Tuesday, May 31, 2011

we're back

We're back home.  Or at least I am.  Bruce has a three thousand mile flight tomorrow.  Twelve hours on the road today, driving from Chestertown back to Onancock to get the jeep and trailer, then back to Chestertown to get Spartina, then driving home.  Long day, but it was a good trip and well worth it.

Below is our track.  I think it is about 270 statute miles of sailing over nine days.  I hope to start the daily logs this weekend.


Sunday, May 29, 2011

Getting Spartina rigged for the night. We will be at Rolph's Wharf for two days. We couldn't get a rental car until Tuesday!

Baydog, this one is for you.....

Arrived Chestertown around noon. Traded tacks with Sultana. The trip is done.


After a successful trip where are we? At the Sandbar bar on the Chester River.

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Saturday, May 28, 2011

At anchor and kicking back for the night. A cold beer is in the cooler. From reed creek on the Chester River.

Set for the night, thunderstorm warnings. 

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Steve at rest, Spartina moored for the night at Dobbins Island.

The bascule bridge at Tilghman Island, sunrise.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Steve at the tiller on the Little Choptank River.

Spartiina secured for the night at Knapps Narrows Marina and Inn.

Sunset from Tilghman Island. What a great day of cruising today.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Morning on Cod Harbor, Tangier Island

What a busy guy! 
So, Steve really can be in more than one place at a time. We're moments from launching.

Friday, May 20, 2011

tracking page

Here is the spot tracking page.  It should go live sometime Saturday morning.

Or copy and paste the url below....


More of Steve at the posting department of World Hq.

Steve pre-trip posting from World Hq.

Annie on TownDock

We are busy packing, but not too busy to notice this very nice Shipping News story about Curt and his Annie at TownDock in Oriental.  Check it out.  

And you might also take a look at Curt's new blog here.

Very nice, Curt.  But I'm going to quit reading about other people's adventures (for now) and go have my own.  We'll be posting our SPOT tracking pages this evening.


packing up

Right after breakfast this morning at The Grill at Great Bridge (a pre-cruise tradition) we headed to the grocery store to pick up fresh food for the trip.

Above some some ingredients for sausage, shrimp and lentil dinner (Bruce hasn't come up with a name for this dish yet).  The sausage, shrimp and beef were put in quart bags and frozen.  They'll be kept inside a double soft-sided cooler with dry ice, then thawed out as we go.

Another night will be beef stew with fresh veggies and red wine.  We got a box of wine that is a little larger than needed for the stew.  What will we do with the rest?

After the food was sorted we started on the sleeping gear and clothes (a few shirts, couple pair of pants will do the trick).

It is all coming together in the garage.  We'll do junk on the bunk this afternoon, using the WaterTribe equipment check list as the basis for our gear.  Then we'll load up the jeep.

Oh -- and strawberry pie from Bergey's Breakbasket, the old dairy farm the road.  The strawberries were picked this morning from a farm next door, pie was baked late morning.  It was still warm when I picked it up.  It doesn't get any fresher than that.  No we won't be taking it on the trip.  It will be dessert tonight.


two more waypoints

Still tweaking the route this morning, adding two more waypoints to the list of 33 already on my gps.  Not so much as changing the route, but adding options in the case make better or worse time than expected.

I added Price Creek on the west side of Kent Island, that's the blue flag marker to the left beneath the Chesapeake Bay Bridge (route 50).  Also added Swan Creek near Rock Hall up at the top of the map.  Mary Lou, maybe we'll be in your neighborhood.


Thursday, May 19, 2011


There is some organization here.  Some, but not much.


Wednesday, May 18, 2011

first day photos

Thinking about the first day of a sail, the usual mixture of excitement and apprehension.  Here are some photos for the first days of trips.  There's something special about that first day, I've written about it before.  

Rumbley, Md., fall of last year on a solo sail, fall 2010...

Potters Marine, near Bath N.C., early summer last year...

Sailing down Far Creek out of Engelhard, NC, spring of '09...

Motoring down the waterfront of Ewell on Smith Island, Md, fall of '09...

Maw Bay, NC, just a few weeks ago...

Island Creeks, Mouse Harbor, NC, spring 2010...

Bruce arrives tomorrow evening.  Then breakfast at the Great Bridge Grill.  Then shopping.  Then packing.


Tuesday, May 17, 2011

"Here he is boss. Deader than hell but won't let go."

I thought today of that scene from Cool Hand Luke, Paul Newman running errands for the boss including retrieving a dead snapping turtle.  I was out with some friends trapping turtles in a lake, they were biologists searching for non-native species that are invading the area.  They found a few of the non-native ones, and they also found this native snapping turtle.  Unlike the turtle in Cool Hand Luke, this one was very much alive and angrily snapping away.  

Bruce and I had our phone conference yesterday, going over the route, meals and a few other items.  Everything sees to be shaping up just fine.  Part of our provisioning plan includes trolling for fish and also trying to pick up some soft shell crabs from the watermen along the away (several villages we will visit are working watermen ports).  With this in mind I'll make sure to pack some seasoned corn meal for breading and also some scissors (every set of directions for cleaning soft shell crabs starts with some version of the phrase "first you cut off the face.")

I also updated my SPOT profile, adjusting the information from the solo sail in coastal Carolina to show that there are two of us on board on Chesapeake Bay.  You can see a screen shot of some of the information that I put in the 911 section below.  I describe the boat, the equipment and our plans in case of an emergency - stay with the boat as long as possible.  

I was going to fine tune the information in my "need assistance" message which, in the past had instructed everyone on the email list to contact my brother in Florida to make sure he was contacting Boat US with my location and membership number.  It was only when trying to find the message that I remembered I had changed the service, at a fee of a few dollars I think, to "SPOT Maritime Assist."  No phone call is needed, SPOT contacts BoatUS directly.

I'm starting to peek at, but not quite believe, the weather forecasts.  Right now it looks pretty good for the start of the trip.  I haven't yet checked the wind forecast, won't do that until Thursday I expect.

Two more days of work, then I head to the airport to pick up Bruce.


Annie's route

Curt sent me his track from his North Carolina trip.  He has color coded each day of the trip aboard his Drascombe Coaster Annie.  You can see he has covered a lot of our favorite sailing grounds - the Neuse River, Beaufort, Cape Lookout, Core Sound and the beautiful canals behind Cedar Island.  Plus he made the sail over to Ocracoke, something I have not yet done.

Nice trip, Curt.  Thanks for sharing the track.


Monday, May 16, 2011

long distance information

Bruce and I are trying to work out a conference call today.  We hope to sit down at our computers with google earth open and go over the route, options, etc, and hammer out a few details. 

As I mentioned a few days ago that plan has shifted slightly.  We'll be going to Tangier Island instead of Smith Island.  I've got to call Parks Marina to check on docking - most of the waterfront in Tangier is taken up by working boats and the watermen's skiffs.  (And as I checked for contact information on the marina I noticed the address - 16070 Parks Marina Lane - and had to wonder how do you get a street number as high as 16070 on an island that is only a couple of miles long.)  Above you see a couple of the skiffs, with the crab houses on stilts and their rows of shedding tanks for soft shell crabs, in the background.  At left is the channel that cuts east/west across the island and on the far side of the channel is a very classic Chesapeake Bay workboat - I think it is a "buy boat", a boat that picks up the catch from the watermen and carries it to the fish houses.
Tuesday will be the first full moon in May, the traditional peak for the soft shell season.  I see some soft shell crab sandwiches at The Fisherman's Corner in our future.  The shedding tanks are just a brief walk from the restaurant - soft shell crabs do not get any fresher than that.

Bruce did ask about the weather in an email a few days ago.  It is hard to predict a week out, but below is the forecast for the first day of the trip.  It looks like a high pressure system will be moving into the Mid-Atlantic.  The forecast does look good, but I won't take any forecast seriously until two or three days before we start.  And what does it really matter?  As Bruce has said on a couple of other occasions when the weather was not the best  - "We're going anyway."

I think Bruce was probably more concerned about the temperatures.  Last June we sailed with Paul and Dawn during a record setting heat wave.  It was very hot three or four days during the trip, particularly on day seven when we had a heat index of 105 degrees and very little wind.  Below you can see Paul, Dawn and Bruce cooling off in the evening at Beard Creek.  Cold beer never tasted so good.

I expect the temperatures for the bay trip will be much more reasonable.


Sunday, May 15, 2011

hooked again

I picked up this Yo-Zuri floating crystal minnow at Wal-Mart this morning (at least a couple of bucks cheaper than Bass Pro Shops for the exact same lure).  I can't help myself.  I will say that I have had more luck catching fish on Chesapeake Bay than the North Carolina coast.  You can see some of the Bay catches here, here and here.  We'll be trolling for both stripers and bluefish, they can make for some excellent meals on the griddle. (The lure is really silver on the sides, the rainbow effect comes from the lure catching the morning light.)

Speaking of food for dinner, picked up some nice wild caught shrimp at the grocery store at an excellent price.  I'll clean them and toss the heads into the composter.

I'll saute the shrimp in a little olive oil and butter seasoned with strips of garlic scapes, above,  then serve over pasta with roasted red pepper sauce (the peppers just came out of the broiler) and sprinkle with this slices of fresh, crisp spring onions.  Both the scapes and onions are from nearby Bergey's Breadbasket, a former dairy farm that has converted to a bakery, deli and vegetable farm.  You ought to see their strawberry pies.

I need to remember to pinch down the barbs on the new lure.

Dinner's at 6.


Saturday, May 14, 2011

the fun begins

Today was the first time this year that it started to feel like summer.  Early morning thunderstorms.  A little hot and muggy late morning.  Nice breeze all day.  I wish I had been out sailing but I had to work.  Crossing the Berkley Bridge over the Elizabeth River I could count at least a dozen snow birds anchored in Crawford Bay, plus a couple of dozen more boats tied up at the Waterside Marina.  Maybe we'll come across some of those same boats up around Tilghman Island or Oxford.

I did get off from work mid-afternoon, in time to come home and do a little work.  I used a grinder to cut the bronze snap hook off of the Pelican waterproof box that keep Bruce's nice Canon camera dry and safe.  The spring on the hook had failed and it needed to be replaced.
On solo sails I carry just my Pentax Optio camera, when Bruce is along we have both the Pentax and his Canon dslr with both wide angle and telephoto lenses.  With two of us on board we've got enough hands to manage both the boat and the camera, the result being both more and (hopefully) better images.

I also bought a bottle of Campsuds,  our standard dish cleaning liquid on Spartina.  We've been using an old bottle of Bruce's for a long while now - only a few drops are needed for each washing so it seemed to last forever.  That bottle was getting low, so I bought this 8 oz bottle to refill the smaller one.  This current supply will last for years.

I've also been looking over the charts and google earth images of the route.  I'm pretty familiar with most places along the way.  But there are some new spots such as Deal Island, above, that I have only seen from a distance.  From the chart book and this image there appear to be some breakwaters and a narrow entrance to the harbor.  Being a port for working boats I expect there will be steady traffic in the channel and we'll probably just follow another boat in, but it is good to have an idea of where we are going.

We'll be visiting some of my favorite places with interesting names - Bloody Point and Punch Island Creek being two of them.  A new place for this trip will be Slaughter Creek.  I really love names like that, always wonder what inspired them.  And I'm glad to have those names in my log book.

Spartina is a mess right now as I've dropped several items in there wating for the junk on the bunk day.  You can see the new hook for the Pelican box, a spare spark plug, binoculars and some fruit cups.  The fan beneath all the stuff is the one I use to dry out the storage area beneath the decks after each sail.

I also cleared the gps of both the North Carolina waypoints and the tracks from the walkabout.  I'm always reluctant to clear the tracks of a sail, even though I have copied a .gpx file onto my computer.  I have an irrational attachment to the digital information saved each night at anchor -  the speeds, directions and distances covered.  There are a lot of memories tucked into that information.  But I needed to create room for the new tracks.

I wonder where we'll drop the anchor, hit the "ok" button on the SPOT and click "save track" on the gps the first night out of Onancock.  Watts Island?  Or down at the little sand hook called Cod Harbor at the south end of Tangier Island?  We'll see.