Saturday, August 30, 2014

reef-less and radio'd

A very nice day on the river with about 10 mph wind out of the southeast.  The southeast, not the typical summer southwest.  This has been the mildest summer I can remember.  Little, relatively speaking, humidity and winds out the the east, north and southeast.  Someone told me that the weather channel reported this as the coolest summer in about 20 years, and I can believe it.  While sailing today I tried to remember if I had tucked in a reef at all this summer.  I may be wrong but I can only recall having a reef tucked in coming out of Peter Mashoes Creek on day eight of the spring cruise.  

Few sailboats were out today, I don't know why on such a nice day, but small pods of dolphin kept me company, coming so close at one time I could see their grey backs as they swam beneath Spartina.    Pretty cool.

Just as I have not reefed all summer, I have not listened to the radio either.  I don't know why, it was not a conscious decision.  The radio, a new one, rested comfortably in a gear back.  I got it out today for football, U. Va. vs. UCLA in what sounded like a futile effort.  Radio (and hopefully dolphins too) will be my company on the sail which starts in a few days.  Sailing Tangier Sound and north on the Bay, within reach of stations out of Baltimore and Washington DC, is great for the sports fan.  We've got baseball - The Nats and the O's, both in first place in their divisions - and football - the Ravens and the Washington football team (who cannot lose enough in my opinion).   And of course for every game played there are hours and hours of talking about them.  I will listen, I suspect, until I can listen no more.  The radio does have an "off" switch.  

The pile of gear in the living room is growing.  There is food, sleeping gear, notebook and cook kits, cameras, solar charger and various other items.  The amount of gear surprises me, as does the way it all disappears into the hull of Spartina.

Friday, August 29, 2014


The side of a container ship called Paradise was in interesting tableau for the evening light as a fuel barge delivered bunker (that's fuel to you and me) at sunset a few days ago.  Light and the working waterfront, got to love them both.

or maybe back to play "A"

 I think I spoke to soon, which is what I get for looking at 10 day weather forecasts.

A high pressure system will be moving over the mid-Atlantic late next week, which could mean favorable winds for a trip down the eastern shore seaside.  At the very minimum is means sunshine and comfortable sailing.  I have decided to wait until Tuesday to make the final call, which is when I would in fact have to make a call to the car service out of Easton to confirm a one-way ride from St. Michaels back to Chincoteague to get the jeep and trailer.  Either trip is fine - better than fine, really - with me.  

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

forecasting for plan "B"

Looking at the weather a week out it appears we'll be sailing plan "b," a walkabout on Tangier Sound and up the bayside of the eastern shore.  Not enough wind to make the outside sail down the seaside.  Fine with me.  I had a great sail in that area a couple of years ago on the Bay Days 220.  This trip should reach a little farther north and also explore back on the Choptank and Little Choptank.

All the photographs in this post came from the Bay Days trip, which was noticeable for its wind - both a lot or a little - and for eight days of sunshine, not a drop of rain.  That lack of rain sounds like a good thing, but I also remember Spartina being covered with a good layer of salt after five or six days.  I also remember being anchored behind an island on the Little Choptank, eagles perched in the trees above while I cooked a fresh caught bluefish on the grill.  

There was some good sailing, fishing and reading on that trip, in fact it will always be one of my favorites.

I've pack all my food, the first day's lunch and snacks are already in the lunch box.  The battery count is good, I've still got to charge my rechargeable batteries.  Pencils are sharpened for the waterproof notebook.  Clothes are packed and so are the storage areas under the cockpit seats - fishing gear, batteries, flares, cleaning gear and toilet supplies.  All of it will be rechecked next week before we leave town.

In the meantime, the forecast looks excellent for a daysail on Friday.

Saturday, August 23, 2014

a taste of the ocean

From a visit to my shellfish guy...

Sewansecott oysters, above, raised just inside the barrier island inlets on the eastern shore's seaside.  With strong tides coming off the ocean, they grow quickly. Maybe just year old oysters, not much more.  A plump, tender taste of the ocean.

And farm raised little neck clams, they could have come from either the bayside or the seaside of the eastern shore.  Oysters raw, clams steamed to go with a steamed artichoke and lemon butter.  Excellent.


Boxes of gear, plastic gallon jars of food and the dry bag of freeze dried meals migrated downstairs to the living room and now reside beneath the desk.  I think I'm set on food, probably have to much in fact.  The cook kit and light/notebook kits were pleasingly intact and ready to go from the spring sail. 

I've updated my SPOT profile to reflect that I'll be sailing on Chesapeake Bay and not the sounds of North Carolina, and also edited the list of email addresses that receive "ok" notifications when I drop anchor at the end of a day and then again in the morning when I raise the anchor.  I'll post the tracking link next week.

My renewed my Virginia saltwater fishing license will, because of a reciprocal agreement, work in Maryland waters of Chesapeake Bay.

A car service out of Easton, Md. has agreed to drive me at a reasonable rate from either Oxford or St. Michaels to Chincoteauge should I make the sail around the bottom of the Delmarva.

The trip is still more than a week away, but it feels good to be getting things in order.

Friday, August 22, 2014

majestic, sad (with postscript at bottom)

There is something graceful and majestic about whales, but sad when they are found in a narrow river far from their pelagic home.  I wonder if it is true that animals will sometimes go off on their own to die.

This whale, believed to be a sei whale, was first spotted in the Elizabeth River last Thursday.  The local stranding response team monitored the whale each days as she moved farther and farther up the river, away for her home in the ocean, away for any source of food.  There was really nothing they could do except watch and wait as she swam in gentle circles.

Yesterday, a week after first being seen, she was found dead in the shallows of St. Juliens Creek, her smooth dark skin catching the evening light.  Still majestic.   

postscript:  A necropsy performed on the whale revealed that it may well have died from ingesting a piece of plastic, possibly from a dvd case, which it could not digest and blocked the whale's stomach.)

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

easy in the islands

After rough sailing from Hawaii to Samoa, followed by a brutal passage to Tonga, Webb Chiles appears to be enjoying the good life.  His yellow brick track shows that he is visiting protected anchorages with white sandy beaches and, most likely, beautiful coral reefs.  Paradise found!

 Webb credits the photo above to "Rich, the tiller pilot whisperer."  You can read about his visit to Tonga, which he describes as almost perfect, and his issues with tiller pilots and tracking devices here.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

plans "A" and "B"

Just a little over two weeks until what I'm calling the "fall" trip, though it will be over by the time fall arrives.  Finished the trail mix today with the addition of golden raisins.  Started sorting through the clothes - a couple pair of Northface pants, three or four sun block shirts and some tee shirts -  and checking batteries and notebooks. 

I have two  different routes to follow, the wind forecast for the first couple of days will determine which plan I will sail.  If I have a north to northwest wind for the first two days I will follow the path sketched out above.  Out Chincoteague Inlet to Wachapreague Inlet, then south on the inside passage, rounding Cape Charles, then heading north visiting along the way the town of Cape Charles, Tangier Island, Smith Island, Oxford and ending possibly in St. Michaels.  

The complication with this trip is that Spartina and I will finish in St. Michaels, the jeep and the trailer will be in Chincoteague.  I found a website for a car/taxi/limo service in Easton, right next to St. Michaels, that claims they will drive passengers anywhere there is a road.  I've got an email into them to check on cost/availability.

If the forecast for wind is anywhere other than out of the north to northwest, I'll follow the route above.  I'm not sure of the starting point, either Onancock or Crisfield, sailing north on Tangier Sound, the Honga River, Choptank River, East Bay and then the Miles River.....and then back.  This trip could include visits to Taniger Island, Smith Island, Deal Island, St. Michaels, Oxford and Cambridge.

Both trips sound good to me, and I'll be happy whichever way the wind blows.  Drawing out these trips on google earth I was surprised to find that they are very similar in length, both about 220 miles with the simple straight line ruler segments.  Sailing the route would certainly be more miles, but definitely practical in a two week time frame (with some relaxing, reading, fishing built in).

Above are my two buffs for the trip, redfish on the left, which I've had for a couple of years, and striper on the right which just arrived this week.

Weekend sailing is up in the air.  Thunderstorms are forecast for the next several days.  Below is a photograph from this past Sunday's windless sail.

Sunday, August 17, 2014


Saturday evening on the Elizabeth River.  The boom tent was on for predicted overnight thunderstorms, which did arrive in the early morning hours.

Saturday, August 16, 2014

sunglasses, broad brimmed hat, wind

This entry is titled with the items I forgot to bring along with me for today's sail.

The cool (relatively) dry air and north winds of this incredibly mild summer had lulled me into forgetting what a mid-August day can be like.  I have always disputed the notion that there is no wind around Chesapeake Bay in July and August.  There is wind, but it can be accompanied by heat, humidity and hazy grey skies.  Today was a day of no wind, but heat and humidity did put in an appearance.  No matter, I had a great sail yesterday evening, and no complaints at all about today.

Friday, August 15, 2014

coming in

a perfect evening

The tall ship is the American Rover, a local cruise ship that has been around here longer than I.  The captains and crew have always been kind to Spartina, friendly waves and greetings brightening the day.  I have heard from the crew that Spartina is sometime referred to as "Baby Rover" since we share the same hull colors - green and white - and if the Rover were to have a baby she would most likely start out with two masts and grow from there.  The tanbark sails must come with age.

evening sail

Thursday, August 14, 2014

I have bought......

I've been picking up a few items for the September trip, most were inexpensive but one (the radio) costing more than I like.  I'll list the items below, mixed in with photographs from past sails on Chesapeake Bay.  The photographs are from mid-Bay on the Eastern Shore side, from Saxis to the Choptank River, several coming from the islands of Tangier Sound.

I have bought........

two packs of dried cranberries to add
 to the make-as-I-go trail mix

eight gallon bottles of water, the round bottles that
fit perfectly under the bunk flat on Spartina

a three pack of mole skin lined notebooks, 
which should last me through next year's sail

a second buff, made with a "striper" pattern
(it will be striper season after all!)

two new long sleeve sun block shirts

another box of Kashi granola bars to round out my breakfasts

a waterproof l.e.d. flashlight with a built in carbine hook that 
will hang nicely from the bungee cord running under the side decks

two boxes of dried mango slices, a start on the dried fruit snacks
that will include pineapple, kiwi fruit and bananas

new braided fishing line for the spinning rod

(that latch that held the battery pack in place broke off on my old radio)

a second book, "Havana World Series," in case 
I finish my first book, "Astoria"

With work, weather and the road trip to Baltimore I haven't sailed for nearly three weeks.  I hope to get out tomorrow evening and again Saturday morning.  The forecast is excellent.

Just digging back through the Chesapeake Bay logs to find the above photographs has brought back of lot of memories.  I can wait to get back out on the Bay.