Tuesday, March 29, 2016


The good ladies from the canvas shopped arrived this morning with smiles and a bundle of fabric.  

It was a tense putting on the tent for the first time, initially not seeming to fit quite right but with a series of adjustments to purchase points and support lines everything fell into place.  These photographs were taken while adjustments were still being made, but you get the idea - the tent looks good and I think it will keep my dry and comfortable for a long time to come.

I don't have the photographs to show it - I was under a bit of a time crunch - but the main part of the tent reaches up forward on either side of the four lines coming down onto the foredeck - two main halyards, jib halyard and topping lift - and attaches to a foredeck mounted ring just behind the bow sprit.  From that same purchase point a fly reaches up to just above the gaff jaws on the main mast and spreads to either side of the main tent and attaches with snap.  On windy, rainy nights this will minimize water coming in through the front of the tent.

Yes, there is a gap between the tent and the fly, but with the flaked main above and the fly forward I think a minimal amount of water will find its way into Spartina.  We'll see.  In any case it will be much more effective than the old polytarp tent (and should be for the price).

I will still have all of the options I had before:  no tent, tent, tent with fly, and for those nights when rain is a "maybe" I can put the tent in place, folding back the forward corners and folding forward the aft corners so there's plenty of fresh air and the ability to close up the tent quickly should rain arise.

Next time I sail I'll bring the tent along and, just for practice, put it in place and see how it feels.

Monday, March 28, 2016

the lost month

By tomorrow morning I will have twice this month stepped Spartina's masts, bent on all three sail, put rudder and till in place.  And with fully rigging the boat twice I will not have sailed at all in the month of March.

All the weekends were lost to weather or work, or a combination of both.  Frustrating.  This is usually the month when I get in my first few sails of the year.  Fortunately I had those in January and February, so I can complain too much.  

I had thought there might be a chance for a sail today, but steady rain most of the morning then clearing skies and gusty winds.  Instead I rolled Spartina out of the garage and began the prep work for this year's varnish touch up on the rub rails.  Sanding mostly, and patching with some thickened epoxy.  My remaining epoxy kit is ten years old and the hardener has oxidized, giving the epoxy a nice rich color that matches the varnished douglas fir of the rub rails.  I had hoped to get on seven coats of varnish in one week but with the way the schedule is shaping up it will take me two.  I don't mind, it is easy work and kind of relaxing.

As I mentioned at the beginning of this post, I will have fully rigged Spartina this month.  Once a few weeks ago when the canvas ladies came to measure for the boom tent.  I will rig again tomorrow morning when the ladies return with boom tent in hand.  They may leave it with me, or take it back to the shop for adjustments.  In either case I am looking forward to seeing the new tent in place.  


There is a fine obit for Jim Harrison, poet and novelist, in the New York Times.  I have not read much of his work, but will add some of his novellas to my reading list.  His life, according to the Times, was lived much the way his novels read.  He was, according to the article, a man of unapologetic immoderation, such as...

"There was the eating.  Mr. Harrison once faced down 144 oysters, just to see if he could finish them.  (He could.)

There was the drinking.  Once fine summer, her personally tested 38 varieties of Cotes du Rhone.  ("It was like a small wine festival.  Just me, really," he told The Washington Post afterward.")

And I'm not even going to mention the women.

An interesting life, to say the least.

Friday, March 25, 2016


Humid this morning, overcast, sometimes rain with sun peeking through.  Spring.  I am glad.

I have not sailed the last two weekends, weather and work has gotten in the way.  I do hope to get out this Sunday, a day expected to be overcast, warm and with light winds.  I'll take it.

Since I could not sail the past two weekends I spent time buying food for the spring sail.  It is still two months away but I am suffering from cruise fever.  Cups of fruit, granola bars, tuna salad lunches and - a new item - 1.15 oz pouches of peanut butter or almond butter mixed with honey.  The pouches seem like they would make for a nice simple snack, either by themselves or spread on crackers. 

I've been thinking about the trip and I'm leaning toward a circumnavigation of the southern half of Pamlico Sound.  I would look to put in at Hobucken, which is central to the all the places I would like to visit: Ocracoke, Cape Lookout, Beaufort, Belhaven, Bath and Washington.  Right now I have 13 days but may talk to the boss and add on a day or two.  

The beautiful photograph at top is by Barry, he revisited the 2009 Mid-Atlantic Small Craft Festival.  It's worth his site visiting to see his photographs.  

Thursday, March 24, 2016


Congratulations to Alan.  Not only did he finish the Florida Ultimate Marathon (anyone who does that is a winner in my book), but he set a record in his class - 18 days, 11 hours and 24 minutes to cover 1200 miles including a 40 mile passage - in an expedition canoe he designed and built.  Wow.  Just great.  

These photos are by PaddleDancer.  Many more on Alan's blog.

Sunday, March 20, 2016

meals and putty

Cold, grey and windy.  I had hoped to sail tomorrow but the forecast is not encouraging.  I was happy to have sailed in January and February, now I find myself wondering if I'll make it out in March.

With nothing else to do I picked out a dozen meals for the spring sail.  Spaghetti with marinara sauce, spaghetti with meat sauce (the only meals being close to a repetition), scrambled eggs with bacon, kung pao rice with chicken, Jamaican jerk style rice with chicken, beef stew, biscuits and gray, chicken fajita filling (I've had this on board for three trips and never eaten it.  I ought to try it on this trip or get rid of it), Hawaiian style rice with chicken, beef stroganoff with noodles (a fave), chili mac with beef (another fave) and Lousiana style red beans and rice (which I will use if I'm lucky enough to catch a fish).

That will be more than enough for the trip, I always end up getting a nice dinner in places like Ocracoke or Beaufort.

I've also added an Epoxy Putty Stick to the repair kit, an idea I stole from Webb's pre-departure from Evanston list.  I do not know if this is the same brand he uses, but  according the the reviews, easy to use and it works underwater.  Sailing near Great Island just southeast of Swan Quarter in Pamlico Sound I was surprised by a pipe jutting up out of the water.  I wondered what I would do if I did not seen the pipe and "holed" the boat.  Now I know.  

Friday, March 18, 2016

on the road again....

Alan beginning the 40 mile portage in the Ultimate Florida Challenge, photo by RidgeRunner.  Lots more info on Alan's blog.

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

dinner is served, done, river sailing

Came home to find a box of 20 freeze dried meals from Campmor.  A 10% discount and free two-day shipping.  Can't beat that.  

Word from Dawn that she is dropping out of the Ultimate Florida Challenge because of a shoulder injury.  This photo by Tom was from a couple of days ago.  Tom is continuing on.

Alan has reached Fort Clinch and is now making his way west on the St. Mary's River.  This photo from this afternoon shows that he is sailing on the narrow winding river.  Pretty cool

the view

Two weeks and not out on the water.  Maybe this weekend.  Today would have been perfect, but instead I was sitting in an office.  At least the office had a nice view.

Monday, March 14, 2016

the two best sources, dinners

I've been on the road a lot and have not been able to keep up as well as I would like with the Ultimate Florida Challenge.  I will check in now and then but the best two sources of information on Alan, Dawn and Tom are Alan's blog and Tom's Facebook page

Tom is doing an incredible job with short videos, which you can find here.  The nice photo above was shot by Paula Martel.  And here's a note from Dawn...

Going to be a great day today, nice winds so a bit of motor sailing. I did fall down a few stairs last evening while finishing some chores, sprained my right ankle. Not broken, just swollen and sore, can work the rudder pegs ok. Going to just do a lot of sitting, so should be good to bike the portage when we get there. Toms taking some great videos and pics, it'll be a nice keepsake."


As for my own cruising, I placed an order with Campmor for 20 freeze dried meals.  Lots of pasta dinners, some rice-based meals and a couple of breakfast meals which I find make excellent dinners too.  Ordering 20 at a time gets a 10% discount, and there is free shipping.  With the meals I already have on hand I should be set for both the spring and the fall sails.

Friday, March 11, 2016

Tampico trauma

Tom's unexplained trip to Mexico.  I think Watertribe gives out shark's teeth for completing the race.  I wonder what you get for international travel.  

in for the long haul

Alan is seeing a change of scenery as he left out of Key Largo Thursday morning, photo by PaddleDancer and is now heading up the east coast of Florida.  A few days ago it was the Wilderness Waterway and Florida Bay, now it is high rise condos and draw bridges on the ICW.  Reports says he is getting great speed out of the expedition canoe, making 8, 9 and maybe 10 knots.  Winds were gusting yesterday up to 38 knots.  

Alan's track is red, Dawn's is white.  I've hidden Tom's track as his SPOT showed a brief trip to Mexico.  Wonder how that happened.

This morning Dawn and Tom were approaching Flamingo, then it will be across Florida Bay to Key Largo.  I don't know if they stop for the party there or just continue north.

Visual reports from Tom's Facebook page indicate that the food is good and everyone is having a great time.

Thursday, March 10, 2016

gifted: Wind

I came into the office the other morning and found a book lying on my desk.  Inside the front cover was a note telling me it was a gift from the Epicure, a friend and a colleague for the past twenty-some years.  We have many common interests including the Eastern Shore, the Outer Banks, oysters, clams and shrimp bisque, just to name a few.   Over the decades we've visited kitchens and markets and chefs, mushroom farms tucked in country villages and oyster farms on the winding creeks of Chesapeake Bay.  And it was only a couple of months ago, when she joined me for a sail on Spartina, that I realized we shared a life-long interest in sailing - mine beginning on my Dad's boat in southern California, her's sailing with her family on Long Island Sound.

The gift was "WIND, How the Flow of Air Has Shaped Life, Myth, and the Land" by Jan Deblieu.  I have long known of the book, seen earlier editions on bookshelves of my favorite book stores up and down the coast.  It was a book I was always going to read some day, but never did.  Now I will.

I cannot recommend the book as I have not yet read it, but the description on the back cover appeals to me:

"Jan DeBlieu takes the tempests of her home, the North Carolina Outer Banks, as a starting point for considering how the world's breezes and gales have made us who we are.  She travels widely, seeking out the scientists, sailors, and sages who, like her, are haunted by the movement of air."

I can tell you from the time I have spent in the Outer Banks - whether working, fishing, sailing or chasing a hurricane - that anyone who lives on the narrow strips of sand on the edge of the Atlantic knows the wind and what it can do.  The books sounds to me as if it is a mixture of memoir, science, history, travelogue and cultural exploration.  In other words, it sounds perfect.

I cannot wait to read it, but I will.  It might be the perfect book for the spring sail on breezy sounds of North Carolina.  "Wind," along with a book by Pat Conroy, maybe The Water is Wide, A Memoir, should make for some fine evening reading.

The book is a wonderful gift, made more touching by the Epicure having her close friend, Jan DeBlieu, inscribe the book for me.  The book, once read, will no doubt find its way into my collection of treasured books about coastal North Carolina.  Thank you, Epicure. 

Wednesday, March 9, 2016


I've been on the road and very busy, so I'm stealing from Alan's blog....

Alan in to Key Largo 12:05 a.m. Wednesday.

Dawn and Tom in the Wilderness Waterway.

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

news from Dawn and Team Scout

from Dawn....

A short day 37 miles, the wind really beat us up. Predictions were for more of the same or worse. So we thought back country route might be fun. We started this 3am. But with no winds a mistake. Instead of advantage it's been a bit tidal and Yakmandu in Hobie AI wanted to hang with us. Slow going. But think we turned a 5 hr paddle into 10 hrs. But it's pretty cool in here.

from Team Scout...

From the boat crew - After hours of deliberation and analysis, we have determined that it would be unlikely that we could hit our next checkpoint in the time required to stay in the race, so we have decided to terminate this part of our adventure here in Sanibel. We will join the road crew for the rest of the trip to Key Largo! Once we get back to home base we'll post a detailed report of all the deciding factors. All in all, this has been a very positive experience. We've learned a lot, gone fast, had fun and are already talking about our next adventure.

day four, a detail from the launching

I didn't catch it on the first look - should have, but didn't - but that's Alan with the red hull and white sail in the foreground launching his expedition canoe just at the one minute mark in the video from the starting line.  Very cool!

This morning's Spot track shows Alan had arrived in Flamingo in the early morning hours and may have gotten some rest.  He'll be heading east (into the wind) across Florida Bay today.  The expedition canoe is impressive.  I had expected Alan to go outside to reach Flamingo, but his track shows him going right through the Everglades.

Tom and Dawn have either separated or maybe Tom's Spot is not working.  They are in Ten Thousand Island National Park on their way to Chokoloskee.

No word from Team Scout.  Their Spot went out yesterday, last mark was 18 hours.

Plenty of wind in today's forecast, all from the east.

Monday, March 7, 2016

at the starting line

from Team Scout

From the boat crew.... Well... The conditions at pass and in the Gulf at Point Ybel (Sanibel) weren't kind to us today. We were only able to make 4.5 miles in 5 hours of thrashing. So, rather than getting stuck out there through the night, with the wind direction and seas only getting worse and from the same direction, and with limited opportunities for safe passage through any inlet to the south, we have decided to "lay up" and see if the conditions change for the better. Also, for those if you tracking us, our Spot Locator temporarily drowned and quit working. We'll see what tomorrow brings...

we've got a tarp rigged to tame the blazing sun, and are lounging while we dry out.


The canvas ladies arrived on schedule, in fact a few minutes early, this morning just as I finished putting the old boom tent on the fully rigged-as-if-for-sailing Spartina.  We spent a fun and interesting hour talking about both old and new tents, part explanation, part negotiation and part collaboration.  They were insistent that would would make the tent exactly as I wished, but also just as insistent on sharing thoughts and ideas, which I welcomed.

They complimented me on the polytarp tent, ignoring the crudeness of my work.  They thought the original tent, made in a couple of hours with $60 of material and help from my neighbor Jim, was cut well enough that it will serve as a pattern for the new version.

The biggest discussion involved the forward end of the tent.  An issue was their instinct to close everything up at tightly as possible.  I countered that a) I would want a steady flow of fresh air coming from the forward end and b) the simple fact that with a small boat on the water for a week or two rain water can and will find its way aboard.  The goal is not to stop all the rain, it is to minimize exposure to the weather while at the same time having a tent that is simple and quick to put in place.  

The complicating factor for the forward end are the four lines - three halyards and topping lift - plus the mast.  It is hard to wrap canvas around all that.  The solution, which came from the canvas ladies, was to extend the tent forward to the peak of the coaming with a diamond-shaped cut out that wraps around the mast and lines (this extension is drawn in red in the photograph at the top of this post).  A "fly" (drawn in blue) will go in front of the lines/mast to block a good percentage of the wind/rain.  Yes water will come in, but hopefully less than what comes in now.  I feel very good about this design.  (The angle of the photograph at top is deceptive.  There is ample room for the tent to go from the forward hook on the lower rub rail to the peak of the coaming without interfering with the fly being attached to the deck cleats.)

They offered me several options, most involving adjust straps, velcro, zippers, which I declined.  I like things simple.  They did offer to sew on reinforcements at potential wear areas, which I accepted.

The tent will be made out of WeatherMax, though we have not decided if the fly will be made out of the same material.  I'll drop by the shop this week to see what else is available.

After the canvas ladies left, taking the original tent with them, I broke down Spartina's rig.  While doing so I noticed tiny white flecks spread all across the cockpit sole and bunk flat.  The polytarp tent is disintegrating.  I needed a new tent whether I knew it or not.  I cringe at the money spent, but I smile when I think of setting up a fine custom made tent on a rainy night.


The ec'ers are catching up on their sleep after a long day yesterday.  Dawn sent an "ok" message just a few minutes ago and they are leaving the beach.  Alan and Team Scout are all quiet as of now.

From Dawn's Facebook page...

48.5 miles today, including a rough 7 mile open water crossing half with exhausting winds. Camping early 9pm. The east winds look to stay so fueling up, and getting lots of sleep for the long slog tomorrow. And, still having fun.

Sunday, March 6, 2016

going, and going outside

Team Scout (blue track) is back on the "go" with SPOT track showing they were on the move about 12:30, their ok message saying "We are OK and having a blast!"

I was surprised to see Team Kruger, Dawn (white track) and Tom (magenta track) going outside, but it turns out according to this video from Tom they were a little bored with the icw, plus there was a nice following wind so why not....

Posted by MicroTom 2016 Ultimate Florida Challenge on Sunday, March 6, 2016

traditional, and not so...

Photos of some of the competitors by Patrick Johnson.
An interesting mix of boats, some stock, some home built
and some seriously modified or home designed.
Very nice, and looks like they have excellent weather.