Tuesday, April 28, 2020

it says so on the tee-shirt

I was born for days like this, just check out my favorite tee-shirt from Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum in St. Michaels.  Calm, glassy water to start the day in Betsy Town, breeze filling in about 10:30.

And more wind with a bit of a chill in the afternoon.  Just a perfect day of self-distancing.

Stay safe.

Sunday, April 26, 2020


A little cajun dinner tonight.
Shrimp, crawfish and andouille sausage.
Ca, c'est bon.

Friday, April 24, 2020

first batch of the season

I stopped in my tracks as I was walking out of the seafood shop with a pound of shrimp to go with andouille sausage in a cream sauce served over pasta.  "Oh, and I got the first batch of crawfish yesterday," Eric said.

So now it will be shrimp, andouille sausage and crawfish meat in a creamy cajun sauce.  A meal like that just hints of normalcy.

I would invite you all over to join us, but yeah, that social distancing thing.  Maybe next time.

Tuesday, April 21, 2020

a walk through the swamp

A social distancing walk in the (not so) Dismal Swamp, nine-plus miles along the Washington Ditch to Lake Drummond and back out again.  Just beautiful.  

I am told the butterflies are Zebra Swallowtails.

Saturday, April 18, 2020

under cover of daylight

Under cover of daylight, hard frost still on the lawn, I rolled SPARTINA out of the garage, hooked the trailer on to the jeep and headed down the road.  West until we neared the Dismal Swamp then south on the road that runs along the old canal.  I stole across the state line, a buff for a face mask and a pair of rubber gloves on the seat beside me.  Two trailers already at the ramp in Elizabeth City, I wasn't the only one who wanted to get escape.  

I took my time rigging SPARTINA, stiff new sail covers to remove and then stiff new sails to rig.  An uncommon southeast wind, maybe 10 mph or a little more.  Not a cloud in the sky.  I backed the trailer down the ramp, launched the boat for the first time in over two months.  It felt so good.

Sails up and I saw that I had a crease in the main.  Rounded up, dropped the main to tighten up the throat and the clew.  Over the next hour I probably dropped the main four or five more times to make adjustments to robands and outhauls, finally getting something close to a smooth set.  No doubt I'll be tweaking the rigging over the next few sails, it always takes me a while to get it right.

I spent the next few hours sailing up and down the river, enjoying the beautiful day and the crisp whiteness of the new sails.  A few waves from the folks along shore, social distancing at its best.  

On the road home I thought about what I might have physically touched besides my jeep, boat and trailer.  Only thing I could think of was brief contact with the pilings as I tied on to the dock.  Nothing else.  Kind of like the signs at the state parks say:  Take nothing with you, leave nothing behind.  That was the goal.  But I must confess I did take something away.  A smile.  Cheers.

Thursday, April 16, 2020


A quiet afternoon and evening in Hail Creek, 
one of my favorite anchorages.

But thinking about it, I've got a lot for favorite anchorages.  

Saturday, April 11, 2020

on the other side

So the long-planned month-long sail on Albemarle and Pamlico Sounds is just a fond memory.  From early May through early June I had planned to visit some favorite spots - New Bern, Beaufort, Ocracoke, Washington - on Pamlico Sound and do the length of Albermale sound from Edenton to where it opens on to Croatan Sound and Roanoke Island.

It's just not gonna happen, and the heat and thunderstorms that come mid-June make a four-week trip impractical for the next couple of months.  For summer cruising I prefer to do shorter sails - five to seven days - where I can look for a good weather window and get out on the water.

When we are on the other side of this, and you know what I mean by this, maybe I will sail on the other side of Chesapeake Bay.  Below is a map of the western shore of the Bay from Gwynn's Island to the Wicomico River.

I have sailed the southern end of this area, with Curt and Barry on Curt's ANNIE in 2015, and then late summer 2018 with Barry when he made a great sailing video.  You can find Barry's post and great photographs from the trip here, and see the video here (well worth watching).

What do I remember from my brief sailing up there.  Beautiful, winding waterways with tree-lined shores, the wide open Rappahannock River, great beaches, excellent food and maybe the worlds best oysters at Merroir.  There's a ramp and vehicle storage area at Gwynn's Island, maybe a better ramp and storage at Deltavile.  I could sail up the Bay to Reedville, visiting creeks along the way.  And sail up the Rappahannock to Merroir or go a little bit further to Urbanna (another great oyster spot).  Then duck down and circumnavigate Gwynn's Island through the Hole in the Wall.  

I've got plenty of freeze dried meals, canned Italian tuna, buffalo bars and cups of fruit tucked away.  Just need to wait for the right and responsible time to start using it.

Stay safe.

Friday, April 10, 2020

mizzen and jib

Sailing north on Pamlico Sound after having left West Bay on a stormy morning.  East of Jones Bay the skies cleared but, as you can see, more storms ahead.   

The mainsail is down, sailing under mizzen and jib.  Looking back through photographs from past cruises it surprises me to see how often SPARTINA sails with a single reef, double reef or just mizzen and jib.  It not only surprises me, it makes me smile.

Tuesday, April 7, 2020

Poplar Island Narrows

A favorite run, seemingly almost always into the wind, through Knapp Narrows, north inside Poplar Island to Eastern Bay and the Miles River.

Sunday, April 5, 2020


On the morning walk I heard the siren of the Centerville Turnpike bridge on the ICW.  The siren indicates the bridge is opening for traffic on the waterway.  It could have been commercial traffic, or it could have been a snow bird heading north.

I checked the harbor cam at Oriental's Towndock.  There is one sailboat at the town dock.  The other town dock is empty, as are the docks at the hotel/marina.

The Pilgrim and I may go for a walk this afternoon on the Norfolk waterfront.  It will be interesting to see if there are any boats passing through.

Friday, April 3, 2020


Packed SPARTINA yesterday with all the gear, lines, life vests, and sails on spars wrapped in the new sail covers.

I had intended to cut down the amount of stuff on the boat, eliminating anything I didn't really need.  I failed there because everything went back on SPARTINA save for one dock line and a couple old batteries.

But then maybe I had succeeded by not accumulating unneeded gear in the first place.  That's it!  I claim success!

Thursday, April 2, 2020

waterfront quarantines

I'm reading that several marinas along the ICW are either not accepting transient boats or are requiring visitors to self-quarantine.  Makes sense, but makes me wonder how or if the snow birds will be heading north this spring.  

The photographs are from last spring's sail on Pamlico Sound, Pamlico River and the Neuse River.  At the top is sailing on the Neuse to Oriental.  Below is SPARTINA tied up next to the town dock in Oriental and bottom is dinner that night - excellent tuna tataki from the Toucan Grill.  You can read that day's log here.

I found this posted on Towndock, Oriental's excellent online publication:

• Non-resident visitors arriving by water must self-isolate during their stay, up to 14 days. They may call for groceries, parts, and other goods to be delivered to the docks for pickup. Information for local businesses who deliver will be posted at the docks.

Right now I should be getting ready for the month-long spring cruise, but that is not going to happen.  Instead I'm thinking about possible day sails under Virginia and North Carolina stay-at-home rules (golfing, fishing with social distances is considered acceptable, so I believe sailing would also be acceptable).  And I'm thinking about some shorter cruises this summer, once the stay-at-home rules have been lifted (let's all hope).

The sail to Oriental was less than a year ago.  Somehow it feels as if it was a decade ago.  The world has changed.

Stay safe.