Friday, January 18, 2019

a spring walkabout

The winter weather has me thinking of spring.  And thinking of spring makes me think of a spring walkabout.  I've marked time off in May for a sail on Pamlico Sound.

It has been years since I've used Potter's Marine on Ashton Gut just off the Pamlico River.  I have been in touch with Conway down there a couple times this past year.  He's got a great ramp and plenty of room to leave the jeep and trailer.  

Just a mile or two downriver to the Pamlico and from there we could go west to Bath and Little Washing, east to Bluff Point and Ocracoke, or south to Goose Creek Canal, Jones Bay, the Bay River and Oriental.  Any which way the wind blows.

I've sailed this area before, miles and miles of winding creeks and bays.  Marshes and wooded shorelines.  Peaceful anchorages where I can wake at dawn to the sound of marsh birds tucked back in the salt grass.

And in May, maybe some fish around too.  Speckled trout, below, and possibly some puppy drum.  We'll see.

I should be on the water today.  52° with clear skies and a light breeze.  But work calls.  
Winter arrives Sunday.

Thursday, January 17, 2019

the polar vortex is broken and I don't feel so good myself

Word comes from the Washington Post that the polar vortex has broken and that means, according to the story, a stormy and cold weather pattern is on the way.  

In the short term that means a rainy Sunday with temperatures dropping for 55 degrees to 19 degrees overnight as a strong front rolls through.

The forecast for the next 10 days or so cold temperatures, rain and, at times, strong winds.  Not sailing conditions even for a dry-suited sailor.  The Post story says the weather pattern should peak in a couple of weeks.  Here's hoping for some sailing weather in February.

Sunday, January 13, 2019

open boat cruising, Tuscan style (with subtitles)

We have a bit of a nor'easter here, cold, wet and windy (but no snow!).  No sailing this weekend so time to catch up on a few things.  I have been meaning to write for some time now about Enrico and his wonderful open boat sailing on MIRA, a Goat Island Skiff.  His blog is called La Polisportiva Franconi.  I do not speak Italian but Polisportiva is self-explanatory, particularly when seeing the entries about sailing, cross-country skiing, downhill skiing, running, biking, rock climbing and mountain climbing.  I think there is some horse riding in there too.

It is the sailing of course that interests me and Enrico has done some excellent cruising on MIRA.  He has produced a series of videos using GoPro cameras and adding a running commentary in Italian but with English subtitles.  It is my kind of sailing, simple and fun. 

Here are links to two cruises:

Lago di Como, three days on a lake where his wife joins him for the final day.
Sailing the Mediterranean along the northwest coast of Italy including, I think, Cinque Terre, an area I hope to visit someday.

MIRA, when I first came across Enrico's page, looked familiar.  Checking Lorenzo's blog I saw the the Goat Island Skiff was part of the Miravar fleet.  At this anchorage from the raid I think that is Lorenzo's Pathfinder ASTRID off to the left and the blue hull of MIRA in back. (I just can't imagine sailing into a beautiful Mediterranean anchorage like that!)

So, a cold winter day here but photographs and videos from open boat sailing in Italy have warmed my day.  Thanks, Enrico.

Monday, January 7, 2019

cool and cooler

There was a sail boat regatta on Sunday.  A friend on the committee boat invited SPARTINA to join in for the afternoon series of short races.  I declined, offering instead to serve as the spectator fleet, a fleet of one.

Wonderful winter sailing today and yesterday.  Temperatures of about 50 degrees yesterday and steady winds out of the northwest NW, building to the point that I tied in a reef late afternoon.

With another day off I left the boat down on the very quiet Norfolk waterfront.

Colder and winder than forecast this morning, winds coming out of the east with a nearby weather station showing gusts approaching 20.  That is out of my range for typical winter sailing so I raised just mizzen and jib.  Even with the two smaller sails I was making 4+ kts.

An interesting boat came through on her way to the shipyards.  I believe the to be the CITY OF BISMARCK, an expeditionary fast transport ship operated by the Military Sealift Command. 

Slate grey skies gave way to sunshine mid-morning which warmed things up a bit.  The drysuit, worn over good quality thermals and a wool sweater, served me well.  I have received a few emails asking about the drysuit.  I am not advocating winter sailing with the suit, just sharing my experience.  If I were to advocate anything it would be the advice of my Coast Guard friends: water temperature below 50 degrees, stay off the water in small boats.

Monday, December 31, 2018

video fixed, I hope

Barry tells me my video was not playing.  I think I have fixed it.  Try here. But before you do, consider how valuable that 1:25 of your life might be.  Might want to spend it elsewhere.

Happy New Year!  steve

shaky camera, bad audio

Every time I get that first view of the Pasquotank River it takes my breath away.  Each and every time.  And I've seen that view for thirty years now.  Down past the Dismal Swamp to old highway 158, right turn on North Water Street and I look to my left to see that beautiful river.  The water, stained a tea color by the the swamp's cypress trees, ambles a dozen miles from Elizabeth City waterfront down a gently winding tree-lined path to Albemarle Sound.  But it always looks to me like a river that goes on forever.

A wonderful day of sailing, the last sail of 2018, yesterday.  For some reason I got the bug to shoot some video with the GoPro.  Shaky camera and bad audio, don't bother watching it unless you got a minute and 25 seconds of your life that you will never want to get back.

Shooting videos will always be an exception for me, I prefer still images.  I'll leave video to my sailing friends who know how to use a steady camera and capture clean audio.

Yesterday was also a good test of the new Stohlquist Amp drysuit.  The water was cold enough - 50 degrees - to wear the suit for safety but the air temperature was up to about 65 degrees.  I had to wonder if the drysuit would be too hot, or maybe even clammy with the warm weather.  It was not.  It was in fact very comfortable.  Stohlquist advertises a four layer waterproof/breathable material and I guess they aren't kidding about the breathable part.  I have only used it twice but have to say I am very pleased by both the comfort and safety it provides.

A great way to end the sailing year.  Looking forward to 2019.

Sunday, December 30, 2018


Whipped by the wind, bleached by the sun.  How many miles has the pennant flown at the top the the mast during a decade-plus of cruising?  The pennant, a gift from my Mom, arrived the evening before SPARTINA's first cruise.  How many days snapping in a crisp wind?  How many peaceful nights tucked back in a tiny cove?  How many dew-covered dawns tinted orange by the sun peeking over the trees.  Sometimes I think too many, sometimes I think not nearly enough.

Saturday, December 29, 2018

last sail of the year

Reports to the Elizabeth City Coast Guard station of a giant mango sailing a small yawl on the Pasquotank River proved to be false.  It was just me out for the last sail of the year on a beautiful day.  I even shot some video and hope to have something to post tomorrow or Monday.

south to Betsy Town

last sail of the year