Sunday, November 22, 2020

oh deer! *


Typically around the holidays, for some unknown reason, I am often associated with the Grinch and/or Scrooge.  I cannot imagine why.  I think I may have just changed all that.  I decorated SPARTINA and joined a small boat parade, part of the winter festival at Nauticus and the USS Wisconsin.  They provided the Christmas lights, I provided the reindeer and a friend provided the red bicycle taillight as Rudolph's nose.


I was invited late last summer to join the parade and was happy to say yes.  About 10 other boats were involved, including several of SailNauticus Harbor 20s.  I had never been in any kind of parade before.  I will say it was gratifying to see the smiles on faces of young children during this pandemic time.  There will be a repeat performance, weather permitting, every Saturday between now and Christmas.  It is well worth the price of admission (it is free).


 Today was fall sailing at its best.  High 60s, steady wind at about 10 mph and blues skies.  Fall and winter sailing, I just can't get enough of that.


*  Barry's reaction when he heard I was going to be in a Christmas parade.

Friday, November 20, 2020

she always brings me flowers, and other notes on the sailing trip


Up before dawn to walk to the showers at the Cambridge Yacht Basin.  A new set of clothes felt good.  Then a walk to the Black Water Bakery for an iced tea and blueberry muffin to go.  Motor the few hundred yards to the ramp located just behind the hospital.  Leave SPARTINA at the dock to walk to Yacht Maintenance Company to retrieve the jeep and trailer.  Haul out, take my time unloading the boat and breaking down the rig while I enjoy that blueberry muffin that is chock full of blueberries.



A few things about this trip:

  • I use a Rite in the Rain notebook to write down speed, locations, observations and anything that strikes me as interesting during the day's sail.  At night I write out the day's log, based on the notes, in a Moleskine notebook.  The logs here are an edited version of those hand-written logs, using gps tracks, photographs and time-filtered memory to be as accurate as possible.
  • This has been a busy tropical storm season.  Several of the storms, too many, came in to the gulf coast.  The remnants of those storms head north and then curve east, often passing over the mid-Atlantic.  I was affected by remnants of two of those storms, Sally and Delta.  Weather related to Sally kept me at Knapp's Narrows for a day and two days later had me waiting out the high winds in a cove on South Marsh Island.  I came back to the ramp when I did because the remnants of Hurricane Delta were headed to the mid-Atlantic with a forecast of three days of heavy rain.   I have heard from friends that forecast was accurate.
  • I noted on most days what I had for breakfast and dinner, I rarely mentioned lunch.  Lunch for me on a boat is not a one-time meal.  It is more about grazing on various foods throughout late morning and early afternoon.  Canned tuna from Italy, the Rio Mare and Callipo brands, is part of every lunch.  So are crackers, fruit in a cup, dried fruit, mixed nuts and ginger treats.
  • In re-writing the logs here it struck me that I most commonly started the sailing day between 6:50 and 7:05.  That was not planned.  Only in rare instances, when I need to make a bridge lift for example, do I use an alarm clock.  Typically I wake to Chesapeake Bay's own alarm clocks - birds calling in the marsh as dawn approaches and the rumble of diesel engines on deadrise boat as watermen head out to their fishing grounds.  That time frame, right around 7:00, is perfect for the fall sailing trips.  I am very happy when the sails go up just before the sun comes up.
  • I packed breakfasts and lunches for 16 days in plastic ziplock bags.  Each evening I would transfer the next day's meal to an insulated lunch box.  I had another two weeks of canned tuna, Rx bars, buffalo bars vacuum-packed and stowed down under the thwart next to the centerboard trunk.  As friend Curt said, "canned tuna makes for good ballast."  He was right.  I had 30 freeze dried meals stowed in five or six two-gallon bags, also under the thwart but as the meals are light I had them stowed outboard of the cb trunk.  Even with all that on board I still had unused storage available.
  • New favorite piece of gear:  the Hyke and Byke 30 degree down sleeping bag.  It kept me very warm and comfortable.  And it packs up very small in a waterproof stuff sac.  Each morning when I woke up I would put the sleeping gear away by putting the sleeping bag in the stuff sac, deflating and rolling up the sleeping pad and pillow, and rolling up the bivy.  Sometime during the last few days, when I knew the trip would end soon, I was doing the above when I thought to myself "I am going to miss this."  There is something special about the routine, after a good night's sleep and with the the thought of the new day ahead.  I do miss it.
  • One missing piece of gear:  waterproof insulated gloves.  I could have used them a couple of times. I have since bought a pair.
  • It was by far my best striper fishing trip on the Chester River.  Other trips I have fished the same way, trolling, with the same lure and caught nothing or maybe one fish that is always a quarter inch shy of the legal limit.  This trip I knew I could catch a striper every fifteen minutes or so and they were just about all good-sized fish.  That trolling rod earned its spot on the boat.
  • I saw several friends on the trip.  Curt, on ANNIE, Fred and Marylou in Rock Hall, Kristen on MAGDALENA on Queenstown Creek and in St. Michaels, the two Kathy's, one the bartender and the other a waitress, at the Marker 5 on Knapp's Narrows, the farm family on Queenstown Creek and former colleague Vicki at both Knapp's Narrows and Cambridge.  Only one of them, Vicki, would I have known if not for SPARTINA.  So much for building a boat and getting away from everyone.

  • Being unemployed and not having a set schedule changed the cruising experience for me.  All other past cruises I had to be back at work on a certain date.  The trips may have been four days long or fourteen days long, in the back of my mind I was always calculating and forecasting my trip with the goal of being back to the ramp and a certain time on a certain date.  That weight has been lifted from my shoulders.
  • I was very pleased when I arrived back in Cambridge after over three weeks of sailing to find that I was clean, well-rested, in good spirits and still had a couple sets of clean clothes in the duffel.  SPARTINA's gear was in perfect shape, the boat as organized as they day we cast off.  I could have easily re-supplied with food/water and kept on going.  Maybe I will next time.

So SPARTINA hauled out, unpacked and ready for the drive home, I head over to Snapper's and get a table outside on the deck.  Soon Vicki, a long-time friend and former colleague, now a co-owner of an organic no-till farm on the Eastern Shore, arrives for lunch.  We both get the Caesar salad with mini-crabcakes.  Excellent!  After lunch we are saying our goodbyes and she gives me a gift of fresh cut flowers from her farm.  How nice!  What a perfect way to end a trip.

Thursday, November 19, 2020

day twenty-four - downwind to Cambridge


A breezy, cool and comfortable night tucked back in the cove.  Forecast is for a lot of wind.  I tie in both sets of reef points then tie the mainsail tightly to the boom.  Not sure if I'll be needing it today.  6:55 sail off anchor, mizzen and jib making 2.8 leaving the cove.  


Chocolate hazelnut Rx bar, buffalo bar and mixed fruit for breakfast as we sail down Warehouse Creek, 4.3.  At 7:10 enter Cox Creek just as the sun comes over the trees.  The sun feels good.  Two crabbers working trot lines.  7:30 leaving Cox Creek, entering Eastern Bay and I can see Poplar Island in the distance.  Outside the channel markers round up to raise the double-reefed main.  Soon shake out the first reef.  Jot down speeds of 4.3, 5.1 and then 5.9 going down the face of a wave.


At 8:30 Bloody Point due west, 4.6 to 5.1 with wind on the starboard quarter, easy sailing.  Bright sun, not a cloud in the sky.  Out of the lee of Kent Island at 8:55, making over 6 kts on rough water.  Approaching Poplar Island Narrows at 9:15, 6.5 down the face of a wave.  Wind building and too much sail up.  9:25, bring down the mizzen, fighting the wind to get it down.  Still too much sail.  Off Lowe's Wharf round up to bring down the main.  Raise the mizzen but with wind on the beam one of the battens on the mizzen catches in the lazy jacks.  Two deadrises working the clam beds nearby.  They are too busy to look but would have seen an awkward sailboat with jib and half-raised mizzen hung on the jacks.  I sail downwind to pick up enough speed round up into the waves, slack the mizzen halyard and pull it up quickly and I've got the full mizzen up.  


At 9:50 sailing at 4.8, hit 7.7 in a puff, then 7.3 sliding down a wave.  There's a lot of surfing down waves as we pass by the entrance markers to Knapp's Narrows.  GPS shows 8.1 on a steep wave.  At 10:15 Blackwalnut Point to the southeast.  Round the point at 10:50, clear shallow water near the point and birds diving on baitfish.  Looking down I can see the shadows of stripers chasing the smaller fish.  


Wind on the beam heading up the Choptank River.  Hot and the sun, so welcome this morning, beats down on the little boat.  1:00 passing Castle Haven Point, 3.5.  Howell Point at 1:50, gusty and making 4.5.  


Hambrooks Bar Light at 2:30, 3.8 as we turn towards the Cambridge municipal marina.  Sails down 2:45 and it is a battle to maneuver in the strong wind in the marina.  Sort of a hard landing on a floating pier, talk with the dock master and he has me move to the farthest corner, a nerve wracking motor through high-end boats.  No damage done and docked 3:40.  

33.45 NM for the day.


Hot afternoon, wind finally dropping off early evening.  A short walk to Snapper's for dinner.


A good trip, good to be back in Cambridge.  400.24 NM total, 460.70 statute miles.



Wednesday, November 18, 2020

day twenty-three - the creeks of Kent Island


Cast of 6:55 with a light south wind, slipping between the museum's classic 1889 sailing log bugeye EDNA LOCKWOOD to port and a high-end yacht to starboard.  Just outside the cove sails up just as the sun comes up across the Miles River.  I tack quickly to get out of the way of a waterman working a trotline.  Sailing at a pleasant 1.9, cool, no clouds.


Lemon Rx bar, buffalo bar and mixed fruit for breakfast.  Round Deepwater Point at 7:30, making 3.0 and Tilghman Point in sight.  Birds diving on schools of baitfish.  Not quite sure of where I am headed.  Consider working my way south to the Choptank River.  Instead decide to explore the creeks of Kent Island.   


Tilghman Point at 8:50.  Making 5.1 on Eastern Bay, wind building and water very rough with waves rolling up from the south.  At 9:10 pick out the green entrance marker for Cox Creek.  9:10 in the lee of Bloody Point, the southern tip of Kent Island, wind still strong but water a bit calmer.  Turkey Point at 9:30, in Cox Creek at 9:45, making 4.2 wind on the beam.


Sail as far as I can up Cox Creek, sharing the final stretch with a deadrise working a trotline.  I give them plenty of room, they are out here working and I'm out here playing.  Up ahead I can the the highway that leads to the Chesapeake Bay Bridge.  Turning back down south it is a series of tacks in the narrow creek with some shoaling.  Touch bottom a couple of times as we make out way to where the creek widens.


With wind building we turn up Thompson Creek, not going too far as the trip back down would be directly into the wind.  Explore the shore a little to find a small cove that might be a good anchorage with wind out of the north.


We follow the marshes along the west side of Cox Creek, hard sailing at 5.5 with gusts that shake the boat.  Probably have too much sail up.


Soon round the marsh and turn west northwest into Warehouse Creek, a favorite anchorage for over a decade now.   Sailing at 5.3 we head up the creek and duck into the first cove to port.


Then back out and a little farther up the creek.  I see homes lining the shore up ahead, not much privacy there, so turn back to the first creek, making over a dozen tacks up the only structure I can see on the cove, an old boat house next to a farm field.  I drop back down the creek a ways and put the anchor over at 1:25.

21.13 NM for the day.

It is hot and sunny, too hot.  I put up the boom tent to escape the sun, checking the weather for the next few days.  The remnants of Sally are on their way.  Wind swinging around to the north tomorrow.


Sausage and rice with a cup of peaches for dinner.

day twenty-two - St. Michaels, the forecast


Peaceful night.  Clearly, sunny morning.  A walk into town for a light breakfast on North Talbot Street.


The forecast catches my eye.  In a few days the remnants of Hurricane Sally will be on directly on top of Chesapeake Bay.  Three days of heavy rain predicted.  Maybe a sign that the cruise is coming to an end.


I spend the day walking through town near the old fisherman cottages and the working harbor where parking is reserved for watermen only.  And I explore the museum, spending a lot of time in the Steamboat Building looking at the  wonderful Chesapeake Bay photographs by David W. Harp.  He has spent a lifetime documenting life on Chesapeake Bay, sometimes for pay and sometimes just because he has a passion for it.


Afternoon the wind swings from north to southwest.  SPARTINA, docked near the lighthouse, is now exposed to a stiff breeze and it could be an uncomfortable night.  After checking with the dockmaster on duty I motor around to main marina and tie up where the water is like glass.


Back to Foxy's for steamed mussels and a glass (or two) of Chardonnay.  Not quite 7:30 and I'm the last customer on the outdoors deck.


Back to SPARTINA with a forecast of a strong southerly wind tomorrow followed by wind out of the north the following day.  Perfect winds to carry me back to Cambridge.

 

Tuesday, November 17, 2020

day twenty-one - into St. Michaels


I wake to find leaves from the trees sprinkled across the cove.  Unexpected rain overnight and even a bit of a squall in the early morning hours.  Sail off anchor 7:00 in a light passing rain.  Making 1.8 leaving Drum Point, a deadrise across the Wye River working a trotline.  Out on the Wye 5.0 with a spectacular sunrise breaking through low grey clouds.  On the Miles River 7:35, 5.1 with wind and waves on the stern as we head south to St. Michaels.


A fast sail on the Miles.  Very choppy water off Deepwater Point, SPARTINA bouncing up and down.  Maybe wind against tide.  Turning to the west behind the point and the water calms.  


Sails down 8:25, dock at Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum's docks at 8:45.

6.12 NM

First order of business:  breakfast.  I head to the Blue Crab for a glass of tea and one other excellent breakfast sandwiches.  I find they are closed due to a recent positive test.  Instead I go to a new spot on North Talbot Street and enjoy a glass of ice tea at a sidewalk table, catching up on news and emails.


I've got chores to do:  charge batteries, clean the boat, open up vacuum-packed bags of food supplies - breakfast bars, cans of tuna, buffalo bars - for the rest of the trip.  I wonder around the museum which is a beehive of activity.  The new Maryland tall ship replica DOVE is under construction.  Several of the museum's floating fleet are out of the water for maintenance.  A great new exhibit of Chesapeake Bay photographs is opening.  Just a lot going on there.


Mid-afternoon, while I'm filling out my log, Kristen drops by and we sit socially distanced in the shade for a visit.  We had just talked on MAGDALENA a couple days earlier on Queenstown Creek but still had a lot of catching up to do.

Late afternoon set up the boom tent and spread out the sleeping gear for the night.


St. Michaels Crab and Steak House for a crab cake dinner, then back to SPARTINA for a good night's sleep.



 

Monday, November 16, 2020

day twenty - turning back south


Sail off anchor 7:00, the sun not yet up and no wind.  A slow drift down the creek.  49 degrees and mist clinging to the guts in the marsh.  A perfect morning.


Blueberry Rx bar, buffalo bar and fruit cocktail for breakfast. I slip on my neoprene booties against the cold chill of the deck.  Out of the creek and motor sailing at 7:30.


It's a short sail across the Chester River to Kent Narrows, round up at 8:10 outside the channel entrance markers to bring down the sails, working quickly to make the 8:30 bridge lift.  Calm water in the narrows, a light breeze and I'm in position with 10 minutes to spare.  I radio the bridge tender and he tells me to stand by for a lift.  I hear the bells ringing, the bridge lifts and I make the easiest transit of the narrows that I have ever experienced.  


Sails up at 8:40, wind over port quarter and making 2.7 to the south.   By 9:30 the temperature is rising, sunny with a light wind on the port beam.  Making 2.7 passing Parsons Island.  Choppy confused water at 10:00 where Eastern Bay meets the Miles River.  Light wind, 2.3.


Very rough water at 11:30 trying to take a short cut across the shoal into the Wye River.  Still struggling at noon, fighting the shifting wind, outgoing tide and the wakes from all the power boats coming out of the Wye.  Under power into the Wye.


Wind, just a little and inconsistent, on the Wye, tacking into Shaw Bay at 1:05.  Steady stream of power boats throwing wakes that make sailing in light winds impossible.  Under power.  Drop the anchor in the little cove just inside of Drum Point at 2:15.

I spend the afternoon napping, reading and listening to a football game on the radio.  A fledgling eagle feeds along the shoreline.

Alpinaire creamy beef and noodles with mushrooms.  

18.8 NM for the day.


 

Sunday, November 15, 2020

Miravar, translated


Enrico has done monoglots such as me a huge favor and posted an English version of this year's Miravar Mini Raid Var.  Thank you, Enrico.


This is the third raid and they took a more challenging route.  I'll let Enrico explain.

"This year we chose the "Challenge" option (a daring variation to the classic program, conceived by Lorenzo and Remi) which includes the first three legs outside the Archipelago and therefore less sheltered and more exposed to the effects of the weather.

The tiny seaweed beach of Le Brusc is the scene of the final preparations of boats and crews. Someone arrived a day ago, someone - like us - at the last minute. Having traveled the 450 km that separate us from Turin, we have just the time to unload MIRA from the car, rig her, prepare everything and launch her. The departure must in fact take place early, as today we'll sail against the wind to round Cap SiciƩ. And as everyone knows to round a cape, it almost always reserves surprises."


Each year I look forward to reading about the sail.  It strikes me as a celebration of small boats, the Mediterranean, family,  good fine, wine and camaraderie.  


And this year's event included to Welsford Pathfinders.  Look at the top photograph and you will see Lorenzo's ASTRID, center, and to the right is what I believe to be a white-hulled Pathfinder.  In the foreground at left, and also in the photograph just above, you will see Enrico's Goat Island Skiff MIRA.


It looks like a great five day sail, some challenging weather and a lot of fun.  Thanks to all for sharing.