Monday, December 28, 2015

Swinging Party: the Real Last Sail of 2015

Yesterday I went down to check on Luna and remove her canvass. The temps proved too tempting. T-shirt weather, sun and a stiff breeze. It was awesome. Though now a dream, I hope it sustains until Spring. The scent of water and land, and warmth of the sun are absent here, but you'll get the drift ...

Saturday, December 26, 2015

A Life In Wood

I stumbled upon this short film, a gorgeous boat (Falmouth Quay Punt) with the words of her owner and builder. Lovely.

Sample Punt Lines

From Timber to Tide (on Vimeo).

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

UNA Makes Print Again

My pal Peter is an avid WoodenBoat reader. I mean from cover to cover. He pointed out an ad in this month's issue for 2016's Small Reach Regatta held each year in Maine. A boat featured there on page 76 is a sweetie. It's UNA, I believe on our first day.We started near last, sailed through the fleet and back and still got to the destination first. Maybe we were the only ones considering it a race. Anyway, I'm glad to see we had proper sail trim. Telltales are streaming aft. Pretty cool. I was told by WB that they would not feature her under their "Launchings" section as she had been in Small Boats Monthly. Well, she snuck in there anyway. Thanks Pogo!

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

One Reef, One Beautiful Day

I had hoped to sail along Norfolk's waterfront today, but my father couldn't make it so, I decided to stay closer to home and headed north to the Yeocomico River. A still somewhat rural area on the south shore of the Potomac River, the river was a fantastic diversion.

I know the season is closing. I know the water is cold. Today's air temperature however was in the mid 60s. Winds were 10-15 mph, gusting to 20-24. That, a picnic lunch, and one reef served to make it a near perfect day. At 11:00 I launched UNA from Olverson's Marina ($5). They have two 16' wide concrete ramps to choose from. Launch was easy. We sailed out past maybe two dozen cruising sailboats at dock and a couple sheds full of powerboats out into Lodge Creek. There were also covered land slips available for boating and camping. Perhaps and Old Bay Club event could be based here?

Olverson's Marina
Winds were flukey in the creek initially. Lulls and blows. You had to be on your toes. No cleating of the mainsheet. Once out in the Yeocomico, I could see St. Marys River across the Potomac. Had I started earlier, I would have sailed across.
east lip of Yeocomico
west lip
entrance to Parkers Creek

Instead of braving the Potomac, we sailed past the mouth and into Parkers Creek for lunch. We went as far as Una would let us go, stirring up mud with board and rudder up. A bald eagle and great heron took flight at the tail end of the creek. Borrowing a small pier, we tied up, flatten mizzen and dropped the main for lunch. The sun's warmth and light were perfect.

Lunch done, we reached back down creek to explore the other fingers of this pretty river. The wind seemed to have moderated as we watched oystermen dredge their harvest.

This boat was an interesting pram bowed barge.  Further on a group of workboats hugged the shore.

Having explored 4 of the 5 fingers making up the river, we headed back toward home. We passed a  large fishing operation was to starboard.

A couple videos here give some of the flavor. Another glorious day on the water. I almost didn't go.

Sunday, December 13, 2015

Severn River Scenes: mid December

Just a few short, but rude, videos of the time spent in the Mobjack area this week. I'll endeavor to devote more time editing. Not there yet.

Just east of Whittaker Creek off Severn River.

Whittaker Creek

And the next morning.

Monday, December 7, 2015

Choptank Chomp and Romp

About a month ago I got an invitation to go sailing. I said, "Yes". Had I known the conditions would be cold, wet and blowing, I may have reconsidered. I'm glad I had only suspicions as the time. Romping along the Eastern Shore's Choptank was a blast. We sailed on my buddy Kevin's Catalina Capri 22 "Big T", a nice design and good sail-er. We met up meet up with Phil, Doug and his Cornish Shrimper "Tidings". The sheltered harbor had pleasure and work boats that caught our eye. The mix provides the town with a nice feel.

the schooner "Adventure"

Adventure again


Harbor mural

Outside the breakwater entrance, winds were a steady 20-24 mph with gusts near 30. The sail was lively.  Anxioous to see how Big T sailed, I hogged the tiller all the way into the Tred Avon where Tidings tried to overtake us under full motor, but alas Big T turned her head and rolled on ahead and turned the corner past Oxford's Strand to visit Cutts and Case Boatyard up the creek there. One of the Cutts brothers, Ronnie, loaned us his truck to shop for track slides that had blown out earlier in the day. We took our time studying the many beautiful old wooden boats there.

A Ralph Wiley design

the piers

Fine catboat with inboard rudder

Heading back out the creek, we passed the motorboat Tidings again and sailed up the Tred Avon to Easton. Big T reached along.

motorboat "Tidings"

workboat at speed

We rafted up for a good dinner by Chef Doug. An after dinner snoot warmed us enough to shove off and anchor for the night. It was still blowing good. The next morning we found ourselves aground 100-150 yards downwind. Motoring failed to release the bottom, so we raised sail, hung from the shrouds and with a buff had enough healing moment to slip away. Breakfast was back rafted. Hot coffee was welcomed. A decision was to sail over to the Little Choptank. That was the last we saw of Doug, ship and crew.

Over canvassed with the only reef in the main and a small jib we bashed into the Choptank. Soon we dropped the jib to carry on. With those 30 mph blows, we still had too much sail.

Choptank bashing

After a couple hours of wet and wild, we cracked off to head into San Domingo Creek. Since we never saw Doug and Phil venture out, we figured they had abandoned the plan early. Later Kevin was phoned that the journey had been made. We've yet to be given proof. It was a subject that kept Kevin awake throughout the night. I half thought he was ready to raise sail and go verify.
Back of St. Michaels

Workboats there

Good scenes

We touched bottom a couple times before settling on an anchorage. The sunset was quick and the cold dropped on us. I can't recall what we had for dinner other than pumpkin pie. We retreated to sleeping bags and were likely out by 20:00. We did awake around midnight to have another taste of pie and yacked for maybe an hour. The likelihood of Doug and Phil getting to the Little Choptank without our noticing was of course revisited. Two deserts in one night is a good deal and aided in crashing until sunrise.

Early morn

Hot coffee and biscuits the next morning started us off as we had a wonderful early morning beat back down the creek into the Choptank and rolled home on a reach.

Cap'n Kevin
It was some exhilarating sailing, some fun conversations, and good pie! A great few days. Thanks Kevin!

Saturday, December 5, 2015

Spartina's Cameo

Born and raised in Norfolk, VA, I watched a recent video of the town's recent  "reinvention" with much interest. One fellow in the film comments that the town has been burned to the ground twice. It is its military and transportation significance that has drawn such attention. Norfolk's Naval Base and Air Station is reputed to be the world's largest. The first burning was led by Loyalist Governor Lord Dunmore who, with his three ships, shelled the city, destroying 800 buildings (or 2/3's of the city). The Patriots then burned the balance of their town (that's commitment), leaving only the walls of St. Paul's Episcopal Church standing. A cannonball remains today in one of the church walls. That razing was on New Years of 1776. In 1804 a second destruction resulted from fire breaking out along the waterfront. Some 300 buildings were lost then. One could argue that a third destruction has been ongoing since then as Norfolk is landlocked by the Elizabeth River, Hampton Roads and the Chesapeake Bay. Recent history has forced choosing between what to keep and what to let go. The town is confined to a footprint that cannot expand. However, neighbors Portsmouth and Chesapeake may raise objections to that statement as all three push to grow and prosper in the region.

This black and white film drew nostalgia for my hometown and though I've lived away from Norfolk for too many years, I still consider her home. As I viewed familiar sights and heard names with nostalgia, the sails of a small yawl briefly slid across the screen. I immediately recognized them belonging to Steve Early's "Spartina" and forwarded the video to him for viewing. He posted it with more comments in his blog. Hope you enjoy it as much as I did.

Spartina graces the Elizabeth River.