Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Betsy Town blues

I knew Baltimore was Charm City and New Orleans was the Crescent City. But I never heard Elizabeth City (NC) called Betsy Town until I read the (free) sample of Bland Simpson Simpson's "The Inner Islands: A Carolinian's sound Country Chronicle". I'm very glad to see just today that the paperback version is out for $13.60, I could not afford the $30+ hardback edition. I'll order my copy soon.

I mentioned in my last post that I saw during my Easter sail a cruiser that I had met almost 20 years ago when I kept my old boat in an Elizabeth City marina. Thinking about meeting that cruiser two decades ago got me nostalgic about Elizabeth City so with a day off and a great forecast I trailered Spartina down to Betsy Town. I called this post Betsy Town blues but the only thing blue about it was the sunny blue sky. What a great day!

Elizabeth City is one of those great little southern towns. Crepe myrtles, magnolias, classic old houses with wrap around porches, old brick buildings and a waterfront that has seen better days. You can read Bland Simpson's eloquent description here.

They have a nice waterfront park with a great boat ramp and dock, above. I used to keep my old boat, a Sam Devlin designed Nancy's China, tied up at the pier you see jutting out from the corrugated metal boat house. I had a lot of fun sailing down there. Back in the late 80's I did not have a regular work schedule, I was basically on call six days a week from 8 a.m. to 11 p.m. But I did get one day off a week and I would drive down to Elizabeth City, throw off the docklines and sail. It was a great time and I met a lot of fun people. Sailing down there today brought back a lot of memories. Everything from the classic old Moth boat races to baking under the sun on windless days and coming down to the dock in February to find the river frozen over. Mix in with that some fantastic spring and fall sailing and you'll get the idea of what it was like.

The Pasquotank River runs from northwest to southeast. When the summer weather pattern moves in (like it did today), hot air moving in from the southwest, you've got a beam reach up and down the river. I sailed 15 miles down river to the mouth of Albemarle Sound on a starboard tack, came about and sailed 15 miles back on a port tack. Great wind, I sailed along averaging 5 and 1/5 mph.

I saw a couple of cruisers heading up north bound for the Dismal Swamp Canal (the smaller alternate to the Chesapeake and Albermarle Canal portion of the ICW). This Pacific Seacraft 37 (above) out of Texas maneuvered towards me and I headed towards her for a nice port to port pass, I guess she wanted to take a look at Spartina as much as I wanted to take a look at her.

And there is a nice bow wave as Spartina approached the Albemarle Sound. It was a good sail and I felt very comfortable with the boat. The spring walkabout cruise is less than a month away, I feel like I'm ready to go right now.

(I know, I know, you get tired of seeing this photo looking up towards the bow of Spartina. But I never get tired of shooting it. We'll just have to live with it.)



Baydog said...

I could look at that shot a million times and not get tired of it. There's nothing like a 30 mile sail with one tack. It's on that kind of day when you can spread out the hors d'Oeuvres and not worry about who's gonna hold them every 5 minutes while coming about.

Steve said...

Did you say hors d'Oeuvres and a guiness?? Now we're talking.


Baydog said...

Only one Guinness? Spartina is a honey and you must be very proud of her.