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...

Thursday, June 25, 2020

Big Upgrade?

Why is there basically only one handheld GPS company? Many have wondered. But as you might guess that when I went shop for a new model it would be a Garmin. Well there.

I have been happily using a MAP76 for the past 15+ years and several thousand miles of wandering. The unit is black & white, has only the base map and works great. Tides are dynamic and easy to access, waypoints work well and tracks save easily. And there is manual that is made of paper. 

I just thought it was time for an upgrade and after as much research as I could stand and a backup opinion from Steve, I shelled out the dough- ie charged it on PayPal- for a MAP86sc. When it came I open the quickstart manual that basically told how to turn on the unit and quickly (there's that word again) downloaded the obtuse full manual. It reminded me of when I would try to sort out how to record a movie on VHS. Ugh.

Well cut to the chase... the included Blue Charts are nice. The tide charts are not time dynamic but exist, charges like a phone (no removable batteries) and there is access to loads of internet-based features that I would have to pair my phone to. If there was service. And power bank recharge to spare.

I feel like I will learn to love it with use. So I'll hush and start planning a trip.

Saturday, June 6, 2020

Time Alone

This past Sunday I repacked Annie and headed for the Chesapeake. With a stretch of cool, dry weather predicted it seemed like an open door. As I've mentioned before single-handed sailing has given me some of my most revealing and spiritual experiences. It is a place to be with myself and often it serves up answers that often allude me. With all the raw eruption around the George Floyd murder and the challenges of being progressive but simultaneously a privileged white Southerner, I yearned for more clarity. My daughter, a champion of social justice, had just encouraged Eleanor and I to download Ibram Kendi's How to Be An Antiracist. For three days I sailed, read, resisted social media as requested, sorted out and grew. A real gift for my 70th year around the sun.

Day 1
Trailed to Mathews County's Town Point ramp. Clear day with a fresh N wind. The ramp was more congested than I would have liked and everyone seemed to be in a hurry. With little to make off on, it was taking me more time and thought. I felt in the way.

I jibed downwind along the East River and into Mobjack Bay. It became clear that I had no plan. Annie pulled hard as we finally chose to head NW toward the North and Ware Rivers that partially feed the Bay. I heard what sounded like a steam relief valve and saw a pod of dolphin coming up from behind. One in particular swam right beside Annie's aft quarter. I noticed a scarred back and a split fin. Surely old encounters with props.

Skipping the North River we continued on slow but steady progress up the Ware and west on Wilson Creek. A quiet anchorage there made for good reading.

Day 2
Woke at 0500 but languished due to winds of 20 Kt +. At 0830 I weighed anchor, tacked out of the creek and beat into short chop across to the windward shore of the Ware. Anchored for a short reorganization and saw the same split fin dolphin. Strange indeed. Having left my iPhone charging cord in the truck, I decided to make my way back up the East River to fetch it. A long tack across the Mobjack near Pepper Creek and then a series of shorts back to the ramp. Charger on board a course was set SW to cross the Bay again and up the Severn. Anchoed up Thorton Creek. Read and decided not to post on social media. BLM.

Day 3
Feeling the urge to keep moving I crossed over the Mobjack again and up the North River. After a brief lunch off Mobjack Bay Marina on Backwater Creek I motored further up and anchored in complete calm.

Day 4
The weather was deteriorating. I left at dawn and closed back again and up the East for the second time. The tide was high at the ramp and all went well hauling and trailing home. Richmond was still in the throws of protest. I was more clear about my desire to actively practice antiracism. The local news read Time for Change. Long overdue.               Trip 83 nautical miles

Friday, June 5, 2020

What's that Sound?

Day 7

I weighed anchor and set off early on the short motor to Potters Marine ahead of Steve. Not long after I hauled out he joined me. We readied our rigs, reminisced and said goodbye. I headed north making my way west toward I95N. Near Rocky Mount, NC the trailer started vibrating. I pulled over near an exit and on inpection found that the drivers side tire had thrown a steel belt. Being Sunday and with the corona virus having closed many businesses, it seems Annie and I were in a tight spot. Slowly limping down the ramp and onto a local highway I found a tire store open. No tire to fit. I continued further to a Mr. Tire. They were busy but had a tire and got the job done. Good folks. Although it was an extra 2 1/2 hours I was thankful. The rest of the trip home was easy.


Day 6

(Note... A blog (web log) is an illustrative way I share Annie's ship log. The ship log is noted each night after anchor is dropped. But these online posts often happen a bit of time after its report actually happened. This trip is a good example. So much so that I have been on another trip on the Chesapeake since this post. A very different trip in many ways, but more about that later.)

We tied up our boats at the town dock and walked into Washington for a breakfast. The downtown was almost deserted. We sat on the porch of the closed visitor center and enjoyed coffee, tea and pastry. Then back to the river to start back east.

I sailed in a nice breeze that waned as the morning progressed. After lunch we entered Durham Creek on the river's south shore. Explored up creek until the shallows. Motoring back out the prop fouled a couple times in grass. AS I started tacking down stream I watched two bald eagles either in a mid-air fight or a mating action. Steve was well ahead on the tacks out that proved to be a few as the wind picked up from the SSE. The next couple hours were a set of long close-hauled tacks that took us back to North Creek. The last tack was a gift for the wind seemed to clock further south and we were able to pinch a good bit higher. In the earlier than it looked before.

Anchored on the creek's north arm and enjoyed a Tai Chicken dinner.    36.3 nautical miles

Crossing the Pamlico River from Durham Creek

Spartina in the distance

Always at the helm

Return to North Creek

The aftermath

Three lights on North Creek


Long Day

Day 5          May 15

As morning broke and overtook the glow of Annie's anchor light, I looked up and out the screen draped companionway. The hum of a hundred mosquitoes trying to get into the cabin said it was time to head out. I looked over toward Steve and he was moving quickly to stow and go. We headed out the 'harbor' and grabbed the SW breeze around Pamlico Point. Continued through the day on broad and close reaches. Nice 10-15 knot breeze.

Far up the Pamlico River I decided to tuck in Blount's Bay and visit my friends Bones and Lu. Bones was on his dock as I approached. We talked, at a COVID distance, about my past visit and the new - to him- fishing boat he picked up this year. Strong Northwest design with lots of canvas for weather protection. He was quite stoked, but held back by the virus from trailering up to Maine for the summer. He and Lu talked without much of a breath until I said I needed to be heading back upstream. We said our goodbyes and I pressed on.

I arrived at Washington right at 1800 and anchored near Steve across from the city dock. Sweet potato with chicken & rice for dinner.    28.3 nautical miles

Steve and Spartina meet the sunrise over the Pamlico Sound

Reaching up the Pamlico River

Sculling oar on the rail

Quick sketch of Spartina

Sun protection engaged

Dinner prep

Thursday, May 28, 2020

A Favorite Place and the Wind Returns

Wednesday May 13       Day 3

I woke up to a peaceful morning. Had slept well thanks to cool temps overnight and glassy water. With little to no wind for the day we shipped anchors, cleared the creek and motored SW to the entrance to Oriental. Reaching the inner harbor we tie our boats to the quay in front of the Bean Coffeehouse. They open soon after our landing and we grabbed a couple of breakfast bevs and muffins. Steve and I had sailed in several times separately in the past trips, but the "Sailing Center of North Carolina" is always a welcoming layover. We talk with many folks interested in our boats, walk the streets, have some nice take-out meals and get interviewed by Overnight on the docks.

Steve shares more here, and an earlier visit here.

Thursday May 14       Day 4

Up at 0700, later than usual. Waited for coffee and finish of interview with Allison and Keith of   Windless motor SE to South River. Keith had mentioned the ghosttown of Lukins on the river's east shore. He also mentioned an interesting graveyard there. As we enter the river I continued alone, Steve opts to sort out Spartina. Reaching the Lukins area I spotted the graveyard on a knoll overlooking the river and decided to leave it be. On return I find Steve napping and spend a half and hour sculling along the shore.  

Opting for a Mouse Harbor anchorage, catch a nice F2 east wind and reach north somewhat retracing our run down, pass the Bay River and the bombing range. Anchor in Southward Bay of Mouse Harbor and have tuna mixed in with Tai Noodles for dinner and play guitar down below.   29.4 nautical miles

Sunday, May 24, 2020


Tuesday May 12

Woke to a cold 44 degree first light, sun still below the horizon. I grabbed a breakfast bar and an apple and started retracing my entry from the night before. Reaching the far east buoy I received a 6:19 message from Steve. He was headed south, down the Pungo and east toward my area, traveling along the south shore of the Pamlico River. Being about 12 nm away I tacked north into the river, scanning the horizon for his sails. After a couple hours and a number of up-close dolphin sightings we spotted each other and I fell off to broad reach for Pamlico Point and the vast Pamlico Sound.

I kept further offshore until we came in close to slip inside the bombing range. Running downwind we passed the Bay River and continued SW into the mouth of the Neuse River. The wind had clocked around to the SW funneling down the Neuse and making for numerous short-chop tacks. As the afternoon bore on Steve opted to turn in at Whittaker Creek, just shy of Oriental, to anchor in the light. I readily agreed having been out over 12 hours. Sweet potato Chicken Rice dinner, a bit of reading and lights out.    43.2 nautical miles

Skirting the bombing range

Steve in his Welsford Pathfinder Spartina

Annie running downwind (photo S. Earley)

A welcome anchorage

Friday, May 22, 2020

South to the Pamlico

I have been back from North Carolina for several days and have been busy throwing pots, working in the gardens, getting design quotes for the Deltaville Maritime Museum and modifying the rigging issues that came to light during a week long trip in the Pamlico River and Sound. I am getting ready to head east to sail the Mobjack Bay for a few days, but first I'll start log entries from the NC trip.

Monday May 11, 2020

I hooked up Annie, loaded, and headed south on I95 at 0900. With the Covid 19 virus in full force I took the old porta-pottie so as not to use the rest areas. Uneventful trip arriving at Potters Marine near Bath, NC at 1330. Steve had launched in Spartina a few hours earlier and headed down the Pamlico River. I messaged him for his plan and it was either the Pungo River or on to Caffee Bay further east with south to Oriental as a later destination. I set out as the afternoon wind picked up from the NW and the temperature started to dip. Getting late I opted to head south in the ditch toward Hobucken but had too much sail up to tack back to the entrance. I then chose to reach east along the south shore. Around 1700 I tacked west inside entrance buoy to beat back into the entrance to Clark Creek. I found while looking for anchorage that Steve had messaged earlier that he had worked north up the Pungo. Oh well... had my hands full and the anchorage was inviting.  15.3 nautical miles

Break from the trucks on I95

Quiet anchorage and beautiful sunset

Wednesday, March 11, 2020


As winter is reaching toward its end this year I am again contemplating my moves. We are planning a month long visit to England and Portugal to spend time with our daughter who is in grad school in London. All good... but now there is the new virus travel concern. I turned 70 this year and El is not far behind. We are both in good shape but we are trying to be prudent. Will see what the next couple of weeks bring.

Annie has been resting over the winter and is due to return to the water. If plans change that would make earlier sailing probable. The prior plan to return to the NC sounds is still a go for mid-May.

Recently made new parrel beads and their rigs for the main. They were needed but I, having waited too long to access a lathe, opted to fashion six sets of them by hand. With a chop saw, drill press and a stationary belt sander, I found that with a bit of patience the work was pretty simple. Now it is done and I'm wondering why I waited so long.