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, May 20, 2013

33rd Annual Urbanna Boat Meet

It is still damp along the Chesapeake. It didn't, although, dampen the enthusiasm of those that met up at the Freeport Marina on the Piankatank River in Gloucester County. I joined in on Saturday morning and stayed until Sunday morning. I had considered bringing Annie up from Gwynns but with limited time went alone. Nice people, nice conversation, great food and more time on the water. What's not to like?

Lug rig... with a leg o' mutton boom?

Running in

John and his granddaughter christen his newly built ultralight lapstrake canoes

Facing forward, facing aft

An interesting launching carriage

Cook Out/ Pot Luck

Early morning row

Sunday, May 12, 2013

John Drove Up

Up the Western Shore  Day 5

I had set my phone alarm for 3 am. Like I said my plan to catch a ride with fishermen to Gywnns Island was somewhat unresolved. So on the off-chance I awoke pulled on my pants and shoes, grabbed my keys and stepped on the dock to see a pickup driving off in the dark up the hill from the marina. Woops.

Back to the berth and after a few hours I was again listening to NOAA and readying Annie for another go at heading south. It didn't sound go... still piping out of the northeast, when a fellow drove up in the deserted parking lot. He wondered if the restaurant was open for breakfast. I told him no.

I said that I had missed a ride and was contemplating going out when he said "I'll take you, I don't have anything to do this morning. I'm stuck like you." He continued by saying that the storm had chased him back in at Smith Point as he tried to take his small skipjack down to coastal North Carolina where he lived. I offered to buy gas but he preferred breakfast instead.

So John and I found a place to eat outside of Smith Point and he showed me his boat. She was a shallow draft skipjack-style sailboat with a single raked mast rigged as a sloop. Pretty salty looking and heavy built. We headed south to Gwynns Island... about 40 miles and there I picked up the truck and trailer and headed back north. When I arrived John pulled up again and helped me haul out at a primitive ramp that the watermen use. We parted ways, he back to wait on a better day and I to drop off Annie and head home after a nice, somewhat rough, spring sail up the Chesapeake.

Sometimes things just work out... with a liitle help from a new friend.

Saturday, May 11, 2013

All Turned Out

Up the Western Shore Day 4

NOAA weather forecast more strong winds from the northeast. Rain was in the three day and having had decided against attempting to cross the bay to Smith Island... I opted to run back down retracing my northern track. I set out just after daybreak at the end of a falling tide and once past the protective point of land waves set in. Lining up parallel to my intended course, Annie yawed heavily in the steep chop. I fell off but with short wave intervals and tops breaking more frequently that I felt safe, I decided to turn back.

One thought was to try and catch a ride to Gwynns Island, retrieve the trailer and pull out somewhere around Reedsville. I decided to explore the Great Wicomico and look for a ramp. Caught a beam reach and wound up to the bridge at Tipers where the chart noted a ramp. It was not to be found, only a yacht basin with a travel lift. Drifting along the protected windward shore I made my way back to Cockrells Creek and tied up at Fairport Marina where  had first landed the day before.

Bluffs above the Great Wicomico River

Checking nets

Back where I started

I visited David and Sheila aboard Mundy Point. They were readying for the Blessing of the Fleet and I took them up on their invitation to go out on the 65 footer. There friends gathered and we all set out in the creek as other, mostly commercial, boats appeared. What a collection of Chesapeake fishing craft! Filled with families that seemed to know each other. Although cold, it was a great opportunity to get to see them and get a play-by-play by my new friends.

When we docked, the food started coming out. Lots of it. They were generous, feeding folks on other boats if the came by. As it broke up there was a loose plan for me to grab a ride south at 3am with a couple of fisherman on the way to Mathews.

Captain David Carr

Moving into the creek

Osprey and Hush Puppy

Down below on Mundy Point

The food starts appearing! Thanks again for the invitation.

Friday, May 10, 2013

Proud Parents

Our daughter Chloƫ graduated today from Virginia Commonwealth University School of the Arts in Richmond. She received a BFA in Dance & Choreography and awarded Outstanding Choreographer for 2012-13. VCUArts is ranked #1 public school of art and design in the US. We are extremely proud of her achievement.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Great Wicomico

Up the Western Shore Day 3

Note: Logged incorrect time reaching Dividing Creek on Day 2. Changed post to 1430. 8 hours sailing time. 3.3 kph average.

I awoke at first light, had a couple pre-boiled eggs and set off out of the creek. Tacking north toward Great Wicomico Light, Annie moved well against the light northeast wind. The wind slowly picked up and by 0900 it was back to 20 knots with the seas building with it. Under full jib and mizzen, we crabbed north on long port and shorter starboard tacks. I say crabbing for she would forge ahead to be knocked back a little as we crossed each wave. With a frequency of about 3 seconds the waves proved formidable. Breakers would catch us often and gusts occasionally dipped the lee rail as I quickly popped sheets. As I was getting tired I chose to crank the engine off Dameron Marsh and motor on to the light, into the Great Wicomico and Cockrell Creek toward Reedville.

The creek winded past large menhaden fishing boats and commercial docks. I tied up at a marina and had a tasty fried oyster sandwich at their small restaurant. A conversation with sport fisherman revealed what I suspected... fishing was lousy. A tournament was on but they seem to have substituted drinking beer at the bar to sloshing around in the chop.

A couple aboard an old buy boat invited me to drop by the following day as I headed out deeper up the creek in search of the railway my friend at the museum had told me about. I found it in Reedville proper and met George Butler, a third generation boatbuilder. He said I was welcome to tie up for the night. I took him up.

Excursion to Tangier Island leaving the river

Menhaden boats

Chipping and painting

Home of a mighty fine oyster sandwich

Trying again


George Butler repairing deadrise 

Caulking the keel line

Up the Western Shore: The Track

For Drascombe enthusiasts and friends outside the area... here is a map with the trip noted in yellow.

and the track...

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Rough Water

Up the Western Shore Day 2

I had put on the lights the night before and cast off around 0500 in the dark. The creek leading out to the Piankatank River was very narrow and winding. My flashlight picked up a series of PVC pipes with ends spray painted red or green marking the channel. We continued into the river tacking against an east wind toward Sting Ray Point at the southern end of the Rappahannock River where in flows into the Chesapeake Bay.

As the sun broke over the Bay the wind slowly increased. I had tied in a double reef in the main before setting off and with half of the roller-reefing headsail and half of the mizzen... we were making good way close hauled. Rounding Sting Ray Point the wind swell came from the northeast with an east wind enabling me to quarter the 2 to 3 foot chop on a beam reach. Up and over. Great sailing.

I crossed the Rappahannock and entered a small cove just west of Wind Mill Point. A somewhat deserted marina community... with high end amenities but not a soul in site. I tied up at the gas dock for a rest and spread wet foul weather gear and towels to dry in the sun that had popped out. It said it was open but that sign must have been left up by mistake. A woman appeared out of nowhere in a golf cart and wanted to know what I was up to and when I said gas... there was none and that was that. She left and soon so did I.

A long tack under reefed jib and mizzen took us around Wind Mill Point and thrilling reach to Dividing Creek entrance. The wave heights increased and some tops broke. There were several waves that stood out... maybe 5 footers. I was standing in the cockpit holding the tiller and the dodger and a couple appeared to be overhead. I'm 6 feet tall and they looked to be a foot over my head. So I'm guessing 4-5 to account for optical exaggeration and my own excitement. The wind had moved to the northeast as I happily maneuvered into the creek. It was only 1430 and was in for the day.

Rail down... scupper working to catch up

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Up the Western Shore Day 1

I returned to Richmond yesterday after an interesting trip part way up the Chesapeake. It wasn't like I had planned but it was safe and gave me time to consider not only Annie and our adventures but my life in other ways. Paramount is that kind and generous people appear when you least expect it and that the Bay rules the day, always.

Day 1 Thursday
I arrived at Morningstar in the late morning and slowly packed Annie. After trailering over the bridge to the ramp on Gwynns Island it took a while to rig and check. Rob from the marina came by and helped launch, again in a wind on the quay. Passed through the Milford Haven Bridge and sailed over to Deltaville Maritime off Jackson Creek. I met with the museum board about consulting and volunteering and spent the evening again checking the weather, charts and gear before turning in at their dock.

Rob at Morningstar

Turning by the west end of Gwynns... Deltaville in the distance

Museum docks

Boatbuilding Shop

Transom repair required

Annie set for the night

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Off Jackson Creek

Tied up at Deltaville Maritime Museum for the night. Out before light in the morning...

Wednesday, May 1, 2013


I'm heading out to Gwynns Island to start my week of spring sailing aboard Annie. It's been a bit hectic lately but I feel prepared and ready to get back on the water. Taking small canvases and watercolor equipment to document the trip. I hope it takes me to the islands of the Eastern Shore.

Ready to load in the morning