Friday, November 30, 2012

off season work, new sails

On a beautiful day for sailing Spartina looked a bit forlorn sitting in the driveway with no masts, sails or lines.  With a three day weekend that will probably be the nicest (warmest) weather that we will see for a while I decided to start the winter maintenace.

The masts are on the front porch as are the dock and anchor lines.  The booms, gaff, sails, and other gear are up in one of my daughter's rooms (wonder what she'll have to say about that when she comes home from school).

I unscrewed the bronze half oval from the mahogany rub rails.  The silicone bronze screws and four lengths of half oval are now soaking in a ketchup bath where they will remain until Sunday, a nice trick that I picked up along the way to clean bronze with little or no effort.

With 60 grit sandpaper I started sanding down the rub rail.  Overly ambitious, I expected to do the sanding today, clear epoxy tomorrow and then the first coat of varnish on Sunday.  Now I'll be happy to just get the sanding done by the end of the weekend.

I did spend a good part of the morning taking sail measurements and going over the Pathfinder's sail plan as I put together an order for a new set of sails from Dabbler Sails.  The loft, a one-man operation just south of the Potomac River in tidewater Virginia, specializes in traditional small craft sails.  I have seen some of his work and it is all first class.  Above you see a Dabbler sail on one of Barry's Melonseed Skiffs, which I have only seen in photographs ( I need to fix that next year).

And here is a screen shot showing tanbark Dabbler sails on my friend Tom's Pathfinder - again I've only seen photos of Tom's boat but don't the sails look great.

My only chance to see the workmanship first hand was a few years ago when we met up with Kevin on the Navigator Slip jig at Dividing Creek in Maryland.  You can see Slip Jig's beautiful cream sails above.

I remember thinking back then that I would love to have a set of sail's like that.  Well, it's time.  Spartina's current sails, made by a loft in main, have seen seven seasons on the water.  I'm happy to say that those sails have carried us a lot of miles in some pretty windy conditions.  Last summer I had a schooner captain out sailing with me on Spartina and I asked him what he thought of the condition of our sails.  "They look a bit tired" he said.  There is some stretching in some of the panels and a tear in the jib.  The tear cold be repaired, but replacing the stretched panels is, I'm told, is too expensive - I might as well get a new set.

Dabbler sails does a steady business.  I'm told by Stuart, the sole proprietor and sailmaker, that he is booked solid with work through February.  But an early spring delivery for Spartina is possible.

Something to look forward to over the winter.


Tuesday, November 27, 2012

fade to black (and white)

I was asked by Buck converting some of my Ocracoke photographs from color to black and white using photoshop.  Typically that is how I would have done it, but these days I'm working more and more from an IPad and using an app called Filterstorm Pro

This is a nice app, selling for about $15, that has a lot of ability to tone, edit and crop images.  Below are a series of Ipad screen shots showing how the Ocracoke photographs were done.

Above is the image imported from my point and shoot camera...

then cropped in the canvas view....

the black and white filter, with the ability of adjust for red, green and blue tones....

the brightness/contrast filter.....

Adding a border....

the completed image viewed in Filterstorm.....

and exported by email.

I don't do a lot of black and white conversions, but it felt like a black and white kind of day with the fog and boats on the harbor.  The app works well with more basic toning - i.e. brightness, color balance and contrast.  And it has the ability to dodge, burn or do just about anything else you might want to do with a photograph.  At $15 it is a good deal.  I just check the current price of Photoshop.  It's about $500.  And I find it a lot easier to carry around the IPad instead of a laptop.

Now I just wish the Blogger app was a little better for posting images....


Saturday, November 24, 2012


Much to my relief I had it all backwards. The ferry loaded backwards and we are one forward from the stern. This should save a trip to the car wash for the wife's two week old CRV.

You will see the reflections of the Cedar Island ferry and myself in the window of our boat as we pass in the channel leaving the island.



No fog this morning, skies are crystal clear. It is very wind. If I am reading the wind view of WeatherMap+ app correctly we are right on the edge of the 20 mph NNW wind. Over Pamlico Sound ii is blowing 15 mph or more. The ferry will carry us directly into that wind. Things could get a little rough and a little wet.

The WeatherMap+ is a wonderful app which I read about on Webb Chiles' journal ( ). Webb describes it as "by far the most visually stunning and useful weather app" he has seen. I agree with him. I just wish it wasn't so accurate with the wind today.

Despite the difficulties getting to and then leaving Ocracoke Island, it has been a great visit. I'm hoping my next arrival on the island will be aboard Spartina.

Below you will photographs from the ferry and park service docks today, and a World War ll era photograph.

We just loaded onto the ferry, starboard side one car back from the bow. It will get a little wet.


Friday, November 23, 2012


We are in a fog bank this morning. The waterfront is scenic, but not enjoyable for the passengers of the three ferry runs to the mainland that have been canceled because the the whiteness on the sound. I do not know how the delays and cancellations will affect our ferry run tomorrow morning.

I am disappointed in the blogger app for the iPad. I cannot find a way to organize the order of the photographs, they seem to appear in a random order. And the app decreases the image resolution. The photographs are a little better than what appears here. I may change them out once I get home to a laptop. This will have to do for now.


Thursday, November 22, 2012

two walks and a bike ride

It's time to start cooking.....

thanksgiving morning

Cool and windy, a dingy yellow light peeked through the overcast at dawn. The north wind is pushing the sound waters to the south, raising the tide in Silver Lake. Sloops anchored sail back and forth on their anchors.

We hear that the rest of the family is on the ferry in Swan Quarter, heading this way soon. Cooking and carving is hours away.

The weather should be clearing tomorrow, but this weather is fine by me.


Wednesday, November 21, 2012


the ferry

I can see Great Island, a low marshy island where I was nearly eaten by mosquitos, and it does not look so great from the upper deck. Pamlico Point is to the southwest across the mouth of the river. There is nothing ahead of us save for the greenish brown water of Pamlico Sound.


Swan Quarter Bay

We left the docks on the ferry "Silver Lake" just a few minutes after 1 p.m. Steaming down the bay I could recognize places where we have sailed, in particular a cut through the marsh that connects Swan Quarter Bay with the waters to the west. Bruce and I crossed through on the Skeeter Beater, then I did it solo on a later trip. I was surprised at how narrow the cut looked, remembering that both times through we were sailing into the wind.


27 miles to Ocracoke

I'm trying out the Blogger iPad app as we wait at the Swan Quarter ferry docks for the 1 p.m. boat to Ocracoke. Cool, grey and breezy here.