One of the many nice things about the trip with Dawn Patrol was that we could talk about cruising/camping gear. We seemed to touch on equipment just about every evening as we rafted up together. Camp stoves were one of the first topics to come up.
I had seen photos of Dawn Patrol's camp stove (below), a Coleman "fold and go" propane stove, in one of her blog posts before the trip. It looked small, light and very practical.
I use a Cole grill stove that is a few years old (that's Bruce cooking dinner on the Crab House trip below) with one burner and a griddle. It is much larger and heavier's than Dawn Patrol's. I started trying to figure out how I could wear my stove out so I could justify buying a new folding model (good luck wearing out a Coleman stove).
But at the trip wore on Dawn said she saw a few advantages to my older, larger stove. For one thing, it had built in wind screens on three sides. Her stove did not have wind screens and I think the wind may have interfered with the flame. She also said that the cooking grates stood relatively tall on her stove, something that you don't want on a rocking boat. So in the end my old stove wasn't so bad - I guess I'll get a few more years of cooking out of it.
Along with his usual good ideas for cooking, Bruce had the great idea to bring along tortillas. No refrigeration needed, they keep for days and can be used with just about any sort of meal (including the shrimp tacos below). They'll be on my list for the next trip.
And another favorite piece of gear was the Danforth compass, a gift from my Mother. Thanks Mom! With a grey color it looked like it was made to match the interior of Spartina. And it worked very well mounted on the centerboard trunk. We used it constantly. I always carried a small hand held compass, but this was much nicer and easier to use. It certainly helped maintain our course when pointing high up into the wind (something I'll mention below).
If we are going to talk about comparing stoves, how about comparing boats. Dawn Patrol is a Graham Byrnes designed Core Sound 20. Spartina is a John Welsford designed Pathfinder. Dawn Patrol is a cat ketch. Spartina is a gaff rigged yawl.
It was really fun to sail with another boat. I had never done that before except for the occasional 200 yard sail alongside another boat while out on a day sail. I learned quite a bit by watching the performance of another boat (and the crew that sailed her). Funny thing is it never felt like a race (the old saying that anytime two boats are on the water together it is a race did not hold true on this trip). Dawn Patrol is a faster boat than Spartina, I could have told you that just from comparing length of the waterlines. To me this was more of a shared journey, watching the other boat on the opposite tack, learning from their tactics, enjoying the beauty of their sails.
The one interesting thing to me was during the trip I felt that Dawn Patrol was pointing much higher in the wind, but now that I look at our tracks I see that we were not so far apart. This is one area - pointing up high to the wind - where I think we really benefitted from watching another boat. Seeing Dawn Patrol up ahead set us goal for us to aim for. Out there by myself it is easy to fall off a bit and pick up speed. But watching another boat made me conscience of pointing up and getting the most out of the wind. (Thanks for the sailing lesson Paul.)
Which boat is better? That's impossible to say. I wouldn't give up my Spartina. I love the lapstrake hull, the gaff rig, the narrow forefoot, the lazy jacks, the positive floatation and the wide coamings to lean back against during a long day at the tiller. I'm sure if you asked Paul and Dawn they'll quickly give you a list of things they love about Dawn Patrol.
Let's just say I'm thrilled whenever I'm out sailing Spartina. And I'm even more thrilled when I'm out in Spartina sharing tacks with Dawn Patrol.