Sunday, June 30, 2019

new lines / bayou boogaloo

I tried out the new halyards and sheets today with a hot wind that was accompanied by the smell of boiling crawfish and the sounds of cajun music.  The lines, once adjusted properly, are perfect.  The are bright and white for now, I certainly don't expect them to stay that way.

I took a sample of the old sta set yacht braid with me to San Diego.  I had thought it was 1/4 inch line, yet when compared with the lines at West Marine my old line was wider than 1/4 inch and narrower than 3/8.  So maybe 3/8 that had narrowed, I thought.  Ian the rigger said no, it was in fact 1/4 inch that had expanded over the years (how that works I don't know).  So these lines are slightly narrower and of course much softer than the original lines.

They are also slightly longer.  I added several inches to each line so I could tie them off to the brass clips, main boom and mizzen boom with wet bowlines (basically a bowline made using a clove hitch).  The throat halyard also has an extra two feet as I plan on raising the block on the mainmast about a foot to give me more latitude when raising the main. 

The Bayou Boogaloo was in full swing at Town Point Park on the river.  I heard they had 6,000 lbs of crawfish to boil.  I did not sample any, too busy sailing.  I did snag some artwork showing some of my favorite foods from New Orleans artist Bonnie Miller.  Nice, don't you think??

I left SPARTINA on the river for some morning and evening sailing this week.  I can't wait.

Saturday, June 29, 2019

a brief visit

I made a brief visit to Southern California this past week.  A pre-dawn flight out, a couple of train rides along the coast and then a red-eye flight back home.

Grace, the youngest daughter, co-builder of SPARTINA and a member of the original crew, was the reason for the trip.  We spent a couple of days in LA, where she lives, then a couple in San Diego (much slower-paced than LA).  Very relaxing and enjoyable. 

An added bonus was seeing Webb, with GANNET tied up at a marina that was an easy walking distance from our hotel.  We saw Webb twice, once for dinner and again the following day for a brief visit.  The next morning, on the way to breakfast I saw GANNET heading out of San Diego Bay on her way to nearby Mission Bay.  You can read Webb's description of the circumnavigation's final sail here

My first mission after arriving in San Diego was a visit to West Marine where I dropped off an order for new lines for SPARTINA.  The original lines were 12+ years old and showing signs of wear.

Ian, the rigger at West Marine, was off the day I put in the order.  And he was out to lunch when we picked up the lines a couple of days later, so I never met him and did not get the chance to thank him for his fine work whipping each of the lines.  He did an excellent job.  

At top is the last picture from San Diego.  The gentleman was playing out in the park at Shelter Island.  My first thought was that he was playing for donations, but with no-one else in sight I realized he was playing for the joy of it.

The new lines are now on SPARTINA.  The forecast is good and I hope to have her on the river all week for some morning and maybe evening sails.

Friday, June 28, 2019

Rik is back!

After a period of self-imposed radio silence, Rik is back with his blog about sailing his finely built Pathfinder VANESSA on the very breezy waters around his island home of Aruba.  He's got a new url, it is worth checking out to see some modifications he is making.  

Rik is one of the small group of Pathfinder builders that I have met in person, we sailed together on the Elizabeth River a few years ago.  It was an enjoyable sail where he taught me few things about my own boat.  Welcome back, Rik.

Friday, June 21, 2019

day eight - back to North Creek

I wake early, way too early.  Maybe 4 a.m.  A calm, cool, peaceful night on the creek.  The moon glows the west.  Even the jib glows, lit by the anchor light hanging beneath the bow sprit.

Sail off anchor 6 a.m., steady wsw wind.  1.6 on Durham Creek, a maple sea salt bar for breakfast.  Out on the river and making 3.7 at 7:00, soon 4.8 sailing along the south shore.

Tack west of Long Point at 7:55.  Motor sailing at 8:10, SPARTINA rolling from side to side in the chop, sails hanging loose.  

Wind fills in and we sail across the river.  Just after 9:00 in the creek, wind blocked by the trees and under power.  I check the gps coming in to the dock, 198 NM.  Approaching the ramp Conway waves from a neighboring pier, welcomes us back.

Thursday, June 20, 2019

day seven - up and back

Anchor up 6 a.m., the sails go up as the sun peeks over the horizon.  South wind.  Quiet, just the sounds of rippling water and the creak of the gaff jaws agains the mainmast.  Apple Cinnamon Rx bar for breakfast.  On the Pamlico River 6:25, 2.7 kts.  Whichard Beach by 7:00.  An osprey takes flight from Marker 16 talons clutching a fresh caught fish, a young chick left behind on the nest.

The trestle in sight at 7:40, 3.3 then the wind freshens, making 4.7 at Marker 17.  Sailed through the old rusting trestle, docked Little Washington waterfront 8:20.  

Washington is a nice little town that, like most places on the North Carolina sounds, has seen better days.  With a rebuilt waterfront and a handful of restaurants nearby, the town is showing signs of life.  

I grab an iced tea from a bakery a couple blocks inland, then walk back to the river and enjoy the tea while sitting in a rocking chair on a porch.  I catch up on the news, send some photographs to friends and family.  For lunch I visit Ribeye's, the steakhouse I had been pining for the evening before.  The salad bar makes for a light lunch while I sit in the shade on the patio.

Just after noon we push off from the docks, raising just mizzen and jib with the thought of putting up the main once we are through the trestle.

Out in the channel past the trestle I am surprised by the strong west wind, making 4.5 under m and j.  No need to raise the main for the downwind sail.  GPS shows 13.49 NM to Durham Creek.

Partly cloudy skies, water ruffled by gusts out of the SW.  We make out way across the river to the south side where there is plenty of wind and calmer water.  Off Broad Creek at 1:50, Maules Point 2:35, making a steady 5.0.  Passing Nevil Creek at 2:55, wind over the starboard quarter.  Slide in close to shore, 2.5 kts.

Round the shallows into Durham Creek at 4:25.  Could have and maybe should have put up the main but I'm in no rush, tacking back and forth on the quiet, tree-lined creek with just mizzen and jib.  Catch the cb on the shallows near a point, work my way off.  

A few more tacks, passing Horse Point at 5:15.  Anchor down 5:35.

Marinara with crunchy penne (my fault as I misread the instructions) and a can of tuna for dinner.  Cup of mango for dessert.  Read my book under a bright moon, then slip into the bivy.  Last full day on the water.

Running totals of 187.2 NM, 45+ hours of sailing.

Wednesday, June 19, 2019

day six - a day in a life

Sails up 6 a.m. after a calm, clear and peaceful night.  Light west wind, a gentle sail down Snode Creek at 1.5 kt.  Two dolphin roll in the water near a point on the south shore.  Two more alongside SPARTINA.  And looking aft I see a few more.  We reach Goose Island Creek at 6:30, a crabber working his pots, a single sailboat motoring north on the ICW.  Southwest wind, 3.7 on the creek, then 4.3 approaching Pamlico River at 7:00.  Two ospreys on the hunt near Reed Hammock, hesitating up the the air then dropping quickly to the water's surface.  A buffalo stick and a mixed berry Rx bar for breakfast, steak and eggs.  Checking the forecast I hear I'll be heading into the wind all day long.

Off Indian Island at 7:40, the water very choppy and I make 2.8 to 4 knots depending on the waves and chop.  

8:30 calmer water and making 3.5 at  in the middle of the Pamlico River.

9:10 tacking near the ferry docks

9:45 tack just past the ferry dock on the south shore

10:10 tack east of Gum Thicket, wind swinging to the west

10:35 tack off the phosphate mines

11:05 tack off Bayview

11:45 tack east of Core Point, thin white clouds above

12:00 tack west of Bath Creek entrance, can of tuna and a cup of mixed fruit for lunch

12:25 light winds in the middle of the river, making 2.5

12:40 wind swings to the north and we make better progress up river

12:55 tack near Tripp Point

1:20 tack east of Rugged Point

1:40 tack near the mouth of Nevil Creek, white sandy beach

2:00 tack along the north shore

2:15 tack at Maules Point, better wind though out of the west, making 4.8

2:30 tack off of Goose Creek state park

2:50 tack inside the eastern edge of Blounts Bay

3:00 tack mid-river back toward Blounts Bay

3:30 tack near the mouth of Blounts Creek deep inside the bay

4:05 tack at Broad Creek Point, afternoon gusts arriving, strong blasts of wind out of west and southwest

The river narrows approaching Washington with Whichard Beach to the south and the north shoreline about a mile away.  I start make short tacks in the gusts but I also start thinking about a medium rare steak at the nice little steakhouse near the Washington waterfront.  I'm hungry and tired and dinner sounds good.  I see another gust approaching, a strong one, but instead of heading up into the wind I tighten up the main trying to get the most out of the wind.  The gust arrives and quickly the port coaming is under water, the tea-stained water of the Pamlico River coming aboard.  Maybe 30 or 40 gallons, the most I've ever taken on board.

SPARTINA quickly rights, the chart book, cook kit and other gear floating in the water.  I let the jib go free, slack the main and begin pumping out water.  We slide across the channel but no traffic so I focus on getting the water out.  I make some progress with the hand-pump but not enough.  Maybe continue sailing to Washington and clean out there?  Checking distances on the gps I realize with the strong west wind I probably won't make it past the railroad trestle and into the anchorage until dark.  And once anchored I would still have a lot of water to pump out, a lot of gear to dry.  We turn back downwind and head for Blounts Bay.  

Anchor down along a wooded shoreline 5:35.   About 20 minutes to pump out, scoop out and sponge out the water.  I find the gear in the light kit - nearly all of it bagged - is in good shape.  I dry out the cooking gear, hang up the foul weather gear and cushions to dry.  I am pleased to open the bunk flat and thwart hatches to find the storage areas (which provide positive flotation) are completely dry.  Cleaning those o-ring seals paid off.

Light snacks for dinner in place of a fine steak, a little reading and then slip into the sleeping back as the sun goes down.  Dry, rested and ready for the next day.

Running total 162 NM and 46+ hours of sailing.

Tuesday, June 18, 2019

a sailor at sea

A stunning photograph by Webb Chiles from the last leg of his circumnavigation on the Moore 24 GANNET.  For more see here.

Sunday, June 16, 2019

day five - a quiet creek

Sail off anchor 6:20 under mizzen and jib.  Chilly, maybe under 50 degrees, and blustery wind out of the north.  Out in the open water of Mouse Harbor raise a single reefed main, sail to the sunrise with lots of spray coming off the bow.

Very strong north wind, tack just after 7:00 towards Pamlico Point.  Past the point big waves coming across the width of the Pamlico River in groups of three.  Sailing along Cedar Island I look for a spot between waves to come about, hoping to tack my way across the river and into the Pungo River.  We come about just as a strong gust hits.  We round up but not quick enough, the starboard coaming slips under the water.  Round up again, use the bilge pump and a sponge to clear out the water.  Sailing again I look at the wind and waves.  We're not going to make it to the Pungo today.  Come about one more time and fall off towards the entrance to Goose Creek Canal.

In the canal at 9:00, anchor down in Dixon Creek 9:45.  Strip off the foul weather gear and spread it out to dry.  Self-heating brunch of GoMeals Hash Browns and a can of tuna.  Then a nap in the warm sunshine.

I wake a little after noon.  Sails up and out on the canal.  The wind has disappeared, just light shifting breezes.  Perfect for a day sail!  We tack back and forth on Goose Island Creek, track the eastern shoreline casting for trout.  Hook a small fish but lose it quickly.  Glancing at the chart I notice a creek across the way.  Snode Creek.

We sail past the house on the point, follow the shoreline and the creek's entrance disappears behind us.  Nothing but blue skies with delicate white clouds, trees, marsh and water.  Just beautiful.  I make a few casts along the shoreline but decide instead to just enjoy the afternoon.  How could I have gone down Goose Island Creek so many times over the years and not seen this wonderful water?  We follow the winding shoreline, the breeze steady, water calm.  SPARTINA, and I, were made for this kind of sailing.  Fish jump along the cordgrass, a snake swim's across the bow.  Great blue herons watch from along shore, ospreys circle above.

Anchor down 4:30.  Venison Casserole and a cup of mango for dinner.  Well-rested from the nap earlier in the day, I stay up late reading my book on the little yawl tucked back in the creek. 

Running total of 120.9 NM, just over 35 hours of sailing.

Saturday, June 15, 2019

day four - back north

I wake in darkness, well-rested and ready to go.  Only after I have slipped out of the bivy and into my clothes do I check the clock on my phone.  It is only 4:30.  I think of crawling back under the sleeping bag but instead take my time packing away the sleeping gear, folding the tent, putting everything in place.  

Sails up just after 6:00 just outside the breakwater.  Broken overcast, north wind and making 2.5 kts.  It is cold so I layer on a light jacket and slip on my foul weather bibs.  Mango pineapple bar for breakfast, wind improves giving us 4.5 towards Piney Point on a pretty morning.  

A mango fruit cup as we sail by crabbers working pots about mile offshore.  The wind is better than forecast.  Just before 8:00 doing 3.8 off of Gum Thicket.  A high overcast with banks of lower clouds to the north.  Perfect wind lets us sail parallel to shore.

Off Broad Creek the wind begins to fail, 2.2.  Under power at 8:40, skies beginning to clear.  Rounding the Lighthouse Shoals I stop to bring down the main and jib.  At 9:00 I top off the outboard tank and strip off the foul weather pants and jacket.  At Maw Point boats on the ICW turn into the Bay River while I continue on north.  Patches of wind here and there, nothing sustained.  What looks to be a small raft with red strobes floats in the distance.  I wonder if it connected to the military.  Getting closer I see this it is three or four mylar birthday balloons, the light catching the red mylar looks like flashing strobes.  I grab it and stow it in the trash, glad to remove some debris that might eventually kill a turtle or a whale.

More hints of wind at Boar Point.  Sow Island Point at 11:30 and soon a light SE breeze.  Sails up, making 3.0 with wind over the starboard quarter.  Tuna fish and a fruit cup for lunch just after noon.  Making 2.4 across the mouth of Big Porpoise Bay. 

 We sail under a low, dark cloud, the water shivering beneath the cloud but calm all around.

Casting for trout at Big Porpoise Point, no luck for me as I watch a couple guys who have beached their boat and cast from the marsh shoreline, bringing in six nice fish in the time it takes me to sail by.

Just before 2:00 the SW wind comes in strong and hard, then swings to NW, making 5 kts.  Very, very gusty.

In Mouse Harbor at 2:45, drop the main at 3:00, sailing under mizzen and jib, looking for an anchorage protected from the NW wind.

It's fun sailing under the two small sails, tackingback and forth along the marsh line makes for a fine afternoon.  Anchor down 4:00 in Southward just below Hog Cove.

Running total of 101.9 NM and 28 + hours of sailing.

AlpineAire Sausage Pasta and a mango cup for dinner.  High winds out of the N forecast for the early morning hours.