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, July 29, 2013

Get Away

The past few weeks have been challenging. We have endured illness and come through the other side. I hadn't been to the Bay recently and Ellie encouraged me to strike out. It was 'spur of the moment' but I grabbed the gear and left out early Friday. Once on the water it was all about Annie, the wind and the water.

After launching, hailing the Gwynns Island bridge tender and making way across the north shore of the island... we passed through Fishing Bay and into the Bay to round Stingray Point. The wind was only a breath so I motored toward the mouth of the Rappahannock. The 6 hp hummed in its well and the warm air started to clean away my worries.

Passing Deltaville to the south I picked up a slight northerly breeze and motor sailed toward the Hwy 3 bridge that connects Middlesex to Lancaster County across the Rappahannock. It was so high Annie passed under far from the central span. We pushed on to the boating center of Urbanna arriving in the early afternoon.

I tied up to a fuel dock and was allowed to stay at the dock for the dinner hour. Even in this peak season the small town was quiet and I took my time exploring.

I 'supped' at an easy-going restaurant called Something Different. A crab cake (no fillers) and peach cobbler were stand outs.

Returned and cast off the dock lines and sculled across the creek to a quiet cove to anchor for the night. It was still, warm and rather humid. I guess I've gotten soft with air-conditioning lately.

The next morning the wind had shifted to the southeast and it was a perfect beam reach south retracing my track for several hours. Down the river and into the Bay... flanked by fishing boats of every description and sailboats that passed by in both directions and dotted the horizon.

It was two great days. 44.1 nautical miles. Looking forward to more. Soon.

Saturday, July 20, 2013

From the Past

I found this image as I was looking through old picture files. I had downloaded it from a site that cannot be recalled and the location is unknown- to me that is. The young oyster tongers and wharf hands spoke to me then and still do. 

It has been said that the Chesapeake has less than 1% of the oyster population that there once was. According to NOAA- "Now, after decades of damage to reefs from harvest, increased disease, falling salinity due to the increased runoff that accompanies increased impervious surface, and increased sedimentation from runoff, a significant amount of hard bottom habitat has been lost." 

This is not news to most of the people that live in the Chesapeake area. Restoration progress has been made. Hopefully there is more to come. 

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Thinking of Florida

I just got my studio set up again after our move. When I awoke this morning and noticed a couple of recent, small paintings by the easel that sent me back to Gulf Coast of Florida. Especially the many years of sailing in Becky Thatcher and later, Annie. It is a long way from the Chesapeake but I have friends around here that make it down with their boats every year or so. Why not?

Matlacha (Matt-luh-shay) northeast of Sanibel  
© Curt Bowman 2013

from Ron Hoddinott's view of a gathering in Cayo Costa
© Curt Bowman 2013

Monday, July 8, 2013

Lots of Sun, Plenty of Wind

Ellie and I bopped over to Gwynns late on Saturday and gave Annie some needed care. A bit of Sikkens on the rails was readily soaked up. As the day wore on... quite hot for sure... we opted to head back with our croakers. I was encouraged to return on Sunday.

Got out the next morning around 7 and arrived back at the marina at 8:30. Grabbed some gas and headed across the bridge to put in. A young dad and his daughter took the lines and kept the fresh rails off the gnarly pilings. The 6 horse slowly moved Annie southeast toward The Hole in the Wall where the creek opens into the bay. She took to the breeze under full sail and it continued to freshen as we got further 'offshore' in the Chesapeake. Great sailing. The best yet in Virginia!

After a couple hours we returned stopping on a white sand beach just inside The Hole in the Wall. Approaching a beach in a Drascombe goes like this... drop most sail (I used the roller reefing jib to keep headway), pull up the rudder, steer with the sculling oar as you listen for the centerplate to scrape. I then slowly pull up the plate and continue until it is almost up, furl the jib and walk forward and drop anchor. Upon returning to the cockpit I sheet the mizzen tight and she swings and heads into the wind to ride without fishing about. 

I took a dip and some snaps with my phone. Was getting little too much sun so headed back. The marina has a great shower and it helped bring the heat down before the starting back to Richmond.  Ellie's encouragement paid off...

Mizzen as a steadying sail

Homemade swim ladder (from Douglas Hopwood design)

Ladder stowed

A good look at Annie's transom and the outboard well cutout

This is fun!

Wednesday, July 3, 2013