"When I think of all the fools I've been it's a wonder that I've sailed this many miles." -Guy Clark

Sunday, March 14, 2021

a few thoughts

Look at a stone cutter hammering away at his rock, perhaps a hundred times without so much a crack showing in it.  Yet at the hundred and first blow it will split in two, and I know it was not the last blow that did it, but all that came before it.

-Jacob Riis

The quote at the top, which is at the beginnings of Book One of Peter Matthiessen's SHADOW COUNTRY, is how I have come to feel about the mizzen mast.  Fourteen years of sailing, some hard sailing,  a lot of jibes, hard jibes and sometimes uncontrolled jibes.  And then on a windy, gusty day on the Crescent River headed to Doboy Sound, the final blow.  I believe that the mast had stress fractures in it and was, for lack of a better word, worn out.  I think I got my money's worth out of it.

It was a great trip, a great adventure.  No, I did not reach the intended destination.  What I regret more than anything is missing out on some wonderful sailing weather.  Had the mizzen not broken I would have crossed Sapelo Sound, Doboy Sound, Atlahama Sound and Buttermilk Sound in one day.  I would have been near Brunswick, the two-thirds mark on the trip by that evening or early the next day.  It was just not meant to be.

Currents, yes there were some strong currents.  Elliot Cut, which I had been warned about, was impassable for me with the full opposing tide.  The Ashpoo River Cutoff, a series of four connecting waterways, also had some strong currents where the water "boiled" at the intersections.  But other than those two places I really had no problems.  Yes, currents, but as long as I had decent wind, they were not an issue at all.  I sailed with them, against them and across them and it was fine.  In fact it was kind of fun.  

The temperatures were comfortable.  On cool and/or wet days I wore my drysuit with layers underneath, sometimes including a wool sweater and wool socks, to compensate for the temperatures,  I believe I could have handled anything down to 40 degrees during the day with clothing and gear I had on board.  Typically the temperatures during the day were between 50 and 70, very comfortable.

Bugs?  Not an issue.  A few gnats showed up at sunset one evening, then disappeared.  A few mosquitos one evening, not enough to be a problem.

I did not see an alligator or a manatee (probably too cool for manatees at that time of year).  Lots of birds and flocks of ducks.

The winding rivers were spectacular.  With wind on the stern it was like a slalom ride down the creeks as they curved to port and starboard.  

The wood for the new mast should show up Tuesday.  I hope to cut the strakes with their "V" shaped groove and lay up the mast Wednesday, plane and shape it on Friday.  Finish coat it with clear epoxy and Bristol varnish after that, then put the hardware in place.  

Weather of course varies but I am convinced that March is the perfect time to make the sail from Charleston South to the Florida line.  Guess where I hope to be next March.


Lorenzo said...

Great and uplifting post Steve. It's good to seek the positives, and I'm sure that in what concerns your lates trip , the highs outweigh the lows

Lorenzo said...


Steve said...

Absolutely. It was a great sailing trip, just not as long-lasting as I had wished. Bottom line: great sail, learned something about the water down there, no-one was hurt when the mizzen mast broke and I can always replace a broken mast. Steve