.  


Sails down at Northwest Point, motoring past Newmans Wharf.  There's a crowd on the beach at Ralph's Wharf and I think about tying up for a burger at the beach grill made around the old deadrise there, but it is too early.  Across the river small skiffs run up and down lines of crab pots hoping to bring home enough crabs for dinner.  I continue on to Chestertown to find the waterfront to be a construction zone.  A couple tugboats and barges with cranes, and warning signs to stay off the not-yet-finished docks.  I tie up to the pilings at a nearby park and walk to the Fish Whistle for a late lunch/early dinner, then take a walk through the old brick downtown.  


We push off from the pilings and anchor out in the river near two large cruising boats.  I can smell the steaks grilling on the nearest.   A couple kayaks by to say hello, asking if I needed anything.  I tell them thanks, but no, I'm fine.  Boom tent up, I slip into the bivy listening to the dj's music for a wedding reception on the waterfront.

Thursday, November 8, 2018

day seven - at the red house turn right


There is a hole in the ceiling and through it I can see a bit of blue. Otherwise nothing but grey.  Heavy rains that came with howling winds overnight.  A comfortable, warm sleep in the bivy.


Anchor up at 7:15 and under power to get through the tide rushing through the tiny inlet.  Full sail and 4.2 kts.  Crossing the shipping channel that comes in by the beach at Tolchester, no traffic in sight.  


Further south we cross the channel again, wind aft of stbd beam, 5 kts and bouncing in the rough water.


Making over 5 kts the sun reaches through the broken overcast.  Making 5.5 and then 6 in the gusts.


Swan Point at 9:20 and we turn southeast towards Rock Hall, wing and wing.  Quiet in harbor, sunny and warm.  I tie up to the dock at the boat ramp.  In the state of Maryland all boat ramps are required to have porta potties and I need to empty out my holding tank.  Just across the way from the ramp is the Harbor Shack, a nice little spot the waterfront.  I drop in to the unopened restaurant to find a young man setting up for lunch.  "Can I fill a couple water jugs?" I ask him.  He tracks down his uncle working in the kitchen, the uncle says "sure," and waves away the few dollars I have in my hand.  So yesterday I paid $5 for two bucks worth of gas, today I get free water.  It all evens out.


Full sail outside of the harbor at 10;15, 5.5 to 6.3 kts with swells on the beam.  By 11:00 it feels like slow going as we parallel Eastern Neck.  I check the gps, 5+ kts.  Not too bad.


Off Wickes Cabin Beach at 12:20, then sailing inside of the fishing weirs we reach Cedar Point at 12:30 and turn upwind on the Chester River with a good tack towards Piney Point.  At 2:00 cb and rudder hit a submerged tree line, I'm too close to shore.  Two more tacks and I round Holton Point to see a red mansion, once a Russian compound and now vacant with overgrown gardens, and turn right onto the Corsica River.


The wind comes and goes on the winding river, the breeze on the stern.   Soon motor sailing and then under power alone.   Racing shells from a local school train up and down the river.  


I tie up at the town dock at 4:00 and walk a few blocks up a steep hill to Doc's Riverside Grill for a fine dinner and a cold beer.


Cast off and down river, I drop anchor close around a wooded point with a nice home perched on a hill.  Calm and peaceful, I can hear conversation and laughter from the home.  Maybe a dinner party.  I drift off to sleep.


Wednesday, November 7, 2018

broken


Here is the broken turnbuckle.  It was a jaw/jaw turnbuckle which meant it had a t-shaped piece on each end to hold a jaw for the line and/or tang like you see at right above.  The t broke off.  Below you can see corrosion where it broke, the corrosion telling me it had been failing for a while, allowing moisture in.  Whether it was a flaw from the beginning or a stress fracture I will never know.  Might replace with the same or possibly go a size larger.  Will have to think about that.


Monday, November 5, 2018

day six - south



Breezy, cool morning.  Thunderstorms last evening out of the southwest, then strong north winds in the early morning hours accompanied by rain.  With the stiff wind things might get wet so I put on my foul weather pants. 


Sail off anchor just after 7:00, not too long before we round up to tuck in a reef.  Elk River at 7:40 with wind over the stbd quarter, 4 kts.  Shake out the reef at 8:30 across the river from Rogues Harbor.


Grove Pt on the north side of Sassafras River entrance at 10:00, low overcast and cool, rolling downwind in the swell.  A northbound Coast Guard cutter slows down to reduce their wake, I wave and they resume speed.


Off Still Pond 11:45, a submerged branch clunks against SPARTINA'S hull.


Off Worton Creek at 12:30, 4 kts with a helping tide.


Early afternoon I spot the narrow entrance to Fairlee Creek, just a tiny break in a sand spit with the tide rushing out.  Wind on the stern we sailing through the swirling waters.


I need to top off the gas tank but the marina seems shut down for the season.  I find someone with a radio and they call the dockmaster who shows up in a golf cart.  He walks me down to the fuel pump, unlocks the small building and I top off the tank.  Two bucks worth a fuel and all I've got in a five dollar bill.  The register is empty so I say keep the change.  


Anchored behind the sand spit.  Grey skies, cool and windy.  Rain forecast for late afternoon and evening.


Sunday sail, a hardware failure


Just a spectacular day on the water yesterday.  Sunny and cool, steady wind out of the east and about ten snowbirds anchored in Craford Bay with many more passing by on their way south.  Boats of all sizes, single-handers and some couples bound for anywhere from North Carolina to Florida and the Bahamas.  Lots of friendly waves and greetings.  Fall sailing at its best.  


SPARTINA did have a hardware failure.  The shaft on the port shroud turnbuckle snapped in a gust.  I heard a "pop," saw a line go flying and watched the mast bend to starboard.  The mast bent severely, but did not break, a testament to the value of birds mouth construction.  I eased the mainsheet, sailed into Craford Bay and anchored.  After checking out the mast I used a spare piece of dyneema to tie the shroud to the tang, raised sail and spent about three more hours on the water.

It was a clear reminder that SPARTINA has had about 12 seasons of, at times, hard sailing.  It is time, past time really, to check on boat hardware that has not been replaced over the years.  I'll be doing that this week.

Saturday, November 3, 2018

day five - lily pads and lightning


Some light steady rain overnight, calm and peaceful in the creek.  Fog at dawn and a single lily pad drifting towards SPARTINA.  No wind, anchor up and under power just after 7:00.  


Cormorants perch on a fallen tree as I follow my gps track out the narrow entrance onto the Sassafras River.  A power boat hovers in the grey out on the river.  Grove Point at 7:40, Turkey Point in the distance to the north.  


Muted patch of blue in the sky, no wind but the incoming tide is in our favor.  Light breeze and motor sailing at 8:00.  Entering the Elk River at Turkey Point at 8:30, the sun breaks through at 9:00.  I'm just off Cabin John Creek so I motor in, drop the anchor and wait for wind.  Time to clean up the boat, relax and enjoy the warm sunshine.


Sails up at 10:25, light breeze and the sun is beginning to feel hot.  Battery Point at 11:30 with a solid south wind, 5 kts. on to the Bohemia River.


We follow the follow the river east past Long Point, farms sloping down to the water on either side of the river.  


Wind carries us under the bridge to where the river splits into Great Bohemia Creek and Little Bohemia Creek, though they both look the same to me.  I sail up the Little Bohemia Creek.  Not too far up the creek the hills and trees block the wind.


Counting days and looking at the calendar I see it is time to turn back south.  


We come about in light winds and make it back down the Bohemia, anchoring late afternoon in Veazey Cove.


It is a hot and humid night.  Forecast says a cool from will be coming in.  Before slipping into the bivy I sit at SPARTINA'S stern and watch lightning glowing in the clouds.


Wednesday, October 31, 2018

day four - north



Cast off from the marina in Rock Hall at 7:20 as the sun peeks through the clouds.  Sails up outside the harbor at 7:35, a flock of gulls chasing baitfish as a small boat passes by running a trot line.  4.5 kts.


Swan Pt. at 8:00, 5 kts with wind over the stbd quarter.  Dark rain clouds to the NW, maybe over Baltimore.  Winds falls off and under power.  The clouds slide east and dissipate.  The Miss Caroline out of Tolchester works crab pots along the shore.  


We cross the shipping channel, which comes nearly up against the beach, at 9:00, the only boat in the channel an offshore charter boat headed south.  Steak and eggs for breakfast, a Tanka buffalo meat stick and a RXBar made with three egg whites.  Sailing again off Tolchester, 3.5 with wind on the beam.  


With no commercial traffic in the channel we cross it once again as it angles back out into the bay.  Off Fairlee Creek at 10:30, 3.5 kts and lots of debris - mostly branches and pieces of wood - in the water carried off the shore by storms and high tides.  Light overcast with a patch of blue to the ESE, sun trying to break through.  A deadrise loaded with crab pots heads south.  The sun comes out.  A Monarch buttery clings to the mizzen.


Off Worton Creek 11:25, just over 2 kts, skies grey and the sun gone.  Warm and humid.  Under power just after noon.  Two eagles fly across the bow, one with a fish clutched tight in a talon.  West wind at 12:30, under sail.  


The wind swings to SW and then back to west.  Under 2 kts then soon over 3 kts.  I can see more wind approaching from the south.  Off Still Pond at 2:00, dark skies approaching off the stern.  Wind and rain, slip into the foul weather gear.


Rounding Howell Point at the mouth of the Sassafras just after 3:00, the light breeze blocked by the bluffs along the shore.  Under power.  We follow the shoreline past Betterton, slipping into the narrow entrance of Lloyed Creek.  Peaceful and calm.  Anchor down.