"When I think of all the fools I've been it's a wonder that I've sailed this many miles." -Guy Clark

Tuesday, January 30, 2024

weather watch

Watching this tight little front forecast to roll through Charleston Sunday evening through Monday.  Trying to raise a mast and step in wind gusting to the 30s is no fun.  Might delay a day.  Will keep watching the forecast.  


In the meantime watching some friends, who we last saw on the coast of Portugal, leaving on a 3,000 sail across the Atlantic.  Wishing Sheila and Michael an enjoyable and safe voyage.


Monday, January 29, 2024

time to pack

Dry suit with sleeping gear to the left.  Emergency bag plus clothing to the right.  Dry duffel bags with cooking kit and book/note books at the top.

Food/water has been sorted and packed for about a week now.  

 Guess I should start watching the weather. 

Friday, January 26, 2024

Elliott Cut and the first day

I've been looking back through my logs at the first day of each of the three cruises south from Charleston.  How much distance did I cover on each of the first days' sail?  And I wonder how much I will make on the first day on this year's sail?  

How much water I can cover on the first day is controlled by wind, tide and the current at Elliott Cut.  I launch at the Wappoo Creek boat ramp.  Just a mile or two west of the ramp is Elliott Cut, a narrow rock-lined cut that can have currents running at two to four mph.  It is simply impossible for me to get through safely with a running tide.  I need slack water, or something very close to it, to get through there.

On my first launch out of Charleston in 2021 I attempted to pass through Elliott Cut about an hour before slack tide.  I mean, how bad could it be?  I soon found out, turning back to anchor and wait out the tide.  I eventually passed through at 2:15 (an unusually late starting time for me).  I anchored that night in Rantowles Creek, marked with a "1" in the chart at the top of this post.   (I'll also got stuck in the mud, which didn't help my forward progress.) 

On my second trip south in 2022, slack tide was much earlier in the day.  I rigged and launched in darkness, and passed through Elliott Cut at 8:40.  Wind was excellent and I caught a favorable tide around 10:00 or so.  This carried me to Church Creek, marked with a "2" above, anchor down at 2:15.  I could have sailed some more miles that but I was tired from both the drive down the day before and the early morning start.

Last year I passed through Elliott Cut at 8:45, had excellent wind and a helping tide.  It was the perfect start to a trip.  I was sailing so fast someone on a dock yelled at me to slow down because it was a no wake zone.  I was relieved when I saw he was yelling at me with a wave and a smile.  Anchor down in Toogoodoo Creek, marked "3" above, about 4:15.  I'll take that any day.

The tide is not ideal at Elliott Cut this year, slack tide being about 11:00.  At least it give me a chance to sleep a little later.  As for the wind, we'll wait and see.


Monday, January 22, 2024

test sail, unexpected company

Last time I saw Hannah was a few years ago on the Schooner VIRGINIA in Cape Charles.  She had just completed a doctorate and was soon heading to Australia.  The boat's crew was off to a party, we sat on the deck and she made us a couple of Dark and Stormies.  The last time I had heard of her was a few months ago when I was told she was in Thailand.  Something to do with looking at a tall ship there.

So I did not recognize her at first as she called to me for the Elizabeth City waterfront.  She was backlit by the afternoon sun and only just recognized her as she called out her name.  I asked if should would like to join me for a sail.  And she did.

My plan for the day was to launch SPARTINA for a test sail, check her rigging and see how the new jib works.  The rigging was good, the new jib excellent.  And the addition of good company for the sail made for an enjoyable afternoon.

 Hope to head south for the winter sail two weeks from today.

Wednesday, January 17, 2024

from above

The temperature outside right now is 20 degrees Fahrenheit, the forecast high is 34 degrees.  A good day to stay inside and pack food for the winter trip down south.

This photo is from a few years ago, taken by a GoPro mounted at the end of the gaff on the mainsail.  The last few trips I have been disappointed in my lack of use of the GoPro camera.  I hope to do better on this trip, mounting it at various places on SPARTINA and hoping for an interesting image.  Somehow I always get wrapped up in the day's sail and forget about the GoPro.  I'll try to do better on this trip.

Speaking of cold weather, it is the perfect day to pack food.  I carry 29 daily meals of steak and eggs breakfast (RxBars and beef sticks), tuna for lunch and freeze dried meals for dinner.  There will also be cups of fruit, snacks and trail mix.  I will not use all of that as there will be meals ashore along the way.  Don't ask me why 29 meals instead of 30, it just works.

Tuesday, January 16, 2024


Just found this photograph, a GoPro image, on my computer.  Not sure from when or where.  The color of the water and the lack of cruising gear, makes me think this is from a day sail on the Pasquotank River in Elizabeth City, NC.  That's my mango orange drysuit and the image reminds I'll be needing that very soon.  I would like to take SPARTINA out for a test sail.  

The forecast tells me the best options for a local sail are this coming Thursday or the following Tuesday.  Temperatures will range from 36 degrees to maybe 50, so thermals and drysuit will be in order.  

Less than three weeks until the winter sail down south.

Friday, January 12, 2024

putting her back together

 SPARTINA is almost done with the winter work.  A little touch up paint, some trailer hardware and then reloading her with all the usual sailing gear.  Cold weather this coming week, hoping for warmer weather the week after for a test sail down in Betsy Town.  Then time to start packing for the winter trip.

Friday, January 5, 2024

the new jib

Sunny and surprisingly warm yesterday so I rolled SPARTINA out of the garage to check the rigging and try out the new jib.  I am happy with the new sail, and I am particularly happy with Evolution sails adding Stuarts DABBLER SAILS logo.  And nice tribute, and a nice surprise.

Hull, cockpit and deck painting done, all to a workboat finish (I am the master of the workboat finish).  Bottom paint will have to wait a week or so until things warm up a bit.

I should be heading south about a month from today.


Wednesday, January 3, 2024

ASTRID, on tour

Just spent this morning enjoying reports from friend Lorenzo about sailing his Pathfinder ATRID.  Just some incredible sailing in beautiful places - Belgium, Denmark and Norway.

The cruising involved meeting up with other boats - including the Pathfinder EUROPE - along the way.

There is a sailing raid, family gatherings, some stormy weather, beautiful islands and interesting scenery.

I won't go into detail here but will suggest it is worth your time to take a look at Lorenzo's site.  Well done, Lorenzo!


Tuesday, January 2, 2024

New Year's Day

The new year begins with a bike ride into the (not so) Dismal Swamp.  That's Lake Drummond, above, about a four and one-half mile ride in along the Washington Ditch.

A beautiful way to start the new year.  I hope everyone has a great 2024!