Monday, January 28, 2019

sunday sail

"You're really going sailing today?"  That was the voice of my wife, the Pilgrim, as we were on our morning walk yesterday.  It may well have been the voice of reason too.  A hard frost on the lawns and rooftops, temperature right at freezing.  

I hesitated when I got the ramp in Elizabeth City.  The temperature had barely climbed to 35°, a slight overcast and not a breath of wind.  But I was down there and wanted to sail.  I decided to give it a try.  The light breeze arrived just as I backed SPARTINA down to the water.  Wearing thermals, a heavy wool sweater and the mango drysuit we pushed away from the dock for a wonderful sail.

The breeze was at six or eight mph most of the day, sometimes creeping up to 10.  The overcast came and went, the sun peeking through at noon.  Early afternoon I began to head in but the breeze was so good I stayed on the water for another hour.  It was a wonderful winter day on the water.

Saturday, January 26, 2019

Webb's plan

From Webb's journal.  I've added his current yellow brick track.  Leaving out of Hilton Head he was 25,000 miles in to the circumnavigation.

      My route will be from Hilton Head Island outside the Bahamas through the Windward Passage at the east end of Cuba and then to Panama.  Trade winds from the Windward Passage on.

        I find it satisfying that the completion of this voyage can be seen in this GRIB (at top of the post, the GRIB being now over two weeks old).  I am increasingly inclined to sail from Panama directly to San Diego.  The final stretch hard on the wind should be less than a thousand miles.  It may not all be strong wind.  I will try to find an angle against it that is not too hard on a little boat and an old sailor.  And there is the possibility in winter of a low that will bring south wind.

Friday, January 25, 2019

Webb is back on the ocean

Webb has left Hilton Head, South Carolina, bound for the Panama Canal.  You can follow his track here.  I believe he wrote that it will take about 12-14 days to make it to Panama.  Photo below of a smiling Webb by Florida Keys friend Michael.  I imagine Webb has been smiling all day.

Tuesday, January 22, 2019

the hidden river

I find myself wondering why the Pasquotank River is always hidden at the first view at  The smaller rivers are there: from left the Perquimans, the Little River, and then the North River (faint grey) which is part of the ICW.  It is only when zooming in for a closer look that the Pasquotank reveals itself.

Maybe I should be glad it is hidden, the less people know about it, the better.  I enjoy the peaceful solitude down there.  A look at next Monday shows 50° and wind less than 10 mph.  Maybe I'll get down there for a sail out of Betsy Town.

Friday, January 18, 2019

a spring walkabout

The winter weather has me thinking of spring.  And thinking of spring makes me think of a spring walkabout.  I've marked time off in May for a sail on Pamlico Sound.

It has been years since I've used Potter's Marine on Ashton Gut just off the Pamlico River.  I have been in touch with Conway down there a couple times this past year.  He's got a great ramp and plenty of room to leave the jeep and trailer.  

Just a mile or two downriver to the Pamlico and from there we could go west to Bath and Little Washing, east to Bluff Point and Ocracoke, or south to Goose Creek Canal, Jones Bay, the Bay River and Oriental.  Any which way the wind blows.

I've sailed this area before, miles and miles of winding creeks and bays.  Marshes and wooded shorelines.  Peaceful anchorages where I can wake at dawn to the sound of marsh birds tucked back in the salt grass.

And in May, maybe some fish around too.  Speckled trout, below, and possibly some puppy drum.  We'll see.

I should be on the water today.  52° with clear skies and a light breeze.  But work calls.  
Winter arrives Sunday.

Thursday, January 17, 2019

the polar vortex is broken and I don't feel so good myself

Word comes from the Washington Post that the polar vortex has broken and that means, according to the story, a stormy and cold weather pattern is on the way.  

In the short term that means a rainy Sunday with temperatures dropping for 55 degrees to 19 degrees overnight as a strong front rolls through.

The forecast for the next 10 days or so cold temperatures, rain and, at times, strong winds.  Not sailing conditions even for a dry-suited sailor.  The Post story says the weather pattern should peak in a couple of weeks.  Here's hoping for some sailing weather in February.

Sunday, January 13, 2019

open boat cruising, Tuscan style (with subtitles)

We have a bit of a nor'easter here, cold, wet and windy (but no snow!).  No sailing this weekend so time to catch up on a few things.  I have been meaning to write for some time now about Enrico and his wonderful open boat sailing on MIRA, a Goat Island Skiff.  His blog is called La Polisportiva Franconi.  I do not speak Italian but Polisportiva is self-explanatory, particularly when seeing the entries about sailing, cross-country skiing, downhill skiing, running, biking, rock climbing and mountain climbing.  I think there is some horse riding in there too.

It is the sailing of course that interests me and Enrico has done some excellent cruising on MIRA.  He has produced a series of videos using GoPro cameras and adding a running commentary in Italian but with English subtitles.  It is my kind of sailing, simple and fun. 

Here are links to two cruises:

Lago di Como, three days on a lake where his wife joins him for the final day.
Sailing the Mediterranean along the northwest coast of Italy including, I think, Cinque Terre, an area I hope to visit someday.

MIRA, when I first came across Enrico's page, looked familiar.  Checking Lorenzo's blog I saw the the Goat Island Skiff was part of the Miravar fleet.  At this anchorage from the raid I think that is Lorenzo's Pathfinder ASTRID off to the left and the blue hull of MIRA in back. (I just can't imagine sailing into a beautiful Mediterranean anchorage like that!)

So, a cold winter day here but photographs and videos from open boat sailing in Italy have warmed my day.  Thanks, Enrico.

Monday, January 7, 2019

cool and cooler

There was a sail boat regatta on Sunday.  A friend on the committee boat invited SPARTINA to join in for the afternoon series of short races.  I declined, offering instead to serve as the spectator fleet, a fleet of one.

Wonderful winter sailing today and yesterday.  Temperatures of about 50 degrees yesterday and steady winds out of the northwest NW, building to the point that I tied in a reef late afternoon.

With another day off I left the boat down on the very quiet Norfolk waterfront.

Colder and winder than forecast this morning, winds coming out of the east with a nearby weather station showing gusts approaching 20.  That is out of my range for typical winter sailing so I raised just mizzen and jib.  Even with the two smaller sails I was making 4+ kts.

An interesting boat came through on her way to the shipyards.  I believe the to be the CITY OF BISMARCK, an expeditionary fast transport ship operated by the Military Sealift Command. 

Slate grey skies gave way to sunshine mid-morning which warmed things up a bit.  The drysuit, worn over good quality thermals and a wool sweater, served me well.  I have received a few emails asking about the drysuit.  I am not advocating winter sailing with the suit, just sharing my experience.  If I were to advocate anything it would be the advice of my Coast Guard friends: water temperature below 50 degrees, stay off the water in small boats.