Tuesday, February 28, 2012


Visitors say "chink-oh-teeg", emphasis on the first syllable.  Locals say "shing-kuh-teeg", emphasis on the last syllable.  It is easy to know who lives on or near the island, and who doesn't.

 I had to run up there for work today, a nice sunny still-kind-of-chilly day with wind out of the north.

I drove around the island looking at it in a different way.  This will be on the list of possible stopping places for our Fall sail over the top of the Delmarva Peninsula.  I checked out out the channel along the waterfront, anchorages, boat ramps and docks.

The other possible stopping places are Cape May, New Jersey; Lewes, Delaware; and Ocean City, Maryland.

We would like to reach Chincoteague, but that will depend on wind, weather and tides.  I think we have nine days scheduled for sailing, that should be enough to reach the island if weather cooperates.

One more time - "Shin-kuh-teeg".  It was a nice place to spend the day.  It would be a nice place to finish the Fall sail.


Sunday, February 26, 2012

the foredeck, first day sails

I'm very happy to see the foredeck hardware back in place with a fresh coat of topside paint and the new mast slot collar in place.  I've just got one coat of varnish on the slot cover and coamings.  I'll look for the warm days and get in a couple of coats each week with some light sanding in between.  Looks pretty good, doesn't it?

The first day of sailing is not too far away.  Maybe next weekend, more likely the weekend after that.  Thinking about first sails today I looked by through the log to remember the first day's sail from the past few years.

From the log, Sunday, March 13, 2011

"Spring arrived, unofficially, in the mid-Atlantic about 12:30 this afternoon when a warm gust of wind out of the west seemed to blow away the clouds and Spartina sailed comfortably downwind under a single reefed main.  Blue skies and warm sunshine, plenty of wind.  It was great."

Friday, March 19, 2010

"Wow, what a day on the water. Today was the perfect way to start the sailing season. Not a cloud in the sky, wind anywhere for 5 to 12 mph and 70 degrees. The photo above is from when the wind kicked up a bit, I was heeled over with the rail in the water. Just a great ride."

Saturday, March 7, 2009

"The first week in March and I'm out on the river.  I made it out last year the second week of March, but it was cold and grey.  Back then I had three shirts on plus my foul weather gear to stay warm.  Today it was 70 degrees and blue skies.  It felt great!" 

I'll get a few more coats of varnish on Spartina this week, start moving all the gear back on the boat.  As I put all of that "stuff" back on the boat - under the thwarts, under the bunk flats and beneath the foredeck - I will check and double check to make sure I am putting only what I need to be safe and comfortable on board.  Extra gear seems to find a home somewhere on Spartina.  Since the boat is empty now I'll make a point of leaving that extra gear at home.

Spring is certainly on the way.  I'm hearing from a lot of friends about their sailing plans for the year.  The Watertribe crowd is working around the clock. And across the Atlantic another Navigator is being readied for the season.  Check out this post from my friend Steve's Navigator blog.


Friday, February 24, 2012

600 miles east of Brazil

There is a sailor who needs help.  His name is Mark Rutherford and he is in a boat 600 miles off the coast of Brazil.  He should be on the final leg of his sail around the Americas but because of equipment failures he is in need of a resupply.

I do not know Matt, but I admire his sense of adventure.  His goal is a solo sail around the Americas, using the journey as a fund raiser for CRAB, a group that provides sailing opportunities on Chesapeake Bay for disabled people.   He is 20,000 miles into a 25,000 mile journey.  The arctic waters of Northwest Passage, the southern ocean, Cape Horn, single-handed in a 27 foot sailboat that is almost 40 years old.  You can read about the trip here in a Washington Post article.  The graphic above is a screen shot from the Post article.  

I first became aware of Matt when Webb Chiles wrote about the voyage in his journal last Fall.  Last night I received an email from my friend Fernando in Brazil telling me about the planned resupply mission out of Recife.

I will make a small donation, that is about the best I can do.  Should anyone else be interested, here is a link.


Thursday, February 23, 2012

sailing to the south

It is forecast to be 75 degrees here by noon tomorrow.  Possibly raining, a little muggy, but very warm.  I'll take it.  I wish I could say I'll be sailing, but instead I'll be putting hardware in place and varnishing the coaming of Spartina.  

There is small boat sailing going on not too far south of here.  Above is a screen shot from Towndock.net out of Oriental, one of my favorite online publications.  The county youth sailing team was out practicing for a regatta on a beautiful day.  Sailing down in Oriental now gives me hope that I can be sailing in just a week or two.

As my sailing season approaches, so does the start of the Watertribe Everglades Challenge and Ultimate Florida Challenge.  I look forward to following my friends in those adventures.  The race begins in just nine days.  Good luck Dawn, Alan and Kristen.


Wednesday, February 22, 2012

5.91 nm, 3.3 kt moving avg

I test drove (walked??) the new Garmin GPSmap 62s, a respectable 5.91 nautical miles at 3.3 knots.  No, it did not take me an hour and 46 minutes to go that far - that "moving time" includes some of the gps configuring that I'll mention below.  The track was set to record a point every three minutes during my morning walk (which explains why I appear to be hopping fences and cutting through backyards here and here).  I can tell from the straight lines down the streets that this gps is much more accurate than my old gps.

I had used the three minute marks on my old Etrex, filling up the storage with about a week's worth of sailing.  This new gps has quite a bit more storage, I may adjust the tracking to two minutes or maybe even every minute.  I will have to experiment with that.

I spent nearly an hour the other day going through all of the available setting on the gps.  There are five different pages of information - maps, compasses, trip computer, etc - and each of those pages can be customized with different formats and multiple choices of information viewable in the data fields.  There were so many choices that I found it simplest to break out the old Etrex to see what I used for information there and create a similar setup on the new device.

I also completed my waypoints from the Spring walkabout from Onancock Creek at the bottom to Fishing Creek, the channel out of the north end of the Honga River, at the top.  I marked all the islands and points both inside and outside of Tangier Sound, all of which I had marked on my old device but with the Homeport software these waypoints are more precise.

Below you can see a little channel I hope to explore at the south end of South Marsh Island with the new waypoints imported into google earth.  It seems like the cut through the marshes between Pry Cove and Sheepshead Harbor would be easy enough to find, but my experience is that those opening in the marsh "disappear" when viewed from water level.  This should get me close enough to find my way.

While creating the waypoints I began to think about the trip, where I would like to go and what I would hope to do.  I know that I will launch in Crisfield.  I would like to head north on Tangier Sound, enter the Honga River and visit the fishing village at Rippons Harbor.  What is there?  I don't really know, but it will be fun finding out.  From there I would like to go south outside of Tangier Sound, sailing the backside (western side) of the islands, including the smaller island I have never visited such as Adam, Holland and Spring Islands.  And of course visiting the villages on Tangier and Smith Islands would be nice.

Above is just a thought.  I'll adjust when I see what the wind is like.  The trip is still a couple of months away.  Plenty of time to think and dream about it.


Tuesday, February 21, 2012

"I would, but I need the eggs"

I was surprised today by a gift of eggs, fresh from the coop.  They were still warm when put in my hands.  I've never had fresh organic eggs before.  Guess what is on the menu for tonight.

Looking at the eggs I was reminded of Woody Allen's take on relationships.  From Annie Hall....

"this, this guy goes to a psychiatrist and says, 'Doc, uh, my brother's crazy, he thinks he's a chicken,' and uh, the doctor says, 'well why don't you turn him in?' And the guy says, 'I would, but I need the eggs.' Well, I guess that's pretty much now how I feel about relationships. You know, they're totally irrational and crazy and absurd and, but uh, I guess we keep going through it...because...most of us need the eggs."


Sunday, February 19, 2012

pants, pictures and power

I received my new pair of Northface Paramount Peak Convertible Pants in the mail the other day.  The "convertible" in the name means that the legs can be unzipped from the pants at the knees so that they become shorts.  I almost never take the legs off of the pants, I prefer to have the protection from the sun.  But it is nice to have that option.  They are made out of a mid-weight nylon fabric which is strong, comfortable and quick to dry.  Lots of pockets on these pants, plenty of places to tuck away tools, pocket knives or cameras.  These are the perfect pants, in my opinion, for being around small boats.  

This was a  warranty replacement for my old pair, which you can see me wearing in the photo above anchored at Tangier Island's Cod Harbor.  The back pocket stitching, after four years of use, had come undone and I was told that Northface would restitch them for me.  Instead, they sent me a brand new pair of pants.  I still can't get over the fact that they would guarantee an old, well-worn pair of pants.  Wow.  With that in mind, I bought a second pair of the pants today with a birthday gift from my mother (thanks, Mom!).  I don't expect I'll need another pair of sailing pants for a long time to come.

I have decided not to buy a new camera for the coming year.  I've been less than thrilled with the performance of my Pentax Optio W90 waterproof point and shoot camera.  I've been disappointed with the battery life, low light shooting, focus and video.  But even as I say that I look back through the photographs from this past year - that is one from the Wet and Windless sail above - I find quite a few photographs that I like.  Some maybe the camera is not all that great.  But maybe it is not all that bad.

I've researched other cameras for the past several weeks only to find that each and every waterproof camera out there has one problem or another.  It's either battery life or focus, reliability or color shift, a tendency to leak or a tendency to just not work.  Pick your poison, no camera is perfect.  I'll stick with the Optio W 90 for this year, maybe buy a few extra batteries to get me through cruises.  And hope for a better camera to emerge next year.

I was checking my friend Alan's blog today to see how the build of Mosquito, the trimaran that Alan designed and is building with parents Paul and Dawn for the Ultimate Florida Challenge, was coming along.  Alan and Dawn have only a couple of weeks to get that boat ready.  I can't wait to follow along on the challenge.

The most recent post was about about Mosquito getting some sponsorship from Murrays.com, a water sports supplier that seems to specialize in equipment for catamarans, sailboards and surfboards.   Murrays is helping out the Mosquito build with some lines, hardware and other gear.  Good for Mosquito, good for Murrays.  What caught my eye was that Alan mentioned they sell a wide variety of items including solar chargers.  

I have been interested in solar power for a couple of years now.  In the next year or two I hope to do some longer cruises - maybe two or three weeks - and recharging batteries would be an issue.  I've read about solar panels designed for camping, I've looked at them at REI and I've read the reviews that indicate it is still a developing technology.   Murrays offers the (not exactly cheap) Powerfilm Solar Rollable Chargers.  These may be worth looking at.  The technology is coming along.  It is just a matter of time before compact solar power is reliable.  Thanks, Alan, for the tip.



Saturday, February 18, 2012

the bucket list

No, not that kind bucket list.  I have never believed in those.

I'm talking about a list of items I'll need to make my new anchor bucket for Spartina.  For over 20 I have used the same bucket - you can see it at the left in the photos above and below - to hold the ten pound navy style anchor, chain and line.  It worked very well until we went with a longer anchor line a few years ago.  Now the anchor sits too high in the bucket and sometimes the bucket will tip over when the boat heels too much.  My solution is the new square bucket, at right below, bought off the internet for under $10.00 with free shipping.

This new bucket, with a footprint not much larger than the old bucket, will work very well.  It is tall and will comfortably hold the anchor, chain and line, plus the mushroom anchor too.  I'll use some of those big industrial cable ties, some bits of line and some bronze hooks so that I can secure it, both top and bottom, to the foot of the mast so that it can't slide around or tip over.  (My thanks to Doryman for pointing out to me the the potential safety problems heavy items that are not properly secured on a boat.)

Speaking of new gear, my Garmin GPSMap 62s arrived on the front porch the other day.  I went with the whole package (though the items were bought individually from a few different places to save money) of the gps, the Garmin bluechart g2 for North America and the Garmin Homeport software for my MacBook.  I kind of cringed at spending the money (though I saved quite a bit off retail), but I lump navigation gear in with safety gear.  It was money well spent.  (I really love that nice carabiner attachment on the gps - I wish the folks at SPOT would take a hint.)

The nice thing about all of this is I can access the detailed nautical charts on my laptop, creating precise waypoints and - after a sail - enjoy a very detailed, accurate track..  Above you can see I have already created some of the waypoints for this spring's walkabout on Tangier Sound.

Another plus of upgrading the gps is that we'll have access to current predictors, a feature needed for the fall trip over the top of the Delmarva peninsula.  Those little pink "c"s in the screen shot below are sites that have current information, both real time and predicted, available.  Tides and currents will be a factor to deal with on the Chesapeake and Delaware Canal, plus inlets on Delaware Bay and down the Atlantic coast of the eastern shore.

As far as that old Etrex, which is less than two years old, it is showing signs of moisture inside the screen.  I called Garmin to learn, of course, that it is no longer under warranty.  I was also told that they don't even service that model anymore.  This not-so-old gps still works though and will live inside a dry bag on Spartina as a backup.

I spent yesterday and today sanding down and painting the cockpit and foredeck around the mast hole of Spartina.  While sanding earlier today I noticed that my gloves had the curly script of my youngest daughter, a remnant of when she borrowed the gloves to build scenery for a high school play.  I also noticed the Makita sander I was using was a gift from my Dad back in the 1980's on our first boat building project together.  I smiled and thought about, wondered about and enjoyed how things are passed from one generation to the next.

After the painting I pulled Spartina out into the street where she is exposed to the warmth of the sun.  The grey and white paint feels dry to the touch already.  Next weekend I will put the foredeck hardware back in place and begin applying the coats of varnish.

It was good to see Spartina out in the sunshine again.  Now I just need to get her back on the water.


Friday, February 17, 2012

Zion Vista

We hiked a rim trail to get to this overlook. The trail was right on the edge! I changed my shorts when we got back down.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

a sail never made

High Street Landing in Portsmouth, a hot summer day.  I had stopped to get a sandwich and a cold glass of tea.  Tied up nearby was the schooner Spirit of Independence, waiting to take on guests for a sail that day.  I had enjoyed seeing the schooner out on the Elizabeth River for a few years, traded tacks with her on breezy days, exchanged compliments with the captain now and then as I crossed behind her stern.    

That day at High Street Landing a man came over and introduced himself.  It was J.C. Waters, the captain, builder and owner of the Spirit of Independence.  Like most people I know out on the river, I had known him only by a smile and friendly wave across the water.  I was glad to finally meet him in person.  We talked about how much we admired each other's boat, how much we enjoyed being out on the river.  I was surprised that a man who sails such a big schooner, one that he had built with his own hands, could take delight in my little boat.

We exchanged phone numbers that day, even made plans to get together for a sail.  I could pick him up one morning at the docks in Portsmouth for a sail on Spartina.  That afternoon we would leave Spartina at the docks and go for a sail on the Spirit of Independence.  I was excited about a sail on the schooner.  J.C. told me he had been wanting to sail on Spartina for some time.  Yes, let's get together and do it.

J.C. Waters died Tuesday in a plane crash in Missouri.  I met him in person just that once - the day we made plans to sail.

I know he was a popular man on the Portsmouth waterfront and he will be missed.  I will miss him too.    I will think of J.C. when I'm out on the Elizabeth on a sunny summer afternoon, and wish we had made the time to get together for sailing our boats, both big and small.  And I will remember the smile I had seen when he was at the wheel of his ship, the Spirit of Independence heeling in the breeze and heading downriver.


Monday, February 13, 2012

the light at the end of the tunnel

On my morning walk I thought I saw a goldfinch, the first I have seen this year.  A hint of the coming spring.  Trees are starting to bud out.  I can see the light at the end of the tunnel called winter.

Which means I need to get to work on Spartina.  I did a light sanding on the bunk flat, cockpit sole and seats this morning.  They should be ready for painting this weekend when the temperature is forecast to be in the 50's.  If weather cooperates I could be sailing in four weeks.

Another sign of the coming sailing season is the fast approaching Everglades Challenge and Ultimate Florida Challenge.  I'm glad to see that both Dawn and Kristen are posting about their preparations for the events.  I have followed the two of them on their adventures for years now.

That is Dawn, above, working on a 33' carbon fiber (how high tech can you get??) mast for the Mosquito, a trimaran that she and her son Alan will use for most of the Ultimate Florida Challenge.  Alan designed Mosquito and I suspect it will be a very competitive boat.  The build sounds like it will be in progress right up until they are at the starting line - par for the course with this family.

And below is Kristen's kayak that is getting some alterations for a new sail, work being done courtesy of Dawn's husband Paul and son Alan (it is always nice to see the EC crowd helping each other out.
(Is that Sponge Bob in the photo?  I didn't know he was involved with the race...)

So I will get to work on Spartina, and enjoy watching the EC'ers working on their boats.  Spring....it is not too far away.


Thursday, February 9, 2012

La Jolla Cove

A great spot on the coast. Beautiful diving and a great place to hang out. This concludes our tour of 1970's dive spots.

The Children's Pool

Currently the site of a battle between seal lovers and beach goers, but a great diving spot back in the day.


We made the sunset on the cliffs just south of Casa Cove.

Hospital Point

I saw my first blue shark here, a whopper almost 12 inches in length.

Marine Street

Bruce tells me he caught his first lobster here 30-some years ago.

Wind n Sea

Bruce at work with his pano app.

Bird Rock, La Jolla

We did a lot of diving here in the 70's.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

it never rains in southern California

It does rain in southern California, and it did yesterday.  But that is fine, I had an all day indoor task to take care of so I did not miss out on anything.  Below is a cell phone photo from this morning's walk looking west toward the full moon setting over Point Loma.  It was a beautiful sight and I was not the only one to recognize it - I passed by both a guest and a worker at the waterfront hotels taking the same photograph with their cell phones.  

By the time I reached the southwest end of Shelter Island the moon had disappeared beneath the horizon.

Bruce and I made our trek Monday to West Marine, reportedly the second largest West Marine store in the country, and REI, where they did not have the convertible pants I was hoping to buy.  

We also broke out the charts for some planning.  It appears we will spend at least a couple of hours motoring against the current in the C and D Canal this Fall.  There is no way around it.  The current predictions show a flood tide at 2.1 knots.  Spartina under power moves comfortably at 4.5 knots, giving us hope that we can move at a speed over ground of a little over 2 knots.  We will cling to the shore where we hope the current will be not as strong.  

Two-thirds the way down the canal, heading east, the tide will slack and then the current will turn in our direction.  The last couple of miles should be easy.  And as we leave the canal the ebb tide will start carrying us down Delaware Bay.

At least that is the way we see it now.


Monday, February 6, 2012

another beautiful day

I have forgotten the name of this cove on Mission Bay just inside of South Mission Beach.  I sailed here when I was a teenager, walked along the shores on my lunch breaks from the dive shop a few blocks away.

I should see Bruce later today for a planning session and maybe a visit to REI.


Saturday, February 4, 2012

the little what????

So Bruce picks me up at the airport, we grab a burger and a beer while talking about sailing plans.  Then I go visit Mom for a while before driving to San Diego Bay for a walk on a very nice afternoon.  Driving down I-5 past Mission Bay I catch sight of an interesting looking hull at the boat ramp.  It had to be a Welsford.

I pull off the highway, drive to the ramp and meet Kevin Beddoe and his sailing buddy David Peachey.  And it was a Welsford, a Navigator in fact.  There is something about John's designs - you can spot those beautiful hulls a mile away.  Kevin's Navigator, launched a couple of years ago, is called Pedito.  That translates to, uh, well, I'll let you look it up here.  I knew the "ito" on the end meant "little", I just didn't know the rest of it.  You learn something new everyday.

By the time I caught up Kevin and David they were wrapping up a nice day of sailing on Mission Bay, all the way across the bay and, if I understood correctly, out past the jetties into the Pacific Ocean.  Pretty cool.  It was a beautiful day and must have been a great sail.  I took the photo at the top of the post while talking with the guys.  The rigging was down by then, so Kevin sent these other photos from past sails to show what she really looks like.

We talked for about twenty minutes.  They told a few sailing stories, I told them a few too.  It was fun.  Kevin said he envied my sailing territory of Chesapeake Bay and the Sounds of North Carolina.  I told him I envied his sailing on winter days with 70-plus degree temperatures and a nice breeze.

We swapped phone numbers and emails.  Maybe we can connect someday and I can finally sail on a Navigator.

Kevin and David, it was nice to meet you guys.  I hope to catch up with you and Pedito on the next trip.