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...

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Oriental, North Carolina

We have been keeping up with

Keith and Melinda have reported the storm through last night and up until noon when all communication options ran out. The town sustained extreme flooding. We are hoping they all came through OK and that the damage is not too severe.

Photo by

Friday, August 26, 2011

Pepper and Irene

Hurricane Irene just passed offshore. The surf has been pummeling the beach and rain bands are dropping needed water. I have finished repairs on Annie and moved Becky Thatcher into the shop. We are still between jobs and the opportunity to catch up on the boats is hard to pass up. Becky of getting new oars... her old ones are worn out. I've been listening to classical tunes and enjoying the breeze blowing through one roll-up door and out the other.

Glueing up the blade
Tools from my fish carving days in Santa Fe

My drawknife was last sharpened in 1993. Pepper Langley, the master carver and modelmaker at the Calvert Marine Museum in Solomons Island, Maryland, put an edge on it for me. I have used it on many oars and spars over the years and it is as sharp as the day he honed it. Pepper has passed on but not the edge.

Working down the shaft

Wood whiskers

Becky in the shade

Pictorial inspiration

Northwest dreamin'

Glue Station

Tuesday, August 23, 2011


I found Becky Thatcher, my Drascombe Scaffie, in a dairy barn full of hay 10 years ago in Ocala, Florida. Since then I have been an avid trailer sailor. This type of boating has taken me all over Florida... down both the east and west coasts, over to the panhandle, and through inland lakes and rivers. Many of my favorite sails were with the West Coast Trailer Sailing Squadron. The group meets at prescheduled locations throughout the year. From the blue waters of Cayo Costa to the islands off Cedar Key to spring-fed inland lakes... sailors gather a share good times.

 Ron Hoddinott, WCTSS founder, plans, oversees and documents the activities of the members and friends. Ron is a great guy and a very knowledgeable sailor. Known by Watertriber's as WaterScribe he is no stranger to a challenge. I am glad he is my friend.

Thursday, August 18, 2011


I have been spending most early mornings lately putting on coats of varnish. It's quiet and doesn't take much thinking... that's a welcome change for a guy that has his own business and usually working to keep complicated projects moving forward.

There are many ways to look at varnishing from 'why put yourself in the situation of having to do it at all' (workboat ethic) to perfection at all costs.

If you are out for "a fine shine" check out The Brightwork Companion by Rebecca Wittman. Or you can 'dip and git' like my hero Charles Stock.

I personally like varnish (I am a visual person) but don't want it to be in the way- too precious- effecting my time sailing. Annie has an edge... like other trailerable boats... she is mostly covered and away from the deterioration of the sun's UV rays. So here I am going at it.

From top down: whisker and boat hook (Home Depot closet rods), and boomkin

Mizzen mast (turned by Shaw & Tenney, Orono, Maine

Sapele washboards

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Shop Time

I got over to the shop early this morning to get in a few hours of cool temperature. I had towed Annie over a couple days ago and prepped the bit of brightwork that needed attention as brightwork does. She has teak rails and tiller that were recycled from church pews in Maine where she was built. I, like most, like the look of bright trim. But, like most again, feel that a little goes a long way in respect to maintenance. In the shady shop, fans blowing and surrounded by tools and quiet, I am dipping and flowing. A very enjoyable morning.

Cetol has worked well for me and the Natural Teak seems to have the least colorant

First coat on, second tomorrow

Friday, August 5, 2011

Back in the Hood

I spent a three great weeks in Virginia with my family. Ellie was taking digital photography classes over the summer and my daughter Chloe, who is in college there, was working and dancing. I practiced guitar everyday and ate great food. We cooled off in the mountains and visited a number of museums. The only downside was that the hot weather and logistics kept me from sailing with Steve of The Log of Spartina. We tried hard but it just didn't work out. It would have been a super plus for me!

One day I checked my email and opened a snapshot my college roommate Tracy sent from Austin, Texas. I am standing with his wife Dianne in front of my garage apartment in Kill Devil Hills on the Outer Banks of North Carolina. I had been living on the Banks for a few years and working on Roanoke Island as the head of exhibits at the North Carolina Aquarium. My place was connected to a house that sat back a couple from the beach road. It was taken around January, 1978.

On July 31 of that year it all changed. A friend, Walter Gresham from the camera shop in Nags Head tells it best... 

"It was a hot lazy summer day on the Outer Banks of North Carolina. Then, without warning, the tranquility of the day was violently shattered. A huge waterspout developed just off the shore of Kill Devil Hills. Over a period of about 10 minutes it wobbled slowly northwest toward shore and hundreds of terrified fleeing beach goers. As it made landfall the funnel turned from a light blue color to black. It proceeded to cross the dune line and in its path was the Wilbur Wright Motel, which was destroyed. Then crossed the beach road just north of the Stop 'N Shop on Collington Road. At this point continued generally west down Collington Road destroying a number of homes in its path. Unfortunately there was one person killed in that area, but could have been many more. As the tornado was nearing the By-Pass it finally dissipated and went back up into the clouds."

© 2004  Walter Gresham III

I got a call at the aquarium that I needed to get home as soon as possible. It took about thirty minutes and when I turned on my road the devastation was intense. My street, that was a part of Colington Road, was soaked, power lines down and debris scattered everywhere. A large 'spear' of timber from the Wilbur Wright was stuck through the house's roof exiting through the back door. The couple in the attached house had seen the waterspout- alleged to be a mile at its base- jumped in their car out back and literally outran it speeding west up the street. I climbed my stairs to find all the windows sucked out, all my possessions scrambled and wet, and luckily my dog safe under a bed. 

I looked north out the window hole and below the old wood beach house next door had been turned into a huge pile of sticks. No one was home at the time although an older lady from another house had, after running and lying in a ditch for safety, been crushed to death by a refrigerator thrown from the hotel. 

I moved out the next week to Duck, a then small village to the north. 

Its good to be home again. The pool is clean and there's summer and sailing left to enjoy. I just hope the tropical weather stays fair.