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

Sunday, November 27, 2016

the future's so bright

The future's so bright
I gotta wear shades

I will never forget Capt Steven Briggs of the tugantine Norfolk Rebel singing those Timbuk3 lines out across the water as I sailed past with Barry on board wearing his bright (and bright is an understatement) orange Helly Hansen foul weather gear.  They are a brilliant (or vivid, bold, strong - just pick your favorite synonym) orange as if they had been plugged in and charging all night long.  

I saw Barry this past fall at the Mid-Atlantic Small Craft Festival wearing, of course, his bright orange jacket (Barry getting a really really good deal on both pants and jacket).  I reminded him of the captain's comment, Barry smiled and said "Hey, I wanna be found."  

Well I wanna be found too, particularly if somebody like the Coast Guard is looking for me, so I ordered a pair of Helly Hansen Newport Bib pants today from Annapolis Performance Sailing today.  A good deal - 20% off and free shipping (still not as good as Barry's deal but I'll take it).  The jacket will have to wait, but they are on the list for someday.

Friday, November 25, 2016


I just found this photograph on my phone, one which I had posted a couple of years ago but had completely forgotten about.  It took me a while to remember a fishing trip just off the beach, a summer rainstorm and coming home with nothing more than a photograph I like.

Thursday, November 24, 2016

still digesting, and I haven't even eaten yet

I'm still trying to digest the fall sail.  Busy with work and fall day sailing, I did not have time to work on the daily logs until weeks after the trip (though the first draft of the logs were written each evening on the cruise).  I think the time between the sail and posting allowed me to better appreciate what a really different type of journey it was for me.

Certainly more social than any other cruise with attending the Mid-Atlantic Small Craft Festival.  And more time on land too, three days for the festival at St. Michaels and a day at Tilghman Island.

The weather was just the way I like it, a little bit of everything: great wind and blue skies; stormy; cool nights with starry skies; gusts suitable for a double-reefed main; rain; fog; calm.  I loved it all.

Though I sail alone I found myself, by chance and hospitality, three times in the company of world cruisers Michaels and Sheila on Kantala.  I still can't get over the surprising stormy evening text from them where we realized we were only a couple of miles from each other.  And then a couple of days later I saw them in St. Michaels, walking the streets of the fine little town and enjoying the company of friends MaryLou and Fred.  Later, with an approaching hurricane, we met again off Oxford.  I very much enjoyed their company.  This fall, day sailing on the Elizabeth River, I've often looked down Town Point Reach to see the snowbirds come around Lamberts Point on their way south, wondering if I might see Kantala.  I did not see the ketch and have not heard from Michael and Sheila since our lunch anchored on the Tred Avon River.  I suspect they have already gone south, and I wish them well.


There is a fine first person story by environmental writer/photographer Dave Sherwood in the New York Times.  He fished every day this summer, and even a little into the fall, for striped bass on the Kennebec River.  With family and work commitments, he was often casting off at 4 a.m. and always back to the dock at 7 a.m.  It is an excellent, peaceful read.  


Friends at Small Craft Advisor are putting together a piece on perfect small boat cruising areas around the country.  I was very glad to hear that Pamlico Sound, with neighboring Neuse River and Cape Lookout/Beaufort, is included.  (If you have sailed the area you will know it had to be included.)  They asked me for a few photographs.  I believe the one above, taken on a little cove on the south side of the Pamlico River near where it opens out onto the sound, is the one that they will use with the story.  


Happy Thanksgiving

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

somebody had to sample them...

Oysters from a new spot - near Wallops Island on Va.'s eastern shore seaside - and from the new shellfish guy.  For tomorrow but just to be safe somebody had to try them out.  Salty!  Excellent!

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

day nine - back to the ramp

We drift off anchor just after 7:00.  "Drift" because we are tucked in close to the trees that shadow us from the wind.  I sweep the tiller back and forth, the rudder nudging Spartina out to where the wind can touch the double-reefed main. 

Out of the cove into the main anchorage and onto the the creek, the sun comes over the trees.  A deadrise is already working a trotline, a second deadrise rigged for oystering is headed towards the Choptank.  A NE wind carries us down the creek past the stout channel entrance markers,  5.5 kts to Cambridge.  Past Howell Point wind is on the port beam to Hambrooks Bar, then we fall off with the marina in sight. 


Rounding up off the ramp the Choptank is rough.  Jib and main down, then mizzen, we motor downwind.  Inside the the little breakwater I lean out and catch a cleat with the stern line.  Tied up fore and aft I check the gps.  The last entry in the notebook: 185 miles, 49.36 hours sailing time.  A nice little escape.


We sailed past the schooner Virginia Saturday as her crew of volunteers, along with deckhands from the American Rover and Harvey Gamage (schooner crews tend to help out other schooner crews), brought down the booms, gaffs and topmasts for the winter season.  She'll be put under a cover soon, though I expect work will continue on board throughout the winter.  Her spars will be taken to the nearby cruise center where they will be stripped down and varnished.

I wonder how much more sailing I will get in this year.  Last year was unusually warm and I sailed through the winter into the spring.  I hope for at least another sail or two, maybe get in one early in December.  No major maintenance is planned for Spartina this winter, so she - and I - are ready to go.

Saturday, November 19, 2016

Friday, November 18, 2016

I don't care

There is no wind and I really don't care. I'm floating on a mirror that ripples only when I move. It is so warm I have stripped off two layers and I'm now down to a tee-shirt. Maybe there will be wind later, maybe not. I don't care.

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

day eight - perfect

Crystal clear overnight, calm and cool.  Up at 6:30 to a dew covered deck.  There is the choreography of changing clothes within the dry bivy, deflating the sleeping pad and pillow and rolling up the bivy to use the dry bunk flat - the only dry surface on Spartina, protected from the dew by the bivy itself - to pack all the gear away, then tossing the flotation pads aft for a dry place to sit while at the tiller.  Yes, sailing a small boat can be a wet affair, but why start the day in wet pants and shirt when you don't need to.  

The sun not yet up, we sail off anchor with a light wind.  Out on the river there is more of a breeze, making 2.9 kts with low hanging clouds to the NE.  The clouds follow us downriver and soon we are surrounded by fog.  With the fog comes a chill and I slip on my foul weather jacket.  V's of geese fly across the river, sometimes seen, sometimes just heard.

The farther downriver, the thicker the fog.  Roosters crowing and just over 3 kts at Indian Point.  We are on the wide part of the river and I navigate by gps.  The deadrise "Jersey Girl" passes by, the waterman culling his catch from his trot lines.  The sun begins to break through the fog at Turkey Neck Point.  Warmth.

More sun and more wind, now on the beam having rounded Change Point.  Making 4.6 and then over 5 up the Choptank toward the Tred Avon.  We track close to land on the calm water and sailing doesn't get much better.

Breezy and choppy crossing the wide mouth of Broad Creek, then calmer in the lee again from Deep Neck Point to Holland Point.  We pass Benoni Point just after 11:00, I look north up the Tred Avon towards Oxford to see the white hull, blue sail covers and Canadian flag of Kantala.  The water reflects the blue sky. Kantala gleams in the sun.  I smile.

Four tacks into the wind and we cut past the bow of Kantala, I round up to come alongside where Sheila waits to take the line but I've come in too fast and round up once more for a gentle approach.   Sheila grabs the line and I climb on board.  Soon Michael, Sheila and I are down below comparing our plans.  They are headed to a well-protected dock in Easton, I'm a day from Cambridge.  All is good.  Sheila makes some wonderful chicken salad sandwiches and we sit and talk about St. Michaels where they - big boat people - had a great time at the small boat festival.  After lunch Michael makes some phone calls checking on the weather, then I help them bring down their jib from the roller furling, though I suspect they could have, after sailing together for a few decades, brought it down more efficiently without me.  Oh well.  And then it is time to say goodbye again. 

Casting off from Kantala we are in the lee of Oxford and I raise full sail downwind towards Bachelor Point.  Reaching the point Spartina is fully exposed to the wind on the stern and a gust catches mizzen and main and we quickly round up to drop the main altogether.  No need for that in all this wind.  Mizzen and jib we make 5 kts up the Choptank.   

Past Chlora Point I round up and set a double reef main and start tacking into the gusty afternoon breeze.  It's choppy so I tack in close to the shore, turning towards Martin Point with wind on the beam in calmer water.  Just before 4:00 we sail past the concrete and metal channel markers into LaTrappe Creek, the water smooth and the wind blocked by the trees.

We round the sand spit into the first protected cove, then slip past the wooded point into a second pool of water, dropping anchor with a couple farmhouses across the water to the stern, trees to the bow, port and starboard.  Sheep wander in a small pasture behind one of the farmhouses.  A light rain passes over while cooking dinner, then evening comes.

Monday, November 14, 2016

day seven - no particular place to go

Up at 7:00 with a light fog and glassy calm water.  Interesting night with a large deadrise on the other side of Knapp Narrows loading up with a crew late in the evening, lots of talk and laughter and gear banging around, then returning in the early morning hours, the crew sounding tired and ready to head home for some sleep.  Spartina rocked along the floating dock as a handful of boats passed through the narrows.  

I take my time stowing the gear then walk over to the hotel for the buffet breakfast, enjoying some granola and glasses of orange juice as I read the news on my phone.  We cast off from the floating dock a little before 10:00, motoring just across the narrows and tying up at a dock marked "workboats only" but they are all checking their nets and crab pots.  I figure I can top off the fuel can and buy a couple of bottled drinks in the store before anyone knows I've tied up there.  Casting off a few minutes later I radio the bridge tender and get an immediate lift.

Sails up as a light but steady NW winds fills in under the low broken overcast.  Making 3 kts on the Choptank River I realize I don't have any particular destination for the day.  The hurricane is three to five days away, I can easily reach Cambridge in a day, so I might as well do some exploring.  Heading to Broad Creek as the clouds give way to blue skies, cool air and calm water.....I think to myself this is what fall sailing is all about.  Wind picks up and making 4.5.

I sail across the wide mouth of the creek, looking at the chart and Harris Creek to the west catches my eye.  At Nelson Point I come about and with wind over the starboard quarter sail back to the Choptank, a deadrise rigged for oyster racing across Spartina's bow.  

At noon we round Change Point, leaving the Choptank and turning up wind on Harris Creek, a pair of eagles flying just above the surface of the water.  Steady tacks across the river it is mostly trees and farmland alongshore, a few houses, silos and duck blinds.  

At 2:40 making 3.2.  Passing Bozman just after 3:00 the creek narrows.  The afternoon gusts start begin to roll down the creek and the gps shows 5+ kts at times.  It's a peaceful sail with no other boats on the river.  North of Bozman the creek splits into Northwest and Northeast branches.  I explore each but find that there are too many home along shore or the coves don't offer the protection from the wind that I want.  I turn back south and in a mile or so round up into a little notch on the shoreline with trees and a corn field.  Anchor down just a little after 5:00.  

A beautiful evening.  Crisp and clear.  I dig out a small box of red wine that I had bought on Tilghman Island, enjoying it while watching the sun go down.  

I check my phone to see a text from Kantala.  They are on their way to Easton to ride out the storm, stopping for a day near Oxford.  The storm forecast is not looking good.  It could reach North Carolina by Saturday afternoon, Chesapeake Bay by Saturday night.  I tell them that I will see them sometime tomorrow.  

Sunday, November 13, 2016

day six - windless to Knapp Narrows

Up a little after 6:00, no wind, cool and grey.  Over the past four nights I've slept on a 44' ketch, in a hotel room, on a porch and on Spartina.  The ketch and the hotel room were very comfortable, the porch not so much.  Sleeping on Spartina I felt as if I was sleeping at home.

I stow the sleeping gear and boom tent, then reorganize Spartina for cruising.  At 7:40 I push off from the dock and motor out on to Fogg Cove, just a few people out including Barry who is down at the end of a pier with his video camera.  I do not raise sail, there is no wind and I am going only a short distance out onto the Miles River to Kantala.  Michael is working away in the galley as Sheila and I tie up Spartina.  Down in the cabin I am served up with a glass bowl - never expected to see a glass bowl on an ocean cruising boat - full of steamy rich porridge, a real treat.  Never have I started a cruising day with a better meal and company.  There is no rush to leave and we sit and talk in the cabin until Sheila says "Is that rain?"  We climb outside to find the splashing noise is not rain, but instead a feeding frenzy of stripers just a few yards from Kantala.  I hop down to Spartina and make a few casts with the spinning rod, bringing in just a tiny striper before the school moved away.

Before casting off from Kantala Michael makes a phone call to check on the weather.  There is a hurricane to the south, very possibly headed to Chesapeake Bay.  We've got a few days yet, and of course there is always the uncertainty of a storm's path.  But we each make our plans with the storm in mind, Michael and Sheila checking with friends in the area for a good hurricane hole to protect Kanatala, and myself planning on being within a day's sail of Cambridge should I need to get off the water.  I thank my new friends for their hospitality - from Cuban beer to Mikey's porridge and a comfortable place to sleep on a stormy night - and cast off, each of us wishing the other a safe trip.

Under power north on the Miles River I see Doug's Cornish Shrimper slipping out of Fogg Cove, they have the main up but are under power too.  At Deepwater Point there is the hint of a breeze and I raise all three sails, motor sailing but really just motoring down the river.  

I round Tilghman Point at 11:00, the Shrimper not far behind but taking a wider path around the shoals than Spartina.  I finally admit to myself that there is absolutely no wind and bring down the sails.  I stay close to the shoreline while the Shrimper stays a few hundred yards farther out in the bay, the Shrimper's diesel engine slowly moving her ahead of Spartina.  A low overcast hangs over the bay with some clearing to the south. 

At noon a light north wind and sails up, motor sailing once again.  A thick cloud of seagulls hovers over schooling stripers to the northwest.  The wind comes and goes, a chill hangs in the air.  Nearing the entrance to Knapp Narrows the clouds begin to break up and the warm sunshine feels good.  It's still early in the day, the 1:00 nfl games are just getting under way, I consider going through the narrows to Dun Cove where I have anchored before.  But Tilghman Island, a favorite spot that holds onto the old Chesapeake Bay character, sounds like a great place to relax.  I tie at Knapp Narrows floating pier, walk a hundred yards or so to the marina/hotel office and pay my $2 per foot for an overnight stay.  

I spend a quiet afternoon - honestly relieved to be away from the crowd in St. Michaels - and walk down the Tilghman Island Country Store where I pick up a few items.  Then I sit by the pool at the hotel, catching up on my logbook and checking email.  Then back to the pier late afternoon as the current is running through the narrows and the stripers are out to feed.  I cast a lure and catch five or six small fish, shaking them all off the hook for another day.  Nearby a woman walks up and down each of the piers at the marina with a bucket and a net, reaching down once in a while to snag a blue crab on the pilings.    

My favorite restaurant/tiki bar, Marker 5, just on the other side of the marina is closed with a gas line problem.  So instead I walk over the bridge to Character's Bridge Restaurant.  Their evening entree's are a little out of my price range so I settle for an appetizer of scallops, a caesar salad and a bottle of beer.  Perfect!

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Mid-Atlantic Small Craft Festival - a blur

It was all a blur.  Boats, lots of boats.  Friends, lots of friends.  And lots of new friends with names I could not remember (I'm terrible at that).  

With the gusting wind and rolling waves almost a crash landing at the docks for Spartina, saved by three sailors who ran out to the docks to help with the lines.  Greetings from Kristen and then meeting up with Barry and daughter, then a delightful dinner with them followed by a wonderful sleep in that somehow-paid-for but unused hotel room, the hot shower feeling great after a couple stormy days on the water.  Friday has a free breakfast at the hotel in a room crowded with folks headed to the small craft festival and somebody says "There's a lot of energy at the museum these days," and they are right.  Back at the waterfront more friends arriving, friends from North Carolina, Virginia, Maryland, Pennsylvania and New York.  Some I've met before, some I've met by email.  A little clash of my worlds.  That evening I carry a stack of spice covered steamed crabs and a wooden mallet over to an empty table but I'm pulled away by Harris and his friends from the Chesapeake Float to join their feast, what a treat.  And then Barry's night at the movies, Spartina even making an appearance on the big screen in a couple of the videos.  And Barry's got this friend there with an assortment of whiskies and fine glasses and I spend some time hanging around that table though I don't think I was ever invited.  No free hotel room for the night and the waterfront is still being battered by the waves so I grab the sleeping bag and find a porch at a museum building for the night.

Saturday morning wind and waves beginning to slack and I look out over the Miles River to see Kantala anchored out, Michael and Sheila having enjoyed the protection of the Wye River for an extra day or two.  Still breezy enough for a double-reefed main I sail out to the ketch, arriving just as their world cruising friends Richard and Jessica arrive by inflatable boat.  Later on shore I meet up with Rock Hall friends MaryLou and Fred, Michael and Sheila coming in by dinghy to join us for a fine lunch - fish and chips made with fine local rockfish for me - at the Crab Claw.  

I head off to check on Spartina at the docks but the weather is looking better so I head out for a sail while my lunch companions explore the museum.  Motoring in to one of the piers Navigator sailor Kevin B. hops on board for his first ever Pathfinder sail and the wind has fallen to the point that I've shaken out all the reefs, Kevin at the tiller and me relaxing up forward.  Back on shore I meet Michael and Sheila for a walk into town so they can pick up some food supplies for Kantala.  They head off in the dinghy and I walk to the awards banquet under the big tent (no I didn't win anything but then again I didn't compete).  Great dinner where Emily's friend shows me how to open a bottle of beer using a second bottle of beer and his heel, don't ask me to explain but I don't think anybody was injured by the bottle cap flying off into the crowd.  And the beer was cold.  Pleased to receive an invite for breakfast in the morning, I say goodbye to my friends.  Waterfront finally calmed down and for the first time in three nights I climb on board Spartina, slip into the sleeping bag and I feel like I'm at home.     

Monday, November 7, 2016

day five - hippie pancakes and wind on the beam

Awake just after 7:00 and I get the feeling Michael and Sheila have been awake in the aft cabin for a while, giving me some extra time to sleep.  Heavy rains over night, the wind still gusting strongly out of the east.  Spartina is rafted along the port side of Kantala and I step down to the aft deck and slip under the boom tent.  I am pleased to find a very dry cockpit, the boom tent working very well and a bit of line wrapped around the mast above the boom tent wicking away the rivulets of water that normally run down the mast through the mast hole and under the foredeck.  I am also pleased to have spent a very comfortable night sleeping aboard the 44' ferro cement ketch.

Breakfast, Sheila tells me, will be hippie pancakes, pancakes with anything else she can find - fruit, nuts or whatever - thrown into the batter.  She serves up a platter and Michael and I dig in, topping them with maple syrup they had picked up in Canada and honey they had bought at a farmer's market while anchored in Portsmouth's Craford Bay.  An excellent breakfast and we linger for a while talking about our trips and our boats and how nice it is to ride out the rough weather in comfort.  

I am in no rush to leave Kantala, the wind still whipping out of the east.  St. Michaels is due south, about five miles away.  By 10:30 the boom tent is down and I've rigged Spartina for sailing.  The noise of the wind is so loud that I hesitate to cast off, but finally do so raising just the mizzen and jib. Falling aft of Kantala I wave goodbye to my friends, noticing that all the noise of the wind was really Kantala's wind generator spinning and the lines of the ketch rig humming in the gusts.  Blowing 20 or 25 mph, the wind wasn't so bad after all.  Out on the Wye River the wind tugs at the jib and we make four and then five knots. 

Just to the south the Wye opens to Shaw Bay and with no tree line to protect us we make six knots at times.  At Wyetown Point we are out of the Wye and now on the Miles River.  I look back and through the mist I see Kantala's white hull against dark trees.  Mostly five knots, sometimes less and sometimes more, we make a steady pace towards St. Michaels.  Looking back once more Kantala is no longer in sight, looking forward I can see the lighthouse at the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum just beyond Deepwater Point.  I am the only boat out on the river.     

At marker "4M" we fall off and head toward St. Michaels.   Outside of Fogg Cove I round up to bring down the jib, starting up the outboard before going forward.  The steep chop across the river has become waves and Spartina's bow bounces up and down.  I free the jib halyard and jerk the sail down.  The wind jerks the sail right back up.  I try and again and again, still the wind pulls the jib right back up.  I grab the short piece of bright red line wrapped around the mast for this very purpose, clipping it to my harness, and kneel out on the foredeck.  With one hand grasping the mast I use the other to pull down the jib and then quickly tie the sail to the bow sprit.  Mizzen down easily, we motor to the dock where three sailors help me get tied up in the very rough harbor.

I clean up Spartina, charge some batteries and then start running into friends.  Kristen comes off a boat where she had been helping pull a sailboat out to the marsh (the east wind is tough on a waterfront exposed to the east)  and gives me a hug.  Barry shows up with his daughter and an invite later that evening for dinner.  I check on Spartina which is pitching fore and after in the wind and the waves, planning on sleeping on a porch instead of the rocking boat.  Then Barry shows up again saying "I've got a paid-for hotel that's going to be empty tonight" and I wonder how I've gotten to be so lucky.  At first I say no thanks, but when I see that Spartina is riding safely at the dock I take him up on the offer.

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

day four - shelter from the storm

Up at 6:40, I can hear thunder rumbling to the southwest.  I check the forecast on my phone and see that I will be spending the next couple of days in the center of a storm.  Glassy calm in the cove but I can see the tree tops whipping in the wind.  Sail off anchor with two reefs tucked in the main.  Around the corner I'm exposed to a stiff wind.  Flocks of geese fly across Warehouse Creek.  

We reach Cox Creek by 8:00 and turn towards Eastern Bay.  Passing two deadrises working trot lines the thunder increases.  Approaching Eastern Bay dark clouds slide in from the south and the bay disappears in a heavy rainstorm.  I round up and sail back up Cox Creek, finding shelter in a little cove across from the mouth of Warehouse Creek.  Nothing to do but wait out the weather, hoping the storm passes so I can cut across Eastern Bay and the Miles River.  More thunder and a few flashes of lightning downriver.

Under sail at 9:45, double reefed, still stormy but some clearing to the southeast.  Sun makes a brief appearance at the mouth of Cox Creek as I give a wide berth to the shoals at Turkey Point.  Tilghman Point visible ahead, sailing close on the wind I might make it on a single tack.  Very choppy on Eastern Bay, making 4 kts then dropping down to 2.5 as waves roll through in batches of three or four.  

Most the way across the bay the sun comes out and the water ahead glistens.  Spartina heels and spray jumps out to starboard, Tilghman Point off the bow.  Great sailing.  Approaching the point a large cruising boat angles towards Spartina, four men in the cockpit with one shouting "What are you doing out in this weather?"  I shout back the weather is perfect, why wouldn't I want to be out?"  

The wind falls just as we make Tilghman Point and we need to make a tack to round the shallows into the Miles River.  Once around the point I shake out the reefs and full sail to the Wye River.

Birds are feeding all over the river and there would be some great fishing I suspect.  But unsure of the weather window I make towards the Wye.  We reach the entrance channel and follow the river north with the trees buffeting the east wind.  With a forecast of 2-3 inches of rain overnight and winds out of the east gusting to 35 mph I stay north on the river looking for a nice little cove to hide in.  

I round up just south of Drum Point, then make a few tacks into a cove where the water is glassy calm. Anchor down and with a little bit of sunshine I spread out the foul weather gear to dry.  The cove is so well protected by trees and a bluff that Spartina drifts around in lazy circles.   

As evening approaches I tuck away the gear, clean up Spartina and set up the boom tent for the stormy night.  Getting ready to fix dinner I check my phone and find a text so unexpected I had to read it twice.  

Kantala, Michael and Sheila, cruisers that I had met earlier in the summer on Craford Bay.  Twenty eight years earlier they had left Vancouver and sailed across the Pacific, as Sheila says, stopping at a few places islands along the way.  Rounding Africa and crossing the Atlantic, they were on their way to Nova Scotia when I met them.  And after a sail that weekend on Spartina we had met my friends MaryLou and Fred for lunch in Portsmouth when the talk about the Mid-Atlantic Small Craft Festival in St. Michaels had come up.  Michael and Sheila had decided to check out the festival.   

I text back "Small world, I'm a few miles north of St. Michaels too," and gave them my location near Drum Point.  They reply "We're headed towards Drum Pt now."  

About 40 minutes later Kantala comes into view.  She rounds up to anchor out in deeper water and I raise Spartina's anchor to fall back to them

We raft Spartina up alongside the 44' ferrocement ketch and soon I'm on board, we're drinking Cuban beer and talking about our sailings since we had last met on Craford Bay.  I am invited to stay for dinner and we enjoy that with a warm bottle of white wine, talking as if we have known each other for years.  Dark and windy, Michael and Sheila invite me to spend the night on board.  

Maybe it is something about boats and bad weather, but it seems like you can make friends fast out on the water.