Saturday, November 21, 2009

a dime on the needle/the last sail

A while ago I heard a guy say "sometimes you got to put a dime on the needle to keep it in the groove." I liked that phrase. I knew exactly what he meant - put a little more focus, a little more effort into the task at hand. I wondered if anybody from the ipod generation would know, in a literal sense, what he was talking about.

Today was my last sail of the year. This is, I believe, the latest I have ever sailed around here. It has been a great year on the water. Two great cruises and a lot of daysailing. The forecast was for rain today, but I woke to clear blue skies and a nice breeze. So I hooked up the trailer and headed to the ramp.
There was a little history on the waterfront today. That is the USS Bainbridge. It was tied up at Nauticus as part of a celebration of the Navy's rescue of the captain of the Maersk Alabama last spring. I mentioned a week ago that I had seen the famous lifeboat where the captain was kept hostage. The Bainbridge was the ship that took the lifeboat, with three pirates and the captain, in tow and eventually (by way of Navy SEALS) rescued the captain. What struck me as interesting were the markings painted up near the bridge - a skull with crossed swords. How often do you see that on a Navy ship these days? (I couldn't get close enough to photograph the markings, something about the armed patrol boat made me keep my distance.)

You can see the weather started out very nice with blue skies. There is my local weather station, part of the Chesapeake Bay Interpretive Buoy System. With a computer or phone I can get up to the minute data on the weather conditions. Right now it tells me that the water temperature on the Elizabeth River is below 60 degrees. That is the reason my sailing season is over - I don't have the gear ( a drysuit) that I would need to sail safely in cooler waters.

The folks above aren't worried about cooler temperatures. They are southbound from Montreal, headed for Nassau, Bahamas. Sounds like a nice winter to me.

And another interesting ship was in port today, the Amistad. This is a replica schooner of the slave ship that was taken over by slaves and sailed to a US port. I was lucky enough to sail on the Amistad a few years ago, I took that photo below hanging in a harness below the enormous bow sprit. The real treat of the sail on her was getting to meet Captain Bill Pinkney, an interesting man that first made his name in the sailing world by doing a circumnavigation in a boat that became a floating classroom for school children. I've got some great memories of the sail down Chesapeake Bay on the Amistad, it was good to see that ship again.

But I've got to say the best part of today's sail was having my oldest daughter, home from college for the holiday, join me on board Spartina. She used to be a regular part of the crew, she was always good at handling the mainsail and jib halyards. It was nice to have her around again.

She took this photo of Spartina after I dropped her off on the waterfront, a nice little memory of this last sail.

With sailing done for the year I've got a lot of my plate. There are a lot of chores I need to do around the house. Plus Spartina, after four years of sailing, six cruises and countless day sails, needs some paint - hull interior, exterior and bright work. And I've been trying to write a magazine article about The Crabhouse 150 sail. How do you take a seven day trip and boil it down in to 2,000 words?
So I've got a lot to do this winter. I guess I need to put the dime on the needle.


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