Friday, December 30, 2016

a challenge and a sanctuary

I've read and reread very fine piece of writing in Angler's Journal about striper fishing by a man who spends much of his time in war zones.  It is about much more than fishing, it is about raising a family and making choices.  It is a pleasant story, peaceful and rich in texture.  The fine photographs are by his wife. 

The writer observes that the sea is both a challenge and a sanctuary.  That same description fits the writer's life: half the time in combat zones and the rest living in a home in New England, surrounded by children and wife, fishing for stripers, raising chickens and growing vegetables in the garden.

I read the Angler's Journal story yesterday morning.  In the evening I was reading the New York Times and found myself drawn into a long in-depth story about the costs of war.  Once I began reading I could not put it down.  Finishing the story I saw the by-line, it was the same as the Angler's Journal by-line.


I received a text from my outboard guy.  He's an ex-submariner (which means he is precise about everything he does), loves boats and lives just a couple of blocks away.  He had noted during last year's annual maintenance on my Honda 2.3 outboard that there was some corrosion on a screw at the bottom of the carburetor bowl, #6 in the image above.  I took a look and saw the rust, and noted some rust on #8.  I ordered both from Honda and will drop them and them outboard off to Jim in a week or two.  The outboard should be ready to go soon after, looking for those warm days that sometimes show up in February.

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

fevered dreams

Deep in the night I could picture Spartina tied up on the Elizabeth River ready to sail.  With a forecast of sunshine, mild temperatures and wind I could see a simple sail across the river and back, the idea of a final sail for the year appealing to me.  But curled up in bed and shaking with fever and chills I knew I could at best manage the sail, but not the run up the river under power to the ramp.  And I certainly did not have the strength for hauling her onto the trailing and dropping her rig.  And my mind turned from making a sail to how would I get Spartina off the river.  Would she sit there for a few weeks, through the rain and blustery weather, maybe snow?  Trying to resolve that I woke with a headache, clearing my head long enough to remember I saw Spartina in the garage yesterday.  It was all a feverish nightmare.

The flu arrived like a virulent lump of coal Christmas morning.  We made the most of the morning, then the girls off to see a film and home in time for me to coach them through fixing Christmas dinner, traditionally one of my responsibilities.

The Pilgrim, who understands such things, showed me how to log on to a website through our health insurance program.  Soon I was face to face with Dave, who specializes in emergency medicine, by way of computer screen.  A few minutes of questioning and he told me what I already knew, I had the classic flu symptoms and could do not much more than wait it out.  He did prescribe something which has alleviated the worst of it.  About five to seven more days of this is possible.  I did, for the record, get a flu shot this past fall.

So I am glad the Spartina is in the garage and not sitting lonely and unprotected on the river.  And I am looking forward to the new year bringing health and joy to everyone.

Sunday, December 25, 2016

all my favorite places and things....

Chesapeake Bay, Cape Charles, Chincoteague, Smith and Tangier Islands, Ocean City, Kent Island, Easton, St. Michaels, Cambridge, Chestertown, the Solomons, Baltimore, Urbanna, Deltaville, Northern Neck, all on a hand-made towel.  Old Bay, skipjacks, rockfish and a giant crab.  What a great gift.  Is it ok to frame towels?

Saturday, December 24, 2016

late December on the water, for the neighbors

It has been a great holiday week on the water.  Out with some scientists on the Eastern Shore's barrier islands Wednesday, a guest on a SailNauticus boat Thursday and sailing Spartina out of Elizabeth City Friday.  Not bad for late December.

Thursday I was the guest of sailing friend Lynn on one of the SailNauticus Harbor 20s.  (Lynn has a great view of the Elizabeth River from her home and when I post photos of Spartina out sailing they are often from her.)  There she is above on Spartina in late November, hopping on board to work towards her goal of 200 days on the water this calendar year.  That is not a typo.  "200" as in two hundred.  I'm happy to say a few of those days were on Spartina.  Thursday, a gusty day, was her 198th day out.  I have sailed the Harbor 20 before but not on such a windy day and I must say I felt very uncomfortable at the tiller.  I am so used to the three sails of Spartina with the gaff-rigged main that I did not have a feel at all for the sloop rig.    I knew it was breezy when we went out but I expected the boat's 900 lb bulb keel (Spartina weighs about 600 lbs total) would make it very easy to handle.  Not so, but with Lynn's coaching I started to get the hang of it.   

Friday it was down to Elizabeth City for a sunny day with light breezes.  Just right for me, a perfect way to end the sailing year.


Back early afternoon from Elizabeth City it was time to make the Christmas gifts for the neighbors.  

Salmon, salt, sugar, brown sugar, pepper, sliced peppers, lemon slices and a couple of hours on the smoker.  

I wished I had made a little bit more so that we would have plenty for ourselves.  Maybe New Year's Day.  

Merry Christmas!

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

where we caught our ride to the barrier islands

Wachapreague, a great little fishing village.  If you ever pass nearby stop in at the Island House for some great food and a great view of the marshes.


I almost said "no"

A colleague asked yesterday afternoon if I would switch work schedules today.  She had a day shift with a trip to Wachapreague on the Eastern Shore.  But I had work late Monday night, Tuesday night and I knew I would have a late shift on Thursday.  I was tired.  I almost said "no."  A day on the water between the barrier islands?  Sure, I'll switch.

We visited Wachapreague Inlet, a narrow stretch of open water between the north end of Parramore Island and the southern end of Cedar Island.  In between the two is a sandy shoal, above and below.

Below is the inlet, Parramore to right and the shoal to the left.  I was surprised to find the entrance so narrow, but very glad to have seen it as I hope to sail Spartina through there some day when I complete the Delmarva circumnavigation.

And just for the record, there were a couple of science types on board.  Looking out over the wetlands they talked about spartina, the cord grass in the marshes.   They pronounced the word with a long "I".  So repeat after me.....spar-TI-na.  It was so nice to hear someone other than myself pronounce it that way.  Maybe I'm not wrong about the name of my boat after all.

What a great afternoon on the water.  And I almost said no.  What was I thinking?

Monday, December 19, 2016

spring, art from the ashes

It's 36 degrees and overcast, a little drizzly.*  Time to think about Spring.  I've got a nine day window, maybe ten if I'm lucky, sometime in May.  My last two sailing trips down there have been fun, but both impacted by remnants of early season tropical storms.  It can't happen three years in a row, can it?  We'll see.

(*It was exactly this kind of day over a decade ago that I was killing time browsing the web when I came across this cool little yawl called a Navigator designed by a guy named John Welsford.  I guess cold rainy days are good for something.)

I've got to check in with Shawn but I'm pretty sure I can launch out of Hobucken and I want to explore the shores of central Pamlico Sound and the Pamlico River.

There are countless little creeks and rivers, like North Creek, above, that I haven't been to in a while.  There's some good fishing at Pamlico Point, Caffee Bay and Wysocking Bay.

Oriental and Belhaven, below, are always fun places to visit with nice town docks, friendly people and fine little restaurants.  And I do want to sail up the Pamlico River to Washington, maybe stopping in Bath on the way.  

I did stop in Bath last spring, but in a heavy rain storm wearing full foul weather gear.... well that doesn't count.

And Ocracoke, with the nice harbor called "the ditch" by the locals and Silver Lake by the tourists.  Yes, heading south in the spring.


Speaking of Pamlico Sound makes me think of my artist friend Curt.  We met in person there,  first at a ramp off Whorton Creek and then later anchoring for an evening on Swan Creek.  We had been in touch for a while over the internet, Curt planning on trailering up to the Sound and sailing his Drascombe Longboat Annie.  Since then we've become close friends.  He has done some nice sketches of Spartina, below.

Sad news on his blog that his studio/workshop burned down about a week ago.    Inside were his tools, over a hundred paintings, mementoes collected over a life time and, painfully for the sailor, Annie's spars and sails.  Quite a blow.  Curt writes that it will be a long process of getting his creative life back together.  I know he has already tracked down a set of measurements for replacements sails for Annie, but that is just a beginning.  He says he is holding fast.

It will be a struggle, no doubt, and a few of us have offered to help where and when we can.  Curt tells me he looks forward to the day when he can once again paint.  Adversity can lead to creativity.  I wonder what sort of art will rise from the ashes.

Tuesday, December 13, 2016


Very cool to see Barry getting some well-deserved attention in the December issue of for his Melonseeds and the innovation he and Stuart of Dabbler Sails made to add the topsails.  I've seen one of the Melonseeds in person but only on the trailer, never under sail.  He's a regular with the Chesapeake Floats, you can read about some of his Melonseed cruising here.  

Yep, cold and getting colder.  That's why I'm not sailing and instead browsing the web.  So when is it supposed to warm up again?

Sunday, December 11, 2016

beautiful waters

With hard frosts in the morning and high temperatures not reaching 50 degrees, there is no sailing weather within sight.  I was spoiled by last year's warm winter, somehow I don't think I'll be so lucking this year.  So instead of sailing I've been catching up on some of my favorite blogs, including Lorenzo's B's blog about his finely crafter Pathfinder Astrid.  Lorenzo, who I have written about before, lives on the Mediterranean Sea and has some absolutely beautiful water to sail on.  The photograph above shows Astrid as Lorenzo and family explored the northeastern coast of Sardinia.

Above is the water crystal clear water of Sanary Bay, just 15 minutes from his home.  Lorenzo talks about sailing, picnics and snorkeling with his family.  

And there's Astrid sailing along the island of Burano near Venice.  Wow.  Just looking at the photographs makes me feel a little warmer on a cold day.  Thanks, Lorenzo.

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

from a couple of weeks ago

From Walter, aboard the schooner Virginia.  Nice light on the water, don't you think?  That's sailing friend Lynn at the tiller.  Current weather tells me that tee-shirt days are over.

Saturday, December 3, 2016

can you see me now? / dinner menus

Two days of December and two good days of sailing.  I'll take it.  Thursday, with a steady west wind coming in behind a week cool front, had Spartina on the Pasquotank River in Elizabeth City.  Something about the shape of that winding river keeps the water almost glassy calm with winds out of the west.  Warm and comfortable, it was a perfect day on the water.

Yesterday, cooler and with less wind early in the day, we were out on the Elizabeth River in Norfolk.  Light winds in the morning completely disappeared by noon, then the wind came back strong, a cooler wind out of the southwest.  Chilly enough that I slipped on the new Helly Hansen bib pants.   Yes, I was the source of that glow you saw over the horizon yesterday.  I was very happy with the design and make of the pants, so much so that I came home and ordered a Helly Hansen jacket to go with it, in bright orange of course.


Eddie had asked me a while ago about the freeze dried meals I take on cruises.  All of my favorites come from Mountain House, which I buy in batches of 20 that earn a 10% discount at Campmor.  To name a few:  beef stew, breakfast skillet, lasagna, spaghetti and meatballs, beef stroganoff, chili-mac with beef, biscuits and gravy with sausage crumbles.  There are a few with mashes potatoes too but I can't recall exactly what they are right now.  I stay away from meals that have rice, somehow in my experience the rice never reconstitutes with a rice-like texture.  I stay about from meals that are listed as "spicy," spicy meaning there is probably a lot of salt in there.  From Webb I have learned to add a little more water than called for, and a little more time cooking in the foil packet.  From Curt I learned to dress some of the meals with a little olive oil.  And because I do like spicy meals I always add my own spice with a few splashes of Cajun Sunshine.

The freeze dried meals I would really like to get come from Back Country Cuisine in New Zealand.  Their meals sound excellent, using beef, lamb, chicken and venison.  Unfortunately at this time they do not ship to the US.  Maybe someday, they told me by email earlier this year.