Wednesday, February 24, 2021

tracking url

Here is my tracking url.  Or copy and paste this link below.

For a couple different reasons heading south a few days earlier than planned.  Got all the gear and food, lots of packing going on today.  Hope to cast off midday Friday.


Sunday, February 21, 2021

puzzled, again

Yesterday's post was a bit of a test.  It was sent from my phone and included the three images in the post.  It also should have included a few lines of text which were lost somewhere between my phone and blogger.  I first noticed this problem on last fall's cruise.  I can send one image and text successfully.  More than one image and the text disappears.  I will keep this in mind during on the way to Georgia's Sea Islands.

Yesterday's post should have said the puzzle was a gift from the Pilgrim.  It also should have said it was made with a beautiful photograph shot by Curt during last spring's cruise on Pamlico Sound.  It is an original and interesting gift, one that I greatly appreciate.  The puzzle was made by Shutterfly and is very high quality.  Need to come up with a gift for someone?  I would recommend a personalized puzzle like this.

Excuse me,  I need to get back to the puzzle.  That morning sky is a challenge.

Saturday, February 20, 2021


temperature check

Just back from the morning walk, 32 degrees here this morning.  I did my usual check on the temperatures down south.  Between 40 and 45 degrees along the coast.  

That should be comfortable with the gear I've got. (And look at that nice north wind!)  I've done 40 degree nights a few times and once, during an early winter storm, woke to find ice on my boom tent in Chestertown.  The more research I do on weather and currents, the better I feel about the trip.

Friday, February 19, 2021

sorting gear

Most of this gear, but not all, goes on the trip.  With cooler weather than my usual cruising times, plus cold water, the drysuit will be important.  There is no insulation in the drysuit, so merino wool base layers, to the right of the suit, will also be important.  Electronic gear - cameras, batteries - is off to the left.  Sleeping gear is on the bed at right.  It looks like a lot of stuff but once tucked away in dry bags or stored in holds, SPARTINA should be neat, clean and organized (why can't I be that way with the rest of my life?).


Thursday, February 18, 2021

fourteen sounds, lights, food, parking

I am learning of more sounds on the way from Charleston to Jacksonville.  My original source, Henry Plummer, showed 11 sounds on his hand-drawn chart from The Boy, Me and the Cat.  Mentioned in my post about that is a twelfth sound, the very small Buttermilk Sound.  Webb also pointed out Calibogue Sound, next to Hilton Head, was not included in the list.  And just a couple a days ago, looking at maps online, I came across Wadmalaw Sound.  So I believe now there are 14 sounds.  Maybe it is not a good idea to navigate using 100+ year old hand-drawn charts.

Checking gear I found one of my anchor lights no longer worked.  I like to have two on board so had Amazon send a new one.  GPS, GoPros and SPOT have all been checked to make sure they have up-to-date software.

This morning I drove to a high-end grocery store in Norfolk and spent too much money on bags of nuts and dried fruit for homemade trail mix.  Peanuts, almonds, pistachios, cashews and wasabi peas make up the nut trail mix.  Dried strawberries, mango, pineapple are in the fruit version.  Look closely and you will see also jelly beans in each kind of mix.  This was a suggestion from my Appalachian Trail friend.  Another suggestion he had, for cold evenings or mornings, was hot chocolate.  An excellent idea and I bought a box of eight pouches.

Speaking of GPS, I finally figured out how to read the current predictions on my Garmin GPSMAP 64S (no one has ever called me the sharpest hook in the tackle box).  Put the cursor on the little diamond shape with a "C" in the middle of it and click once.  That gives the location.  A second click brings up the forecast current for that point.  Having that data available will be very helpful.

A storage facility on James Island today confirmed that I have two parking spots reserved, one for the jeep, one for the trailer.  It is about a 15 minute drive, I believe, from the Wappoo Cut Boat Ramp where I hope to launch.   As I look at tides and currents down the ICW I see that one of the strongest currents I could face, is just to the west on Elliot Cut which connects Wappoo Cut to the Stono River.  Emphasis on the word "could" as I just need to time my launch to have little or no currents, or possibly a current to help carry me on my way.

Tuesday, February 16, 2021

a great journey, a Pathfinder launched

Here's a great story about an interesting boat and journey on TownDock today.  Evan and Ariana, brother and sister, passed through Oriental on their way south in COD, a classic dory built at the the Dory Shop in Lunenberg, Nova Scotia in 1999.

The dory was built with a removable canvas cover for the bow, a tent so to speak.  Although the dory is powered and not sailed, it still reminded me of some of the journeys I have made on SPARTINA.  They are essentially camping their way down the coast.

Not 20 minutes after reading the story I received an email from Keith of TownDock telling me about the story and how it reminded him of Curt and I passing through Oriental last spring.   I agree with Keith that there is a similar feel to our journeys.  They are headed south for Florida.  Wouldn't it be cool to cross paths with them in SPARTINA somewhere down south?

I wish the siblings well on their trip south.


Noah sent some photographs of ELIZABETH, a John Welsford Pathfinder that he launched last summer after five years of part-time boat building.  I think he did a wonderful job.

The cuddy cabin is an interesting idea, I don't know that I have seen that before on a Pathfinder.  It is a nice way of splitting the difference between a completely open boat and a cabin.

Noah must be looking forward to spring when he can get her out on the lakes of New York for some more sailing.  He apologized for the set of the sails in the photographs, he is still tweaking the rigging.   I told him I first launched about 14 years ago and I'm still tweaking the rigging too.  

Congratulations, Noah!


Sunday, February 14, 2021

another $100 piece of wood

Another new rudder blade, this one a bit heavier being made out of mahogany.  And though you can't tell from this photograph it has a much nicer foil shape to it.  Weather cold and rainy this week.  There might be a good day early next week and I would really like to get it out for a test sail before heading to South Carolina.

Thursday, February 11, 2021


 I've been watching the Atlantic coast weather a lot lately.  Cold and rainy here, with more rain scheduled the next five days.  Foggy in Hilton Head.  And this photograph of mine shows up in the local media, a good sized wave battering Buxton just a couple miles north of Cape Point on Hatteras.  This was from Hurricane Sandy in 2012.  I guess I have always been interested in the weather one way or another.

Tuesday, February 9, 2021

temperature check

Charleston, 59 degrees, Beautfort and Savannah 57, Jacksonville 59.  I've made a habit of checking the temperatures along the coast.  It has dipped down in the early morning hours to the 40s and one time to 30 degrees but mostly stays in the 40s and 50s.

Much of the food is packed.  I still need to get the fruit cups and dried fruit plus make up some granola.  I've ordered a wide-brim waxed cotton hat to keep my head warm and dry.  My mid-weight thermals plus wool sweater at dry suit kept me warm at 35 degrees last weekend.  I also have heavy weight thermals if needed.  

I had planned to reshape the foil on the new rudder but decided making a new one from scratch is really about the same amount of work.  I'll pick up some hardwood today.

Saturday, February 6, 2021

test sail

A little after 8:00 at the ramp in Elizabeth City, not another boat at the ramp.  Wonder why??  (hint: it was 35 degrees)

Very little wind today but that was just fine with me.  I wanted to get SPARTINA out on the water and test a few things.

Two of the top items on the list were the new rudder and stock, above, and also centerboard pin.  The cb pin was fine, not a drop of water after almost four hours on the water.  So that's good.  The mahogany stock was fine.  The rudder, not so much.  The few times that the wind did fill in and I picked up some speed the rudder had a "flutter" in it.  This tells me I need a finer point on the aft end of the foil.  Simple enough, a couple hours with a sander and 60 grit paper, a new coat of epoxy and then some primer and I should be good for another test.  That bright red is the primer.  Once the rudder is done it will be painted with anti-fouling paint.

The temperature climbed from 35 to about 50 by midday and it was a surprisingly nice day.

Another test for today was temperature control.  My temperature.  I wore my new mid-weight merino wool thermals and my knee-high merino wool socks from Denmark under my dry suit.  I was very comfortable.  When the breeze did fill in mid-morning it was a cold breeze so I added a wool sweater beneath the dry suit.  That worked very well.

Temperature on the Sea Island trip is something I am giving a lot of thought too.  Average temperatures for March in the South Carolina/Georgia area are 40 degrees at night and 60 during the day.  That's the average, it can certainly get much colder or warmer than that on any given day/night.  I expect I will be wearing a combination of the dry suit and thermals for much of the first week or two of the trip.

Driving home through the neighborhood this afternoon, with SPARTINA in tow, I saw a friend out walking, training for the Appalachian Trail.  He did the 2,200 mile trail a few years ago and is getting ready to do it again.  He is very technical in his approach to hiking and we have often talked about dealing with the elements in respect to both hiking and small boat sailing.  I pulled over this afternoon to ask him about how he dealt with the cold and the wet while hiking the trail (he started his first trail in two feet of snow).  His reply was simple:  Don't get cold, don't get wet.  Use the right gear, use your experience and good judgement.  Chance of rain?  Be ready for it, don't wait until it rains to put waterproof gear on.   Chance of cold, be layered up.  It is a lot easier to be a little warm than too cold.  And make sure you have good warm clothes for sleeping.  

That all makes sense to me.

Wednesday, February 3, 2021

old and new

 That is the old tiller with the new rudder stock and blade.  Brightwork done, hardware in place (two pintels, two cheek blocks, old line cleat on the tiller but a new auto-release cam cleat on top of the tiller).  The green line both holds the blade down when sailing and up when anchored or tied to the dock.  The red paint is primer, anti-fouling paint will go on later.  This is good enough to test out this weekend when we've got (finally!) a decent weather window.

Tuesday, February 2, 2021


It is colder and windier than it should be, and it has been that way for longer than usual.  I worked on the Schooner Virginia for a few hours this morning but when I could see my breath better than I could feel my finger tips I knew that I was done for the day.

I am getting much appreciated suggestions from friends for places to visit on my way south.  Curt highly recommends Jekyll Island which is one of the Georgia Sea Islands.  Bobby, who sails the Pathfinder LAGNIAPPE suggests Fernandina Beach at the north end of Amelia Island, Florida.  Visiting Fernandina Beach on google maps brought up the photograph above.  The old downtown looks lovely.  The water beyond even lovelier.  Below is the corresponding chart from Skipper Bob's Anchorages Along the Intracoastal Waterway.  The Amelia River runs along the waterfront and you can see the two marsh islands shown on the chart, plus Lanceford Creek and Bells River in the distance.  Beautiful! 

 I have the month of March to sail.  I do not know how far I will sail or for how long.  Points for ending the sail require three things:  a marina where I can leave SPARTINA for at least one night, a ramp nearby to haul the boat and easy access to an Amtrak station to get back to my jeep/trailer in Charleston.  I have found those places in Thunderbolt, Georgia, just south of Savannah; Brunswick, Georgia; Jacksonville, Florida and Palatka, Florida, a ways down the St. John's River.  So plenty of options there.

A package of self-heating OMEALS arrived last night, rounding out my dinners, mostly Mountain House freeze dried meals, for the trip.

Less than four weeks to go.

Friday, January 29, 2021

11 sounds

A sail from Charleston to Jacksonville is a matter of crossing 11 sounds, the rivers that connect them and in some cases land cuts that were dug to connect the rivers.  Below is Henry Plummer's hand-drawn map of the sounds from THE BOY, ME AND THE CAT, CRUISE OF THE MASCOT, 1912-1913.  He shows, from north to south, St. Helena, Port Royal, Ossabow, St. Catherine, Sapelo, Doboy, Altamaha, St. Simon, St. Andrews, Cumberland and Nassau Sounds.

I've been sailing sounds for years: Pamlico, Albemarle and Tangier.  Below is a photographer from 2014 on my first crossing of Pamlico Sound from the mainland to Ocracoke, about 16 miles.  Weather was fair that day.  A year or two later I crossed from Ocracoke to the mainland under small craft warnings, very pleased with the yawl's ability to sail under just mizzen and jib.

It is interesting to me that the sounds of South Carolina and George are much narrower bodies of water than what I am used to.  Most are two or three miles.  The narrowest, Buttermilk Sound, not shown on Plummer's map, is just a quarter mile wide.  With the amount of water that drains through the sounds I do expect there will be stronger tides than those found in North Carolina and Chesapeake Bay.

The map also gives some time frames worth referencing.  Plummer sailed MASCOT, a 24 ft. 6 in. long catboat.  The boat had no engine but they towed a small powered "push boat" for when there was no wind.  On the passage south they are in Charleston on January 9, reaching the Jacksonville area on January 28.  Nineteen days.  North bound they are in the Jacksonville area on March 23, reaching Charles on April 13.  Again, nineteen days.  Sounds reasonable.


Thursday, January 28, 2021

sail to the Sea Islands

It is mornings like this that remind me of why I want to head south.  Four inches of snow (when the forecast was for maybe one inch) and howling wind out of the north.  Enough of that stuff!

If the warm weather won't come to me, I may as well go to it.  In late February or early March, depending on weather and tides, I plan to tow SPARTINA down to Charleston, South Carolina and launch there for a sail to the Sea Islands.  

I am both excited and anxious about the trip.  Excited because I have heard for years about the beauty of the rivers and sounds of South Carolina and Georgia.  A little anxious because I am not familiar with the waterways.  I read of six and eight foot tides, and the rushing currents that come with the ebb and flow.  I hear of winding creeks, open sounds and unmarked shoaling along the way.

I have wanted to make the trip for years and I have been planning this particular trip since November.  Much of my research involves three books that include passages along this stretch of the intracoastal waterway.  The oldest book is THE BOY, ME AND THE CAT by Henry Plummer.  He and his son took their catboat from Massachusetts to Florida and back around 1912, the book includes the logs from both the south and north bound passages.  Frank Dye made a north bound passage in a Wayfarer dinghy in the late 1980s which he wrote about in SAILING TO THE EDGE OF FEAR.  And New Zealand writer Lee Hughes bought Dye's Wayfarer dinghy and passed through the same area sometime around 2000, writing a book called THE BIGGEST BOAT I COULD AFFORD.  There is valuable information in each of the books.

A digital book called ANCHORAGES ALONG THE INTRACOASTAL WATERWAY by Skipper Bob Publications will probably be my most valuable source of information.  The ebook includes the charts you see below and near the top of this post.  Zooming in on a particular chart turns into a nice detailed satellite image of the waterway.  I have the book on both my phone and my iPad.

I do not know how long the trip will take.  Going by the ICW mile markers, it is roughly 270 miles from Charleston to Jacksonville, Florida.  I have done distances like that in eight or nine days.  But with tides and narrow, winding creeks and rivers, I really have no idea about the time involved.  Maybe a couple of weeks?  I do want to build in time to explore a bit, visit a few towns and maybe just relax.  So with that in mind I'll carry about 30 days worth of food.

Winter maintenance should be done on SPARTINA in just a few days (snow days like today have slowed me down a bit).  I hope to head down to Elizabeth City soon for some day sailing, testing the new rudder and also a new downhaul for the jib.

Nothing better than having a nice little cruise to look forward to.  Over the next couple of weeks I'll do some posts about the planning, the route and reasons for decisions that I will be making.

Friday, January 22, 2021

another winter coat

One more winter coat on the brightwork yesterday.  One more, the last, should go on this afternoon.

 SPARTINA is a mess, as you can see.  Once the brightwork is done I'll do some touch up paint on the grey interior and the white deck.  Yesterday I pulled the centerboard pin and replace the rubber gaskets.  In the next few days I'll trailer her down the ramp, without masts, rigging or outboard, and let her sit in the water for an hour or two just to make sure there are not leaks with the new seals.

Everything appears to be on schedule and I hope to be sailing in early February.

Sunday, January 17, 2021

Friday, January 15, 2021

boat work

A beautiful, almost spring-like day with blue skies and a warm south wind.  Perfect for a little boat work.  Started on the Bristol varnish on the coaming and rub rails.  The photo above is a deceptive.  Much of the bow is in good shape and just touched up a spot or two.  It is the rub rails that get the abuse for pilings and it will take a few coats to get them looking decent again.  And, as always, will stick to my work boat regimen.  Nothing fancy here.

 Also put the final coats of primer on the rudder and at the bottom of the rudder stock.  Will start finishing the rest of the stock with varnish tomorrow.  We've got rain coming but it will still be warm enough to do the work.

Tuesday, January 12, 2021


Stuff from SPARTINA, and some new stuff, seems to have taken over the room over the garage.  I needed to clean the boat out for winter maintenance.

There is some new gear in the mix, above the Watershed Drybags, that I been packing and repacking to see what fits best where.  You also see some food supplies at the top right - Rx bars, cans of tuna, ginger chews and Tanka bars - that I am using as I try to come up with the most efficient way - both for space and  access - to pack and stow.

There is a new boom tent storage bag from the nice ladies at Little Bay Canvas, plus various lines for docking, reefing and whatever.  I want to figure out what I need and don't need.

In the meantime I am working on SPARTINA.  Last week was sanding.  This week a little more sanding and the epoxy work.  And if the weather is as warm as forecast later this week maybe I'll do some varnish work too.  Then more varnish and painting next week.

 I want to get it all done by the end of January, which should be very possible, so I can get in the Mango drysuit and do some winter sailing on the Pasquotank River.

Is it just me, or does it feel like we are back in a lock down these days?  Maybe just survival mode kicking in.