My Buddy Huckleberry

As the season closes, Huck and I stole a brief sail across Mobjack Bay and back yesterday. Believing he is still a lap dog, he made for a nice heater as we pushed to weather.

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We’re still assessing the new sails. The stainless steel slides are not right for bronze or naval brass T track. They still snag slightly when raising and lowering. Either I need to file round edges on each slide or replace them with naval brass, if those can be found. Such is the challenge of ordering sails at a distance. Add it to the winter projects.

At 10:30 wind fluctuated between 5 mph or less. LUNA still moved along. Maybe the bottom isn’t as slimy as I thought.

By noon the breeze built to 12-15 and we really chunked along.

Short and sweet.

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Steampunk Sailor

Yesterday, my daughter and I took a short, brisk sail with LUNA up the East River, stopping by “Ed’s Cove” on the return for lunch on the hook. The menu offered hot tomato soup, ham wraps, beer and sunshine in a protected cockpit. No one else was around. No one. Granted it was mid-week, but too many boat owners put their craft away after Labor Day here. So many wonderful days are missed. You can have July and August in my book. From September up until Christmas frequently is truly the best sailing time of the year. The water’s summer heating holds its inertia well into November. Yesterday was beautiful … ah, so is today.

Here’s one of my favorite sailors working out music for the picnic.

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A Friday Night

Sorry, nothing raucous to show here. No overhang thrills. Just a simple overnight sail. With winds at 12-15 and gusting to 20, LUNA beats up the East River under full sail. She puts her shoulder into it without protest. Not far past Put In Creek, we turn downwind, pass the magnificent Bruce King ketch “Chanty” (there’s some varnish), and set out into Mobjack. We reach toward Ware River,  before tightening up to beat up the North River. Sails are lowered across from an old 1848 neo-classical home named Elmington. It owns the largest magnolia tree I’ve ever seen. Perhaps its age matches the house. I set the anchor in 5′ of water. The sunset highlights a beautiful golden tree line. Cocktails and a quick dinner compliment.

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Sack time for this rowdy Friday is 20:30. The night is still. Stars are blazing at 02:00. At 07:15, dawn brings a flock of crows who are bent on waking the roosters to their job. They do eventually. The orchestra is complete with a few dogs giving their say. As coffee brews, I wipe down the dew from the cockpit. A feathery mist lifts off the water.

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With mizzen and main raised, I haul the anchor. No mud. Must be sandy. I put away the brush. We ghost out of the river to meet a fresh breeze back into Mobjack and reach to East  R. Opposite the marina, we flatten the mizzen, head to windward and go forward to drop the main. It lowers 18″ and then sticks repeatedly. No yanking of the halyard persuades otherwise. So, I toss the anchor, drop the jib and am just able to hoist my lead tail up the mast with the bosun’s chair to reach the snag above the spreaders. Wouldn’t this be a perfect time for one of those powerboats to roll by? Well some idiot did decide to swing by at full tilt to see what was up. If my hands were free, I’d have “waved” back. I’ve sent the main and mizzen back today to remove the shackle to slide connection for webbing. That should fix that problem.

The SNAFU did nothing to remove the glow of the perfect sail. In fact, it was a point of accomplishment in an odd way. The time on the water was grand. Here’s some video.

Dog Days

What was to be an enjoyable week of sailing north simply went bust. The journey was to include St. Michaels, MD’s  Mid Atlantic Small Craft Festival. Last week, this week was a perfect forecast. However, by Sunday this week, the realization that the weathermen may have been mistaken was settling in. The new week’s predictions of 3-4 days of rain and thunderstorms botched our cruise plans. Mildly put, I was bummed. Short term forecasts are often wrong. These opinions of “experts”, if accepted, could have prevented many wonderful days on the water. And so, with characteristic denial, I grabbed my pup Huckleberry, a week’s load of goods and drove to Mobjack. After an hour and a half prep, LUNA was ready to depart. We set off for our adventure. Sunday’s sail was fantastic: a downriver run into Mobjack, a close reach across the Bay, a port beat just north of Cape Charles and finally a starboard tack to Gwynn Island for the night. As the sun was dipping, we chose to motor through the Hole in the Wall. This is a meandering entry through barrier sand spits which can be tricky. We clear it. Once in Milford Haven, we anchor behind Point Breeze. Huck was rowed ashore for dog business. Not one to wait, he jumps ship twice en route. The second time I make him swim the final 100 yards to a small piece of beach. He didn’t seem to mind. The pup takes 20 minutes to run his willies out. We then returned to LUNA for a light cockpit served dinner under lantern and sky. The air was dry and cool. I sleep below. The pooch under stars. A slight notion occurred that he may be AWOL come morning, but he’s still aboard next morning. We take an early dinghy ride. This time I keep him on a short leash. Yet, he still has enough slack to hang himself and does as he leaps over anyway. Our four legged tug begins towing the dinghy to the beach. Accepting his spirit, but questioning his stamina, I land the little tuna. He is an exceptional nut ashore, biting small waves, pulling at reed grass and racing all over the marsh. After 30 minutes he regains his sanity. We row home, eat a breakfast of coffee and biscuits, and listen with hope to the forecast. Predictions are worse. Tuesday through Thursday are now rainy with northerly winds. Not good for heading north quickly, especially when mixed with a wet dog. So, we weigh anchor, motor back through the Hole and beat against the day’s southerlies back home. The sailing is very fine despite our “retreat”. And so, we make the best of both days. They were “perfect”. Here’s 3 minutes to show their flavor:

Just One Night

Monday afternoon I visited Luna. She has new sails. I wanted to see them raised. Sadly, the slides on both mizzen and main were too large (I had measured and relayed the info, but …). Bummer. Replacements have since been mailed.

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After adding a couple of bronze eye straps for securing the boat cover, I hanked on the new jib and went out into the river to anchor briefly  and scrub the bottom. The slime wasn’t bad, but you could tell it was there. Luna just wasn’t as fast. And she is. A few barnacles were on the base of her keel. I probably forgot to hit that portion which rested on blocking at haul out. Getting back into the boat turned out to be a bear. The webbed loop ladder used for UNA twists too much. Those chin up routines from age 13 are wearing out. I’ve some ideas on a better homemade solution. After raising anchor, we had a delightful beat out into Mobjack under full sail. Luna collected a few compliments from other boaters as the two of us slid along. Once out we did an about face and reached back up the river a good ways before returning downstream. The evening was near perfect. I decided to stay. The hook was dropped and cocktails offered as the sun set with music playing low. Too lazy to fix dinner, I opted for cake. A great diet. Recommended.

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One favorite tune shuffled after another. Dare I say it? It was mostly Spotify. Somehow it doesn’t seem like my music. I’m sure some take self-righteous exception to its use, but I like it and mute the ads. I will say the site’s “related artist” button has radically expanded my music library. Oh, I still buy CD’s. However, now many are discoveries from Spotify. So, what kind of attitude is that? Archaic? Hypocritical? Confused throw back? Fine. I’m anchored in my favorite place on earth, just watching the world spin.

At 22:00 I’m done. With no bedroll or pillow, I throw on extra shirts and sleep comfortably through the night. At 05:00 the “night” ended as the watermen went to work. The rumble of their engines and gentle waves nudge Luna for an hour or so before I move to see the day. It was cool, sunny, and otherwise quiet and glassy.

Had a quick breakfast of yogurt and oranges slices. Coffee would have been good, but the night’s laziness lingered. That ended as I motored to the pier to work on cleaning up last Fall’s electrical renovations. I had replaced the 12v panel for reading lights and 12v outlets (P & S) to charge gadgets and run Caframo fans. The contortions needed to access some of this was ridiculous. Maybe it is age. Anyhow, that task can be scratched from the list. By noon the heat was coming on. I covered Luna and left. Worth the drive. Here’s some video proof-

Mobjack Pursuits

Just out off the marina, we hoist and flattened LUNA’s mizzen. A CS 36 passes on a beat  downriver. We raise the main, then jib and give chase. Within a mile we close the +/- 100 yard gap, duck just to leeward of the chase, pass and reach off across Mobjack. Not bad for an old wooden boat. Maybe the CS wasn’t racing, but we were. He certainly messed with his sails as we bore on. “We” being my pal Huck and me.

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in pursuit
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crew “off watch”

 

Onancock to Mobjack

After an exhilarating sail the day before, our slide out of Onancock for home was dreamlike. Logged over 40 miles in 9 hours that day. Not bad for a little 28′ boat. She moves.

Here are some clips from the journey back to Mobjack-