Saturday, December 31, 2022

headed home

 Brought SPARTINA home for winter maintenance Yesterday.  She is in pretty good shape.  I was pleasantly surprised to see the bottom paint just needs touching up around the waterline.  Most of work will be on the white deck and upper side planks.  They've been exposed to a lot of harsh sunshine for 15 years now.  I'll sand down some areas and coat with clear epoxy, then repaint.  Plus the bright work needs (as always) some touching up.  

If I sail at all prior to the winter trip down south it will be day sails down in Elizabeth City, a favorite place to catch the wind in wintertime.

Wednesday, December 28, 2022

light airs

 Sailing in a light breeze on the Elizabeth River.  Mid-40's and not a cloud in the sky.  Trying out the "cinematic" mode on my new iPhone.

Saturday, December 24, 2022

the end of the trip

The beginning of the end of the trip starts predawn in an empty
parking lot.  The best $1.50 I spend on the trip is for a bus ride
down the shore to get my jeep and trailer.  The bus driver 
even makes a detour for an unscheduled stop to get me
closer to the marina.  How nice!

The seasons had certainly changed 
since I cast off from Cambridge weeks earlier.  

Chestertown is till quiet, just SPARTINA, 
the SULTANA and a few other boats in the marina.

I sleep aboard, enjoying the calm peaceful mornings.

After a day or two still just a few boats in the marina, 
the SULTANA heading out for her daily sails 
with groups of school children on board.

An early arrival in the MARYLAND DOVE, 
just recently built and launch by 
The Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum.

And then the KALMAR NYCKEL comes in.

Next is the PRIDE OF BALTIMORE, the crew waving from the decks.

Followed by the GODSPEED out of Jamestown.

And a night at the speakeasy called Zelda's,
with friends buying rounds of drinks.

I see my other friends there too.

Dawn comes with tall masts and flags snapping in the breeze.

The tall ships, including the LYNX, head out for passenger sails.

The Schooner Virginia is full of guests.



Tall ships and a couple small boats too, it's a good turnout.

How does a retired two-star admiral
end up pouring Dark and Stormies 
from the cockpit of SPARTINA?

And it does seem like a good idea
to fire a canon late at night.

Good wind every day as we sail with the tall ships.

And I see my friends again.

I get an unexpected question from a friend on the Schooner Virginia.  
"Can we put some stuff on your boat?"
"Sure, why not" I say, not realizing the "stuff" was cases
of beer and bottles of rum.

And a boat built to get away from people becomes 
the place for the crowd to hang out in the evenings.
Go figure...

Evening after evening.

Until the last round of 
Dark and Stormies.

Haul out at dawn and head home.
The trip is done.


Wednesday, December 21, 2022

winter solstice sail

 A wonderful ENE breeze today, low 40's.  

Okay Earth, time to tilt back the other way.

Tuesday, December 20, 2022

day twenty-six - the last leg

I wake to a series of distant gun shots.  Hunting season.  Some times single fire, sometimes multiple shots.  Constant gunfire beginning at dawn.  

Perfectly still in the creek, warmer than yesterday morning.  Maple Sea Salt RXbar and Tanka bar for breakfast along with a cup of mixed fruit.

Forecast says no wind today.  It seems to be painfully correct.  Light mist on Langford Creek, clear skies.  Under power.  Cacaway Island at 8:10, sun burning off the mist.  Quaker Next to port at 8:25, can see ruffled water off Nichols Point.  Sails up 8:45 on the Chester River in a faint breeze, 1.5 kts against the outgoing tide.   At 9:00 making .6 against the tide.  Main and jib down, under power.  Deep Point at 10:00, Northwest Point 11:00.  Approaching Rolph's Wharf at 11:45 and hoping against hope that the SandBar might be open for lunch.  Getting closer I can see that the deadrise, which sits up on the beach and serves as the bar, is closed for the season.  A hint of wind at green marker "37A", sails up.  Soon breeze is gone.  Under power.  

Reach Chestertown at 2:00.  Marina manager recognizes the boat from last year, tells me I can go ahead and tie up in the same slip.  15.38 nautical miles for the day, 308.79 nm for the trip.

I treat myself to a celebratory beer at BAD Alfreds, a brew pub and distillery that I will visit later in the week for dinner.   And I see some old friends.  It is good to be back in Chestertown.


Sunday, December 18, 2022

day twenty-five - geese never sleep

Cold, noisy night.  The cold I don't mind, in fact I enjoy it tucked into my 30 degree sleeping bag with a good set of thermals on.  I wake a few times in the night to the sound of geese.  It is a loud and angry honking that seems to go on all night.  Don't they ever sleep?

I wake to glassy calm water, brown and red leaves on the surface.  A mist hovers over the creek.  Heavy dew and not a breath of wind.  The geese, unseen by me, continue to argue.  Eagles cry from the trees on shore.  Drift off anchor 7:35 wearing the dry suit against the cold.  My fingers feel numb from handling the cold dew-soaked lines.  I use a small chemical hand warmers to get some feeling back.  Chocolate Sea Salt RXbar and tanka bar for breakfast.  At 7:50 the sun edges over the top of the trees.  The orange glow of the morning feels good.

Motoring at idle speed at 8:20 I round Millstone Point to have a look at Shipyard Creek.  Smaller than I expected and lined with homes, I am glad I anchored where I did.  I shut off the outboard and make a slow drift down the West Fork of Langford Creek, 0.4 kts.  I hear a series of gunshots.  Across the creek I see a hunter with decoys spread along the edge of the marsh.  

10:15 Cacaway Island, a little wind, 0.7 kts.   We motor sail to the East Fork.  Just before noon I set out the anchor in Philip Cove.  It is warmer now, I set up the boom tent to escape the sun.  I cook lunch, banana-peanut butter oatmeal, read, take a nap, a long deep relaxing nap.

Mid-afternoon a breeze arrives.  Light but steady, we make a slow pleasant sail down the East Fork.

The centerboard touches bottom as I navigate the narrow entrance in to Kings Creek, anchor down at 5:10.

8.38 NM

Fettuccini Alfredo with mushrooms.


Saturday, December 17, 2022

Thursday, December 15, 2022

day twenty-four - gusty return to the Chester River

Cast off from the marina in Rock hall at 8:40 with more wind than had been forecast.  And colder too, wearing thermals, wool sweater and the dry suit.  Wind out of the south and waves funnel into the jetties at the harbor entrance, have to throttle up the outboard to power through the steep waves.  Clear skies.

Raise the double-reefed main outside the harbor at 9:00 in rough water.  Making 3.3 in the steep chop, then 4.2 once the sails are properly set.   Shake out the second reef at 9:40, tack out away from shore.  At 9:50 tack back south to parallel Eastern Neck.  Chilly, slip on waterproof gloves.  Making 3.1 in a little less wind but water still rough.  Series of tacks heading south, last one at Chester River red marker at 11:40.  At noon approaching Hail Point, sun glaring off the choppy water and making 4.0. Lots of spray and water collecting up forward on the bunk flat.  

Making 4.4 off Hail Point.  Turn downwind at 12:45 but too much sail up and in a gust take a little water over the side.  Round up and bring down the reefed main.  Sailing under mizzen and jib, 4.1 off of Piney Point.  Wind over the port quarter.  At 2:15 rolling the waves coming up the Chester River, 4.0 and then 5.0 as the afternoon gusts build.  

Passing Cacaway Island 2:45, making 5.4 over the calm water on Langford Creek.  Round Island Point, and protected from the gusts by the wind shadow of the trees.  Exposed once more farther up the creek, a few more gusts as I follow the curves of the west fork.  

The creek splits at Millstone Point, we turn to starboard and head a few hundred more yards up Broad Neck, tucking into a little cove on the west side of the creek.  Anchor down 3:40.

26.59 NM

Pepper Beef with rice


Tuesday, December 13, 2022

days twenty-two and three - friends, oysters and baseball

It's the usual routine in Rock Hall.  Walk the few blocks on a chilly morning to Java Rock for some iced tea and the chance to catch up on the news.  Back to the boat to straighten up some gear, then back to the Mariner's Motel to clean and dry out some other gear, charge batteries and all those little tasks.  Then a walk to the grocery for supplies.  Back to the motel to do some laundry.  Three weeks into the trip and there's some catching up to do.

In the evening I walk over to Waterman's, the waterfront restaurant, to meet long-time friends Fred and Mary Lou.  They have been very kind to me on all my stops over the years to both Rock Hall and Chestertown.  We have a great dinner and talk about the trip and the sailing grounds.  They have cruised most of the bay over the years in both sailboats and power boats and I really enjoy hearing their experiences.  Dinner is a treat!  As we are saying goodbye after dinner Mary Lou mentions that it is crab cake night tomorrow night at their yacht club, and why don't I join them?  Sounds good to me.

Morning comes clear and cool as I begin carrying gear from the motel back down to SPARTINA, try to get as much back on the boat as possible.  Off to Java Rocks mid-morning where I meet my long-time friend and former colleague Vicki.  She's taking the day off from her organic flower farm to say hello.  We chat for a while then head to lunch at Waterman's, our usual tradition of oyster, oysters and oysters.

Rockerfeller, on the half-shell and fried, we enjoy them all.  And then some lemon-blueberry cake for dessert.  Talk about a great lunch.  Then we taking a driving and walking tour of Rock Hall.

We say goodbye as she drops me off at the grocery store so I can pick up a couple snacks for the boat.

Fred picks me up in the evening and then we pick up Mary Lou on the way to the yacht club.  We get there and it feels like "Cheers" more than a yacht club, just a bunch of friends having a good time.  And tonight they are all watching the Phillies and Padres play in game two of the National League Championship Series.  It  is made known to me that I'm the only Padre fan in a crowd of Phillies fans.  Oh well.  Things are going fine as Philly takes a 4-0 lead in the top of the second.  We are all enjoying dinner as the Padres scored back-to-back home runs in the bottom of the second, Philly still ahead 4-2.  In the fifth Padres get a couple singles and then a line drive ties the game at 4.  A dark mood settles over the Phillies fans.  A batter hit by a pitch loads the bases and then a two-run single puts the Padres ahead 6-4.  Fred starts speculating out loud how far it would be for me to walk home from the yacht club to the motel, several miles at least.  So I go to the bar for a couple glass of wine to smooth things over.  One more rbi single in the fifth and then the Padres wrap it up with a solo home run in the bottom of the seventh.  
Mary Lou and Fred, after a great evening, consent to give me a ride home.  How nice of them.  We say goodbye and make plans to see each other in Chestertown in a few days.