Saturday, July 30, 2016

"Black Squall

A fine new painting by maritime artist John Morton Barber titled "Black Squall."  It brought back a few memories.

Above is a squall that hit Spartina as we sailed down Jones Bay to Pamlico Sound.  There was time to round up just off of Boar Point, drop the main and jib, and then start bailing.  A heavy downpour and high winds, the rain hitting the water hard enough to send up spray that hovered like a fog over the sound.

And one night after dinner, anchored in Cod Harbor, the sandy hook at the south end of Tangier Island, I looked west to see this approaching storm.  I turned on the weather radio to listen for the alerts but there were none.  Tent up and tucked into the bivy I listened to rain, wind and thunder until I fell asleep.

And just a little over a month ago sailing up the Pamlico River towards Bath this squall, small and intense, had us sailing at over 5 mh under just the jib.  It was quite a ride.

Squalls, sometimes not a lot of fun but at the same time I enjoy the memories of dealing with them.  John, as usual, caught the feeling just right with "Black Squall."

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

half way, more or less

Checking Webb's yellow brick track it seems he is roughly, as the crow flies, halfway from Darwin, Australia to South Africa.  Looking at his lat/lon on google earth he is about 3500 miles from point of departure to destination.  He expects to arrive in the last half of August. 

Sunday, July 24, 2016

under the dome

Morning, evening, morning.  That was my sailing pattern as we are under the heat dome that has excessive heat warnings in twenty-some states.  High yesterday was 96 degrees, temperature today passed 98 just now.  Throw in a good dose of humidity and yes, a hot weekend.  

Special guest on board as the Pilgrim joined me for yesterday's evening sail, the only good wind of the day as the morning had shifting, faltering breezes.

Very stout looking Hadhammer was anchored in Craford Bay for the evening, in route from Key West to New Jersey.  We received an invite to come on board the Saga double-ender for a tour but the wind so fine we settled for an exchange of greetings and photographs.

And a couple more favorite boats on the waterfront, the USCG Barque Eagle, above, and the American Rover, out for an evening sail.

But the biggest treat was the company on board Spartina for a couple of hours of pleasant (yes, a little warm) sailing, and, after leaving Spartina in her slip downtown, an enjoyable dinner outdoors at a favorite restaurant.  Can't beat that.

I did return for a sail this morning, temperature and winds were down so I headed back to the ramp after not too long.  Hot weekend, yes, but no complaints.

Monday, July 18, 2016

boats, big and small


The deadrise-built buy boat Linda Carol is rejoining the fleet.  I saw her up in a yard in Poquoson a couple of weeks ago where she was being rebuilt after the 1930s era boat was found in terrible condition in a salvage yard in Long Island.  If she is not on the water already, she will be soon.  Finishing work was going on when I saw her, and they were running water into her hull so the planks swell up - she had a ways to go on that as you will see in a photo down below.  Very cool boat and I can't wait to see her with buy boats that gather for a reunion tour every summer.

and small....

Registration is open for the Mid-Atlantic Small Craft Festival is posted on the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum site.  (Could that be UNA in the photograph above??)  I'll have to wait for the next paycheck to sign up, but will definitely register soon.  Got blown out by a hurricane last year but that's life.  This year it's gonna be great.  I even hear that Barry may be putting on a movie night.  Where's the popcorn???

Thursday, July 14, 2016

looking back, looking forward

Sometimes I feel like that weather channel guy, the one that is always going to the hurricanes, blizzards and tornadoes.  If that guy gets on an airplane with you, get off the airplane because you are headed for bad weather.  

My last three cruises have all been affected by tropical storms or hurricanes. Spring of 2015 is was tropical storm Ana that came ashore in the Carolinas May 10 when I was out for my spring sail.  Fall 2015 we sailed up Chesapeake Bay caught between a low pressure system off the Carolinas and a high pressure system coming in from the northeast, and all that followed by the approach of hurricane Joaquin.  And of course this spring it was tropical storm Bonnie, which lost its power over the Carolinas but left behind a massive amount of moist air that turned into rain, fog and thunderstorms.  Above is weather radar as I was leaving after four days of rain, with four more predicted.  

I had five days of great weather before the storm came in, and always enjoy sailing down to Beaufort and the very tropical feeling Cape Lookout.  The sail up Core Sound, starting with the winding channels of Barden Inlet, was a treat too.

The storms showed up in the early morning hours of day six.  I was please with the way both Spartina and I dealt with the weather.  We set a speed record - 8.9 mh up West Bay wish a fast moving squall coming up from the south.  I was looking for some protection where I could round up and reef but the storm passed us by.  I was glad to reef and double reef crossing the Neuse River, but should not sailed into shallow water, which was very rough because of the strong wind, before turning north up Pamlico Sound.  I used a variety of sailing combinations, full sail, single reef, double reef, mizzen and jib and jib only, depending on the situation.  Never felt at risk.  

The new boom tent was a huge success, kept me dry but still allowed a very comfortable air flow.  Best investment I have made in a long time.  Roomy and comfortable, it gave me space and time to dry things out after rainy days.

I took too much food.  Too many snacks.  Part of that is that I always take more than I need, but part of it was that I just had less of an appetite than in the past.  Loved the dried mango and the big jar of peanuts.  Dried cantaloupe melon turned out to be too sweet on hot days.  Wish I had brought dried strawberries.  Should have spent a few more bucks and bought medjool dates instead of the lower grades not-quite-as-sweet dates.  Cashew nuts were excellet as were the pumpkin seeds.  All the freeze dried meals save one - spaghetti with marinara sauce - were excellent.  I used Curt's idea of dressing them up a little with a dash of olive oil, which was great.

I will be looking forward to sailing to Washington (NC, not DC) on a future trip, plus visiting North Creek, South Creek and Blounts Bay - all of which come off the Pamlico River - and revisiting Ocracoke Island.

The fall trip will include the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum's Mid-Atlantic Small Craft Festival.  I'll put in a week early in Cambridge, sail north to explore a few rivers, come back for the festival and then have a few more days on the Choptank and maybe Little Choptank.

In between now and then there is a lot of day sailing to do, maybe a weekend trip to sail out of Cape Charles when the Buy Boats are there.  I can't wait.

Monday, July 11, 2016

a most fortunate miscommunication

Saturday morning I sailed through the the small fleet, maybe three or four boats, anchored out on Craford Bay.  Most cruisers aren't up and about that early but as I approached a white-hulled ketch I saw a couple aboard, that man waving and the woman giving me a thumbs up.  They were flying a Canadian flag so I took them for late season snow birds headed back up the coast after a winter in the Caribbean.  

I asked them where they were headed.  Nova Scotia.  From where?  Well, says the gentleman, we sailed from the west coast of Canada.  (Now this was getting interesting.)  When did you leave?  1988.  "Wow" was all I could say.  Well, the woman said, we spent a little time visiting the islands of the Pacific.  We shared a laugh, waved goodbye and I headed across the river in a fine breeze.

Later in the afternoon I sail over to the ketch to take a closer look.  The man peeks up out of the cabin, said they could hear Spartina's hull cutting through the water.  He complimented the boat and I asked if he would like to hop on for a sail.  Absolutely, he said.  So I sail up along side and wait for him to climb aboard while he's asking if I had a painter.  I was saying come on aboard and he was saying tie up here.  And then we realized we had misunderstood each other: I thought he was coming sailing on Spartina, he thought I was visiting his ketch Kantala.  Come aboard he said and we'll sort things out.  

So this was how I met Michael and Sheila and spent the afternoon sitting in the spacious cabin talking about boats big and small, ocean sailing, island lifestyles and who knows what else.  They had stories from Australia and New Zealand, the Indian Ocean, Asia, Africa, St. Helena, South America and the Caribbean.  And now for the first time they were sailing north to Nova Scotia.  They could not have been more gracious and welcoming, it was a true delight.  A couple of times I said I should be going but the conversation would take another turn and I would sit back down and enjoy their company some more.

I was the host the next morning as Michael and Sheila joined me for a morning sail on Spartina where we had the chance to continue our conversation.  And then to lunch where me met my friends of many years, Fred and Mary Lou, who were bringing their new cruiser up the ICW from Oriental.  It was a great lunch where we realized we had all been on the ICW from Beaufort north to the Neuse River, Goose Creek Canal, Pungo River and Belhaven within the last month, myself during the spring cruise and Michael/Sheila and Fred/Mary Lou often within a day of each other this past week and at times sharing the same harbors.  Very cool.  

Now I hear that Fred and Mary Lou are in Deltaville on their way to Rock Hall.  Michael and Sheila will be casting off at dawn bound for New York and points north.  And I will be here, very glad for a fine weekend of sailing and the chance to meet new friends and see some old ones. 

And I shake my head and wonder how I built a boat to get away from everyone and instead made a lot of good friends.  Go figure.

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

day nine - back to the ramp

Rain in the early morning hours, fog at sunrise.  Dry and comfortable inside the tent I listen to weather radio.  Rain and chance of thunderstorms for the morning, rain and chance of thunderstorms for the afternoon.  And the forecast for today is the same for tomorrow, the next and the one after that.  

I think about sailing west up the Pamlico to Washington, but the idea of walking around the waterfront wearing foul weather gear doesn't appeal to me.  Been there, done that in both Bath and Belhaven.  I think about sailing east on the Pamlico to Bluff Point, the jumping off spot for Ocracoke Island.  But there is no way I'm sailing across the sound with thunderstorms in the forecast.  

It is time to go home.  We motorsail down the river, skies beginning to clear about 7:30.  I can see thunderstorms forming over the land on the north side of the Pamlico.  My goal is to get back to Goose Island Creek dry and comfortably.  The wind is out of the NNE and with sail and outboard we make a steady 6 mh.

We make the creek late morning and head down the canal, turning to port onto Jones Bay.  I follow my tracks to find the creek up to Shawn's place and there he is waiting to help with the lines.  He glances at me then looks around the boat which is surprisingly dry and well organized after four days of bad weather.  We can hear thunder in the distance and I break down Spartina's rig, Shawn and Captain Jack asking about the trip and the weather.  Captain Jack credits me with the stormy weather, says they get bored on the island with good weather and I can come back anytime to stir things up.

I thank Shawn for his hospitality and head home.

total miles - 173.7

max speed - 8.9 mh (sailing down West Bay with a squall behind me)

average speed - 3.9 mh