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, December 29, 2016

A Carving Chisel

I finished the inventory of what I lost last night and sent it along to the insurance adjuster. Quotes on clearing and rebuilding are also being finished and submitted. I am hoping for some help from insurance but not at all sure how much... or when.

Annie's spars are well charred and the sails, sheets and halyards are completely gone. There is metal gear- furling swivel, tangs, wire shrouds, mast band and more- that is intact but need replacing. A house fire is around 1100 degrees F. and I do not trust the metals strength. After taking measurements I sawed the mast ends off and there is a lot of good eastern red spruce still inside. It may be possible to get a smaller spar out.

I spent a good amount of time yesterday digging through the debris to remember things for the inventory and found a few pieces intact. Cleaned up a carving gouge that could still 'still plow a row'. It felt like a start and that's a good feeling.

The only discernible remnant of a set of tanbark sails.


Salvageable spruce

A bucket of found objects

Sunday, December 25, 2016

Up Early

Its early Christmas morning and I am up alone. The house is still cold as the furnace catches up with the new day. The girls will get to sleep in and I'll have this time to remember this past week.

I have had a lot of friends checking in. Thoughtful messages, letters, deposits on future artwork and small checks from folks I've not seen in years. Richmond friends have passed along spare house tools. Many of my 'boat buddies' have pledged to rally for a building party when the spring returns.

When I can bring myself to it I have picked through the wet ashes. Found my grandfather's WWI knife and several tools that I used in the '80s when I carved and sold sugar pine fish in Santa Fe. One of the megalodon teeth kept from my work on white shark in South African survived. I hadn't known how much these small things would remind me of the long, rich life I've been fortunate to experience.

Good news... although Annie's sail maker is out of business, their sister shop is still in going in Burlington, Vermont and have all the original accounts and specifications. They have quoted me and new sails are my first priority. Shaw & Tenney have the spar plans but due to cost I will opt to build myself. Friend John has a stash of seasoned spruce that might come into play.

Now I'm selfishly hoping the girls get up soon. Thank you to everyone for your support. And Merry Christmas!

"Seeing If I Still Have It", acrylic on canvas, ©Curtis Bowman 2016

Thursday, December 15, 2016

Looking Ahead

The thought of Annie laying at anchor on a warm spring evening is keeping me up and strong for the tasks ahead. As Uncle Benny used to say "just steps on earth".

Spider Key, Tampa Bay, Florida 

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Keeping My Head Up

This is hard to write but I need to. Yesterday in the early morning hours my workshop/studio burned to the ground. We are waiting for the adjuster before going in but it appears that there is nothing left. Pretty much everything that was 'just me' was inside.... all my tools, my paintings (over a hundred), personal artifacts and natural history collections, pictures, books, and Annie's spars, rigging, sails and cushions. From what I gather from conversations with the insurance company it may be a long process and some stumbling blocks. We are going to retain counsel.

I'm starting to pull myself together, starting to do research and making lists. Ted Perry who built Annie is no longer in business and doesn't seem to have measured drawings any longer. The sailmaker is also out of business. Waiting to hear from Simon at Churchouse Boats in England and Steve at Shaw & Tenny.

Thought you would all like to know. I'm holding fast as the old timers used to say. And looking forward to Christmas with the girls. Hope all of you that read my log are well and have a great holiday.


Friday, December 2, 2016

Across the Mobjack... again

Day 7

I snuck out of the Severn River around 8 and, with a light breeze pushing us from the west, Annie ran off under her main only. For an hour I listened to the bow push into a swell, followed by the rippling sound of the wave under the stern as it caught up in the troughs. The wind slowly waned and for a while we ghosted eastward. I reflected on the past days and the forty years that has passed since I first started sailing single-handed. It has been an extremely important part of my life. Many of my closest ties to nature, scariest challenges and spiritual teachings. And a helluva good time.

The wind died completely. We motored up the last bit of the Mobjack and up the East River. The ramp was empty and my truck sat waiting alone in the parking lot. After loading and dropping the rig I drove the few miles to Morningstar Marina where Annie would spend the foreseeable future covered in the adjacent field.

Total trip   147 n.miles

Monday, November 28, 2016

Heading West

Day 6

I woke to calm at first light. Motoring out the cut at King's Creek the wind had picked up to 15 out of the SW. The water was a a mottled mix of grayed olive and muted mix of cobalt and ultramarine flicked with bright white sparkles. High tide was scheduled for 1100.

As I studied the chart it seemed that continuing to head south was over cautious. It was 0900 and Annie was making good way toward Plantation Flats. With two feet charted over the bar I threw her to port and, with the board down, held the take up line to feel the bottom if needed. Moving along on a close reach, ready to hard a lee.

No bumps. Nothing, just fine sailing. So we headed toward the 'parked' ships and on across the Bay to the Mobjack. I tightened the headsail and slacked the main and mizzen a bit, and Annie self-steered with a loose tiller all the way across.

The wind dropped to 5-7 at GC 'INP' off New Point Comfort. Again, somewhat like the trip over, we had worked a half mile or so too far north. Several tacks south led to a west turn at the lighthouse and a long afternoon of sailing across the Mobjack to the Severn... the westernmost feeder river. Anchored off Bar Neck for the night. Perfect day I'll have to say.

New Point Comfort Light

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Up the Cherrystone

A Later Trip continued...
Day 5

Awoke to a beautiful, crisp day. What a week for sailing.

Enjoyed cleaning and organizing before heading up King's Creek for a look. Took it slow for there were lots of tight curves and suspected shoals. Very quiet. The track on the 'ole Garmin 76 insured a quicker return.

Up King's Creek

I then set out north for the entrance to Cherrystone Inlet. The run up the creek isn't well marked and an incoming tide not only pushed us along but added water underneath and afforded a bit of time to escape a grounding. Using the 5 foot bamboo pole we progressed slowly sounding often.

No yachts or recreational vessels in sight. Several watermen came and went in the oyster farming rigs laden with equipment and traps.

Setting piles for clip line to secure traps. The cylinder is a sorting tube.

I expect extra wraps were for shallow water

Crew of three taking in scow-type working boat with oyster traps

Using the track we returned to King's Creek for the night awaiting a return crossing.

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Crossing Over

The outlaw dock

I awoke before light and sculled down creek through glassy water, setting sails just as dawn broke. The weather forecast was perfect and I had decided the night before to head east for Cape Charles on the Eastern Shore. There had been talk about a fantastic harvest moon. That news was accurate.

Getting out early for a Bay crossing seems to be best choice. Just don't know what you might come up against and daylight is key. It didn't really matter this day for it could not have been a better sailing day. Wind SSE at 5-8 knots.

4 1/2 hours later we crossed the shipping channel. There were five large ships anchored along the channel. More about that later. SE wind had put us north of the approach that ran inside the bar just south of Cape Charles harbor. Futile tacks against incoming tide. Motored south to Old Plantation Light and caught wind north inside the bar and rock breakwater that protected the harbor entrance. 

Abandoned rail spur, Cape Charles

I tied up at the city pier and walked into town to look for possible galleries to represent my maritime paintings. Found two that may have promise. One gallery owner said that the tankers and container ships have been anchoring off Cape Charles because the Navy in Norfolk closed off the staging area for ships waiting to pick up cargo. Seems that the locals, especially those recently purchasing large retirement homes on the shore, are not at all happy about the new vista. Oh well.

Sultana from Chesetrtown

SY Meteor, George Town, Bahamas. 100+ footer!

As the afternoon wore on Annie and I headed just north of town and anchored in King's Creek. Peaceful evening with another amazing moon.       27.3 nm

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Crab Cake

Ware River sunset

Temperatures warmed a bit overnight. A welcome change in that the previous night in the North River had dropped to 48° (F). So the second sleeping bag found itself back under the fore deck. Mountain House Breakfast Skillet, strong coffee with a splash of Irish, plenty of feeding dolphins, and a watercolor sketch made for a swell breakfast.

By 9:30, with wind out of the ENE at 10 knots, we were heading southeast through the Mobjack. Rounding Guinea Marshes I decided to head south for the traditional boat building area of Seaford and Poquoson.

Crossing Mobjack Bay on a beautiful day

Light downwind run across the York River... resorted to motoring into the Poqouson River and north up Chisman Creek. There were boat projects in progress.

Being that there was no restaurants around and I was hankering for seafood, I turned Annie south again. Crossed over Poquoson River, entered Lambs Creek and tied up at York Haven Marina. Had been there a few years back and wanted to take more pictures of decaying work boats. Its a gold mine.

My friend Dave Rollins restored the buyboat Linda Carol in the yard. She was tied to the dock looking mighty fine. 'Spartina' Steve photographed the boat for the Virginia Pilot back in July.  See the images here.


The restaurant Surf Rider was just across the creek. Dave had brought me with the crew of the F.D. Crockett buyboat here and I new there was a crab cake worth ordering... 

The Hokule'a was docked there. She is one of Hawaii's outreach vessels that travels around the world. The crew are young folks that seemed to be off traveling.

It was dark when dinner was over and a good anchorage was close by wasn't apparent. I decided to stay on a finger pier as an outlaw. Oh well.


Sunday, October 23, 2016

Friend's Day

An up and down night. First nights are like that... needing to find the new 'early to sleep' rhythm of being alone on the water. Steve was meeting me at 9:30 so I resorted gear and savored my coffee. As time grew near we headed toward the marina, and as Annie came alongside Steve appeared with gear bag and soft lunch cooler. And then we were off down the North River toward the Mobjack with a north wind shoving us south.

Mobjack Bay Marina    North, Virginia

The wind held through the morning as we plowed through the short chop. Steve took the helm and I kicked back in the cockpit. Turning up the Ware River we found a small cove in the lee. Dropping anchor we enjoyed the lunch Steve brought... fancy cheeses, salami, apples and French wine! Not the typical fare aboard, but no complaints.

We started up the Ware River but decided that we would return to the marina planning to get back before five. Tacking and motorsailing got us back and I again retraced our track to anchor overnight at the 'lunch spot'.

Friday, October 21, 2016

A Later Trip

With the sting of opting out of an early October sail and missing the Chesapeake Small Craft Festival waning, another opening emerged. Repacking Annie I set off early on Thursday the 13th for Matthews. Putting in at the Town Point Ramp south of town we motored south toward Mobjack Bay on glassy water. Clear, cool and beautiful. I had called my friend Steve the Yodeler telling him to meet me at Mobjack Bay Marina the next morning for a day sail  up the North River. Anchored off Blackwater Creek to the first autumn moon rise.

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

A Lot to Do

These pictures really show the devastation at the St. Augustine City Marina and around. Photos: FishMonster Magazine