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.


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.


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.

in pursuit
crew “off watch”


Tangier to Onancock

It is a rapid beam reach under full sail from Tangier Light to the town cut. Luna with full sail is overpowered, sails on her ear, but easily steers. Before beating to weather in the narrow cut, I drop and furl the main. We easily tack 4-5 times to reach the Chesapeake’s “Venice”. The wind is still gaining force so I attempt to coast up to one of the crab shacks and then ready the outboard, but as I drop the jib, the boat stalls out (I later realized we’ve not 4′ of water) and we stop 5′ short of a piling. Frantically I race back to the cockpit to mount the outboard, but not before I’m aground on the opposite side of the channel. With the mizzen still up, the boat is heeled and sticks to the bottom.

pilings missed and crab shacks

I start the engine readily, throttle up and walk forward to help the bow shake loose. However, because I forgot to add the motor bracket’s strut, the engine breaks  free and douse itself just as I grab the motor. Only the tether keeps me from losing the new engine. After setting the engine in the cockpit, Big T motors past. We try twice to yank Luna free. No luck. T’s 4 hp engine has enough to do keeping her in the wind. A 50′ motor catamaran passes by and all crew give us a wave. Keeping my fingers clutched I just shake my head. Now, I’m ready to haul the main up and sail off just when a kind waterman in his skiff “Miss Stuart” offers a tow which we accept. He takes us back to the piling we missed earlier and ties us to it. I reinstall the engine (with bracing bracket) and slowly try to turn it. It’s frozen. At this point I’m expecting the worse, but decide to drain the carburetor after which the engine seems to rotate. A harder pull and it fires up. Distrustful of it continuing to run, I allow it to for several minutes before casting off. The problem now is that we are again aground on the other side of the channel and can’t release the line from the piling. Had I been alone, I would have had to get wet or leave the dock line. Fortunately Kevin can sneak his boat in and untie us. So, once again we’re off and search for a crab sandwich. After a few futile attempts to dock, I suggest we head on to Crisfield or some place east. Agreed, we motor back toward the Sound.


Kevin and Big T

We fight the wind and waves to reach open water. My little engine barely has enough push to get there. I quickly raise the main as I think a stone jetty will claim Luna. We are quick to get clear, but soon realize we’ve too much sail. Waves are pushing 3-4′. I decide to raise the jib and allow it to luff before dousing the main. As  I drop the main, a jib sheet snags a rear hinge of the forward hatch and pulls it loose. With that, there is no going to windward. Water dousing the bow could quickly ship too much water. I see Kevin is struggling with his main. Neither one could help the other if need be. I feel I need to save my boat and decide to run with jib only. I lose sight of Big T. My VHF gets doused. Phones are useless. I begin to wonder if T is still floating. Winds are 30-35 and gusting. A 2 hour sleigh ride for Luna begins. The GPS shows almost 12 knots a couple of times. Once I realize how well she is handling the seas, my fears subside as we roll south of Watts Island and into the long 8 mile creek to Onancock. All the way the wind is howling, even at the town itself. We anchor and take a breath. Not able to hail Kevin by radio, phone or text, I decide to call the Crisfield Coast Guard Station. I give them T’s description and last known where-a-bouts and state that I suspect she was back in Tangier. An hour later Kevin confirms this by text and I call off the search and air rescue. I’m completely soaked and salt is on everything outside the cockpit. With a change of clothes, a couple of beers are in order before dinner and an early sack time. By 2100 I’m in the berth. As sleep falls, I rehearse the afternoon’s events and decisions. I make a list. What a day, a lucky day. I’m proud of Luna. LFH designed a “sensible” boat. She done good.



View from a quiet cabin

Mobjack to Reedville

Sailed LUNA last week for our first overnighter of the year. From Mobjack we had a plus 45 mile run to Reedville where we met Kevin with his Capri 22, Big T.

Storm passed off New Point Comfort

Shortly after Stingray Point, the wind died. We motor sailed and eventually spied Kevin off Reedville. He had been just north of the Potomac the night before coming from Cambridge, MD.

New engine and modified bracket

Entering Reedville is the last remaining stack of what was over 20 from fishing processing plants. Built in 1902, this one now serves as a “gateway” to the town and is lit at night. In danger of collapse, the icon was saved by the community and Omega Protein fishing company to memorialize a part of the town’s history.

Reedville’s smokestack icon

We anchored off the town’s water tower, enjoyed a swim and watched the sun set as the evening cooled. The nearby boatyard had some classic old workboats.


Kevin and Big T

With Luna’s new 4″ berth cushions, sleep was easy. However, at 5:00 a passing workboat shook things up. I thought someone had climbed aboard. I sacked out for another 1.5 hrs when I decided to make coffee and take a short sail up the creek to seek out a college friend who I hadn’t seen in forever. I knew he had a Corsair trimaran, so locating his pier wasn’t hard. As we coasted up to his dock, he threatened to shoot. In apology he offered coffee and we caught up before saying goodbye to wake up the world’s heaviest sleeper, KMac. A quick passing rap with a boat hook on Big T’s bow pulpit got him stirring.


The fresh morning breeze takes us out into the Wicomico and Bay. Setting a course for Tangier Island, we head dead downwind. I devise a whisker pole using the boat hook to sail jib and main wing and wing. Luna practically sails herself for hours until we seem to be headed for the same point and time where both a tug  and cargo ship are headed. We first bear off close behind the tug whose following barge make a slick of the sea. The huge prop wash pushes us around. We then have to head up and cross behind the container ship as it’s wake lifts and lowers us like an ocean swell.

passing tug towing barge
southbound container ship

Around 1100 Tangier’s houses emerge from the Bay. Winds and seas begin to build. Not certain the western approach has enough depth, we elect to sail south around Tangier Light, up the Sound and into the town cut east. We think we have arrived, but the remainder of the day is going to get a lot more interesting …

Persistent Sailors

The number of active sailboats on the Bay has been dwindling for years. Yet, countless marinas have neglected boats melting away as their encrusted hull grow closer to the bottom below. How many broken dreams lay tied to so many piers? Also, gone are the huge regattas I recall as a child where literally hundreds of dinghies would participate. Optis, Turnabouts, Moths, Windmills, Skipjacks, Thistles, 5-O-5’s, Hamptons, etc. all showed up on the big weekends. It was great sport and the post race festivities were something to enjoy, if not sit back and observe. Why the numbers have declined, I don’t know really. I blame the “virtual reality” of TV and it’s effectual inducement of mental laziness. Correct me if you will, but where has people’s sense of adventure gone? The spirit of entertainment and immediate gratification is killing genuine experience and outdoor adventure. I know, that’s another discussion. We’ll leave it for now.

Through sailing UNA, I have found a small group who are passionate about just sailing. Many don’t care to race or compete at all. That’s OK. Their love for messing about in boats is the treasure. I value their friendships immensely. And now that our big boat has found a new owner, we’re looking to do more varied and frequent sailing.

Accordingly, yesterday, after meeting a canvas maker, my daughter and I took a short sail in Mobjack with LUNA. Winds were light and varied from NNE at 4-6 mph. We reached across Mobjack and west into the mouth of North River where we met some of the most dedicated sailors in out little marina. Barbara, Ayars and their Cape Dory 30 “Dory” day sail their nice boat almost every week during the season. Now that we have the Rozinante, I expect we’ll be crossing paths more frequently.

ghosting under Dory


ghosting under Dory
Afars, Lina and Barbara (credit: Declan)




Swinging Party: the Real Last Sail of 2015

Yesterday I went down to check on Luna and remove her canvass. The temps proved too tempting. T-shirt weather, sun and a stiff breeze. It was awesome. Though now a dream, I hope it sustains until Spring. The scent of water and land, and warmth of the sun are absent here, but you’ll get the drift …


A Thankful Sail

For the two days before Thanksgiving, my daughter and I took what may be the last overnight in Luna as the season is closing. We had intended to start Monday, but weather (freezing temps) and schedules weren’t encouraging.

To make the “log” short, we left the slip under sail on a gentle WSW breeze, slipped down River, crossed Mobjack, and nosed into Browns Bay. Our dinghy Gigi was in tow.

crossing Mobjack

Lunch was a good ale and turkey wraps prepped by “Matey”.

galley work

The late Fall sun was low and brilliant, coloring the marsh grasses and evergreen pines. Once in Browns Bay, distracted by the view, we nudged Luna onto a mud bank as the ebb tide was 30 minutes from low. Two sailors on the bow and a winding outboard weren’t sufficient to push the long keel towards deeper water. Pulling out the 16# claw, I rowed out 75 yards to set the anchor.

off to kedge an anchor *
laying the rode *
return trip *

Back at the boat, a firm tug on the rode set us free. Shortening the line, we decided to anchor for the evening. We had a good evening listening to music and watching the sun set.



I thought leaving the mizzen would allow Luna to follow Gigi, but the wind dropped to nothing and the dinghy began kissing the bigger boat. Therefore, we arrested the dink against the starboard side where it stayed quietly for the night.
dinghy, be still.
The evening was fine. Dinner with the new galley cabinets worked well. Sleep came around 8:00, way too early, but he freezing temps drive one to the warmth of the sleeping bags.
rising moon
jet trails
silhouette *
a hat in the making *
The next morning after some hot oatmeal and coffee, we motor back across the still bay to check out Pepper Creek. Loons, scoters and coot make their appearance as we slide along.
outside Pepper Creek
Once in the creek we are greeted by a setter on a pier. Somewhat confused by our encouraging voices, he barks out warning while wagging his tail. As we turn around in front of him we stick bottom. Should have listened to Rover. This time the dinghy pulls Luna off by the tail.
Pepper Creek entrance
guard dog *
no wind *

The breeze freshens once we leave the creek. We raise all sails and pass a boat “drudging” for oysters as we begin the beat up into the East River home.

“drudging” and cat napping
Here’s a short take on the smooth reach home.

Happy Thanksgiving!

* photos by A Girl Named Leney.