Sunday, June 26, 2022

clouds, sightings

Spectacular clouds today on an afternoon where light winds filled into a solid breeze on the Elizabeth River.  A front coming through tomorrow, then some nice sailing weather afterwards.

I've had two interesting sightings on the river.  Earlier in the week, maybe Wednesday, on a morning sail I saw a sea turtle.  I have seen sea turtles before on the ocean and on Chesapeake Bay, never before on the Elizabeth River.  What a treat!  I think it is a sign that the river is getting better, certainly much better than it was a decade or two ago.


I typically do not sail in the middle of the day in summer but today I did and the timing was perfect.  Just after raising sail the PRINSES MIA, captained by Martijn Dijkstra, came around the corner from the southern branch to the main branch of the Elizabeth.  Here is a nice video about him and his lifestyle, and here is a story about him and his boat from TownDock.  I have crossed paths several times with Martijn, most recently in Oriental (where he is a regular visitor) on the spring cruise a year ago.  I have seen him there a few times, and also once in Chestertown.  We each recognized the other boat and exchanged greetings.  He told me he is on his way to Cape May.  I wished him a good journey as he headed down the River.

Tuesday, June 21, 2022

the longest day

A wonderful evening on the water to celebrate the summer solstice.  A forecast of light winds and overcast skies turned into a nice breeze and clear skies.  The SailNauticus boats were out for Tuesday night races.  SPARTINA did her usual job of being the spectator fleet.

Summer evenings on the water, just can't beat it.


the stormy 307

 I finally totaled the mileage from the spring trip, 266.81 nautical miles / 307.04 statute miles.  That includes four evenings of thunderstorms and four days and nights of gusts to 35 mph.  So I'll call the sail the stormy 307.  When I get a chance I'll copy links to the daily logs and post them in the column at the right of this page.  

The bad news it was a stormy trip.  The good news is equipment and SPARTINA dealt with it all quite well.  And I think I made a few good decisions along the way.  When I got back to the marina all the gear was clean and dry, there was food and water to spare. and I was well-rested.  It is very important to me to know that I can deal with bad weather.  

So it is day sailing - lots of morning and evening sailing - for the next couple months.  All the while I'll be looking forward to the fall sail on Chesapeake Bay.    

Sunday, June 19, 2022

day seventeen - back to the ramp

 A very welcomed calm peaceful night.  Under power at 6:10, docked 6:35.  A stormy, rough trip.   A test for SPARTINA, the gear and the sailor.  We did well.

Saturday, June 18, 2022

day sixteen - weathered

More thunderstorms overnight, heavy rains.  Sail off anchor 6:40 with a cool north wind and clear skies.  Making 2.6 out of Cedar Creek.  I sail into the glare of the rising sun.

7:00 on calm water in Mouse Harbor, tacking towards Pamlico Point and the Pamlico River.  Maybe I'll sail west to Little Washington.  8:10 tacking around Pamlico Point, 3.3 out on the river.  Somehow my sleeping bag had gotten wet overnight, I spread it out to dry.  8:45 light wind, 1.6.  9:30 no wind.  9:55 a little breeze then none at all.

10:35 under power.  11:00 a nice wind arrives, full sail.  Tack at 11:30.  At noon the wind disappears.  I check the forecast, little wind today, unseasonable hot the next two days.  Frustrated.  Storms, gusts, rain, lightning and now summer-like heat in May.  

Under power I turn towards North Creek.  2:00 around Chambers Point and we turn towards the East Fork.  Anchor down 2:25.  I set up the boom tent for shade.  I'll head in tomorrow.

 21.45 nautical miles

Friday, June 17, 2022

back where she belongs

SPARTINA is back where she belongs on the Elizabeth River.  For several weeks cruise ships were coming every two or three days and my dock was blocked.  For the next couple of months less cruise ships and I have SPARTINA tied up on the waterfront.  How nice!  It is the perfect time for dawn and dusk sails and I hope to be out often.

I have done several day sails the past few weeks, rigging, launching and then returning to the ramp.  One sail included the HarborFest Parade of Sails where I saw some of my tall ship friends from the Chestertown down rigging.  

 This is's heat map for right now.  Interesting and a little bit frightening.  Forecasts say temperatures should drop by tomorrow.  I hope so.

Wednesday, June 15, 2022

day fifteen - one more storm

An easy morning, I'm in no rush.  Breakfast bagel and iced tea at The Bean.  Cast off with a strong southwest wind at 9:00, strong enough that I get a man on shore to help push the bow out away from the sea wall.  9:10 full sail outside the Oriental breakwater.

Making 4.1 with wind on the stern, the main blankets the jib but still making good time so I don't worry about it.  10:00 jibe to the north, blue skies white puffy clouds and a comfortable temperature.  Easy sailing, SPARTINA rolling gently on the swells.  10:30 jibe, 11:00 jibe and then jibe again at 11:10 to round Lighthouse Shoals.  12:10 off Swan Island, 3.6.  12:15 jibe away from shore.

12:40 jibe north, 3.9.  1:05 off Maw Point, 4.5.  1:20 crossing the choppy mouth of Bay River, tug pushing a barge down the ICW, close enough to pay attention, far enough away to be safe.  1:25 jibe to round Bay Point, making the point at 1:35 in building wind.  1:50 round up to bring down the main, afternoon gusts filling in and making 4.2 to Sow Island Point.  Make the point at 2:10, choppy water and waves rolling up from the south.  Calmer once around the point, 4.4 on smooth water.

2:35 rough crossing the mouth of Middle Bay, round Middle Bay Point and then at 2:50 round Big Porpoise Point doing from 3.5 to 4.6 in the gusts.  Around the point calmer again and doing 5.2.  Clouds building to the west.

3:10 round Little Porpoise Point, wind builds suddenly.  I realize these are not afternoon gusts, this is the outflow from an approaching thunderstorm.  Round the point in to Mouse Harbor, gusts blasting across the shallow water, just mizzen and jib and it is a pounding, wet ride with the wind on the beam.

We make our way across the harbor to Hogpen Point, rough all the way across, round up into the wind.

I need to get the jib down with the bow bouncing up and down in the chop.  I go forward and clip into the short safety line that is tied around the mast, kneel up on the foredeck to bring down the sail and tie it in place.  Wind is howling as I crank up the outboard.  I need to throttle up to make progress into the chop and wind, dark skies and rain to the west and northwest.

It is a battering run powering into the chop, I want to get to Cedar Creek hoping I find calmer water there. Anchor down in the creek at 3:50, quickly set up the boom tent expecting heavy rain.  The storm slides by just to the north.  Windy and rough through the evening.

27.99 nautical miles


Tuesday, June 14, 2022

day fourteen - a ride on the Piglet Shuttle

An off-the-water day in Oriental, a day to relax and resupply.  It starts when I catch the Piglet, the free ride to the Piggly Wiggly grocery store a little more than a mile down the road.  I don't plan on calling for a ride but my neighbors on an Island Packet do and they invite me to come along.

Oriental is a favorite town and I see lots of friends from past visits.  Some I know their names, others I don't, they all welcome me just the same.  Time to catch up on the log, do a little reading and top off the fuel can.  And some visits to The Bean for a cold glass of iced tea.

Batteries, phones and iPad mini recharged.

Clothes washed and repacked in the waterproof duffel.

A salad for lunch, I miss my greens, and tuna tataki at the Toucan Grill.

And a nice evening on the waterfront.


Saturday, June 11, 2022

day thirteen - south to Oriental

Sail off anchor at 7:00.  Steady rain at times overnight, a few mosquitoes so zipped up the mesh enclosure on the bivy and slept very well.  Cool with clouds all around in the morning, can see rain falling both to the east and west so put on the dry suit..

Overcast, southeast winds, a little blue sky to the southwest.  Making 1.8 downwind to the Pamlico River. 7:40 no wind and motoring west to Pamlico Point.  At the Point at 8:30, can see a storm moving up from the south on Pamlico Sound.  

9:00 Little Porpoise Point, wind, full sail making 3.8.  Rain falling at 9:35, put on my cotton oilskin to keep my head dry and warm.  Big Porpoise Point making 4.3 sailing to the south southwest.  

10:35 two tacks to round Sow Island Point, 4.2 across the mouth of Jones Bay.  Blues skies to southwest and west, dark clouds to the north and east.  More rain.  

Bay Island Point at 11:25, tack to the east, skies clearing and less wind.  Rough in the mouth of the Bay River, making just 1.2 in the chop and light wind.  Use the outboard to power through it.  Maw Point at 12:40.  

Wind arrives at 1:45, 2:00 light winds, 2:45 more wind and making 4.2.  3:20 off Pierce Creek and realize I've got a single tack from Gum Thicket to the Oriental breakwater.  

Under bright blue skies enter the harbor at Oriental at 4:00.  Surprised to see the free town dock is open.  I motor up to the dock where a man is waiting to catch my lines.  "Hi Steve," he says, a friend from a past visit.  Got to love Oriental.  

I decide to get a room at the Oriental Marina and Inn, a chance to shower, wash clothes, recharge my batteries.  A quick shower first, then head to M & M's for fried flounder dinner and a cold beer.  Then back to the Inn for, well, another beer and some local music on the patio.  How nice.

31.65 nautical miles


Saturday, June 4, 2022

day twelve - you've got to be kidding me

Sails up on the Pantego River 7:05 in a light rain.  Wearing thermals and dry suit.  Making just a knot in the wind shadow of Belhaven.  7:30 through the breakwater, 3.4 in better wind.  Count a dozen boats, all most likely held up by the weather, heading up the ICW.  Just a mile and a half out on the river I begin to hear steady thunder.  Looking south on the Pungo I see nothing but dark clouds.  I check the app on my phone, a series of thunderstorms coming up the river.  I look for shelter, maybe behind Durants Point to the east or Pungo Creek to the west.  After checking the charts decide it is best to return to Belhaven.  Seems I can't catch a break with the weather.

I get in, tie up and quickly set up the boom tent as rain begins to fall.  I walk over to the marina to wait out the storms on the porch.  Very frustrated.  After a couple of hours skies begin to clear.  I start to put on the dry suit but the manager at the marina says "Cap, you're not gonna need that.  Storms are all east of us."

Cast off for the second time.  Blue skies above, fog clinging low to the river.  11:50 full sail, two tacks to make it through the breakwater.

Making 3.5 on the Pungo River close-hauled.  1:00 4.2 towards Sandy Point.  1:45 wind swings to the the south east, motorsailing with a nice pull from the sails.

On the Pamlico River 2:25, wind building out of the southeast.  Wind and waves coming from Pamlico Point.  3:20 lightning in the clouds to the southeast.

Turn back west and follow the channel that goes back behind Cedar Island, plenty of creeks there that offer good anchorage.  A few storm clouds building to the west.  I sail down to Middle Prong, drop anchor just after 4:00 with good protection to the east, west and south.  Storms build up but then slip away.  

19.96 nautical miles


Friday, June 3, 2022

day eleven - filet mignon

Up at 6:30, cold gusty morning.  Light mist, fog down the creek obscures the marina.  Hot chocolate to start the day.  Put on a new set of thermals.  Forecast for the day:  fog, wind to 20 mph.  Raise anchor, which is buried deep in the mud after four days of strong winds, just before 10:00.  Raise the jib and turn down the creek.

Slipping past the marina we follow the channel out of Upper Dowry Creek and sail out on to the Pungo River making 5.2 in a gust with wind on the beam.  Steady sailing to the west at 4.0, gusts come and go.  Cold and grey.  Think about sailing south on the Pungo but decide to make the short sail into Belhaven.

Through the breakwater at 10:45, tied up at the town dock at 11:00.

Walk over to the marina next door, which manages the town dock, and pay my $19.00 for an overnight stay.  Rain falling.  Make my way to Fish Hooks for lunch, the tide is still high from the storm and parts of the streets in the small downtown are flooded.  Not much on the menu so settle for an iced tea and the salad.  

Rain comes and goes all afternoon.  More boats are coming into the town dock and I move SPARTINA to the dinghy dock to make room for the bigger boats with more draft.  The main dock is fixed, the dinghy dock is floating and will be more comfortable for the night.  I put up the boom tent and clean SPARTNA.  

A week and a half into a rough trip and I find I'm still in pretty good shape.  Just got to hope for some better weather.  

At the marina there are high water marks from the hurricanes over the years.  I look at the names and realize that for more than half of them I was out on Hatteras Island.  The rain goes away and I take a walk through the town.  I see a sign for a steak house but no way this place is even open in a little town down on its luck.  I check google maps which says the restaurant is open starting at 5:00.  Too good to be true.

Surprisingly the restaurant is open at 5:00 and I grab a table on the covered porch out back not too far from the fireplace.  The steaks, the server tells me, are dry aged and come from a farm somewhere in the upper midwest.  So...filet mignon it is, medium rare, from a steakhouse in a little town full of empty store fronts.   And it is one of the finest steaks I have ever had.  Go figure.

Forecast not too bad for tomorrow.  I get in the sleeping bag to the sound of falling rain.

6.75 nautical miles for the day