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, May 31, 2014


Day 6
The wind had temporarily clocked around to the NW and with the forecast calling for a return to SW the next day, It seemed advantageous and a bit more adventurous to head south and then reach west later. Tangier Island lay south and being a 'must visit'... I set off leaving Smith Island far to starboard.

I usually sail barefoot. And it is a good thing because, in my water sandals, I slipped on wet port rail and landed on my shin. A 'goose egg' for the mistake...

Tangier Sound was busy in the morning with work boats running north and south. Within a couple of hours the channel penetrating the shallow eastern side on the island came into view. The channel was blocked by a dredging barge that was pushed aside as I squeezed through the narrow channel. I continued along the thorofare, tied up to a deserted dock and went ashore.

It was Sunday morning, everyone was in church and the tourist ferry had not yet arrived. I passed rows of battered fish huts, simple but well maintained houses and yards full of crab buoys, boat parts and nets  either being mended or in need. Having been up and sailing I was ready for lunch... just a little too early. One restraurant was preparing to open for the noon after-church business. The other two were still closed for the off-season. 

I was informed that I needed to move Annie to another dock and headed back. Tying up at James Parks Marina and returned for a sandwich. After lunch as I started out to explore Mr. Parks intercepted me on his golf cart and took me back to retie again. Seems Annie was sitting in a slip soon to be occupied by a big motor yacht. If I didn't have cleating skills, I do now.

Tourist ferry arrives...

Stalled construction

Folded flounder

New traps for the new season

PVC pipe pilings

Christmas artifact

Easter colors

Sea level resting place

A buoy fence 'necklace'

Decided to move down to the south end of the island for the afternoon and the evening's anchorage. Friend Steve had talked about the protected spit on the south end of the island. As I approached the small inlet to curve behind, Annie ran aground in heavy grass. It was dead low tide so after throwing out the anchor I hiked around the point and found the inner bay dry except for scattered tide pools. They were populated with skimmers and oyster catchers. The sun was warm and it was very quiet. 

Passing the harbor dredge heading south                                                                      

In the grass

As the sun set and the tide rose I anchored out in deeper water to insure that leaving in the morning wouldn't be delayed. If the truth be told... staying around wouldn't have been the worse thing.

Monday, May 26, 2014

New Friends Indeed

Day 5
As the forecast looked good for the next few days before it called for higher seas on the Bay later in the week, I decided to head back south to Smith Island for the return. Mike and Kevin Mac decided to return at the same time to Janes Island where they had launched at the state park. As we rounded the point we started beating into the SW wind. Annie's main was reefed and she made good way to windward.

As I tacked I notice that Kevin had reached north and soon out of sight. I assumed that they had had a change of plan and were going to explore. It was the last I saw of them.

After a couple of hours I rounded Deal Island and headed SSE on a reach. Janes Island is separated from the mainland by a canal. Motoring down it was hot and very buggy. After tying up at the park campground I walked around and decided to continue south in search of a cooler anchorage.

Cut by Janes Island

Reaching Crisfield, a well-known fishing town, I tied up to a restaurant in Somers Cove, the inner harbor. A couple helped me and invited me to sit with them. Still too early for crabs, I went for another piece of flounder. Just as it came we looked south to a darkening sky. A squall line was approaching and I immediately decided to move off the dock in the storm's lee. 

Quick work and little time but to motor across the harbor and drop anchor, pay out scope, sheet hard the mizzen and duck behind the dodger. It was fierce being pummeled by rain and lurched before 35-40 knot wind. In 5-10 minutes it was over.

I returned to the restaurant and retied with the help of my new friends Melissa and Mike. They had moved my dinner and I finished pretty much soaked. I owe a lot to them... they are good people.

Shedding Factory in Crisfield

Melissa and Mike

Video by Melissa

That evening an email came from Mike (with Kevin). They had been behind me as I left the campground hoping I had made shelter. In a way I did.

I anchored across the harbor for the night... with protection from the south!

Leaving Somers Cove, Crisfield, MD (next morning)
Photo: M Adkins

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Vicariously Onboard

My good friend Steve is anchored tonight in East Bluff Bay on the western shore of the Pamlico Sound of North Carolina. That location is about 20 miles NNW of Ocracoke on the Outer Banks. I checked Windfinder SuperForecast and the wind tomorrow morning will be SW at 10-12 knots with waves 1-2 feet from the ESE. My bet's that he 'beams up' an Ocracoke location tomorrow!

Traditional small craft single-handed expedition sailing. Oh yea.

Steve on Spartina, Neuse River, NC, 2011

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Fog and a Song or Two

Day 4
Fog was thick in the morning so after breakfast I sculled over to talk to Peter and Mike on Nip. Little by little each boat weighed anchor and worked out into the open water off Sandy Island at the entrance to the Nanticoke River. The wind died as we migrated into the river and we collectively decided to return and sail in the open bay area. The wind increased from the south as the day wore on and Annie responded with the best sailing on the trip to that point.

Mike aboard Nip

For protection from the forecasted southwest blow we decided to raft up behind a sand bar near Dames Quarter Creek where many had put in the day before. Rafting was new to me... I am usually anchored solo. It was fun though. After a somewhat shared dinner we pulled out the instruments and took turns offering a folk tune or a sea song. I had my old Gibson LG-0 stowed in the forepeak and it sounded pretty good for a boat guitar.

Settling in for dinner

Inside the bar

Three Marsh Cats total

Out the portlight

Released from the forepeak

Get Dry

I have a high metabolism. And that means, for me at least, attracting bugs and getting hot when I sleep. Sleeping in the buff helps but when its hot and damp on the boat and my legs stick together, sleep is hard won. Then there is the saltwater itch. Just sayin'.

On the last trip I had a small unit of Gold Bond Body Powder. It was very helpful after my nightly "bird bath". It does give you a surge in the folds due to the aromatics.

My favorite is Anti-Monkey Butt. I purchased some a couple years ago in Beaufort, North Carolina. It is talcum and powdered calamine lotion. Most highly recommended. And not just for the name...

So, here's to getting wet on the topside and staying dry down below.

Monday, May 19, 2014

North Sail

Day 3

We decided to head north to meet up with the "Chesapeake Float". Since the wind was out of the south we decided to retrack back to Ewell through the Big Thorofare that cuts through Smith Island. As we reached the Bay we turned north skirting the island's northwest shore. We crossed Kedges Straits and our downwind path carried us up Tangier Sound by South Marsh and Bloodworth Islands. Kevin's Marsh Cat left me further and further behind. Her light dishy hull and large gaff main made for a downwind 'machine'. At least from my position.

After several hours running wing-in-wing I rounded Deal Island to starboard. The bay at the opening of the Nanticoke River was being criss-crossed by close to a dozen small craft. I approached as they scattered and later as I collected myself we all gathered to choose an anchorage. The wind had dropped with the setting of the sun and like a flotilla we set out with some of us towing the motor-less boats. A buggy raft-up in Monie Bay, dinner, conversation and splitting off to anchor finished the day. 

Barry and his Melonseed Aeon

Kevin B in Slipjig, a Welsford Navigator

Annie towing Peter in Nip, a Caledonia Yawl

Fog setting in