Sunday, July 28, 2019

back to the ramp

Parked the jeep and trailer at the the ramp before 7:00, a Lyft ride got me to the dock about 15 minutes later.  Two weeks of excellent before/after work sailing, it was time to bring SPARTINA home for a little maintenance.  

The Elizabeth River is very warm, and filled with small fish that are continually jumping and skittering across the surface.  The toothy fish above, which I believe to be a ribbon fish, made a bad decision and jumped too close to the docks sometime in the night.

Motoring back to the ramp we shared the southern branch of the Elizabeth River with the bulk carrier PROSNA.  A ship tracking website tells me the freighter had come from El Bosque, Columbia to Norfolk, and this morning was outbound to For-de-France, Martinique.

SPARTINA out of the water, rig broken down and headed home by 9 a.m.

Wednesday, July 24, 2019

on the back side of a heat wave

Six days, heat and humidity.
Yesterday, thunderstorm then an afternoon monsoon.

Today, beautiful.
This evening, 10 mph breeze, 70 degrees.

It felt so good.
And nice to have the Schooner Virginia as company.

Saturday, July 20, 2019

hot and spicy / supplies / finally, somebody (something) that listens to me

The hot spice came from the workboat OLD BAY, anchored out in Crawford Bay.  Just as I raised sail I heard the captain shouting "A-ONE, A-ONE" with two thumbs up.  He offered to trade boats but said I would have have to be a fool to take that deal.  I turned down the offer, the jury is still out on being a fool.

The Island Packet ALIBI out of Key Largo had some nice canvas for shade, which they will need with the sun burning down in a heat wave, a "feels like" temperature of 109° and humidity at 57%.  It will be worse tomorrow.  I snuck out for a two-hour sail, coming in about 10 a.m. when the wind got spotty and the heat was not spotty at all.  Wind forecast is better tomorrow.  I'll try to get out earlier, and come in when the heat arrives full force.  The heat wave should break Tuesday.


I have started tossing cruising supplies into the grocery cart, buying a little at a time for the fall sail in October.  I'm picking up RXBARS whenever I see a new flavor, and these days the variety seems almost endless and I have yet to find one I don't like.  I also picked up three freeze-dried meals and three self-heating OMeals at REI with a Father's Day gift certificate from the Pilgrim.  The self-heating meals are convenient after a long day when I'm beat and cooking - boiling water - seems like too much work.


I have been experimenting with the GoPro Hero 7 Black, finding the voice control to be easier and more practical to use than I had imagined.  I had thought that I needed to use the voice control to change modes, i.e. "GoPro video mode," then use a second command, "GoPro start video" (maybe it is "shoot video, not sure right now), to begin shooting.  I found today that I did not need to use a command to change modes, all I needed was give a single instruction to shoot in whatever particular mode I wanted.  The commands resulting in the files below were something like "GoPro shoot burst mode (twice), GoPro shoot video (four times),  GoPro shoot photograph (twice), GoPro shoot Time-lapse (twice), all that without touching the camera.

And the camera never talked back.  How nice...

Friday, July 19, 2019

before the heat, before work

Got out for a couple hours, casting off just after 6 a.m.  Light breeze at first, then better as morning arrived.  Nice light cloud cover to keep things cool.  Downtown Norfolk to the left and the old Naval Hospital in Portsmouth to the right.

Thursday, July 18, 2019

passing by

No sailing this morning, sometimes work gets in the way of life.  I did drop by the basin to check on SPARTINA.  The boom tent worked well, keeping the cockpit dry during last night's rains.  Like much of the east coast, we have a lot of heat and humidity.  That means afternoon thunderstorms.  With that in mind I chose to leave the boom tent in place. 

If you look just beyond the bridge you will see a freighter passing by.  Most of the commercial traffic on the river is barges and tugboats.  But there is a fair amount of freighter traffic heading either to the commercial shipyards on the eastern branch of the Elizabeth River or to the terminals on the southern branch.

Monday, July 15, 2019


Courtesy of my friend KC who was out on
a race committee boat.

morning reflections

Stopped by SPARTINA this morning to strip of the boom tent.
Spent a few minutes enjoying the reflections on the water.
Have to work today, maybe an evening sail.

Sunday, July 14, 2019

light and variable, updated with a sail, ensorcelled

Tiny hints of wind, nothing more. I'll take a walk on the waterfront and hope for a breeze.


As if it had been scheduled, a breeze arrived at exactly 9 a.m., just as I was finishing reading the news and enjoying a glass of iced tea.  It was a light wind, but steady.  Maybe 5 or 6 mph, sometimes a little better, something a little lighter.  I spent a couple of hours tacking back and forth. 

My hope for being able to send a track from my Garmin GPS to my phone, using the app Garmin Connect, ended with disappointment.  I can easily connect the two devices but sending a track, which I thought would have been an obvious capability, does not seem to be part of the program.  I think the bluetooth capability is more aimed towards health/exercise, i.e. there is the option to input my height/weight/heart rate.  Go figure.

The track above is from today and yesterday.  I sometimes wonder/worry about my ability to find joy in simply sailing back and forth, upwind, downwind.  Simple things for the simple minded.  I hope to add to the track tomorrow evening.


When reading the NYTimes before the sail, I came across the word "ensorcelled" in an opinion column.  I think I am fairly well read.  "Enscorcelled" is an interesting word, but hardly part of common English.  Let's just say I am not ensorcelled by the word choice.  Then again, simple things for the simple minded.

Saturday, July 13, 2019

foreign affairs

Craford Bay had an international air today, with boats from Sydney, Australia, Richards Bay, South Africa and Hamburg, Germany anchored there.  In the spring we get boats from the Atlantic coast heading north to New England or Canada, in the fall we get the same boats heading south to anywhere from North Carolina to Florida, the Bahamas or the Caribbean.  Summer often brings the circumnavigators who, after spending time in the Caribbean, come north to wait out the hurricane season.  On the catamaran out of Sydney named "NO PLANS, just options," above, I saw a man and a woman, a young boy and a miniature dachshund.  They said they were circumnavigating, now headed towards home.

I brought along the new Garmin GPS today, mostly to create a track to see if I can send that track to my phone.  The GPS has blue tooth capabilities.  I've downloaded there app to my phone and the literature indicates I can have text messages from my phone show up on the GPS screen (though I don't think I want that to happen).  The booklet says the unit can transmit tracks to other GPS devices.  I want to see if I can also send to my phone, which would be useful to me.

There is the boat out of Hamburg, above, I did not talk to the man on board, we just exchanged waves.  The cruiser out of Richards Bay had a couple on board that left South Africa about two years ago.  They spent time in Brazil and the Caribbean, coming up here to avoid the hurricanes.  After hurricane season they will sail to Panama to take the canal into the Pacific.

Weather was an unexpected delight, cooler and drier than expected, with more wind than what was forecast.  Tomorrow I expect lighter winds, maybe more humidity.  We'll see.

Wednesday, July 10, 2019

a new (old) tool

I'm doing a little mast work this week, raising the throat halyard about a foot higher to give me a little more latitude when setting the main.  The extra inches will also let me tension the boom tent more effectively.  Removing the block left a rough area of expoxy and the silicone rubber that I used to bed the four stainless steel screws.  I smoothed out the mast using a 2" wide iron slick, a gift from a friend.  He found the chisel in Maine where it had been used in the shipbuilding business.  A note with the tool says it dates to the 19 century and was likely made by W Marples & Sons.  I am proud to own it, and proud to use it.  (The photograph at top was shot with the new GoPro Hero 7 Black on the linear setting.)

I just need to drill out the old holes in the mast and tap in epoxy-coated 1/4" teak dowel.  A little Bristol varnish to cover the dowel plugs and I should have SPARTINA ready for weekend sailing.

Sunday, July 7, 2019

bagged, and bagged no more

A Father's Day gift from the oldest daughter, meant for cooking, will be useful for sailing.  The gift, a FoodSaver, vacuum packs food for storage and, more importantly Sous Vide cooking ( I won't go into detail on that as I've been accused more than once of making this a food blog).  I immediately saw some uses for on the boat.

I have vacuum packed the spare vhf radio, above, and Garmin gps, both pieces of equipment in working order which have been replaced with newer models this summer.  I also vacuum packed emergency gear (fire starter, hypothermia bags, chem lights, spare knife, spare flashlights, etc) and extra sets of warm clothing that are part of the hypothermia kit.

One piece of gear that was sitting in the closet in a bag will not be stored there any longer.  After reading DoryMan's story of a capsize, lost radio and phone, hypothermia setting in, I've decided to keep the SPOT on the boat all the time.  The idea of calling for help with the push of a button appeals to me.  In the past I have carried the SPOT on cruises only.  But bad things can happen on daysails too.  So I will learn from Dory-Man's experience.  I am very glad he shared the story. Here is a link to "Capsize," and below I've copy and pasted a portion of it.


In the meantime, a Coast Guard helicopter, two fire departments, a local first-responder group on jet skis and a fire-boat showed up. I was in the water about an hour and had hypothermia.

When Dave showed up, I was focused solely on getting Saga righted, and bless him, against his better judgment, tried to help. We did get the boat upright but she was awash and we had to abandon her to get me to shore. He was shocked that I could pull myself up on his swim platform, but that's what adrenaline is for.

A fire department first aid truck group brought my body temperature back up, blood pressure down, so there was no trip to the hospital. The fire-boat brought Saga into Boston Harbor and pumped her out. Lost some stuff, but got my boat back. And lived to tell the story.


Yes, lived to tell the story.  Thanks, Michael, for posting the story.

Wednesday, July 3, 2019

Tuesday, July 2, 2019

GoPro Hero 7 Black test

Out yesterday evening for a fine sail.  
Did a test with the new camera.
Not too bad.

PS - Just watched the blog version of the video.
I don't understand how blogger posts videos but
what you see here doesn't compare to the original 
video.  Believe me, the 7 has the sharpest,
brightest video I have seen.  I felt like
I could reach out and touch the water.

Monday, July 1, 2019

Monday evening

gin and tonic

Michael and Sheila, who are in the midst of the world's slowest circumnavigation (they left British Columbia in 1989), comes this photograph of a Drascombe Lugger at the Classic Boat Race and Show in Falmouth, England.  They are well aware of my sailing a wannabe Drascombe and suggested that the gin and tonic would not go amiss on SPARTINA.