Sunday, November 1, 2009

crossing paths, past and present

Meetings on the water, by way of water, can be interesting. I came across one chance meeting from several years ago involving a couple of sailors I admire. And I had the chance myself to meet some fascinating people myself just yesterday.

I was rereading some chapters in Frank Dye's Sailing to the Edge of Fear the other evening. Dye pushed the boundaries of dinghy sailing with a 16' Wayfarer. His trips include sailing from Scotland to Iceland (11 days and 650 miles of open ocean sailing) and then later from Scotland to Norway (four capsizes and a broken mast). Very exciting for an open cockpit boat.
Sailing to the Edge of Fear is about Dye's sailing from Miami to Canada, a voyage he completed over several years. Along the way he talks about an encounter with a catboat sailor. After visiting Washington D.C. he sailed across Chesapeake Bay to (please excuse his geographic confusion) to "Queenstown, D.C." (really Queenstown, Md., on the Chester River) and found a nice looking 17' catboat in the harbor. The owner notices Dye circling the catboat and introduces himself as "Tut" Tuttle. This was the same very same man I wrote about a while ago in the post called "in search of Washington Tuttle." Tut will always be in my personal sailing hall of fame his single-handed circumnavigation of the Delmarva Peninsula in his catboat (identified by Frank Dye as "Dumpling"). What are the odds of two of great small boat sailors meeting like that?

Tut must have been getting on in years at the time, he had had a heart attack and his family did not want him single-handing his catboat to an annual gathering 30 miles away. So Dye crewed for him to the catboat gathering and regatta. I would have loved to have heard their conversations on that trip, two sailors who relied on nothing more than simple boats and skill to cross some very interesting water.

I had my own chance to hear some interesting conversation yesterday when SandyBottom (Dawn, above) and her husband DanceswithSandyBottom (Paul) were in nearby Hampton, Virginia to see their son Alan off on a round-the-world sailing trip.

Alan is a crew member for the EYE of the World project, a circumnavigation on board a 40' Rhodes Reliant yawl. The goal for the project to to creating a traveling real-time education resource for school children. What a cool idea, what a great adventure.

Back when I was building Spartina I began following SandyBottom's blog, learning from her meticulous training and stealing all sorts of ideas from her kayaking adventures. She is a regular competitor in the Everglades Challenge and this year organized the Watertribe's NC Challenge. Paul sails a Core Sound 20(that's Alan on the cs20 above) that he and Alan built a few years ago. If I recall correctly, the very first time they put the boat in the water was at the starting line of an Everglades Challenge. What a way to test sail a boat.
Needless to say, Paul and Dawn are a very interesting and adventurous couple. I had corresponded with both of them over the past year or so but had never met them in person. I was thrilled when Paul told me they would be up near my home.
Saturday I had hoped to get them out for a brief sail on Spartina, but scheduling did not work out. Yesterday I did drive over to meet them at the docks in Hampton. It was a treat. They were fascinating, fun people to be around. In the couple of hours I was with them we talked about - it seemed like - everything small boats. Sailing, kayaking, watertight ports, mosquitoes, packing, cabins vs. open cockpit, the joy of planning, weather, food (Dawn is a fan of Bruce's small boat menus), rowing vs. outboards (Paul would rather row), competing vs. cruising, training (Dawn got after me a bit for not intentionally capsizing my boat), sailing rigs, weekend trips vs. weeklong trips, journeys made and journeys planned....I can't believe we touched on all that, plus Alan's trip, in such a short time.
They have travelled over waters from North Carolina to the Florida keys, a lot of territory that I have not visited. But we did have the Carolina Sounds in common and it was fun to compare notes on Pamlico Sound, Oriental, the ICW and Cedar Island.
I enjoyed my time with them (that's Paul and Dawn at the Everglades Challenge finish line below) and hope to see them again. If I'm lucky someday maybe I'll cross paths with Paul and Dawn on the water.


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