Thursday, July 30, 2009

an expedition to REI

Just back from a trip to REI with Bruce.  I picked up a thermal quick drying sun-blocking thermal shirt in case a late September cool front comes down Chesapeake Bay.  Bruce picked up some cooking gear.
Bruce did the cooking on the Skeeter Beater.  He did a great job with stews and sauces that exceeded any expectations for life on a small boat.  But in his view my cook gear (made of odds and ends from over the years) cramped his cooking style.  So Bruce grabbed a very nice MSR Quick 2 System.  It will be perfect for camper cruising with 1.5 and 2.5 liter anodized aluminum pots, a strainer lid (great for draining pasta) two polypropylene deep dish plates, two insulated mugs and a pot handle.  He also picked up a frying pan in the same product line.    This all nests together and will fit easily into the grey Rubbermaid Roughneck tote box that I use for a cook kit on Spartina.  There will be plenty of room left over for utensils, spice, olive oil, etc.  I can smell dinner cooking already.
Bruce also dropped off a thirty foot spring line he had made up for the boat.  I've got two dock lines that work well for day sailing, but as we get out to different marinas we find that an extra line would help out at times.  So he put a nice eye splice in to some 3/8" braided line.   We'll store that up under the foredeck where it will be easily accessible.
Two more days of vacation in sunny San Diego.  I grew up  here wishing I lived somewhere tropical.  Now that I am back to visit I realize I was in a tropical place all along (how could I have missed all those palm trees???).

Steve

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

together again....

Bruce and I, spouses and my daughters got together for dinner tonight in Pacific Beach (San Diego).  Very nice time.  Wives and daughters had a good laugh as we discussed our past and future adventures (they don't quite appreciate the thrill of small boat journeys, but at least they do tolerate our being gone for days at a time). 
 
Just Bruce and I will sit down Thursday to go over  charts and lists for The Crab House 150.  We are about eight weeks out from the trip (plus Bruce has a few weeks on safari between now and then)  so we need to finalize some details.  

If you are ever in Pacific Beach do yourself a favor and drop by The Green Flash for a nice dinner and glass of wine on the oceanfront patio.  Fried shrimp are great, breaded calamari steaks are even better.  It was a great evening for a reunion on the beach.

Splash!!!!

Another Pathfinder has been launched.  This time it is Perry Burton of Newfoundland, Canada (what a great part of the world that must be for sailing!) launching Pikake.  Perry has a great blog about the build, see it here.   The boat looks wonderful.  If I'm reading his story correctly he completed the boat in 11 months (I thought I was fast at 20 months), and part of that included removing a stairway and door frame at his house to get the hull out of the shop.


I think it is great that John Welsford has Pathfinders sailing from Newfoundland to New Zealand.  I'm not sure how many are out there sailing right now, I do know that more are being built.  I've heard of the design under construction in Texas, Virginia, British Columbia, the Caribbean and Australia.  It's certainly a compliment to John that the Pathfinder is making a name for itself around the world.  Congrats John.  And congratulations to Perry.  Best wishes for some great adventures.


Friday, July 24, 2009

through a storm

I got my book in the mail for tomorrow's flight out to the west coast.  It is called "Island in a Storm" and the book looked like it had been through a storm.  It was one of those strange deals through Amazon where I ordered a new book through Amazon from another retailer and paid less than Amazon's price (go figure).  It came in the mail in a plastic bag with an apology from the US Postal Service.  Don't know what happened but the hardback is now a softback, beaten and bent.  I thought of sending it back, but it sounds like a good book so I'll read as is (I wonder how a kindle would have survived that trip).  Here is Amazon's description of the book....

"In the mid-nineteenth century, the Isle Derniere was emerging as an exclusive summer resort on the coast of the Gulf of Mexico. About one hundred miles from New Orleans, it attracted the most prominent members of antebellum Louisiana society. Hundreds of affluent planters and merchants retreated to the island, not just for its pleasures, but also to escape the scourge of yellow fever epidemics that ravaged cities like New Orleans each summer. Then, without warning, on August 10, 1856, a ferocious hurricane swept across the island, killing half of its four hundred inhabitants. The Isle Derniere was left barren, except for a strange forest standing in the surf."

The family and I are heading out to San Diego to visit the rest of the family.  I'm taking along my chart of Chesapeake Bay as we'll see Bruce and his family our there too.  It will give us a chance to go over the route, different options, anchorage, hotels, etc.  The Crab House 150 is less than two months away so we've got to start making some decisions.  While in San Diego we'll swing by REI and the huge West Marine store to pick up a few items for the cruise.

I read on SandyBottom's blog that the Yukon 1000 is in progress.  Sounds like an exciting race.  I've never been that far north but would like to go someday.  Reading about the race made me think of a NY Times review of a book about cold places.  The book is called "Cold: Adventures in the World's Frozen Places."  The Times gave it an excellent review and so did Amazon.  I'll add it to my reading list.  

Steve

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

launchings

I'm thrilled to see that there are two more John Welsford designed Pathfinders on the water.  Congratulations to both builders and to John too!  Take a look at these boats and you'll see why everybody involved should be very proud.
Great work on the transom and rudder Nishan.

And there is Amazon under sail.  Nishan built the yawl version (my favorite) with a sprit rig just as John had designed it.  Very nice.
And Alan C, also in the UK I believe, launched Idle Fiddler.  (Alan, I borrowed a couple of photos from your blog, hope that was ok.)  From reading Alan's blog it looks like this project was a family build.  I can't get over the attention to detail on these boats.  Beautiful work on the tiller and rudder here.  And aren't those belaying pins for the mizzen?
I really admire and envy the work these guys did.  Just fantastic boats.  I know they will have a great time out on the water.  I understand there are several more Pathfinders under construction around the world, I can't wait to see them too.

John, I think you have really hit a home run with this design.


Steve



Sunday, July 19, 2009

mid-summer

It is definitely mid-summer.  The calendar hinted at that but the gas grill confirmed it when I ran out of gas trying to barbecue some chicken for dinner tonight.  Time to visit the blue rhino place and get a new tank to get me through the rest of the summer.

I took the chicken inside and put it in the oven.  The faux barbecue was fine, it even reminded me of the lunch Bruce and I had in New Bern at the end of the Skeeter Beater.  He ordered a barbecue pork sandwich and was a little mystified at what he was served.  He has lived in southern California since his teen years.  I had to explain to him, as a colleague explained to me 20 years ago when I arrived in the east, that in Virginia and the Carolinas "barbecue" is a noun describing slow cooked meat chopped up and served with a vinegar-based sauce.  In the southwest "barbecue" is a verb which describes slow cooking of big chunks of meat in a tomato-based sauced and sliced (not chopped).  Big difference.  Bruce appreciated the lesson and enjoyed the sandwich.

And thinking about that reminded me of a fall evening in 1977 when Bruce and I grilled (no sauce) a thick steak on a hibachi in his backyard a couple of blocks from the ocean in Pacific Beach (San Diego) and watched Reggie Jackson on a little black and white tv hit three home runs on three pitches in the world series.  Grilled steak, an avocado, big slicing tomato, six pack of beer and good baseball.  What more do you need?


Great day of sailing.  My neighbor Jim, in mid-build on a Navigator, joined me in the morning.  When I was building Spartina he would see my garage lights glowing late at night and drop by to see what was going on.  After launching Jim showed me the trick for keeping my sheets organized (below).  He has been a regular at the Mid-Atlantic Small Craft Festival and  I'll look forward to seeing him up there this fall.
The weather was great - cool and dry for mid-July.  I also tried out my new attachment on frame #3 for sandals.  Sandals and water bottles never quite found a home on Spartina during the Skeeter Beater.  We would tuck them here and there, but never in the same place twice.  I've added some line to frame #3 under the coaming for the sandals.  I've also added clips to out water bottles so they don't roll around and get lost.
We had one of my favorite cruising boats, this Bristol Channel Cutter, pass by on its way north.  If I was to cross the ocean in a small boat this would be the one I would choose.

I had a special treat for the afternoon as my youngest daughter joined me for the sail.  She and her sister were regular sailing partners for a few years.  But jobs, school and social life has gotten in the way the last summer or two.  It was very nice to have her along for a great afternoon sail.

Steve

Saturday, July 18, 2009

a little help from my friends

Still working on the route (and will probably continue doing that until a week or two before the trip).  The two images at the bottom show the waypoints we've got plugged in right now.  Bruce and I have been getting some help and advice from some friends as we think this thing through.
Kevin, builder/owner of the Navigator Slip Jig gave high marks to both the Inn of Silent Music and the Drum Point Market.  He said....


"Second the vote for the Inn of Silent Music. I did some work in Tylerton a few years ago and highly recommend a crabcake from the Drum Pt Market followed by a slice of the famous Smith Island cake."


I've seen photos of that cake and think it has something like seven layers in it.  I'm not big on cakes, but something like that I've got to try.   Looking at the charts I see there are two approaches to Tylerton.  The Big Thorofare comes in from the east,  Tyler Creek comes in from the southeast.  The wind will tell us which way to go as we sail from Crisfield to Smith Island.
Another plus for Tylerton is we could leave the following morning following the channels (in yellow) past Rhodes Point and entering the main part of Chesapeake Bay by Sheep Pen Gut (great name don't you think!).  It would be cool to pass by another of the island communities at dawn just as the waterman start their day.
(Just for DanceswithSandyBottom I've put an X on One Hand Clapping Point and the XX is on the only population of single-clawed crabs found outside of their traditional nesting grounds in freshwater lakes of North Carolina.   You ought to visit them someday!)
I got some fantastic advice from Mary Lou who lives near Chester, Md and sails a Rhodes 22 out of Rock Hall.  She had come across the blog and offered to share some local knowledge.  I had several questions for her, and will probably have more questions in the future.  
On the tides in Kent Narrows she said....


We have been through there many times and have lots of stories as a result. When the Chester is ebbing, the current is going south at Kent Narrows. It can be quite significant. It's usually stronger running South vs running north but either way you want to have a good reliable engine. If you need the drawbridge (most do - I don't know what it is but it's pretty low when closed) it opens on the 1/2 hour.  The current is strong enough that I've seen boats with their engines a bit above idle standing still with their bow into the current. You can print out a chart of the tides and currents here: http://tbone.biol.sc.edu/tide/sites_useastupper.html Here's the current at Kent Narrows: http://tbone.biol.sc.edu/tide/tideshow.cgi?site=Kent+Island+Narrows+%28highway+bridge%29%2C+Maryland+Current+%284d%29


on sailing between the Choptank River and Rock Hall.....


When we travel to the Choptank, we often do Rock Hall to Knapps Narrows (another place with a drawbridge and a current though the current isn't as strong and the drawbridge opens on demand) as a day. We have gone as far as through the Narrows and then anchored at Dun Cove on Harris Creek. Our hull speed is 6 knots but we usually travel around 4 knots. With your draft, you may be looking at places we haven't considered but feel free to run a list by me.


on Oxford and Tilghman Island....


Oxford is wonderful. Highly recommend ice cream at the Highland Creamery and a tour of Cutts and Case (which we've never done but numerous articles have said it's really wonderful and can be a arranged with a phone call). However do think about Knapps and Tilghman Island as well. There is a nautical bookstore on Tilghman - I think it's only open on weekends but if you find yourself there and stuck for a day it is truly fabulous: http://www.crawfordsnautical.com/


and on anchorages on the western side of the bay.....


Whitehall is nice but wide open and exposed to the south. Whitehall Creek on the North side and Mill Creek on the northwest side offer more shelter. Mill Creek is also the home to Cantlers another terrific crab house so if you don't make it to Rock Hall and Watermans, keep Cantlers in mind. There is also the Crab Claw right in St. Michaels and Harris's Crab House in Kent Narrows. If you are looking for other great anchorages on the western shore, the Rhode River/West River complex offers nice spots.


In addition to the advice from Kevin and Mary Lou, Seth (who is building a Pathfinder) contacted me to say he'll be in the area for the Small Craft Festival and offered rides for groceries and a place to get cleaned up.  Very nice of you Seth.
Thank you Kevin, Mary Lou, and Seth for the advice and offers of hospitality.  I hope I get to meet you all at the festival - maybe we can do some sailing together!
Steve

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

time and tide

Looking at the charts of Chesapeake Bay it seems that we'll have to pay attention to tides in at least a few places.  Our first will be Smith Island, either the villages of Ewell or Tylerton, and as you can see from the chart below we'll have to navigate a few miles of narrow channels regardless of where we go.  Which way does the tide run through the channels on an ebb or flood tide?  I guess we'll have to find out.  I've never been to Smith Island, but I have been to nearby Tangier Island and when the tide is running it creates quite a current in the main channel through the island.  I expect it would be the same on Smith Island.  
I'm not sure where we'll stay on Smith Island.  It could be the Ewell Tide B and B or the Inn of Silent Music in Tylerton (near the Drum Point Market).  We'll figure that as we go along.  Typically we don't make reservations in advance as weather can affect the schedule.  I do look forward to navigating those few miles of those marshes on the way to either spot, I'm sure it will be a beautiful area.
A day or so later we'll pass through Fishing Creek on Hoopers Island to get to the main Bay from the Honga River.  Again, a running tide could create a strong current there so we'll take a good look at the tide tables before going through the creek.
And the third spot will be Kent Narrows.  If we do make it all the way north to Rock Hall, and that depends on having good wind and weather, we'll go through Kent Narrows on our way back south to St. Michaels.  It will save a lot of effort it we time our passage to go with the tide.

I did do a little research on hotels today and found that the Oxford Inn looks like a good spot in Oxford as we visit Schooners for some crabs.  The hotel and crab house are six or eight blocks away from each other, but after a few days in Spartina I'm sure it will feel good to get out and stretch our legs.  

At Rock Hall, our northern most point during the trip, the Mariners Motel is just a block or two away from Watermans and the marina, that should work out very well.

Steve

Sunday, July 12, 2009

a new name

I was so interested in the idea of visiting crab houses on Chesapeake Bay that I changed the name of the trip.  Now we are calling it "The Crab House 150."  Seems to give us more purpose somehow.  It will be a nice goal to visit a handful of crab restaurants on the way up the bay, compare, contrast and  - most importantly - enjoy.

Got up with a plan to go sailing this morning, even had my neighbor Jim coming along with me.  But woke to grey skies and gusty wind.  Checked (not-so)Accuweather to see a front moving in with thunderstorms mid-morning and again after noon.  So we bagged the sail.
My mistake as it turned out to be a very nice day.  Blue skies and nice wind.  When the thunderstorm finally showed up after 5 pm it was very brief and mild.  
I should have remembered the words of wisdom from my fishing guide friend.  "If you wait till everything is perfect you'll never go fishing."  Or sailing.  

Steve

a road map to crab houses of the Eastern Shore

Very nice story in today's New York Times travel section about traveling down the Eastern Shore of Maryland in search of blue crabs.  From Rock Hall in the north to Smith Island in the south writer Jordan Hruska visits a lot of the territory we'll be covering.    

We still haven't finalized our route for the trip, but the description of Waterman's Crab House in Rock Hall makes me want to move that waterfront town from the "optional" to the "must visit" category on our list.
He has also got me interested in Schooners in Oxford and the Drum Point Market in the village of Tylerton on Smith Island.  Those two places were not on the list at all (we are looking at Ewell on Smith Island), but they'll be worth talking about as Bruce and I make our plans.  
Maybe this story will be a nice road map for the trip.

Steve

Saturday, July 11, 2009

you ought to be in pictures

I got an email from a friend in Maryland mentioned a watercolor rendering "that could only be Spartina" in a boating magazine.  My reaction was "Really?????"

So I go to the bookstore and there it is, a watercolor of Bruce at the tiller on Core Sound in 2007.  Weird.  In the illustration you can see, from left to right, my foul weather gear, the box with the lights/notebooks, boat fender, Bruce's orange waterproof duffel, and (on the starboard side) my yellow duffel, stove wrapped in white polytarp and the cook kit.  Take a look at the photo below and you'll have no doubt that it is Spartina.  I shot the photograph sitting on the transom, leaning back past the mizzen mast
Kinda cool.  But, as someone involved in the publishing business for almost three decades, I wasn't happy.  The drawing was credited to someone I had never heard of.

I sent a note to the editor saying that as a sailor I was happy to see a watercolor of my boat in the magazine, but as someone in the industry I was concerned about copyright issues.  I included a primer about federal copyright laws.  And a bill for the use of the image.  

The editor said it was a mistake.  Should not have happened.  Folks were not up to speed on copyright issues.  (Editors and illustrators not aware of intellectual property laws? Really?)

They paid the bill.  

Steve

waypoints on the bay

Started marking out some waypoints on the Chesapeake Bay for this fall's trip.  I used Garmin's MapSource software.  I'll make the waypoints on my home computer then import them on to my gps.  Bruce has a Garmin gps also, much newer and more advanced than mine, and we'll import them on his gps when he gets here.  For the photo below I exported them to Google Earth.  This is just the upper part of the trip.  I've also marked waypoints for the entrance to Onancock Creek, Tangier Island, two entrances to Smith Island, depending on if we come in from the bay side or the Tangier Sound Side, and the Honga River.
I've decided to skip making the laminated Google Earth images of possible anchorages.   There are so many anchorages it would not be worth the time.  These waypoints will get us in the area, then we can use Bruce's gps - he has loaded some nice charts on there - and my ADC Chesapeake Bay map book to find our way to the nearest protected area.
Forecast for tomorrow is for excellent wind, hope to be out on the water by 8 or so.

Steve

Thursday, July 9, 2009

back to the islands

I was back in the islands again, Hatteras and Ocracoke, for another brief trip.  More time on the islands, who's life am I been living these days?
Drove down to Hatteras Wednesday afternoon.  I had books on my mind - I'm in search of a something new to read.  Passing through Kitty Hawk, Kill Devil Hills and Nags Head I got to thinking about a couple of my favorite Outer Banks books, Gravesend Light and Ruin Creek, both by southern writer David Payne.    They are wonderful books with rich characters and great portraits of life in the outer banks in the early 1960's (Ruin Creek) and late 70's/early 80's (Gravesend Light).  I don't consider the Outer Banks to have a great literary tradition.  There are some good books from there - but they are mostly history/pirate/graveyard of the Atlantic books.  These two books are great reads and if you enjoy the Outer Banks I think you'll find them interesting.

I stopped in Buxton and had dinner at the Sandbar and Grille with my good friend Irene, publisher of the Island Free Press.  The first time I visited the Sandbar and Grille it was in its old Hatteras location and literally filled with sand.  Hurricane Isabel had just blown through and cut Hatteras Island in two, turning Hatteras Village in to what became known to locals as Little Hatteras Island.  The overwash had surged through the Sandbar and Grille (and every other place in Hatteras Village) and left it a sand-filled mess.  I'm happy to say it is still in business, a few miles to the northwest in Buxton, and doing very well.  We both enjoyed some excellent flounder sandwiches.
The next morning I caught an early ferry over to Ocracoke.  On the way past Hatteras Inlet I saw one of the boats of the Albatross Fleet  (below) trolling just inside the southern tip of Hatteras Island.  The fleet, dating back to 1937, is one of the earliest charter fleets operating on the outer banks.  Their tradition reaches back to Ernal Foster, a commercial fisherman who realized that money could be made by taking guests out fishing.  There are three boats in the fleet now, including the original boat from 1937, and they all have that classic look (I would call it art deco, but that's probably not the right term.  They do stand out from every other charter boat in the harbor. ) 
I had the good fortune a few years ago to attend a party given by Ernie Foster (son of Ernal, and now captain of the fleet) and his wife Lynne.  I remember a wonderful evening in their Hatteras Village home, Ernie frying cubes of fresh caught mahi mahi and Lynne making everyone feel like a special guest.  If you want to read an interesting book (I don't mean for the blog to be about books, but hey, I like books) take a look at Hatteras Blue, A Story from the Edge of America by Tom Carlson.  It is a nice book about people surviving on an island made of shifting sands, dealing with changes in nature, weather and whatever comes their way.   It concludes with a look at the islanders, including the Fosters,  dealing with the devastation of Hurricane Isabel - the same storm that wiped out the Sandbar and Grille.
I did hear from Bruce the other day.  He is back from his Alaskan adventure.  He emailed me a photo of himself standing next to a giant fish.  It might even be real.  I hope he does a post about it soon.
We talked a little about the ChesBay 150 and he seemed to like the idea of leaving a day or so earlier out of Onancock.  We'll talk about it over the next few weeks and break out the charts when I head home to San Diego for a visit later this month.

Steve

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

NC Challenge

The website for the WaterTribe NC Challenge is now up, well worth a look for the adventurous, competitive sailor, kayaker and rower.  This is a very well done website with a lot of information, photos, description of the route, waypoints, and even some history of the area (nice job SandyBottom and Kiwibird!).
Bruce and I sailed a similar route on our first trip together in 2007.  We started at Harkers Island, went up Core Sound and across the bottom of Pamlico Sound to the Neuse River.  We followed the Neuse (with an great overnight stop at Oriental) to the Adams Creek Canal and followed that to Beaufort and back to Harkers Island.  The main difference for the NC Challenge is that they will take the Harlowe Canal( instead of the Adams Creek Canal) an older, shallower and more challenging passage to Beaufort.  

The route is slightly different, but really the biggest difference is that we took a leisurely six days to make our trip with stops along the way for fishing, swimming, photography and fun.  THEY will do the trip in slightly over TWO days in an expedition style race.  That is a HUGE difference.  So it is much more than the route, it is the mind set of these WaterTribe Challenges that makes them so interesting.

But I will tell you from our journey that this is fantastic water for adventures, it will be a great trip.  You can read about our trip here (my version)here (Bruce's version) and see some of our photos here.  All of that thanks to Chuck at Duckworks.

We won't be making the NC Challenge this year, that is right in the time frame when Bruce and I will be heading up Chesapeake Bay on our trip.  But I wish them all well and will be looking forward to reading about it as soon as we get back from St. Michaels.  

Steve

Sunday, July 5, 2009

day trip to Ocracoke

I had to fly down to Ocracoke yesterday.  I've been spending a lot of time in the air lately.  Thursday and Friday I was up in helicopters, yesterday it was a trip in a fixed wing aircraft.  Maybe I'll be a pilot when I grow up.
Whenever I climb in to a small airplane I smile and think of George Carlin's observation that "fixed wing aircraft" was an interesting phrase.  Just a slight pause and a little more emphasis on the word "fixed" and he conjured up all sorts of funny and frightening images.  That's all he said, all he needed to say.  At Carlin's best, he proved the point that sometimes what was left unsaid was funnier, more interesting and more thought provoking than what was said. 
We vacationed down in Ocracoke each year for fourteen years in a row, I really love that place.  We stayed in a cottage called Carolina Winds.  It was on a canal with a nice dock, perfect for Spartina.  I would be up before dawn sailing on the sound inside of Howard's reef as the sun came up.  Early afternoon I would be out sailing again as the girls went off in search of snow cones, ice cream or tee shirts.  After dinner we would all sail together.  Above you can see my wife and youngest daughter as we anchored for a swim during a sunset sail.
The beaches are some of the best (and least crowded) on the east coast.  We did a lot of swimming and fishing out there.  We fixed most of our own meals, both because we enjoyed it and it saved money.  But we always had time for a nice dinner at The Back Porch.    (Yesterday I only had time for a quick crab cake sandwich at Howard's Pub, a thriving local institution - pretty good!)
These days the daughters are too busy for week-long trips to Ocracoke.  Maybe we can sneak in a long weekend this fall.
Flying back north we got a good look at the tortured shoals of Hatteras Inlet, that's the northern tip of Ocracoke on the right. ( That is the stretch of water where Bruce or I  -  we never figured out who  -  took those sunset photos on the ferry ride home from our '07 Cedar Island trip.)  I could also see some of our other cruising grounds across Pamlico Sound - Wysocking Bay and the Long Shoal River.  I did pick out some nice anchorages at the south end of Roanoke Island.  There could easily be a nice two or three day trip from Engelhard north to the Roanoke Marshes.  Might be a nice trip for Labor Day weekend.

-Steve

Saturday, July 4, 2009

tall ship

This weekend is Harborfest in Norfolk, the big waterfront celebration.  Usually it is held during the first part of June, but since they were rebuilding Town Point Park (below) they delayed the festival to the Fourth of July weekend.  
That is the Brazilian Navy's tall ship Cisne Branco  entering the Otter Berth on Norfolk's downtown waterfront.  It was good to see the tall ship again.  Two years ago I was a guest of Captain Leonardo Puntel aboard the ship as she sailed from Charleston, South Carolina to Norfolk.  It was a great trip.  I do love sailing small boats, but to be on a tall ship over 100 miles east of the Carolina Capes was quite a thrill.  The water and sky were both deep blue, the sails brilliant white in the sunshine.  The power of the ship pushing through the the waves was incredible.

The ship is the Brazilian Navy's training ship, similar to the U.S. Coast Guard's Eagle.  Though it is just 10 years old it is sailed in a very traditional manner.  I remember when Captain Puntel was explaining things to me he would often start by saying "This is a tradition that dates back 400 years......"   Everything from the ship's band playing on deck as we left Charleston on a very windy day (even though there was nobody within miles to hear the band play) to the rope work that the kept the crew busy to passing out small cups of a Brazilian liqueur as we entered the next port a few days later were part of the ship's tradition.  Nobody could sit down for a meal in the officer's ward room until the captain had sat down, and even then it was tradition to ask the captain if we may join him.  Lively conversation was expected from everybody, with sharp questions and stories from all the officers.  And nobody left the table after the meal until the captain announced he was done.  I felt like I was in a scene from Master and Commander.  

I wish I spoke Portuguese or Spanish, I would have fit in much better.  But they were all very kind and accommodating to me.  And those that did speak English took time to help me understand what was going on about the ship.  It did make me feel good one day when I was going out on the bow sprit and the officer helping me saw that I had put a harness on and  stepped out on the cable beneath the bow sprit before he could explain it to me.  He smiled and said that some crew members mentioned that I knew what I was doing around boats.   The crew had a good laugh a day later when I showed them a photo of Spartina and told them that is where I learned about boats.  
The food was just great.  We might as well have been in Brazil.  Meats and cheeses, tropical fruits from the Amazon, thick coffee with spoonfuls of sugar, a mug of beer with lunch to celebrate coming in to port(try doing that with the US Navy).  I made a point of trying (and enjoying) everything they served, even the jello-like breakfast food that Captain Puntel only later explained was made from the bone marrow of cows.
I will drop by the ship today, but as it is a training ship I expect that all the crew members I sailed with are no longer on board.  But it will be fun to look over the decks and the rigging and remember being out on the ocean on a tall ship.  I will never forget the kindness and friendship shown by the captain and crew.  As Captain Puntel told me when I first met him, I was not a guest on the ship, I was part of the crew.  They certainly made me feel that way.

-Steve

Thursday, July 2, 2009

up in the air

I had to take a helicopter ride today for work and it was a nice day to be up in the air.  That is Chesapeake Bay with Willoughby Spit in the foreground.  You can also see Harrison's Fishing Pier, rebuilt as the Ocean View Fishing Pier after Hurricane Isobel, off to the right.  A few miles down the shore is Little Creek Inlet and a couple of marinas.  I really do need to trailer over there and launch for some sailing on the Bay.
Making some progress getting ready for the ChesBay 150.  The food supply is coming along fine, I've been tossing packs of fruit cups and tuna fish lunches in the basket whenever I go shopping.  Also got my AMB powder and my 24 pack of GU Energy Gel Pack (I went with the variety pack that had eight  - I think - different flavors.  I got some good advice from SandyBottom and Kiwibird on the flavors, but figured we would give all the varieties a try).

The latest issue of BoatU.S. Magazine came in the mail with an article about Spot vs. EPIRB's.  In short their conclusion seemed to be that Spot was good for inshore, EPIRB's good for offshore.  The sentence that caught my attention was....

"SPOT provides a new way to stay in regular contact with friends and loved ones and , for Boat U.S. members, will even provide a quick way to reach BoatU.S. Towing Services - an extremely useful function."



That was good news to me.  When I first got my Spot I called BoatU.S.  and asked them if they would respond to a non-specific request for help.  In my case, my "need assistance" Spot message asks all recipients to contact my brother (I don't want eight differents requests for help ) to make sure he is contacting BoatU.S. with my member number, my location and a request for help.  The request for help would not be specific - they would not know if I needed a tow, fuel or whatever, they would know only my location and that I needed "assistance".  Would they respond to that?  I was told that they would.  This article seems to confirm that.  So there is a little more peace of mind.  Love that SPOT.


I've been a member of BoatU.S. for about five or six years and have found it to be a pretty good deal.  I have never used the on the water service, but I have used the trailer service on two occasions.  Both times, at very low tides, I had hooked my tires off the end of the ramp (you would think I would have learned after the first time!).  Each time the cost of the tow truck exceeded the cost of the annual membership.  For each of the two calls I came out $80 or more dollars ahead.  Can't beat that.
I also have full insurance on Spartina through BoatU.S.  With two years of labor plus all the marine grade plwyood, epoxy and hardware I want to make sure I'm protected against any loss.

Harborfest tomorrow, the big waterfront festival in Norfolk.  Too crowded for me to be on the water, but I'll drop by and check out the tall ships.

Steve