Thursday, August 30, 2018

video from Barry

Barry, the sailing friend that always has a camera in his hand (in fact his blog's name is Eye in Hand) produced a very nice video from our shared sailing at Gwynn's Island and on the Rappahannock.  The direct youtube link is here (copy and paste into your browser)...

And these are some screen shots I grabbed from the video.  Nice work, Barry, thanks very much.  I never get to see SPARTINA sail so this is a real treat for me.

Wednesday, August 29, 2018

two pathfinders on Chesapeake Bay

In an email Bobby tells me that there were in fact two Pathfinders sailing Chesapeake Bay this past weekend.  Could that be a first?  Maybe so.  While I had SPARTINA on the Piankatank and Rappahannock, he was sailing LAGNIAPPE to Annapolis.  Very cool.  I enjoyed this comment from his email....

I have fallen in love with the mizzen. It sits back there, mostly unattended, providing just enough propulsion to keep the boat maneuverable in light air or tight quarters, and keeps her in the wind for raising the main.  I think I'm a yawl man from here on out; so much more controlled than a sloop. 

Tuesday, August 28, 2018

fresh water

Yeah, that's me, pulled over by the side of the road in pre-dawn darkness, trying to get the trailer lights back on.  They lasted all of three miles before going dark.  I get them back on, then I'm back on the road.  Or at least until they go out again.  It's before rush hour so not too bad sitting on the highway shoulder.  I get the driver's side lights working and settle for that.  Plus dawn is near.  

Another bridge over a river, smaller road, lighter traffic, open space.  I can breath again.  

Through the swing bridge from Milford Haven to the Piankatank about 9:00, glad to be on the water.  Stunningly beautiful day, more like early fall than the typical hot, humid August.

Rounding a shoal I get a wave from a crabber.  I ask how the catch is this season.  Catching a lot, he says, but that drives the price down.

This is fresh water to SPARTINA, we've never sailed the western shore of the bay.  Old Tidewater Virginia, winding rivers and creeks, farms along the shore.  

Forecast is for 5-10 out of the east and it is exactly right.  A few minutes of 5 mph wind, then a few minutes of 10 mph.  We head north across the Piankatank for Stingray Point.

I shake my head and smile, I can't remember as August day like this.

Easy enough navigation.  I didn't do too much planning.  Just round the point into the broad Rappahannock, a small fleet of fishing boats anchored out off of Deltaville, then head up river.

Mid-afternoon we sail past Parrot Island to the mouth of Locklies Creek, tie up at the docks at Merroir Tasting Room, the spot on the waterfront where you can taste all the oysters you want - and more - from the Rappahannock Oyster Company.

I sit in the shade reading the newspaper.  Barry arrives and says let's go sailing.  I try to pay for my iced tea but the waitress says it's on the house.  I leave a nice tip.

A late afternnon sail on the Rappahannock, catching up with each other as we hadn't crossed paths in a long while.

Then back to the dock for a couple dozen oysters, plump and tasty, washed down by Sculpin IPA.

And smoked cobia and arugula with pita bread.

And the tasting rooms version of salad caprese.  And another dozen oysters.  Talk about good.

Then I cast off to anchor out for the night, Barry grabbing a nice photo from the docks.

A beautiful evening with a moon so bright I wake twice wondering "who turned on the lights?"  I drop down the top of the bivy and drift back to sleep.

Another fine day, this one with lighter winds.  Motor-sailing down the Rappahannock to Stingray Point, finding wind back on the Piankatank.

Back into the ramp and there's Barry waiting for us.  He hops on board with that camera that he seems to always have in his hands.

A nice sail, then lunch at The Hole in the Wall restaurant, I set off in SPARTINA and soon Barry is out in his melonseed.  Wind on the beam for a sail behind the sandbar south of Gwynn's Island.


I grab of few pictures of Barry, he takes some of SPARTINA.  Then he waves goodbye, heading back to the ramp.

And I stay out sailing, tacking up and down Milford Haven, a losing Orioles game on the radio.  Back and forth on the water just enjoying life.  Yeah, I know, simple things for the simple minded.  I'll take it.

A peaceful night anchored behind the sand bar.  

The sun peeks up beneath the morning clouds.  Geese fly over on the way back to the dock reminding me that fall is coming fast.  We haul out and head home.  An excellent weekend on the water.

Thursday, August 23, 2018

a long weekend

Sometimes it all comes together.  A long weekend, a good weather forecast and a nice little Tidewater Virginia sailing.  I'm heading up to Gwynn's Island tomorrow with SPARTINA in tow.  A high pressure system is moving into the area bringing sunshine, moderate winds and unseasonably comfortable temperatures.  The weather map below shows high 70s before noon tomorrow.  In August.  Still can't get over that.

I had been sorting and checking gear for the fall trip, so I'm already to go in that area.  And once I get back I can clean the gear and have it all set for the sail to St. Michaels in late September. 

I don't consider this three day trip a cruise, it's just some daysails strung together with the chance to explore a little bit of the Rappahannock and Piankatank Rivers.  Plus there's that nice oyster place with free docking that Barry is always telling me about.  I'll take a note book but not a log book.  I'll have the cameras.  And I'll have my SPOT tracking device on in case anyone wants to follow along.

Click here for the tracking page or copy and paste from below....

Tracking should go live tomorrow a.m.

Wednesday, August 22, 2018

if you can sail in Aruba.....

Good friend Rik has gotten in some adventurous sailing down in Aruba.  He entered his Pathfinder VANESSA in an international regatta, going through the steps (I'm not a race and don't quite understand how it works) to get a rating for his boat in the open class.  I'll put some excerpts from his emails and let him tell the story.


The Pathfinder is a very seaworthy boat. The strong winds tried to tip her over, the waves tried to sink her... we still won Yachts (on rating).  All I really need to work on now is to install the big waterpump.

They have a sol called CSA (caribbean sailing ...) rating which is specific for the environment we have here. They gave me a .662 rating which was the lowest of the boats. The next one was a 28 ft yacht. They had a .7 something rating. I sailed in the open class. Had to learn lots of stuff fast but it was all worth it. My buddy Alex sailed 3 of the 4 races with me. Total amount of sailing hours over sateurday and sunday was about 10 hours. So with blistered hands but a very satisfied mind I look forward to next year's regatta already. 

VANESSA at lower left

Forgot to mention that all races were sailed with winds around 25 knots with gusts way up higher... In one terribly hard knock we nearly had the sail in the water, but she just fell back horizontal and kept sailing... but the boat was completely swamped. We got it out and kept going. Awesome design. In the racing class two spinackers were ripped to shreds, some Beachcats tumbled over, but the Optimist kids were champs and sailed hard through it all.
If you can sail here, you can sail anywhere...

Out of the 4 boats in our class we came in 2nd. With about 105 seconds away from the 1st place. That will have to be the target next year...


I believe it when Rik says if you can sail in Aruba you can sail anywhere.  From the photos and videos I have seen from VANESSA over the years their typical weather would match some of the roughest conditions I have sailed in.  Well done, Rik, congratulations on a some great sailing.

Sunday, August 19, 2018


Hemingway and paella.  And I believe I see a bottle of dry 
white wine in there too.  The Pilgrim marches on.

no b.s. breakfasts and other foods

I find myself ahead of schedule on food supplies for the fall sail.  I've been experimenting and testing with some different kinds of foods.  Here are some of the foods for this sail.  

Above are the RXBARs that, along with a cup of fruit, will be breakfast.  They are simple food bars, a mixture of egg whites, some nuts, dates and peanuts.  They are more substantial than a granola bar but not as heavy as a Cliff Bar.  

On last fall's sail I enjoyed a "Flavored Beef Stick, Chunked and Formed" from the "Menu 18" MRE given to me while working with a US Army artillery squad.  I found a similar product, though not so clinically described, at Amazon.  TANKA BARS are made by Native Americans in South Dakota, which I think is pretty cool.  Smoked buffalo meat and cranberries sound like an interesting combination for an afternoon snack.

I have become a fan of Chimes Ginger Chews, finding them first at REI and now buying packs of them through Amazon.  Ginger has been a favorite for years, sometimes for cooking but mostly in the dried and sugared version.  It tastes good and can calm the stomach.  The name Ginger Chews is a bit of a misnomer, you really don't chew on them.  Like a hard candy, you suck on them.  I guess calling them Ginger Sucks never quite made it past the marketing department.

And of course Italian tuna for lunches.  There are three brands I have tried, all of them good.  Callipo is the most readily available to me so I go with that.

Dinner will be either fresh caught striper or freeze dried meals, many still from the supplies sent to me by Graeme and Webb.  

Good sailing and fine dining, I can't wait.

Saturday, August 18, 2018

the mural

Yesterday I received this photograph showing the new mural on the Nauticus pier and SPARTINA catching a light breeze.

I left the boat on the Elizabeth River for six days, sneaking away from work to sail four of those days.

During the week I met an otter who seemed to enjoy leaving muddy paw prints on the foredeck and the boom tent.  My fake rope snake kept him off the boat the following days.

I took a young man sailing.  He texted his request to go sailing a few months ago from an army base in the Syrian desert.  I try to help out when I can.

A young woman walking along the water's edge joined me for the nicest sail of the week.  She turned out to be a photographer and documentary film maker, and also the granddaughter of a man I knew a couple of decades ago.  Small world.

And I finally met Lucius, the source of photographs taken from the 17th floor of a waterfront building that sometimes showed up on my phone.  One of the photographs, he explained to me, was taken by holding up his phone to the eye piece of his binoculars.  Certainly a different way of looking at things.

It was an enjoyable week on the water, filled with the unexpected.

Wednesday, August 15, 2018

the fake snake

I came down to SPARTINA at the docks Tuesday morning to find an otter relaxing on the dock next to the boat.  How nice, I thought.  Or I thought until I saw the mess it the furry little aquatic mammal made on the foredeck, jib and boom tent.    

Fortunately the otter used SPARTINA only as a playground, not a restroom.  I did not want to chance anything worse so I came up with a simple solution.  I took the line I normally use to wrap the mainsail, a thick red rope with white bands that I found on the beach 30 years ago while trout fishing (I knew it would have a purpose someday), and placed it on the foredeck in the shape of a snake.  Maybe it was luck or maybe it got the otter's attention, but no otter in sight this morning.

Good wind Tuesday morning, light winds this morning.  Work gets in the way of sailing tomorrow.  Friday is a day off with an excellent forecast.  I can't wait.

Monday, August 13, 2018

forecast? / dinner

The forecast for our area at kind of said "no" to sailing this past weekend.  Yes, a large mass of moist air hanging over the mid-Atlantic.  Thunderstorms, maybe.  There was a storm Friday afternoon, and a couple big ones midday Saturday. 

But yesterday's storm filled skies looked like the above.  Blue skies and puffy white clouds.  It was a beautiful sail.  Not a lot of wind, just enough to keep us moving at a good pace.  Good to be back on the water.

And good to see the Schooner Virginia coming back to the dock after a couple weeks at Cape Charles on the Eastern Shore.


So after a great sail how about a great dinner.  Octopus tentacles poached in olive oil with smoked paprika and garlic, grilled avocado stuffed with seasoned chopped veggies, oven roast corn and cherry tomatoes and sweet potato rounds.  The octopus and avocado were my attempts at a Los Angeles Spartina-like dinner.  They were close, but not that close.  No complaints were heard at the table.

Saturday, August 11, 2018

"its appeal is that it does not try to be appealing"

My friend and former colleague Earl Swift has a new book out about Tangier Island called CHESAPEAKE REQUIEM, A Year with the Watermen of Vanishing Tangier Island."  The book has earned a very positive review from the Washington Post.  

Earl spent the better part of two years on the island, living in a rented room and spending time with the watermen and their families.  And the review is written by an editor who ought to know something about Tangier, Steven Ginsberg, a native of nearby Onancock.

We knew Earl was working on the book, he would drop by the office now and then as he was heading to or coming back for a months-long stint on the island.  He knows the island well, having written about in over the last 20 years.  I've had the good fortune to spend some time on the island too, not even close to the time Earl has spent there but enough to learn a little bit about the people and the place - both through work and by sailing there.  Above is a photo from when I spent an afternoon in what they called the "situation room" (in fact the old birthing room of the island's now-closed medical center) as the senior watermen, including the mayor Ooker Eskridge, second from left, try to solve the world's problems.

The world's problems are tough enough to solve, but so are those of tiny Tangier Island.  It is disappearing, and doing so very rapidly.  According to the review, Earl makes the case that Tangier might be the first community in the country completely lost to climate change.

If you like Tangier, Chesapeake Bay or soft-shell crabs, I would suggest you take a look at the book.  The issues for the disappearing island are complex - a tiny population, money, government bureaucracy, logistics and independent, strong-willed waterman who for the most part do not believe in climate change and sea level rise.

There are several excellent observations in the Post's review, my favorite is this:  

"This is not Nantucket. Charm is not Tangier’s thing; its appeal is that it does not try to be appealing."

That is the truth.  I can't wait to read the book.