Wednesday, March 29, 2017

the doldrums

From Webb's journal....

It should be a passage of three parts:  a trade wind broad reach from here to the doldrums; doldrums; a trade wind beam reach to St. Lucia.  

Monday, March 27, 2017

three and one-half days

Always a fool but with a quirky schedule of three and one-half days off at least I was for a while a sailing fool.  First two and one-half days (the half being a morning on the water Saturday) I sailed the Elizabeth River in Norfolk where I came across a couple of unusual sights.

The first was a dry dock pulled out of position on the southern branch of the Elizabeth, the dock being wide enough to block the entire river.  Spartina, along with another boat, ran in gentle circles for about 15 minutes until a tug began pushing the floating dock back into position at the shipyard and giving us enough room to slip by.

Once past the dry dock we raised sail at just about the time I received an email from sailing friend Steve Baum, who I have mentioned before.  Below is part of his email. 

There is a fellow from Canada that is currently cruising on a live-aboard 13' boat sailboat.  He started his cruise in Franklin on the Black Water River, headed south through the Chowan River, then across the Albermale Sound and now is working his way north, to finish in Bennetts Creek."

(I've enhanced the map from a Facebook
post to show some of the route)

About an hour after reading the email I saw a small boat with a square sail come around the bend onto the main branch of the Elizabeth. 

I sailed alongside the Paradox "Iota" for a while, each of us taking photographs of the other boat and exchanging greetings.  If you want to read more about the interesting almost-circumnavigation of lower Virginia by AndrĂ©-Francois Bourbeau take a look here.  He seemed like a very nice guy and if you read up on him he has done his share of adventuring.  I look forward to talking with, or maybe sailing with him someday.

After a few days on the Elizabeth River I headed down to Elizabeth City to sail the Pasquotank today photo at the very top and just above), a day of blue skies mixed with some clouds and steady wind with a few gusts thrown in.  It was a perfect day, a perfect long weekend.  

I guess now I need to get back to work.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017


The Schooner Virginia's anchors are on the pier next to the tall ship.  Lots of work going on onboard, sanding, varnishing, painting.  The season is not too far away.

I've been watching Webb take a couple of jogs west on his way to the Windward Islands.  As OBX friend Jim suggests, it could well be that Webb doesn't want the wind directly on GANNET'S stern with the main blanketing the foresail.  Once he gets past the doldrums he should have wind on the beam.  That's the approximate position of his last YB track below.

Saturday, March 18, 2017

at least the hull was green

I couldn't figure out why there weren't any other boats at the ramp yesterday morning.  It couldn't have been the clear blue sky that kept them away, nor the forecast of steady winds out of the north swinging to WNW early afternoon.  Could it have been the 40 degree temperature?  Maybe.  But with a good set of thermals....

I was out on the river sailing when a text reminded me it was St. Patrick's Day.  Wearing nothing green I took solace in the fact that Spartina's hull is green, Interlux Sea Green to be specific.

Much thanks to Eddie who forwarded these photographs from his brother who works in one of the tall buildings downtown. 

I do believe I saw my first snow birds of the year, two large powerboats heading north.  The full migration should be underway in a few weeks as all the boats that went south last fall make the return trip.

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

the storm

As of a couple of hours ago the eye of the storm seemed to be just a little to the north of Onancock on the Eastern Shore.  Down at the bottom of the bay we will get wind and rain, maybe some local flooding at high tide.  DC north to Boston on the I-95 Corridor will get the worst of the blizzard conditions.

Monday, March 13, 2017

a fine passage

1900  Even here only seventeen and a half degrees from the Equator, the after sunset wind is cool against my skin. 


I pop up and down from sitting on the pipe berth to standing in the companionway.  Our days are numbered.  I’ve always known that.  And my numbers must be short.  I don’t know how many times I’ve watched the sun sink below the western horizon.  Thousands.  I’ve spent nine or ten years out here.  I don't now how many more I will know.  I cherish these remaining ocean days and nights.

Saturday, March 11, 2017

at the finish line, updated with info from Paul

Some photos from Paul at the finish line.  There's the borrowed
EC 22 South Skimmer above, no hint of the broken mast.

from Paul:This was our second broken main mast, 
so we were practiced in dealing with that drill.

There were harrowing wind conditions at first, but also beautiful 

sailing at night under the moon and stars in a clear sky.  Great adventure.

And tandem paddlers Kristen and Dawn.

I wonder if they will be paddling together
again next year.

from Paul:  Dawn says this EC was here best ever.
She and Kristen paddled 12 hours a day, camped 12 hours,
and had two beers at each checkpoint.
They plan to use the double-kayak single-blade-paddles
approach repeatedly in the future.
The loved it.

And in these photos I see Graham, Alan and Dawn, Paul
apparently hiding behind the camera.  
Looks like everybody is having fun.  

Friday, March 10, 2017


Looking very happy Dawn and Kristen enjoy a cold one in Flamingo yesterday.  They got off to an early start today and are heading into Key Largo.  Light wind is either behind them or on the beam, sunny and from the looks of it they have had their share of sunshine.  Work and family have kept me busy so I have not followed the EC as closely as I would have liked.  Paul and Alan have finished, the broken mast not holding them back.  

Cold and too windy here to sail this weekend but the EC always marks a change in the seasons for me, spring is not too far away.

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

just leaving? / passage log

It looks like Paul and Alan, above, have passed through Checkpoint 3, and Dawn and Kristen, below, have left Checkpoint 2.  

I'm wondering if the tandem paddlers will enter the Nightmare, also known as the Wilderness Waterway, something they have done in past races as solo paddlers.

Weather looks good with wind out of the east and clear skies, but I suspect if the east wind continues it will make for a difficult crossing of Florida Bay.


Webb has posted his passage log to his journal, which should make for some enjoyable reading this evening.

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

that broken mast

Nomad sent a link to this video that explains the broken mast that sent Paul and Alan back to Checkpoint 1 for repairs.   They are now south of Marco Island sailing off the Ten Thousand Islands. Thanks, Nomad.

According to the tracking page Dawn and Kristen are in the same spot as yesterday evening on a beach north of Marco Island.  Not sure of what is going on there.

Monday, March 6, 2017

broken mast? so what?

What appeared to be a broken mast did not keep Paul and Alan off the water.  There must have been some emergency repairs, the tracking map now shows them off the beach just north of Naples.

Dawn and Kristen are just north of Marco Island.  Their SPOT shows them on the beach.  Maybe a break and maybe for a night's rest.  Weather appears favorable, wind out of the east at 15 or so just along shore.

morning light

Sunday, March 5, 2017

the race is on, GANNET has arrived

After a weather hold and moving south to Checkpoint #1, the race is on.  But, uh-oh, Paul and Alan are back at Checkpoint #1 with what appears to be a broken mast.  Ventusky currently shows wind out of the east in the mid-20s.  

Dawn and Kristen are in protected water near Cape Coral, surely flying their two small sails and with all the wind on the beam they should be moving along pretty good.

There is much of the fleet spread out on their way south.  With all that wind everybody seems to be staying inside.  You can follow the race at their tracker here.  

GANNET arrived St. Helena Island earlier today (I think) and is anchored off of Jamestown.  Pretty interesting looking cliffs in the image below.

Saturday, March 4, 2017

maybe earlier, definitely later

I had thought Webb  would arrive St. Helena Island by Monday, but checking GANNET'S yellow brick chart I wonder if it could be tomorrow.  

The Everglades Challenge will be starting a day late, the delay caused by 20 knot winds.  I guess after the start a few years ago with about a dozen rescues they seem to be making decisions with a little more safety in mind.  To account the for the lost day the starting line is moved to Checkpoint #1.  From Kristen's instagram account it looks like everyone was enjoying the extra day of rest and relaxation.

It could have been a little warmer this morning in Elizabeth City.  Temperature at launch was 38 degrees, warming to 49 degrees by the time I came in mid-afternoon.  Winds were light in the morning, steady in the afternoon.  Yes, it could have been warmer but I did fine with my ice-breaker thermals.  A nice day on a beautiful river.

Friday, March 3, 2017


Tomorrow the Everglades Challenge launches out of For De Soto Park bound for Key Largo.  Dawn and Kristen, veteran EC'ers, will be for the first time paddling a tandem kayak in the race.  Paul and Alan will be sailing the EC 22 Southern Skimmer. 

 I have been following the race now for a decade and enjoy it every year.  Good luck to all.  The clock on the watertribe page shows 16 hours until launch time.


A few thousand miles away Webb is approaching St. Helena, his last yellow brick mark showing GANNET 183 miles away and making a little under five knots.  Winds are steady in the 14 to 16 mph range.  Maybe in by Monday??  


And much thanks to efforts by Bill, Eddie and Barry to tell me where I was the other day when I took the photograph above.  That's New Point Comfort with Mobjack Bay behind it.  I gotta get up there and do some sailing someday.  As for now, a chilly, sunny forecast with good wind should have me down in Elizabeth City tomorrow.