Monday, January 30, 2017

who says our borders are secure?

So I guess all the border patrol and customs agents were too busy trying to figure out the latest news from the white house and, being distracted and confused, allowed two packages containing meat, yes, meat, lamb and venison to be specific, slip across the border into the USA.  So, so sad, these horrible people not doing their jobs.  Do we need another executive order here, maybe one dealing specifically with smuggled freeze dried foods sent from a friend?  Or should it be a broader ban?  That's it, ban all meats, freeze dried and otherwise, from crossing the border.  Or better yet, an order banning all gifts of any kind from passing through the mail to our country.  Ban them all, then figure it out later.   It's so, so simple. 

I was nothing short of shocked when I opened the mail box to find the big white Par Avion Air New Zealand Post package.  Inside were the two meals above, Roast Lamb and Vegetables and Hearty Venison Casserole, a gift from Graeme who lives in the Marlborough area of New Zealand.  Thank you very much, Graeme.  For the gift Graeme is allowing me to pay it forward, some cash to the soup line where the Pilgrim works one morning each week.  

I will wait to enjoy these meals, taking one on the spring sail and one on the fall trip.  This will be great.  Thank you, Graeme.

cephalopod for supper

Sunday, January 29, 2017

walkin' the floor over you

I have not seen it in person yet but I look forward to the day when I can get back to Chestertown to visit their new Education Center of the Sultana Foundation, part of their Vision 2020 program that involved raising $6.2 million to expand the capacity of the education foundation.  I've been a fan of the Sultana program since crossing paths with the tall ship Sultana on the Chester River several years ago.   Drew McMullen, president of the foundation, happened to be working as a relief captain on the ship that day, and after trading tacks with the ship late that morning we got an evening tour of Sultana from Drew and an invite to take part in the annual Sultana Downrigging Weekend.  You can see photos of Spartina at a couple of downriggings here, here and here

When I do get up there I plan to spend a lot of time walking the floor of the wet lab area with its huge map of the Chesapeake Bay and her watershed.  I can see spending hours tracing out past sails, thinking about friends I made along the way, picking out those little anchorages tucked back on creeks, remembering calm glassy days, stormy passages, fish caught and crab cakes enjoyed.  Just for fun I've sketched out the area that Spartina has sailed, below, not specific tracks but areas that we've had the pleasure of exploring.  (Yes, I know, gotta get over to the western shore someday.)  I am glad to have Delaware Bay and the stretch of the Atlantic shore from Indian River Inlet to Ocean City marked down there.  Just one more stretch to go, Chincoteague to Cape Charles to complete the circumnavigation.  

Chestertown is a favorite place to visit on the bay, plus I'm a fan of the Sultana folks.  I'll get up there one way or the other, maybe by car or maybe on Spartina this fall.

Saturday, January 28, 2017

surprised, strawberries

The Pilgrim was a little surprised when she opened the meat drawer in the fridge this morning.  Boiled in water, tentacles sliced and thrown in a bowl with truffle infused olive oil and lemon juice, it will be served with pasta tomorrow evening.* 


Weather is nearly sailable for me these days, but not quite.  Up to 51 degrees tomorrow but with forecast to be 13 with a cold front behind it.  I will be sanding and priming the repaired keel tomorrow.  Thinking of the spring cruise I did stop at Target to pick up two packs of dried strawberries, a favorite treat to add in with other dried fruits.  

*For my all time favorite story about an octopus, a part of nature vs. being served on a plate, look here.  I like them in the ocean, but, um, yeah, on a plate too.

Wednesday, January 25, 2017


Jim, my mechanical friend who does the winter maintenance on my Honda 2.3 hp 4-stroke outboard, texted me this morning that it is ready to go.  In fact he included visuals, a video and two stills, to make his point.

A former submariner, Jim is meticulous to say the least.  Meticulous is good on submarines, and good for outboards too.  He tells me has been known to line up all the heads on slotted screws so they go in the same direction.  He didn't need to do that here, but new oil, lower unit fluid, spark plug plus the carburetor checked out, I ought to be ready to go.

Monday, January 23, 2017

intercepted (not the football kind of way)

Several weeks ago, after writing about the freeze dried meals I enjoy, I received an email from Graeme offering to send me a couple of Back Country Cuisine freeze dried meals.  I have long wanted to try these meals particularly because of handful of them are made with lamb: lamb fettuccine, roast lamb and vegetables, Moroccan lamb and sweet and sour lamb.  They all sound so good, but from my emails with the company they do not ship to the US.  So Graeme, who said the meals were available at his local grocery in the Marlborough region of New Zealand, mailed two meals to me (which I will pay forward by donating to a local soup kitchen).

I waited and waited and, well, waited very patiently.  Who knows how mail goes across the ocean?  Finally Graeme emailed asking if I had received the package.  Not yet but no rush, I said, I won't even need the meals until May.  But now, after a little research, I believe the meals have been intercepted by the fine folks at the US Customs and Border Patrol.  From their website.......

"If you are a private individual who wishes to send beverage and food items to the U.S., you should be aware that some items are highly restricted, particularly food items with meat products, including soup mixes, bouillon, sausages, tinned meats, etc., and fresh produce."

Oh well, it looks like it was not meant to be.  I appreciate Graeme's kindness, which I will certainly pay forward regardless.  And I just have to hope that someday Back Country Cuisine meals will be available in the US.

Storms blew through last night and this morning, clouds clearing now as temperatures rise.  Perfect for doing a little patching on Spartina's hull.

Sunday, January 22, 2017

december, january, february




I took a look back at last winter's sailing which was, because of a strong El Nino, my best winter sailing ever.  I did get out this past December.  Looking at the forecast I'll be surprised if I make it out in January.  So February will be the goal.  

Jim, my mechanic friend, has the outboard for the annual off-season tune-up.  Tomorrow I'll do a little sanding and epoxy patching.  February I'll paint the decks, brightwork and hull to be painted in April when it is a little warmer.  

Friday, January 20, 2017

two kinds of swells, de Gast

Outer Banks friend Jim B. tells me about a cool website with a fascinating visualization of ocean swells.  The website is from Ventusky which produces wind, rain and temperature maps.  From their press release the major improvement is showing both ocean swells and wind waves.  From the release....

"The application displays two types of waves: swells and wind waves. Waves travelling outside of their place of origin, and are thus not caused by local winds, are called swells. Waves caused by winds in that specific location are called wind waves. The total height of the wave is the combination of the height of the swells and the height of the wind wave. In the application, wind waves are marked in white and swells are marked in black."

In the screenshot above, showing a storm in the southern Atlantic, you can see the regularly existing ocean swells in black and the wind generated swells in white.  The image below shows the wind causing those waves.

Pretty interesting.  I doubt that this site will provide much information for my local sailings on Chesapeake Bay and down in North Carolina, but it will be interesting to watch as Webb begins rounding the bottom of Africa and making the 6,000 mile sail to St. Lucia.   I will be following Gannet's yellow brick track and it will be nice to get a very complete idea of wind, swells and waves that Webb will be experiencing.   Below you see Gannet hauled out for fresh antifouling paint.  She may be back in the water already as Webb provisions before for casting off on the next leg of his circumnavigation.



I am so very glad to hear that the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum is putting together an exhibition of the work by sailor and Chesapeake Bay photographer Robert de Gast.  I've been a fan of his work for years, even tried to buy some of his books but they are all now considered collector's items.  The museum will show 80 of his images beginning May 12.  Read about the exhibition and the photographer here.

Sunday, January 15, 2017


Dry U-10 scallops (translation: dry meaning right off the boat, no chemicals added to make them absorb water (i.e. increase weight and cost at the check-out line), U-10 meaning less than 10 scallops per pound, they don't get much bigger, or sweeter, than this) seared on the griddle and served with fresh raspberry sauce.  Nice.  Simple.

Saturday, January 14, 2017

small world, wonder if they know the right way to pronounce the name

I get a text this afternoon from sailing friend Lynn, who is in L.A. at the moment.  The text shows a photo of a restaurant sign, the restaurant being named "Spartina."  So I look it up on the internet and a review describes it polished, modern restaurant with a penchant for local, seasonal ingredients for meals with Italian roots and California sensibilities.  Sounds pretty good to me.    

So I text my west coast daughter, who I will be seeing in just a few weeks, to see if she had ever heard of the restaurant.  She replies that she had driven by it not 10 minutes earlier and had already decided to take me there for dinner.  How nice.

Trenette, octopus with bone marrow, tomato, red wine, parmigano reggiano anyone????

I'll have to ask the waiter how they pronounce the name of the place.

Friday, January 13, 2017

the new knife

Trying out the new, very serious, oyster knife, an xmas gift from the oldest daughter.  Worked great on a Ware River oyster, the Ware being one of the four main rivers leading into Mobjack Bay on Virginia's middle peninsula.  The oyster was not as salty as seaside, of course, but plump and rich tasting.  And the knife worked very well.  May test it out some more this weekend.

Almost spring-like this morning but colder air moving in by afternoon.  Chilly next week but then warming, maybe for a late January sail.

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Monday, January 9, 2017

everything you need to know about ramps in NC

Barry tells me about this great interactive site for boat ramps in North Carolina.  You can find it here. In the good old days, when money seemed to flow freely, NC printed up and gave away, mailed out, distributed anyway they could a great paper map with ramp information.  Those days are long gone, but you can find the equivalent here.  Thanks, Barry!

Sunday, January 8, 2017


Kent emailed a question about ramps for a Drascombe Lugger in the upper Outer Banks.  Here are some ramps, though I have only used one of them and that was with a power boat.  There is a ramp in downtown Manteo, just above the bridge at the left end in the sat photo above.  You have to take a channel around the island at right to get out to Shallowbag Bay.  From what I have seen there is limited parking there, it would be worth a call to the police or parks department to ask about leaving a vehicle and trailer there.  It is #3 on the image below.  I do like the Manteo waterfront.

There is a ramp at the west end of the Washington Baum Bridge to Roanoke Island, mostly used by power boaters/fisherman, #4 on the sat image.  It's on a channel that runs north/south, not a lot of open water right there so probably not the best ramp to sail from.

Soundside in Kill Devil Hills there is a ramp with lots of parking.  I believe, but do not know, that it is a public ramp.  If it is public this might be the best ramp to use.  It is at the intersection of Dock and Bay, #2 on the sat image.  Again, worth a call to the city parks and rec just to confirm that it is public.

And before you cross the Wright Bros. bridge there is a park with ramps near Harbinger, easily seen from 158 before you get to Harbinger. "X" marks the spot above, #1 in the overall image.  It opens out onto Currituck Sound with Duck on the other side of the water.  

All these ramps open out onto pretty skinny water, from 3 feet deep to 9 or 10.  Lots of good sailing down there, just have to watch the depths.  Have fun!


four wheel drive

A shopping expedition to the grocery, four wheel drive on icy roads.  Tossed into the basket two four-packs of diced mangoes, first of the supplies for the coming May trip on Pamlico Sound.  I buy most my supplies bit by bit, an extra item or two each week and I don't notice it in the budget.  

I do have plenty of freeze dried meals for the spring trip, will have to do a resupply for the fall trip.  Anyway, just nice to think about sailing on a cold day.  

Photo below is a favorite from last spring's trip, before the storms arrived.

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

so when is it not a good day???

I had just crossed the bridge on a grey, foggy, rainy day when the boss both texted and voice-mailed "Is this a good day to go to the Outer Banks?"  This brings to mind the question of "When is it not a good day to go to the Outer Banks?"  

Tundra swans, white pelicans all the way up from the gulf coast, a terrapin holding off on burrowing down for the winter, a fishing trawler head south just off the beach of Hatteras Islands.  Pretty good day to be down there if you ask me.

Sunday, January 1, 2017

2016: the first, the fastest, the finest

The first sail of the year was on the last day of January, a day that began with pleasant winds that became gusty by early afternoon.  It is only now looking back through the log that I see it was on that first sail, when I had the GoPro along, that I got the photograph that I call "the gust."  Is surprises me a little that I would be out with full sail on a gusty day on some very cold water.  I guess it seemed like the thing to do at the time.  

The fastest sail of the year was on day six of the Bonnie 228.  There had been five great days of sailing from Hobucken south on Pamlico Sound, the Nuese River, Oriental, Adams Creek Canal, Beaufort, Cape Lookout and a hard, fun sail up Core Sound.  The next morning the remnants of Tropical Storm Bonnie arrived.  Storms over night, sailing off anchor during a clearing then the weather moving in again.  Grey and rainy, I did not see the storm cell coming up West Bay until it was too late to round up.  The gps showed 8.9 m/h for a steady run with the wind right behind us.  It was a fast moving storm.  By the time we got to where the bay was wide enough/deep enough to round up and shorten sail, the squall had moved on.  It was an interesting day with more squalls, building winds, clearing and an evening rainbow.  

The finest day on the water, and there were many fine days on the water this year, was day eight of the Talkabout 185.  It began the night before with a text from Kantala telling me they had left the Miles River and were anchoring near Oxford.  Up before dawn the next morning, sailing wing and wind downwind on Harris Creek in light airs.  A light fog moves in, then heavy fog, crabbers culling their catch and roosters crowing on shore to port.  Skies clear and the warmth of the sun, and a strong/steady wind on the beam on the Choptank.  Late morning rounding Benoni Point onto the Tred Avon, water reflecting the deep blue sky, the bright white hull of the ketch Kantala anchored just off Oxford.  Lunch with cruising friends, casting off to building afternoon gusts for the mizzen and jib sail farther up the Choptank, rounding up to raise a double reefed main to tack into La Trappe Creek.  Anchor down in the calm behind tall trees on shore, a farm across the water, sheep bleating as the pasture disappeared in darkness.  It doesn't get any better. 

spies among us

I will be careful when choosing a dock to approach when I visit the Corsica River, a place I have passed by in the past and hope to explore in the future.  As the Washington Post and New York Times tell us, the 45 acre compound, featuring two mansions and several bungalows, is alleged to have been used for spying.  No more, as the feds have shut down this and another compound in New York. 

I do remember Rock Hall friends Fred and Mary Lou telling me about a Russian estate on the Chester River, though I never understood exactly where.  Now I know.  I have wanted to visit the Corsica River for a few years now, nearly making it the year before last until an approaching thunderstorm had me turn into Reed Creek for shelter.  Below you see the mansion on the compound with what appears to be a regatta in progress on the Corsica.  And in the distance is the Chester River heading up to Chestertown, one of my favorite place on the bay.  

A late 1980s story in the Washington Post tells of local journalists visiting the compound.  The Russians said they liked the weather, it reminded them of southern Russia.  Plus the fishing was very good.  Boating and "krabiruyu," (crabbing to you and me) being favorite activities.  Local concerns about nuclear submarines surfacing in the Chester to pick up spies and stolen documents proved to be unfounded. 

So I will keep clear of the docks, don't want to mess with either the Russians or the state department or whoever controls the compound now.  But I will look forward to winding my way up the Corsica.  I hear there are some good crab cakes available at a restaurant up there, maybe with a side of caviar and a shot of vodka.