Thursday, July 18, 2019

passing by

No sailing this morning, sometimes work gets in the way of life.  I did drop by the basin to check on SPARTINA.  The boom tent worked well, keeping the cockpit dry during last night's rains.  Like much of the east coast, we have a lot of heat and humidity.  That means afternoon thunderstorms.  With that in mind I chose to leave the boom tent in place. 

If you look just beyond the bridge you will see a freighter passing by.  Most of the commercial traffic on the river is barges and tugboats.  But there is a fair amount of freighter traffic heading either to the commercial shipyards on the eastern branch of the Elizabeth River or to the terminals on the southern branch.

Monday, July 15, 2019


Courtesy of my friend KC who was out on
a race committee boat.

morning reflections

Stopped by SPARTINA this morning to strip of the boom tent.
Spent a few minutes enjoying the reflections on the water.
Have to work today, maybe an evening sail.

Sunday, July 14, 2019

light and variable, updated with a sail, ensorcelled

Tiny hints of wind, nothing more. I'll take a walk on the waterfront and hope for a breeze.


As if it had been scheduled, a breeze arrived at exactly 9 a.m., just as I was finishing reading the news and enjoying a glass of iced tea.  It was a light wind, but steady.  Maybe 5 or 6 mph, sometimes a little better, something a little lighter.  I spent a couple of hours tacking back and forth. 

My hope for being able to send a track from my Garmin GPS to my phone, using the app Garmin Connect, ended with disappointment.  I can easily connect the two devices but sending a track, which I thought would have been an obvious capability, does not seem to be part of the program.  I think the bluetooth capability is more aimed towards health/exercise, i.e. there is the option to input my height/weight/heart rate.  Go figure.

The track above is from today and yesterday.  I sometimes wonder/worry about my ability to find joy in simply sailing back and forth, upwind, downwind.  Simple things for the simple minded.  I hope to add to the track tomorrow evening.


When reading the NYTimes before the sail, I came across the word "ensorcelled" in an opinion column.  I think I am fairly well read.  "Enscorcelled" is an interesting word, but hardly part of common English.  Let's just say I am not ensorcelled by the word choice.  Then again, simple things for the simple minded.

Saturday, July 13, 2019

foreign affairs

Craford Bay had an international air today, with boats from Sydney, Australia, Richards Bay, South Africa and Hamburg, Germany anchored there.  In the spring we get boats from the Atlantic coast heading north to New England or Canada, in the fall we get the same boats heading south to anywhere from North Carolina to Florida, the Bahamas or the Caribbean.  Summer often brings the circumnavigators who, after spending time in the Caribbean, come north to wait out the hurricane season.  On the catamaran out of Sydney named "NO PLANS, just options," above, I saw a man and a woman, a young boy and a miniature dachshund.  They said they were circumnavigating, now headed towards home.

I brought along the new Garmin GPS today, mostly to create a track to see if I can send that track to my phone.  The GPS has blue tooth capabilities.  I've downloaded there app to my phone and the literature indicates I can have text messages from my phone show up on the GPS screen (though I don't think I want that to happen).  The booklet says the unit can transmit tracks to other GPS devices.  I want to see if I can also send to my phone, which would be useful to me.

There is the boat out of Hamburg, above, I did not talk to the man on board, we just exchanged waves.  The cruiser out of Richards Bay had a couple on board that left South Africa about two years ago.  They spent time in Brazil and the Caribbean, coming up here to avoid the hurricanes.  After hurricane season they will sail to Panama to take the canal into the Pacific.

Weather was an unexpected delight, cooler and drier than expected, with more wind than what was forecast.  Tomorrow I expect lighter winds, maybe more humidity.  We'll see.

Wednesday, July 10, 2019

a new (old) tool

I'm doing a little mast work this week, raising the throat halyard about a foot higher to give me a little more latitude when setting the main.  The extra inches will also let me tension the boom tent more effectively.  Removing the block left a rough area of expoxy and the silicone rubber that I used to bed the four stainless steel screws.  I smoothed out the mast using a 2" wide iron slick, a gift from a friend.  He found the chisel in Maine where it had been used in the shipbuilding business.  A note with the tool says it dates to the 19 century and was likely made by W Marples & Sons.  I am proud to own it, and proud to use it.  (The photograph at top was shot with the new GoPro Hero 7 Black on the linear setting.)

I just need to drill out the old holes in the mast and tap in epoxy-coated 1/4" teak dowel.  A little Bristol varnish to cover the dowel plugs and I should have SPARTINA ready for weekend sailing.

Sunday, July 7, 2019

bagged, and bagged no more

A Father's Day gift from the oldest daughter, meant for cooking, will be useful for sailing.  The gift, a FoodSaver, vacuum packs food for storage and, more importantly Sous Vide cooking ( I won't go into detail on that as I've been accused more than once of making this a food blog).  I immediately saw some uses for on the boat.

I have vacuum packed the spare vhf radio, above, and Garmin gps, both pieces of equipment in working order which have been replaced with newer models this summer.  I also vacuum packed emergency gear (fire starter, hypothermia bags, chem lights, spare knife, spare flashlights, etc) and extra sets of warm clothing that are part of the hypothermia kit.

One piece of gear that was sitting in the closet in a bag will not be stored there any longer.  After reading DoryMan's story of a capsize, lost radio and phone, hypothermia setting in, I've decided to keep the SPOT on the boat all the time.  The idea of calling for help with the push of a button appeals to me.  In the past I have carried the SPOT on cruises only.  But bad things can happen on daysails too.  So I will learn from Dory-Man's experience.  I am very glad he shared the story. Here is a link to "Capsize," and below I've copy and pasted a portion of it.


In the meantime, a Coast Guard helicopter, two fire departments, a local first-responder group on jet skis and a fire-boat showed up. I was in the water about an hour and had hypothermia.

When Dave showed up, I was focused solely on getting Saga righted, and bless him, against his better judgment, tried to help. We did get the boat upright but she was awash and we had to abandon her to get me to shore. He was shocked that I could pull myself up on his swim platform, but that's what adrenaline is for.

A fire department first aid truck group brought my body temperature back up, blood pressure down, so there was no trip to the hospital. The fire-boat brought Saga into Boston Harbor and pumped her out. Lost some stuff, but got my boat back. And lived to tell the story.


Yes, lived to tell the story.  Thanks, Michael, for posting the story.

Wednesday, July 3, 2019

Tuesday, July 2, 2019

GoPro Hero 7 Black test

Out yesterday evening for a fine sail.  
Did a test with the new camera.
Not too bad.

PS - Just watched the blog version of the video.
I don't understand how blogger posts videos but
what you see here doesn't compare to the original 
video.  Believe me, the 7 has the sharpest,
brightest video I have seen.  I felt like
I could reach out and touch the water.

Monday, July 1, 2019

Monday evening

gin and tonic

Michael and Sheila, who are in the midst of the world's slowest circumnavigation (they left British Columbia in 1989), comes this photograph of a Drascombe Lugger at the Classic Boat Race and Show in Falmouth, England.  They are well aware of my sailing a wannabe Drascombe and suggested that the gin and tonic would not go amiss on SPARTINA.

Sunday, June 30, 2019

new lines / bayou boogaloo

I tried out the new halyards and sheets today with a hot wind that was accompanied by the smell of boiling crawfish and the sounds of cajun music.  The lines, once adjusted properly, are perfect.  The are bright and white for now, I certainly don't expect them to stay that way.

I took a sample of the old sta set yacht braid with me to San Diego.  I had thought it was 1/4 inch line, yet when compared with the lines at West Marine my old line was wider than 1/4 inch and narrower than 3/8.  So maybe 3/8 that had narrowed, I thought.  Ian the rigger said no, it was in fact 1/4 inch that had expanded over the years (how that works I don't know).  So these lines are slightly narrower and of course much softer than the original lines.

They are also slightly longer.  I added several inches to each line so I could tie them off to the brass clips, main boom and mizzen boom with wet bowlines (basically a bowline made using a clove hitch).  The throat halyard also has an extra two feet as I plan on raising the block on the mainmast about a foot to give me more latitude when raising the main. 

The Bayou Boogaloo was in full swing at Town Point Park on the river.  I heard they had 6,000 lbs of crawfish to boil.  I did not sample any, too busy sailing.  I did snag some artwork showing some of my favorite foods from New Orleans artist Bonnie Miller.  Nice, don't you think??

I left SPARTINA on the river for some morning and evening sailing this week.  I can't wait.

Saturday, June 29, 2019

a brief visit

I made a brief visit to Southern California this past week.  A pre-dawn flight out, a couple of train rides along the coast and then a red-eye flight back home.

Grace, the youngest daughter, co-builder of SPARTINA and a member of the original crew, was the reason for the trip.  We spent a couple of days in LA, where she lives, then a couple in San Diego (much slower-paced than LA).  Very relaxing and enjoyable. 

An added bonus was seeing Webb, with GANNET tied up at a marina that was an easy walking distance from our hotel.  We saw Webb twice, once for dinner and again the following day for a brief visit.  The next morning, on the way to breakfast I saw GANNET heading out of San Diego Bay on her way to nearby Mission Bay.  You can read Webb's description of the circumnavigation's final sail here

My first mission after arriving in San Diego was a visit to West Marine where I dropped off an order for new lines for SPARTINA.  The original lines were 12+ years old and showing signs of wear.

Ian, the rigger at West Marine, was off the day I put in the order.  And he was out to lunch when we picked up the lines a couple of days later, so I never met him and did not get the chance to thank him for his fine work whipping each of the lines.  He did an excellent job.  

At top is the last picture from San Diego.  The gentleman was playing out in the park at Shelter Island.  My first thought was that he was playing for donations, but with no-one else in sight I realized he was playing for the joy of it.

The new lines are now on SPARTINA.  The forecast is good and I hope to have her on the river all week for some morning and maybe evening sails.

Friday, June 28, 2019

Rik is back!

After a period of self-imposed radio silence, Rik is back with his blog about sailing his finely built Pathfinder VANESSA on the very breezy waters around his island home of Aruba.  He's got a new url, it is worth checking out to see some modifications he is making.  

Rik is one of the small group of Pathfinder builders that I have met in person, we sailed together on the Elizabeth River a few years ago.  It was an enjoyable sail where he taught me few things about my own boat.  Welcome back, Rik.

Friday, June 21, 2019

day eight - back to North Creek

I wake early, way too early.  Maybe 4 a.m.  A calm, cool, peaceful night on the creek.  The moon glows the west.  Even the jib glows, lit by the anchor light hanging beneath the bow sprit.

Sail off anchor 6 a.m., steady wsw wind.  1.6 on Durham Creek, a maple sea salt bar for breakfast.  Out on the river and making 3.7 at 7:00, soon 4.8 sailing along the south shore.

Tack west of Long Point at 7:55.  Motor sailing at 8:10, SPARTINA rolling from side to side in the chop, sails hanging loose.  

Wind fills in and we sail across the river.  Just after 9:00 in the creek, wind blocked by the trees and under power.  I check the gps coming in to the dock, 198 NM.  Approaching the ramp Conway waves from a neighboring pier, welcomes us back.

Thursday, June 20, 2019

day seven - up and back

Anchor up 6 a.m., the sails go up as the sun peeks over the horizon.  South wind.  Quiet, just the sounds of rippling water and the creak of the gaff jaws agains the mainmast.  Apple Cinnamon Rx bar for breakfast.  On the Pamlico River 6:25, 2.7 kts.  Whichard Beach by 7:00.  An osprey takes flight from Marker 16 talons clutching a fresh caught fish, a young chick left behind on the nest.

The trestle in sight at 7:40, 3.3 then the wind freshens, making 4.7 at Marker 17.  Sailed through the old rusting trestle, docked Little Washington waterfront 8:20.  

Washington is a nice little town that, like most places on the North Carolina sounds, has seen better days.  With a rebuilt waterfront and a handful of restaurants nearby, the town is showing signs of life.  

I grab an iced tea from a bakery a couple blocks inland, then walk back to the river and enjoy the tea while sitting in a rocking chair on a porch.  I catch up on the news, send some photographs to friends and family.  For lunch I visit Ribeye's, the steakhouse I had been pining for the evening before.  The salad bar makes for a light lunch while I sit in the shade on the patio.

Just after noon we push off from the docks, raising just mizzen and jib with the thought of putting up the main once we are through the trestle.

Out in the channel past the trestle I am surprised by the strong west wind, making 4.5 under m and j.  No need to raise the main for the downwind sail.  GPS shows 13.49 NM to Durham Creek.

Partly cloudy skies, water ruffled by gusts out of the SW.  We make out way across the river to the south side where there is plenty of wind and calmer water.  Off Broad Creek at 1:50, Maules Point 2:35, making a steady 5.0.  Passing Nevil Creek at 2:55, wind over the starboard quarter.  Slide in close to shore, 2.5 kts.

Round the shallows into Durham Creek at 4:25.  Could have and maybe should have put up the main but I'm in no rush, tacking back and forth on the quiet, tree-lined creek with just mizzen and jib.  Catch the cb on the shallows near a point, work my way off.  

A few more tacks, passing Horse Point at 5:15.  Anchor down 5:35.

Marinara with crunchy penne (my fault as I misread the instructions) and a can of tuna for dinner.  Cup of mango for dessert.  Read my book under a bright moon, then slip into the bivy.  Last full day on the water.

Running totals of 187.2 NM, 45+ hours of sailing.

Wednesday, June 19, 2019

day six - a day in a life

Sails up 6 a.m. after a calm, clear and peaceful night.  Light west wind, a gentle sail down Snode Creek at 1.5 kt.  Two dolphin roll in the water near a point on the south shore.  Two more alongside SPARTINA.  And looking aft I see a few more.  We reach Goose Island Creek at 6:30, a crabber working his pots, a single sailboat motoring north on the ICW.  Southwest wind, 3.7 on the creek, then 4.3 approaching Pamlico River at 7:00.  Two ospreys on the hunt near Reed Hammock, hesitating up the the air then dropping quickly to the water's surface.  A buffalo stick and a mixed berry Rx bar for breakfast, steak and eggs.  Checking the forecast I hear I'll be heading into the wind all day long.

Off Indian Island at 7:40, the water very choppy and I make 2.8 to 4 knots depending on the waves and chop.  

8:30 calmer water and making 3.5 at  in the middle of the Pamlico River.

9:10 tacking near the ferry docks

9:45 tack just past the ferry dock on the south shore

10:10 tack east of Gum Thicket, wind swinging to the west

10:35 tack off the phosphate mines

11:05 tack off Bayview

11:45 tack east of Core Point, thin white clouds above

12:00 tack west of Bath Creek entrance, can of tuna and a cup of mixed fruit for lunch

12:25 light winds in the middle of the river, making 2.5

12:40 wind swings to the north and we make better progress up river

12:55 tack near Tripp Point

1:20 tack east of Rugged Point

1:40 tack near the mouth of Nevil Creek, white sandy beach

2:00 tack along the north shore

2:15 tack at Maules Point, better wind though out of the west, making 4.8

2:30 tack off of Goose Creek state park

2:50 tack inside the eastern edge of Blounts Bay

3:00 tack mid-river back toward Blounts Bay

3:30 tack near the mouth of Blounts Creek deep inside the bay

4:05 tack at Broad Creek Point, afternoon gusts arriving, strong blasts of wind out of west and southwest

The river narrows approaching Washington with Whichard Beach to the south and the north shoreline about a mile away.  I start make short tacks in the gusts but I also start thinking about a medium rare steak at the nice little steakhouse near the Washington waterfront.  I'm hungry and tired and dinner sounds good.  I see another gust approaching, a strong one, but instead of heading up into the wind I tighten up the main trying to get the most out of the wind.  The gust arrives and quickly the port coaming is under water, the tea-stained water of the Pamlico River coming aboard.  Maybe 30 or 40 gallons, the most I've ever taken on board.

SPARTINA quickly rights, the chart book, cook kit and other gear floating in the water.  I let the jib go free, slack the main and begin pumping out water.  We slide across the channel but no traffic so I focus on getting the water out.  I make some progress with the hand-pump but not enough.  Maybe continue sailing to Washington and clean out there?  Checking distances on the gps I realize with the strong west wind I probably won't make it past the railroad trestle and into the anchorage until dark.  And once anchored I would still have a lot of water to pump out, a lot of gear to dry.  We turn back downwind and head for Blounts Bay.  

Anchor down along a wooded shoreline 5:35.   About 20 minutes to pump out, scoop out and sponge out the water.  I find the gear in the light kit - nearly all of it bagged - is in good shape.  I dry out the cooking gear, hang up the foul weather gear and cushions to dry.  I am pleased to open the bunk flat and thwart hatches to find the storage areas (which provide positive flotation) are completely dry.  Cleaning those o-ring seals paid off.

Light snacks for dinner in place of a fine steak, a little reading and then slip into the sleeping back as the sun goes down.  Dry, rested and ready for the next day.

Running total 162 NM and 46+ hours of sailing.