Saturday, February 27, 2016


I have put down a deposit on a new custom-made boom tent.  It will cost more than I like, but I say that now sitting in my very dry and comfortable kitchen looking out the bay windows on a sunny day.    Aboard on Spartina last fall on day five of the sail, waiting out the weather on the Honga River with a possible forecast of 50 mph wind and five to eight inches of rain, I would have considered it a very, very reasonable price.  That rain never arrived.  It reached about halfway out over the Bay two days later, then slid back to the west.  But the idea of a newer, less leaky boom tent has stayed with me.  

The original boom tent, which you see here, I made with help from my friend Jim, using polytarp, some line, grommets and bungee cords.  It cost about $60 and served me very well for eight or nine years.  I have spent many rainy nights sleeping comfortably under the tent.  Yet when I did get rain on this last trip, the tent seemed to be leaking.  The seams were wearing out and on the inside the tent had developed a dank, mildewy smell.  I think I got my money's worth this one, it is time to move on.

The new design will most likely be similar.  The ladies from the canvas shop will be out here in a little over a week to take measurements and discuss design, but they told me that if I am happy with the current design they will stick close to the that.  They may have some ideas to offer, which I will welcome  The new material will be waterproof and breathable.  It should be comfortable and should keep me dry, or at least as dry as one can expect to be on a small open boat.  Comfort equals safety.  Being comfortable means a good night's rest.  And being well rested means making better, smarter and safer decisions the next day.  Plus it is more fun that way!  

It should be ready for the spring sail, which will be down in North Carolina.

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

you know it is the middle of winter when....

...Barry is spending his late nights is scrolling through years old photographs of boats at the Mid-Atlantic Small Craft Festival, then emailing them to friends.  Thanks, Barry!  Hopefully it will warm up soon and you can get back to work on your new old boat.

Sunday, February 21, 2016

double reefed, reefed and full sail

The guy at the bait shop at the ramp came down to the dock as I pushed Spartina off the trailer.  "There a lot of wind today," he said.  I agreed.  Then he repeated himself, maybe thinking I had not heard him the first time.  It was breezy, out of the wsw, bringing in warm air.  I motored down past the shipyards and raised a double reefed main along with mizzen and jib.  By noon I was down to a single reef and then full sail.  Warm and breezy with a light overcast, a very nice day on the water.

I continued my experiments with the GoPro, mounting the camera this time at the top of the gaff looking forward and down.  I am happy with the results, which can be seen in the previous post.  Should I pass through Old Canal, a narrow overgrown passage connecting Turnagain Bay with Long Bay between the Neuse River and Core Sound in North Carolina, this would be the perfect place to put the camera.

I've started gather the supplies for the spring sail, which will be in North Carolina.  It is still almost three months away but I'll pick up an item or two for the trip each time I'm at the grocery store.

Thursday, February 18, 2016

bemused: the movie

I have written about Saul Leiter before.  He was a fashion photographer who was also a street photographer.  Because of a recent piece in the Washington Post I learned that there was a documentary film made about him.  (The Post story says he was "lost to obscurity" but I suspect Leiter would have smiled and said that he almost always knew where he was.)

 I first learned of Saul Leiter through his obituary in the New York Times where he was described as being "bemused" over the attention his images drew late in his life.  He never sought attention for his work.  He enjoyed taking photographs, often using out of date film (which caused unexpected color shifts), and showing them to friends in his apartment.  A letter inviting him to submit photographs for the Edward Steichen curated Family of Man exhibit at the Museum of Modern Art was left unopened.  Bemused is the perfect word for Leiter, just watch the trailer for the documentary and you will see.

Leiter talks about people describing him as a "pioneer," and he says maybe he was, maybe he wasn't. In my opinion, with his use of simple bold colors, graphic presentation and layered imagery, yes, a pioneer without a doubt, a slightly bemused pioneer.

A favorite quote from the photographer, who clearly didn't take himself too seriously...

 "I didn’t photograph people as an example of New York urban something or other. I don’t have a philosophy. I have a camera. I look into the camera and take pictures."

Beautiful pictures.....

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

presto, a hull

I sometimes get questions about which boats I like for camper cruising.  There are lots of designs out there that work very well but my favorites comes from John Welsford (of course), Ian Oughtred and B & B Yachts Designs.

By way of the Chesapeake Float email list I came across this very interesting video of the hull of a B&B Core Sound 20 Mk III being unfolded in a basement.  No doubt a lot of work was involved in getting to this stage, but the unfolding seems to occur in a very brief amount of time.  As Kevin, of Welsford Navigator "Slip Jig fame," said in an email, "presto, a hull."

I do not know if the hull, being built by Steve, is being made from just plans or a kit, but in any case the video shows a very interesting construction technique.  Pretty cool.

Monday, February 15, 2016

live oaks

Home, to a light snow, then ice pellets, then rain.
So when is sailing season?

window seat, port side

Taking the flight from Baltimore to Norfolk I always try to get a window seat on the left side of the aircraft so I can get a good look at Chesapeake Bay.  That's Kent Island on the far side of the bay with Eastern Bay behind it and the Miles River sneaking off to the right.  I could pick out past anchorages at Warehouse Creek and Tilghman Creek.  Farther down the Bay I enjoyed seeing the Choptank and Little Choptank Rivers, the Honga River (which appeared much wider than I expected), Tangier Sounds and all of her Islands, and the final stretch of the Delmarva to Cape Charles and the mouth of the Bay.  Seeing the creaks, rivers and islands brought back lots of memories.

The day began at about 60 degrees in San Diego at dawn.  Afternoon in Baltimore it was 21 degrees, evening at home 24 degrees, with snow approaching.

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

planes, trains and automobiles

On a somewhat circuitous visit to Southern California that involves four planes, two trains and a rented car.  And three hotels.  San Diego, sunshine and 70 degrees.  I'll take it

Saturday, February 6, 2016

who'll buy my memories?

This time of year Uncle Chuck would have twenty different kinds of oysters for sale.  All the same species, but each with a different taste depending on the creek or cove or barrier islands where it was raised.  Instead, Chuck's family was selling off the shop furnishings.  I grabbed a few of the old sign boards Chuck used to list the seafood he had on hand, plus a rusty old pair of tongs.  Nice memories to hang in the garage.  

Friday, February 5, 2016

the GoPro

I have received several questions and comments about the photograph "the gust" and also the video in the last post.  They were both shot with a GoPro Hero3+ (which seems like a long name for a very little camera).  (That camera is already out of date, there is now a series of Hero4 cameras ranging in price for $200 to $500.)  

For me the biggest advantage of the Hero3 and later versions is the ability to control the camera from an iPhone app.  I can see what the camera is shooting, change from single frame to interval shooting to video, review files and download images all from my phone.  It is pretty amazing.  Below is a screen shot of the GoPro Album on my phone, all of the images sent from the camera to phone via the GoPro's wifi signal.

I'm also finding that one more advantage to sailing a yawl is that are lots of places to mount the GoPro.  Most commonly I fix it in place using a mount with a velcro strap (plus a safety lanyard with a clip - don't need anymore cameras going for a swim).  I have placed the camera on the boom, the bow sprit, the mizzen mast (the camera was at the top of the mizzen mast for the video in the last post), at the top of the gaff (see photo at the bottom) and, for the gust photo, on the mizzen boom. 

One technique I have used, particularly when mounting it on a boom, is to attach the velcro strap loosely around the boom.  As the boat heels the weight of the camera causes the camera to "self-level" and keep a flat horizon.  That has worked well for me, particularly on the photo above from Cox Creek on Kent Island.  It did not work so well the other day shooting the gust, it was just too gusty and bouncy as you can see in the video, but nonetheless I got a decent, though not level, photograph.  (In the middle of the video, with a double reefed main, we were making 5.5 knots.)

Anyway, it's kind of fun now and then to fool around with the camera and see what I get.  Not so much interested in photographs of myself, but I do like to see the wind filling Spartina's sails.

Monday, February 1, 2016

added to the scrapbook

As you can probably tell from the last post, I mounted the GoPro at the top of the mizzen mast for today's sail.  Also shot a couple of video clips with it.  Not exciting and hardly interesting, but it was a wonderful February sail (my first on mid-Atlantic coast) and I would like to remember it so I am adding it to my digital scrapbook, this blog.