Sunday, January 31, 2016

the gust

If today was preview of the coming year, it will be a
great year of sailing.  Yes, I know, main is not well set.
I was slacking the main sheet to deal with the gust rolling 
across the river.  Got around Hospital Point and reefed,
then soon double reefed.  Warm and breezy, a steady five 
and six mph with reduced sail.  A great day on the water.


Saturday, January 30, 2016


The trailer is rewired and ready to go.  The wiring for the l.e.d. lights runs up inside the trailer guide posts.  There are a couple of places where the wires get pinched and worn through, causing poor connections.  I used nylon cable ties to create a cushion so that maybe I can go through an entire year with tail lights intact.  We'll see.

The outboard is down the street at a friend's house for annual maintenance.  He tells me he'll be working on it today, hopefully it will be ready to go for tomorrow.  The forecast calls for sunny skies, 67 degrees and 12 mph wind out of the southwest.  The monday forecast is even better.  Wouldn't it be nice to sail the last day of January, the first day of February.

I received four bronze barbed thru hulls in the mail.  They will not go through Spartina's hull.  Instead they may be used to drain water from the forward area of Spartina, the bunk flat where I sleep, to the aft cockpit sole.  Typically rain is not a problem when cruising.  But torrential downpours, I can think of three of them over the years, can be an issue.  With enough wind and rain, water collects on the bunk flat to the point that it gets into the bivy, dampening the bivy, sleeping pad, sleeping bag and, of course, me.  The thru hulls should allow that water to drain aft so I won't have to, as Barry aptly described it, sleep in a puddle.  Another benefit would be that when sailing, the spray that comes aboard - and when sailing into a steep chop close hauled, a fair amount of water can build up on the bunk flat - that water will flow back to the cockpit where I can bail and sail at the same time.

It's just an idea right now.  I may not put them in this year, I may not put them in ever.  I will have to think about it.  The thru hulls, marine grade bronze, came from a water supply company in South Carolina for about $8 each.  Had I bought them at a boat store, I believe I would have paid much more.  Not too much of an investment and they could make cruising a little bit easier.

I titled this post for the Roman god of beginnings, transitions and passages.  Should I sail tomorrow or Monday I will not know if it is the ending of this past sailing season or the beginning of the next.  It may feel like a little of each.  

Thursday, January 28, 2016

wouldn't it be nice

Sunday's forecast.

If I the outboard is ready to go from my mechanic,
and if I get the trailer wiring done,
I may be sailing in January.

Monday, January 25, 2016

farewell to the shellfish guy

Uncle Chuck, my shellfish guy, passed away over the weekend.

He will be missed, not just for the oysters, clams, scallops,
lobsters, atlantic char and crawfish, but also for his smile, 
his stories and the true joy he found in people. 

Here you will find photographs of some of the shellfish I
picked up at his shack.  I paid for most of it, some he just 
gave to me.  I told him he can't be giving away his seafood. 
He said it was his goddamn shop and he can do what he 
wants.  He smiled, shook my hand and said enjoy.

A better ambassador for Chesapeake oysters 
and clams will not be found.

Friday, January 22, 2016


Snowflakes fall as a disturbance roils the water of the canal.
Two, maybe three seagulls, or so it seemed.
Huge wings lift, a bald eagle takes flight.

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

"out beyond where the lifeguards liked"

A very fine story about an interesting life and some wonderful photographs can be found here at The Polaroids of Cowboy Poet.  It's an interesting look at creativity and compulsion, one that reminds me in some ways of the photographic genius of Saul Leiter and Vivian Maier.  The polaroid above shows the mother of Chris Earnshaw swimming at Rehoboth Beach, Delaware, farther out than the lifeguards had liked.

Monday, January 18, 2016

I would be smiling too

Congrats to Barry on his beautiful 1947 wooden Lightning sailboat.  What a classic!  Designed for racing, Barry plans to modify it for (fast) cruising.  You Chesapeake Float guys better watch out.  Visit Barry's marginalia for lots of nice photos and his thoughts on the boat.

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

lost and found

I had long thought that virtually all the photographs - there weren't many to start with - of the building of Spartina had been lost.  The build was in the early days of consumer digital cameras and prior to the ease of online photo storage/sharing.  Some photographs were taken, some were printed and some of those were lost.  I had very little in the way of a visual record of the two year experience.  Or so I thought.  

This morning while digging through some drawers in search of an old document I found a birthday card from my youngest daughter.  She decorated the oversized card for my 50th birthday with stickers and hand-written notes and photographs taken during the two year boat building process.  (It is just now that I realize I launched Spartina as I approached 50, the 50 years and the launch being notable points in my life.)  The images will be of little interest to anyone else, the workmanship is not fine or even good boat building (if you want to see that look at the many other Pathfinder build sites on the internet).  But as the blog serves as both my logbook and scrapbook, I will post them here.  Thank you, Grace, for saving the photographs. 

Monday, January 11, 2016

proud father, maintenance, an interview

From Rik comes a nice photograph of his Pathfinder Vanessa with daughter Sara-Ange at the helm.  The email was titled "proud," and proud he should be as Sara-Ange held the tiller for about two hours of sailing on the tropical waters of Aruba.  

I had some thoughts of sailing myself but with temperatures in the low 40s I decided to begin the off-season maintenance by replacing the swivel mount jack on the trailer.  The old one, after nine years of being around salt water (even thought I routinely washed it down and sprayed generously with WD-40) was so rusted it was difficult to crank up or down.  Next on the list: rewiring the trailer lights.  

There is a new youtube interview online with Webb Chiles answering questions about his sailing.  Much of what was discussed I had heard before in other interviews, but the fact that one of the gentlemen was not a sailor brought out some different and interesting questions.  I found the interview enjoyable.  

Thursday, January 7, 2016

a film and two boats

This evening, through I think Lorenzo's blog, I came across the trailer for the documentary film "MAN ON A RIVER, LONDON TO ISTANBUL."  It looks like a wonderful film about sailing and rowing a small boat through 13 countries of Europe and Asia over two years, 3356 miles, 346 locks, over 2000 bridges, eight water tunnels and 18 aqueducts.  The film debuted at a film festival last summer.  Where it can be seen now I don't know.  Hopefully it will show up somewhere on the internet.


I have come across a couple of very nice boats lately, one under the construction and the other being prepared for cruising.  Above is a photograph of Lorenzo's Pathfinder, a beautiful build with teak decks, bunk flat and cockpit sole.  I have corresponded a couple of times with Lorenzo (hope he doesn't mind me stealing the photograph).  I believe he lives in France on the Mediterranean, which must be wonderful for sailing, and he plans to have the Pathfinder ready for a sailing "raid" on Venice Lagoon.  His sons are assisting him with the build, which must be a true joy.  I will look forward to seeing the Pathfinder on the water.   

The photograph above labelled "max and sally" (I'm guess Sally is the boat) arrived in an email from Gene who lives near the waters of the Chesapeake Bay.  He found the boat virtually abandoned outdoors, filled with brown water and in poor shape.  He bought and restored the boat, day sailing it on Baltimore Harbor and Sandy Point State Park.  Gene plans on doing some extended sailing this spring and summer.  He had some questions about gear and such and I pointed him to my favorite list for safely heading out on the water.  Good luck, Gene, have fun.


The temperatures have dropped and though it continues to be a mild winter I think my sailing season is done.  I've got a little maintenance to do and hope to be ready to launch in early March.  It has been a challenging, interesting and great year on the water.

Monday, January 4, 2016

bookended by gannets, a Chesapeake Bay photographer

My New Year's Day was booked ended by gannets.  On New Year's Eve while looking for humpback whales off of Cape Henry there were a few dozen gannets flying about and crash diving into the ocean.  They were after the same food as the whales, and there seemed to be plenty enough for all.  

The day after New Year's Day Webb Chiles, sailor of the Moore 24 GANNET, stopped by with his wife Carol.  Heading to the airport after a vacation in the Outer Banks, Webb and Carol were nice enough to come by for a tour of Spartina (which took all of 10 minutes), then my wife the Pilgrim and I joined them for lunch in Norfolk.  It was a treat.   Afterwards we walked along the waterfront then enjoyed the sight of a SailNauticus Harbor 20 sailing in on a gently breeze and rounding up perfectly at the dock.   


From the Washington Post.......

Robert de Gast, a photographer whose 1970 book “The Oystermen of the Chesapeake” captured in harsh and unsentimental images the final days of America’s last fishing fleet under sail and is regarded as one of the finest depictions of the watermen who make their living there, died Jan. 3 at a hospice center in Baltimore. He was 79.

I knew of Mr. de Gast from his1975 book "Western Wind, Eastern Shore: A Sailing Cruise around the Eastern Shore of Maryland, Delaware and Virginia."  I have never seen the book but I have read it was the inspiration for Washington Tuttle's sail around the Delmarva Peninsula on his catboat.  

 The Delmarva Peninsula and documentary photography, two of my favorite things.  I've placed an order for a used copy of "Oystermen" from Amazon.  And I am pleased to know that a photographer and sailor left his mark on the Bay.