Monday, August 31, 2020

front page news

An email from David tells me SPARTINA is on the front of Oriental's online news site TownDock.  How nice!  My thanks for Allison for the nice photographs.  That's me at the left in the orange shirt talking with Jimmy.  He lives in Oriental now but we both work for the newspaper in Longview, Texas in the early 1980s (small world!).  At the far right is Curt, who was sailing with me in his Drascombe Longboat Cruiser ANNIE.  We had a great trip and the visit to Oriental was a highlight.


Sunday, August 30, 2020

and they just keep coming

A little over two weeks until the fall cruise so I'm watching the weather a little bit more closely now.  As predicted, late August and early September are busy times in the tropics.  

I would like to show you a photograph of gear organized for the sail on Chesapeake Bay but I'm not that organized yet.  Just setting stuff out right now.  There you seem my REI hat, spare am/fm/weather radio, notebook and log book, a couple books for reading and the stuff sac for my old sleeping bag (probably won't use that as I've got a new 30 degree bag that is a little larger than the old one).


Wednesday, August 26, 2020

hauled out, thoughts and prayers

After a short morning sail I headed to the ramp on Scuffletown Creek and hauled SPARTINA out of the water.  Time for some maintenance, cleaning and touch up painting.  I'm not sure when/where I'll put her in the water again.  We'll see.  The fall trip is about three weeks away.


Thoughts and prayers for the people of the Gulf Coast.  Hurricane Laura has been upgraded to Category Four after tying a record for the most rapid intensification for Gulf of Mexico hurricanes.  There are warnings for an "unsurvivable" storm surge of 20 feet that could reach 30 miles inland.  Katrina, Rita, Harvey, haven't these folks had enough?  Be safe.

Saturday, August 22, 2020


Some skiffs were tied up dockside after a COVID-delayed graduation ceremony at Nauticus on the Norfolk waterfront.  The boats were built at Tidewater Wooden Boat Workshop as part of the Sail Nauticus after school program.  

Not only do the kids build the boats, they get to choose the colors for painting and also the names for each boat.  You can tell the kids appreciated the opportunity they had been given.

worth watching, worth reading

The tropics are worth watching these days with storms coming across the Atlantic.  A story in The Washington Post predicted a slew of storms in late August and here they are.

Tropical storms Laura and Marco are head for the Gulf and Mexico and may cross paths in the Texas/Louisiana area, potentially a one/two punch next week.

The yellow "x" at right in the top map is a disturbance with little chance, as of now, of forming into a storm.  This map just above shows another wave coming off the west coast of Africa.  Ugh.


Worth reading is Rik's story about a capsize in his Pathfinder VANESSA.  I believe capsizing JW's Pathfinder is an extremely rare event but Rik sails in some pretty serious wind in Aruba.  Both Rik and VANESSA came out fine.  He has done small boat sailors a favor by writing about the event, you can find his story here.  

Two things I will note.  1) After the capsize he righted the boat and found she was 3/4 filled with water.  Even with all that water the centerboard trunk opening and the hole in the transom for the tiller were both above water which means the Pathfinder could be bailed after a capsize.  Good news!  2) Rik said he lost a lot of gear because it was not tied down.  That is one think I am pretty good about on SPARTINA.  Almost everything is connected with a lanyard or held in place by a bungee.  Every once in a while I do get it right.

The photograph above is from when Rik sailed with me here in Norfolk.  He life-long sailor and I remember that on our short sail he taught me a lot about sailing.  And here he is teaching me again with his post about lessons learned during a capsize.  I will read and re-read the blog several times.  Thanks very much, Rik!  Glad you and VANESSA are safe.

Friday, August 21, 2020


When I stopped working a few months ago I had plans to, yes, sail, volunteer at a boat shop and get involved with the Schooner Virginia.  And then, well...the pandemic.

Things are starting to open up a little bit.  Tidewater Wooden Boat Workshop came up with a safe program for kids to do some model boat building.  One person, one boat.  No shared tools.  Face masks and lots of hand sanitizing.  I've volunteered for several sessions and it has been fun.  And rewarding.

Like most of the tall ships on Chesapeake Bay, the Schooner Virginia is not sailing this year.  Too many people are needed to sail the boat and they need to work in fairly close quarters.  Not safe.  But like any boat, particularly a wooden schooner, there is always maintenance.  And I have gotten involved in a little of that.

This past Tuesday was a perfect day for my post-employment life.  Out for a couple hours of sailing at dawn, off to the boat shop for model building at 9:00 and then on to the schooner for an afternoon of work.

This being retired can be tiring.  No complaints at all.

Monday, August 17, 2020

nothing but a breeze

I was caught off guard by the chill I felt when I walked outdoors this morning.  A chill in mid-August.  The two seldom go together.  

Down at the basin I thought I would not be sailing.  No wind all all, glassy calm river.  So I took a walk instead.  Heading back to the basin 20 minutes later I felt a breeze tunneling through the downtown buildings.  Boom tent off, sail covers off and I was out on the river.  I had forgotten how nice it was to sail without heat or humidity.  Not a lot of wind, maybe between 5 and 10 mph.  No complaints were heard on board.  It felt like a mid-September day just as the cool fronts begin rolling down from the north.  Perfect.


Saturday, August 15, 2020

isolated showers

Out for a sail Thursday morning I could see a thunderstorm erupting well to the south.   It was a short sail that began just after dawn, thick humid air and barely enough breeze to turn the wind turbine on the ocean cruiser out of Rotterdam anchored nearby.   But there was just enough of breeze for a pleasant sail.  I was back at the dock by 9:00 to help with some work on the Schooner Virginia.  As we finished our project on the schooner the storm had made its way north with dark threatening skies, a cool outflow breeze and a spitting rain.  And then it was gone.

Our forecast for the week calls for isolated thunderstorms, the kind where it rains a monsoon in one spot while nearby it is hot and sunny.  And sometimes the rain comes down in full sunshine.  (Think John Fogerty and "have you ever seen the rain coming' down on a sunny day?")  Classic southern summertime weather that I enjoy, but it is not great for daysailing.  I do not like wrapping up the sails when they are wet. 

I went down to the basin this morning to check on SPARTINA.  She was wearing her full rain gear.  Maybe a cup or two of water in her aft cockpit, about the same on the forward bunk flat.  Not bad at all considering the downpours we have had.  

Hopefully this moisture will move on in a couple of days and we won't have to be tied to the dock.

Tuesday, August 11, 2020

sorting and counting

Hot and humid outside so staying inside and counting/sorting food for the fall trip.  Rx bars (egg white-based) for breakfast, usually with a Tanka buffalo and cranberry bar (steak and eggs).  And a cup of fruit.

Lunch is some canned tuna from France and Italy, and crackers to go with that.  Plus a cup of fruit.

And a combination of freeze dried and self-heating dinners, and yeah, a cup of fruit too.

first light

Best early morning breeze of the summer! 

Sunday, August 9, 2020

hyperactive? disconcerting? onslaught? oh my...

 With a notably accurate forecast of no wind I put SPARTINA back in the water this morning.  We motored from the ramp on Scuffletown Creek to Downtown Norfolk where I left the boat for some early morning sailing this week and maybe the first part of next week.  I won't leave her in the water longer than that as The Washington Post reports we are in for some potential hurricanes later this month.  (Who has ever even heard of the Madden-Julian Oscillation?)  From the story:

Atlantic hurricane activity has briefly paused following the unwelcome onslaught of Hurricane Isaias along the East Coast. Conditions look unfavorable for storms over the Atlantic for the next week and a half or so, but that respite won’t last long. There are indications that an active or even hyperactive period of cyclone activity is possible from late August into early September, when atmospheric ingredients will team up in a disconcerting way.

Saturday, August 8, 2020

lost in this masquerade

I came across this chart that shows Virginia is rocking it when it comes to wearing masks.  Very glad to see it.  That is me, below, wearing a mask and face shield before a session of model boat building with inner city kids.  Mask and face shield.  It kinda works for me, don't you think?

Saturday, August 1, 2020

hauled out

This grey and humid morning I brought SPARTINA back from the dock on the river to the ramp on Scuffletown Creek.  She had been in the water for four weeks of mostly early morning sails, absolutely wonderful sails that often began as the sun came up, and it was time to bring her home for a little maintenance.

Scuffletown Creek, about a mile up the southern branch of the Elizabeth, is shared by the ramp and a tugboat company.  I think only once in the past few years have I had to wait outside the creek while a tug was maneuvering in the narrow channel.  (I have more problems with the train trestle.  About once or twice a year I'll have to wait for a train to pass before the trestle is raised.)

Once out of the water I saw what I expected.  The bottom paint had lost some effectiveness.  There was some algae and a few barnacles.  Most of it came off with a power washer.  I've ordered a quart of bottom paint fro Jamestown Distributors, a hybrid "hard" ablative paint that works well for boats that are trailered but also spend a lot of time in the water.  I'll spend the week cleaning up the bottom and hopefully she'll be ready to go back in the water soon.