Wednesday, July 21, 2021

sunrise sail

Sails up before the sun, 

catching light breezes 

before the heat of the day arrives.  

Tuesday, July 20, 2021

blog notes

I've started building the daily log list for the spring sail.  You should see it to the right.  I meant to do it as I wrote the logs but, well, didn't.

Also, on blog comments, which I always appreciate, I was getting spammed.  To block this I have gone to moderated comments which means they are emailed to me first and then I can post them.  So if your comment doesn't show up right away it just means I haven't had a chance to get the email and approve it.

 Packing food for the fall trip today.  There will be 30 freeze dried meals and 17 breakfast and lunch kits, each in one gallon plastic bags.  Sealed in vacuum packed bags are a dozen each of the main breakfast and lunch items - Rx Bars, Tanka buffalo bars and canned tuna.  Midway through the trip I'll unseal and pack lunches/breakfasts for the rest of the trip.

A nice forecast for tomorrow morning.  Should be a nice sunrise sail.

Wednesday, July 14, 2021


It is summer camp time for kids at Tidewater Wooden Boat Workshop.  It was fun morning with about 10 kids ages (I'm guessing) 12-14.  One of today's projects was building this small model boat.  Interesting thing is the kids are given a set up plans and have to use 18 different tools to put together the simple little boat.  It takes a little math, a lot of measuring and learning to use some power tools - a drill press, table sander, band saw.  The kids needed a little guidance with all that.  When it comes to painting, get out of the way.  They know exactly what they want to do.  


I'm doing some measuring myself these days.  Getting ready to replace the 14-year-old stays on SPARTINA.  Plus counting the food supplies I have on hand for the fall sail.  Every visit to the grocery store I pick up a little something more.  Today it was Rx Bars and That's it. bars.  

The fall trip is several weeks off but I've got a five day schooner trip to Cape Charles and then a week-long haul out to replace the stays, maintenance coats of paint and varnish and maybe some new bottom paint.  No doubt the fall sail will come sooner than expected.


Thursday, July 8, 2021


The nice folks at the Sultana Education Foundation have been kind enough to invite  SPARTINA (bottom right, above) to participate as one of the small vessels at this year's Downrigging Festival in Chestertown, Maryland October 29-31.  This is an all-time favorite waterfront town and a great festival.  Sailing in there will be the perfect way to end the fall cruise.  

The festival is an end-of-season event for the tall ships with at least half a dozen scheduled to participate.  (And they've added a blue grass music performances to the weekend.).  I took part in the festival for a few years and my role was to, yes, just sail.  The tall ships cast off a couple of times a day for passenger cruises and I would be out of the river tacking back and forth and generally having a great time.  I love sailing with tall ships.  Scheduling got the better of me and I had to drop out.  Now we are back.

I say "invited" but I sent a few emails, made an in-person appeal and, well, basically begged to take part in this year's event.  So you can say I was invited, but maybe you can also say that they surrendered.  What's the difference?

I get the feeling the fall sail will be here sooner than I expect.  I can't wait.


Monday, July 5, 2021


 Twice in two days I was asked about SPARTINA'S age.  A woman who saw me out sailing biked over to the docks as I came in to ask about the boat.  She had lots of questions, the last being "how old is it?".  I told her she was about 14 years old.  "That surprises me," she replied. And of course I asked why that would surprise her.  She said SPARTINA looked brand new.  

The next day a Dutch sailor on a steel-hulled sailboat leaned out as I sailed by to asked "Is that a really old boat?".  I took "really old" to mean decades old, so told him it was not.  I guess John Welsford's lapstrake hull plus the gaff-rigged yawl sail plan does give the Pathfinder the appearance of being from a different era.

SPARTINA feels neither old nor young to me, certainly not "new" and hopefully not too old.


The unseasonably cool (relatively speaking) weather has persisted.  No complaints here.  Winds out of the north and west, low humidity and comfortable temperatures.  It wuill not last but will enjoy it as long as I can.  We should get some rain from Elsa later this week.  I suspect the typical summer weather will arrive after that.

Friday, July 2, 2021

a dozen photographs and a few thoughts

Morning, sailing along Shackleford Banks.

The sail from Beaufort Inlet to Cape Lookout Bight is across Onslow Bay.  The sail is in the lee of Shackleton Banks and any wind out of the northern quadrant makes for an easy, calm sail across wide open water.  A favorite passage to a favorite destination.

Evening, Broad Creek off of South Lake.

An artist friend of mine said this photo was "just transportive."  It is probably my favorite photograph of the trip.  Simple lines and shapes.  (Simple things for the simple minded.)

Perquimans River at dawn.

This was a very cold morning on the Perquimans River.  I am wearing foul weather gear.  By the time I reached the mouth of the river, getting ready to cross Albemarle Sound, I changed into my dry suit.  You probably can't tell from the photograph but I'm wearing waterproof gloves, and would soon don a leather broad-brimmed hat for an approaching rain storm.  To quote my Appalachian Trail friend when I asked him how to deal with being cold and the wet he said simply "don't get cold and wet."  Excellent advice.

Webb Chiles suggested in an email that my sailing log was a love affair with my dry suit.  I cannot argue with that.  Combining the dry suit with base layers - I've carry three different weights of thermals - makes me feel almost bulletproof when it comes to rain and cold.  As for the gloves, I have spent a lot of money on waterproof gloves and have never been happy with any of them.  So I spent a little money ($14) on gloves from Amazon and they are perfect for my needs.

Back Creek, after sunset.

The new mizzen mast on a beautiful, calm evening.  I have started hooking my anchor light on one of the robands on the mizzen.  It casts light on the sail and is easily visible, though I cannot see it from inside the boom tent.

Oriental, near the Town Dock.

I visited Oriental twice during the trip, the second visit being unplanned.  But can you spend too much time in Oriental?  I think not.  I love the colors and textures in this photograph.

There were several places I did not get to visit as the weather did not cooperate - Ocracoke, Edenton, Salmon Creek, Roanoke Island.  They are all on the list for next time.

Leaving South Lake.

A friend said this photograph made her think of Winslow Homer.  I'll take that compliment any day.

Thunderstorm, the Frying Pan.

This is the first of two thunderstorms on The Frying Pan.  I spent the entire day there because of forecasts of high winds and thunderstorms.  It was a good decision.  

The boom tent, made by my canvas friend Angel, worked perfectly and kept me dry and comfortable.  For any of you thinking of hitting up Angel for some canvas work, good luck.  Last I heard she was working six months out.

Perquimans River before sunrise.

I love early mornings when, for the most part, winds are light or even non-existent.  Like on this morning when I would later spend a few hours with 28 mph winds crossing Albemarle Sound.  Enjoy the calm mornings when you can.

Pungo River, headed towards Belhaven

This was after coming out of the Alligator River Pungo River Canal.  I spent too much time in canals on this trip.  This was all weather related with unusually strong winds out of the north.  I had heard before the trip that there was a weather pattern forming that would keep tropical storms away.  That, I thought, sounded pretty good.  I did not realize the weather pattern was strong, cold winds out of the north.   Those winds limited my sailing choices, particularly during the first half of the trip.

Alligator River.

Cold and grey in the morning, clouds breaking up late morning, hot and sunny in the middle of the day, rain in the afternoon, then sunny late afternoon into evening.  I had a little bit of everything that day.  In fact I had a little bit of everything on the trip.

Late morning nap, South Lake.

The Pilgrim suggested that I was wearing an interesting selection of colors.  Orange and pink don't go together?  Who knew?

You can see my chart book at the right.  It, like my Chesapeake Bay chart book, is old and worn out.   Printed chart books are impossible to find.  My next chart book will probably be an iPad mini.

Potters Marine, North Creek.

Foggy morning and the moisture covered the lens of my GoPro.  I like the feel of the photograph.  In the past I've mounted the GoPro and set it to shoot a frame every two seconds.  On this trip I set it to shoot a frame every second and I like the results of that.

If you want to sail Pamlico Sound Potters Marine near Belhaven is the place to launch.  Conway is a great host.  Great ramp and it is well off the main road so no worries about the security of your vehicle and trailer.  I can't wait to head down there next year, if not sooner.

Thursday, July 1, 2021

an incredible journey

Graham Byrnes has completed his Delmarva Circumnavigation (not to mention an extra couple hundred miles to get from Chapel Creek in North Carolina to the Chesapeake Bay and back).  Here is a link to his track.  And here is a link to his log.  Well done, Graham!

day twenty - fog

Stillness.  Silence.  The anchor light glows against greyness.

Under the tent everything was dry.  I was warm in my sleeping bag.
Outside the tent dampness everywhere.  A thick layer of moisture
coats the boom tent and sail covers.  The fog softens everything,
 including the few cries of birds in the marsh. 

I cannot see the shore.  Under power, idle speed.  Stands 
of trees appear and disappear port and starboard.
  We slide by crab pot floats, the only color in the otherwise 
grey mist and water.  I find my way gps.

Tiny drops of moisture cling to the spider webs that cover the dock.  
I brush them away and grab the wood piling at 6:20.

We've had everything from high wind to cold rain, 
thunderstorms and a searing sun.  Gentle breezes
and calm waters.  Why not a little fog to end the trip.

1.41 NM

Wednesday, June 30, 2021

day nineteen - one last canal

Sails up 6:25 with clear skies and a crisp NE wind, making 5.1.  Tuck in a reef.  Tuck in a second reef.  Round Bay point and find stiff vertical chop rolling over the shoals off the point.  

Turn back to the Bay River 7:00 and head for Goose Creek Canal.  Too much wind on the sound.  

7:40 entering Gale Creek, jib and main down, under power.  Wind on the nose in the canal.  

Too much time on the canals this trip.  I think about all the trips on Pamlico Sound this exact time of the year with steady SW wind.  What happened to cause N and NE winds??

8:45 leaving the canal.  Mizzen and jib up on Goose Creek, 4.1.  A tag with a barge comes up the canal so I slide to starboard.  Crabbers, commercial fisherman with nets and sport fishermen looking for trout work along shore.  An eagle flies overhead.  

Anchor down 9:45 Dixon Creek, tucked back in the corner where is is peaceful and calm.  Omeals oatmeal for late breakfast.  Then a good long nap.

Anchor up 11:30, mizzen and jib, following the winding channel out of the mouth of Goose Creek on to the Pamlico River.  Out of the creek and full sail just after noon on very rough water.  

Calmer water at 12:30 farther away from shore and the shallows, 4.3.  1:15 even calmer approaching the north shore of Pamlico River.  It is hot and the sun beats down, but good steady NE wind.  North Creek channel entrance markers in sight at 1:20.  Enter the creek at 1:35.  Anchor down 2:15 on the East Fork.  Boom tent up to get out of the sun.  Reading, relaxing for the afternoon, almost time to head home.  Beef stroganoff for dinner.

22.75 NM for the day

Sunday, June 27, 2021


 I'm very pleased and honored to show up in the log of Graham Delmarva circumnavigation.  Thanks very much Alan!

Saturday, June 26, 2021

day eighteen - north

A fresh set of clothes for the day!  Take my time pulling off the boom tent and sail covers, no rush as I am waiting for The Bean to open.  Iced tea and a cream cheese bagel for breakfast.  Cast off 7:45.

Heading down the channel Martijn backs out of a dock ahead of me in his steel-hulled PRINSES MIA.  I do not know Martijn well but we have crossed paths a few times in Oriental and also years ago in Chestertown.  He is an interesting sailor, always seems to be coming or going to Europe, Bermuda or the Caribbean.  Martijn waves and asks if I'll be coming back to Oriental soon.  Across the water I shout "No, I'm headed back north."  I tell him I'll see him on the next visit, he waves goodbye.

video, sailing north from Oriental

There's a nice breeze outside the breakwater, better than expected, a cool dry wind out of the north.  Making 5.0 on calm water.  8:30 off Pierce Creek.  Soon approaching Gum Thicket and doing 5.5.  Past the point at 9:20 and can see the Lighthouse Shoal marker.  

Making 4.6 to 5.0 approaching the shoal and decide to cut inside the marker.  Surprised that the cb and rudder touch bottom, I've crossed in this area before.  Must be low tide.

10:10 tacking into the north wind as it gets lighter and lighter.  11:30 in sight of Maw Point making just over a knot.  Whatever I gain with a little puff I seem to lose on the next tack.  Some more wind just before noon, then almost no wind.  Motor sailing at Maw Point, 12:30.  

Under power across the wide mouth of the Bay River.  Anchor down Rock Hole Bay at 1:25.  Boom tent up for shade, an afternoon of reading and relaxing.  Fettucini in a cream sauce with a can of tuna pour on top.  Excellent.

 19.99 NM for the day

my hat is off to Graham

Congratulations to Graham for an incredible Delmarva circumnavigation in CARLITA, his Core Sound 17 Mk 3.  He is not done yet, he still has an estimated four or five day sail back to his home in North Carolina.  I caught up with Graham this morning as he anchored for a break at Hospital Point on the Elizabeth River. 

He did the inside route on the seaside of the Eastern Shore, using little creeks to get past obstacles and, at one point, sawing a tree that had fallen across a canal.

SPOT limits the data on their tracking pages to 500 points so I can't show the entire route.  But below are 500 points that show a good portion of the journey.

I think this is day 32 for his trip, so he should be home by about day 35 or so, well before the two months he had estimated early in his trip.  Well done, Graham.


Monday, June 21, 2021

day seventeen - the goddess on the ICW

Cast off from Beaufort waterfront 6:00.  No wind and markers show an ebb tide that will work against me headed north.

Pass under the high rise bridge, glass calm water.  6:40 a light north wind arrives, not helping at all.

Move to the east side of the channel as a tug and barge comes out of Core Creek.  In Core Creek at 7:15.

I look to the stern and see GODDESS, a beautiful sleek 58' motor yacht out of Providence, Rhode Island.  Someone is on the aft deck taking photographs of SPARTINA.  I shake my head and laugh at the thought of someones on that boat wanting a photograph of a little yawl built in a garage.  GODDESS comes up alongside and slows down, a gentleman leaning out of asking about SPARTINA'S design.  I tell him it is a Pathfinder design from New Zealand.  He smiles, says "We've got a captain from Australia, is that good enough?"  I laugh and say yes.  And the motor yacht powers ahead.

Further up we pass the wreckage of a shrimp boat,  hurricane victim I imagine.  By 8:50 making only 2.6 against the current.  The tide, much stronger and longer lasting than expected, had fooled me.

By 9:15 less current, making 3.8 under power.  Sails up at 10:25 on Adams Creek, motor sailing to the Neuse River.  Dolphins everywhere as the creek bends to the west.  Everywhere, that is, except in the frame of my camera.  

11:00 full sail leaving Adams Creek, a single tack to pass the shoals on the Southside and then close-hauled across the Neuse, 4.0.  I point higher than expected and see that Oriental is directly ahead.  A wonderful sail across the wide river and the wind carries me right inside the breakwater.  Docked Oriental 12:30.

A Ceasar salad makes for a light lunch.  Peaches and cream ice cream along with a glass of iced tea from The Bean as I fill out my logbook on the patio at Oriental Marina & Inn.  A cold beer from the Tiki Hut, then shrimp and grits for dinner at The Toucan Grill.  How nice.

21.27 NM for the day