Saturday, August 19, 2017

dining changes

There will be some dining changes on board SPARTINA for the fall cruise, courtesy of some sailing friends.  Lunches, which in the past have been cans of tuna salad with crackers.  That was fine until Tom gave me a can of Rio Mare tuna that he had picked up in Europe.  He said eat it right out of the can, it tastes better than the tuna we commonly get in the US.  I have not tried that tuna yet, I'm saving it for the trip.  I tried to buy more of the Rio Mare tuna at Amazon, but my initial search found only the Callipo variety so I ordered a nine-can pack of that.  I tried one can for lunch, it was excellent.  Going back to order more tuna the Rio Mare variety showed up in a second search at Amazon so I bought a half-dozen cans of that (it is almost twice the price of Callipo).  Italian tuna for lunch and the New Zealand freeze dried meals that Webb sent me for dinner, I will be eating very well this fall.

The other change will be in how I store my food.  Lorenzo sent me a digital copy of Tinkerbelle, the story of 47-year-old Robert Manry single-handing a 13.5 foot long boat across the Atlantic.  It was a a wonderful read.  One of the things Manry did was pack each day's meal in a sealed plastic bag.  In the past I have stored my food in one-gallon jars, i.e. a jar of dried fruit, a jar of breakfast bars, a jar of lunch kits.  So each evening I found myself opening multiple jars to prepare for the next day.  This coming trip I will pack meals for each day in one-gallon freezer bags.  I have yet to sit down and make a list but each freezer bag will contain something like a breakfast bar, three cups of fruit, some dried fruit, home-made trail mix and a can of tuna.  This should simplify things in the evening and allow for a little more time to read or just relax.  

So Lorenzo, Tom and Webb, thanks in advance for improving meals on SPARTINA.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017


Because of a little clerical error at work (mine) I realized just now that I don't have the planned 16 days off this fall.  Instead I've got 18.  Or at least I think I'll do.  I'll confirm this week with the office.

I had planned on two days in St. Michaels for the Mid-Atlantic Small Craft Festival, so I expected 14 days of sailing, two days at the festival.  Now I realized that I've got 16 days of sailing.  A nice little surprise.

I'll launch at Cambridge - nice, free ramp - head north to Havre de Grace at the top of the bay (pronounced "have-erdee-grayce according the the sailing guides) then do some exploring on the way back south.  There are some rivers and creeks I have passed by in the past - the Bohemia, Sassafras, Corsica Rivers, Fairlee Creek.  I have heard wonderful things about these places.  A couple of them have marinas, with laundry, restaurants, etc that I'll need/want on a long trip.

About six weeks until I head to Cambridge.  I'll start getting serious about packing around Labor Day.  Can't wait!

Monday, August 14, 2017

still a workboat finish

Don't worry, SPARTINA still has her workboat finish.  She is also sporting a new coat of Sea Green Interlux Brightside Polyurethane.  It is only in the last few weeks that I noticed how the hull paint, this last coat put on four or five years ago, had faded.  There were plenty of nicks and scratches, many from traveling on the highways, but also the finish had lost its shine.  I really like the way she looks now.

The forecast for yesterday and today (my off days from work) called for thunderstorms all day long.  I figured it was a good time to paint, wouldn't be missing much sailing with the stormy weather.  The storms so far have not shown up but that's ok, glad to get the work down.

Also spent some time thinking about bottom paint.  That should go on next spring I think, a semi-hard ablative paint (though I still need to research the options out there for trailered boats).  I've got some touch up left to do and just a bit of varnish work.  She'll be back together in time for an eclipse sail.  

Saturday, August 12, 2017

no longer dismal

A dismal time for the Dismal Swamp Canal is coming to a close.  Shut down to boat traffic since hurricane Matthew passed over last fall, the Army Corps of Engineers says the old canal will reopen with the month.  

Crews are still dredging the canal but the major work of removing the downed trees, 350 of them, has been accomplished.

This is great news for this fall's snowbird, boats heading south for the winter.  No longer used for commercial traffic, the canal is narrower than the ICW and for the most part lined by tall trees along the edge of the Great Dismal Swamp.  Scenic and peaceful, a lot of cruisers choose this alternate route for heading south.  

This is great news for Elizabeth City, located at the southern end of the canal.  Boats coming down the canal bring people, and of course people bring money.  So it is good for the restaurants and other businesses in Betsy Town.  But boats passing through is more than business for the little southern town, it is part of the culture.  There was a tradition, and I hope it continues, called the Rose Buddies.  This dates back a decade or two when a couple locals would come down to the free docks on the waterfront and welcome cruisers with roses, wine and cheese.  The original rose buddies have passed away, but as of at least a couple years ago the evening receptions for boaters were still being held.  

On my list of sails I still have plans for a local circumnavigation.  It would involve a fair amount of motoring with a little sailing mixed in, heading south on the Dismal Swamp Canal, sailing down the Pasquotank River to Albermarle Sound and then over to North River to head north along the ICW and back home.  Someday...

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

father and son

A beautiful photograph titled "father and son" from Lorenzo's blog as they sail ASTRID near Sardinia.  Lorenzo has built one of the two finest (in my opinion) Pathfinders (the other being Tom's FIRST LIGHT), and he sails some of the most beautiful waters.  How cool is that!

Monday, August 7, 2017

FIRST LIGHT, fine dining

I had a guest on board yesterday, another Pathfinder builder.  That is Tom Head, above, who built the truly beautiful Pathfinder FIRST LIGHT.  He rigged her with balance lug main and mizzen, a first for the Pathfinder I believe.  Tom lives in the Florida Keys and will no doubt have some wonderful sailing to do down there.  Here are a few photographs from Tom's Pathfinder, you can follow his build here on the WoodenBoat forum.  

Tom and I had been in touch by email for a year or maybe more.  He had plans to pass through my area and wrote suggesting we get together.  I already had plans for sailing on a day with a nice forecast, so I picked him up on the waterfront.  We have a lot in common, from Pathfinders to the Navy to Everglades Challenge friends and we each have two daughters that were born about two years apart (I share both his pain and his joy with that).  We spent a lot of time talking about the rigs and sailing performance, Tom saying that my gaff-rigged yawl sailed very similar to his balanced lug rigged yawl.  It took him a while to remember to handle the jib when coming about, both sails on his boat being self-tending.  

Tom was kind enough to invite me down to the Keys, an offer I hope to take him up on someday.  Maybe I'll sail with him on FIRST LIGHT or maybe I'll bring SPARTINA with me.  We'll have to wait and see.  Yesterday was an enjoyable sail and I look forward to sailing with Tom again.


And speaking of the Keys, a UPS package arrived from Marathon today.  Webb Chiles generously offered to share some of this New Zealand Back Country Cuisine and Outdoor Gourment freeze dried meals for the fall cruise.  He sent so many that I believe they will carry through to the spring sail also.  Lamb, venison, beef, roast chicken.  I will be eating very well.  Thank you, Webb.

Saturday, August 5, 2017

coming through

I had an excellent vantage point to watch another big ship, this time the Dwight D. Eisenhower, otherwise known as the "Ike," come through downtown.  The 25th floor penthouse is an enjoyable place to be.  Nice to have friends in high places, literally and figuratively.  

Monday, July 31, 2017

cool / cruising paradise

A north wind.  A high in the low 80s.  Cool, dry air.
A very welcome change from last week's heat and humidity.


Cruising Paradise, a wonderful book of short stories by 
the playwright and actor Sam Shepard, who died last week.

Saturday, July 29, 2017

and I passed it off as work....

Snuck out for a sail on the Schooner Virginia last week,
somehow claiming it as work.  Life is good.

Monday, July 24, 2017

save my soul

Each time I sail out of Elizabeth City on the Paquotank River I wonder why I sail anywhere else.  Looking downriver from the waterfront, the water stained tea-colored by the cypress swamp, seems to go on forever.  Tree-lined, the winding river goes from northwest to southeast, peaceful and uncrowded.

I cast off under full sail, soon reefing and then again tucking in a second reef.  The wind was hot and strong.  But even with all the wind out of the west and southwest the water remained calm.  Perfect sailing.

I soon saw friend Scoot rounding up in Forbes Bay to raise a double reefed sail on the Marshall 18' Sanderling "Lil' Mooker" catboat he bought a while ago and is fixing up.  I sailed over and ungraciously asked if I could anchor Spartina and hop on Scoot's boat for a while.  He made two passes at Spartina to "suss out the wind" then came in a rounded up gently on the port quarter.  Pushing off from Spartina he told me to take the tiller.

I have always admired the Sanderling design and at times thought if I wanted a larger boat the catboat would be high on my list.  Just 18' long, but beamy and coming in at about 2,000 pounds, the boat was very solid on the water.  And talk about space - the cockpit is huge.  One tack up the river and then a tack back down, Scoot rounded up again and I stepped back aboard Spartina, the catboat never even stopping.  Then we sailed alongside each other for a while and enjoyed the hot summer day.

The ramp is on Knobbs Creek and across the bridge from the ramp is a park with a shelter.  Approaching the ramp I could hear live music being played.  It was a revival: religion with a heavy base line.  Breaking down Spartina's rig - and feeling every one of the 117 degrees of heat index - the music gave way to preaching and then the call and response that is heard throughout the south.  I believe souls were being saved, though not mine.  A colleague once suggested that it was only because of acts of kindness by the Pilgrim, my wife, that I have any chance at all to get into heaven.  I did not disagree with him.

It was a nice day on the water.  

Saturday, July 22, 2017

traditional sail gathering

Some very fine photographs by and of the crew of Astrid, the beautifully crafted Pathfinder built by Lorenzo on the shores of the Mediterranean.  I believe that to be Astrid above.

Every two years the Rivages De Mediterranee holds a traditional sail gathering on the Lac de Serre Ponçon.  It looks like a wonderful affair on the water and no doubt the Pathfinder Astrid fits right in.  Take a look at the photographs here.  

I am glad to see somebody doing some sailing.  Had to work today.  Might sail tomorrow but need to decide if the possible 110 to 115 degree heat index would make for enjoyable sailing.  Have to think about that.

Friday, July 21, 2017

you just never know....

who will be passing through the local sailing grounds.

In this case it was the aircraft carrier USS Harry S Truman, 
wrapping up a stretch in the yard for maintenance.

I was glad to not be on the water.  This is a very narrow stretch
of water and the security boats do not look kindly on
any boat - large or small - that might be a threat.
It was a very impressive sight.

Monday, July 17, 2017

an all-Welsford cruise

Kristen sends me this link for a video for an eight day cruise on Keneperu Sound in New Zealand.

Six adventurous sailors, four boats, all of them designed by John Welsford - two Navigators, one Whaler and one Scamp.

I have heard of Bootstrap and Tusk over the years.  I have seen drawings of the Whaler but not until now a finished boat.  And very impressed that the smaller Scamp kept up the pace.

If you want to know about cruising in a small boat, this is an excellent video to watch.  And it you want to know about John Welsford, this video is really a tribute to his fine work.  Enjoy!

Saturday, July 15, 2017

mornings and evenings

Had a great week with five morning sails and two or three evening sails.  Mornings were the best.  Steady, cool breeze on a quiet river.  Afternoons had stronger winds, hot wind, and a lot of activity from cruising boats anchoring to small boat regattas.  Yes, an excellent week.

Sailed this morning but with thunderstorms predicted this afternoon went by the dock to put up the boom tent, getting it set up just a couple of minutes before the rain hit.

Thursday, July 13, 2017

the slowest circumnavigation

I was very pleased to see Canadian cruising friends Michael and Sheila as they visited nearby Hampton Creek on the 44' ferrocement ketch Kantala that Michael built in British Columbia.  I met them as they were anchored in Craford Bay almost exactly one year ago, they were headed north at the time and we spent an enjoyable afternoon on Kantala and the following morning sailing Spartina.  

Looking back I would have been very happy to have gotten to know them during just that one weekend, never expecting to see them again.  But a few months later we had a chance meeting on a stormy day on the Wye River (photo above).  A few days later we connected in St. Michaels, and a few days after that we met for a wonderful lunch - Sheila creates wonderful meals in their closet-sized kitchen on Kantala - anchored off of Oxford (photo below).

Two days ago I drove to Hampton and Michael rowed me out to Kantala where the three of us spent a couple pleasant hours talking about sailing and friends.  They will soon be casting off to head across the Atlantic to the Azores and then England.  It was 29 years ago that they left British Columbia, they could be well on their way to reaching their stated goal of the world's slowest circumnavigation.  

Lately I've realized that my best and truest friends are people who I have met through Spartina, Michael and Sheila (below on the Wye River) are certainly part of that group.  Will I ever see them again?  I don't know, kind of doubt it.  But our brief interactions - talking aboard Kantala, sailing on Spartina, sitting our a stormy night on the Wye River, lunches on beautiful rivers - have all been times that I will treasure.