Thursday, December 31, 2020

from Scoot

 From my friend Scoot, who lives in the Outer Banks but I sometimes see him on the Pasquotank in Elizabeth City.  He got out for a sail yesterday on Pamlico Sound, a nice afternoon before all the rain arrived.  I'm envious.  Happy New Year's!

Monday, December 28, 2020

ANNIE, a drascombe longboat cruiser, for sale

My good friend Curt has put his beautiful ANNIE, a drascombe longboat cruiser that he had custom built, on the market.  I can't imagine this is easy for him to do but life changes makes this a necessary move.

I've had the pleasure of sailing on board ANNIE and also alongside of her on more than a few cruises.  Nothing brightened a morning more that waking up on a creek somewhere and looking out the boom tent to see the boat with the green hull and tanbark sails anchored nearby.  Swan Creek, Oriental, Mouse Harbor, Tangier Island, Chestertown and Langford Creek are some of the places where ANNIE and SPARTINA have crossed paths.  

From Curt:

For Sale      S/V Annie

Wooden Drascombe Longboat Cruiser with Coaster design elements. 

Rigged and configured for single-handed or two-person expedition sailing. Will accommodate additional crew for day sailing.

21’9” LOA; 18’0’ LOW; 6’7” beam; 1’0” draft centerplate up, 3’6” plate down
Yawl rigged with tanbark sails. Mainsail with 2 reefs, roller-furling jib and mizzen. 172 sq. ft total.
Sails and standing rigging new 2018.

Construction: Built by East West Custom, 2007 in Elliot, Maine. Only and last built in the US. Bruynzeel sapele (African mahogany) ply, lapstrake with WEST epoxy, Honduran mahogany trim, recycled teak rails and grates. Stainless steel centerplate and rudder.

Auxiliary propulsion: 6hp Nissan Marine outboard, custom sculling oar

Load Rite trailer with radial tires. Reconditioned 2019

Custom full length storage cover, cockpit tent and dodger

Custom cockpit and salon cushions, ample storage and included equipment and amenities

Well found and maintained with several thousand miles of US cruising along the east coast, west coast and St. Johns River of Florida, the sounds and Outer Banks of North Carolina, and the western and eastern reaches of the Chesapeake Bay of Virginia and Maryland.

Viewing by appointment in Richmond, Virginia. Send request by Contact page at
Specifics available by inquiry

 References:        2012 issue #74

$28,000 obo

Sunday, December 27, 2020

picture perfect

Light winds but a picture perfect post-Christmas sail today.  Just an hour or so on the water today but it was very enjoyable.

It was not all good for IT'S ALL GOOD, the boat that caught on fire last week.  I am surprised they did not tow it away and suspect it will just sink to the bottom of Craford Bay.  About a hundred yard another boat sank over a year ago and is still there.  

Hope to get out for a New Year's Day sail.

Wednesday, December 23, 2020

farewell rubbermaid tubs

Above are two brand new Watershed Ocoee waterproof duffel bags, the newest cruising gear for SPARTINA.  Not cheap at $118 each, but very well made with several lash points (I really like the ability to tie gear in place) and compression straps.  They passed my "wait and see" test which involves seeing something that appeals to me and then waiting a few weeks (or in this case a few months) to look at it again and see if I really want to make the investment.  More often than not I decide, when using this test, to not purchase the particular item that caught my eye.  In this case I did.  

They will replace the two small Rubbermaid storage boxes that you see port and starboard underneath the coiled lines on SPARTINA.  Those boxes probably cost me about $10 each over a decade ago at the hardware store.  They have served me well, the one on the port side holding books, the log, anchor lights along with a few other items, and the one to starboard holding the cook kit.  They are not at all waterproof and it surprises me to say that in over ten years of doing two to four cruises a year only once have the contents of one box gotten wet.  

That was on a sail up the Pamlico River, a gusty day when I was thinking with my stomach more than my brain as I tried to reach a nice little waterfront steak house in Washington, NC.  A good all purpose lesson learned:  Think with your brain, not your other organs.

I bought these because:
  • they are waterproof
  • take up less space than the boxes
  • fit on SPARTINA, with lashings in place, as if they were designed for it
  • they are bright orange and will float - if I ever end up in need of rescue I plan to have a bright and easily traceable debris field
I also bought them because I recently learned that, despite the fact I stopped working in early February, my termination date of my few decades of a career is actually January 1, 2021.  A bit of a going away gift to myself.  How nice...

Tuesday, December 22, 2020

a sad story about a favorite place

The Washington Post tells us that the virus has reached Tangier Island.  Peter Jamison and photographer Katherine Frey (these are her photographs) put together a very poignant piece about the isolated Chesapeake Bay Island.  The people there are very tight nit, and the demographics are skewed to an older population.  Those two factors make them vulnerable.  

I sailed to Tangier twice this year.  The first time was in June.  I did not go on the island then because of the virus but I did see Ooker, the town's mayor (above), when he motored by to check on me and say hello while I was anchored in Cod Harbor.  I was there again in September, and I did go on the island (practicing social distancing and wearing a mask) for a nice lunch.  Leaving Cod Harbor the next morning for Pocomoke Sound Ooker again motored by to ask where I was headed and then went off with a friendly wave.

They are good people out there.  I wish them the best in these difficult times.


Friday, December 18, 2020

not dead, not sleeping

 Just tired and sore after
a few hours of sanding
on the Schooner VIRGINIA

Monday, December 14, 2020

Friday, December 11, 2020

so whose life is this anyway?

So I'm out sailing this afternoon and get a text from a friend working in a high-rise along the waterfront.  "Great day to finish the wine and go for a sail" it said.  How right he was.  

The wine he was talking about was from a virtual wine tasting last night.   A young woman dropped off four bottles of wine, a tray of meats and cheeses and associated accoutrements last night.  The Pilgrim and I enjoyed sampling the wine as the vinter explained over a Webex call from his vineyards in California how it was made.    It was both interesting and enjoyable.  

This morning I worked on the schooner VIRIGINIA for a few hours as we wrapped the boat for winter.  By midday there was a nice breeze so I walked a couple hundred yards to where SPARTINA was tied up and headed out for an afternoon sail. 

Sometimes I just don't get it.  Wine tastings?  Working on a schooner?  A great place to tie up the little yawl on the waterfront?  And of course the beautiful yawl?  Where did all this come from?  How did this happen?  Whose life is this anyway?

These lines from Jimmy Buffet's THE WINO AND I KNOW seems appropriate....
I'm just tryin' to get by being quiet and shy,
In a world full of pushin' and shove.

 Maybe I shouldn't ask too many questions.  Just enjoy it while I can.

Sunday, December 6, 2020

Ho Ho Ho, NO!

Received a box from Amazon containing 30 Rx bars, my standard for breakfast-on-board both daysailing and cruising.  A nice surprise to see some new flavors mixed in with the old favorites.  Chocolate Raspberry, Vanilla Almond and Coconut Chocolate all sound interesting and good.  There are some other favorites that were not included.  Those can easily be bought at the local grocery.  Thirty bars for under $60, that's a good deal.

I thought I had yesterday evening off as I was told the weekly waterfront boat parade was canceled due to high winds.  But I got a call late afternoon saying the winds had laid down and the parade was on.  So did I get a night off?  Ho Ho Ho, NO!  That's ok.  It was a fun evening.

Friday, December 4, 2020

crowded river, Black Friday (corrected)

A correction from Tom:  "That's a Virginia-class boat, roughly $3B on the hoof".  Thanks, Tom.

It was nice weather this morning but I was glad to not be sailing.  It gets a little crowded when sharing the river with a nuclear powered submarine and associated protection boats.  In the past I have been chastised for photographing submarines (if being chastised is having a patrol boat with mounted and manned machines guns heading towards you at full speed with a voice coming over a loud speaker saying "by order of federal law put down the camera").  Public affairs folks with the Navy have to me in the past that it has something to do with the antennas, they don't like them being photographed.  This time now such interaction.  Pretty cool to see it.  My guess it is a Los Angeles class attack submarine (Tom tells me is is a Virginia class), and no doubt it was heading to the dry docks on the southern branch of the Elizabeth River.  


My only Black Friday purchase arrived today.  Six Journal No. 393 Rite in the Rain notebooks.  I can't remember how I heard about it but they had a pretty good discount going and free shipping too.  Six notebooks, how many cruises is that?  Can't wait to find out.


Wednesday, November 25, 2020

rudder stock, surf and turf, Happy Thanksgiving

Rudder stock complete save for the painting.  Primer and anti-fouling paint on the lower end, the rest finished bright.  Won't get around to painting/varnishing/installing until after the first of the year when doing annual maintenance on SPARTINA.

Had a couple of Thanksgiving guests fly in today.  From the price I believe they had first class seats.  Surf and turf tomorrow (we're not much on tradition), lobster cooked sous vide and rib eye steaks seared at 600 degrees or so.



Tuesday, November 24, 2020

I've heard of facial recognition, but food recognition??

The last few family vacations I've had the iPhone 11 Pro has, on its own, put together little videos that just show up on the phone.  I get it.  It recognizes faces, tracks locations and can tell when the gathering begins and ends, then puts together a little slide show with a sound track.  But food recognition???  Kinda scary.  But boy those crab cakes, burgers, oysters, pan-fried striper and salads were good!  Click above or click here to see the video.


Sunday, November 22, 2020

oh deer! *

Typically around the holidays, for some unknown reason, I am often associated with the Grinch and/or Scrooge.  I cannot imagine why.  I think I may have just changed all that.  I decorated SPARTINA and joined a small boat parade, part of the winter festival at Nauticus and the USS Wisconsin.  They provided the Christmas lights, I provided the reindeer and a friend provided the red bicycle taillight as Rudolph's nose.

I was invited late last summer to join the parade and was happy to say yes.  About 10 other boats were involved, including several of SailNauticus Harbor 20s.  I had never been in any kind of parade before.  I will say it was gratifying to see the smiles on faces of young children during this pandemic time.  There will be a repeat performance, weather permitting, every Saturday between now and Christmas.  It is well worth the price of admission (it is free).

 Today was fall sailing at its best.  High 60s, steady wind at about 10 mph and blues skies.  Fall and winter sailing, I just can't get enough of that.

*  Barry's reaction when he heard I was going to be in a Christmas parade.

Friday, November 20, 2020

she always brings me flowers, and other notes on the sailing trip

Up before dawn to walk to the showers at the Cambridge Yacht Basin.  A new set of clothes felt good.  Then a walk to the Black Water Bakery for an iced tea and blueberry muffin to go.  Motor the few hundred yards to the ramp located just behind the hospital.  Leave SPARTINA at the dock to walk to Yacht Maintenance Company to retrieve the jeep and trailer.  Haul out, take my time unloading the boat and breaking down the rig while I enjoy that blueberry muffin that is chock full of blueberries.

A few things about this trip:

  • I use a Rite in the Rain notebook to write down speed, locations, observations and anything that strikes me as interesting during the day's sail.  At night I write out the day's log, based on the notes, in a Moleskine notebook.  The logs here are an edited version of those hand-written logs, using gps tracks, photographs and time-filtered memory to be as accurate as possible.
  • This has been a busy tropical storm season.  Several of the storms, too many, came in to the gulf coast.  The remnants of those storms head north and then curve east, often passing over the mid-Atlantic.  I was affected by remnants of two of those storms, Sally and Delta.  Weather related to Sally kept me at Knapp's Narrows for a day and two days later had me waiting out the high winds in a cove on South Marsh Island.  I came back to the ramp when I did because the remnants of Hurricane Delta were headed to the mid-Atlantic with a forecast of three days of heavy rain.   I have heard from friends that forecast was accurate.
  • I noted on most days what I had for breakfast and dinner, I rarely mentioned lunch.  Lunch for me on a boat is not a one-time meal.  It is more about grazing on various foods throughout late morning and early afternoon.  Canned tuna from Italy, the Rio Mare and Callipo brands, is part of every lunch.  So are crackers, fruit in a cup, dried fruit, mixed nuts and ginger treats.
  • In re-writing the logs here it struck me that I most commonly started the sailing day between 6:50 and 7:05.  That was not planned.  Only in rare instances, when I need to make a bridge lift for example, do I use an alarm clock.  Typically I wake to Chesapeake Bay's own alarm clocks - birds calling in the marsh as dawn approaches and the rumble of diesel engines on deadrise boat as watermen head out to their fishing grounds.  That time frame, right around 7:00, is perfect for the fall sailing trips.  I am very happy when the sails go up just before the sun comes up.
  • I packed breakfasts and lunches for 16 days in plastic ziplock bags.  Each evening I would transfer the next day's meal to an insulated lunch box.  I had another two weeks of canned tuna, Rx bars, buffalo bars vacuum-packed and stowed down under the thwart next to the centerboard trunk.  As friend Curt said, "canned tuna makes for good ballast."  He was right.  I had 30 freeze dried meals stowed in five or six two-gallon bags, also under the thwart but as the meals are light I had them stowed outboard of the cb trunk.  Even with all that on board I still had unused storage available.
  • New favorite piece of gear:  the Hyke and Byke 30 degree down sleeping bag.  It kept me very warm and comfortable.  And it packs up very small in a waterproof stuff sac.  Each morning when I woke up I would put the sleeping gear away by putting the sleeping bag in the stuff sac, deflating and rolling up the sleeping pad and pillow, and rolling up the bivy.  Sometime during the last few days, when I knew the trip would end soon, I was doing the above when I thought to myself "I am going to miss this."  There is something special about the routine, after a good night's sleep and with the the thought of the new day ahead.  I do miss it.
  • One missing piece of gear:  waterproof insulated gloves.  I could have used them a couple of times. I have since bought a pair.
  • It was by far my best striper fishing trip on the Chester River.  Other trips I have fished the same way, trolling, with the same lure and caught nothing or maybe one fish that is always a quarter inch shy of the legal limit.  This trip I knew I could catch a striper every fifteen minutes or so and they were just about all good-sized fish.  That trolling rod earned its spot on the boat.
  • I saw several friends on the trip.  Curt, on ANNIE, Fred and Marylou in Rock Hall, Kristen on MAGDALENA on Queenstown Creek and in St. Michaels, the two Kathy's, one the bartender and the other a waitress, at the Marker 5 on Knapp's Narrows, the farm family on Queenstown Creek and former colleague Vicki at both Knapp's Narrows and Cambridge.  Only one of them, Vicki, would I have known if not for SPARTINA.  So much for building a boat and getting away from everyone.

  • Being unemployed and not having a set schedule changed the cruising experience for me.  All other past cruises I had to be back at work on a certain date.  The trips may have been four days long or fourteen days long, in the back of my mind I was always calculating and forecasting my trip with the goal of being back to the ramp and a certain time on a certain date.  That weight has been lifted from my shoulders.
  • I was very pleased when I arrived back in Cambridge after over three weeks of sailing to find that I was clean, well-rested, in good spirits and still had a couple sets of clean clothes in the duffel.  SPARTINA's gear was in perfect shape, the boat as organized as they day we cast off.  I could have easily re-supplied with food/water and kept on going.  Maybe I will next time.

So SPARTINA hauled out, unpacked and ready for the drive home, I head over to Snapper's and get a table outside on the deck.  Soon Vicki, a long-time friend and former colleague, now a co-owner of an organic no-till farm on the Eastern Shore, arrives for lunch.  We both get the Caesar salad with mini-crabcakes.  Excellent!  After lunch we are saying our goodbyes and she gives me a gift of fresh cut flowers from her farm.  How nice!  What a perfect way to end a trip.

Thursday, November 19, 2020

day twenty-four - downwind to Cambridge

A breezy, cool and comfortable night tucked back in the cove.  Forecast is for a lot of wind.  I tie in both sets of reef points then tie the mainsail tightly to the boom.  Not sure if I'll be needing it today.  6:55 sail off anchor, mizzen and jib making 2.8 leaving the cove.  

Chocolate hazelnut Rx bar, buffalo bar and mixed fruit for breakfast as we sail down Warehouse Creek, 4.3.  At 7:10 enter Cox Creek just as the sun comes over the trees.  The sun feels good.  Two crabbers working trot lines.  7:30 leaving Cox Creek, entering Eastern Bay and I can see Poplar Island in the distance.  Outside the channel markers round up to raise the double-reefed main.  Soon shake out the first reef.  Jot down speeds of 4.3, 5.1 and then 5.9 going down the face of a wave.

At 8:30 Bloody Point due west, 4.6 to 5.1 with wind on the starboard quarter, easy sailing.  Bright sun, not a cloud in the sky.  Out of the lee of Kent Island at 8:55, making over 6 kts on rough water.  Approaching Poplar Island Narrows at 9:15, 6.5 down the face of a wave.  Wind building and too much sail up.  9:25, bring down the mizzen, fighting the wind to get it down.  Still too much sail.  Off Lowe's Wharf round up to bring down the main.  Raise the mizzen but with wind on the beam one of the battens on the mizzen catches in the lazy jacks.  Two deadrises working the clam beds nearby.  They are too busy to look but would have seen an awkward sailboat with jib and half-raised mizzen hung on the jacks.  I sail downwind to pick up enough speed round up into the waves, slack the mizzen halyard and pull it up quickly and I've got the full mizzen up.  

At 9:50 sailing at 4.8, hit 7.7 in a puff, then 7.3 sliding down a wave.  There's a lot of surfing down waves as we pass by the entrance markers to Knapp's Narrows.  GPS shows 8.1 on a steep wave.  At 10:15 Blackwalnut Point to the southeast.  Round the point at 10:50, clear shallow water near the point and birds diving on baitfish.  Looking down I can see the shadows of stripers chasing the smaller fish.  

Wind on the beam heading up the Choptank River.  Hot and the sun, so welcome this morning, beats down on the little boat.  1:00 passing Castle Haven Point, 3.5.  Howell Point at 1:50, gusty and making 4.5.  

Hambrooks Bar Light at 2:30, 3.8 as we turn towards the Cambridge municipal marina.  Sails down 2:45 and it is a battle to maneuver in the strong wind in the marina.  Sort of a hard landing on a floating pier, talk with the dock master and he has me move to the farthest corner, a nerve wracking motor through high-end boats.  No damage done and docked 3:40.  

33.45 NM for the day.

Hot afternoon, wind finally dropping off early evening.  A short walk to Snapper's for dinner.

A good trip, good to be back in Cambridge.  400.24 NM total, 460.70 statute miles.