Attendance by the Old Bay Club was light, but the fun was invariable. Molly, Zephyr, Ginger, English Tart and Una sailed out of Belle Island State Park on the Rappahannock River. Winds were variable. Friends constant. Meals delectable. Glad we went.
Aren’t we a people who love to label? Sadly, our rush to categorize often dismisses the real chances of nuance. Some names stick, perhaps deservedly. Others are short lived, but some can be endearing. The term “hippie” wrangles some still. For others its a badge of honor. I use the term lightly to describe a somewhat counter current attitude to life’s hustle and bustle. Out of admiration I label the most diverse group of people I’ve ever met. My daughter says we all dress like bums (guys that is). Sure Crocs are ugly, but they work. This is our Old Bay Club, a Traditional Small Craft Association. With no rules nor officers, we somehow have struck a chord allowing everyone to sing. Granted we’re shabbily attired, yet no one person’s history matches the other’s. Ages vary, in some cases by decades. However, we all take the time to encourage each other to come along. Conversations are able to roll over the political speed bumps and set aside any “my way or the highway” discussion. That is until there’s the mention of sailing. That art is what bands our group together. For me it is a love for some buddies I’d otherwise never have been given the opportunity to know. This weekend about 20 of us spent time together through wind, rain and sun all tempered by wonderful food and drink.
Whispered wood stove conversations so as not to wake the fellow dosing off after a long day.
Friends bearing gifts … a beef knuckle for your dog!? Now who’s the favorite?
Watching a friend try a new dinghy as the same dog clambers aboard refusing to be left.
Delicious York River oysters large enough to choke on.
The beauty of sailing along a classic boat like Herreshoff’s Coquina.
Bike rides along country roads.
Rowing in a protected cove as winds roar over the trees
The elation of finding a waterman’s oar, an artifact of simple beauty, washed up in the marsh only to be asked later, “has anyone seen my oar”.
Watching a friend fly her kite with the delight of a 4 year old girl. Remember when?
A blustery sail with my “big brother” and my middle son pulling in the fresh air.
Knowing someone appreciates the surrounds enough to want to paint them.
Sailing with just my dog the preceding 3 days. He gets it too.
Introducing new friends to this group and having them comment on how unusual the band is.
Sorry I don’t have more. The fun overtook the documentation, but that too is a good thing. So we’ve a bit of the Monday morning blues here. Conference calls to be had. Until next time …
Thank you Boop.
There is no love lost between sailors and powerboaters (forget jet skeeters). And so I know this post will be met with some derision by the purists. I get it, but how much sailing do they enjoy from their armchairs anyway?
UNA has been, and remains, my favorite boat. So little air moves her. Still, there are slick calm periods that can take the shine off a cruise. Long distances can become infinite when the wind quits. Perhaps my oars aren’t as optimal as they could be. I suspect I didn’t slim the shafts down for enough flex. That can be corrected. To date my average rowing speed for any length of time been sub 2 knots. UNA is a sailboat first. Most of those I sail with have motors, are determined to get to “point B” and relying on a cordial tow when the wind quits can try all involved. I either lose friends, find some pure sail-and-oar guys or find a compromise.
You see where this is going? Yep, I designed and built a motor mount for UNA. The plans showed a motor well. I elected not to build that early on. What started as a sketch melded into a plywood prototype that was adjusted and trimmed. A final piece was tooled in teak (I was confident in the solution).
Last week’s test run worked flawlessly.
Advantages: there’s no well taking up storage aft or creating turbulence to an otherwise smooth bottom. This engine “strut” follows the curve of the hull and can be stored against it in the gap outboard of the side seat or under the seat itself. Also, the engine can remain on the strut when anchored without interfering with my tent. And, once removed the threaded inserts do not snag anything. Leather pads under the thread protect the gunnel finish.
Disadvantages: a well keeps the prop in the water at all times. A good wake can create enough roll to lift the prop out of the water with the strut. To be used primarily in light to no wind conditions, this rarely is a problem.
Here’s the end result at 1/2 throttle and 5 knots. Nice and easy.
I’m happy with the results. Forgive me.
A couple years ago I watched UNA’s foremast roll off the boat and land heel first on the concrete garage floor. There was a, “Crack”. Never good. Initial examination revealed nothing. I secured the pole back on the trailer. Not long thereafter when putting the boat away, I heard a rattle when I set the mast down before setting, I hear a rattle. This time I discovered a 18″ split between 2 of the staves where the mast was solid. At the time I decided to monitor it and ordered a fiberglass sock to repair the damage, but didn’t.
Many sails later, I found myself holding onto UNA with two-reefs and needing a third. We were bashing against wind, current and seas to gain shelter in Pulpit Harbor on Deer Island. That split was front and center in my thoughts. Thankfully UNA came through, but I had haunting doubts next time. I needed to fix the mast.
Once home, it was obvious the crack had lengthened. Another problem was the mast would swell and stick in the step on occasion demanding wrestling and wiggling to unstep. Putting a plastic bag on the foot had solved that hassle for too long. So, I hand planed the heel and sanded the problem section with the ROS and 80 grit to 16″ above the deck. The stick was then saturated the wood with straight epoxy and 2 layers of the fiberglass sock were snugged on. Epoxy splashed everywhere. The 90 degree heat rapidly accelerated the epoxy’s flash point. I panicked and ran for packaging tape and saran wrap to hold the works in check.
After an overnight set, I cut and peeled the plastic off. Some had doubled onto itself and became embedded in the epoxy. There were also a few air bubble craters.
Alternating stints with the belt and ROS sanders got things back smooth, though I questioned how presentable the fix would be.
Glad I donned a mask. Dust was everywhere. Wish I had worn long sleeves. The itching began. After wet sanding (kept dust down), the results improved. I thought I’d have to paint the mast.
Some of the outside layer of fiberglass was sanded off, but only slightly. Most of the dust was resin. One more coat of epoxy, a quick light sanding and 3 coats of varnish gets us whole again. Glad to cross this one off the list and now I have more confidence in UNA’s defense against the next blow.
A Thursday afternoon drive to Frederick, MD, dinner, quick nap and we were on the road by 1:00am. By 11:30 am boats were rigged at Rockland, Maine’s public ramp located in the easternmost range of the harbor.
Weather was perfect, sunny, 80 and 10-12 mph winds. However, once past the mouth of the harbor, the fog rolled in. Visibility was reduced to 50 yards and then, nothing. Lobster boats could be heard, but not seen. The horn of the ferry warranted multiple replies. Wind lessened and incoming tide caused us to forgo Hurricane Sound for Fox Island Thoroughfare.
Ports of call: Rockland Harbor, Fox Island Thoroughfare, Perry Creek, Pulpit Harbor, Bucks Harbor, Benjamin River, Center Harbor on Eggemoggin Reach, Casco Passage, Bass Harbor, Frenchboro, Burnt Cote Harbor, Center Harbor, Pulpit Harbor back to Rockland.
This video tells the rest to be told.
After last week in Maine, this Virginia summer has been hard to take. However, each time I sail UNA, I always come back with lessons and frequently a few more things I’d like to fix/change. None of these things concern the design. They are generally tweaks of detail. One lingering item on the list regards the floor boards. Varnished douglas fir is treacherous. Sprinkling salt in the last coat eliminated the slip, but the floors always felt damp despite repeated scrubbing. The salt was expected to dissolve away. Since I lucked into some teak (can’t beat free), I thickness planed some boards, cut them to shape and routed their edges to replace those existing.
I like the results and they feel great under bare feet. The center bilge access boards remain. They look fine and I didn’t want to fix them yet. Too stinking hot!
Also, my previous anchor bag, a modified cotton laundry hamper, never dried out. Found a good practical substitute. As a bonus, it can double as a lobster pen on the next trip north! $5 a lobster was awesome.
I’ve loads of photos and videos to make sense of from our trip north so, stay tuned.
Luna has provided some nice sails over the past several weeks. Got to see some of the Old Bay Club in Kinsale this past weekend (thank you again Francie and Floyd). Lots of good food, drink and some fine sailing. I arrived with my pram Gigi and had fun rowing and sailing her Sunday morning. Saturday, Bob let me have his Caledonia Molly’s tiller and I did not give it back until we had returned from a trip out to the mouth of the Yeocomico where we beached for lunch and waited for the wind to return. All was delightful. The rains hit when we weren’t sailing. This was our second weekend there. Good friends. Very relaxing. Hats off to Jim and his Coquina. I could not quite catch him on the Saturday ride home. Well done.
As a side note: Bob’s CY is the first Caledonia of the several I’ve sailed now (lug yawl and gunter 4 strake versions) that handles closely to UNA. Molly’s foresail appears higher peaked, her keel may be a tad shorter, those differences and her 7 strakes may allow her quicker tiller response. As competitive sailors, we can’t credit performance to the helmsman, so we frequently look elsewhere. An email to the prolific designer Iain Oughtred may offer more reasons (excuses?). If given, I’ll report back.
UNA was still dirty from last November’s sail, but she showed up to dance anyway. Love this boat.
Everyone has been saying that the year has flown by. Isn’t that the common refrain every November? Either way, regretfully, the sailing season is drawing to an end.
So knowing, last Thursday, Bob with “Molly” and I with “UNA” and Huckleberry met at Mathews’ Town Point Ramp at 0800. The sky was brilliant, winds steady at 8-10 from the WNW and the air would warm to a crisp 60 degrees. The water, chilled. Could it get any better? By 0900 we were on the water.
Our boats traded leads as we jibed down the East River. Passing the old Tide Mill at Todds Point we rolled over to Mobjack and checked on a friend’s house addition project. Back in the boats, we crossed over to Tabbs Creek, tied to a piling and rafted for lunch. A short beer and I was inclined to nap under the gentle sun in the cockpit . However, Bob helped me shrug off the drowsiness and we had the best sailing back up the river’s western branch to Woodas Point. Our return sail to Mobjack was nearly all downwind and easy. A neighbor intercepted us in his Nacra catamaran and followed us back to Mobjack where we set our boats to stern anchors for the night.
Good conversation and cocktails accompanied a changing scene on the river’s eastern shore in the setting sun. Dinner was Indian food and beans and rice. By 2030 we called it quits.
Day two started 10 degrees cooler. Hot coffee, corned beef hash and scrambled eggs were required to brave the chill of wading out to the floating boats. Now we were awake. Winds began to gust in the upper teens. We each put reefs in and had a marvelous beat back up the river to haul out. Surf Scoters and Loons kept their distance along the route.
Bob, thanks for being a buddy so late in the season. The opportunity could have easily slipped away. I’m more than happy we went.
Wee took a hot lunch in town (the lobster bisque was fantastic), wished each other a Happy Thanksgiving and headed down the road. I began a list of “to-dos” for UNA’s winter wait. Our number of sails this year were limited, but those taken will be remembered. It has been a very good year. I’ve got some gold.