"When I think of all the fools I've been it's a wonder that I've sailed this many miles." -Guy Clark

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Day One - faux Dixon Creek

There are a lot of nice things about Potters Marine just outside of Bath, NC. It is on a nice protected little creek, has a great ramp and a convenient dock. But the nicest thing is that big pine tree that gives you plenty of shade for rigging a boat.

Bruce and I left out of Chesapeake, Virginia at 5:30 a.m. on the first day of the trip. Probably earlier than we needed to leave - Hwy. 17 has been improved so much that it was an easy drive and we arrived at the marina at 8:30 (a trip that included breakfast in Hertford and a gas stop in Washington). We took our time in the shade of the tall tree rigging the boat, checking the fittings and then packing all our gear for the eight day trip on the sounds, rivers and bays of North Carolina.

We had Spartina in the water and ready to go but waited dockside for our sailing partners, Paul and Dawn Stewart, to arrive. Relaxing at the marina was just fine with us, the first day's sail was just a dozen or so miles. No need to rush. After all we wanted to say hello to them - I had met them just once briefly months before, Bruce had never met them. Just as I parked my jeep they rolled into the parking lot towing their Core Sound 20 Dawn Patrol. We chatted a while, talked about the anchorage for the evening and then Bruce and I cast off about 11:30.

Wind was light out of the east on North Creek as we motor sailed past shrimp boats and the hull of a decayed fishing boat. Once out on the the Pamlico River the wind picked up out of the east and we headed SSE at a little over three knots. There was a fair amount of chop on the Pamlico, our typical experience on the river. That day it was a combination of wind out of the east and the tide running out of the west.

We decided to tack across the river behind Indian Island guessing (correctly for once) that we would still have a nice breeze but less chop behind the island. Below is the gps track from both Spartina and Dawn Patrol as we crossed the river. They came out on the river about an hour after we did. You can see that we made a long tack all the way to the southern shore while Dawn Patrol made a series of shorter tacks. This was pretty typical for the cruise. I tend to like long tacks. Paul was more strategic in his decisions and went with the shorter tacks (the first lesson in sailing tactics from Dawn Patrol).

Both the wind the and chop picked up toward the mouth of the Pamlico but it was an easy sail. At 2:25 Bruce and I made one last quick tack at Reed Hammock and entered Goose Creek and the ICW. The wind was crisp as we sailed south at up to five and a half knots, great sailing on smooth water.

At 3:30 Bruce starting tacking in towards our first anchorage, a place we came to call faux Dixon Creek. The true Dixon Creek is about a mile to the north. But when Bruce and I arrived there a year ago, wet and exhausted from a 33 mile sail, I misidentified this tiny little anchorage as Dixon Creek. It was only a week before this trip that I discovered my error. So for us it became faux Dixon Creek. Regardless of what it is called, the spot is a great anchorage. A narrow tree-lined entrance leads to a shallow cove surrounded by marsh grass, trees and Spanish moss. Even in a high wind it is a quiet, peaceful spot.

Once anchored it was time to get to work. We had invited Paul and Dawn to join us for dinner aboard Spartina on the first evening out, Bruce would be fixing our traditional first meal of beef and vegetable stew in red wine. Dawn Patrol was bringing bread and wine to round out the meal. My job was to chop the carrots, potatoes, onion, mushrooms and and garlic.

About 45 minutes later we looked out over the marsh grass to see the beautiful cat ketch rig of Dawn Patrol coming down the canal. Bruce signaled with a horn to indicate our position but they had already spotted our mizzen sail (which is always left raised unless at the dock). Dawn Patrol tacked in under sail and then motored into the tiny creek.

I've got to say it was a great evening. The weather was fantastic. We all talked about the day, compared boats and got to know each other. That first evening out was the only time we had really planned on spending together. But it was so interesting and enjoyable to talk with Paul and Dawn that we ended up spending every night of trip together. We hit it off just fine, a great way to start the trip.

After appetizers, dinner, a little wine, a little beer and a lot of great conversation Dawn Patrol cast off and moved to an anchorage about 100 yards away. Time to put the cooking gear away and break out the bivy's for the night.


Distance 14.1 nautical miles
Max Speed 6.1 knots
Average Speed 3.5 knots
Moving Time 3 hours 58 minutes

Town Dock, again!

I just heard from Dawn that TownDock used another photo of Spartina on their web page. It makes me happy to see that, I've been a fan TownDock for years - ever since Bruce and I visited Oriental in 2007. Oriental is a great town, visit it if you get a chance. And I really like the image. Thanks for the nice photograph Melinda.


Monday, June 28, 2010

making tracks

Boat and gear have all been washed down, cruising gear is back in the closet in the spare bedroom, Spartina is ready to go with day sailing equipment for the coming weekend and Bruce is on a flight home. I guess the cruise is over.

Above is nice photo of Spartina sailing wing and wing on (I'm guessing) day four of the trip. Thanks Paul and Dawn!

Below is the track for Spartina from Bruce's gps. We came within a percent or two of filling of the track memory. Total mileage was 187 nautical miles which translates into 215 statute miles, our longest trip by far. Our total is slightly higher than Dawn Patrol's 210 statute miles most likely because of a detour we took on day two through Ditch Creek and Dump Creek on the way to the Bay River while Paul and Dawn took the ICW to see their friend Graham Byrnes near Vandemere.

We've traded gps tracks with Dawn Patrol and it is fun to compare them side by side. Below you can see both boats tacking into the wind down Core Sound to our anchorage at The Swash. Spartina has the brighter blue track.
The boats (and crews) turned out to be very compatible. Dawn Patrol, a Graham Byrnes designed Core Sound 20, is a fantastic boat with a beautiful cat ketch rig. She is a bit faster than Spartina and I think she can point a little higher into the wind (credit for this goes to both Graham's great design and also to excellent sailing skills on board Dawn Patrol). Often times Dawn Patrol would be ahead of us on each day's journey, but somehow we would end up coming into the anchorage not too far apart.

Normally on cruises I spend part of the evening writing in my journal. But on this trip we spent many of the evenings rafted up side by side talking about the day's event with the Dawn Patrol crew (lots more fun than writing). I did do a pretty good job of taking notes - wind, weather, location - throughout each day in my waterproof notebook. I'll use those notes, plus the combined tracks of our trips and all the photos (which really make a pretty good journal in themselves) to put together a daily log of the trip. I just need to catch up on some rest first. In the meantime checkout Dawn's blog for her posts.


Sunday, June 27, 2010

some photos

Here's a few photographs. We went through the shoot and each of us picked out a photograph from each day of the trip. Maybe it was a favorite photograph, maybe it was something that reminded us of a moment we enjoyed. Take a look.

Day One

Day Two

Day Three

Day Four

Day Five

Day Six

Day Seven

Day Eight

Lots more photos, they'll show up in the daily log.

steve and bruce

Saturday, June 26, 2010

back home

Back home after a great trip. Great sailing as always with Bruce, great sailing with our friends Paul and Dawn.
Rented a car and retrieved the cars and trailers from Potters Marine, hauled out the boats at New Bern. Lots of gear to clean and sort out, lots of photos and notes to go through.

This photo is from day four heading from Oriental to the Swash, probably one of the most interesting days of the trip. Twelve hours and forty nautical miles. Light wind, no wind, strong wind. The Neuse River, a couple of canals, a couple of bays, narrow channels on the sound. Sailing down-wind wing and wing, up-wind close hauled. A thunderstorm with lightning that came closer that we would have liked. Very exciting. That was typical of the trip, lots of variety with wind, water and weather.

We'll start sorting through the photos tomorrow after we clean the gear and hope to be posting some daily logs in a few days.


Friday, June 25, 2010

Arrived in New Bern about 10 am. Great trip. Don't have mileage yet but it is around 200 miles. Steve

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

front page


Spartina made the front page of TownDock, the online Oriental newspaper. Glad to see it, but wished they would have mentioned the rest of the crew. steve


Doing laundry in Beaufort wearing my pajamas because everything else is in the machine. Steve

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Thursday, June 17, 2010

packing up

We spent the day picking up fresh food, packing, checking batteries and going over plans. We'll load up the jeep in a little while.

I was looking through my notes and found my first rough draft of a sailing planning dated early December. That makes it six months to get where we are - ready to head south. Below is the updated map. But the course could change during the trip.

I heard from Dawn, she and Paul are in the thick of packing. I think they are finding out a nice vacation cruise involves more gear and supplies than a kayak race. I mean how much gear can you stow in a kayak? But I do hope they will find it is a lot of fun just to get out on the water and relax. We should meet up around 9 or so at Potters Marine off of the Pamlico River.

The tracking links are down in the post below. See you later.


SPOT tracking pages

Here are two SPOT tracking pages. We should be leaving the dock around 11 a.m. Friday.

This is the tracking page for Spartina.

And this is the page for Dawn Patrol.

Bruce arrived in town late last night. We'll pick up some fresh food today, check over the gear and then pack this evening.


Tuesday, June 15, 2010

blog updates

I don't think we'll be posting much during the cruise. Maybe we'll upload a cell phone photo when we get to Oriental or Beaufort, but not much more.

Dawn will be posting both mobile updates, seen at the right of her page, and also a drop box where she can email in photos from her phone for a slideshow just below the mobile updates on her blog. I'm sure it will be fun to check out.

I'll be posting the SPOT track pages from both Spartina and Dawn Patrol here on the blog on Thursday.

This will be an interesting trip in that should we lose sight of each other, and I expect that may very well happen, we can track each other using the SPOT track page on our smart phones (when we have a good cell signal). This will allow us to go our own way at times and still have a good chance of reconnecting.

Bruce and I will do our usual routine of a daily log when we get back - a fun way for us to relive the trip.

Here's the forecast for Oriental during the first few days of the trip....

Dawn ends her post today in a way that reflects my feelings exactly.....



Monday, June 14, 2010

a broken record

I can't help but take a peak at the forecast for our trip. Below is part of the forecasat for one day - I don't take it seriously so I can't even remember which day - that shows chance of t storms again and again and again. I cant' help but laugh at that. It may as well be the forecast for the South (note the South with a capital "S") for just about every day from June through August.

Below is a photo from a day with 50% chance of thunderstorms, we were leaving Oriental on the Skeeter Beater. Looks pretty nice to me. (Sorry about using old photos here, we'll get some new ones in a few days.)

Dawn forwarded a message from their friend Ken about the trip he and a friend just completed on his Core Sound 17 (below). The trip included some of the same areas we'll be sailing - the Neuse River, Oriental, Core Sound, and Cedar Island. It sounds like they had a great time. For me that just adds to the anticipation - but I've still got a couple of days to work before we head south.

I've got a few chores done - beef, pork and chicken are cut up, bagged and in the freezer. Bottles of water are there in the freezer too. I'll start laying out the gear in the garage Wednesday.

I did email with Conway at Potters Marine, the place where we'll be launching and leaving our cars and trailers during the trip. He's giving us a break on the price and it seems to me to be a pretty good deal for the use of a nice ramp plus a secure spot to leave the cars. You can see the ramp below in the photo I borrowed from their website.

A few more errands to run, including picking up Bruce at the airport, and we'll be ready to go.


Sunday, June 13, 2010

forecast - yes, there will be weather

I got a call from Bruce tonight, he is back in San Diego after what sounds like a great photo/rafting trip. I think he'll be posting a photo or two soon.

He did ask me what the weather would be like. It is kind of hard to tell this far out but I did check the forecast. Looks like we'll be leaving under a high pressure system and then a few days later a second high pressure system will be moving in. Sounds good. Highs in the high 80's, lows around 70. Probably humid the first couple of days, drying out a little after that. But who knows?

If this forecast below holds true it would be just fine with me. Wind out of the east (what happened to the typical June winds out of the SW) at 9, some cloud cover (which is really pretty nice with a long day outside). We'll be heading SE across the Pamlico River from North Creek to the ICW.

Just a year ago we sailed west to east on the Pamlico River. The wind was out east then too, but blowing over 20 miles an hour, gusts higher. That was quite a ride. This should be a much easier sail.


Saturday, June 12, 2010

already gone (sort of)

Home-bound for much of today as we had a "cable guy" come by to do some work at the house. It was a good time for me to work on the gear for the trip. The weather is great today but I wouldn't have been sailing, the river is tied up with the annual Harbor Fest celebration (photo is from last year).

I finally mounted the compass Mom gave for my birthday (thanks Mom!) on the centerboard trunk. I've waited until now to do it because the compass has a couple of adjustment screws to compensate for nearby metal (in my case the steel place centerboard). I figured it wouldn't be accurate until the adjustments were properly made. With Bruce along we'll sail a course and I'll get him to tweak the compensation screws for me.

I replaced the spark plug on the 3.5 hp Nissan two stroke outboard. The old plug had been in just since the beginning the sailing season in March, it was still in pretty good shape. I'll save it as a spare, but I do like to start a cruise with a new plug. I also checked my supply of shear pins and cotter keys, put a couple of bottles of two stroke oil in with the engine kit and traded out the one gallon fuel can I use for daysailing with a two gallon can. We've never used much fuel on a trip but I like to have two gallons just in case I need it.

I laminated my cheat sheets and satellite photos and replaced my rite in the rain all-weather note book with one that has plenty of unused pages. We used that to take notes on speed, location or whatever throughout the day then use that information when we write in our logbooks in the evening.

I've been wondering what hat I should wear on the trip. In the past I've worn a straw hat. But with two of us and all the gear on board hats tend to get wedged in place here or there and that is tough on a straw hat. I found this long-bill cap with a sun shade on the back tucked away in my sailing gear. I had bought it years ago at a tackle shop in Ocracoke and never really used it. I think it'll be much sun hat for this trip.

Canned food (tuna salad for lunches), cups of fruit, breakfast bars and trail mix are all in good shape. Below are three of the one-gallon jars. We take a total of six jars, three in each side of thwart. We carry a fair amount of weight in food between these jars and the cooler I mentioned yesteday. But hey, it tastes good! We will have the basic survival foods on board including smoked oysters and anchovy filets wrapped around capers.

I did forget to mention yesterday, when talking about fresh food, that we do have a mesh hammock up under the foredeck where we carry the fresh veggies. Peppers, carrots, potatoes, mushrooms, garlic and shallots will be kept there.

I consider packing part of the trip. I almost feel like I have left the dock already.