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