Saturday, June 30, 2012

a double take, the smallest Great Lake

I did a double take when I saw these photos from sailing friend Tom Williamson.  That hull shape, boom tent and cockpit certainly reminded me of Spartina.  Tom's boat is of course a Pathfinder.  I just never suspected that another boat would remind me so much of my own.  I could look at the photos and know exactly how the yawl felt on the water.  

I have never met Tom in person, but we've been exchanging emails for the last few years.  He sent these photos from a recent cruise on Lake Champlain.  It does look like a beautiful area.

"A few pictures of my latest voyage on the 6th great lake, we got beat up pretty badly toward the end with 30-40 kt winds on the lake, we were bobbing around like a cork among the whitecaps, but the good ol' Pathfinder handled it without complaint.
We traveled some 70 miles from south to north, prevailing wind is usually southerly and of course we had north winds most of the way.  Good news was the air and water were not very cold, otherwise we might have been not so chipper."

My knowledge of geography is limited and I did not know why Tom referred to Lake Champlain as the 6th Great Lake until I looked it up here.  Although it is, by far, the smallest of the Great Lakes, it does look to be a wonderful place to sail, perfect for a Pathfinder.

Tom mentions that the air and water were not very cold.  That is distinctly different from what we've got  on the east coast right now.  The forecast calls for several days in the high 90's.  I hope to get out for a sail in the next few days, which will be comfortable only if there is a good strong breeze.  I will take a close look at the wind forecast before heading to the ramp.

Thanks for sharing the photos, Tom.


Friday, June 29, 2012

the tidal 214

I've started thinking of this last trip as the Tidal 214.  The number reflects the statute miles sailed during the trip, the "tidal" comes from a few different passages we made where Spartina sailed into both the wind and a strong tidal current.

Above you can see Spartina's gps track, going from east to west to reach Beaufort Inlet.  I realized during my planning that I would spent the early part of the morning sailing directly into the incoming tide, the goal being to reach the inlet at slack tide and pass through the opening in calm water.  From past experience I knew that the currents run strong in the Beaufort area.  I did not know how much fun that early morning sail would be.  Clear water, blues skies and a very comfortable cool morning.  I am now counting about 20 different legs in the passage, all made under a steady southwest breeze.  Terns feeding on the bait fish in the ruffled shoal water to the north, wild ponies walking about the white sandy beach of Shackleford Banks to the south.  Does it get any better than that?

And the evening before, when first arriving in Beaufort from the Adams Creek Canal, I dealt with an earlier incoming tide, this one just inside the inlet between Radio Island to starboard and Bird Shoal to port.  You can see that track above.  This was sailing to the south, with the wind - sometimes a faltering wind - out of the south.  Again, very comfortable temperatures, blue skies and pretty water.  Family's played on the beach of Radio Island, giving me marks to measure my tacks.  The afternoon ferries, small boats with 10 or 20 people aboard coming in from the day at Shackleford Banks, passed along Bird Shoal, pausing to wave and say hello as I tacked back and forth in the channel.  Sometimes I made good distances on the tacks, sometimes I slid back in the rushing tide, all the while dolphins and the white sandy beaches telling me that the Shackleford Banks and Cape Lookout were near.

There were a couple of other similar tidal passages, one going through the Thorofare near Atlantic and the other heading into Belhaven.  I will remember all those tacks, that very enjoyable sailing into the tide and the wind, for a long time to come.


Wednesday, June 27, 2012

tracking map

Here's the tracking map for the trip.  I started at Hobucken, sailed south to Cape Lookout, then north on Core Sound and eventually to Belhaven.  I hope to start the logs this coming weekend.


Tuesday, June 26, 2012

a few photographs

tall ships and a small boat, a video from Barry

First off, please don't ask me to explain "the one who threw the cat against the wall."  It was one of those things where, well, you had to be there.

A very nice video from friend Barry, shot during the OpSail departure parade.  As Barry mentions on his blog, the video doesn't really show Spartina.  But it does show how much fun it can be to sail a small boat around a fleet of tall ships.  


Monday, June 25, 2012

The Three Faces of (st)Eve

We're back - we being Spartina and myself.  It was a great trip.  Like most sailing trips of a few days or more, we had a little bit of everything.  Wind, no wind.  Rivers, marshes, canals and bays.  Hot days under a burning sun, cool comfortable mornings and evenings.  Thunderstorms.  Friendly people and beautiful sights.  A little adventure and a little relaxation.

We made it as far south as Cape Lookout Bight, getting there by sailing outside (on the ocean side of Shackleford Banks, but really known to locals as Onslow Bay), and as far north as Belhaven.  I think it was about 214 miles of sailing over eight days.  I hope to start the daily logs in a few days once I get caught up on cleaning gear.

Thanks, as always, to Shawn at Pate Boatyard in Hobucken.  He helped me rig and launch Spartina, stored the jeep and the trailer for me on his property, kept an eye on me via the SPOT track, then helped me pull the boat out this morning.  Shawn and his friends on Goose Creek Island are always a treat to see.  I appreciate the hospitality, Shawn.

We did have some heat on this trip, particularly Friday and Saturday.  It reminded me of day seven of the Tag Team 200, with Paul and Dawn aboard Dawn Patrol, when the heat index his 105 degrees (though it did not get quite that hot this time around).  The night before Bruce and I had bought a six pack of Carib beer and stowed it in a bag of ice in Spartina's cooler.  That beer, enjoyed that evening on Beard Creek off of the Neuse River, was the coldest and best beer I have ever had.  On the hottest day of this trip, a windless afternoon on the Pungo River leaving out of Belhaven, I decided to reward myself, once I got home, with a couple of ice cold beers - in this case "Green Can" from O'Connor Brewing Company.  They are on ice right now.


Sunday, June 24, 2012

Carolina cruise

One more day on the water, excellent trip so far.  Calm and glassy this morning.  Interesting evening with t'storms yesterday.


Sunday, June 17, 2012

ready to roll, tracking page

it should go live tomorrow late morning.

Took a leisurely day checking gear and packing.  Did the final loading as I listened to the Washington Nationals, still first in their division, take the wrong end of a series sweep with the NY Yankees.

I hope to be on the water tomorrow mid or late morning.  Winds are forecast to be light, but we'll see.  I would like to make it to Swan Creek for the first evening out, a great anchorage I visited a little over a year ago.

Here's a photo from Barry as we sailed with my daughter during the tall ship parade of sail Tuesday morning.  It has been a busy week and Tuesday seems like a long time ago.  Thanks for the photo, Barry.


the last stand, the blue lizard, the dark night

I picked up a book on the "last chance" stand at Barnes and Noble, Nathaniel Philbrick's "The Last Stand" about Custer, Sitting Bull and the battle at Little Bighorn.  Not bad for under $7.00.  A thick book, I won't come close to finishing on my trip.  I do think it will be an interesting read.  I've enjoyed Philbrick's earlier books, and it has been a while since I've read any history from that time period.

At the suggestion of a friend who routinely visits a dermatologist (he spent his youth surfing the beaches of Hatteras Island and now needs to get his skin checked regularly), I bought a bottle of Blue Lizard sunscreen.  My friend's dermatologist had said it would have to be ordered online, but I was happy to find it on the shelves at my local grocery store.

The weather forecast continues to look favorable for next week.  I see that not only will I have the longest day of the year, June 20, I will also have some dark nights.  With the new moon I hope to have a wonder view of the stars.

I had meant to write a little more in today's post, but I don't have the time.  Lots of packing, shopping and gear checking to do.  I hope to be on the water tomorrow by 10 or 11 a.m.


Thursday, June 14, 2012


It is really too early to get an accurate forecast, but this preliminary forecast of fronts shows a high pressure system over the east coast early next week.  That "H" is right where I will be sailing and I hope it stays there, or at least in the vicinity, for a few days.

I've purchased my North Carolina saltwater 10-day non-resident fishing license online, updated my SPOT profile to show that I am sailing in NC and not on Chesapeake Bay, and downloaded tide predictions for Beaufort Inlet and Cape Lookout.

Here is my SPOT tracking page, the same as I've used on the last several trips.  The url is...

I'll do a test track and "ok" message today or tomorrow.


Tuesday, June 12, 2012


I received an email from my friend Adrin with the subject listed as "working....NOT!!".  He was on the Norfolk waterfront this morning as I raised sail with my daughter Grace and friend Barry aboard.  He was working, I was not.  He was nice enough to send a couple of photographs.

We were leaving out of Waterside to watch the OpSail Parade of Sail as the tall ships left Norfolk after a great weekend.  I think we had the best seats in the house, tacking back and forth as the tall ships came by us.  

There were a lot of friendly greeting from the tall ships, both people I knew and people I had never met.  It was fun.  Even had one boat ask if we were taking part in the parade.  Very nice of them to ask, but I don't think Spartina qualifies as a tall ship.

I took some photographs and should do a post, but don't know if I will have time this week.  We'll see.


Monday, June 11, 2012

Belhaven to the north, Cape Lookout to the south

I put together waypoints for the June sail yesterday.  Cape Lookout is the southernmost point, Belhaven is as far north as I will go.  I put in waypoints for Ocracoke, but don't really expect to go there on this trip.  I would like to visit Wysocking Bay up there in the northeast corner, I haven't been there for a few years.  And a visit to Belhaven would be nice.

This morning I'll head my expedition supplier - Walmart - to get some food.  Also need to get my NC saltwater fishing license and update my SPOT profile.  I'll start packing gear later this week.


Sunday, June 10, 2012

by the light of the moon

These were all shot around 5 a.m. on Wednesday on board the Picton Castle somewhere off the coast of the Maryland part of the eastern shore.  The skies were clear, the moon very bright.  The photo at the bottom was shot at 1/60 of a second at an iso of 4000.  All the others were exposures made anywhere from 1/15th of a second to 15 seconds.  It was beautiful.  Sunrise came too quickly that morning.


Saturday, June 9, 2012

a few more photographs from the Picton Castle

I haven't had time to go back through my photographs, but did find these images tucked aside in a folder.

I had a great time with the tall ships, but now I need to start thinking about small boats.  The next cruise is just over a week away.



There's my neighbor Jim (who is building a Navigator) firing a cannon at the Pride of Baltimore ll.  I did not know he was so handy with a cannon.