Saturday, November 29, 2014

More MASCF 2014

One of my favorite blogs is a creation of Barry Long.
Barry and Aeon.

His Marginalia, an "infrequent repository of mostly new stuff," shares not only his keen eye through the camera, but also offers reflections on his travels and the occasional observations of beauty we all too often overlook. Barry writes very well and his photos are wonderful. After corresponding for a few years mostly about boats (Barry's pair of Melonseeds he built in a basement are gorgeous), we finally got to meet in St. Michaels. I didn't know he had taken photographs of UNA, but I'm happy she caught his eye. Barry's appreciation of some of her details remind me of what was an enjoyable build.

A Barry pic.
Hopefully, we'll  get to sail with Barry when warmer climes return.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Galley In A Box

Had hoped to sneak in a sail yesterday, but winds were gusting to 38 mph. Chickened out. Today there is no wind. Hopefully there will be some nice days soon.

The last boat camp trip may have spoiled us. Meals cooked at camp on our small butane stove top opened up a whole new menu. Though the gimballed cup stove still has a place under way, taking every meal in a 20 oz cup might get old fast.  Chris Cunningham at Small Boats Monthly had a box for his galley kit. John Hartman on WFB had his boxes. So, after studying those and many camp cook boxes out there I decided to design my own too.

First I wanted it as compact as possible while keeping all the galley necessaries inside it. The final box ended with these specs:

  • 18"L x 12"D x 10"H
  • 8mm okoume plywood sides and interior oak rails.
  • oak cleat/handles
  • neoprene rubber feet
  • removable platform/ storage divider
  • interior paint matches UNA's hull
closed box
Box was shellacked for color and varnished to protect it. Rope tie-downs keep the lid on.

handles with cleated lid

"Rubber" feet protect the boat and offer an anti-skid box. Cleats will help secure box in the boat too.

opened box with stores

divider/platform removed for wind screen

stove in place

The box is sturdy enough to serve as a seat in camp. A pot, some mugs, a few utensils, and spices need to be added, but all that should fit easily. Joined with a cooler, canned and dry goods, and we are ready for the next trip.

Now on to figuring out the tent scenario …

Friday, November 14, 2014

Janes Island Flottila

Janes' marsh canal.
The afternoon light on the Bay late Fall can be spectacular. Those foggy mornings can be serene.

marina's misty morning.

My youngest boy and I got the opportunity earlier this week to day sail with some new friends and their boats at Janes Island State Park. A nice campground with hundreds of sites had maybe 5 visitors. We pitched tents on the edge of the canal and kept the boats in the small marina where slips were $3 a night per boat. What a deal! Both mornings began early with the half dozen or so watermen rumbling by in their deadrise skiffs before a rooster could crow.

Here are our cohorts:

Peter's "Nip".

"Nip" is an Oughtred Caledonia Yawl, "Una's" grandaddy.

Mike's "Jack-a-Roo"

"Jack" is a Joel White Haven 12 1/2.
Kevin's "Little T".

Kevin built his Marsh Cat. Very nice.
Winds were generally light and variable the first day and part of the second, but steady winds came through the afternoon of the second. We had a good reach across the town of Crisfield, MD and beat up the harbor entry to sail in the largely deserted basin. Like many Eastern Shore towns this one has seen better times. Hopefully they will return. Monstrous condos at the entrance doesn't improve the charm of the town at all. Sadly, it is hard to keep such attraction secret. One has to question how well these outsiders are received and vice versa. It certainly is a clash of cultures. However, there is still much to recommend the "Crab Capital of the World" and that is mostly its location. Hard to beat.


A beautiful workboat.

A valiant fight against eroding tides.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Richmond to Hopewell

Well, I built me a raft and she's ready for floatin';
Ol' Mississippi, she's callin' my name.
Catfish are jumpin', that paddle wheel thumpin',
Black water keeps rollin' on past just the same.
"Black Water" - Doobie Brothers

It wasn't the Mississippi, there were no paddle wheels, but I did see catfish and tugboats as I slid down the James River with my "raft" last week. I had hoped to reach Norfolk from Richmond. That is about 80 miles as the crow flies (3 days sailing), however the weatherman seemed to have been correct this time and the threat of cold and rain cut us short. Still had a wonderful 1 day sail and overnight. I certainly felt like Huck Finn. As he's know to have  said, 

"We said there warn't no home like a raft, after all. Other places seemed so cramped up and smothery, but a raft don't. You feel mighty free and easy and comfortable on a raft."

At 10:00 we started at Ancarrow Landing downtown. A concrete ramp and pier sufficed for a quick launching. The wind was setting the boat on the wharf so I shoved off under mizzen only to sail backwards on a close reach across the river to Rocketts Landing.

The mark twain.

Landing construction date
Sailing in reverse.

Richmond, VA: Point 'A'

floating piers at Rocketts.

Archeology of industry downstream.

The sun was perfect, winds from the NW at 15, and UNA sluiced along. The first third of the trip was a tour of tugboats and barges. I lay prone in the boat and watched the world go by. It was hard to believe the state capital was just behind as the waterway got rural fast.

gravel crane
tug and gravel barge from Norfolk.

For the most part the trip was a gentle sail off the wind. A few river bends forced some windward sailing.  We went under 3 bridges, passed a number of estates and/or old plantations and rolled into Hopewell against a surprisingly strong tide.

at Falling Creek

Sausage King's estate (Jimmy Dean RIP)


power plant? need to look it up.

Benjamin Harrison bridge
I found myself dosing in the cockpit like a cat at points. Snacks and drinks taste better in the open air.
Shortly after Hopewell the winds slackened, tide kept pushing against us, but we enjoyed the scenery from chasing geese to watching the sun drop.

Shirley Plantation


Need I say more?

UNA slipped under the Jordan Pt. bridge as the wind nearly quit. I jury rigged some Navlites I was loaned to review for Small Boats Magazine. They are quite simple, but rugged. You can look for the write-up in the next couple of months.

Jordan Pt.

Moon over boom


I had hoped for a quiet creek just past Berkeley Plantation, but without wind and contrary current, I decided to pull over a mile short after realizing my rowing was making very little headway. After a quick pouched meal of curried spinach and potatoes, I hung out the lantern and crawled into the sack.

Well out of the channel and tucked under a cliff, the night was relatively calm aside from the few tugs passing in the night. They rocked the boat. 07:00 delivered morning, flat, chilly, and all was dew soaked. (I'm working on  a tent in earnest now). Breakfast was coffee, oatmeal, and snack bar. All stuck well to the ribs. Morning tunes set the mood perfectly.



With the impending gale coming and no wind, I had to choose a pull out point. The closest place downstream was a good day's sail, if possible. With the tide about to ebb one more time I elected to retrace the last 1 1/2 miles back to Jordan Pt Marina. The sub 3 kt "breath" forced delicate sailing. UNA did fine for half that trip. Eventually, the wind dissipated to require rowing which was pleasant on flat water. While not a rowboat, my fearing does move with purpose once started. My wife came with youngest soon and trailer in tow an hour after we landed. The ladies at Jordan Pt. said I could forget the $10 ramp fee. Out of gratitude we  ate at their Crabby Mikes. Good cheese burgers.
Light air drifting. Hardly a wake, but moving.

buoy passed.

Crabby Mikes

my girl.

So ends this leg of the trip. We'll have to return to finish the journey another day. Soon I hope-