Monday, December 5, 2022

day nineteen - the lady from the magazine

Cast off from the mooring 7:15.  Cold, cold, cold and a heavy dew on the boom tent.  And eagle circles low off the water near a wooded point.  I motor to the town dock in Centreville, my bare feet freezing on the frost-covered wooden dock.  I walk the few blocks to a convenience store to top off my gas can and pick up a few snacks.  

Full sail back down river to the nice little yacht club and circle around off the pier until I see a woman walking down the ramp.  I had never met Wendy Mitman Clarke in person but I had corresponded with her over the years.  A ways back she had asked for some photographs when she worked for Chesapeake Bay Magazine.  More recently she contacted me looking for some photographs of Webb Chiles for Good Old Boat Magazine.  Then just a few weeks ago Wendy, now editor in chief of SAIL Magazine, emailed me asking if we could get together to talk about the cruising I do on SPARTINA.  I'm not much on interviews so I said "Why don't we just go for a sail?".  So here we are going for a sale.

I tie up at the small dock and walk up to greet her.  Though we had never met, we have several friends in common and I tell Wendy it seems like we are old friends.  We cast off in a building afternoon wind.  We talk as I'm raising sail and Wendy says "oh I've got to get out my notebook."  She has lots of questions about where I sail and why, and many more questions about SPARTINA and her construction.   I do the best I can to answer, no-one has ever accused me of being well-spoken.  The sail is a treat, excellent wind and just keeps getting stronger.  On a second tack out on to the Chester River Wendy suggests we had back to the Corsica River, spray from the waves on the Chester is flying onto her notebook.  On hte way back in Wendy breaks out her own camera and starts taking photographs.

We talk a lot about the friends we have in common, Chesapeake Bay, boats and her new job.  We find we have one more thing in common, we are both "old school" journalists.  She began her career in an Associated Press office, and of course I did a few decades as a newspaper photographer.  Talking about the way things "used to be" in journalism reminds Wendy she has to do a little video of our sail for the magazines Instagram feed.   She says this is all new to her and wonders if she should shoot video of herself talking or video of me sailing the boat.  I suggest she can do both and show her a new app on my phone that uses the front and back cameras at the same time.  So she is shooting video and talking and I'm sailing and all of a sudden we get a good gust of wind.  SPARTINA heels, Wendy just smiles.  


Back at the dock we transfer the video to her phone.  It is windy and noisy, not the best audio for a video but fun and good atmosphere.  Wendy asks me where I'm heading in the afternoon.  I say I'll probably head back to the town dock and grab dinner at a restaurant.  She says she and her husband will meet me there.

I'm back at the dock at 2:45, do some cleaning on SPARTINA and set up the boom tent and sleeping gear.  Wendy and her husband meet me in the evening and we walk up the hill for an excellent outdoor dinner at Doc's Riverside Grille.  It's a great evening with some really good folks.  They walk me back to SPARTINA and head off for home while I slip into my sleeping bag.

Saturday, December 3, 2022

How nice!

Yesterday I received a gift of two traditional manila rope fenders from my friend Howard.  We both volunteer on the schooner VIRGINIA - Howard being a much more knowledgeable and useful volunteer than myself - and he offered to make the fenders to replace the small vinyl fender I keep on SPARTINA.  I am amazed at his skill and craftsmanship. And the two of them fit perfectly in the space I used to store the old fender.  Thank you, Howard.

And today I received from Josh at Small Craft Advisor three copies of the No. 137 issue of the magazine.  It is notable for two reasons.  One, it is the last print edition of Small Craft Advisor.  With the ever shifting  world of journalism it made sense to switch from traditional print to an online magazine which you can find here.  And two, this final issue contains a story I wrote about my sail from Charleston, South Carolina to Palatka, Florida last year.  Thanks, Josh, for using the story.  


Thursday, December 1, 2022

day eighteen - a short sail up the Chester River

A late night squall bringst rain and swirling winds to Ditchers Cove.  Then suddenly calm.  I wake to the sound of a distant deadrise.  Eagles in the trees make their high-pitched whistles.  Sail off anchor 7:35, glassy calm water and a slow drift out of the cove on to Chestertown Creek as I listen to the birds in the trees.  Trees along shore show their bright fall colors.

Make the sand spit at the mouth of the creek 8:05, sailing in light winds.  The sun peeks through the overcast as flocks of geese noisily take flight.  8:30 out of the entrance channel and on the Chester River.

8:50 making not even a knot, but that is ok on this pretty morning.  9:00 a little wind and the sun still fights to break though the clouds.  

Light and shifting winds at 10:00 and we motor in to Bogle Wharf.  A little house keeping to do and I get rid of some trash.  Back out on the river and sails up at 11:00, no wind and just drifting in a circle.  

Noon motoring at idle speed, a light breeze ruffling the surface of the water to the east.  Wind at 12:30 and very pleased to make 1.7 kts. Jibe to the Corsica River entrance at 2:00 with the wind, really a light breeze, on the beam.  

On the Corsica River and passing the Russia House at 3:25.  The Russia house, big and red and tucked back in the trees looks like it is a movie set for a spy novel but was in fact a Russian consulate until the Russians were kicked out in some diplomatic row years ago.  

Afternoon wind and making 2.5 off of Ship Point at 4:00.  I see a woman at the pier at the Corsica River Yacht Club.  I call out to her and ask if I can tie up at one of the unused mooring for the night.  She says that one one will mind.  Tied up at the mooring 4:20.

 13.01 NM

Spaghetti for dinner

Wednesday, November 30, 2022

day seventeen - graced and grateful

A front is moving through, wind and rain.  I've got to meet someone soon on the Corsica River, not far away at all.  Ditcher's Cove is perfect to wait out the weather.  Calm night and a peaceful morning.  I'll stay under the tent all day, set up the solar panel to keep my phone charged.

Scrambled eggs, buffalo bar, cookies and hot chocolate for breakfast.  Life is good these days.

As I read FAREWELL MR. PUFFIN I notice there in an inscription inside the cover.  It gives me pause when I am told I "grace" their waters.  I think about how I built the boat to get away from people and instead met the best and truest friends of my life.  Not social by nature, I still struggle with that.  Yet I know that I am the one who is graced, and I am grateful for that.

I'm halfway through the trip and I have run out of "packaged" meal.  I break out the vacuum sealed breakfast bars, tuna, beef sticks and gallon bags to make up six meal kits for the next several days.

The front rolls through midday.  Not as much wind as forecast and heavy rains for just a short while.  I am content under the boom tent, reading the news and my book, checking in with the wife and daughters, and just relaxing.  

A can of tuna, some chocolate from Iceland and hot tea for lunch.  I read, take a nap and relax.  

Beef stroganoff for dinner.


Monday, November 28, 2022

day sixteen - cookies and tea

Sail off anchor 7:15 just as the sun breaches the horizon.  A calm and peaceful night in the lee of Dobbins Island.  Glassy calm and no wind in the morning.  It is a slow drift out of the wind shadow.  Peanut butter RxBar and beef strip for breakfast.  A crabber works a trotline to the east, a large cruising sailboat winches in her anchor nearby.  7:50 light wind out of the southwest.

Slipping through the entrance channel onto Chesapeake Bay more wind.  Making 3.2 as we leave Magothy River.  9:10 making 4.5 passing near the Baltimore Light.  No traffic in sight in the shipping lanes.  

A line of cormorants flying low to the water crosses our bow.  It is an easy, relaxed crossing of the Bay.  A handful of cruising sailboats are working their way south.

Round Love Point, the northern end of Kent Island at 10:10.  Calmer water but still plenty of wind on the Chester River.  Making 4.6 and feels like the wind is building.  Round Hail Point 11:45.  

Wind on the beam to Queenstown Creek, a favorite anchorage.  With calm water we make 5.0 in the channel to Queenstown.  Round up, bring down the main and jib, motor to the dock at Queenstown. 

 Tied up at 12:45.  It's a couple of blocks to a favorite pizzeria, then stop at a bank to get some cash.

Cast off 1:30 and motor up Queenstown Creek to a farm where I'm greeted by friends at the dock.  

It is a beautiful afternoon.  We sit on the porch of the farmhouse enjoying cookies and tea.  I am gifted with chocolates and the perfect sailing book, FAREWELL MR. PUFFIN, A Small Boat Voyage to Iceland.  How kind.  We take a walk on the farm over to the Chester River and from a perch on a small cliff I get a different perspective of a river that I have sailed for many years.

 Cast off 3:45, I motor farther up the creek and drop anchor in Ditchers Cove.  Stormy weather predicted for tomorrow, this will be a good anchorage.  

18.62 NM for the day

light snacks for dinner

Thursday, November 24, 2022

day fifteen - wind, finally

Raise anchor 7:20 after a calm and peaceful night.  Not even a hint of wind.  Under power through the swirling waters of the Fairly Creek entrance.  Think about crossing hte shipping channel but unsure of the Baltimore Channel so track south along the channel that I know.

Banana Chocolate Walnut RXbar, beef strip and a cup of mixed fruit for breakfast.  Two eagles take flight from red marker "20".  Look for wind but none in sight.

Raise sail at 9:00 in light air, making 1.2.  Then no wind at all.  Cross the shipping channel to the green side at Tolchester Beach under power.  10:15 west of Swan Point and headed southwest.  No shipping in the channels.  

See a tug and tow coming up the channel at 10:30.  SPARTINA is near the split in the channel.  I stay just outside the green markers, waiting to see which way the tug goes.  Clear by 10:45 the tug is headed northwest towards the C and D Canal.  

We cross the channel intersection.  Baltimore Light in sight at 11:50, raise the sails and make 15.  Just after noon the wind finally fills in.  Easy sailing with wind out of the southeast.  

Enter the Magothy River at 1:25 and sail up the river just to enjoy the breeze.  Sunny and getting hot. 

A red-hulled boat named GRATEFUL RED makes me smile.  I sail upriver to where there is no wind, then jibe back downriver at 2:50, tuck in behind Dobbins Island.  

Anchor down just off the beach at 3:10.  Set up the boom tent to get out of the sun.

23.39 NM

Stroganoff with noodles and beef for dinner.


Monday, November 21, 2022

day fourteen - they drank all the champagne

I wake to a chilly morning, a thin layer of fog hanging over the Sassafras River, a Hunter's moon hanging in sky.  I see Brian casting off his sailing dinghy for his annual row down the Sassafras and and sail back up.  He tells me he will stop for a moment at Ordinary Point to scatter some ashes of a favorite cousin.  He says wistfully "that will be our last adventure there."  I watch as he rows across the still water.

Cast off 7:25, cold and no wind, under power.  Not too long before I pass by Brian, we wave goodbye.  Ordinary Point at 9:00, full sail in a light west wind.  9:50 a light and shifting wind, making 1.5.  10:00 sailing at 2.2, put on a sweater against the cold.  11:00 no wind, under power.  Trees along the shoreline showing red leaves of fall.  

Noon rounding Howell Point, tacking into a south wind.  Better wind at 1:00, 4.0 tacking out to the edge of the shipping channel then back to show.  Pass the beautiful schooner NORTH WIND.

1:15 off Still Pond.  1:20 tack towards the channel, tug with a barge full of containers heads south in the channel.  2:00 off Worton Point.  A few more steady tacks into the wind and soon in the channel leading to Fairlee Creek.  

The creek has the narrowest of entrance channels and I wonder how bigger boats with deep drafts get through.  The tide is running and eddies swirl between the beach and the sand spit.  Sails still up I use the outboard for an assist against the tide.

In the creek at 3:30, the wind getting better and better so I keep sailing.  Handful of cruises anchored out in the creek and we tack our way back and forth between them.  A couple on a high tech catamaran, each with a tall fluted glass in hand, wave as I sail by.

I turn back down the creek to anchor in about four feet of water.  After being in the sun all day I set up the boom tent for some shade.  Cooking dinner I hear the sound of a small outboard, someone is asking if they can stop by SPARTINA.  I poke my head out the back and it is the couple from the catamaran.  They come alongside to look at the boat and ask about the trip.  They are waiting for some maintenance before heading south to the Bahamas.  As they are about to leave I ask them if that was champagne they were drinking in the tall glasses.  The man says "yes, but sorry, we drank it all."  He laughs and motors away.

 26.89 NM

Pasta Roma for dinner

Saturday, November 19, 2022

day thirteen - a dog's life

A day off the water in Fredericktown.  Up early to get a shower, clean up SPARTINA and get rid the trash.  Eggs over easy with bacon, hash browns and toast at the Sassafras Harbor Cafe.

A few chores.  Laundry, topping off the water bottles.  Catching up on the log.  On the docks I run into Brian, a friend from the Downrigging Festival in Chestertown many years ago.  

An NFL game on the radio in the afternoon while I recharge my batteries in the lounge.  Late afternoon I set up the boom tent and sleeping gear.  Dinner at the Fish Whistle, back to SPARTINA to slip into the sleeping bag for a chilly night.