Sunday, July 31, 2022

thinking about fall

 I figure I have 10 more days of summer sailing.  Then I'll haul SPARTINA and bring her home for a couple of week for maintenance.  It verges on being too hot to sail in August, I might as well get some work done.  There are several jobs that need to be done on the boat.  I have sailed her a lot this year and it shows. 

After the haul out the Pilgrim and I have some travel plans.  And when we return from that it will be time for the fall sail on Chesapeake Bay.  I found myself trying to remember last year's fall sail, the fall fest 544, 28 days of sailing and then another week on the Chestertown waterfront for the annual Chestertown Downrigging Festival.  The photo above is from the first day of the sail, 32 nautical miles from Cambridge to Warehouse Creek, a favorite anchorage.  The morning began with light wind but once through Knapp's Narrows it filled in and we made at times over five knots under just mizzen and jib.  

It has been an excellent summer of sailing, one of the best for SPARTINA I think.  I am looking forward to the cool, dry winds of fall.


P.S.  I had forgotten, until I looked at the log, that we had sailed 455 miles on the trip.  That cruise, combined with the 400 miles Sea Islands sail, makes for nearly 1,000 miles of cruising this past fall and winter.  Not bad for a little wooden boat built in the garage.

Thursday, July 28, 2022

lost buffalo bars

Disappointing news for cruising provisions today as I found that TANKA Buffalo Meat with Cranberries Bars are no longer available.  These have been a standard part of my cruising meals for many years, the "steak" part of my steak and eggs breakfast (the eggs being egg white based RXBARS).  

This is crushing news to me.  There are other meat bars out there, mainly the EPIC brand, but the EPIC bars always seem a bit dry to me.  

TANKA bars were produced by the Oglala Lakota on the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota.  Above is a screen shot from their website which is no longer active.  I did find some food industry trade publications that mentioned growth for TANKA bars that exceeded their production capabilities, plus competition from larger corporate producers.  

It is a shame.  I liked the bars and I liked the idea of traditional Native American foods being made available to the public.  Excellent for camping, I think I first came across the bars at REI.  I searched through my cabinet and found enough bars in vacuum sealed bags to get me through the fall cruise.  Will have to find something else for the winter sail down south.


Hot, hot, hot today.  Debating if I should head out for an evening sail.  Or wait for cooler temperatures tomorrow morning.  Or maybe both.

Wednesday, July 27, 2022

and next thing I know...

I was just going down to the waterfront to check on SPARTINA.  Storms had passed through the area last night, some with gusts to 60 mph and hail.  So I wanted to take a look at the boat.  It was hot and humid with gusts forecast to build into the mid-20s.  Next thing I knew I was out on the river sailing.  How did that happen?  I could have cut the humidity with a knife.  No one on board complained.

I sailed Saturday morning, light winds and very hot.  

And then Sunday morning too, a wonderful and solid southwest breeze that I sailed for over three hours.  There was a young woman sitting on the landing at the waterfront park.  I sailed by close enough that we exchanged greetings, then later on another pass we talked about the wonderful wind.  The next time by I asked if she wanted to join me for the sail and with no hesitation she said yes.  Once aboard I learned that not only had she once worked as a sailing instructor but also that she is from Elizabeth City, one of my favorite sailing areas.  And then on top of that, she is very good friends with a friend of mine.  Small world.  She sailed with me for about 30 minutes, a very enjoyable sail.

Late this morning I saw a boat with the mainsail up coming down the southern branch of the Elizabeth River.  To have a sail raised on that stretch of water, sailing between the shipyards that line the river and accompanying security boats, is very unusual.  I don't think I have ever seen it down before.  I sailed past them where the southern branch opens to the main river.  The boat was WATER BEAR out of Annapolis, Maryland.  A Westsail 32 I believe.  Maybe headed home from a winter down south.  How nice.

Tuesday, July 26, 2022

first of the season

 Mystery figs.
The tree came from a nursery where a hurricane,
Isabel I believe, blew all the tags off the young trees.
So they were sold at a discount as mystery figs.
A fresh fig will cool off any hot day.

Wednesday, July 20, 2022

lazy river

Light winds and a lazy feeling on the river this morning.  I wanted to get SPARTINA - with her touched-up bottom paint - back on the Elizabeth.  Northwest winds around 5 mph so I did not expect much sailing. It was a slow drift with a few puffs of wind mixed in.  No complaints were heard.

A text from Bill, as he spotted SPARTINA from his Portsmouth office building, welcomed us back to the river.  A jogger running on the waterfront called out "pretty boat!"  The captain of a local tour boat used his public address system to say "hey Steve, good morning."  A crabber, wild grey beard around a friendly smile, came alongside and told me I should be glad to have an outboard on a day like today.  Sometimes the river feels like a neighborhood.

 It was a slow drift.  Better winds expected this evening.

Tuesday, July 19, 2022

the back road

Over the weekend I went up to southern Maryland to see the oldest daughter.  To get there, instead of taking that asphalt and concrete nightmare known as I-95, I took the back roads.  Hwy 17 to Fredericksburg and then 15 to Maryland.  Smaller, quieter and more peaceful roads.  Less stress.  Much less.  As far as the time difference, it took maybe 15 minutes more that the I-95 route.  A reasonable trade I think.

Hwy 17 runs right along the Rappahannock River.  I found myself wondering why, save for two short sails up there (one being in Barry's video), I had not spent time sailing the 40 mile-long river.  It is beautiful, winding and treelined.  A handful of towns are on the river, Urbanna, Deltaville, Irvington and Tappahannock, plus several smaller communities.  Mobjack Bay is not too far to the south.  A series of creeks and rivers to the north lead up to Reedville, which is just a short jump across Chesapeake Bay from Tangier Island and Tangier Sound.

 I think next spring, instead of heading south to Pamlico and Albemarle Sounds, I'll make the two hour drive north and spend some time exploring the Rappahannock River and nearby waters.  Should be fun.  Spring on the Bay.  Can anyone say "soft-shell crabs"?

Friday, July 15, 2022

nice to see

Nice to see...

a photograph I shot of Webb Chiles sailing his Moore 24 GANNET many years ago used with the digital edition of Good Old Boat Magazine.

I believe you can find the online edition here (though I am not sure of subscription requirements).


Also nice to see Bobby Asher's Pathfinder LAGNIAPPE being fitted with a pattern for a boom tent by my friend Angel (who has been SPARTINA's canvas angel for many years).  She runs Little Bay Canvas.  I can attest to the quality of her work as she has made both my boom tent and sail covers.  You want her to make canvas for your boat?  You'll have to 1) bring the boat here so she can measure it herself, 2) get in line, and 3) be patient.  It is worth it for the quality of work.  Can't wait to see the new tent, Bobby.


Thursday, July 14, 2022

found video

 I was searching the internet and came across this nice video from Barry from a sail near Gwynn's Island a few years ago.  Fond memories.  Thanks, Barry.

Monday, July 11, 2022

Sunday, July 10, 2022

crawfish boil!

Summer tradition with friends and a bunch of crawfish from Louisiana Crawfish Company.


Saturday, July 9, 2022

the fall trip

The photo above showed up on my iPhone's home page this morning.  How nice.  It is from last year's fall trip on Chesapeake Bay, day 23 in fact.  I had spent the hot, windy and spray filled afternoon exploring Langford Creek.  The spray explains the clothes drying on the boom.  I had anchored on the west fork of the creek just above Bungay Creek, glad to be in the shade of the trees on shore to escape the sun.  

This year's fall trip will also be on Chesapeake Bay, and should take up most of the month of October and end in Chestertown at the Downrigging Festival.   I do hope to may the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum's Mid-Atlantic Small Craft Festival but that depends on a couple of things out of my control.  We'll see.

 I have most of the food for the fall trip already.  I've also got a new Montbell sleeping bag and a new Goodsman anchor light, above (the old ones were ruined by horizontal rain on the spring trip).

In the background of the anchor light photo you can see my Nikon binoculars.  These came with a lifetime warranty for fogging or misalignment so every year or two I send them off to get a new set from Nikon.  Pretty good deal it seems.  

August (when it is too hot to sail) and early September will be maintenance time for SPARTINA.

Hot and humid these days.  Looking forward to fall.

Wednesday, July 6, 2022

speaking of derechos...

 Just a couple of days ago I wrote about a story linking increased temperatures to derechos.  And then yesterday the skies turned green (no, not with envy) as a derecho crossed the upper midwest and plains states.  You can read about it here in The Washington Post.

From the story...

Ahead of the derecho, thousands witnessed skies turn an ominous shade of neon green, the heavens appearing borderline phosphorescent. While green skies are sometimes byproducts of thunderstorms, few meteorologists could remember having seen skies reflect that peculiar hue.

Winds reached 90 mph in places, that would make it equivalent to a high end Category 1 hurricane here on the coast.

Just how big is a derecho...

For a thunderstorm squall line to be classified a derecho, “damage must be incurred either continuously or intermittently over a swath of at least ~400 mi and a width of approximately ~60 mi) or more.” That’s according to the American Meteorological Society. The National Weather Service also stipulates that, in addition to widespread 60 mph winds, a few significant wind gusts, or those topping 75 mph, must be thrown in as well.

As for why the skies turned green...

The infamous green sky that comes with some severe thunderstorms has to do with what the thunderstorm is holding — water, and lots of it. It’s believed that big raindrops and hail scatter away all but the blue wavelengths, allowing primarily blue light to penetrate through and beneath the storm cloud.

Amazing and frightening.

Monday, July 4, 2022

derechos, heat and under the radar storms

Is it all because of the heat?  Below you see a map of summer average temperature changes across the country.  For the mid-Atlantic it is an increase of 1.5 degrees.  For the west coast, including my hometown of San Diego, it is 2.7.   Above you see a derecho that pass through Norfolk several years ago.  

A recent story in The Washington Post linked derechos - a line of severe thunderstorms sometimes referred to as straight-line tornados - to increased temperatures.  From the story (which refers to a derecho that went from the Midwest to the Mid-Atlantic a decade ago)...


The violence of that storm event — which coincided with one of the hottest June days on record — raised questions at the time about the role of human-caused climate change. They were questions that, at the time, the research community was not equipped to answer.

Since that infamous storm on June 29, 2012, a number of extreme heat-driven derechos have followed in its footsteps, breaking an array of records while leaving wide swaths of damage from Colorado to Canada.

In just the past six and a half months, two of the most destructive derechos on record have occurred. Both events blasted sections of the Midwest; the first on Dec. 15, 2021, and the second on May 12 of this year. Both events occurred on days with record-setting heat.


And just a few days ago Tropical Storm Colin (above) seemed to appear out of nowhere.  From The Sun News in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina...


The only indication that any tropical weather might appear was the National Hurricane Center's notice Friday afternoon that a low pressure system had developed near Savannah, Georgia, and would likely bring some heavy rain in isolated areas over the weekend.

And yet, Tropical Storm Colin snuck onto the scene early Saturday morning, surprising the National Weather Service. How did this happen though? How was it possible for a tropical storm to spin up overnight with little warning?

Armstrong said Tropical Storm Colin was so weak that it stayed under the radar, literally, until the last minute.

"I can only assume the computer forecast models were unable to see the thunderstorm organization in time," Armstrong said.


More heat, more derechos and tropical storms spinning up quicker than computer models can predict.  Kind of frightening.