Tuesday, February 28, 2017

mast work

I had a look at the Schooner Virginia's topmasts and spars on the morning walk.  They have an interesting tool, above, made for sanding the wood bare.  With warm weather coming I'm sure efficiency is a must.

The leather has been stripped from the gaff jaws.  Small areas of rot have been chiseled out of the spars with fresh wood being epoxied in place.  The work is top rate.  Even thought the weather has warmed, the winter cover is still on the schooner.  A very hot greenhouse on warm days, the cover I hear will stay on until the decks are refinished and the bright work done.  

Quiet and peaceful this morning on the waterfront.  In a few weeks the snowbirds will be coming up front the south. 

Sunday, February 26, 2017

860 miles, updated

Just checked the yellow brick chart to see GANNET covered just shy of 66 miles in the last 12 hour leg.  Wow.


Checking in with Webb's yellow brick track this morning it shows that the last mark was about 860 miles from St. Helena.  It seems his estimate of a three week sail from Durban to St. Helena will be pretty accurate.

Ventusky shows following wind, above, and waves, below, and clear skies.  From a distance, it seems like pleasant sailing.  I'll look forward to reading Webb's passage log.

Just beautiful sailing here yesterday, my fourth sail in February.  A rare event with both the Pilgrim and oldest daughter on board.

Friday, February 24, 2017

Sunday on the Elizabeth River, Monday in Elizabeth City

Just a couple of great days on the water this past weekend.  Monday in Norfolk on the Elizabeth River, very basic video below but you'll get the feeling that it was light steady winds, sunny and warm.  I'll take it.  (You will notice I keep busy looking around, a good survival strategy when sharing the water with tugboats, barges as big as buildings, freighters and the occasional warship or nuclear powered submarine.)

Monday it was sailing on the Paquotank River out of Elizabeth City, NC, (photos at the top and bottom) where I ran into my sailing friends Claughton and Scoot.  Claughton lives in a civil war era house on Forbes Bay, having me there as a guest there a couple of years ago for probably one of my all time favorite family reunions (even though it wasn't my family).

Claughton and Scoot were sailing Claughton's knew-to-him Sparkman and Stephens designed 22' sailboat.  Scoot was nice enough to send the photo of Spartina, above.  We sailed alongside of each other for a long while, enjoying the nice weather and breeze, talking about sailing and boats and how good life was that afternoon.

Just a great weekend on the water.

Sunday, February 19, 2017

a mutual acquaintance, great progress

About a week or ten days before Webb cast off out of Durban on his way to St. Helena, he sent an email to me titled "a mutual acquaintance."  He said a fellow Pathfinder sailor had stopped by GANNET to introduce himself and drop off a gift of a bottle of Laphroaig - 43% proof.  The Pathfinder sailor said he and I had corresponded a while back.  Webb likes the Pathfinder design, possibly because it reminds him of his Drascome Lugger CHIDIOCK TICHBORNE, and of course he, as anyone who reads his journal knows, enjoys Laphroaig.  It was a very welcomed visit.  

The Pathfinder sailor is Greg and he built his Pathfinder "Joytoy" on the farm where he lives in Mooi River, South Africa.   Looking back through our emails I now remember we had a discussion about ballast and a  few other things, plus Greg's joy in the way the Pathfinder sails.  I asked him to send me some photos, which I've included here.  I'll also include his comments....

"First one (above) was of a trip to Mozambique: A friend of mine Barrie Barnes and I towed the boat to Maputo 18 months ago ,and then we sailed across the bay to Inhaca island where we spent a week camping aboard. A fantastic trip, with the only trouble being the rampant corruption and the demand for bribes. I have been to Mozambique many times on my big boat and you never know what kind of reception you are going to get!"

"The second picture is my favourite summer sailing destination: Sterkfontein Dam, which is one South Africa’s largest reservoirs supplying the greater Johannesburg area. It sits at an elevation of 1700 metres(5600 feet) and is very cold in winter. Great winds for sailing ,and plenty of good anchorages. Very beautiful as it is nestled right up against the Drakensberg mountains which rise to over 3300 metres(11 000 feet)."

"The third picture is of our two month trip to Nosse Be in Madagascar last year. A wonderful, friendly and very beautiful area to visit. Still very primitive and poor. Thankfully the officials are used to dealing with cruising boats and are easy to deal with."

"The last picture was from a trip some years ago taken on the Atoll of Bassas da India,an in the middle of the Mozambique chanel, very isolated with no real protection. At high tide it is entirely covered and one ends up feeling like you anchored 200 NM from land! Great diving and fishing."

This last photo, of course, is not a Pathfinder, but instead Greg's 36 foot  Lavranos cruiser, SomeDay Forever.  Webb thought Someday Forever was a great name and wrote about it here.  

I am still a little bit amazed at the connections I've made around the world through the Pathfinder design, from friends in New Zealand, South Africa, France, England, the list goes on and on.  Yes, nice to have made a mutual acquaintance.


Webb has rounded the bottom of Africa and turned north towards St. Helena.  I think he would consider the sailing so far as "coastal sailing," now he is going offshore.

The wind, above, and waves, are behind him and I imagine GANNET will make great progress.  Winds at about 30 mpg, waves about 4 feet.  I wonder if it feels a little bit like a roller coaster.

February morning

Thursday, February 16, 2017

wind and current: none

Webb had been making excellent progress until yesterday until he was south of Cape Agulhas.  Checking Ventusky and Windytv.com, it seems Gannet found herself without wind or currents.

Above you see the currents, or lack of, and below are the winds at 5 mph or less.  Some some days of great sailing and then, well, not so much.  I guess it all evens out.

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

tracks: South Africa and Watertribe

From a distance, i.e. the other side of the world, it appears that Webb is having a great run across the bottom of Africa.  There were a couple of slow days where you can see the 12 hour marks close together but also many days when GANNET was making 50, 70 and at one point 80 miles during a twelve hour stretch.  The boat must be flying across the top of the waves.

Webb has excellent following wind today as you can see on Ventusky at speeds of 20 to 30 mph.  I'm not sure of the course once he rounds the Cape of Good Hope to St. Helena, but it will be fun watching his tracks.  Webb said he expects a relatively brief stay on the island before heading to the Caribbean.  


Just a couple of weeks away from one of my all time favorite sailing events, the Watertribe Everglades Challenge.  

I do not know plans for Alan or Paul, but I've heard Kristin and Dawn will be paddling (and sailing with a small sail) a tandem kayak.  I think this is new for them, paddling tandem, but with all their experience and years of friendship I know they will do great.  Good luck to all! 

Sunday, February 12, 2017

first day of sailing, first day of double reefing

Just a great day on the water today.  An unseasonable and very welcome 80 degrees.  Light overcast in the morning clearing to blue skies by noon.  All that warm air came in with a vengeance.  Gusts in the morning, stronger gusts late morning then double reefed kind of sailing by early afternoon.  Photo above courtesy of sailing friend Lynn, who joined me on board for a while then make a few pictures from the pier.

It felt good just to rig the boat and launch at the ramp a mile or so up the southern branch of the Elizabeth.

Cooler air moving in tomorrow.  This was an early sail for me.  No doubt it will get cold again and winter certainly isn't over yet.  But yeah, it felt good just to push off from the dock and catch the wind.

Friday, February 10, 2017

gone, updated

Update:  Webb's yellow brick shows him making 6kts.  Conditions must be ideal.
Wind in the low 20's and increasing as he heads southwest.


Webb's yellow brick track shows that he has left Durban.  After delaying departure for about a week he found a window of a few days where hopefully he can sail with wind on or aft of the beam.  Ventusky shows pretty ideal conditions right now.

If conditions continue to be favorable Webb will sail his Moore 24 GANNET around the Cape of Good Hope and continue on to St. Helena, reaching the little island in the Atlantic in about six weeks.

As for me, we've got a forecast of 74 degrees and 10 mph winds out of the SW.  Hope to get out for the first time this year on Sunday.

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Spartina: the book, the boat, the restaurant

We go to the restaurant wondering how to pronounce its name.  Spar-tee-na, Spar-tI-na.  Oh, and to have some good food too.  The youngest daughter and I chose the Melrose Avenue restaurant after an odd coincidence.  Sailing friend Lynn had been out in Los Angeles and noticed the restaurant's sign, taking a photo and texting it to me.  I looked it up on the internet, finding a very appealing menu.  So I text my daughter, asking if she had even heard of it.  She had, in fact, having driving by it just a few minutes earlier, deciding it would be the perfect place for our dinner on my coming visit.  We made our reservations.

So we pick a patio table on a clear, cool southern California evening.  And we ask the waitress how they pronounce the name.  "Spar-tee-na," she says, saying she thought it was some sort of fruit.  I mention the other pronunciation, often used by scientists to describe marsh grass, "spar-tI-na" with a long "I."  That's interesting she says, then runs off to get our drink orders.  A few minutes later she is back, saying she had checked her information and found the long "E" version to be correct but also that it was not a fruit but instead a grass that grew along the shores in Italy.  Marsh grass.

Finishing our appetizer of prime beef carpaccio, arugula salad with light olive oil/lemon dressing and shavings of parmigiano reggiano, the restaurant manager arrives at our table to talk about the restaurant's name, confirming the long "E" version and adding a slight roll to the "r," a nod to the Sicilian influences on their menu.  I tell him about the alternate pronunciation, saying I had a boat with that name.  His name is Freddy, though I don't recall his last name, and we have a fun discussion about the restaurant, their cooking techniques and their history.  Pasta is made from scratch each morning, bones are cracked for the marrow to make sauces.  There is a traditional wood stove and a beside it a heavy grate over a roaring fire for grilling and searing.  Our food is served; Grace's white pizza with clams, ricotta, garlic confit and virgin olive oil; and mine, trenette, octopus with bone marrow, tomato, red wine and parmigiano reggiano.  It looks and tastes just wonderful.  We thank Freddy from dropping by and let him get back to work.

A few minutes later another man stops by our table.  "I hear you have a boat named Spartina," says chef/owner Stephen Kalt.  I hand him my phone so he could see some photographs of Spartina while we laugh about my struggles with the boat's name.  He's friendly and takes a great interest in the little boat. And then he mentions a book about a boat, a book named "Spartina."  While running a restaurant in New York he had known John Casey, the author.  He said he loved everything about the book and chose to name his restaurant based on that.  Thinking about the book he smiles and says the main character in the book built a boat, then he looks at me and says "you built a boat too!  You have something in common!"

I tell him that he and I also something in common.  I read "Spartina" back in 1989 when it was reviewed by the New York Times as a National Book Award Winner.  I loved the book then as I love it now.  He named his restaurant after the book, I named the not-yet-finished Pathfinder after the same.

We finish our discussion talking about the opening page of the book which introduced both the main character and spartina as survivors surrounded by harsh elements, survival being the theme of a book that caught our attention.  I think restaurant owners know something about being survivors.

What a great evening, dinner with the youngest daughter, who helped build the boat, great food, conversations about boats and books.  What more could I ask?  We say goodbye to Freddy and Stephen before leaving, thanking them for a fine dinner.  Walking down the street I wondered why the boat I built to get away from everyone instead leads me to friendly, fascinating people that I would not have otherwise ever met.  Go figure.

Next time I'm out to see the the daughter in Los Angeles you can find us on the patio at Spartina.

Monday, February 6, 2017

Friday, February 3, 2017

from where???

Very large and very live blue crabs in an Asian seafood market in LA.
 I asked where they came from, "USA" was all I got.