Since 1978 I have been fortunate to sail wooden boats. In 2006 I set out to find a Drascombe Longboat Cruiser for single-handed expedition sailing. This is the continuing story of how it came to be, our adventures, notes on the maritime world and other things I don't want to forget...

Sunday, April 15, 2018

New Wings

Picked up Annie's new sails a couple of days ago in Deltaville. They look well made and the price was fair. I returned by the marina at Gwynn's Island and started the rigging chores. It became quickly evident that  a lot of work was needed back at the shop.

Fast forward. I fashioned a new slotted aluminum tube to stiffen the jib luff and give it strong furling. The yard and mizzen were laced and parrel beads knotted and tied in to the main. My fingers were crossed that the sails would fit and set well.

Then yesterday. with all the sails bent on I set them on Annie (on the trailer) and they looked good. Next week she will get her shakedown...

Friday, March 9, 2018

Let's Get This Show on the Road

She must have known it was a special day. After months of sitting covered in a field, Annnie appeared remarkably clean and bright as I unsnapped her cover. Awaiting the sailmaker I set up the outboard flushing tub and hooked up the gas line. remarkably to me the motor fired off clean on the first pull.

New sails are the last piece to a year long process of "putting right" the fire disaster that took her sails and spars. I had had decided to have the Ullman Sails of Virginia loft do the work and Jerry Ullsman, the owner, showed up ready to measure. Without a set to work from and a unique plan to reconstruct, we discussed the geometry at length and poured over photos I had brought. Drascombes have simple rigs without booms but even simple has to be right.

I bought a 14' length of schedule 40 aluminum tube to fashion a new roller reefing rig. Will wait for the new jib before proceeding.

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Down South

It's well into 2018 and catching up is overdue. I have spent the past several months in coastal Georgia slowly developing and building Memory Trail, an outdoor exhibit chronicling the voyage of the slave ship Wanderer through the lives of enslaved survivors. Due to current affairs the interpretation has become more difficult to balance. There is still much to be done but I am excited and hopeful. It has become a challenge I feel strongly about in many ways.

Southeastern Georgia, like Northeast Florida, where I spent the most years in a single area, is not immune to cold winters. Its relative for sure, but not uncommon to be well under freezing conditions for stretches during the Southern winter. Working outside has been nippy especially since we start at 6:30. But it's right on the water and the great marshes of Glenn stretch as far as you can see. So its pull on the insulated coveralls, grab the thermos and have fun until the late afternoon bourbon is poured.

I was home for three weeks over the holidays enjoying the extended family that converged on our small Virginia home. Plans were set to move Annie to Deltaville to get new sails fitted and made but the cold weather cancelled it. It looks like another month will go by but I'm hell bent to get her back on a close haul by spring.

Beginnings of interactive on the bench

Job site

Looking south

One of the ceramic path markers

setting poles for African hut

Hut ready for stucco


building farm shed in the shop

farm shed on site

from a series of watercolors I am working on to tell story

threading stainless rod

Beginning of interactive

Deburring graphic panel brackets

Carving pestle used for hulling rice on plantations

Intracoastal Waterway out the front window where I'm staying

Remnants of Hurricane Irma

My mobile 'shop'

Thursday, September 28, 2017

Up River

Last weekend Annie and I ventured out for the second time with new spars and 'new to me' sails. My friend Steve the musician had gone with us on this first 're'shakedown. Heading back from a nice beach exploration north of The Hole in the Wall, the port shroud parted at the deck end swage fitting. I had pressed the fittings myself copying the original (fire damaged) shrouds. We quickly backed over to the opposite tack and got the mast down before the tabernacle was damaged. We headed to shore, over for the day and back at the marine store. There was surplus wire to extend all the eyes enough to double up on swaged sleeves. Not a good experience but lucky to be close in and to have crew support.

Back to last weekend... another good friend Peter invited me to join the Old Bay chapter of the Traditional Small Craft Association for a meetup on the Rappahannock River. The group included a number of sailing mates that had helped me with the studio rebuild. The rendezvous was Belle Isle State Park located up river from Urbanna, Virginia.

I left out early Friday and, upon reaching Gwynns Island, made a few modifications including fastening new mahogany jib sheet cleat pads. This raised the cleats enough to clear the newly replaced cockpit cushions. The rigging was reattached and we were off to Urbanna to launch.

Early morning, Gwynns

While Annie rested at the ramp dock I stashed the road rig in town. Out through the harbor and long tacks up river led to the campground. It took about 4 hours but I surely didn't care. We were out and moving again. It has been nine months since the fire and it seemed like a dream.

I found the dock and parking lot full of beautiful, traditional wooden boats. A pot luck was underway in a nearby screen room and old friends were glad to see me. What's not to like. After quite a feast I steered Annie up the adjoining creek to anchor for the night. Even though we are having an indian summer, it was cool enough to make for a good night's sleep.

The next day I jumped on board my friend Peter's Caldonia yawl Nip. Along with the other boats, we all made way across the river to a deserted beach backed by a towering clay wall that had formed by erosion. After a snack lunch we headed back picking up a fresh breeze with a few sneaky gusts to challenge the 'captain'. Held fast.

It was decided that we would go as a pack to a restaurant deep in the Northern neck. A colonial house with plenty of fresh seafood including fine oysters.  On return I anchored Annie back up the creek for the night.

In the morning we were away, sailing alone back down the river. The gifted sails she was carrying are not the perfect fit but are much appreciated and we managed. She will have a new set as soon as I can find a suitable sailmaker. That's another day, another post.

not setting well but pulling nevertheless

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

From the Deep

Yesterday I ventured out in the early morning before the sun got too full of itself. Headed to Gwynns Island and on to Deltaville with Annie in tow. Much has happened in the past four months since my last log entry, but sometimes you need to lay low. The drive out east broke the spell.

I've spent much of the past months traveling back and forth to coastal Georgia to work, rebuilding Annie's spars and rig, and finishing the studio rebuild (almost) "with a little help from my friends." All has gone well albeit slower than I expected but then... where do I have to go?

Regarding the studio... thanks again to Kev Mac, Eddie, Barry, Steve, Mike, Harris, Michael, Rob, Jordan, brother Chris and nephew Noah for all the nail bangin' (and shootin'), 26 degree chops, roof sliding, dippin' and spreadin', and making me laugh. Final steps are to put up sheet rock and white wash interior. I'm there.


Reaching Deltaville I checked out a couple canvas shops and picked Island Canvas to remake Annie's fire-lost cockpit cushions. Jeane was really backed up it being summer so I agreed to make the patterns. Pulling Annie behind the shop under the shady pines I set to chalk, cut lines and swat mosquitoes. We'll see how that turns out.

Went by the maritime museum and they were in the second day of their family boat building week. Flat-bottom skiff were the week's challenge and about 12 crews were hard at it. I remembered my first museum skiff-build some twenty-five years ago and how much fun it was. I know by the end of the week when the fresh-painted craft hit the creek, there will be a bunch of proud folks.

Monday, March 6, 2017

Back to Work

The epoxy set up well on the spars but they have been left for another day (or so) as I have been working steady on a design job in Jekyll Island, Georgia.

Designing a new park exhibit that will tell the story of the survivors from the Wanderer, the last slave ship to Georgia and the next to US/African slave trade. She was a 106' square topmast schooner built as a yacht racer and sailed at 20 knots. Re-outfitted with slave transport modifications, she sailed the West Africa in 1858 and picked up 487 captives; reaching the Jekyll Creek where she went aground. Many of the 'cargo' were lost and this story and after is my task to interpret.

My concept is to present it as a family learning experience with children's book illustrations and re-created settings to attract children and youth, and more in-depth context to empower parents and caregivers to interact.

On the studio front... I (with the help of my friend Eddie) am finalizing the design and looking forward to a big build party in June. And maybe an invitation to crew on a small craft in the interim.

The Wanderer

Concept sketch