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...

Monday, October 29, 2012

Storm Update

We talked to Frog this morning and he has postponed his departure south due to high water in Mathews County. He said that high tide had brought water from Pepper Creek across the yard and up to the stairs leading into Denise and Van's house. His trailer and Annie were fairing well. He thinks the worst will be over by midday and he will head toward NC. I will try to get out there in a few days after our return to Richmond. Best of luck to those further north.

Saturday, October 27, 2012


With Hurricane Sandy churning offshore and being called "Frankenstorm", I have been on alert about Annie. Mathews County Virginia is quite low with the area that she is stored being only a few feet above mean high tide. We are in western North Carolina with my father this weekend and watching the predictions closely. The latest reports say that landfall will be in the New Jersey/ Philadelphia area with a 900 mile wind field. Hurricane Irene left the Mathews area slightly flooded with a similar storm surge as to that predicted for Sandy. If thatholds true we should be OK. Will see what the news is tomorrow morning...

Annie's space

Monday, October 22, 2012

Talking to the Wind

October is a perfect month to sail and it has been a great for me this year. New places, new challenges and good friends.

I drove back to Mathews yesterday morning, picked up Annie at Winter Harbor and met my friend Frog at the county ramp at Put In Creek. We rigged, launched and headed south down the 'mighty' East River toward Mobjack Bay. I pressed Frog into service at the helm while I piddled around on deck and below. With a soft NW breeze we worked well against the incoming tide. Making the point at Mobjack village we headed west on a reach. A beautiful, crisp day.

Frog at the helm

The tide slacked as we tacked across the Mobjack and up the North River. I was thinking our friend Jim Brown lived on Blackwater Creek.  Jim is the designer of Sea Runner trimarans that many built and sailed bluewater in the 70s and 80s mostly. We had seen Jim a couple weeks back and I wanted to see Scrimshaw that has brought the four Browns from California to North, Virginia over 30 years ago.

We ran out of wind as we snaked up Blackwater and I sculled us over to dock where a man offered a mooring. We accepted, had pasta that Frog packed and turned in early. Frog set up in the cockpit (without the tent to sleep under the stars) and I crawled into my warren down below. I awoke this morning and found Frog deep in his sleeping bag that was pretty much soaked on the outside with heavy dew. We dried up a bit and had a breakfast of granola bars and bananas.

Morning fog on the creek

Note: Frog remembered that Jim lived on the East River! Oh well maybe a visit next time when I have more time.

We headed south with an outgoing tide and downwind run. It was another beautiful cool day.  A reach across the north reach of the Mobjack and short tacks up the East River luckily with an incoming tide. Frog talked to wind as we tacked and it seemed to respond. We hauled out and I took Annie to our friends Denise and Van's house to store off Pepper Cove. I decided this new home will be better for the winter. Maybe we will go back to Winter Harbor Haven again for a stay sometime...

Blue Sky Days

A deadrise workboat on the East River

Pink going, yellow returning. 36 miles

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

From Norfolk to Moon

Saturday I drove to Norfolk, Virginia. My friend Steve picked me up at the town dock in Spartina. We sailed along the Elizabeth River and passed by ships and shipyards on our way to the docks where schooners had arrived from Baltimore. After a lot of looking around and a nice lunch on the Virginia we headed back out for more sailing. Steve's friend Scott joined us on quite a beautiful, cool day and after back on shore I headed north around 4.


Up close

Schooner rigging

Pride of Baltimore

It was late afternoon by the time I reached Annie at Winter Harbor. The sunset was outstanding. Slept well onboard at the marina and rigged early in the still morning.

Loaded and launched, we reached out toward Wolf Trap Light. Tacking north on a slow downwind run brought us to Hole in the Wall at the southeast end of Gwynns Island. A series of zig-zagging markers led to a swing bridge and a stop to pick up some gas. I by chance met a fellow named Tom working on his boat and he invited me to his cabin for dinner. I accepted and backtracked until reaching Billups Creek where I tied up. Nice conversation and baked puppy drum. I asked what we were near and he said the village of Moon. And by the way... his boat is named Eclipse. Seems an appropriate choice.

Woke early, put on the lights and headed back up the creek at 530. The sun came up as I reached the bay. There was a stiff 20 knot wind on the nose so I went to engine power. The dodger sure came in handy as we plowed into the chop. Annie's sharp bow split the waves well and I got back to Winter Harbor ahead of the approaching rain. Glad not to have a truck full of wet canvas again!

Wolf Trap Light


Yellow heading north and blue returning. 30.8 miles.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Painting Schooners?

My friend Steve has invited me to join him for a sail on Spartina this weekend. The Great Chesapeake Bay Schooner Race finishes in Portsmouth, VA and we will hopefully be able to get up close. 

I have been painting recently in my new studio in Richmond. There may be an opportunity this weekend to sketch for a pen & wash or two, and get some ideas for large maritime paintings. 

On the quay, Lekeitio, Basque Country, Spain

Monday, October 8, 2012

A Day and a Night on the East River

Autumn is in the air and the NOAA forecast a cold front on its way to the Chesapeake. I picked up Annie at Winter Harbor and headed for Put In Creek on the nearby East River. It seemed prudent with no local knowledge to stay in an area with a plenty of protected north shore coves instead of the more vulnerable Rappahannock River. It had already picked up from the SW ahead of the front as I launched at the county ramp. It always makes for  slow put-in when singlehanded and the wind is blowing into the launch slip. Extra line here and there and a bit of head scratching.

We explored the ins and outs of the river and made way into the northern end of Mobjack Bay. Late in the afternoon we headed back north and stopped in at the small Compass Marina at the village of Mobjack. I tied up for a short time and nice folks gave me directions to an anchorage further back upriver. The front passed without an appreciable increase in wind but the temperature steadily dropped. At sundown I dropped anchor, snapped these pictures and readied for the night.

It rained in the night. I awoke and sailed in the morning gray. More rain, colder. The sails started to dry and I decided to hauled out. As I was within ten minutes of being packed, it poured. Everything soaked and cold.

Annie is back at Winter Harbor under wraps and I am drying out canvas in the basement in Richmond. It is great to be in 'the sailin' way' again.