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...

Sunday, September 6, 2015

Out of My Hands

We delivered the paintings to Urbanna Harbor Gallery today. I am relieved that there is now space in the studio but a bit off by the loss. It always seems to be a mixed bag. Hoping to see friends this weekend at the opening. Thanks to all of you for the encouragement.

George Butler, Reedville Marine Railway   
acrylic on canvas 24" x 24"
© Curtis Bowman 2015

Long Live Belle Starr

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Preliminary Step

Blocking in a painting of transferring oysters from retrieved traps...

An Early Morning Retake

Modern shrimping as we know it was 'born' in Fernandina, Florida in the first decade of the 20th century. Immigrant fishermen, notably Italian, first adapted a small otter trawl to internal combustion-powered wooden boats. This enabled them to build an industry that spread, in the early years along the southeast US coast, to Key West, and the Gulf of Mexico. It is now one of the world's most popular seafood, harvested by factory ships. The old wood shrimpers are mostly gone.

I researched, wrote monographs, presented findings and developed exhibits about it. But that was years ago. It again comes to mind when we visit family in the low country of Georgia.

Earlier this year:
Eleanor and I had gotten up early in her brother's old Victorian veiled with Spanish moss hanging from old live oaks. We were in the old town area of Brunswick, Georgia and were off to sketch and paint a quick watercolor before the heat set in. I noticed an old packing house sign at the entrance to a tree-covered sand road. We ducked in and found a shrimp boat dock stuck back in an earlier time. Crew had shuffled off the boats, where I expect they may have lived, to sit on a variety of worn-out lawn chairs and drink coffee. They were cordial but pretty much ignored us.

Eleanor recorded the view. We drew but mostly I smelled the salt and muck and thought about the past.

Monday, August 17, 2015

Chance Meeting

While eating dinner on Gwynns Island with friends Steve and Barry, another friend came up unexpectedly. I had met him, Roland, a couple of years ago at St. Michaels, Maryland. He was eating at the table next to us with his wife. He said he had a picture he wanted to send me. It came the other day and I like it a lot...

Friday, August 14, 2015

Art on Canvas and Steel

There is a lot of movement in the studio. The one-person show of my paintings has me finishing work, making hard choices and preparing hanging hardware. Soon it will be time to submit the final list to the gallery and transport the work to be hung.

There will be an opening on Friday, September 11 and the show will run through mid-November, including the very popular Urbanna Oyster Festival.

If you are in the area... drop by. I would love to see you.

Thursday, August 13, 2015

The Carolina Loop

I arrived in Elizabeth City, North Carolina midday to join the fleet, crewing on the F.D. Crockett. Five buyboats and an accompanying classic motor yacht were on the their way south on a two-week cruise. Hailing from different parts of the Chesapeake this group had continued on after rendezvousing with a total of 13 buyboats in Poquoson, Virginia. Through the Elizabeth River to Portsmouth and on down the Dismal Swamp Canal, the group had already seen much when I stepped onboard.

After a steamy day, some fine fried fish at Quality Seafood, and a television shoot we headed south down the Pasquotank River and across the Albermarle Sound. As we approached the northern shore of Roanoke Island the channel turned east and and back south through a narrow channel that led to Manteo. For me it was a homecoming of sorts, having lived in the small town over 35 years before. It was a lot different as one might expect. A new waterfront, shops and restaurants, and lots of tourists milling about. Like St. Augustine it is beautiful and easily draws a crowd.

Leaving Elizabeth City

Shadow Fay

Aboard the F.D. Crockett

Capt. Dave prepares for a blow, Propwash

55th Virginia's '671'

Capt. Bill's berth, 55th Virginia

Rope steering, Thomas J.

Rope locker, Nellie Crockett

Down below, Nellie Crockett

Elizabeth II, a colonial reconstruction, Manteo harbor

Visitors learning about the F. D. Crockett's log construction

Tied up stern to

After a rainy day onshore, the boats headed north back across the sound toward the Albemarle Chesapeake Canal. With strong NE winds the decision to go came at the last hour. Good time was made into the wind and a five hour run found me at the wheel meandering up the North River to Coinjock along the canal. Steve and Spartina had come down to sail in the river and I was fortunate to get a ride with Steve to retrieve my truck in Elizabeth City.

Thanks to John, Vera, Gordon and all those aboard the 'fleet' for a great four days!

Heading north

55th Virginia

Pushing through a NE blow


Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Friends, Framing and Finishing Up

It seems that I could be more timely with my posts. But sometimes life moves right on, leaving ones best intentions unfulfilled.  Sunday before this past one my friends Steve and Barry joined me on Annie for "The Great Circumnavigation of Gwynns Island". It  was to be sure a beautiful, fresh day on the water. More about it from Steve's perspective.... here.

I have been busy building an extension on my studio. A mostly free-standing pavilion will give my an open but covered area to create art pieces and hopefully a boat project space. Just finished laying the deck and hopefully a roof is in the near future. Going to build common rafters with purlans to attach a metal roof. A bit more DIY research on Youtube is needed.

And the painting for my one-person show in Urbanna Harbor Gallery, Urbanna, Virginia is progressing. The opening is September 11 and will be up through the Oyster Festival in November. If your in the area, stop by!

Out The Hole in the Wall
© Curtis Bowman 2015
Acrylic on canvas  18" x 24"

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Timing Luck

June 28: Ellie and I loaded up assorted painting and boat equipment and made our way to Mathews County. We rented an apartment over the marina where Annie is kept and had four perfect days just ahead of the Independence Day weekend storms. She's always been the 'good luck girl'.

So, with a plenty of room, a great kitchen, cold AC, Annie on the dock down below, and cheap rent... we were livin' large. Ellie did her first boat painting on Gwynn's Island while I did a few water color sketches on Annie while getting distracted by just being onboard. We slipped in a early breakfast at Linda's Diner and a some tasty seafood at Sea Breeze. And then there was swimming behind and exploring the sand spit at The Hole in the Wall that connect the Milford Haven run to The Chesapeake.

In other words, we had a great time. I'm one lucky guy.

View from our deck

Milford Haven Coast Guard Station

Crab houses

Treasure bucket


Friday, June 19, 2015

My Friend

I recently heard that Ted Perry, Annie's builder is retiring after 37 years of boatbuilding. He obtained license to build Drascombes in wood in the early '80s and, to my knowledge, the only one remaining. I commissioned Annie in 2006 and worked with Ted on the design through much correspondence and several working visits to his shop in Elliot, Maine. Haven't met a nicer guy. Good luck Ted and wishing you a long, happy life.

Here is Ted's photos of the build. I guess Annie will be the only wooden Drascombe Longboat Cruiser built in the US. Time will tell...

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

The Mobjack Investigation

Temperatures have risen. 90 degrees F + in the afternoons and upper 70s at night are becoming the norm. But with a planned meetup with my friend Doug on the Mobjack Bay this past weekend it didn't much matter. We were going for it.

Doug trailered his fine Cornish Shrimper Tidings down from northern Maryland. I had launched Annie at Town Point ramp below Mathews, Virginia Thursday afternoon ahead of Doug who was scheduled for the next morning. After pottering around in the East River I joined my friend Ben at his nearby boathouse to help with boat repairs and beer drinking. I quite enjoy that kind of late afternoon activity.

Awake early (as usual) I sailed Annie back down the river to Compass Marina to seek out another friend's just acquired Roziante Luna. Eddie, the proud and excited new owner, texted that he was on his way down and wanted to join us. Doug checked in and informed me that, with a blown trailer tire, he would be a bit late. So... what's a guy to do? I went sailing again.



Eventually we joined up and crisscrossed the Mobjack. The wind was fresh. As the temp' rose I began dumping water over my head to stave off the heat. Eddie sailed north into the Ware River, one of four that feed the small bay. Later Doug and I headed up, but I led us up the North River instead of the Ware. Far up I realized my mistake. I felt like I was a quiz show. Is it behind door number two or door number three? We retraced and eventually reached Eddie who was in the water cooling off. A nice swim, a fine dinner by Doug, and a quiet night at anchor.

The next morning we crossed back over the Mobjack to Compass where Eddie took us to get some more supplies. Doug and I set out to explore Pepper Creek and after the thunder heads dissipated, back across to the Severn River. We rafted and I served Cuban black beans and rice. We shared stories and learned a lot about what we have in common.

Crossing the Mobjack


Eddie overboard

Sunday morning Doug suggested we slow motor the still reaches of the Severn. He was interested in future anchorages and I got a lot of workboat snaps for my painting 'clip file'. We were hauled and on the road by mid afternoon. It might the last trip of this hot summer on the Chesapeake. But I'm not so sure.

Could be a J Crew ad

Waiting out a storm in Pepper Creek

Large farm on the Severn

River 'Researcher'

Deadrise docks