Tuesday, March 26, 2019

wind, lost and found

Webb has found the wind.  As opposed the the knot or less GANNET was making a few days ago (below), at times losing ground, they are now making four to six knots up the coast of Central America.  You can find Webb's yellow brick track here.

Monday, March 25, 2019

the last mango sail

I was surprised to see the lot nearly empty at the ramp in Betsy town yesterday morning.  Cool in the early morning hours with a forecast of clear skies and temperatures warming to the low 60s.  I was also pleased to see that there were no "ramp rangers" (I'll credit Clark with that perfectly descriptive term) on site to give me grief.  I usually take my time rigging SPARTINA but I rushed because I wanted to get out on the water as quick as I could.  

Steady, stiff breeze out of the Southeast, coming right up the river.  I slipped on my mango drysuit for what I imagine will be the last time this spring.  The drysuit and thermals were perfect for the cool morning.  I made long tacks back and forth down the river, going past Forbes Bay, Cobb Point and sailing into near Treasure Point.  Late morning I saw a sailboat out on the river, such a perfect day and  only two of us out there.  I don't get it.  I won't complain, the solitude was perfect.

The drysuit has proven to be a good investment.  I will take it along on the cruises with me for those rain-all-day events, which have occurred more often than I like.  As for cold weather sailing, it got me out on the water routinely in December, January, February and March.  My best winter sailing ever.

Still touching up the bright work.  I may paint the hull this week.  I want SPARTINA to look good for the summer season, which will be here before we know it.

Friday, March 22, 2019

I will never use varnish again

Spring touch up for the bright work.  Not using varnish, instead using Bristol Finish, a two part would finish.  I heard about it from the crew of the Schooner Virginia, and they heard about it from the crew of the When and If (scroll down to the bottom of this post and you'll see that schooner).  A light sanding on the old varnish with 220 grit paper and then put the Bristol Finish on.  Great thing is that if the next coat goes on within an hour or two there is no sanding required.  Easier to apply than varnish, harder finish and, according to the schooner guys, longer lasting.  Hope it is true. 

Don't let photos fool you, I'm staying true to my "workboat finish" standards, hoping for a good looking 30 foot boat (stand 30 feet away and the boat looks good).

So brightwork this week, sailing this weekend, then paint the hull next week, new bottom paint the week after.  And maybe it will be warm by then...

Thursday, March 21, 2019

the wind has not been kind

Webb seems surrounded by light winds,
making a knot or less, even backtracking 
in the current.

Forecast show conditions might persist for a few more days.
He needs to get out the blue/purple and into the green.

Monday, March 18, 2019

"ignorant bastard"

The title of this post was used to describe me at the waterfront in Elizabeth City yesterday.  "Ignorant," yeah, ok, I can kinda see that.  "Bastard," I think not.  The description came from a man who hangs around the boat ramp and felt I needed both is advice and assistance in launching SPARTINA.  It was an easy launch but getting the yawl from the ramp around the corner, backing it into the wind, chop and current, took some effort.  This man had involved himself, uninvited, in my launchings a couple of times over the past year or two, mostly by shouting instructions but also by giving the boat a shove, whether it was needed it or not.  He doesn't seem to pick up on subtle hints in phrases such as "thanks, but I'm fine," "I've got this," or "I can handle this."  Yesterday moving SPARTINA around the corner involved some concentration, muscle and adjustments to the bow and stern lines.  All the while they guy is yelling at me, telling me what I'm doing wrong and how I need to do what he says.  I tuned him out enough to get the boat tied up.  But then he comes up on the dock and makes a move as if to grab the bow line.  I had had enough.  I said "Look, buddy, you've done this to me a couple of times now.  You distract me, confuse me and get in the way, and I don't need it."  Before I was finished he was halfway back to his pickup truck, cursing me all the way.  His final comment was "Why don't you go back to Virginia, you ignorant bastard!"  

I did go back to Virginia, but only after a pleasant sail on the Pasquotank River.  (Driving home I recalled a recent entry in Webb's journal, which I will add at the bottom of this post.)

I did see what appeared to be a snowbird tied up at the docks, the first I have come across this year.  It is a bit early (and still chilly).  The full migration of cruisers should begin in mid-April.

Halfway through the sail I heard a shout from the docks.  It was Scoot, my surfing, sailing friend from Hatteras Island.  He was on the waterfront working on his father-in-law's sloop Mary B.  He hopped on for a sail.


    A man, perhaps in his forties or early fifties, came up to me and asked if GANNET is my boat.  I said she is.  He said, “Have you brought her here to race locally?”  I replied no, that I was nearing the end of a circumnavigation with her.
        He said he was circumnavigating too.  Solo.  He stressed the ‘solo’.
        I asked what boat.
        He said he has a Valiant 40 and started in San Francisco.
        He asked my name.
        I told him.
        He shook my hand harder than is customary, perhaps proving something to somebody, and then said, “I am sorry you are an American.  You are an arrogant bastard.”  And walked away.

Which is better?  Ignorant or arrogant?

Thursday, March 14, 2019


Sanding today, touch-up epoxy tomorrow, varnish Saturday.
Sunday....sailing.  Monday......sailing.

the last leg

After about a month in Panama, Webb has left on what should be the final leg of his sixth circumnavigation.  You can read about the Panama to San Diego passage here.  And follow his Yellow Brick track here.

Monday, March 11, 2019

long time, spring time, right time

It has been too long since I sailed the Elizabeth River in Norfolk.  Before Christmas was probably the last time, an outing with the daughters in town.  Since then I've been sailing the Pasquotank River in Elizabeth City, the gently curving river that runs from northwest to south east that makes for wonderful winter sailing on calm water.  

After three weekends of bad weather spring arrives yesterday.  Too gusty to sail then I made it a point of getting out today.  It was almost perfect.  Steady winds in the morning that fell off by noon so I dropped anchor, had lunch and read the paper.  The wind filling back in again for an early afternoon sail.  The three-masted barque Statsraad Lehmkuhl, used as a training vessel for the Norwegian Navy, was on the waterfront.  She is here every year or two and I've posted photographs of her here and here and here.  I apparently can't stop myself from photographing the beautiful ship.

And because of the time change, SPARTINA'S ships clock, really a watch, is correct once again.  I always leave the watch on daylight savings time so for the past few months it has been an hour ahead.  Glad time finally caught up with us.

Sunday, March 10, 2019

Everglades Challenge report

An email from Paul about this year's race with Alan,
and a few photos of friends at the finish line.


The 2019 EC featured warm calm weather on Saturday and Sunday  --which seemed strange and made for drifting, rowing and paddling the EC22.  In all our previous EC events, strong winds and nightime shivering has been the norm.  The sailing Saturday was extremely slow all the way to CP1 via Stump Pass.  Saturday night we left CP1 via Gasparilla Pass into the Gulf. 

Sunday AM we sail/drifted in the Gulf down to Sanibel.  Sunday PM from Sanibel Island to Marco Island we were very happy to have a reliable steady wind and flat seas giving us about 4.5 kts all the way straight across the Gulf to Marco.

Entering Caxambus Pass at Marco,  we startled about a thousand pelicans roosting in a row of about ten big bushes along the canal.  In a chain reaction,  one bush after another,  the flocks panicked  throwing themselves out in every direction.  The disturbance filled the air with birds, feathers and ... um... a dried powder that dusted us and the boat with a lingering essence of eau-de-Pelican.  

Arriving at CP2 Monday morning, our competitors (the Thistle and the Highlander) were just in.  We all departed CP2 together.  The Thistle had a delay while we sailed neck-and-neck with the Highlander all the way to CP3.  Leaving CP3 at sunset ~6:40pm on Monday, we pulled ahead of the Highlander as we started across Florida Bay.  The  light NW winds gradually faded during the night. 

We began rowing at 9:45pm and over the next 7 hours our rowing intensity steadily increased as the contribution from the wind tapered to nothing.  We had done our best during the trip to take turns sleeping  --an hour here, two hours there--  but it takes two on deck when rowing.  We rowed at about  2.5 kts to the finish beach.  SandyBottom was on the beach waiting for us at 4:42 am Tuesday.  

There were showers, two hours of sleep, and then a breakfast at Mrs. Mac's.  Taylor flew in on Wednesday.  We are enjoying the Key Largo vacation time now, sitting under palm trees, chatting with friends,  tracking and welcoming the WaterTribers,  and taking it easy. 


Dawn, above, and Kristen, below.  They did not compete this year.  With all those shark and alligator teeth on their necklaces it is ok to take a break now and then.

Taylor, Dawn and Alan, above.

If you have ever met Paul you know he is always smiling.
I wonder why he does not smile in photographs.

Alan and Paul at the awards ceremony.

Saturday, March 9, 2019

MIRAVAR: The Movie

Here, courtesy of Polisportiva Productions and Dalba Films, is Miravar, The Film.  This is the story of the sailing Raid in the Mediterranean organized by Lorenzo.  It is a celebration of small boat sailing, friendship and joy.  The original link can be found at Enrico's site.  Enjoy.

Friday, March 8, 2019

photos from Tom

SPOT track shows he crossed the finish line in Key Largo a little before 9 p.m. last night.

Above, the Nightmare.  Below, a before-dawn to after-dusk paddle across Florida Bay.  Well done, Tom.

Thursday, March 7, 2019


Tom has made it through Flamingo.  From the timing on his track he maybe have gotten a few hours of sleep.  About 30 miles across Florida Bay to the finish line.

Tuesday, March 5, 2019

finished, Ten Thousand Islands

Looks like Alan and Paul finished this morning, arriving Key Largo just after 5 a.m. with light following winds across Florida Bay.

Tom is in the Ten Thousand Islands, paddling in towards Checkpoint #2 at Chokoloskee.  Seems like he should be in The Nightmare later today.

Monday, March 4, 2019

almost too pretty to fish with

A birthday gift from the oldest daughter.  Fish with it or frame it?  Might give it a try with stripers on the fall trip.

Sunday, March 3, 2019

south from checkpoint #1

There's Alan and Paul at left, sailing Graham's EC 22 I'm told by Dave, and Tom at right, working their way south from checkpoint #1.  Light winds for the sailors, good condition apparently for Tom's paddling.


from Tom

Saturday, March 2, 2019


I received the photograph of Tom, above at right, late this afternoon, but it was most certainly shot at the starting line this morning.  He is making good progress as this map below, labeled "bread crumbs," shows.


Far to the south Webb has reached the end of his portage, trucking GANNET from the Caribbean side of Panama to the edge of the Pacific, leaving just one leg - Panama to San Diego - to go in his sixth circumnavigation.


And on a day too cold and grey for sailing I rec'd the parts to repair my Honda outboard.  I'll drive the outboard and parts about four blocks to my neighborhood mechanic tomorrow.  I also got a late evening delivery of 20 AA lithium batteries and a copy of Nathanial Philbrick's "In the Hurricane's Eye," both for the spring sailing trip.

We are all making a little progress.