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

Wednesday, October 31, 2018

day four - north

Cast off from the marina in Rock Hall at 7:20 as the sun peeks through the clouds.  Sails up outside the harbor at 7:35, a flock of gulls chasing baitfish as a small boat passes by running a trot line.  4.5 kts.

Swan Pt. at 8:00, 5 kts with wind over the stbd quarter.  Dark rain clouds to the NW, maybe over Baltimore.  Winds falls off and under power.  The clouds slide east and dissipate.  The Miss Caroline out of Tolchester works crab pots along the shore.  

We cross the shipping channel, which comes nearly up against the beach, at 9:00, the only boat in the channel an offshore charter boat headed south.  Steak and eggs for breakfast, a Tanka buffalo meat stick and a RXBar made with three egg whites.  Sailing again off Tolchester, 3.5 with wind on the beam.  

With no commercial traffic in the channel we cross it once again as it angles back out into the bay.  Off Fairlee Creek at 10:30, 3.5 kts and lots of debris - mostly branches and pieces of wood - in the water carried off the shore by storms and high tides.  Light overcast with a patch of blue to the ESE, sun trying to break through.  A deadrise loaded with crab pots heads south.  The sun comes out.  A Monarch buttery clings to the mizzen.

Off Worton Creek 11:25, just over 2 kts, skies grey and the sun gone.  Warm and humid.  Under power just after noon.  Two eagles fly across the bow, one with a fish clutched tight in a talon.  West wind at 12:30, under sail.  

The wind swings to SW and then back to west.  Under 2 kts then soon over 3 kts.  I can see more wind approaching from the south.  Off Still Pond at 2:00, dark skies approaching off the stern.  Wind and rain, slip into the foul weather gear.

Rounding Howell Point at the mouth of the Sassafras just after 3:00, the light breeze blocked by the bluffs along the shore.  Under power.  We follow the shoreline past Betterton, slipping into the narrow entrance of Lloyed Creek.  Peaceful and calm.  Anchor down.

Monday, October 29, 2018

it was time

Looking at SPARTINA'S JW pennant the other day I realized it was time.  After ten years and I don't know how many wonderful miles of sailing the original pennant was faded and beginning to tear.  The sun, rain and wind have all have all left their mark.  It was time to put the new pennant on.

The pennant, which I designed with the help of a friend in the graphics department at the office and was sewn by The Sailbag Lady, was a gift from my mother.  It arrived in the mail in May of 2008, the evening before I left my first ever cruise, a four day trip on Tangier Sound.  Mom had wanted something special from her and Dad on the boat.  The JW can be read two ways.  The boat was designed by John Welsford, so that works.  But more importantly to me - and this is the way I think of it when I look up to see the pennant snapping in a stiff breeze - it brings to mind my parents - Janice and Walt.

After five or so years of sailing with the pennant, Mom had noticed in photographs that it had begun to fade.  I told her I thought the flag still had several more years left in it.  Mom, always the practical one, knew that it would not last for ever.  And she also knew that she would be here forever, so she went ahead and bought a new pennant to tuck away for that day when it was needed.  Well, that day is now and the new bright red pennant is on SPARTINA.  Mom, sadly, is no longer with us.  But the memory of her and Dad will always be there flying at the top of the main mast on the little wooden yawl that has carried me safely for so many miles.

When hearing the news of the new pennant the youngest daughter, a co-builder of SPARTINA and a member of the original crew, asked what would happen to the old pennant.  I think framing might be a good idea.

day three - rain, rain, rain

Rain.  A cold steady rain.  All night long.  It ends at 7:00 as I break down the boom tent.  I check the forecast to see overcast all day, rain starting again late afternoon.  Low grey clouds with a NE wind.  Sails up 7:30.  Hand Point at 7:55.  And rain begins to fall (the weather must not have listened to the forecast).  I can see the Kent Narrows bridge up ahead and go under power to try and make the 8:30 lift.  I get there with, I think, just minutes to spare but the bridge tenders tells me I will have to wait, the old corroded watch on SPARTINA must be running fast.  

There's an ebb tide but it is not running fast, we power through easily.  SPARTINA is the only boat to go through.  It is cold, rainy and dark, I feel lonely.  We motor north and reach the Chester River by 8:50, sails up and making 4.5 kts in the rain.

Off Wickes Beach by 9:20, 4 kts and weather radio is sounding worse and worse.  Rain all day, all night, and again tomorrow, high winds coming through beginning the early morning hours.

Just after 10:00 I can make out the water town at Rock Hall, 4.5 kts in rain and chop.  I get a text from Mary Lou.  She and Fred saw my tracks going north out of Kent Narrows.  They are on their way north too, in their powerboat cruiser, the weather chasing them to their Rock Hall home.  Rock Hall is a nice place.  With the forecast maybe a time for a weather day.  I text back that I'm heading into Rock Hall, we make plans to meet for dinner.  

Approaching Rock Hall I see I have come in too high, I should have started tacking in earlier.  I begin a series of tacks into the harbor, dodging a series of cruising boats - both sail and power - coming home early because of the weather.  I was under sail and had right of way but tacked to keep clear of the boats heading for both Rock Hall and Swan Creek.  

The closer we get to Rock Hall the heavier the rain.  At 11:00 I see a green marker that tells me I'm farther away from the channel entrance than I thought.  Distance can be deceiving in bad weather. 

With four hours of rain the water is building up on the bunk flat up forward on SPARTNA.  The wind is good and I have a good course to I don't want to round up.  I tie the tiller in place and the boat holds a steady course while I go forward to use the bilge pump.  In fact I'm pleased at how well she holds her course.  One more tack at Hummingbird Point and we turn back towards the channel entrance.  Tied up Rock Hall Landing Marina at 1:00, checked in at the Mariner's Motel soon after.  Yes, a weather day sounds good.

Saturday, October 27, 2018

day two - small craft warning

Push off from the dock before 7:00, low clouds and the yellow orange of the coming sun.  Full sail outside Knapps Narrows with an unexpected W wind.  Making just over 3 kts.  But the wind soon falls off.  A crab pot marker shows we are working against an outgoing tide.  SPARTINA gains grounds sailing towards the shore then gives it up as we tack back to deeper water.  

At 9:00 making just over 2 kts, the overcast is breaking up.  Terns dive for baitfish and I can hear the high-pitched whistling of bald eagles in the tree line on shore.

More wind off Lowe's Point, forecast winds that came with a small craft warning on weather radio, and soon we are making 4 kts, then 4.5.  At 10:00 beating into the chop with a nice catboat in the distance.  North of Poplar Island channel we are in Eastern Bay.  Skies are clear, the wind building on the nose and very choppy.  Lots of spray.  SPARTINA rises up on waves and then crashes into the next, the boat heeling so that water comes up on her decks against the coming.  It is a fun ride. 

Tilghman Point at noon making 4.5 into the waves.

We make a long tack past Tilghman Point and onto the Miles River below Parsons Island.  Large swells are rolling down from Prospect Bay.  A few more tacks and we drop anchor in Cabin Creek late afternoon.  A wildlife refuge protects from the wind and waves out of the north.  Sunny and warm, rain coming overnight. 

Thursday, October 25, 2018

still sorting through the photographs

Still catching up and sorting through the photographs.  I hope to get the day two log done tomorrow.

These photographs are from Tilghman Creek and St. Michaels showing Tom's beautiful Pathfinder FIRST LIGHT.  

What are the odds that Tom would drive almost two days from the Florida Keys and I would sail about a dozen days from Cambridge and we end up sharing tacks into Tilghman Creek.

It's the first time I've seen and sailed on another Pathfinder.  Tom built a great boat.  More later...

Tuesday, October 23, 2018

sun dogs and sailing

Just a couple really wonderful days on the water.  Light winds yesterday, nearly calm in the morning. Afternoon brought steady breezes that seemed to come from every direction, the wind shifting constantly but always there.  Saw a couple sun dogs in the clouds which the all-knowing internet tells me is light refracting on ice crystals in the clouds.  Yes, it is that time of year, frost on the lawns and ice crystals in the air.

Today was much better wind, steady out of the WSW and the light morning overcast giving way to blue skies.  Cool and dry, just wonderful.

Sunday, October 21, 2018

day one - Knapp's Narrows

Cast off from the ramp at Cambridge at 9:45 with a light but steady ESE breeze.  Full sail wing and wing toward the light at Hambrooks Bar at just over 3 kts.  A nice black-hulled classic ketch with a deck house motors out of the basin in Cambridge, rounding up to raise sail.  I hear a shouted "looking good!" come across the water and I return the compliment.

A light overcast moves in with wind coming over the port quarter, maybe making 3.5 kts at the light.  Two eagles land on green marker "23" as we sail by, taking flight as we come I close.  Lunch of a can of tuna, crackers, cup of fruit and some raisins.  A loud deadrise works a trotline off the entrance to LaTrappe Creek.  Two Chesapeake Bay Buy Boats, the THOMAS J and the NELLIE CROCKETT head up river.

More wind just before noon and we make just over 4 kts.  Off Oxford and the Tred Avon River at 12:40, looking west I can see seven sails spread out over the horizon.

The Choptank River widens and the wind picks up, making 5 kts and 6 in the gusts on the beam.  At 1:45 we feel the waves rolling up from the mouth of the river.  Two sails and a deadrise coming out of Dogwood Harbor.

Early afternoon and I've got three options.  1) Sail up Harris Creek to Dun Cove.  2) Go through Knapps Narrows and turn north toward Tilghman Creek.  3) Tie up at Knapp's Narrows Marina and enjoy a good dinner at Marker Five restaurant.  

Having started the day at 3:30 a.m. I'm tired.  I choose option 3.  I usually navigate by navigational aids but confess that at times I navigate by way of a good meal.  It costs $2/a foot to tie up next to Marker Five   I drink iced tea on the patio and the barmaid won't charge me so I leave a good tip, then return later for a spicy pulled pork sandwich and a glass of wine.  

I sleep under the boom tent and listen to the voices from a party on the patio, then drift off to sleep.

Wednesday, October 17, 2018

36 seconds off Tilghman Point

Starting to sort through the photographs and found this sequence, shot in a 36-second time frame, sailing in a small craft advisory just off Tilghman Point on day two of the fall sail.  If I ever doubt the Pathfinder's stability I will go back and look at these pictures.