Wednesday, December 31, 2014

the best, the worst, biggest and favorite of 2014

from 2014, on or near the water.....

best sail on a cruise - sailing from East Bluff Bay across Pamlico Sound to Ocracoke on a sunny day with wind out of the southwest.  Perfect!

favorite gift of a tee-shirt - a bright red NOLA Crawfish King shirt from my friend Shaggy (I suppose he has a real name but I don't know it) as he came through town for the annual Bayou Bugaloo on the Elizabeth River waterfront (I'm wearing it in the last photo of this post)

best glass of iced tea - sitting on the porch at Rob Templeton's shop on Silver Lake in Ocracoke, sipping iced tea and talking about books, boats and sailing.

best day to have a shallow draft - sliding over the shallows of Cedar Island Straits on our way from Tangier Island to the Little Annemessex, seeing the crabs look up at me from the eel grass in very, very shallow water

worst sight at a boat ramp - two huge concrete blogs, later to be adorned with a "ramp closed until further notice" sign at my favorite launching spot on the Eastern branch of the Elizabeth River

biggest storm - a vicious downpour and hours of lightning as a cool front meant hot moist air while anchored in LaTrappe Creek off the Choptank River, humid air meeting cold air, it was raining inside the boom tent

best pieces of old boats as art - rudders of old wooden boats, faded and cracked by the sun, they were beautiful as they leaned against a shed at the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum in St. Michaels

most unwelcome sound - the clanking sound of my waterproof camera, the trust Pentax Option 90-W, as it hit the outboard and fell through the well into the Pasquotank River tacking up to Elizabeth River on the final day of the spring cruise

worst day of navigation - day five of the fall sail on Chesapeake Bay where I started the day following the channel into Dogwood Harbor instead of Knapp Narrows on Tilghman Island, then finished the day thinking I was anchoring in Dividing Creek off the Wye River when the creek was a mile or so upriver.  D'oh!

most live creatures delivered in a box - 300 crawfish from Louisiana Crawfish Company for the neighborhood spring boil

best modification to Spartina - adding a tube cleat to the foredeck as a downhaul for the mainsail, something Stuart of Dabbler Sails had told me I needed but it took me a full year to believe him

favorite classic workboat - a skipjack tied up on the working waterfront at Deal Island on the first day of the fall cruise

most hidden anchorage - The Frying Pan off the Alligator River, the narrow entrance hidden by a row of cypress trees out in the water leads to a beautiful, protected anchorage back in the swamp

longest memories - the two sweet ladies at Ruke's in Ewell on Smith Island, who fixed a crab cake platter for me, both mentioning that they remembered me from a visit five years earlier

favorite dock - the one at Hospital Point on the Pasquotank River, where I started the spring cruise and also drop in on day sails to visit on the patio with my friend Millie

best post hurricane meal - steamed crab legs, scallops, shrimp and crawfish shared with a colleague at Pop's Raw Bar in Buxton after Hurricane Arthur passed over Pamlico Sound, pushing sound waters up on Hatteras Island

favorite fish caught at five knots - the small striper caught near the mouth of the Choptank River while surfing downwind on a blustery day, the water rushing by putting up more of a fight than the fish

saddest news on the waterfront - the Schooner Virginia being put up for sale

best anchorage - I could never find the name of the creek off of Leadenham Creek so I called it Paradise, a beautiful protected spot where I read, swam and napped on day eight of the fall cruise

best unexpected gift from a stranger - two bottles of Pellegrino sparkling water from a woman who stopped to take a look at Spartina in the basin at Cambridge where I had stopped for lunch on a hot day

best crab cake - Ruke's on Smith Island, they just don't get any better 

best photographs of Spartina shot from a Herreshoff-designed boat - photographs shot by Roger from his Herreshoff ketch Gwylan during the Downrigging Festival in Chestertown

best time spent with a friend I had never met - a brisk walk through St. Michaels and then lunch on South Talbot Street with Kristen, after years of online discussions about equipment and adventures on the water we finally meet

most peaceful morning sail - leaving Newbegun Creek off the Pasquotank River on the final day of the spring sail, puffs of fog hanging off the point

stiffest wind and chop - trying to leave Edge Creek only to be hit by wind and waves rolling up the Choptank River and Broad Creek

best nap - after I decided not to sail into the wind and chop coming up from the Choptank River and Broad Creek, anchoring in Edge Creek for a breakfast of scrambled eggs and then a deep, deep sleep

favorite chef to have on board - Dave, also known as Baydog, right, and his brother Huck at the Downrigging Festival

most treasured gift from an artist - a hardback copy of Maverick Sea Fare from artist/writer Dee Carstarphen, one of a handful of first edition copies that she has held on to for decades 

best dinner - with my daughters at Bertha's in the Fells Point area of Baltimore, followed by an O's game and Charm City doesn't get any better than that

best rule broken - Webb Chiles' rule that he will only sail with certain people.  Webb waved the rule and took me out on GANNET for a sail, something I could never have imagined when I first read his books in the 1980s.

the thing that worries me the most - my penchant for shooting self-portraits in men's rooms while cruising

best day of December sailing - December 1 on the Pasquotank River, just a wonderful day to be on the water

Wow.  Did all that really happen in one year?

Have a Happy New Years!!!


Tuesday, December 30, 2014

used, misused, well used

"Old man stands in companionway of small sloop.  One very weathered hand holds lightly onto a halyard stopper.  The other a jib winch.  A big grin is on the old man’s face as he watches a small sloop rush though the ocean, little more than an arm’s length away.  And because he is precisely where he is."
"Use yourself up, old man.  Use yourself up."

The quote above is from the most recent article by Webb Chiles in Cruising World.  Webb mentions in his journal that he nearly deleted the paragraph before sending it to the editors.  The editors kept the paragraph, and used the final line as the title.  I'm glad both writer and editor left it in place.  I believe Webb will use up every bit of his life in a most interesting way.  

Just as Webb talks about using his life, he also talks in a recent journal entry about how he uses, or misuses, his Moore 24 GANNET.  The entry is called Report to Moores and is a report to Moore 24 owners and sailors about his experiences with Hull number 40.  Simply put, Webb uses the boat differently than most people would.  While the boat is meant to be a sprinter, he is using it for a marathon - a marathon run around the world.  Designed as an ultralight displacement boat for racing, Webb lives aboard and uses it to cross oceans.  And though the boat is built for speed, Webb sometimes tries to slow it down - sometimes for safety, sometimes for comfort.    

I am glad for these writings, they are pleasant reads on cold dark evenings about a unconventional life on a boat used in an unconventional way, convention being something that would never define this sailor.  

Webb is currently in the great Midwest, a long way from GANNET, which is in Opua, New Zealand.  When I think of Webb I think of his anticipation of the next part of the journey, and I'm reminded of one of Webb's books that I read decades ago.  The title seems as appropriate now as it did then.  That book is The Ocean Waits.  And I think the ocean is waiting. 

Sunday, December 28, 2014

notes to myself

From forward end of centerboard trunk to.....

compass, forward screws:  21 1/8 inches

mainsheet block, forward screws: 29 3/16 inches

mainsheet cam cleat:  46 3/8 inches inches

deck cleats: 2 3/16 inches from cb and 4 13/16 from aft edge of thwart

inboard fairlead (bivy purchase):  1 5/16 inches

outboard fairlead (bivy purchase):  3 3/8 inches

Screw holes for hardware that have a lot of stress
such as the mainsheet block have been drilled out and
hardwood dowells epoxied in place.  Bare wood, exposed
by sanding, wear and tear have been coated with clear
epoxy and filled with thickened epoxy.  

Hoping for warmweather on New Year's Day and/or 
the first weekend of January to get a little more work done.

Saturday, December 27, 2014

the weight

Work continues under blue skies and a warm south wind today.  More hardware removal, sanding and chipping going on.  I also pulled out the four 15 lb. dumbbells from beneath the bunk flat.  When building Spartina I found that dumbbells were both the cheapest way to purchase ballast and also the easiest form to fasten in place.  With a cleat and a piece of line they are held securely on either side of the centerboard trunk.  Salt water gets down in there now and then and they were starting to rust.  I pulled them out for a good coating of rustoleum, something I should have done in the first place.

Spartina has 60 lbs of lead in the dumbbells, plus 100 lbs in the steel plate centerboard.  I have both heard and read that this is too much weight.  Possibly it is just for day sailing in comfortable weather, but on a cruise when a broader range of wind and weather is the case, I'm happy to have the additional stability.  

Chance of rain tomorrow in the afternoon, but it is of no concern as I can work in the garage (though I do prefer working outside on sunny days like today).  Temperature is the main concern for tomorrow's epoxy work.  It should be in the mid-50's from mid-morning on.  Perfect!

Thursday, December 25, 2014

it worked...

Simple enough.  Pleasure House Point oysters from Uncle
Chuck, horse radish sauce made with equal parts sour cream and
horse radish, and Romanoff caviar.  Served with salmon right off
the smoker, sun-dried tomato and basil pasta salad and asiago
bread.  A nice little meal, followed by an apple crostata 
from Liz.  Not exactly traditional, there were no complaints.

a first attempt

My version of Oysters Romanoff, inspired by an
on Chincoteague Island.  I'll probably use smaller
portions of horse radish sauce and caviar
when I serve with smoked salmon tonight.

Christmas delight, delayed

The sun, after a monsoon-like Christmas Eve and a blustery dark Christmas morning, has just reappeared.  Looking out the window I see only blue skies and am very glad for them.  We celebrated Christmas after a three-mile walk with the oldest daughter while the youngest, still recovering from college life, slept.  

Later in the morning I worked out in the garage removing the deck plates, some bronze fittings and the winch from Spartina's deck.  The deck plates came out easier once I realized leaving the top screwed into the ring made them stronger and as such easier to pry off the deck once loosened by a chisel.  I am ahead of schedule on this project and hope to get more work - mostly sanding and shaping - done this weekend.  Maybe even a little epoxy work if it is warm enough.

Santa, by which I mean my daughters, has figured out the perfect gifts for me: snack food for sailing.  Under the tree this morning for me were packages of crunchy black edamame, almond keenwah clusters (I had the ginger keenwah with me on the fall trip and they were perfect for afternoon snacks), trail mix with raisins, cranberries, peanuts pineapple, papaya, almonds and cashews, Ginger Xtreme candy and sun-dried organic figs.  I would love to enjoy them now, but all will be tucked away with the cruising gear front the spring trip.  Thanks, girls!

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Christmas eve

"Evening came, and we went ashore for our usual plate of fried oysters.  The boys are out with tin pans and horns making the noise of a southern Christmas.  H. and I both a bit homesick and lonesy.  It is my first Xmas away from home in twenty-four years.  I am sure a devil of a way off.  We have each bought things for the other's stocking and will live up to traditions if we sink her.  Beautiful night and just our chance to be away with light northerly.  In two days when we are ready wind will probably haul to southard again.  Don't it beat all?"

Written from the catboat "Mascot" beached for repairs near Southport, NC on December 14, 1912, as told in The Boy, Me and The Cat by Henry H. Plummer

Monday, December 22, 2014

cold and grey, thoughts of a better day

I've been experimenting with the GoPro Studio, GoPro's free editing tool.  My interest is mostly in using Studio to remove the fish-eye appearance of GoPro images, the result of the extremely wide angle lens on the camera.  I've read that those curved edges can be removed.  I can see how to do it for videos, but have yet to make it work for a still image.  While finding my way around the GoPro Studio, I put a series of still images into video form using GoPro Studio.

It is cold, grey and rainy outside.  The video, which is made up of time lapse images shot at two second intervals, was from my December sail in Elizabeth City.  I suspect I'm the only person who will want to see a time lapse of me sailing Spartina.  But for me, it brightens a dreary day.

NOTE:  I've just looked at the video through the blog and it is very, very low quality - best looked at it the small player window.  Expanded to full screen it is unwatchable.  I will leave it up for a while to see if the processors will be improving the video as time goes on, something I have experienced with youtube uploads.  The poor quality when viewed at full screen is caused by the blog machinations, the original video is crystal clear and finely detailed.

Sunday, December 21, 2014

the greying of me

The shortest day of the year had sunshine long enough for me to roll Spartina out of the garage and begin the off season maintenance.  The main effort will be repainting the interior and replacing the five large deck plates.

Sanding has never been a favorite task, but working out in the sunshine was nice.  It felt good and reminded me of how much I enjoyed building Spartina.  I used both a palm sander and a new random orbit sander to rough up or remove the old steel grey paint.  I had touched up the cockpit a few times over the years, but it looked like it had been touched up and really needed to be completely repainted.  I pulled off a lot, but not all of the hardware.  Some of the larger stainless steel screw, #14's I think, I don't want to mess with.  With the smaller screws I'll drill out the holes and epoxy in hardwood dowels so that the screw, when replaced, will go into solid wood.  The epoxy work and painting will have to wait for March.

I did take off one deck plate, which was more work than I expected.  You can see the missing plate on the right in the image below.  I did not use high tech sealant, like 3M's 5200, and I am glad for that.  It was difficult enough to remove the plate using just basic bathroom sealant.  Four more plates to go, which I expect will happen Christmas Day after gifts and before dinner. 

Taking the boat apart always makes me nervous.  When will I get it back together again?  No later that April 1, I hope.