Monday, August 31, 2015

a brief and tragic history

The cruise bookshelf is complete with the arrival of "A KINGDOM STRANGE, The Brief and Tragic History of the Lost Colony of Roanoke" by James Horn.  

The story of the 118 men, women and children who tried to establish England's first colony in North America has always fascinated me, and that fascination has grown since since I've spent quiet evenings walking the grounds of the colony on Roanoke Island.  I've read a handful of books about the disappearance, with many speculating that at least some of the colonists went south to Hatteras Island and assimilated into the Native American tribes there.  One book suggested that a few members of the colony were sold into slavery and used to work mines in copper mines in the mountains.  And yet another reported that the colony headed north and built a village just a few miles from where I am sitting in my home north of the Virginia/North Carolina line.

Like many good mysteries, the disappearance of the colony might be solved with a clue that was hidden in plain sight.  John White, the artist, ethnographer and governor of the colony on Roanoke Island in the Outer Banks, had drawn a map known as La Virginea Pars.  The 1585 map, which shows the area from the mouth of Chesapeake Bay south to Cape Lookout, had two paper "patches" covering small portions of the chart.  Thought to be put in place to make corrections to the map, recent studies show that one patch covered up the symbol for fort or colony site at Salmon Creek, just across Albemarle Sound from present day Endenton.  The distance from Roanoke Island to Salmon Creek is about 50 miles.  John White, after the disappearance of the colony, gave testimony about a possible colony site 50 miles inland.  Now labelled Site X, archeological digging has found evidence that members of the colony may well have been there.    

The New York times recently published a story about the dig near Salmon Creek, which you can read here, though I will take exception to the author's description of "two cypress swamps teeming with venomous snakes."  I've been in a lot of cypress swamps.  Yes there are snakes there and yes some are venomous.  But "teeming" sounds a little excessive.

A KINGDOM STRANGE was written two years before the discovery of the hidden fort symbol, but the author, Mr. Horn, has been involved in the current research and it will be interesting to see how he wrote about the colony prior to learning of the Salmon Creek site.  

The other book on Spartina's shelf, or rather in a plastic tub, will be T. C. Boyle's SAN MIGUEL.  One book about Roanoke Island, the other about one of California's Channel Islands, I must like islands.


I bought a dozen mini-cheese rounds, about one ounce each and wrapped in wax.  They store very well without refrigeration and make excellent afternoon snacks when sliced and put on crackers.  And I bought a half dozen one ounce packets of peanut butter and honey, which should also go well with crackers.  

A pack of 20 lithium batteries will be arriving this evening from Amazon.

I've drained and recharged the GOAL ZERO power pack two times to keep it fresh.

The Honda 2.3 hp outboard has new oil and spark plug.

All the gear is migrating to my youngest daughter's old room, where it will stay until I do a final packing in about two weeks.

I have my two Luminaid lights near the window to charge, but suspect they were still fully charged from the spring cruise.

Saturday, August 29, 2015

test sailing the new camera

Trying out the new camera on a beautiful August day with unseasonable dry, cool air and an east wind (I'm thanking El Nino for that).  As of Thursday evening the forecast was for clouding with five mph of wind here or seven mph wind in Elizabeth City and I was going to make the drive just for the two extra mph of wind.  By  Friday evening the forecast had picked up to 10 to 12 mph with clear skies, so I sailed on the Elizabeth River.

My friend Ryan's Hans Christian "Mistral" was anchored out in Craford Bay, as it has been all week.  That was Ryan and his wife rowing in from their anchorage in an earlier post this week. 

Just a wonderfully pleasant day with steady breezes and the occasional strong puff.

Very happy with the camera at this point, though I do see why some reviews mention the camera does not have a good "grip."  I can work with it, just takes a little getting used to.

The waterfront shot with the easy panorama setting, and it really was easy.

My friends on the American Rover were photographing me as I photographed them, we'll have to swap images sometime.  I like the shadow detail with the camera, plus the color balance.

The lanyard worked out well, sometimes hooked to a bungee and sometimes to the eye bolt that hold the boomkin in place.  If this one goes overboard it will take some work and I'll deserve all the blame.

And there is Ryan's Hans Christian sailing off anchor and headed to the marina on Little Creek.  What a nice day on the water.  

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Swash Bay

"I don't understand" said the voice over the scratchy connection with Chincoteague Island.  "You say you've got a small boat, and you say your going off for a week or two?"  

All I wanted to know was if I could leave my jeep and trailer parked at the harbor after I launch for the fall cruise, but "small boat" and "a week or two" did not jibe for the gentleman at the other end of the line.  After explaining that I've done this sort of thing before, I know what I'm doing, the resigned voice said I could leave my trailer there if I had the ramp permit and if the trailer was hooked to the jeep.  Might want to leave a phone number at the office too.

I've been looking over the charts at Swash Bay, the marshy area south of Wachapreague Inlet and behind Parramore Island on the seaside of the Eastern Shore.  If the wind is out of the northern quadrant I will sail out of Chincoteague Inlet and come into Wachapreague Inlet, then sail south through the shallow winding channels.  There are two passages, the marked channel, in red, and what seems to be an unmarked but deeper channel to the east, in purple.  The unmarked channel is more direct, and with a north wind it would be a nice sail.  

From past experience sailing inside the barrier islands I know that the channels, shallow and with running tides, don't always match the charts.  It can be interesting when trying to decide to go through this opening in the marsh, or that one, or maybe there is another farther beyond.  Miss a channel entrance and there not much room to come about and head back.  The more waypoints the better.  

Here is the satellite image of the Swash Bay.  Looks like open water.... I wish.  There is most likely a channel through there, or at least there was when the chart was made years ago, and with a high tide it might be a good passage.  But at low tide, it might be a sand flat, or worse, a mud flat.  We will see.

So Chincoteague is good for launching and leaving my jeep and trailer.  A call to the harbor at Cape Charles, the alternate launching point, told me the same for their ramp.  Just please leave a phone number at the office.

Sunday, August 23, 2015