Wednesday, November 15, 2017

a walk in the park

It wasn't until a friend commented about the photograph in the most recent post, the bicyclist riding by the Norwegian tall ship on a rainy morning, that I realized how many of my favorite photographs I have taken at or near Town Point Park in Norfolk.  I go their often.  It could be morning, noon or night.  It is near my office.  Sometimes I go to walk.  Sometimes I go to have a glass of iced tea (early in the morning the second floor balcony at Waterside is delightfully empty).  Sometimes I take a camera.  Here are a few photographs taken along about 1,000 feet of the waterfront.

Monday, November 13, 2017

on the waterfront

Rainy morning on the waterfront. 
That's the 100-year old Statsraad Lehmkuhl,
training ship for the Royal Norwegian Navy.

Friday, November 10, 2017

a recent history of me

I've added these photographs, and a few more, to the boat, stormy, and calm posts which can be found at the top of the column on the right of the blog layout.  I had not looked at those collections of photographs for a long time.  I found it interesting, when scrolling through them to add the photos from the fall sail, that I could remember the moments surrounding each of those images, some a decade old, often being able to recall what I was thinking about while taking the photograph.  Seeing the pictures together in the collections, remembering each of those moments, told me something about my life that I was not completely aware of.

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

day fourteen - St. Michaels

Up early, courtesy of the deadrise alarm clocks.  Two or three workboats heading out of the creek before even a hint of dawn.  I'm up breaking down the boom tent when one deadrise passes by so close I can say "Good morning."  Sail off anchor before 7:00.

A south wind pushes out of the creek and past the channel markers.  We round up for the sail to St. Michaels.  Making 2.1 knots as the sun shows above the horizon and casts a warm light.  

Wind slacks, then fills in again.  Making just 1.8 sailing close to the wind.  Deepwater Point at 8:45, 2 knots.  The morning goes from cool to warm to almost hot.  More wind off St. Michaels, 3.4 tacking across the river then coming about to head into St. Michaels.  Birds dive on schools of feeding fish.  I make a pass along the waterfront, passing the old Hooper Strait lighthouse, a skipjack and a deadrise.  Docked in time for a nice lunch in town.   I see some friends and say hello.  

The journey is done, 325 miles on the gps.
Fine sailing, people, weather, food.  Escape.
I smile.

Monday, November 6, 2017

day thirteen - formal wear

The wake from a deadrise passing nearby brings me out of a deep sleep.  Cool, calm night.  Heavy dew on the boom tent.  As I break down the tent I see the deadrise is working three trotlines that surround Spartina.  I leave the tent hanging from the boom as I put the long lens on the camera to photograph the waterman working in the light mist hanging over Shaw Bay.  

Sail off anchor just before 8:00, I'm getting lazy these days and sleeping in.  We drift for a while then motor at idle speed, catching a light wind on the Wye River.  Blue skies and a few white clouds.  It is a fine day for a day sail.  I could easily be in St. Michaels for lunch but instead I want one more day on the water.  Wind comes and goes, monarch butterflies flutter along with the sails.  More wind and steady sailing at 3.6 knots approaching Parsons Island, I reel in a small striper.  

We sail on towards Crab Alley with a nice south wind.  I see a yellow shape just underneath he surface of the water.  I expect it to be a ray until the largest sea turtle raises its head then dives quickly.  I did not know they had sea turtles this far up the Bay.  We come about off the marina at Crab Alley, passing back behind Parsons Island where we drift in the wind shadow of the trees.  It is becoming hot.  

Wind picks up in the afternoon, probably the finest wind of the entire trip.  We tack up the Miles River at 4.1 knots.   An eagle makes two low passes over the river.  On the third pass it reaches down with huge yellow talons and grabs a fish, a fish big enough the the eagle struggles as it flies towards shore.  

I hook a striper on the trolling line, maybe the largest of the trip, putting up a fight and making me think is is 30 inches or more in length.  I work the fish in towards the stern of Spartina.  The fish heads to the starboard side where I have to pass the rod around the mizzen.  Doing so I leave some slack in the line and the fish slips away.  Good fight, but I would not have kept a fish that large, it would have been a waste.  

Nearing Deep Water Point I know that St. Michaels would be in sight just around the corner.  I turn downwind towards Tilghman Point, following the channel into pretty Tilghman Creek. 

Anchor down I straighten up Spartina and get ready to fix dinner.  I hear the rumbling of a diesel engine, look up to see a sailboat with men wearing various versions of tuxedoes.  I tell them they did not need to dress up on my account.  "We always dress up for a fine lady," one man responds as he gestures towards Spartina.  They also confess the tuxes are for the last evening race of the season in St. Michaels.  I wish them a good race and say goodbye.

Dinner, then a peaceful evening on the creek with countless flights of geese passing overhead.

Saturday, November 4, 2017

day twelve - south

Calm and clear overnight.  Up before the dawn, a light NW wind.  Sail off anchor at 6:46, tack towards the marsh, come about and follow yesterday's track back down Hail Creek.  Two terns make a splash as they dive in the creek, then fly away quickly as more terns arrive to try and steal their catch.  A gentle sail at less than 2 knots towards the Chester River.

More of a breeze out on the river, 2.8 knots on a tack towards Kent Narrows.  It's just a few miles and we enter the channel under power for the 9:00 lift.  The tide is ebbing and the narrows are choppy. I hold alongside of the channel at the visitor center pier then cast off, idling out in the current until I hear the bells announcing the bridge lift.  A friendly wave from the bridge tender, Spartina is the only boat to go through.

It's mid-morning and I decide lunch at the narrows would be good.  It's too early though so I sail in the light breeze and watch a couple guys in a small boat setting out and retrieving crab pots.  A little to the south a waterman is setting out his trot lines.  We tack up into the coves and just relax on the pretty morning.  I tie up at The Jetty before the restaurant opens, the waiters saying Spartina will be fine there as I head out for a nice long walk.  Then back as the restaurant opens for a nice salad in the shade while I charge my phone.

We cast off from the dock early afternoon, no wind so we motor and troll south on Prospect Bay.  The wind comes and goes near Parsons Island, sailing now in the light wind and casting to schools of stripers breaking the surface.  A small striper brought into the boat and quickly released.  St. Michaels is not too far away and I could easily be there by evening.  But I want to have some more time on the water.  

By 4:00 headed to the Wye River, rounding Bennet Point with schools of striper feeding at the river's mouth.  Cast and bring in another fish, again released.  At the end of Bruffs Island we sail southeast into Shaw Bay, we have the anchorage to ourselves.   Anchor down at 5:30.

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

day eleven - morning and evening

Clear, calm night.  I wake comfortable and dry but find the boom tent covered in a heavy dew.  A light fog hovers over the river.  Twenty minutes later the sleeping gear is stowed, the still wet boom tent folded and stored in its bag.  Sail off anchor just after 7:00.  Fish break the smooth surface of the water, gulls and terns fly with intent across the river.  

We drift with the mist inside of the anchored sailboats, the morning sun casting a shadow of Spartina's jib, gaff-rigged main and mizzen along the shore.  

By 8:30 the mist is gone, sunny cool morning, making .8 knots.  A crabber works his trot line, running the length of the line faster than most crabbers I have seen.  He dips his net now and then bringing in a crab.  We leave the Corsica River to find a light NE wind on the Chester River, making 1.1 knots to Piney Point.  Cast to feeding gulls and bring in a small striper that is quickly released.

Late morning the wind shifts to NW, 3.5 knots down the Chester.  I'm not quite sure where to go.  I could easily make Kent Narrows, but it is too soon in the week for that.  I search the chart of Kent Island and don't see any anchorage that appeals to me.  Then I look at Hail Creek.  Not too far away.  With plenty of time left in the afternoon I motor to a boat ramp on Eastern Neck, a good chance to empty the holding tank and drop off a bag of trash.  That done I push off from the dock and enjoy an easy sail south.

At Hail Point I turn up into the creek.  It appears much smaller than what I expected from the chart.  Maybe a couple hundred yards deep and a hundred yards wide, maybe a dead end.  But as I sail north I see the marsh winds to the northwest and opens to a large pool of water that is protected on all sides.  To the west and south a stands of tall pine trees, eagles flying to and from the trees to the west.  To the north and east is a thin line of marsh grass, Spartina alterniflora, separating the creek from the Chester River.  I see the tops of sails as large boats head up the Chester.

I clean up Spartina, relax, read and nap in the afternoon.  Dinner is venison in white wine and mushroom sauce mixed with casarecce pasta, a fine freeze-dried meal carried half-way around the world by circumnavigator Webb Chiles and now being enjoyed on Hail Creek.  Who would have thought?

My view to the east in the evening is like a simple painting.  Calm blue water, clear blue sky, the thin line of Spartina's namesake and a little bit of sail.  I make photographs with both my Nikon waterproof camera and my phone.  As I do so I scroll back on the phone to look at the photographs from dawn on the Corsica River.  Morning and evening, a beautiful way to begin and end a day on the water.

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

day ten - fine dining, Russia house

Crystal clear, very chilly night.  Nothing is better than a cold night in a warm sleeping bag.

Wind whistles through the tops of the trees yet Queenstown Creek is as smooth as glass.  Hints of the rising sun come though the woods to the east.  

Sail off anchor before seven, receiving a text from Kantala that they'll be anchored in about 30 minutes out on the Chester River.  It is an outgoing tide, I raise the centerboard and rudder as we drift down the creek at 1 knot.  Three large sailboats are anchored on Queenstown Creek across from Salters Cove.  From the looks on their faces as they drank coffee on a cold morning they did not expect to see a small sailboat appear at the bend in the river.  We exchange greetings and sailing plans for the day as Spartina drifts by.  

We slide out of Queenstown Creek at 7:50, the entrance even narrower at low tide.  Wind falls but as I reach back to start the outboard the breeze comes back strong and steady.  Looking out I see Kantala rounding up to drop anchor.  

It's a wonderful morning with Michael and Sheila.  They had had problems with two of their steering systems on the ocean crossing and decided to go into Nova Scotia for repairs.  Once there it took a week to locate the metal shaft they needed, only to find that for some reason it could not be shipped out of the US.  So they gave up on England for the year, had the metal rod shipped to Maine, repaired the self-steering vane there and then began a leisurely sail along the coastal waters of New England.  And here they are just off Chesapeake Bay not too many miles from where we met a year ago.  

Hotcakes with syrup brought from Maine, fresh fruit salad and hot tea (the hot tea much welcomed on a cold morning), it is an enjoyable, unexpected morning and ends too soon.  They had many miles to make before dark.  We say goodbye, I cast off and raise sails only to hear Sheila shouting that I've left my foul weather gear behind (weather had warmed considerably during breakfast and I did not miss them when I climbed on Spartina).  I sail by Kantala's port side and they toss the jacket and pants on board.  

Tacking across the Chester River at 11:30 I lose sight of Kantala motoring to the north end of Kent Island.  Wind is good and it is a pretty day.  I tack to the western shore of the river where I hear the drag on the trolling line start to click.  It's a good sized striper and I work it in close to Spartina.  Seeing its size, maybe two and a half feet long, I lean back with the rod only to watch the line break, the fish escape.

A couple more tacks and we get a wind shift, and that plus the incoming tide let's us sail a steady course up the Chester River.  

The drag goes off again and this time I work the fishing in slowly, bringing in a 21" striper, perfect for dinner.  I had planned to go to a restaurant just off the Corsica River but now fresh seafood is on my menu.  

Early afternoon is great sailing, 4.4 with a steady breeze and 5.6 with the gusts.  Enter the Corsica River at 1:40, the large red mansion on the shore part of a Russian compound that had been forced to close last year because of election meddling.  There were spies among us on the river. 

A fleet of Comet class sailboats rounds the marks on the regatta, and afternoon regatta at the local sailing club.  One Comet with a light blue hull capsizes and is quickly righted.  I'm sailing on the edge of the course and as the blue boat sails by I see a man at the tiller and a woman, his wife or girlfriend, busy bailing out the boat bucket by bucket.  

I clean the striper while cooking a pouch of boiling bag rice, then sautée the the filets in olive oil with a little bit of Cajun Sunshine mixed in.  A great and tasty dinner.  I'll visit the Centreville restaurant on the next trip (as long as I don't catch another nice striper on the way there).  Sports on the radio all afternoon and evening, the Baltimore Orioles wrapping up a painful season and the Baltimore Ravens losing terribly to the Steelers. 

There are a couple other boats anchored nearby so I set up the boom tent for privacy.  It is quiet and peaceful and calm, and I reflect on what an interesting day it has been.  A quiet and cold creek to start the day, breakfast with friends on Kantala, fine sailing, some good fishing, a spy house and an excellent dinner.  What more could I have asked for?