Sunday, January 17, 2021

Friday, January 15, 2021

boat work

A beautiful, almost spring-like day with blue skies and a warm south wind.  Perfect for a little boat work.  Started on the Bristol varnish on the coaming and rub rails.  The photo above is a deceptive.  Much of the bow is in good shape and just touched up a spot or two.  It is the rub rails that get the abuse for pilings and it will take a few coats to get them looking decent again.  And, as always, will stick to my work boat regimen.  Nothing fancy here.

 Also put the final coats of primer on the rudder and at the bottom of the rudder stock.  Will start finishing the rest of the stock with varnish tomorrow.  We've got rain coming but it will still be warm enough to do the work.

Tuesday, January 12, 2021


Stuff from SPARTINA, and some new stuff, seems to have taken over the room over the garage.  I needed to clean the boat out for winter maintenance.

There is some new gear in the mix, above the Watershed Drybags, that I been packing and repacking to see what fits best where.  You also see some food supplies at the top right - Rx bars, cans of tuna, ginger chews and Tanka bars - that I am using as I try to come up with the most efficient way - both for space and  access - to pack and stow.

There is a new boom tent storage bag from the nice ladies at Little Bay Canvas, plus various lines for docking, reefing and whatever.  I want to figure out what I need and don't need.

In the meantime I am working on SPARTINA.  Last week was sanding.  This week a little more sanding and the epoxy work.  And if the weather is as warm as forecast later this week maybe I'll do some varnish work too.  Then more varnish and painting next week.

 I want to get it all done by the end of January, which should be very possible, so I can get in the Mango drysuit and do some winter sailing on the Pasquotank River.

Is it just me, or does it feel like we are back in a lock down these days?  Maybe just survival mode kicking in.

Tuesday, January 5, 2021

the new year

It finally felt like the new year this morning as the warming sun burned the frost off the dock on Scuffletown Creek.  I had left SPARTINA on the river for December, a month with more rain than usual and a couple of wind storms.  I sailed a few times but not nearly as much as I wanted. I found myself leaving the boat in the water with the hope of a New Year's Day sail that, because of rain, was not meant to be.

The tide and wind were perfect this morning at 6:30 (the pre-dawn time and temperature - 36 degrees) not so much, to bring the boat home.  

I drove to the ramp just off the southern branch of the Elizabeth River, leaving the jeep and trailer there as the Pilgrim picked me up on her way to her downtown office.  An early morning walk took me right up to day break.

It felt good to be on the water, so, so good, even if just for a motor up the river with sails still covered.  It was fresh and open and I enjoyed the clean, chilly air.  It was also a good morning to test-drive my new Ice Breaker medium weight (#260, though I don't know what that number signifies) merino wool thermals.  They worked very well.

Mist hung about the docks on the little creek as I readied to haul SPARTINA for some winter maintenance.  There is some sanding, epoxy work and varnishing to do.  Plus painting some of the interior cockpit and storage areas.  With more and longer trips this year, plus leaving the boat on the Elizabeth River for daysails, she has been exposed to the elements more than ever.  And it shows.  I expect the maintenance to take about four weeks.  And there will be some modifications too, including putting the new rudder stock and rudder in place, and adding a downhaul for the jib.  

February is for some winter sails/test sails, most likely on the Pasquotank River in Elizabeth City.  Then in March, well, we'll see.  Maybe head south for some warmer weather.


Friday, January 1, 2021

New Year's Day

 Down to the Dismal Swamp for a hike and a selfie.
I hope everyone has a great 2021!

Thursday, December 31, 2020

from Scoot

 From my friend Scoot, who lives in the Outer Banks but I sometimes see him on the Pasquotank in Elizabeth City.  He got out for a sail yesterday on Pamlico Sound, a nice afternoon before all the rain arrived.  I'm envious.  Happy New Year's!

Monday, December 28, 2020

ANNIE, a drascombe longboat cruiser, for sale

My good friend Curt has put his beautiful ANNIE, a drascombe longboat cruiser that he had custom built, on the market.  I can't imagine this is easy for him to do but life changes makes this a necessary move.

I've had the pleasure of sailing on board ANNIE and also alongside of her on more than a few cruises.  Nothing brightened a morning more that waking up on a creek somewhere and looking out the boom tent to see the boat with the green hull and tanbark sails anchored nearby.  Swan Creek, Oriental, Mouse Harbor, Tangier Island, Chestertown and Langford Creek are some of the places where ANNIE and SPARTINA have crossed paths.  

From Curt:

For Sale      S/V Annie

Wooden Drascombe Longboat Cruiser with Coaster design elements. 

Rigged and configured for single-handed or two-person expedition sailing. Will accommodate additional crew for day sailing.

21’9” LOA; 18’0’ LOW; 6’7” beam; 1’0” draft centerplate up, 3’6” plate down
Yawl rigged with tanbark sails. Mainsail with 2 reefs, roller-furling jib and mizzen. 172 sq. ft total.
Sails and standing rigging new 2018.

Construction: Built by East West Custom, 2007 in Elliot, Maine. Only and last built in the US. Bruynzeel sapele (African mahogany) ply, lapstrake with WEST epoxy, Honduran mahogany trim, recycled teak rails and grates. Stainless steel centerplate and rudder.

Auxiliary propulsion: 6hp Nissan Marine outboard, custom sculling oar

Load Rite trailer with radial tires. Reconditioned 2019

Custom full length storage cover, cockpit tent and dodger

Custom cockpit and salon cushions, ample storage and included equipment and amenities

Well found and maintained with several thousand miles of US cruising along the east coast, west coast and St. Johns River of Florida, the sounds and Outer Banks of North Carolina, and the western and eastern reaches of the Chesapeake Bay of Virginia and Maryland.

Viewing by appointment in Richmond, Virginia. Send request by Contact page at
Specifics available by inquiry

 References:        2012 issue #74

$28,000 obo

Sunday, December 27, 2020

picture perfect

Light winds but a picture perfect post-Christmas sail today.  Just an hour or so on the water today but it was very enjoyable.

It was not all good for IT'S ALL GOOD, the boat that caught on fire last week.  I am surprised they did not tow it away and suspect it will just sink to the bottom of Craford Bay.  About a hundred yard another boat sank over a year ago and is still there.  

Hope to get out for a New Year's Day sail.

Wednesday, December 23, 2020

farewell rubbermaid tubs

Above are two brand new Watershed Ocoee waterproof duffel bags, the newest cruising gear for SPARTINA.  Not cheap at $118 each, but very well made with several lash points (I really like the ability to tie gear in place) and compression straps.  They passed my "wait and see" test which involves seeing something that appeals to me and then waiting a few weeks (or in this case a few months) to look at it again and see if I really want to make the investment.  More often than not I decide, when using this test, to not purchase the particular item that caught my eye.  In this case I did.  

They will replace the two small Rubbermaid storage boxes that you see port and starboard underneath the coiled lines on SPARTINA.  Those boxes probably cost me about $10 each over a decade ago at the hardware store.  They have served me well, the one on the port side holding books, the log, anchor lights along with a few other items, and the one to starboard holding the cook kit.  They are not at all waterproof and it surprises me to say that in over ten years of doing two to four cruises a year only once have the contents of one box gotten wet.  

That was on a sail up the Pamlico River, a gusty day when I was thinking with my stomach more than my brain as I tried to reach a nice little waterfront steak house in Washington, NC.  A good all purpose lesson learned:  Think with your brain, not your other organs.

I bought these because:
  • they are waterproof
  • take up less space than the boxes
  • fit on SPARTINA, with lashings in place, as if they were designed for it
  • they are bright orange and will float - if I ever end up in need of rescue I plan to have a bright and easily traceable debris field
I also bought them because I recently learned that, despite the fact I stopped working in early February, my termination date of my few decades of a career is actually January 1, 2021.  A bit of a going away gift to myself.  How nice...

Tuesday, December 22, 2020

a sad story about a favorite place

The Washington Post tells us that the virus has reached Tangier Island.  Peter Jamison and photographer Katherine Frey (these are her photographs) put together a very poignant piece about the isolated Chesapeake Bay Island.  The people there are very tight nit, and the demographics are skewed to an older population.  Those two factors make them vulnerable.  

I sailed to Tangier twice this year.  The first time was in June.  I did not go on the island then because of the virus but I did see Ooker, the town's mayor (above), when he motored by to check on me and say hello while I was anchored in Cod Harbor.  I was there again in September, and I did go on the island (practicing social distancing and wearing a mask) for a nice lunch.  Leaving Cod Harbor the next morning for Pocomoke Sound Ooker again motored by to ask where I was headed and then went off with a friendly wave.

They are good people out there.  I wish them the best in these difficult times.