Saturday, August 31, 2019

Tuesday, August 27, 2019

shelf clouds

A spectacular photograph above by Don Burdick and an interesting story in the Washington Post about shelf clouds.  Burdick shot the photograph in Rehoboth Beach, Delaware as the shelf cloud came in ahead of a storm.  

The story describes how storms "exhale" gusts of cool air, that air hitting the ground and fanning out ahead of the storm.  I have to wonder if the photographs above and below are shelf clouds.  Above is a cloud that came down Jones Bay with distinctly cool, powerful winds.  I rounded up, dropped anchor in Sound Bay just as the storm hit.  The wind and rain was so strong I could not see more than a few feet, rain drops hitting the water so hard and fast it created a "fog" a few feet deep over the water's surface. (No photographs of that, I was too busy bailing.)  So I do think this was a shelf cloud.

I am less sure about this cloud.  There was almost no wind (which you can see by looking at the jib).  The cloud came from out over Tangier Sound, passed me by and continued east up the Little Annemessex River.  It was the last day of a cruise and I motored into the ramp, typing up just as the storm hit with lightning so severe I left SPARTINA at the dock and hid in the nearby shelter.  With the lack of cool wind, maybe it wasn't a shelf cloud.  But it certainly was an interesting cloud.

I guess the basic lesson here is that when you see an interesting cloud in the sky, look for shelter.

Just about five weeks until the fall cruise.  Can't wait!

Thursday, August 22, 2019


A little lightning from a summer storm
doesn't bother King Neptune.

Sunday, August 18, 2019

after the storms

Thunderstorms and rain in the morning as a storm system worked its way up the Outer Banks, the low sliding off the Carolina coast mid-morning.  Left behind were light winds, puffy clouds.  Anchored for a while with no wind at all, then raised sail to shifting breezes from the east, west and south.  Good light wind practice and, as always, nice to be on the water.


All week long I have found myself stopping to look at the cover of the current issue of Small Craft Advisor.  That's a new design by John C. Harris of Chesapeake Light Craft.  Just beautiful.  

I had the pleasure of meeting John as I sailed into Langford Creek last fall.  From across the creek he recognized the SPARTINA as a Welsford design, motored over to say hello.  He wanted to know the boat's name so he could tell John Welsford we had crossed paths.

Visiting the CLC site I see that the Guider was designed for John Guider to use in the Race to Alaska, a 750 mile race from Port Townsend, Washington to Alaska, no motors, no support.  Wow.  (Seems like it would an excellent boat for the Everglades Challenge!)

Guider has a lot of features I like.  Flat sleeping areas for two people, 6' 6" long, lots of positive floatation with 12 watertight compartments, a simple rig and a seat for rowing.  That bow-mounted anchor is a plus.  

Looks light a great boat for camper cruising.  CLC site says the boat will be available at some point as either plans or a kit.  And there will be a yawl version too, gotta love that.  Nice boat, John.

Wednesday, August 14, 2019


Dinner with friends took a little longer than expected, arrived at the docks after the afternoon storms came through.  Put the tent up anyway, she should be mostly dry by tomorrow.


The air, thick with humidity, a steady breeze, 
grey skies giving way to blue.
And then off to work.

Tuesday, August 13, 2019


for storms coming tonight 

bridges, open and closed

Breezy enough last evening to tuck in a reef for a pleasant sail from about 4:00 until sunset.  I think I'm finally getting the right set on the mainsail.  Moving the block for the throat halyard has certainly improved the set - and the power - of the full main.

Monday evenings are busy evenings on the Elizabeth.  The SailNauticus crowd was out for a series of races.  SPARTINA played her usual role as the spectator fleet.  The photo above is from after the races as they were coming in at sunset.

And the American Rover was out for a sunset sail too, enjoying the strong southwest breeze.


I had planned to sail this morning before work, a perfect morning with a steady breeze and a light overcast.  Unfortunately the pedestrian bridge that connects the cruise center to the park was closed.  It is typically only closed (closed to boats, open to pedestrians) when cruise ships are in port.  The cruise season is approaching, they must have been doing some maintenance.

So I hopped in my car to head home and take care of some chores.  And the Berkley Bridge, which I need to cross on the way home, was open (open to boats, in this case an ocean going tug, closed to traffic).  It's been that kind of morning.

Sunday, August 11, 2019

still morning

Still morning at the ramp on Scuffletown Creek
Wind filling in as we head down the Elizabeth
Only 80 degrees this morning
It felt like fall

Sunday, August 4, 2019


Wearing my sunglasses in the bright sunshine, when it is difficult to see the screen on my iPhone, I must have hit some filter in the camera app.  Above is what I found when I got home and looked at my photographs.  The scene did not look like that.  The clouds were white and puffy, yes, the sky bright blue.  But I still like the image, even if it was unintentional.

It was a pretty drive south this morning between the farm friends and the old Dismal Swamp Canal.  Surprising amount of ground fog where the road makes the final curve south leading into North Carolina.  Clear at the ramp, light wind as expected for the sail.  No one on board complained.

My favorite ramp ranger, one who expressed definite feelings about my intelligence, was on station when I came back in early afternoon.  We ignored each other, though I could not ignore the stink from his cigar which was worse than the smell of a poorly tuned, smoke belching diesel. 

I did find a new place to mount my SPOT Gen 3 where it is easily accessible and yet out of the sun and rain.  (That is the end of my oar at lower left, the coaming at top and my day storage box bottom right.)  The SPOT is always on board now, a change I have made since reading about Dory Man's capsize and eventual rescue.  Having all safety gear, whether day sailing or cruising, was recommended to me in an email from my welshman friend and Navigator sailor Steve.  It is an excellent idea.  So the SPOT is always there.  And like my new night signaling strobe, I hope to never use it.

Sunday morning

Saturday, August 3, 2019

farewell pyrotechnics

My Coast Guard required flares will be expiring next month.  A new set, from West Marine, runs $25.  Instead I bought a Weems & Plath Night Visual Distress Signal (Coast Guard approved) from Amazon for $90.  Not a great financial decision, what I paid for the strobe would cover the cost of replacing the flares three times over the next decade.  I am just glad to have the pyrotechnics off the boat, never liked having them there in the first place.

The strobe is surprisingly bright, and blinks in the morse code SOS pattern.  I hope to never use it.

My Amazon order centered around the fall cruise (early October) and included food supplies such as Rio Mare tuna for lunch, Tanka buffalo/cranberry bars (part of the steak and eggs cruise breakfast) and Chimes mango ginger chews for snacks.  I am well ahead on prepping for this trip.

Heading down to Betsy Town for a, most likely, slightly humid sail in light winds.  I can't wait.