Sunday, August 29, 2021

cloudy then clear, and a wonderful morning breeze

The morning started off with a huge dark cloud over the river, and a very nice breeze.  Just the tiniest hint of rain and the cloud moved on.  The wind stayed.

If you watch the video you will see there is some slack in the dyneema starboard shroud.  It is the same with the port shroud.  I have tightened both shrouds multiple time but after a short sail I get some more slack.  They say that dyneema does not stretch.  I was told by a tall ship captain the other day that while dyneema does not "stretch" it does have some "creep," and there is, according to the captain, a distinction between the two.  We'll see.  I will continue tightening up until the slack is gone.

 It was a wonderful morning, probably the best since the heat arrived.

Friday, August 27, 2021

not for sale, here comes the sun, one out of two is not bad,

I was greeted by a folded note as I got to SPARTINA before dawn this morning.  It was from a man looking to buy a Pathfinder.  I am not interested in selling the boat, I told him this in a text.  I also told him that I was impressed that he recognized the design.  Most people think it is a Drascombe.

I got out on the water before the sun crested over downtown.  There was a nice breeze and it was still cool, perfect for a morning sail.  I found I need to do some adjusting on the new standing rigging, it always takes me a while.  It should not be too much trouble.  Three hours of pleasant sailing before the heat arrived.  I'll take that any day.

Sailing by the beautiful schooner FLYING DRAGON out of Key West there was a man on board having his morning coffee in the shade.  I asked him who designed his boat.  He told me Merrit Walters.  I should have at least suspected that from the raked masts.  The tall ship AMERICAN ROVER, also with raked masts and tied up just across the river, is another Merrit Walters design.

The man on the schooner then asked if my boat was a Drascombe.  One out of two for the morning is not bad.

Wednesday, August 25, 2021

an aircraft carrier, a schooner and a $2.00 burger

I launched SPARTINA with the new standing rigging, blocks and bottom paint.  It felt good to be back on the water.  I'll keep her on the river for about two weeks and then haul out to prepare for the fall sail.


I spotted the beautiful schooner with the raked mast yesterday from the Norfolk waterfront.  I hoped she would be around this morning so I could get a closer look.

She was still on Craford Bay, the schooner FLYING DRAGON out of Key West.  Just a wonderful looking boat.  


The Navy patrol boat, with the mounted machine gun, running around the river with complete disregard for the "no wake" zones should have told me something was up.  

And the cluster of women waiting on the waterfront with children was a sign too.

It was the "IKE," aircraft carrier DWIGHT D. EISENHOWER was coming up river for some time in the shipyard.  The Navy keeps the transit days and times secret as the ship is very vulnerable in the narrow river.  But Navy families always know and it is fun to see them come down and watch the ship pass by.


 There was little wind today but sailing was not the point.  I just wanted to get SPARTINA back on the river.  I raised sail briefly to check on the new rigging.  There might be some adjustments when I bring her home in a couple week.  Once tied up at the dock I walked over to Waterside for the Wednesday $2.00 burger.  How nice!

Tuesday, August 24, 2021


New standing rigging, new blocks, new bottom paint, all holds cleaned out and wiped down with water and bleach.  The new mizzen was sanded down a bit more to add flexibility, coated in epoxy and varnished.  The main mast got some maintenance coats of varnish.  

And today I'll start putting all the gear back on board.  Where does all this stuff go?  Some of this is cruising gear but a lot of it lives on the boat all the time.  I will make sure what goes back on SPARTINA needs to be there.  Back in the water tomorrow.


Wednesday, August 18, 2021

Chestertown 2018

Chestertown, fall of 2018.  I just came across this photograph in the sailing logs.  A favorite photograph from a favorite town.  I remember I had a scone for breakfast.  How nice.

Will finish up the varnish work today, maybe make a new centerboard pendant (or is it pennant?).  Rigging day after that, as long as the weather cooperates.  I keep hoping the bottom paint will apply itself.  No luck with that so far.

Monday, August 16, 2021

bottom prep

 SPARTINA is coming along.  Old hardware screw holes drilled out, hardwood dowels epoxied in to place, trimmed sanded and painted over.  Tomorrow might be hardware day, putting the four blocks on the foredeck and mainsheet block on the cb trunk.  Then Bristol varnish for the main and mizzen masts later in the week.  Once that is done it will be rigging day, setting the masts and sails in place and cutting/splicing the shrouds to the correct length.  And after that the least favorite job, bottom paint.  I did. a little prep work for that today.

Saturday, August 14, 2021

from Sardinia

 I just came across this great photograph on Lorenzo's page.   Not much information there but I believe it to be Lorenzo and sons on his Pathfinder ASTRID sailing off Sardinia.  Just beautiful!


See that tiny drop of nectar coming out the bottom of the tear-shaped fig?  That's nature's way of telling me that the fruit is perfectly ripe.  Mostly the birds get to the figs by the time that ambrosia seeps out of (technically speaking) ostiole.  There are enough figs for the birds and me too, and I find a few every morning.

SPARTINA is coming along well.  Swaged the forestay and spliced the dyneema bobstay yesterday.  Ordered one more turnbuckle from Defender Marine (if I'm going to replace them might as well replace them all) and bought some silicon bronze wood screws at West Marine.  Prepping for paint today.  Cooler weather this coming week and that should be good for some varnishing.


Wednesday, August 11, 2021

working slowly, comfortably

Work on SPARTINA is going slowly, intentionally so.  My typically routine is to haul the boat and intensively work on it and get it back in the water.  But it is August, and very hot.  Why rush in this heat?  Why rush to get SPARTINA back in the water?  So I can sail in the heat?  I am taking my time.  Some epoxy work today, the heat being perfect to kick it off quickly.  I also picked up some hardware, #10 x 1 1/4 in stainless sheet metal screws for the new deck blocks.

Above are new and old dyneema shrouds.  Plus one of the new turnbuckles which is one size up from the old turnbuckles.  Things that I can size up will be sized up.  A little bigger, a little stronger, a little better.  

One thing that will be a little narrower is the new mizzen.  I sanded it down a bit, save for the bottom three feet (where all the stress is).  The mast was not as flexible as I would have liked.  It should bend a little in the gusts to spill the wind.  So I went at it with 80 grit sandpaper.  It is now narrower and a little lighter.  I will give it a good test on the fall sail on Chesapeake Bay.  If I am not satisfied with it then I will take it down a bit more for the winter trip down south.  (Just mentioning the winter trip makes me think of the cool, comfortable temperatures down south in March.  I can't wait.)

Saturday, August 7, 2021


 Tom at the boat shop needed to check the calibration on the CNC machine.  

So I suggested a name to use.  How nice!  Thanks, Tom.

Thursday, August 5, 2021

blocks old and new, first of the season

After over 14 years of raising and lowering the main peak and throat, the jib and the mizzen, it is time to retire these old blocks.  They have served the boat well.  I'll drill out the old fastner holes, epoxy in hardwood dowels and sand/epoxy/paint smooth.

Below is the replacement Ronstan block and Bainbridge single ring padeye that I'll put in place.  Much higher breaking strength than the old ones.  My goal is to avoid any breakage - i.e. the old mizzen mast - that could interfere with a trip.  


I saw the fig trees in the backyard shaking around last evening, birds inside the bushes fighting over ripe figs.  Not to worry, there will be plenty of figs for me and our avian friends.  These are known only as "mystery" figs.  A hurricane, maybe Hurricane Bonnnie, blew off all the tags labeling the young figs at a nursery down near the Carolina line years ago.  The owners, since retired, marked all the figs as mystery figs and sold them at a discount.  As for their taste, no mystery, no discount.  


Tuesday, August 3, 2021

back across the Bay

 Jib topsail, jib, staysail and foresail 
on the Schooner Virginia.