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

Friday, March 30, 2018

Thursday, March 29, 2018

PLAY BALL!!! (why I will sail Tangier Sound for the spring sail)

The Orioles were in town the other evening on their way north, stopping to play their triple-A affiliate the Norfolk Tides.

You can tell from the grass how cold it has been this spring, the field should be nice and green by now.  And the evening of the game was very chilly.  Lots of parkas being worn in the stands, but a great crowd that really got into the game.  Just as many O's jerseys and caps as the Tides.

Great to see some baseball.  And it got my thinking about the spring sail, which I decided I'll do on Tangier Sound where I can pick up the AM broadcasts of both the Nationals and the Orioles.  Can't wait.

Monday, March 26, 2018

a month of storms

The Washington Post has been kind enough to chronicle the storms we have had it march.  You can find the story here.  

If they had time they might have added another storm that came through last night.  We did not get the snow but we did get house-shaking winds over night and a biting cold wind all day today.  I am still pleased to know that I snuck out for three days of sailing this month.  

It should be warmer in a couple of days.  This can't go on forever.

Sunday, March 25, 2018


At right is SPARTINA's original pennant, a gift from my mother that arrived about a decade or so ago the evening before my first cruise, a four day trip on Tangier Sound.  

I designed the flag and it was custom sewn by The Sailbag Lady, sewn twice in fact as each flag is two flags back-to-back.  In photographs my Mom noticed the flag was faded and worn from a lot of days on the water so she bought me a new one.  I figure the original has another year or two left, then I'll trade it out for the new one.

Saturday, March 24, 2018

sun halo

Nice, brisk spring sail.  Lots of sunshine until about 2 p.m. and a nice breeze.  Two snow birds headed north on the Dismal Swamp Canal from Elizabeth City, the trawler Edith B. bound for the Solomons and the sloop Oceanus headed to Cambridge.  Boats coming from the south bring the warmth with them.

spring sailing

Thursday, March 22, 2018

oranges from China, apples from Kazakhstan, kale from Croatia

I ordered some food for the mind for the spring trip.  Having the right book for a cruise is very important to me.  After sailing all day I take pleasure in dinner, maybe a ball game on the radio and a good book.  I'm a fan of exploration and of food, so "The Food Explorer, The True Adventures of the Globe-Trotting Botanist Who transformed What America Eats" fits the bill.  Written by Daniel Stone, it is the story David Fairchild's world-wide expeditions from about 1890 to the start of World War 1.  

From Amazon.....

Kale from Croatia, mangoes from India, and hops from Bavaria. Peaches from China, avocados from Chile, and pomegranates from Malta. Fairchild's finds weren't just limited to food: From Egypt he sent back a variety of cotton that revolutionized an industry, and via Japan he introduced the cherry blossom tree, forever brightening America's capital. Along the way, he was arrested, caught diseases, and bargained with island tribes. But his culinary ambition came during a formative era, and through him, America transformed into the most diverse food system ever created.

Now I just have to make sure I tuck the book away so I don't read it before casting off.

Here are a few of my other favorite food books.  "The Scents of Eden, A History of the Spice Trade" by Charles Corn.  Amazon's description...

Clothed in mystery and lost in uncharted seas, the Spice Islands of the early sixteenth century tantalized European imagination to the point of obsession. As the only place on Earth where grew the "holy trinity" of spices-cloves, nutmeg, and mace-these minuscule islands quickly became a wellspring of international intrigue and personal fortune, occasioning the rise and fall of nations across the globe. It is the history of these islands, their mystique, and the men who tried to tame them, that is the fascinating bounty of THE SCENTS OF EDEN.

And of course Mark Kurlansky's books "Cod, A Biography of the Fish that Changed the World" and "Salt, A World History," the titles telling you all you need to know about the books.  

"The Food Explorer," at least from reading the preface and first couple of pages by way of a kindle sample, promises to be just as good as these books.  I can't wait to read it.  

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

another storm, camping, the debate

We are getting our fourth nor'easter in about three weeks.  There could be a fifth but latest forecast makes me think not.  It has been a long, cold, wet and windy winter.  Much worse to the north, no doubt, but still not great weather for getting out on the water.  Spring began officially yesterday, maybe it will show up in fact soon.  If the fifth nor'easter bypasses us I may try to sneak out on the Pasquotank River this weekend for a chilly sail.


During my Sunday sail with Bobbly we talked a lot about small boat cruising.  I pointed out my belief that small boat sailing is very similar to backpacking.  Much of the gear on SPARTINA is designed for backpacking, including my jet boil, above, the bivy, the sleeping gear and navigation gear.  And like backpacking, one can be exposed to the elements for 12 to 14 hours at a time.  It's just that with sailing, you don't have to carry all that gear on your back and be on your feet all day long.  I simply prefer to put my feet up, lean back and keep a hand on the tiller.


A recent email from Conway has made me rethink my plans for the spring cruise.  For a couple months now I have planned to visit Tangier Sound.  It was an email from Conway, owner of Potter's Marine on North Creek just off the Pamlico River, that had me reconsidering.  I sailed out of there years ago and remember a nice marina on protected water, a good clean spot to rig SPARTINA and an excellent ramp.  I used it only for the one trip, then forgot about it because I met Sean at Pate's Boat Yard and have sailed out of there since.  Pate Boat Yard is no more so I was glad to be reminded of Potter's Marine.

From Potter's you can sail the short distance south to the Pamlico River.  At that point, turn west towards Washington, head east and south to Goose Creek on the way to Beaufort, or just plain east towards Ocracoke.  That all sounds good to me.

But that would mean skipping Tangier Sound, below.  Fine sailing, good fishing and nice little islands like Tangier and Smith Islands.

And great crab cakes like those at Ruke's in Ewell on Smith Island.  I don't know, which way should I go???  Definitely doing the upper Chesapeake Bay in fall.  Got to figure out spring.

Monday, March 19, 2018

let's play two

Left SPARTINA on the river Saturday night for a breezy sail Sunday.  The wind had shifted from Saturday's steady southwest breeze to a crisp northerly.  Temperature was a few degrees warmer on Sunday but with the gusty wind it did not feel that way.  With thermals, foul weather pants and a jacket it felt just fine.  Very pleased to sail both days of the weekend.

Bobby from DC, a big boat sailor who is considering downsizing and is looking at a Pathfinder, joined me for a sail.  We had been in touch by email for about a year, it was enjoyable to meet him in person.

We sailed in the morning double reefed, then single reefed in the afternoon.  I'm still tweaking the set of the main, adding more belly to it and eliminating wrinkles up along the gaff.  Slowly but surely making improvement.  

The great thing about winter sailing??  Plenty of room at the ramp.   Spring should not be far away but I hear there is a chance of snow this week.

Saturday, March 17, 2018

winter sailing

A crisp 37 degrees when I got to the ramp this morning.  No trouble finding a parking spot.  (Wonder why???)  Had SPARTINA rigged and motoring up the southern branch of the Elizabeth River just after 9:00 with a nice SW breeze.

Still experimenting with the set of the main.  Slacked the outhaul at Stuart's suggestion to put more belly in the mail.  You can see the curve of the sail above.  Gone are the creases that used to run along the foot of the sail.  I felt like there was improved performance.  I had to adjust the lazy jacks so they didn't pinch in along the foot and that seemed to work out well.  There are still some wrinkles at the top of the sail but after I came in I adjusted the lines that tie the sail to the gaff and think that will smooth things out.

Went from clear skies to a few clouds then to very cloudy.  Temperature peaked at a balmy 51 just as I came into the dock in the afternoon.  Left SPARTINA on the river for another sail tomorrow.   Sitting here at the kitchen window I look outside and see bright sunshine.  Wish I had stayed out a bit longer.

Friday, March 16, 2018

simpler times

I rec'd this photograph from a friend the other day.  It was taken almost exactly five years ago while waiting for a few hours in a room on a military base to photograph the president.  Five years ago, so not the current office holder.  

I showed the picture to the daughters, one replying "simpler times."

Sunday, March 11, 2018


I dropped by Dick's Sporting Goods this morning for one of their annual sales.  I went early to beat the crowd and was rewarded with a $10 gift card for being one of the first hundred shoppers.  My lure of choice, a deep-diving floating YoZuri, was on sale, two for the price of one.  A couple lures worth $30 and I was out the door for less than $5, what a great deal.  They'll be perfect for stripers this fall.

Our long, cold, wet and windy winter continues.  I have had to content myself with checking gear and packing food for the spring trip, still two months away.  Canned Italian tuna, fruit cups, granola and dried fruits are in the bags so far.  Now I just need a little sunshine and warmth. 

Saturday, March 10, 2018

report from FIRST LIGHT

Tom put together a very nice account of his Everglades Challenge sail in his John Welsford Pathfinder FIRST LIGHT.  He talks about the boat, sailing technique, decision making and gear.  Just great stuff.  You can find the pdf here.

Friday, March 9, 2018

Dawn sets a record

A short video and an EC report from Paul

With only a two-hour delay due to a small-craft advisory, the 2018 Everglades Challenges started with 107 boats and featured a full moon for night-time sailing and near-perfect weather at the start on Saturday and Sunday allowing us (Alan and Paul) to improve and finish in a little less than 48 hours. This was the 6th EC for the "Dawn Patrol" crewed by Alan and Paul. Alan and Dawn equally have completed a boatload of ECs and NC Challenges. This year, Dawn (a.k.a. SandyBottom) in her Kruger Dream Catcher also improved her best time to 5 days, 5 hours, 32 minutes and is now very happy to hold the record time for "Class 1 kayak solo female". This was her 14th Everglades Challenge. 

Thursday, March 8, 2018

SandyBottom, Dances with SandyBottom and SOS, corrected

Paul, aka Dances with SandyBottom, was kind enough to send photographs of his wife Dawn, aka SandyBottom, finishing her Everglades Challenge.

Above is son Alan, aka SOS, watching SandyBottom come in, above, and enjoying a cold one with her, below.  

I do not know for a fact but I suspect - and if I'm wrong please somebody let me know - that the Stewart family, between Paul, Dawn and Alan, has competed in more Watertribe events than just about any other family.

From the Everglades Challenge to the Ultimate Florida Challenge to North Carolina Challenge, they have been competitors in kayaks, Core Sound boats and even self-designed/self-built boats.  They have been a constant presence at the events and it has been my pleasure to follow them on the races over the years.  

A correction from Paul on the earlier post about Dawn Patrol....

"Actually, the boat on the left with red sailcovers is an EC22 "Scorpa" owned by good friends Joe and Sally Anderson who are cruising Florida Bay this week. Our B&B Core Sound 20 (Mark 1) "Dawn Patrol" is on the right but now with hull painted blue to confuse you. Over the past year we have refitted and repainted her and given her new sails. Here [ https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0sazYaIoJrE ] is a tour of the "Dawn Patrol" by Alan (a.k.a., SOS). "

Missing from the photographs is, of course, Paul.  He is simply to modest to include himself.  (But if anybody does have a photograph of Dances with SandyBottom please send it to me, I would love to post it.).  

Paul, Dawn and Alan are very adventurous people and very good folks.  I have learned a lot from them over the years and I am very glad to have them as my friends.  Congratulations on a great race.

crossing Florida Bay

Nice video from Tom here from crossing Florida Bay.  Love that clean, organized cockpit.  Love the company he had for at least part of the sail, below.

Wednesday, March 7, 2018


Tom reached the finish line in his Pathfinder FIRST LIGHT in four days, five hours and five minutes. I'll look forward to hearing more about the trip, but this is what he sent this evening.

"Finished the race today, now I’m sitting on the couch, and there is no tiller or sheet to tend to, feels weird." 

after arriving at flamingo

the sunrise lighting up my main leaving flamingo