Sunday, August 7, 2022

launched, sailed, barred

Congratulations to Chris on the launching of his Phil Bolger Chebacco ARTAX.  He has been working on the 19' 8" cat yawl for a few years and she looks very nice.  I have always thought it is a nice design and no doubt he will enjoy sailing her.  

Chris emailed me about the launching and mentioned he has some questions about the rigging of the gaff-rigged main.  He asked if he could maybe sail on SPARTINA and take a look at her rigging.

I had plans to sail this morning so told him he was welcome to come along.  Calm winds and almost glassy water when he arrived, the winds filled in nicely just as we raised sail.  It was an enjoyable few hours on the river.

With the disappearance of Tanka Buffalo Cranberry bars from the market I have been in search of a new meat bar for my steak and eggs cruising breakfast.  I have already found the solution:  Jack Links Beef Strips.  I ordered a dozen from Amazon and tried one on yesterday morning's sail.  I found them to be very good.  An added bonus that was a surprise to me, they come from New Zealand.  Anything that comes from New Zealand - people, boat designs, wine, freeze dried meals and meat bars - is bound to be good.

Sometime today I should receive two dozen egg-white based RXBARS, the "eggs" of my steak and eggs breakfast, from Amazon.  A few new (to me) flavors should be mixed in:  Apple Cinnamon, Coffee Chocolate and Mint Chocolate.   All sound good.

The fall trips is still about six weeks away, yet it feels like it is getting closer and closer.

Friday, August 5, 2022

twenty years ago today / Smith Island waterspout and tornado

An invitation arrived a few days ago for a reception this evening at the Mariner's Museum in Newport News.  I was surprised to learn that today is the 20th anniversary of the raising of the turret of the ironclad USS Monitor off of Cape Hatteras. By chance and some help from a US senator  I was fortunate to be involved in the recovery of an important part of naval history (that is my photograph on the invitation).  I will attend the reception and look forward to seeing the work they have done to preserve the turret and the contents found within.  I also look forward seeing the scientists, navy divers and colleagues I worked with that summer 20 years ago.


This morning MaryLou, my longtime friend from Rock Hall, tells me of another waterspout.  This one was off Smith Island on Chesapeake Bay.  Here is a link where you can watch the video of the waterspout as it comes ashore at Rhodes Point and becomes a tornado (here is the YouTube link).  Noted Chesapeake Bay photographer Jay Fleming has set up a gofundme site to help the islanders with the damage.  MaryLou says there were no serious injuries but the damage to structures was significant.  


Tuesday, August 2, 2022



This morning published this image of a waterspout over Pamlico Sound near Ocracoke Island.  Just spectacular.  It was made by Casey Robinson, an Ocracoke school teacher who photographs under the name Actively Awkward Photography.  What more can you say about a perfect image? 

Sunday, July 31, 2022

thinking about fall

 I figure I have 10 more days of summer sailing.  Then I'll haul SPARTINA and bring her home for a couple of week for maintenance.  It verges on being too hot to sail in August, I might as well get some work done.  There are several jobs that need to be done on the boat.  I have sailed her a lot this year and it shows. 

After the haul out the Pilgrim and I have some travel plans.  And when we return from that it will be time for the fall sail on Chesapeake Bay.  I found myself trying to remember last year's fall sail, the fall fest 544, 28 days of sailing and then another week on the Chestertown waterfront for the annual Chestertown Downrigging Festival.  The photo above is from the first day of the sail, 32 nautical miles from Cambridge to Warehouse Creek, a favorite anchorage.  The morning began with light wind but once through Knapp's Narrows it filled in and we made at times over five knots under just mizzen and jib.  

It has been an excellent summer of sailing, one of the best for SPARTINA I think.  I am looking forward to the cool, dry winds of fall.


P.S.  I had forgotten, until I looked at the log, that we had sailed 455 miles on the trip.  That cruise, combined with the 400 miles Sea Islands sail, makes for nearly 1,000 miles of cruising this past fall and winter.  Not bad for a little wooden boat built in the garage.

Thursday, July 28, 2022

lost buffalo bars

Disappointing news for cruising provisions today as I found that TANKA Buffalo Meat with Cranberries Bars are no longer available.  These have been a standard part of my cruising meals for many years, the "steak" part of my steak and eggs breakfast (the eggs being egg white based RXBARS).  

This is crushing news to me.  There are other meat bars out there, mainly the EPIC brand, but the EPIC bars always seem a bit dry to me.  

TANKA bars were produced by the Oglala Lakota on the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota.  Above is a screen shot from their website which is no longer active.  I did find some food industry trade publications that mentioned growth for TANKA bars that exceeded their production capabilities, plus competition from larger corporate producers.  

It is a shame.  I liked the bars and I liked the idea of traditional Native American foods being made available to the public.  Excellent for camping, I think I first came across the bars at REI.  I searched through my cabinet and found enough bars in vacuum sealed bags to get me through the fall cruise.  Will have to find something else for the winter sail down south.


Hot, hot, hot today.  Debating if I should head out for an evening sail.  Or wait for cooler temperatures tomorrow morning.  Or maybe both.

Wednesday, July 27, 2022

and next thing I know...

I was just going down to the waterfront to check on SPARTINA.  Storms had passed through the area last night, some with gusts to 60 mph and hail.  So I wanted to take a look at the boat.  It was hot and humid with gusts forecast to build into the mid-20s.  Next thing I knew I was out on the river sailing.  How did that happen?  I could have cut the humidity with a knife.  No one on board complained.

I sailed Saturday morning, light winds and very hot.  

And then Sunday morning too, a wonderful and solid southwest breeze that I sailed for over three hours.  There was a young woman sitting on the landing at the waterfront park.  I sailed by close enough that we exchanged greetings, then later on another pass we talked about the wonderful wind.  The next time by I asked if she wanted to join me for the sail and with no hesitation she said yes.  Once aboard I learned that not only had she once worked as a sailing instructor but also that she is from Elizabeth City, one of my favorite sailing areas.  And then on top of that, she is very good friends with a friend of mine.  Small world.  She sailed with me for about 30 minutes, a very enjoyable sail.

Late this morning I saw a boat with the mainsail up coming down the southern branch of the Elizabeth River.  To have a sail raised on that stretch of water, sailing between the shipyards that line the river and accompanying security boats, is very unusual.  I don't think I have ever seen it down before.  I sailed past them where the southern branch opens to the main river.  The boat was WATER BEAR out of Annapolis, Maryland.  A Westsail 32 I believe.  Maybe headed home from a winter down south.  How nice.

Tuesday, July 26, 2022

first of the season

 Mystery figs.
The tree came from a nursery where a hurricane,
Isabel I believe, blew all the tags off the young trees.
So they were sold at a discount as mystery figs.
A fresh fig will cool off any hot day.

Wednesday, July 20, 2022

lazy river

Light winds and a lazy feeling on the river this morning.  I wanted to get SPARTINA - with her touched-up bottom paint - back on the Elizabeth.  Northwest winds around 5 mph so I did not expect much sailing. It was a slow drift with a few puffs of wind mixed in.  No complaints were heard.

A text from Bill, as he spotted SPARTINA from his Portsmouth office building, welcomed us back to the river.  A jogger running on the waterfront called out "pretty boat!"  The captain of a local tour boat used his public address system to say "hey Steve, good morning."  A crabber, wild grey beard around a friendly smile, came alongside and told me I should be glad to have an outboard on a day like today.  Sometimes the river feels like a neighborhood.

 It was a slow drift.  Better winds expected this evening.

Tuesday, July 19, 2022

the back road

Over the weekend I went up to southern Maryland to see the oldest daughter.  To get there, instead of taking that asphalt and concrete nightmare known as I-95, I took the back roads.  Hwy 17 to Fredericksburg and then 15 to Maryland.  Smaller, quieter and more peaceful roads.  Less stress.  Much less.  As far as the time difference, it took maybe 15 minutes more that the I-95 route.  A reasonable trade I think.

Hwy 17 runs right along the Rappahannock River.  I found myself wondering why, save for two short sails up there (one being in Barry's video), I had not spent time sailing the 40 mile-long river.  It is beautiful, winding and treelined.  A handful of towns are on the river, Urbanna, Deltaville, Irvington and Tappahannock, plus several smaller communities.  Mobjack Bay is not too far to the south.  A series of creeks and rivers to the north lead up to Reedville, which is just a short jump across Chesapeake Bay from Tangier Island and Tangier Sound.

 I think next spring, instead of heading south to Pamlico and Albemarle Sounds, I'll make the two hour drive north and spend some time exploring the Rappahannock River and nearby waters.  Should be fun.  Spring on the Bay.  Can anyone say "soft-shell crabs"?

Friday, July 15, 2022

nice to see

Nice to see...

a photograph I shot of Webb Chiles sailing his Moore 24 GANNET many years ago used with the digital edition of Good Old Boat Magazine.

I believe you can find the online edition here (though I am not sure of subscription requirements).


Also nice to see Bobby Asher's Pathfinder LAGNIAPPE being fitted with a pattern for a boom tent by my friend Angel (who has been SPARTINA's canvas angel for many years).  She runs Little Bay Canvas.  I can attest to the quality of her work as she has made both my boom tent and sail covers.  You want her to make canvas for your boat?  You'll have to 1) bring the boat here so she can measure it herself, 2) get in line, and 3) be patient.  It is worth it for the quality of work.  Can't wait to see the new tent, Bobby.