Tuesday, June 18, 2019

a sailor at sea

A stunning photograph by Webb Chiles from the last leg of his circumnavigation on the Moore 24 GANNET.  For more see here.

Sunday, June 16, 2019

day five - a quiet creek

Sail off anchor 6:20 under mizzen and jib.  Chilly, maybe under 50 degrees, and blustery wind out of the north.  Out in the open water of Mouse Harbor raise a single reefed main, sail to the sunrise with lots of spray coming off the bow.

Very strong north wind, tack just after 7:00 towards Pamlico Point.  Past the point big waves coming across the width of the Pamlico River in groups of three.  Sailing along Cedar Island I look for a spot between waves to come about, hoping to tack my way across the river and into the Pungo River.  We come about just as a strong gust hits.  We round up but not quick enough, the starboard coaming slips under the water.  Round up again, use the bilge pump and a sponge to clear out the water.  Sailing again I look at the wind and waves.  We're not going to make it to the Pungo today.  Come about one more time and fall off towards the entrance to Goose Creek Canal.

In the canal at 9:00, anchor down in Dixon Creek 9:45.  Strip off the foul weather gear and spread it out to dry.  Self-heating brunch of GoMeals Hash Browns and a can of tuna.  Then a nap in the warm sunshine.

I wake a little after noon.  Sails up and out on the canal.  The wind has disappeared, just light shifting breezes.  Perfect for a day sail!  We tack back and forth on Goose Island Creek, track the eastern shoreline casting for trout.  Hook a small fish but lose it quickly.  Glancing at the chart I notice a creek across the way.  Snode Creek.

We sail past the house on the point, follow the shoreline and the creek's entrance disappears behind us.  Nothing but blue skies with delicate white clouds, trees, marsh and water.  Just beautiful.  I make a few casts along the shoreline but decide instead to just enjoy the afternoon.  How could I have gone down Goose Island Creek so many times over the years and not seen this wonderful water?  We follow the winding shoreline, the breeze steady, water calm.  SPARTINA, and I, were made for this kind of sailing.  Fish jump along the cordgrass, a snake swim's across the bow.  Great blue herons watch from along shore, ospreys circle above.

Anchor down 4:30.  Venison Casserole and a cup of mango for dinner.  Well-rested from the nap earlier in the day, I stay up late reading my book on the little yawl tucked back in the creek. 

Running total of 120.9 NM, just over 35 hours of sailing.

Saturday, June 15, 2019

day four - back north

I wake in darkness, well-rested and ready to go.  Only after I have slipped out of the bivy and into my clothes do I check the clock on my phone.  It is only 4:30.  I think of crawling back under the sleeping bag but instead take my time packing away the sleeping gear, folding the tent, putting everything in place.  

Sails up just after 6:00 just outside the breakwater.  Broken overcast, north wind and making 2.5 kts.  It is cold so I layer on a light jacket and slip on my foul weather bibs.  Mango pineapple bar for breakfast, wind improves giving us 4.5 towards Piney Point on a pretty morning.  

A mango fruit cup as we sail by crabbers working pots about mile offshore.  The wind is better than forecast.  Just before 8:00 doing 3.8 off of Gum Thicket.  A high overcast with banks of lower clouds to the north.  Perfect wind lets us sail parallel to shore.

Off Broad Creek the wind begins to fail, 2.2.  Under power at 8:40, skies beginning to clear.  Rounding the Lighthouse Shoals I stop to bring down the main and jib.  At 9:00 I top off the outboard tank and strip off the foul weather pants and jacket.  At Maw Point boats on the ICW turn into the Bay River while I continue on north.  Patches of wind here and there, nothing sustained.  What looks to be a small raft with red strobes floats in the distance.  I wonder if it connected to the military.  Getting closer I see this it is three or four mylar birthday balloons, the light catching the red mylar looks like flashing strobes.  I grab it and stow it in the trash, glad to remove some debris that might eventually kill a turtle or a whale.

More hints of wind at Boar Point.  Sow Island Point at 11:30 and soon a light SE breeze.  Sails up, making 3.0 with wind over the starboard quarter.  Tuna fish and a fruit cup for lunch just after noon.  Making 2.4 across the mouth of Big Porpoise Bay. 

 We sail under a low, dark cloud, the water shivering beneath the cloud but calm all around.

Casting for trout at Big Porpoise Point, no luck for me as I watch a couple guys who have beached their boat and cast from the marsh shoreline, bringing in six nice fish in the time it takes me to sail by.

Just before 2:00 the SW wind comes in strong and hard, then swings to NW, making 5 kts.  Very, very gusty.

In Mouse Harbor at 2:45, drop the main at 3:00, sailing under mizzen and jib, looking for an anchorage protected from the NW wind.

It's fun sailing under the two small sails, tackingback and forth along the marsh line makes for a fine afternoon.  Anchor down 4:00 in Southward just below Hog Cove.

Running total of 101.9 NM and 28 + hours of sailing.

AlpineAire Sausage Pasta and a mango cup for dinner.  High winds out of the N forecast for the early morning hours.

Tuesday, June 11, 2019

day three - the shoal/cocktail hour

Sail off anchor before 6:00.  I had thought I had heard a "hum" when I woke in the middle the night, worried that I would find SPARTINA covered in mosquitoes in the morning.  No mosquitoes, maybe it was the wind in whistling through the pine trees.

Overcast with a light westerly breeze that carries us down Gale Creek.  Blueberry bar for breakfast.  A patch of blue in the sky.  On the ICW by 6:10, making 3.7 on the canal, then over 5.0 past Gale Point. 

Sun breaking through on the Bay River, 5.5.  Approaching Maw Point at 7:00, sun breaking through and rounding the point at 7:10.  Sailing 50 yards off the rich green marsh, pelicans diving for baitfish between us and the cordgrass.  The shore falls away to the west.  7:25 tack NW back towards shore and calmer water.  Overcast sliding up the Neuse River from the south, 5.4 kts.  Tiny Swan Island to the west, bright sandy beach, Piney Point to the southwest.

Tacking out away from shore, big waves coming up the Neuse in groups of three, low grey overcast and dark grey water.  Tack back towards shore, see a line of breaking waves ahead.  Just as I realize it is a shoal the cb touches bottom and the rudder pops up.  I wait until SPARTINA heels and raise the cb a few inches, tacking back towards the center of the river where there is plenty of deep water.  Cb back and rudder back down I continue sailing SSE.  The waves are big and the wind is strong.  I think about reefing but decide to push the boat (and myself) a little bit harder.

Tack back WNW at 9:15 and find calmer water close to shore.  A series of tacks and the entrance to Oriental in sight at 11:00.  The wind seems to be moderating.  Overcast is gone, blue skies and white puffy clouds.  Pretty sailing.  Tied up town dock in Oriental 12:40.

Sitting on the porch at The Bean having a glass of iced tea I see a trawler come up to the town dock.  A 30-some foot sailboat on one side, SPARTINA - with a sparred length of 24' -  takes up the other side.  The trawler backs away and comes back to tie up along the seawall.  I run over to catch the lines but with the bow-thruster going the captain can't get the trawler in close to the wall.  The boat is touching the bottom.  I hear the captain tells his wife "We'll just have to go back out."  I tell them that is my little boat on the far side of the pier, why don't we trade places?  He says "If that's ok with you."  And it is. It seems like no being deal to me, but a very big deal to them.  He makes me promise to join them for their cocktail hour.

A couple hours later it is the cocktail hour on the trawler, the captain and his wife turn out to be friends of friends.  A beer and some very fine single malt whiskey for Islay mixed with enjoyable conversation.  We sit on the aft deck of the trawler watching a storm skirt the harbor.

Dinner at the Toucan Grill is Tuna Tataki, a fine meal washes down with a glass of wine.

Running total of 70.85 NM, 18 hours sailing.

Monday, June 10, 2019


I found on the spring sail that some of my gear is getting old.  A lot of it has been in use for a decade now so it is worth updating for the fall trip.

SPOT was offering what seemed to me to be a really good deal.  With credits on both the SPOT Gen3 and a year's service, I was able to get the new tracking device and a year's service for less that the annual service fee coming due in July for the original device, left above.  The folks at SPOT were not happy when I called in to cancel the service contract on the original device, they said the sale was based on the idea of SPOT users having a second active device and it was expected that I would continue both contracts.  I only need one device, much to their displeasure.  Advantages of the new SPOT are that the user interface (ie buttons) are easier to use, it is smaller and it seems to be more accurate with the gps locations.

My old radio, left above, which I use mostly for weather reports and the occasional bridge opening, began losing the broadcast signal on the last trip.  Sometimes I would have to hold it at a certain angle to be able to get the weather.  I replaced it with a Cobra Marine HH350, which is lighter and a little smaller.  It had good reviews,  I hope it is a good radio.  I'll tuck the old radio away in a dry bag as an emergency backup.

And because of another good deal ($100 credit on any digital camera working or not sent to GoPro) I upgraded from my Hero 3+ to a Hero 7+.  I've done just a little testing with the new GoPro but so far it appears to be an amazing camera.  It will shoot "linear" images (as opposed to the traditional "curved" GoPro images, it responds incredibly well to voice commands (we'll have to see how that works on a breezy day) and the video is extremely high quality with built in stabilization.  I don't shoot that much video as of now, maybe that will change.  The old camera I sent it for the discount was a non-working Pentax Optio, so I 've still got the old GoPro as a backup or even a second camera.

Next on the list - Garmin GPS....

Sunday, June 9, 2019

day two - storm cells

Awake at 5:15.  A breezy night, SPARTINA swaying in the gusts.  Dark overcast morning, hint of light to the east.  Winds seem to calm while raising anchor at 6:00.

Tiny orange glow in the clouds on the horizon, rounding up the sun makes a brief appearance above the water then disappears into the clouds.

Downwind to Sound Point, mint chocolate bar for breakfast.  Little Porpoise Pount at 6:25 in a light rain.  Big Porpoise Point at 6:35, making 4.7 to reach Middle Point at 7:15.  

We begin a series of tacks on the water between the poles that mark the edge of the bombing range and Goose Island to the west.  Wind and waves on the bow, lots of spray and heeling to the wind.

We round up in Middle Bay to sponge out the water.  A series of short tacks carries us around Sow Island Point and into Jones Bay.  The wind is building, round up to tuck in a reef at 8:45, making 5.6 under single reefed main, mizzen and jib.  Extremely strong gusts on the wide bay, SPARTINA heeling a taking some water over the coaming.

We anchor along the south shore of the bay just inside of Gibbs Point to clean out the water and check the weather.   Looking at the gps, charts and wind, I consider going down the Bay River with a straight shot across the mouth of the Neuse and into West Bay.  But the weather station is warning of severe afternoon thunderstorms.  The clouds to the west are getting darker.  Under power at 10:00 we head down the ICW, rounding up to check the weather one more time just inside of Gale Point.  More reports of approaching storm cells.  I decide to seek shelter.  Bear Creek is just around the corner past Gale Point, a perfect place to tuck away.  Under power we round Gale Point to find wind on the nose and very steep waves pounding on the bow.  Bear Creek is only a few hundred yards away but I don't think we can make it.  

We turn back and motor up the icw, turning into narrow Gale Creek where it leaves the canal.  Peaceful and calm, we motor up the creek and tuck into a little cove.  

Anchor down 11:30, I rush to set up the boom tent, rain beginning to fall just as I haul on the halyards to tension the tent in place.  

Two series of storms pass over, the first in the early afternoon and the second about 4:00.  The boat cleaned from the morning rough sail, I nap, read my book and make notes in the log.  An early dinner of New Zealand Back Country Roast Chicken with veggies and mashed potatoes, a cup of mixed tropical fruit for dessert.

Running total of 43.22 NM, and just shy of 12 hours sailing.

Wednesday, June 5, 2019

day one - wind out of nowhere

Cast off from Potter's Marine just after 10:00.  This overcast with light breeze and an occasional gust.  Making 2.8 kts down the creek until a line of trees blocked the wind.  A line of geese paddles along shore.

We tack past a line of bright purple crab pot markers.  At 10:30 more wind and I hope for a direct course that will carry us down Pamlico River to the Sound.  Fisherman cast for trout at the edge of the marsh, 2.2 kts and a late breakfast of a mixed berry bar and a buffalo/cranberry stick, steak and eggs for a small boat.  Light SW wind approaching Chambers Pt.  We lose the wind completely, motor around the point then drift for a bit.  Under power 11:20 until a south wind arrives a few minutes later.  

Almost noon.  A light overcast, patches of blue sky and a few low, dark grey clouds.  Water becoming glassy calm.

Wades Point, at the mouth of the Pungo River, to the NE.  Two cormorants skim over the smooth river.  At 12:30 a dark line of rippling water approaches.  East wind!  Sailing!  3.5 kts then 4.3.  Wind drops, swings to NE.  Back down to 1 kt.  Then wind comes back, 3.0.  There's a tall stand of pine trees off the starboard bow, beyond that is Pamlico Point and the Sound. 

Leather on the gaff jaws creek as we roll in the chop.  We have sailed into a hole in the wind.  Mired in calm water, ruffled water ahead.  

The wind arrives fast and hard.  At first 4.5 kts and then the wind builds out of the SE, waves rolling in from the Sound, SPARTINA heals and lots of spray coming over the bow.  Tacking closer to shore, 5.0 knots with calmer water in the lee of the marshes.  A late lunch of tuna fish.  The marsh grass is bright green, the sky deep blue.  A series of tacks to the south shore of the river then back out again.  Great sailing. 

Green Marker #1 at 3:45, Pamlico Point ten minutes later, 4.4 kts.  Past the point we fall off and slide across Mouse Harbor at 5.5.  I slap water on my chart book pages so they stick together and don't blow back and forth in the wind.

I take a look at a couple small coves for possible anchorages, but the water is calm behind a wide expanse of marsh that separates the bay from Pamlico Sound - no need to tuck into a tight anchorage.  We fall back from the marshes.  Anchor down just after 5:00.

23.12 NM
7 hours of sailing

Beef stroganoff and mango fruit cup for dinner.  Chance of rain after midnight.  I set up the boom tent and get out the sleeping gear.

Thursday, May 30, 2019

Lagoa Sete Cidades

Blue and green lakes in the old volcano.


The Pilgrim walks out of a cave during the morning walk at Lagoa Sete Cidades, the third volcanic lake we've visited.