Wednesday, April 29, 2009

an uneasy life


I should have known the source of the poem below. Dances with SandyBottom googled it and found that it was written by Sissy, wife of artist Walter Inglis Anderson. I must have come across it when I read "Fortune's Favorite Child: The Uneasy Life of Walter Anderson" by Christopher Maurer. It's one of my favorite biographies - don't know why I did not write down the source when I read it six years ago. The artist's life is a fascinating look at the tension between creativity and mania. Throw in a southern family, the Gulf Coast and a painter rowing to barrier islands to look for inspiration and you've got a great read.
Thanks for tracking that down Paul.
-Steve

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

unbreathed air

green water and the sun
whiteness and brightness
salt
and unbreathed air


My apologies to whoever wrote those lines. I copied them in to a notebook a few years ago and failed to write down the source. But that is what it felt like out sailing yesterday. The photo is from a Carolina cruise a couple of years ago, but we had those same blue skies here yesterday.
-Steve

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Byard in Oriental


The folks at Towndock.net in Oriental did a very nice piece on Byard Miller as the passed through that great waterfront village. Check it out here. Oriental is a great little town, the folks at Towndock.net just make it better. (A highlight of the Skeeter Beater will be tying up at the town dock and visiting with the crew at The Bean. Good people, friendly, lots of questions and plenty of offers of rides to get food, gas, etc.)
-Steve

boat work

Blue skies and over 80 degrees, perfect day to get some yardwork done. So what did I do? Work on the boat.
I did a little more painting on the interior, plus put in the hardware to hold the rolled up Bivys up under the foredeck between the forward edge of the coaming and frame #2. They'll be out of the way, out of the sun and spray. I also put in the purchase points for the Bivys when they are in use - a couple of pad eyes for the for shoulders loops and one of the feet attachment point. Need to get some bungee cord and a couple short pieces of nylon line and we'll be all set.
Forecast is good for tomorrow so I should get out for a sail. Will run the outboad for a while to make sure the water pump repair kit I put in place last week is in good shape. I'm not much of a mechanic, but everything seemed to go together fine and I didn't end up with any pieces left over. The advice from the local Nissan outboard dealer - the unusually named "Lacquer Specialites" - turned out to be pretty good. I've run the outboard in the garage (in a bucket of water) for about 30 minutes and it seems to be working. Tomorrow I'll make sure to give it a good test.
A big "thank you" to my youngest daughter for postponing a shopping expedition for a few minutes to take the photo at the top. The photo just above shows her in her younger days as we sailed in to Silver Lake, the harbor at Ocracoke. Those days she had time to sail with me. I'll make sure to get her out once or twice this summer.
-Steve


Friday, April 24, 2009

on the water

I've been checking in on on SandyBottom and Kiwibird as they circumnavigate Cedar Island, Beaufort and Harkers Island on an exploratory trip for the Watertribe NC Challenge 2009.
That is SandyBottom's Spot track above, you can see it here. I am impressed that they started before 7 this morning and it is now almost 11 pm and they are going strong. The skies have been dark for over three hours and they just keep paddling. It looks like they have covered 50 miles or more. When, where will they stop for the night? With the wind out of the southwest it seems like they'll fly up Core Sound tomorrow. They have a perfect weekend for the trip with great weather.
That's Spartina and Bruce off of a little island near Beaufort, not too far from where Sandybottom and Kiwibird are headed right now. We are less than a month from the Skeeter Beater. I bought some plastic cups of fruit and a bottle of olive oil today. When I looked in to the food box I was surprised and pleased at what was there. Buying an item or two each trip to the grocery store the last few months has really added up. Pasta, cous cous, breakfast bars, peanuts and sauces. A pretty good start. I'll wait until Bruce is in town for the main courses.
-Steve
ps - just as I post it looks like they have headed in to the beach north of Morehead City. Looks like a nice spot for a well-deserved rest.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

different strokes

After meeting Byard on his Sea Pearl 21 on Monday and reading about the NC Challenge on Tuesday I've been thinking about all the different ways people enjoy sailing on the way. Like the folks above doing an evening regatta on Chesapeake Bay.
And the Watertribe crowd, with sails on kayaks, racing all day and all night.
And Byard. I still can't get over that - first cruise and he does 800 miles in over three weeks.

And there's Bruce on Spartina on a near windless day just north of Cedar Island. Not in too much of a hurry to go anywhere. We ended up running in to the tiny little basin next to the ferry docks and walking to the restaurant at the Driftwood Motel for a nice burger and fries. Motored from there for an hour or two and then jumped in the water for a swim.
Going out for a few hours, a few days, a few weeks. Racing, cruising, relaxing. A lot of different ways to enjoy being out there on the water.
Just about a month until the Skeeter Beater.
-Steve



Tuesday, April 21, 2009

NC Challenge

Kiwibird and SandyBottom have announced plans for the 2009 NC Challenge, information is available on the Watertribe discussion site. Dates are September 24-27, race is 100 miles with all Watertribe rules in force. I'm sure it will be a great race. Bruce and I will just skirt some of the race course on the Skeeter Beater this spring, passing to the west as we sail down the Neuse River. In 2007 we did cover a lot of the same territory - Beaufort, Harkers Island, Core Sound and Cedar Island. All really beautiful places - rivers, creeks, sounds and canals that will make for a great adventure in an expedition style race.
Kiwibird and SandyBottom plan on paddling the course in a couple of weeks. I'll look forward to reading about that.

As for the Skeeter Beater, things are moving along. I rebuilt the water pump on my Nissan 3.5 outboard. It is seven years old, I really should have rebuilt it a few years ago. I also printed out a tide, sun and moon chart for our late May/early June trip. Tides won't be much of a factor for us, but knowing the daylight hours will help with planning.

-Steve

Monday, April 20, 2009

Bygone, a journey up the ICW

Crossing the Ablemarle and Chesapeake Canal this morning I saw the distinctive cat ketch rig of a Sea Pearl 21, a figure in foul weather gear at the tiller waiting for the bridge to swing open. I had an errand to run, so I took care of that and dropped by my house to get my camera. I caught up with the Sea Pearl at the Great Bridge Locks. The skipper was heading out of the locks when I got his attention and he motored over to the shore.
It was Byard Miller aboard his Sea Pearl "Bygone." He had left Palatka, Fla 23 days ago, headed north on the ICW. The York River, his final destination, is just up the Chesapeake Bay. Byard is from Arkansas. He had bought the Sea Pearl a year ago for sailing on the lakes of near his home, but had always wanted to make the journey up the ICW. He looked happy and healthy, smiling as he talked about strong winds, heavy rainfall and the beauty of the waterway. The boat looked in great shape (I could use some tips from him on how to keep a boat organized). He laughed about traveling in the company of million dollar boats, wondering why everybody wanted to take a photograph of his boat, the smallest one in the group.

He didn't have the exact distances for his trip, but as he added up the numbers it sounded like somewhere around 800 miles along the coastline. He had slept aboard his boat the entire trip (what do you think of that, Bruce?), save for a two hour nap in a marina locker room during a stormy night. As he talked about the trip he used the word "we" so often that I glanced down in to the canvas convertible cabin to see if he had a crew member catching up on some sleep down there. But I realized "we" included him and his Sea Pearl.

What a great trip, the kind of adventure I would like to do some day. I'm glad he took a minute to motor over to the shore so we could talk. Then he backed Bygone's bow off of the marsh and continued north toward Norfolk and then the York River.
-Steve
PS - as I am posting this the thunderstorms have arrived, heavy rains and thunder rumbling in the grey clouds. Byard should be close to downtown Norfolk, hope has has found some shelter.



Saturday, April 18, 2009

saturday sailing

Had a nice sail today. It wasn't the sail I wanted or had planned, but that's the way it is. I was going to meet friends Tom and Malcolm on the Eastern Shore of Virginia for some sailing, even behaved well enough to earn a kitchen pass from the family for an overnight stay there. But the boss had other plans and turned my three day weekend in to a one day weekend. Tom, Malcolm, thanks for the invite. I'm sorry I missed out. Maybe next year. I did have time for a short sail today on the Elizabeth River. With the spring activity is picking up. Lots of tallships today, including the Peacemaker, above. From their website it seems that it is sailed by a group with distinct religious and social beliefs. I don't know if I would agree or disagree with them, but the crew waved and they seemed like nice folks. I do I agree with Graham Greene when he said he could not mock a man for his beliefs, he could only envy him for having something to believe in.
And Full Circle from Greenwich, NJ. Got a nice thumbs up and "Cool boat!" from the guy taking the pictures. They had a pretty cool boat too. I'm sure they had a great winter down south.

That's the Spirit of Independence taking a group out for a tour. I'm glad to see folks out on the water.

And that's the American Rover taking some more folks down the Elizabeth River. Nice day! I had the good fortune to do a Great Chesapeake Bay Schooner Race years ago on the Rover. Very nice trip down the bay. I think we are coming up on the 20th GCBSR this year so I've got to figure out a way to get on a boat for the fall event.
Five weeks until our trip, I feel like I'm in training. I did come across a problem as I had a hard time shutting off the outboard (usually I have a hard time starting it!!). Suspect there is some corrosion build up on the kill switch. I'll check it out this week.
Not the sailing on the Eastern Shore that I had hoped for, but pretty nice.
-Steve



Thursday, April 16, 2009

in search of Washington Tuttle

I don't know any more about Washington I. Tuttle than what is written in the three and one-half pages printed off an internet site years ago. His friends called him Tut. He had a wry sense of humor and an understated way of describing his adventure. He had done some small boat cruising. He didn't seem too concerned about planning. He liked a cold beer now and then.



I thought of Mr. Tuttle when I read the comment to the blog from S R "Seth" Wood. Seth grew up sailing the Eastern Shore and is now builidng a Pathfinder. His dream cruise - a Delmarva circumnavigation. "It can be done!" he said. The Delmarva peninsula is the narrow piece of land, made up of of parts of three states - Delaware, Maryland and Virginia - that separate the Chesapeake Bay from the Atlantic Ocean. Decades ago (the transcript never mentions the year), in a small catboat, Washington I. Tuttle made that circumnavigation.





He left his home in Queenstown, Md. while his wife was asleep, he said, so she could not object. It was mid-August, the month with the highest temperatures, the month with the least wind. He sailed north to Worton Creek where he stopped for a beer. Dinner was dry that night - he had forgotten to pack water for the trip. With a fair wind (and water picked up at Worton Creek) he sailed north the next day past Betterton, the Sassafras and Turkey Point, entered the C & D (Chesapeake and Delaware Canal) and motored to Chesapeake City where he left his catboat at a marina.


After a few days break he returned to his boat and motored in to Delaware Bay dodging cargo ships, thunderstorms and thick clouds of flies. He eventually anchored in "a big ditch", also known as the Jones River, for the night. Near Cape Henlopen, where Delaware Bay opens in to the ocean, Tut ducked in to the Lewes and Rehobeth Canal, stopping for the night at a drawbridge. The next day he sailed in to Rehobeth Bay and called his wife - he needed money. Next stop was the Coast Guard station at Indian River. He timed his departure the following day for the slack tide and sailed past the stone jetties into the ocean. He sailed south on the Atlantic, and then he turned west in to Ocean City, Maryland, tied up at a commercial marina, had a sandwich and a beer.


Tut worked his way south inside of Assateague Island with the barrier island to the east and the wooded coast of the eastern shore to the west (I've visited beautiful Assateague Island, walked a couple of hundred yards back behind the dune line and found pieces of shipwrecked boats scattered about the sand, boats so old they were held together not by nails but by wooden pins). He left his boat for a week at Chincoteague (pronounced "Shincoteauge" by the locals) to return home for work, hitchhiking to Tees Corner (a convenience store still there to this day) to catch a bus back home.

Resuming his trip Tut took his boat out on the ocean again. He sailed south all day, chased well offshore by the vicious blue headed marsh flies. He anchored for the night at a small harbor near a Coast Guard Station on, according to the transcript, Anismas (I cannot find Anismas anywhere on the charts - could the writer have misunderstood Tut saying "an isthmus"? There were a handful of CG stations on the barrier islands, decommissioned and eroded away by the late 1960's). Out on the ocean again he continued south then entered the barrier islands to anchor in the small harbor at Oyster and have a beer with a fishing boat crew.


He continued south to Fisherman's Island at the very southern tip of the Delmarva Peninsula and turned west in to the steep waves of Chesapeake Bay. He pushed through the waves under power and then turned north for a rest behind the sunken concrete liberty ships of Kiptopeke. Further north he entered the waterman's harbor just north of Cape Charles (he mistakenly calls this Chesapeake City) where he anchored near "a rickety pier and a small store on it." (In the late 1980's I visited the harbor. It was filled with deadrise boats from Crisfield and the Tangier Sound area. They were down south that fall dredging (or as they said in their island brogue "drudging") for crabs. The store was still there, old grizzled fishermen buying candy bars, crackers and hot chocolate. The harbor has since been turned in to an upscale marina with trendy shops and a restaurant few watermen could afford).

Tut continued on his journey north, passing through the channel at Tangier Island and continuing north through Hoopersville. At 9:30 at night he stopped at Poplar Island. It was foggy the next day and he worked his way north, eventually putting in a double reef before reaching Kent Island at 11:30. A short while later her arrived back to his homeport of Queenstown. As far as I can tell the trip involved about 15 days of sailing and somewhere over 400 miles made good.

It sounds like quite a trip. I've always liked catboats, for a long time that was my dream boat. I've heard catboats, along with jazz, described as a true American invention.


Mr. Tuttle did not have a gps or high tech clothing. His anchor light was a kerosene lantern hung in the rigging. Did they even have sun block back then? I can almost picture him with worn blue jeans and a khaki shirt, maybe a faded downeaster cap with a long bill. And clear eyes that drifted towards the horizon.


Bruce saw the mention of the Delmarva circumnavigation on the blog too and asked about it. "Do you want to think about doing that someday" he asked. I agree with Seth that it could be done in a Pathfinder. It would certainly be an adventure. I guess we need to add a Delmarva circumnavigation to the cruise list.


-Steve

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

small jobs

Had some free time this morning so hooked up my old Garmin etrex legend gps to the computer and used Garmin's MapSource software to update my waypoints for the Skeeter Beater. Also took an old pair of glasses, about two years out of date, and added them to the first aid kit on the boat. I'm honest enough with myself to admit that if I did lose my glasses overboard I would not be able to read a gps or, worse, the instructions for launching a flare. So I double-bag the old glasses (that's our rule on the boat - If it needs to be bagged, bag it TWICE. If it doesn't need to be bagged, bag it ONCE (it is amazing how moisture can cause unexpected problems)) and tucked them away. Below is a screen shot of my waypoints. I also printed out a hard copy of this map that I will laminate and use for quick reference on the trip.

Just about five weeks until our trip. Bruce tells me he is off on a week-long photo expedition in the southwest. I'll look forward to seeing his shoot.

-Steve

Monday, April 13, 2009

a little maintenance

I was supposed to go sailing today, but when I went for my morning walk it was colder and cloudier than I had expected (good call on the weather Tom H).  So instead I decided to do some painting.  After three seasons of sailing and four cruises there was a lot of wear and tear on the interior of Spartina.  The cockpit sole and bunk flat (area forward of the thwart) were pretty well scratched up.  The bunk flat beneath the foredeck looked like it had been sanded already, the result of the bucket that holds the anchor sliding around.  The edges of the aft cockpit seats were worn through to the primer (mostly because I like to lean back against the coaming and prop my feet up on the edge of the opposite seat).  So it was time to do some maintenance.
When I cleaned out the cockpit it surprised me how much "stuff" was inside the boat.  Life jackets, foul weather gear, fender, anchor, boat hook, compass, bilge pump, spare line..... the list goes on and on.  And that doesn't even include the gear that is stowed away under the hatches.  As I looked over the equipment I decided it was all needed for safe, enjoyable sailing, nothing really that I would leave behind.  The good thing about the Pathfinder is that there is plenty of room to store the gear so it is not in the way.    Life jackets go up under the foredeck with the gas tank and anchor, oar and boat hook sit in the aft part of the cockpit, starboard and port, behind the coaming.  Foul weather gear is behind the coaming midships.  Throw cushions and dock lines bungeed up against the hull, behind the coaming, up forward.  Everything has a home where it is easily available and yet not in the way.  Add that to the list of great things about John Welsford's design.
So I spent most of the day sanding and painting.  I'm not the best painter around, I just don't have the patience (I remember Kiwi's on the JW builders site talking about ten coats of paint with wet sanding in between  - I would rather be sailing than painting).  But it looks a lot better than it did.  I like to tell people Spartina is a pretty nice looking ten foot boat (stand ten feet away and she looks pretty good).

Hoping for better weather next weekend to get out sailing here or maybe even sneak over to the Eastern Shore.

Note to self:  Do NOT mess around with any Navy SEALS.

-Steve

Sunday, April 12, 2009

where are we??

The post below, with the catchy title of "OK ESN:0-7404110", is a test "ok" transmission from my Spot satellite beacon.  The last two days I've been watching the Spot tracking page of  Sandybottom and Dances with Sandy Bottom as they take their Core Sound 20 (that's Dances with Sandy Bottom and son on that boat with reefs in both sails, looks like a great ride) to Cedar Island to do a little scouting for this fall's North Carolina Watertribe event.  Above is a screen shot from their track.  It has been fun to watch them and it also has reminded me that I needed to set up my Spot for the Skeeter Beater.  
I created a new profile with the "ok" message you see below.  For the "help" message I ask my friends and family to contact my brother and have him call BoatUS with my location and BoatUS membership number (I don't want ten people calling BoatUS with the same request, so I asked them to just confirm that my brother is handling the call).  
For the 911 message, which would be directed to the Coast Guard, I gave them our names, gave a description of Spartina and a list of emergency gear that we will have on board.  I've talked to Coast Guard helicopter pilots and rescue swimmers a few times.  They have all told me the more information they have, the better they can deal with a search and rescue.
For this test transmission I've just got myself, Bruce and the blog email addresses in the profile.  I'll add several family members and friends before we go.  I'm glad to see that the email was automatically posted to the blog.  We'll send "ok" message three times a day - when we raise anchor in the morning, midday and then again when we drop anchor for the evening.  So position updates will be posted here.  I'll also put a link somewhere on the right side of the blog to the Spot tracking page which will show our progress every 10 minutes.  
Bruce took advantage of a tip from Kiwibird and snagged a FREE Spot when they had a special program a few weeks ago where you paid for a year's full service and they threw in the hardware for free.  Great deal, thanks Kiwibird.  
We'll have two Spots, two gps's and an epirb on board.  I don't think we'll have any trouble knowing where we are.

-Steve

OK ESN:0-7404110

Steve and Bruce are ok. Click link to see a map of our location.
ESN:0-7404110
Latitude:36.6862
Longitude:-76.2257
Nearest Location:not known
Distance:not known
Time:04/12/2009 08:16:25 (US/Eastern)
http://maps.google.com/maps?f=q&hl=en&geocode=&q=36.6862,-76.2257&ie=UTF8&z=12&om=1

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

a list of lists

I'm on the night shift this month so in the mornings I take care of chores around the house, walk the dog and do a little planning for the trip.  A check of the calendar shows we are about six weeks out from the trip.  I can't wait.  
Now is a good time to look at our list of lists. We've a sailing gear list, safety gear list (both blatantly stolen from the Watertribe website), hypothermia gear list (also from Watertribe), food list, gps waypoints list and hotel/marina list.  This morning I started working on waypoints and hotel/marina lists.
Above is Spartina tied up at the public dock in Oriental.  We arrived there late morning, left before dawn the following morning.  We had a great lunch, couple of beers waterside and a great dinner.  While there we stayed at the Oriental Marina & Inn.  That will be on the hotel list again for this trip.
We also plan to stop at Bath, Blackbeard's old hangout.  There we'll stay at Bath Harbor Marina.  We've got a couple of other spots we might visit, so there will be four or five hotels/marinas that will be on the list.  Soon I'll print out the list with all the contact numbers and have it laminated, it'll be tucked in a folder with some satellite photos of anchorage areas.  I'm content staying on the boat - that suits my bank account just fine.  Bruce prefers the occasional hotel - and that suits his wallet (good for him and me too!).  We'll probably spend six days anchored out, four days in towns along the way.
I also dug out my gps, an old, very basic model Garmin Etrex that works just fine.  I've got about 16 waypoints already loaded on there from my past couple of trips.  The marks start at Engelhard, curve down around the shore of Pamlico Sound to Swan Quarter and Mouse Harbor, then they go south to the Bay River.  I made a quick list of which waypoints to keep, which to delete (being an older model gps it can only handle a limited number of waypoints) and which waypoints to add.  There will be just four new markers starting at Oriental and leading up the Neuse River to New Bern - entrance channel to Oriental, Wilkinson Pt, McCotter Pt, and the Trent River entrance.  Should be simple enough.  I'll send the list off to Bruce and he'll have the waypoints loaded on to his newer model gps (we like to have redundancy when it comes to both navigation and safety gear).  That's Bruce below at the tiller crossing the Neuse River on the way to Oriental.  You get out in the middle there and sometimes land is out of sight or just a thin line on the horizon.  It is nice to have those waypoints to point us in the right direction. 

-Steve

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

the venetian sky


A couple of posts ago Bruce gave me credit for a photo of a beautiful evening sky.  I told him later I did not think I took the photo, I thought he took it.  "Doesn't matter" he said.  My feelings exactly!
We were on the Ocracoke to Hatteras Island ferry on our way home from our Cedar Island circumnavigation.  It was our second ferry ride of the day, we had already done the Cedar Island to Ocracoke ferry.  We had looked around Ocracoke a bit, had a nice dinner and were heading to Hatteras to stay with a friend for the evening.  As we crossed Hatteras Inlet the evening sky just kept getting better and better.  My oldest daughter, the art fan, tells me it is called a Venetian sky.  I'll take her word for it (I had thought it was a Dutch sky, but she said no, that would have had storm clouds in it).  It was beautiful.  Both Bruce and I took photographs using the two camera we had available - a nice Canon camera (that is Bruce below, using his Canon inside the barrier island near Atlantic, NC) and my Pentax Optio waterproof camera.  Who used what camera?  Who took what photograph?  That is long forgotten.  But I'm glad the images stay with us.  
I've crossed Hatteras Inlet dozens of times over the past twenty years.  It is a beautiful place.  But I have never seen it quite like this.  This is the reward for getting out on the water, having an adventure.  You never know what you will see.  
-Steve




Saturday, April 4, 2009

breezin up

The wind was cracking today on the Elizabeth River.  I put a reef in the main at the ramp.  It wasn't long before I took in a second reef on the water (it's easy to reef the main on a yawl, the mizzen points the boat in to the wind and the main boom holds down the center of the boat).  We even sailed under just mizzen and jib for a while on a very nice reach and with just the two sails did over five knots.  It was a lot of fun!  Blue skies, a handful of sailboats on the water.  Sunburn, windburn.  Salt spray coming over the bow.  
This is one of the reef knots I tied in at the ramp.  I am very glad that I asked the folks at ES Bohndell to put in two sets of reef points.  I don't remember how much they cost, but whatever it was they are well worth it.  I use the first set of reef points every once in a while, I use the second set just once or twice a year (like today).  When you need them, they make all the difference in the world.  It can turn a rough sail with the boat on its ear in to a nice relaxed, SAFE time on the water.  
I've always wondered about the term "reefing" sails.  I don't know where it comes from.  The other day I stopped by the waterfront in Hampton, Va to take a look at the boats on the waterfront.  Nearby I saw some artwork, reproductions of boat designs written in French.  On the sails were the sets of reef points, clearly marked "rise de cape."  I tried to google a translation but could not find anything that made sense.  But I wonder if somehow the word "rise" (digging back to my high school french I'm guess this is pronounced "reez") turned in to "reef".  Anybody out there know about this?
Above is Aaron, a friend from the office.  He has spent a lot of time on the water in canoes and kayaks.  He and his wife have had a sunfish for a couple of years.  Just last week they bought a 17 foot boat.  I hope to see them out on the water this summer.  He sailed with me today, but now that he has his own boat I'm sure he'll do all his sailing on that.  
The snowbirds are starting to show up.  These folks on "Somewhere in Time" are from Toronto, I found them anchored in Crawford Bay near the ICW's mile marker "zero".  They are wrapping up a seven month cruise from their home in Canada to the Bahamas.  "Living the dream", they said.  And it was better than they hoped.  They'll spend a few weeks on Chesapeake Bay till it warms up, then head home.  This is one of the things I like about sailing on the Elizabeth River, meeting people like this.  I was so interested in talking with them I forgot to take their picture.  But I did photograph their boat, a Nordic Tug.  
And here is Winslow Homer's beautiful painting.  Breezin up, that's a pretty good feeling.

-Steve

Friday, April 3, 2009

The Never Mentioned Aspects of Cruising And Neat Skies

There are a lot of nice web sites/blogs out there that share a lot of great stuff about small boats, building them, cruising in them, competitions, and the list goes on. Steve and I have enjoyed many of them over the past years, and for me, some of the great adventures I read about fueled my desire to go cruising with Steve. However, there is one set of topics that no one ever seems to mention, but everyone has to partake in. In fact, you see the adventure shows on TV, see great adventures in the movies, yet no discussion or even a hint of what has to be the most obvious non-discussable aspect of human activity. Yes, going potty and staying non-smelly. I know, gross. But knowing what to do, where and how to do it can make daily life more enjoyable, especially in the outdoors.

When Steve and I first started talking about cruising, the thought of the daily routine never really came to mind. But when we laid out all the gear we were going to take on his garage floor, I noticed a portable potty.

That's the potty right in front of Steve. Notice the roll of toilet paper in the bottom left.

"So Steve", I said, "why do we need one of these?" pointing to the potty. "Well", he replied, "Just because it's called the Outer Banks doesn't mean you can just pull up to any beach and make a deposit". "Most of the beaches are protected wildlife areas and dumping is frowned upon". You have to be somewhat self contained, if you know what I mean. Well that solved part of the logistical problem, the where you do it. (The how was easy once you learned a few technical operating procedures, plus our own native knowledge developed over years of experience.) But how do two people on a 17 foot boat, at anchor, settle the daily call? That worked out well, too.

The potty is stowed up under the forward deck during cruising operations. At night we needed to move most of the stuff stowed under the forward deck so we had room for our sleeping gear and our feet. This meant putting the potty on the cockpit floor aft of the thwart and facing the stern. In our sleeping bags, we faced forward. So, one could use the potty in complete privacy, sort of, while the other stayed in the bag or worked on rolling up the sleeping gear. We generally had the boom tent up during these moments so no problem with Peeping Toms, but who would peep is beyond me.

Early morning business completed! Ah the open air!

Now there are a few things I have learned about outdoor nature calls. And while these are things I learned camping, they apply in every situation I can think of. First, bring plenty of paper, and keep it protected in zip lock storage bags. Wet toilet paper is a real trip and moral killer. I mean you just can't get a usable piece if it's wet, it falls apart in you hands, not to mention it is no longer absorbent. We kept the paper sealed in zip lock bags and in a water tight storage compartment handy to where the toilet was set up. It was always fresh and ready to go, as were we. Another important supply to bring are baby wipes. I know, it sounds weird, but these are indispensable in keeping things fresh and tidy. A sore bottom is nobody's friend. You'll have no chaffing if you follow this advise. They are also good for wiping down the rest of the body. Freshness is as freshness does.

Now, after a number of hot and humid days, there may appear to be dead things hidden in the boat. Don't be alarmed, it is just a little hygiene problem that some soap can't fix right up. I always bring along some Campsuds I get at REI. As the manufacture says:

This all-purpose, biodegradable soap in a compact bottle works in hot, cold or salt water to wash just about anything.

Anything includes you! Steve and I had been out for a few days when we lost all the wind. It was hot and the humidity started to climb. Perfect weather for Mr. Stinko to appear. As the day wore on we found a great place to anchor and rest up. The water on Pamlico Sound was like a mirror. Steve said he was going to take a swim, I was thinking maybe I wouldn't. Steve said that I really should and that I should be real friendly with the Campsuds, and a good rinsing after wouldn't hurt either. What could he mean? Anyway we did go swimming.

Ah, death to Mr. Stinko. Really great, calm water.

Bruce, watch how easy it is to get back in the boat.

Well after about thirty minutes of floating around, I had one of the bumpers, it was time to get back in the boat. Steve had thrown a knotted line over the side to help climb back aboard. With a few heave hos he scrambled back on deck. My turn. Now clean and refreshed I felt I could do anything! Except get back in the boat. What a struggle. After much effort and with Steve's assistance, after he stopped laughing, I managed to get in. The biggest problem was the shape of the hull that Steve talked about in his last post. I would swing back under the hull towards the water making it harder to pull myself back in. (Steve has since fixed this problem with a rope ladder over the stern.) Well, once again peace and order returned to Spartina. We had cleared the air and were ready for more adventure.

Finally, one of the best things about cruising is the sky. (Besides keeping fresh and clean and all pipes in good working order that is.) We had some magnificant ones on our cruise, especially a sunset while we were on the ferry to Cape Hatteras on our way home.

One of the best sunsets I have ever seen.

Looks like a painting. Great shot Steve.

Sunrise and morning glass off at the Swash.

Sunset off Raccoon Island.

Afternoon Sky over Wainwright Island

It is only a couple months until we head out again on another cruise. As we continue to plan out the trip, the excitement grows as we look forward to more great skies and seas, secure in the knowledge we will be fresh and ready to meet people where ever we go.

Bruce