Friday, July 31, 2020

the gift

I have friends named Rick and Vivianne.  I have never met them other than a distant wave from one boat passing another near Rolph's Wharf on the Chester River.

They have a daughter named Laurea who is a designer and illustrator.  I have never met her either.

This gift from Rick, Vivianne and Laurea arrived in the mail this evening.  How very nice.  Thanks to you all.  A frame will be ordered tomorrow.

Thursday, July 30, 2020

my day, made

I used to see the woman on my morning walks along the waterfront before going into work.  She would go out to the end of the pier behind the museum, lower herself out of her wheelchair and sit with her arm wrapped around her dog.  A Labrador maybe.  The woman and the dog side-by-side, the wheelchair a few feet away.  A sight so serene that I would bypass the pier and leave them in their joyous solitude.

I did not notice the woman this morning until she called out to me.  I was sailing and she was in her wheelchair on the waterfront, dog by her side, possibly on her way to or from the pier.  She said she enjoyed the sight of the small boat sailing in the morning light.  "You just made my morning" she said across the water.

And she had just made my day.

Thursday, July 23, 2020

my body's at home but my heart's in the wind

Sails up before the sun this morning for a wonderful time on the water.  A few hours of sailing and then a couple of hours working on the Schooner Virginia.  Driving home I heard a Tom Waits song that I had not heard before.  It is called Shiver Me Timbers.  Below are a few lines from the song.

And I'm leaving my family, I'm leaving all my friends
My body's at home, but my heart's in the wind
Where the clouds are like headlines on a new front page sky
And shiver me timbers, 'cause I'm a-sailing away

Sunday, July 19, 2020

this is what it has come to...

Excellent and very painful story in today's Washington Post about Lori Wagoner of the Inland Waterway Provision Company in Oriental NC.  Whenever I'm in Oriental I drop by the shop which is located just down the street from the town dock.  It's a great shop and very friendly people in there.  I applaud Lori for doing the right thing.  

Is it really that hard to wear a mask?  Is it really that hard to show concern for other people?  

Where did our decency go?

Friday, July 17, 2020

dusk and dawn

With a forecast of steady winds and relatively (relatively for July, that is) cool temperatures made for excellent dust and dawn sails.  Last night I cast off about 6:00, enjoying slightly unusual ESE winds for a couple of hours.

Back out on the river this morning before the sun was up.  A crew member on a tug, silhouetted by the rising sun, waved as the tug headed down river.  That is unusual.  I seldom get noticed by working vessels.  I understand that, I'm out relaxing in their work space.  I'm reminded of the old saying by mariners: "He that would go to sea for pleasure would go to hell for a pastime."

I sail for the joy and peace I find on the water.  I do not go far, just tacking back and forth with the breeze.  There are waves and greeting from people along the shore, walkers and joggers, people waiting to get on the tour boats, workers walking to the ferries on their way to or from work.  If, during these difficult days, they look out on the river and see a scene that causes them to smile, then I am glad for that.

Sunday, July 12, 2020


First winds came this morning 
as reveille was played 
at the old naval hospital
across the river.

Friday, July 10, 2020

three rivers

I crossed three rivers today.  The James, the York and the Piankatank.  The Piankatank was by far the smallest and the prettiest of the three.  Crossing the Piankatank I noticed a shoal on a little point just to the west and wondered if it would be a good spot for speckled trout.

I had to run up to Deltaville for a couple different reasons.  One was to take a look at the ramp at a marina there.  It appears to be a decent ramp with a $10 launch fee based on a mailbox and the honor system.  My concern was launching there and leaving the jeep/trailer there for a week.  Or two.  There were two young women in the office.  They said $10 to launch and just park in the field nearby.  They did not seem to be concerned about storage costs so I said thanks and went on my way.

A nice crab cake sandwich, enjoyed outside in the shade, was a reward for a morning of work.

Crossing back over the Piankatank on the way home there was a small skiff with a fisherman casting along that shoal for trout.

Sunday, July 5, 2020

almost normal. almost.

I should not have gone out sailing this morning.  It was so calm.  Not a hint of a breeze, not even a suspicion that a zephyr might ruffle the still water.  But I went anyway.

I left the basin with the mizzen already raised, main and jib up once I crossed the shipping channel to Craford Bay.  And there I found the lightest of breezes.  Not enough to tighten the lines, but just enough that SPARTINA could make way at a half not or so.  It was just after sunrise, the summer heat not yet bearing down on the river.  How nice.  I spent two hours sailing back and forth among the five sailboats anchored there, said hello to a paddle boarder out for her morning paddle, then made my way over to the park on the Norfolk side of the water.

I sailed all three days of the holiday weekend, and the river almost felt normal.  The Schooner Virginia was flying her signal flags and the battleship Wisconsin nearby opened for tours for the first time in months.

Sail Nauticus had their boats out. Some of the Harbor 20s had family on board and no masks were worn.  Other boats, non-family members on board, wore masks.

Even some cruisers passing through, including this sailor named Jack with sturdy looking NAJA 30 foot plywood kit boat FLEETWOOD.  You can read about his circumnavigation here.

The tour boats were out, crew members waving as they wore their masks.  

I tied up for lunch on Friday and had to go back because I had forgotten to get my mask out of my PPE kit (since when did I have a PPE kit on board?).  

It felt good to day sail on the Elizabeth River.  It felt almost normal.  Not quite.  Almost.

Saturday, July 4, 2020

day nine - crab pops served here

The quietest and most peaceful of nights, probably the best sleep I had had on the trip.  Up at 5:30, sail off anchor just after 6:00.

SE wind and beautiful morning light, I am glad for GPA to help me remember how to get out of the marsh.  Making 2.3 across the calm water I can hear the cluck and cackle of the marsh hens hidden in the cord grass.

3.0 past Rogue Island and  I wonder if I should raise the centerboard just as the 100 lb steel plate touches the soft bottom.  No problem, take a turn on the winch and raise the board.

At 7:20 on Pocomoke Sound sailing outside the long shoal that reaches out from Beach Island, jibing at red marker "6".  It's choppy at the marker with a huge amount of water flowing out around the shallow shoal.  Sailing wing and wing, 2.4.

At green marker "7" at 8:20.  Lighter wind, then no wind.  Under power.  It's time to make a decision, either head NNE towards Saxis or NNW towards Broad Creek and the ramp.  I listen to the weather report, little to no wind the rest of today and then again tomorrow.  NNW towards Broad Creek which connects to the Little Annemessex.

I can make out the red marker at the creek entrance at 9:35.  In the creek at 10:15,  still no wind and we enter under power against the outgoing tide.  It is a pretty, winding creek that I have sailed through four or five times over the years.  Beautiful marshes, an old fishing camp, turns and bends that always leave me wondering if I am still on the creek or not.  

Back on the Annemessex at 10:45 and soon passing through the narrow cut between the crab house and the condos.  Docked at 11:15, 15.29 NM for the day, mostly under power.

Coming into Somers Cove I could see my favorite crab restaurant was closed.  What to do about lunch?  Fast food in Pocomoke on the way home is an option, but not a good one.

SPARTINA, on the trailer with her rig broke down, I get on the road.  Just outside of Crisfield I see a Gulf gas station with a sign that says "Crab Pops Served Here!"  Curious as to what a crab pop might be I go inside and ask.  It is bits of soft-shelled crabs deep fried and served over a bed of French fries.  Restaurants only like to serve whole soft-shells, so what do they do with those missing a claw or two?  Cut them up in to pieces, fry them and give them an interesting name.  Crap pops in Crisfield, on Tangier you can get the same thing only it is called "crab jewels."  So I order up a batch and they are a delight.  Then back on the road home.

244 NM, 281 statute miles for the trip.
Excellent trip!

Friday, July 3, 2020

from a longtime friend and colleague

Out on the water and saw a ton of old friends including Bill T, a friend and colleague of over three decades. He grabbed a few very nice photos of SPARTINA as he headed downriver on a friend's boat.

Left the boat on the river, back out again tomorrow.

Wednesday, July 1, 2020

day eight -a closed town, an open marsh

Another rough night.  Forecast to blow out of the north all night and I am jostled awake to see the lights from Canton Ridge - the eastern most of the three ridges of Tangier - out the back of the boom tent.  Those lights should be off our bow.  The wind has swung to the south.  An opposing tide doesn't help.

Sail off anchor at 6:35 with a single reef tucked in the main and wearing foul weather bibs in case it is rough, wet ride.  Just after 7:00 making 5.1 out of Cod Harbor.  The wind slacks a little after 8:00 and I shake out the reef and slip off the foul weather gear with Watts Island to the northeast.

At 8:30 make a tack towards the Onancock Creek entrance channel, another tack at 8:45 and a third at 9:00.  And the wind disappears.  Under power.

Inside red marker "6" drop the main and the jib, the outboard carries us up the the glassy-calm creek past some crabbers working their pots.

Docked at the Onancock Wharf at 10:50 only to find it closed.  There is a note saying I can leave a phone message if I need gas.  And I do need gas.  So I leave a voice mail.  I figure I'll go get something to eat, only to find most of the restaurants closed.  Only a bakery is open, and it is an excellent bakery I can tell you from past experience, but the line is so long I don't want to bother with it.  

No response on my voice mail for gas so I check my phone to find a gas station a mile away.  I put the gas can in a mesh bag with a shoulder strap and make the trek a mile up and a mile back.  

Push out from the dock at noon, motor down the creek and sails up in a light breeze near the bright sandy beach at Parkers Marsh.  A couple long tacks to get out of the creek, pleasant and pretty sailing while I have a can of tuna and crackers for lunch.

It's a beautiful day and with just enough wind to sail close-hauled along the beach that heads up towards Chesconessex Creek.  Off the creek entrance at 2:45 making 2.3 kts.  I tack off the point at Tobacco Island at 2:50, then tack back in.  We slip past tiny Rogue Island, really just a little patch of marsh grass, at 3:15.

The next two hours is a delightful sail on the marshes of Pompco Creek.  Depths are marked as shallow as two feet but the centerboard never touch bottom just ghosting the shorelines of the tiny little coves and bay.  The wind is perfect and I am so glad Onancock was closed otherwise I might have missed this little gem of a marsh.

It has been too long since I have done this kind of exploring, standing in the cockpit, a hand resting on the main boom and a knee nudging the tiller.  A perfect afternoon.

Anchor down Pompco Creek at 5:15.  Pasta Roma for dinner, excellent.

32.05 NM