Tuesday, January 31, 2023

leaving St. Michaels

 Down in SPARTINA today counting batteries, removing unneeded gear, adding cruising gear and replacing bungee cords that keep things tucked in place.  Received a text from Bobby with this nice photograph of SPARTINA leaving St. Michaels to wait out the coming weather in a creek on the other side of the Miles River.  Thanks, Bobby!

Saturday, January 28, 2023

a 30-foot paint job

 on a 19-foot boat.
(I.E. stand 30 feet away 
and she looks pretty nice.)

Tuesday, January 24, 2023

still a "work boat" finish...

...but looking better.

Cold temperatures are not helping.  Will wait a day or two then do a final touch up the white deck paint.  Varnish and bottom paint coming next week.  Food, batteries, notebooks all on hand.  Hoping to cast off mid-February.


Sunday, January 22, 2023

pre-trip maintenance

 A little winter maintenance to SPARTINA going on these days.  There were a lot of dings in the deck and on the upper white planks.  Sanded and filled with marine grade fairing compound.  Will sand smooth again and repaint with Rustoleum topside paint.  After that I'll be touching up the bottom paint.

Final batch of food supplies arrived yesterday so I'll get to pack and vacuum sealing all that.  Then a tune-up for the outboard.  Hope to head south in a little over three weeks.

Thursday, January 19, 2023

hazards on the ICW

Friend Barry sent a text asking about hazards on the ICW from Charleston south the the St. Johns River. He clarified in a second text he was asking about issues with tugs/barges and wakes from bigger boats speeding up the ICW.  Below is my reply.

"As for barge, boat traffic, there is not much on the ICW south of Charleston.  I think in my 1 and 1/2 trips down there I have only seen one tug with a barge.  There is a narrow stretch on the Stono River where the piers reach out from shore almost to the marked channel and I have been concerned about crossing paths with a tug there.  But it has not happened.  Almost no snow bird traffic heading north in Feb. or March.  The few boats I see slow down to wave.  I have encountered lots more boats on the ICW on NC trips on the Alligator/Pungo River Canal and the Adams Creek Canal.  I would say 95% slow down as a courtesy (and sometimes out of curiosity).  A few boats blow by but very few and it is no big deal.  Some waterman coming up from the stern will slow down briefly and pull directly in front of me so that I am between the port and starboard wakes and then they resume speed (this was explained to me by one captain as it did it).  So they don’t lose much time with a brief slowdown and can get to where they need to be.  Sailing through downtown Jacksonville on a sunny, pleasant weekend day was interesting as everyone had their boats out and in Florida (by law, I assume) they can only go one speed (full speed).  So lots of wakes and then reflected wakes after they bounce off the concrete wall that lines the St. John’s in Jacksonville.  Not a problem, just a little uncomfortable."

The photo above was on the first night of my first attempt to sail south from Charleston.  I was anchored on Rantowles Creek when I heard the deep throbbing diesel sounds of a tug pushing a barge up the Stono River.  The blue/red/purple glow is the tug, the white horizontal line going to the left is the barge. (I am still impressed by this photo taken in the middle of the night by an iPhone.)  Just to the south on the Stono is where the piers reach out nearly to the marked shipping channel.  

The chart is from Navionics and shows the piers reaching out from the west side of the river.  I recall many more piers on the eastern side of the river than shown here.  I do recall my GPS showing a narrower path than what is on the chart.  In any case this is the one area where I would not want to pass a tug and barge.  It would not be a problem, just a little tight.

The only other hazard I can think of would be the tides rushing through a few (mostly man-made) cuts. This includes Elliott Cut where I launch SPARTINA and it is physically impossible to pass through the cut against a running tide.  The Fenwick Island Cut that connects the South Edisto River to the Ashpoo River can have a good running tide but is still passable.  Just a mile west of that is another cut that connects the Ashpoo to Rock Creek that can be much worse.  In fact on my sail south from Charleston I failed on two attempts to make the cut, shown above, to get through that cut, had to fall back and anchor to wait out the tide.  The peak current running through there was as close as I have seen to whitewater.

Looking over these charts and tracks I realize that I have a decent feel for the path I will be sailing in a few weeks.  I can't wait to get back down there.

Tuesday, January 17, 2023

charging cords, batteries and meals

The winter trip from Charleston to Palatka is just over a month away, so time to take care of some details.

Who needs a three-foot long charging cord?  Not me.  Maybe it dates back to the early days of cell phones when it seemed that a phone battery would barely make it through the day so one had to charge and use the phone at the same time.  But now with phone batteries that last for a couple days who needs the yard-long cord?  I have switched, at least for purposes for cruising SPARTINA, to one-foot cords.  Much easier to deal with.  Even as I simplify this I find I still need three cords, one for the phone, a different cord for my iPad mini that serves as a chart book and a third for my GoPro battery charger.  At least they take up less space in the electronics box (a watertight Pelican box).

Batteries for the Garmin GPS have become an issue.  I've always used Energizer Lithium batteries but found that they have become very expensive.  I bought a couple dozen Energizer batteries but also bought the less expensive Bevigor batteries on Amazon.  The GPS uses two AA batteries that last about a day and a half before I need to change them out.  So three days of sailing equals four batteries.  Round up to 30 days of sailing (it will certainly be less) and I'll need 40 AA lithiums.  Plus some AAA for anchoring lights and a few other things.

I have most of the food for the winter cruise in hand, just two more deliveries expected this week.  The freeze dried meals come from LDP Camping Foods in Lafayette, Louisiana.   Webb Chiles had told me about the company.  They offer meals from several different companies with free shipping and volume discounts.  I typically pack for 28 days of meals.  Fourteen freeze dried meals go in to two light-weight dry bags, each stored in the thwart port and starboard.  Sixteen of the breakfast and lunch kits will go in one-gallon storage bags, the breakfast being an RxBar, a meat stick (the Tanka Buffalo bars are no longer available do I'll use Jacks Links beef and steak bars) and a cup of fruit.  In the same bag will be some snacks and a can of Rio Mare tuna along two more fruit cups, one to go with the tuna for lunch and the third to go with dinner.  The remaining dozen breakfast bars, meat sticks and cans of tuna will be vacuum packed and stowed in the thwart, the cans of tuna making excellent ballast.  Sometime in the middle of the trip I'll break out the vacuum packed food and repackage as daily meal kits.  

I do take meals for 28 days but don't expect to use them all.  There will be breakfasts, lunches and dinners on shore.  What I don't use will be available for the spring cruise.  

I find myself in the evening using the Navionics Boating App on my phone, tracing the path on the ICW from Charleston to Palatka.  I'm looking for other options for the sail south.  For example crossing Jekyll and St. Andrews Sound I took the path marked in red.  It was a direct sail from Jekyll Island to the Cumberland River.  I have heard/read that there is another passage, possibly more scenic but also more shallow, to the west.  It is nice to have options and will go with whatever looks best at the time.

SPARTINA is home now and with warmer weather this weekend I hope to do some epoxy work and painting.  I am very much looking forward to this trip.

Friday, January 13, 2023

boat card

 I've got a collection of "boat cards" that people have given me over the years with their contact information.  Thought I might as well have one too.  I designed this using canva.com.   The sketch is by friend Rick Lapp's daughter, and she kindly gave me permission to use it on the card.

Back just now from Home Depot and Harbor Freight with about $75 worth of paint brushes, sand paper, rollers, etc.  Will begin the winter maintenance on SPARTINA next week.

Monday, January 9, 2023

morning and afternoon

A morning walk on the beach.
An afternoon sail on the river with friends.
How nice is that?