Tuesday, June 30, 2009

sometimes it IS the destination

Cruising, at least for me, is about the journey, not the destination.  Getting from one place to another in a small, open boat.  Dealing with the wind, the weather.  Trying to find the geography, marked so clearly on the chart, in that faint tree line along the shore.  Holding the course, getting the most out of the sails, coping with the the always changing wind and water.  I do enjoy the towns we visit along the way.  Oriental, New Bern, Bath, Tangier and Engelhard.  They are all great places and I enjoy them, but just for the night.  Then it is back on the water before dawn to continue the journey.
But the ChesBay 150 will be a little different.  It won't be just about the journey.  It will be about the destination too.  We'll be sailing in to the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum's Mid-Atlantic Small Craft Festival.  Lots of people, lots of boats. (I have to wonder how that will feel.  When I see lots people I typically head in the opposite direction.)
The festival will be at St. Michaels, Md on the Miles River.  It is a nice little waterfront town.  I visited there about 20 years ago and the museum is the dominant attraction there.  There is a nice restaurant too, the Crab Claw, with a patio that looks out over the river.
It has been harder than expected to get information about the festival.  There is no separate web site, it is just a notation on the museum's schedule of events.  So I've been talking to Kevin, builder of the Navigator Slip Jig, and my neighbor Jim (who is in mid-build on a Navigator himself).  They both have attended the event several times.  I also found a schedule somewhere on the web for last year's event and I'm sure this year it will be very similar.
From what I've read and what I've seen on youtube (here's a typical video, there are plenty of them on youtube about the festival) there will be all kinds of boats.  Sailboats, power boats, old and new boats, wooden boats, fiberglass boats and canvas boats.  Classics, built by skilled craftsmen, and new homebuilts made by amateurs like me.  Kayaks, canoes and who knows what else.  
Bruce and I intend to meet up with the annual gunkholing overnight trip to the nearby Wye River on Thursday.  Friday we'll sail in to St. Michaels, get cleaned up and join in the informal cookout and listen to some bluegrass music from the band Bitter Creek.
Saturday is the big day with all sort of demonstrations, lectures, tours, etc.  The schedule says "judging" starts at 9 a.m.  I'm not sure what that is about.  Who needs to be judged?  (Hey, can't we all just get along??)  I think we'll slip our lines instead and spend the day on the water enjoying all the boats in the harbor.
This should be a great trip - an adventure sailing up the bay to St. Michaels and then a weekend of admiring some really great boats.  I can't wait.


Monday, June 29, 2009

a day for reefing

There was a Commonwealth Nations feel to Crawford Bay Sunday.  Of the four cruising sailboats anchored there, one was from Canada (very common) and two were from Great Britain (not so common).  That is Delphinus from Dartmouth, England.  The other boat was Shiver (great name I thought) from Cowes.
The forecast for light winds was wrong, it was blowing pretty good out of the northwest for most of the day.   I had rigged and launched Spartina in the wind shadow of downtown Norfolk, but as I got out on the river I could feel the wind and see the chop on the river.
So I tied in a reef.  I've finally gotten it down so I can put the reef in and still have a good, smooth set on the main.  The white line is the main's outhaul, the green is for reefing.  I used to tighten that reef line all the way down, the end result being an unfortunate crease across the sail.  But now I leave enough slack so that the grommet on the first set of reef points is six inches above the boom.  That gives the sail the nice smooth surface (below).  It looks better, but more importantly the reefed main is much more efficient and I can sail very well to the windward this way.
I've been thinking a lot about Onancock, Onancock Creek and Tangier Island since my visit there last week.  Our original plan had been to launch at Crisfield, Md, sail to Smith Island and then head north.  If I can rack up some extra hours this summer for an additional comp day or two I'll see if we can leave out of Onancock, sail to Tangier and then on to Smith Island before heading north.  I'll have to see what Bruce thinks when he gets back from Alaska.
I've always wanted to anchor overnight down at Cod Harbor.  My one sailing trip there the wind was out of the north and north east, the Cod Harbor anchorage would have been too exposed to the wind.  So maybe this next time the winds will be more favorable - it would work fine for winds out the south, southwest, west or even northwest.  Not really a harbor, it is really a long spit lined with beautiful white dunes.  Clear, shallow water - I think it would be a great place to spend an evening.


Thursday, June 25, 2009

Tangier Island

Had to run over to Tangier Island today for work, sometimes my job is pretty good to me.  It was a nice chance to revisit some places I have enjoyed in the past, plus do a little research for the ChesBay 150.
I've written blog posts about Tangier Island and the sound twice before, here and here.  But I had such a great time today I thought I would mention it again.
Tangier Island is one of two populated islands on Tangier Sound about halfway up Chesapeake Bay.  The other populated island is Smith Island just a few miles to the north of Tangier.  Both are known for clinging to their traditional way of life.  The islanders made news several years ago when they refused to let Paul Newman and Kevin Costner film Message in the Bottle on the island.  The production would have brought a lot of money and free publicity to the area, but the islanders did not like the drinking and swearing in the script.  So they told Hollywood to just go away.
Access to the islands is limited to boats or airplanes - no bridges to these places.  I took the ferry from Onancock, about hour and 15 minute boat ride.  
Just the ride down Onancock Creek made the trip worthwhile.  It is a winding four and one-half miles of tree lined creek, one of the more scenic rivers I've come across on the Eastern Shore.  I don't know why I have never taken Spartina up there for a day sail or an overnight trip.  There is a very nice, free ramp right at the town wharf and plenty of free parking.  I'll make sure Onancock Creek is high on my list for a three day weekend.  It makes for great kayaking I'm told.  The folks at Southeast Expeditions run trips, including a kayak winery tour in the area.  That sounds like fun.
As for sailing, I could see launching in Onancock in the afternoon and sailing down the creek to overnight in the protection of Parkers Marsh Wildlife Refuge, seen below.  There is a beautiful white sand beach and I could pick out a few well protected coves and creeks as we passed by on the ferry.  From there it is a quick trip around Ware Point out on to Tangier Sound.
Tangier is of course known for its crab houses, below,  built on stilts along the entrance channel.  The crab houses have the shedding tanks where waterman watch for the blue crabs to shed their hard shells.  Once they lose the hard shells the soft shell crabs are put on ice and shipped off to market.  (I like my soft shell crabs soaked in a little buttermilk for a while, rolled in corn meal and then fried lightly.  Served with lime and a good salsa, they make for an excellent meal.)
Today's trip reminded me that I really need to do more sailing on the Chesapeake Bay and, more specifically, Tangier Sound.  It is a beautiful, isolated area.  The water feels different from the Carolina Sounds, maybe because it is so deep.  A lot of the water is 20 to 50 feet deep, and in some areas it is over 100 feet deep (vs. the 20 foot or less water in Pamlico Sound).  So the waves, even when it is windy, tend to be farther apart.  And the clear, blue water is beautiful on a bright sunny day.  
Which do I like better, Tangier Sound or Pamlico Sound?  I really can't say - they are just different and I like them both.  But after four cruises in North Carolina, I'm ready to sail the Chesapeake Bay this fall.  


Sunday, June 21, 2009

chesapeake float

I received an email and some nice photos from Kevin, builder of the John Welsford Navigator Slip Jig.  He and his sailing friends got together for their 15th annual Chesapeake Float.
His report was short and to the point....

Marsh Cats, a 16 ft melonseed, a sea pearl, a crabbing skiff, 1962 celebrity one design, and the Navigator.   Rain squashed one day of sailing but a good time was had just the same 

Sounds great.  I really like the photo of the fleet.  That looks like the Sea Pearl on the left and Slip Jig on the right.  Have to guess at which is which in between - they all look like great boats.
I've emailed with Kevin a few times over the last several months, have never met him in person.  I'm guessing that that is him on the left.  My neighbor Jim, who is in mid-build on a Navigator himself, met Kevin up at the Mid-Atlantic Small Craft Festival.  He got a good look at Slip Jig last fall and says it is one beautiful boat.  Sounds like Kevin knew what he was doing when he built the Navigator.  I'm looking forward to meeting him this fall, getting my own look at Slip Jig.

Nice boat, nice float.


Saturday, June 20, 2009

father's day

I heard Dad coaching me as I backed the boat trailer down the ramp this morning.  "Put your hand at the bottom of the wheel, move your hand the way you want the back of the trailer to go."  He wasn't there of course.  Dad passed away a few years ago.  But I can't launch the boat without hearing him.
He never got to sail Spartina.  His last summer we built the masts and the gaff jaws together.  He couldn't stay around for the launch, yet he is always along with me.  Under the main mast is a Liberty Quarter from 1926 (eagle side up - he was an aviator), his birth year.  As his life-long friend Jim observed, a Liberty Quarter from 1926 is probably worth 25 cents.  A Liberty Quarter from Dad's birth year under the main mast of a boat he helped build......priceless.
I left the ramp and found myself in the thick of the Cock Island Race pre-start.  I had forgotten it was this weekend.  Lots of boats, both racers and cruisers, all bigger than mine.  But I decided to join in with the fun.  I gave myself a headstart of maybe twenty minutes.  The leaders caught up with me soon and I watched the fleet, with full crews and high tech sails, pass by.  
It was a lot of fun.  I enjoyed trying to keep pace with the racers.  Lots of thumbs up, shouts of "beautiful boat!" and well wishes from all the crews.  After rounding the mark the wind picked up and I stayed ahead of the last few boats for a while.  But of course they caught up with me.  
As I rounded to Town Point Reach a boat cut me off at the coal pier.  Maybe they were sailing by the rules of the road, maybe their tactics were appropriate.  But it would have been nice if they had left me a little room so I didn't find myself in irons with a pier just yards to my lee.  Their motive came clear as the boat passed by and the skipper shouted "Thanks for making sure we didn't finish in last place!"  I guess there is room in the world for high-fiving and chest thumping on 35' boats with a crew of six that beat out a 17' 4" home built boat with working sails.  I just didn't know it.
I didn't have the heart to tell them I wasn't registered in the race.  Last place was still firmly in their grip.

Dad would have enjoyed that.

We had a great day on the water.


Friday, June 19, 2009

anti-what??? powder

Sailing, relaxing, cooking, reading, it doesn't matter.  On a small boat we spend a lot of time sitting.  The seats are hard, clothes are damp.  Things can get rough if you know what I mean.  So on the next trip we'll be carrying some Anti Monkey Butt Powder.  
Sure, you can get your gold bond this, your baby powder that.  But I can't see having anything other that AMB powder on board.
And speaking of better living through chemistry, we'll also be taking some GU Energy Gel along with us on the next trip.

A day on the water saps my energy.  It doesn't matter if it is a hard day of sailing or just the weather, we both found that by late afternoon our energy was sagging a bit.  I've read that the Watertribe kayakers use something like this for a boost.  We'll have a few packs on board to see if it helps get us through the late afternoon.


planning for the Bay

It's just a little piece of string, but cut to match a scaled 20 nautical miles on my ADC Map of Chesapeake Bay it gave me a rough idea of what we could cover in a comfortable day of sailing.   It confirmed the plan I had sketched out was practical.  The stops along the way could include Smith Island, the Honga River, Choptank River, Annapolis, Rock Hall and the Wye River.
Some days we might do 15 nautical miles, others we might do over 30.  It just depends on wind and weather and what we feel like doing.  There is a lot of give and take at this point.  The Honga River, seen above, is a good example.  That could be our anchorage on the second night of the trip.  It is 10 miles long with plenty of small coves, marshes and creeks on either side.  So we've got lots of options and more than 10 miles of choices before dropping the anchor.  That is pretty typical of the Bay's rivers.
As for food, we are talking about taking the same kinds of food with us that we had on the Skeeter Beater 126.  We'll just take a bit less of it (we had plenty leftover after the last trip).  Bruce promises a repeat on his great meals.  The trail mix snacks, beef jerky, cups of fruit, tuna salad lunches and peanut butter crackers will all be on board.
The soft-sided cooler with dry ice worked very well on the last trip so we'll do that again.  I found a "12 pack" soft sided cooler that nests perfectly in to the larger cooler we used last time.  There is room in the 12 pack for dry ice, a few frozen bottles of water and at least four one-pound packs of frozen meats.  Put the 12 pack inside of the larger cooler and I suspect it will keep the meats frozen or at least cold for five or six days.
Bruce wants to improve on Spartina's cook kit.  My kit is made up of odd pots and pans that I found around the house or at the dollar store.  He says he's found the perfect nesting, light weight camp cook kit at REI and will bring it back for the fall trip.  Fine by me.
Planning for this trip seems pretty straighforward to me now.  We've got a good boat, the right gear and a little bit of experience.  Just need to resupply our food, get new batteries and spend some evenings looking at the charts.  That should leave plenty of time for day sailing this summer (like tomorrow maybe!).


Sunday, June 14, 2009

daily logs

Some folks have mentioned that it takes some work to read the daily logs in post form as they are shown in reverse order.  I've made a daily log list of links off to the right, below the ChesBay 150 map, starting with the first day and ending with the final day.  I hope that is easier to follow. 


Saturday, June 13, 2009

back on the river

First daysail after the Skeeter Beater today.  Summer is here, hot and humid with wind out of the south.  Left the ramp about 8:30 and looked forward to seeing all those snow bird boats anchored out in Crawford Bay on the Portsmouth side of the river. 

I kept seeing these little "wakes" here and there across the river.  They seemed out of place until I saw the grey fins breaking the surface.  About 20 dolphins were moving in two or three pods.  I hadn't seen that many dolphin on the river in a long time.  It reminded me that we did not see any dolphin at all on the Skeeter Beater.  I've seen them every other trip on the Sounds.   
I talked with the folks aboard this 1974 John Alden Bristol design, they were from Oriental, one of my favorite towns in North Carolina.  I told them we had been there a couple of weeks ago and tied up at the public dock.  They laughed and said "public dock, that's free!!"  My kind of sailors.
And this lady below was on her way back to Rhode Island from Key West and the Bahamas.  I asked if I could take a picture because she looked so relaxed and peaceful.  She said she was about to ask me the same thing.
Wind was lighter than forecast, but that was fine with me.  Sailed up Scott's Creek, a narrow winding waterway through an old Portsmouth neighborhood.  Saw a beautiful yellow crowned night heron on the shore.  Bruce would have had a great time photographing the bird and the dolphins.
I sailed back to the Elizabeth River only to see the thunderstorms showing up earlier than forecast.  So I headed for the docks.  I made it to the ramp before the rain hit, but got soaked as I took down the rigging.  Tomorrow I'll dry out the boat.
Nice to be out on the water again.


mapping out the trip

I'm still trying to figure out google maps so this is pretty rough.  But this is the first step in planning the fall trip.  Click here to open the map in google maps.  The starting point is Somers Cove Marina in Crisfield, Md.  It costs a few bucks to get a permit, but it is a good ramp and the parking lot is right next to the Coast Guard station so I think it is a safe place to leave the tow vehicle.  The first day's sail will be a short one, just over to Smith Island where we'll stay at an inn (Ewell Tide Inn, I think).  I've been to Tangier Island several times, but have never been to Smith Island.  I hear it is a nice place to visit and there is a good restaurant there.   From there we'll head up the islands of Tangier Sound and into the Honga River.  It looks like there are two cuts through Hoopers Island out to the Bay, not sure which one we'll use.  Then we'll sail north past Taylors Island and across the mouth of the Choptank River.  We could, depending on time, go in to Oxford (that's not marked on the map) or more likely go to Tilghman Wharf.   Then it is across the bay to the West River, Annapolis and then back across the Bay to Rock Hall.  Then south through Kent Narrows to the Wye River (where I hear, but have not confirmed, there is a sail-in the night before the Small Craft Festival).  Then it is on to St. Michaels for the festival itself.   I know there are a few places to stay along the way, plus we'll anchor out a few nights.  When we get a chance Bruce and I will skype and talk over the route.  I know he had some input that worked very well on the last trip.  So I'll see what he thinks.


Thursday, June 11, 2009

on to the next trip

In New Bern Bruce and I began talking about the next trip and it caught me off guard when I realized it was less than four months away.  We've got a lot of research and planning to do over he next several weeks.
You can see that the name of the blog has changed from the Skeeter Beater 126 to the ChesBay 150.  The plan right now is to put in at Crisfield on Maryland's Eastern Shore and sail north on Chesapeake Bay to the Mid-Atlantic Small Craft Festival in St. Michaels.  I hear it is a great festival and what better way to arrive than by boat.  (The "150" is a very rough mileage guide taken from a quick measurement on google earth.  "150" is also the number of tributaries that flow in to the Chesapeake Bay.)
The trip should take us through Tangier Sound up to the Honga River, then out on the the Bay up to Tilghman Island.  From there we might go over to the western shore to visit Annapolis.  Depending on time we could go farther north and visit Rock Hall on the Eastern Shore before turning back down past Kent Island and on to St. Michaels.  We'll need to spend some time with the charts to refine the plan.  Above are September and October wind compasses from Windfinder.com.    The wind pattern is not very distinct.  It can be north north-west or south south-east.  Or just about anywhere in between.  The Skeeter Beater taught us not to believe too much in "typical winds."

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

day seven - fast run to New Bern

We were up before dawn on the last day of the trip. The marsh grass glowed orange with the rising sun. Tall clouds hung off the bow well to the south of the Neuse River. The wind was strong out of the southeast.

We slipped past the shoals and crab pots at the mouth of Goose Creek and returned to the Neuse.  A fine reach carried Spartina to the middle of the river where we fell off until the wind was over the port quarter. It was a straight run to New Bern. The wind was steady and the river was smooth, we were moving at six knots.

Once again, easy sailing. I still can't get over how the winds worked in our favor throughout the trip. I never would have expected, certainly wouldn't have hoped for these winds out of the north, east and southeast and just when we needed them.

All too soon we could make out the sign on the Outback Steakhouse on the south side of the Trent River entrance. And then our hotel. I had mixed feelings. Excitement, because we were in sight of our goal. Regret, because the trip was about to end. We followed the channel markers up to the Hwy 17 bridge where I took the tiller from Bruce. He took the binoculars and went forward to locate navigation aids as we approached the bridge. We passed under the bridge and swung to the west towards the Trent River. The causeway and drawbridge were being rebuilt and it took a few minutes to pick out the channel. A power boat leaving the river showed us the entrance. We snugged up the sheets and headed on into the harbor. After a couple of tacks in the small harbor between two marinas, we headed up into the wind and dropped our sails.

At the docks we looked at the gps. Since leaving Engelhard seven days earlier we had sailed 154 nautical miles during 46 and one-half hours of sailing. Average speed for the trip was 3.3 knots. I like those numbers. We travelled a good distance and kept up a pretty good pace. But they don't begin to describe the fun we had, the beautiful marshes we had seen, the storms we sailed through, the expanses of water we crossed or the people we had met. It had been a great trip. What I've described here on the blog is only a small part of our adventure.

We tied up at the end of a long finger pier filled with mega-yachts. Spartina probably looked like one of their dinghies. We tracked down the dockmaster who directed us to a nice slip on a small boat dock, then we checked into the hotel. Back at the boat we were once again answering questions about Spartina and the trip. Yes, she is home-built. Yes, we slept on board. No, we weren't crazy. Yes, it was a lot of fun.

Arriving by boat got us a discount at the hotel, staying in the hotel got us a discount on the dock fee. That's a good deal if you ask me. Bruce took the photo below from our hotel room window, you can see me rigging the boom tent on Spartina at the bottom right. We had a great time in New Bern. Very nice town, great sailing area. If you ever visit New Bern, make a point of having the shrimp and grits at The Chelsea. You will know then that you are in the South.

And that was the Skeeter Beater 126. I want to say thanks to everyone who has taken a moment to read about the adventure. I hope you enjoyed it. 


day six - last anchorage

By late morning the wind was light and we were making less than one knot towards Wilkinson Point. It was getting hot so we started up the outboard and motored with the engine just above idle. A couple of tiny rain clouds came up from the south. Bruce stood up forward and directed Spartina past the rainfall with one cloud to port and the other to starboard. Hardly a drop of water hit the boat. Nice navigating!

Bruce took the tiller while I tried to photograph reflections of Spartina on the mirror-like water. I like the one above. If you saw it full frame you would see my hand reaching out to the top right holding my waterproof camera. I like the photo because it has a "story book" feel to it with a curved mast and jib bent to the wind. I would like to sail on a boat like that one day (oh, wait a minute.......).
The water of the Neuse River was so still it reminded us of our last trip just north of Cedar Island. We had dropped anchor on the glassy waters of Pamlico Sound and gone for a swim. We were talking about doing the same thing here when I looked to the east and saw the water ruffled by the approaching wind. In just a couple of minutes we were on a broad reach doing four to five knots. (Bruce needed sunglasses to keep the glare from his legs from blinding him.)

This was easy sailing. We ticked off the markers as we sailed up the Neuse River once again making better time than we had expected. It was hot and sunny. The wind was perfect.
Past Wilkinson Point we watched the Cherry Point-Minnesott Ferry cross the river in front of us. Fighter planes from nearby Cherry Point Marine Corps Air Station circled in the skies above us. We talked about how it was something different every day on this trip. Storms, sailing with the wind, beating into the wind, rivers, canals and the open sounds. Each day had its own feel. (In fact most days were like two or three days in one things changed so fast.) By late afternoon the sun was taking a toll on both of us. It is surprising how a "nice day" on the water can sap one's energy. Cooler, overcast days are much easier to deal with.

Just about six miles down river from New Bern, so close we could see the Hwy 17 bridge in the distance, we turned in to a little anchorage at Goose Creek. I gave one last, futile effort at fishing - this should have been (and probably was) a great spot for speckled trout - but not for me.
We had dinner - kung pao spam - using a can of spam, fried on the griddle, and a packet of asian noodles with kung pao sauce. Don't knock it until you have tried it (it's already on the menu list for the next trip).

(When we were having dinner in Oriental we looked at the charts and talked about our final leg to New Bern. We were fairly certain that it would be too far to push on to New Bern in one day. So we looked at different anchorage possibilities. After we closed the chart book, Steve noted that we could possibly make it to a high end marina and resort to spend the night or we could stay at an anchorage and camp on the boat. I smiled at the possibility of another night with a restaurant and bed. The little comforts are so nice. Well I thought nothing more about it as we headed out the next morning. When our sailing day was done we put in at Goose Creek found a nice place to anchor and do a little fishing. As the day waned we raised the anchor and moved to a spot a bit more suitable for spending the night. We had settled in and were enjoying the evening after our gourmet Kung Pao Spam dinner. We talked about how great the trip had been and all the great anchorages we had discovered. I then remembered the possible high end marina and resort and mentioned it to Steve. I told him it was a shame we couldn't have made it to the marina to at least check it out. In the end, we both agreed that we really liked spending our last night on Spartina. Before turning in for the night and in a most casual manner Steve said,"if you climb the mast and look towards the stern you could probably see the marina over on the next creek". I looked at him for a few seconds, realized what he was saying and then we both had a great laugh. Sure enough, I saw it up the next creek the following morning as we motored out onto the Neuse River.)

Late that evening the storms finally showed up. They were small, dark and intense storms that passed to the north and south of us. We could look through the mosquito mesh at the stars above and still see the lightening flashing off towards New Bern. Late at night a small rain storm passed over the boat. We had the boom tent ready to set up, but instead just closed up our bivys and let the rain fall.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

day six - last full day on the water

I was wide awake at 4:30 a.m. in the room at the Oriental Marina and Inn. Maybe it was the soft mattress on a bed that didn't rock at night, maybe I was just too comfortable. I just couldn't sleep. So I got dressed and snuck out the door with Bruce's camera to take some predawn photos on the waterfront. I photographed Spartina of course, plus a few waterfront scenes. The clear skies (where was that 50% chance of rain we had heard about the night before??) made for a surprisingly bright false dawn. The harbor was glassy calm.

It was peaceful to walk along the harbor. I thought I was by myself but then saw a woman sitting up on the porch at The Bean, the local coffee shop. Her boat was tied up at the public dock just behind Spartina. I said hello but didn't stay too long, didn't want to disturb her quiet morning.

Soon after the sun was up Bruce came down to find me on the waterfront. We walked through the village and stopped for breakfast at a little deli near one of the marinas.

Back at the hotel room we packed our gear and started carrying it down to the boat. It took a few trips to get it all back on the boat. Bruce did a lot of the hauling while I tucked things away. Just after nine, with a group of people watching from the public dock and the porch of The Bean, we brought in the lines and headed down harbor. The people of Oriental were just great. Friendly, lots of questions and plenty of offers of help. There was a debate at The Bean about whether Spartina was a yawl or a ketch - it is a yawl. And someone shouted across the water asking who designed the boat - John Welsford of course. A few people took photographs. There were a lot of well wishes as we pulled away. I wanted to photograph the locals waving good-by but we were too busy making a tight turn to get away from the pier. We did make a point of raising sail in the harbor (just so it looked like we knew what we were doing).

(We had the outboard running to get us out of the harbor. I took the tiller as Steve made ready the sails. I kept looking at the red channel marker off on our left and the shore on the opposite side fast approaching. I mentioned to Steve that I should perhaps start heading towards the channel marker. "No" he said, "just keep on this heading." He kept making ready the sails. The shore kept looming up ahead closer than ever. I suggested again we start heading towards the marker. "Not quite yet", he calmly replied. "The folks want to see some sail". I was a bit skeptical and I swear the shore was almost upon us when up went the main. "Now tighten the jib and bring her to port", Steve ordered. Sure enough Spartina responded smartly and we headed out the remainder of the harbor and up the channel under sail. We were styling again. Steve just stood there looking at me and smiling as if to say, "What are you worried about?" He knew what he was doing.)

A light breeze carried us across the Neuse River on almost the same course we had sailed two years before. We tacked off a white sandy beach and headed slowly towards Wilkinson Point. The wind fell off until we were making just a knot or two. A relaxing morning with a great blue sky. Whatever happened to those thunderstorms everybody was worried about?