Favorite First Steps: Walking to Spartina without the use of a cane just over two weeks after hip replacement surgery.
Best New Star that No One Ever Sees: The wooden Navy star, in memory of my parents, made by my neighbor and friend, that sits below the bow sprit where it is not easily seen. I told him the star would be seldom seen, but I know it is there and that's all that matters to me.
Most Delightful Sailing Companions: a couple of dozen dolphins playing near Nassawadox Point on day one of the Threatened 320 fall sail.
Best Diesel Engine doing the Job of an Alarm Clock: waking up to the diesel engine of the crab scraper Davey III on Jenkins Creek on day four of the Threatened 320.
Best Physical Therapy: a morning spent bending, crouching, kneeling, reaching up and under the side decks of Spartina for some sanding before the spring painting.
Least Hospitable Place on Tangier Sound: A spot about two miles WNW of Island Point at the mouth of the Little Annemessex River where I had to turn back two days in a row because of high winds out of the NE and high waves out of the NW during the Threatened 320.
Kindest Gift from a Waterman: I asked to buy a half-dozen oysters but Ben of Hoopers Island Oyster Aquaculture Company counted out a dozen, refused to take any money and gave me a bag of ice. He then offered to let me tie up in his marina and asked if I needed a ride to a store or a restaurant. I thanked him for his kind offer, then headed back across the river to enjoy the oysters and wait out the weather.
Worst News I had to Deliver to Dawn Patrol: As shore contact for Paul and Alan on board Dawn Patrol I called, emailed and texted to tell them the Everglades Challenge was cancelled due to a number of rescues on the first morning of the race. They were off to a great start. Better luck next year.
Best Bow Wave: Splashing through the waves off Trippe Bay on our way to the Choptank River and Oxford on day seven of the fall cruise.
Roughest Night: The last night of the Threatened 320, anchored in Warehouse Creek, with high winds, torrential downpours and chop so steep that Spartina was pounding hard enough that I had wondered if we had dragged anchor and were bouncing on the shore.
Most Generous Hospitality by Someone Who Had a Few Other Things to Worry About: We arrived at St. Michaels with a high pressure system to the north, a stalled low off the Carolinas and approaching Hurricane Joaquin. Kristen, president of the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum, had to worry about a) the upcoming Small Craft Festival b) the museum grounds which are susceptible to flood damage c) the museum's floating fleet of classic Chesapeake Bay boats d) her family and e) who knows what else. Nonetheless she took the time to greet us when we arrived, took me out for lunch, got some of her guys to help dock safely in the middle of the museums fleet and constantly check on me in person and by text. How wonderful. She even offered a place to sleep at her home. I opted to sleep on the protect porch of the museum's office building so I could be near Spartina. Thanks, Kristen, for the hospitality!
Most joyous day: A March 21 sail in Elizabeth City, my first sail of the year, timed to coincide with Webb Chiles' sail on the other side of the world. Webb had invited, through a entry in his journal, for readers to seek a day of joy. I sought and I found.
First Ever Launch at a Rebuilt Boat Ramp: Spartina going in the water, the first boat to launch at the rebuilt ramp and newly opened Elizabeth River Park. The park staff declined to give me a plaque (which I thought I deserved), but they did take a photograph of Spartina.
Best Art Show Opening: Curt's opening of his one-man show "Return to the Great River, Maritime Paintings" in Urbanna. Wonderful paintings and then a great evening with Curt, his wife Eleanor and new friends John and Vera. It was there that Vera shared her pearl of wisdom: Men choose both boats and women by the stern.
Favorite Sail on Calm Waters: An afternoon of sailing on Cox Creek with strong steady wind on the narrow creek's calm waters on day nine of the Threatened 320.
Best Use of Mizzen and Jib: Unable to sail in high wind and waves up Tangier Sound we took the back way up the canal behind Janes Island and sailed under mizzen and jib in the lee of Frenchtown-Rumbly, Deal Island and Bishops Head to reach Fox Creek off the Honga River.
Best gift from my shellfish guy: A half-dozen York River oysters from my friend Uncle Chuck, with him telling me I would be doing him a favor by letting him know how they taste (as if he did not already know).
Best Food "to go" on a boat: A pound of boiled crawfish from my friend Shaggy the NOLA Crawfish King as I tied up on the waterfront behind the food tents at the Bayou Bugaloo.
Favorite Family Reunion With a Family I Did Not Know: A delightful July day when my friend Claughton invited the crew of Spartina to take part in his family reunion at the family's civil war era house on Forbes Bay off the Pasquotank River. Good food and plenty of southern hospitality.
Most Beautiful Hidden Sailing Grounds Just A Few Minutes Away: The North River, just about 25 minutes away with a ramp and a nice waterfront restaurant in the nearby town of Coinjock, NC. Pristine water lined by trees with sky above....nothing else.
Academy Award Nominee for best Cameo Appearance by a Yawl in a Short Documentary Film: Spartina's brief (watch closely at 2:41 or you'll miss it) appearance in a film about downtown Norfolk. Can't wait until they open they envelope on that one.
Most Dismal Forecast: Gusts up to 49 mph and heavy rains forecast for Chesapeake Bay during this fall's Threatened 320. Now you know where the cruise got its name.
Best Advice from the Pilgrim: Frustrated that I was taking a weather day at Tilghman Island because of forecast high winds and heavy rains, the Pilgrim told me over the phone not to worry about it, just enjoy whatever happens and go with the flow. I hung up the phone, walked into the office at the Knapps Narrows Marina and found a flier on the bulletin board for an evening wine tasting at the Tilghman Island Country Store. I went with the flow. Literally.
Best Evening Painting the Harbor Red: Watching my gps turn the chart of Silver Lake red as I tacked back and forth under a lovely warm breeze while watching the setting sun on the storm-shortened spring sail.
First Ever Sail with a Pathfinder Builder/Sailor: A fun day with Rik as he was in town to do some serious offshore sailing. He built and sails the Pathfinder Vanessa in the strong trade winds of his native Aruba.
Prettiest Sight Seen on the Morning Walk Before Work: A jellyfish and reflected clouds on the Elizabeth River.
Second Favorite Lapstrake Boat on the Elizabeth River: The home built New Jersey Sea Bright Skiff that we crossed paths with on the Elizabeth River in November.
Most Hard to Get New Sticker for the Boat Trailer: the GCI sticker for Pate Boat Yard which reminds always me of my friends Shawn and Beth and all the wonderful sailing I have done out of Hobucken.