Wednesday, August 15, 2018

the fake snake

I came down to SPARTINA at the docks Tuesday morning to find an otter relaxing on the dock next to the boat.  How nice, I thought.  Or I thought until I saw the mess it the furry little aquatic mammal made on the foredeck, jib and boom tent.    

Fortunately the otter used SPARTINA only as a playground, not a restroom.  I did not want to chance anything worse so I came up with a simple solution.  I took the line I normally use to wrap the mainsail, a thick red rope with white bands that I found on the beach 30 years ago while trout fishing (I knew it would have a purpose someday), and placed it on the foredeck in the shape of a snake.  Maybe it was luck or maybe it got the otter's attention, but no otter in sight this morning.

Good wind Tuesday morning, light winds this morning.  Work gets in the way of sailing tomorrow.  Friday is a day off with an excellent forecast.  I can't wait.

Monday, August 13, 2018

forecast? / dinner

The forecast for our area at kind of said "no" to sailing this past weekend.  Yes, a large mass of moist air hanging over the mid-Atlantic.  Thunderstorms, maybe.  There was a storm Friday afternoon, and a couple big ones midday Saturday. 

But yesterday's storm filled skies looked like the above.  Blue skies and puffy white clouds.  It was a beautiful sail.  Not a lot of wind, just enough to keep us moving at a good pace.  Good to be back on the water.

And good to see the Schooner Virginia coming back to the dock after a couple weeks at Cape Charles on the Eastern Shore.


So after a great sail how about a great dinner.  Octopus tentacles poached in olive oil with smoked paprika and garlic, grilled avocado stuffed with seasoned chopped veggies, oven roast corn and cherry tomatoes and sweet potato rounds.  The octopus and avocado were my attempts at a Los Angeles Spartina-like dinner.  They were close, but not that close.  No complaints were heard at the table.

Saturday, August 11, 2018

"its appeal is that it does not try to be appealing"

My friend and former colleague Earl Swift has a new book out about Tangier Island called CHESAPEAKE REQUIEM, A Year with the Watermen of Vanishing Tangier Island."  The book has earned a very positive review from the Washington Post.  

Earl spent the better part of two years on the island, living in a rented room and spending time with the watermen and their families.  And the review is written by an editor who ought to know something about Tangier, Steven Ginsberg, a native of nearby Onancock.

We knew Earl was working on the book, he would drop by the office now and then as he was heading to or coming back for a months-long stint on the island.  He knows the island well, having written about in over the last 20 years.  I've had the good fortune to spend some time on the island too, not even close to the time Earl has spent there but enough to learn a little bit about the people and the place - both through work and by sailing there.  Above is a photo from when I spent an afternoon in what they called the "situation room" (in fact the old birthing room of the island's now-closed medical center) as the senior watermen, including the mayor Ooker Eskridge, second from left, try to solve the world's problems.

The world's problems are tough enough to solve, but so are those of tiny Tangier Island.  It is disappearing, and doing so very rapidly.  According to the review, Earl makes the case that Tangier might be the first community in the country completely lost to climate change.

If you like Tangier, Chesapeake Bay or soft-shell crabs, I would suggest you take a look at the book.  The issues for the disappearing island are complex - a tiny population, money, government bureaucracy, logistics and independent, strong-willed waterman who for the most part do not believe in climate change and sea level rise.

There are several excellent observations in the Post's review, my favorite is this:  

"This is not Nantucket. Charm is not Tangier’s thing; its appeal is that it does not try to be appealing."

That is the truth.  I can't wait to read the book.

Thursday, August 9, 2018

vanishing sail, the film

An email from friends tells me about the film "Vanishing Sail, The Story of a Caribbean Tradition." It is about Alwyn Enoe, one of the last boatbuilders on the island of Carriacou, and his desire to build one more boat.

The film, beautifully photographed, appears to be a wonderful and rich documentary that can be watched on a dvd or streamed online.

Wooden boats.  Tradition.  The Caribbean.  What is not to like?  You can see a trailer here.

It is definitely on my playlist.

Tuesday, August 7, 2018

at the other Spartina

Two appetizers and a pizza at Spartina, the California/Italian restaurant on Melrose in Los Angeles.

grilled avocado, moroccan lemon, Calabrian chili oil, ricotta salata.

Just a wonderful evening outdoors on the patio of a favorite L.A. restaurant that I've written about before.  By far the best, most tender octopus I have even had.  Manager Freddie was evasive when I asked how it was made but owner/chef Stephen was willing the secret.  He said if I mastered the recipe I would be a legend in my neighborhood.  Without missing a beat the youngest daughter said "Oh, he already is a legend in our neighborhood!"  I don't think I have ever seen a grown man laugh as hard as the chef did when he heard that line.  Being a legend is not always a good thing.

wood grilled octopus, Calabrese salami, potato and aoli

smoked prosciutto, potato, cipollini onion, sage pizza bianca

Monday, July 30, 2018

Pathfinders on the water, South River to Sardinia / worth the price of admission

Bobby took his new (to him) Pathfinder LAGNIAPPE out for his first sail this weekend on Selby Bay and the South River, and doesn't she look great.  

From Bobby:  She sails beautifully. I have a few rigging things to figure out, getting the mainsail shape right most notably.

We had good wind Saturday, and with three of us in the boat we had some sustained beam reaching at 6 knots. The boat points remarkably better than I thought she would. 

All in all I'm over the moon. She's exactly what I wanted. Next order of business is to commission a boom tent so I can get out for some overnights as the weather cools.


And Lorenzo, who lives on the shores of the Mediterranean, has taken his family and the Pathfinder ASTRID to Sardinia.  He has posted a brief video, which will tell you something about how well a Pathfinder sails, from his single-handed sail from the bay where he launched ASTRID to where she'll be moored.  Lorenzo has posted wonderful photographs of the family adventures on Sardinia in the past, I'm hoping for more of the same from this summer's trip.


This past weekend the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum posted the participant registration forms for the Mid-Atlantic Small Craft Festival.  I signed up right away, my third MASCF in a row (which is being much too social for for my taste) but I want to go as circumnavigator, author, artist and good friend Webb Chiles is the Saturday night speaker.  

Being 25,000 miles-plus into his sixth circumnavigation, this one aboard the ultra-light Moore 24 GANNET, he will no doubt have some interesting stories to tell.  I have heard Webb speak before, I wince when I realize it was over 20 years ago (but not quite 30!).  Trust me when I tell you that Webb's talk will be well worth the price of admission.

Monday, July 23, 2018

morning light

The break in the storm lasted 20 minutes.
The light, just a moment or two.