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

Monday, July 31, 2017

cool / cruising paradise

A north wind.  A high in the low 80s.  Cool, dry air.
A very welcome change from last week's heat and humidity.


Cruising Paradise, a wonderful book of short stories by 
the playwright and actor Sam Shepard, who died last week.

Saturday, July 29, 2017

and I passed it off as work....

Snuck out for a sail on the Schooner Virginia last week,
somehow claiming it as work.  Life is good.

Monday, July 24, 2017

save my soul

Each time I sail out of Elizabeth City on the Paquotank River I wonder why I sail anywhere else.  Looking downriver from the waterfront, the water stained tea-colored by the cypress swamp, seems to go on forever.  Tree-lined, the winding river goes from northwest to southeast, peaceful and uncrowded.

I cast off under full sail, soon reefing and then again tucking in a second reef.  The wind was hot and strong.  But even with all the wind out of the west and southwest the water remained calm.  Perfect sailing.

I soon saw friend Scoot rounding up in Forbes Bay to raise a double reefed sail on the Marshall 18' Sanderling "Lil' Mooker" catboat he bought a while ago and is fixing up.  I sailed over and ungraciously asked if I could anchor Spartina and hop on Scoot's boat for a while.  He made two passes at Spartina to "suss out the wind" then came in a rounded up gently on the port quarter.  Pushing off from Spartina he told me to take the tiller.

I have always admired the Sanderling design and at times thought if I wanted a larger boat the catboat would be high on my list.  Just 18' long, but beamy and coming in at about 2,000 pounds, the boat was very solid on the water.  And talk about space - the cockpit is huge.  One tack up the river and then a tack back down, Scoot rounded up again and I stepped back aboard Spartina, the catboat never even stopping.  Then we sailed alongside each other for a while and enjoyed the hot summer day.

The ramp is on Knobbs Creek and across the bridge from the ramp is a park with a shelter.  Approaching the ramp I could hear live music being played.  It was a revival: religion with a heavy base line.  Breaking down Spartina's rig - and feeling every one of the 117 degrees of heat index - the music gave way to preaching and then the call and response that is heard throughout the south.  I believe souls were being saved, though not mine.  A colleague once suggested that it was only because of acts of kindness by the Pilgrim, my wife, that I have any chance at all to get into heaven.  I did not disagree with him.

It was a nice day on the water.  

Saturday, July 22, 2017

traditional sail gathering

Some very fine photographs by and of the crew of Astrid, the beautifully crafted Pathfinder built by Lorenzo on the shores of the Mediterranean.  I believe that to be Astrid above.

Every two years the Rivages De Mediterranee holds a traditional sail gathering on the Lac de Serre Ponçon.  It looks like a wonderful affair on the water and no doubt the Pathfinder Astrid fits right in.  Take a look at the photographs here.  

I am glad to see somebody doing some sailing.  Had to work today.  Might sail tomorrow but need to decide if the possible 110 to 115 degree heat index would make for enjoyable sailing.  Have to think about that.

Friday, July 21, 2017

you just never know....

who will be passing through the local sailing grounds.

In this case it was the aircraft carrier USS Harry S Truman, 
wrapping up a stretch in the yard for maintenance.

I was glad to not be on the water.  This is a very narrow stretch
of water and the security boats do not look kindly on
any boat - large or small - that might be a threat.
It was a very impressive sight.

Monday, July 17, 2017

an all-Welsford cruise

Kristen sends me this link for a video for an eight day cruise on Keneperu Sound in New Zealand.

Six adventurous sailors, four boats, all of them designed by John Welsford - two Navigators, one Whaler and one Scamp.

I have heard of Bootstrap and Tusk over the years.  I have seen drawings of the Whaler but not until now a finished boat.  And very impressed that the smaller Scamp kept up the pace.

If you want to know about cruising in a small boat, this is an excellent video to watch.  And it you want to know about John Welsford, this video is really a tribute to his fine work.  Enjoy!

Saturday, July 15, 2017

mornings and evenings

Had a great week with five morning sails and two or three evening sails.  Mornings were the best.  Steady, cool breeze on a quiet river.  Afternoons had stronger winds, hot wind, and a lot of activity from cruising boats anchoring to small boat regattas.  Yes, an excellent week.

Sailed this morning but with thunderstorms predicted this afternoon went by the dock to put up the boom tent, getting it set up just a couple of minutes before the rain hit.

Thursday, July 13, 2017

the slowest circumnavigation

I was very pleased to see Canadian cruising friends Michael and Sheila as they visited nearby Hampton Creek on the 44' ferrocement ketch Kantala that Michael built in British Columbia.  I met them as they were anchored in Craford Bay almost exactly one year ago, they were headed north at the time and we spent an enjoyable afternoon on Kantala and the following morning sailing Spartina.  

Looking back I would have been very happy to have gotten to know them during just that one weekend, never expecting to see them again.  But a few months later we had a chance meeting on a stormy day on the Wye River (photo above).  A few days later we connected in St. Michaels, and a few days after that we met for a wonderful lunch - Sheila creates wonderful meals in their closet-sized kitchen on Kantala - anchored off of Oxford (photo below).

Two days ago I drove to Hampton and Michael rowed me out to Kantala where the three of us spent a couple pleasant hours talking about sailing and friends.  They will soon be casting off to head across the Atlantic to the Azores and then England.  It was 29 years ago that they left British Columbia, they could be well on their way to reaching their stated goal of the world's slowest circumnavigation.  

Lately I've realized that my best and truest friends are people who I have met through Spartina, Michael and Sheila (below on the Wye River) are certainly part of that group.  Will I ever see them again?  I don't know, kind of doubt it.  But our brief interactions - talking aboard Kantala, sailing on Spartina, sitting our a stormy night on the Wye River, lunches on beautiful rivers - have all been times that I will treasure.

Sunday, July 9, 2017


Forecast for virtually no wind, turned out to be a day with an excellent NE breeze.  A little warm yes, but steady wind, cool and dry.  Very happy to cross paths with my friends on the American Rover.

Friday, July 7, 2017

midsummer break

The logs are - finally (appropriate word choice I think) - done for the Finally 240.  You'll see them below and I hope to have the complete link list posted at the right by this evening.  It took longer than expected to get the log put together, which I can blame directly on work and a really fun summer of sailing when not at work.

June had to be one of the nicest Junes in my experience on the mid-Atlantic.  Surprisingly cool, dry wind out of the north was both unexpected and very welcome.  It even had me convinced that with a four-day-weekend I could do a short cruise on Tangier Sound.  But July arrived with southwest wind, heat and humidity, reminding me why I don't cruise in July and August.  Instead, I'll keep Spartina on the waterfront for at least four days, maybe more, for morning and evening sailing, and also do some sailing on a much larger boat, more about that later.

Photo above is from last weekend as the oldest daughter, co-builder of Spartina and part of the original crew, joined the Pilgrim and myself for a sail.

Thursday, July 6, 2017

day eight - back to where I belong

Another peaceful night.  Another morning with clear skies and a pleasant southwest wind.  I tuck away the sleeping gear under the foredeck, put the cook kit back in place on the starboard side, put on a clean shirt and seal up the waterproof duffle where I stow my clothes and shave kit.  

Main up at 6:15, the anchor raise and then the jib.  The silhouettes of three ibises past to the east.

Out of Ditch Creek on Jones Bay we make four knots and better.  I take one extra unneeded tack on the water just to enjoy, then follow the gps track to find my way to the little ditch that runs through the trees.  Tide is out so I raise the rudder and centerboard, winding my way through the trees leaning over the ditch.  And then I see the light blue boat house up ahead.  

I motor up alongside the boat house at the little boat yard in a little village on a small island that I had never even heard of until a few years ago.  I look around to see that no one is there.  I think about all the people who had brought me there, making me feel as if I was part of this place.  From Shawn, who owned the yard until a few weeks earlier, to Paul and Dawn who had introduced me to Shawn.  And of course the guy named John who lives on the other side of the world who designed a boat that takes me to where my dreams lead.  Maybe I do belong here.  

I tie up Spartina and get read to haul her out. 

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

day seven - fishing, not catching

Crystal clear overnight, the stars and the milky way at first, then the too bright moon causing me to slip down in the bivy and pull the cover over my head.

Sailed off anchor at dawn, southwest wind.  Made a series of tacks down the creek while enjoying the last apple store up in the netting under the foredeck.  Out of the creek and into the Pungo River at 7:00.  At Sandy Point the sun already feels harsh.  Making 4.2 towards Pamlico Point.  By 8:00 out on the Pamlico River, 5.4 knots and waves rolling down the river.

Approaching the southern shore of the Pamlico River I see two small fishing boats casting along the tiny Cedar Island.   Just to the east of the island we sail into James Creek, drop the anchor along a grassy shoreline, bring down the main and jib, and start casting for trout.  

No luck at the first spot so I raise the anchor and the jib, skimming along the shoreline under mizzen and jib, working our way back to the Pamlico.  I work one more point on the James, then jibe towards Beard Island Point to ghost along the southern shore of the river.  The wind is perfect for mizzen and jib.  I stand in the aft cockpit and nudge the tiller with my knee, cast up along the grass with my favorite lure, a green twin-tail grub on and eighth ounce jig.  I point up along the shoreline casting to the edge of the grass, letting the lure sink to the bottom, then twitching it back to Spartina.  Sometimes I fall off a bit, cast out to deeper water for a mid-level retrieve.  The twin tails of the lure flutter in the clear water, looking like a small flounder or maybe a little crab scuttling across the grassy bottom.  I work my way east along the shore line towards Pamlico Point.  Everything is perfect....well almost perfect except that...... I don't catch a fish.  Not even get a bite.  Towards the end of the shore I pass outside a power boat with a couple fishing with an electric trolling motor.  "The fish are on the points" the gentleman tells me.  So I work the last few points particularly hard, but still ..........not a fish to be seen.  

Full sail at Pamlico Point before noon, working our way across the mouth of Mouse Harbor, the Big and Little Porpoise Bays, Middle Bay and Jones Bay

The afternoon wind builds, as it always seems to do on Pamlico Sound, and I enjoy the shoreline that I've been exploring now for nearly a decade.  

Inside Jones Bay I tack to the south and look for an anchorage inside Boar Point.  The wind is too strong and the cove doesn't offer much protection.  With shallow water I raise the cb and the rudder, turn back out on to the bay and sail down to Ditch Creek on the southern shore.  A tall stand of trees blocks the wind.  The water is calm and quiet.  It is early afternoon and the sun beats down.  I could be back at the ramp in 30 minutes if I wish.  Instead I drop anchor for one more night out.  

Monday, July 3, 2017

day six - downriver

A dew-covered tent at dawn, traffic noise from the bridge upriver and geese cackling near the overgrown islands.  The river is calm, lights along the waterfront glow.  Sail off anchor 6:25 with a nice breeze out of the south.  In the wind shadow behind The Castle I begin to drift towards the new marina.  I run the outboard for just a minute before the sails catch the wind.  Through the trestle at 6:45.

More wind making 2.5 down the tea-stained river with a light fog ahead.  Wind picks up at Fork Point, 4.0 knots with haze and low clouds.

Even better wind at Broad Creek Point, making 5.3.  We round up so I could put the solar panel out on the foredeck.  Beyond the point there is less wind and Spartina does 3.5 to 4.2 knots.  

Light overcast and low grey clouds, wind over the starboard quarter.  Effortless sailing.  At 10:00 off Bath Creek, where I had anchored the night before, the sun breaks through.

At noon we are off the North River, a launching point for a cruise years ago and a possible stopping point for today.  But it is much too early and the wind too nice, though I promise to someday explore the river and her branches.  Looking ahead I can see boats on the ICW crossing from Goose Creek to the Pungo River.

We jibe just after 1:00, round Wade Point and make 4.3 on the calm Pungo River.  I think about heading to Belhaven, but after visiting Washington yesterday I decide on a quiet, peaceful and unpopulated anchorage.  We jibe a second time, now heading into Slade Creek mid-afternoon.  Anchor down 3:20.  The wind swings to the southwest and is coming right up the creek.  I pull up anchor and head around the bend where the tall pines completely block the wind and waves.  Anchor down a second time after 4:00.  Not a soul in sight.