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.
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.
We had a record number of boats at the Old Bay Club’s, now annual, Fall cruise on the James River, thanks to hosts Barbara and Harris. This event is a fair weather sailor’s dream. Honestly, the accommodations surpass any bed and breakfast, … and lunch, … and dinner. We ate more than slept or sailed. Both nights’ dinners were by fire and with cocktails on the beach. Both raw and steamed oysters were followed by Pennsylvania brats Friday night. A now infamous frogmore stew was served Saturday evening. The recipe is a guarded secret, but hiding the cobs of sweet corn, thumb sized shrimp, and sausage is impossible.
Eleven boats showed up for some easy sailing between the mouth of the Chickahominy River and Jamestown. We chased and taunted each other, all claiming to be getting the better of the other. Despite the razzing, some new friends were made. As always, we had a good time.
Last Thursday with daughter and UNA, we drove to Belle Island State Park on the north bank of the Rappahannock River to met Kevin and Little T.
By 11:00 that morning we we’re sailing downriver with the tide for the evening. Winds were westerly, light and predominantly downwind. To gain some breeze, we tacked toward Urbanna on the south bank. As the breeze had all but died we took a swim at the small beach just to starboard of Urbanna’s creek entry. Water, sun and beer were just perfect as we lay on the water’s edge. Kevin, opposed to bathing, motored on in to tour the creek.
The breeze returned from the east and we took the opportunity to sail across the river to Whitehouse Creek in the mouth of the Corrotoman. That was a 15 mile day. Dinner was Indian spread over rice.
We broke our raft up around 7:30 and by 8:00 were bunked and out. UNA is more of a 1 man boat for overnighting. All the gear I typically shove to port had to be stowed for additional floor space. The evening was just cool enough and we were sufficiently in a breeze to keep the bugs at bay. Regardless, it was a restless night arresting odd sounds from a bumping tiller to a rocking mizzen mast. Morning started at 06:00, cool and bright.
A NW breeze would make the sail back up river comfortable. We enjoyed the scenes along the banks.
We met several of the OBC crew and their boats along the way.
That night’s dinner menu included camp grilled brats from PA (thanks Peter), pasta salad, mellon, pineapple and deadly brownies (thanks Francie).
Saturday’s sail was more local as a girl needed to head home. Before that however, we had another enjoyable beach picnic. The water temp was fantastic and the sun just warm enough.
I said goodbye to my little girl and headed back out to chase the other boats. Racing back into the close quarters of the creek was my favorite part of sailing for the weekend. With a piped breeze and full sail, hiking out was needed. Reminded me of Moth and Laser sailing.
Dinner that night was out at the Lancaster Tavern. Too much to eat, but that is usually the case. Slept hard. Departed after breakfast Sunday morning. Some stayed behind to sail (Barry and Dennis). Wish I had too. Fun few days. Good friends.
Barry has some nice footage of portions of our gathering a few weeks ago. He always seems to find something when there appears to be nothing going on. That’s the eye of an artist. There is some good dog paddling going on here:
My middle boy and I met up with Bob down at Lake Chesdin for the day. This reservoir sits on the border of Chesterfield and Dinwiddie Counties. We had UNA and Molly in tow. The public landing has two concrete ramps with a short sturdy pier between the two. The day was overcast and hazy with little humidity, thanks to thunderstorms the night before. The 7-10 mph winds never materialized, but the 0-5 offered some challenging lake sailing. Bob provided and early tow upstream using his Torquedo. The quiet motor pulled to generate an apparent wind that almost felt like sailing. We stopped maybe 2/3rds of the way for lunch before a fun sail home. No, we weren’t racing, but whenever there are two boats on the water …
Molly and UNA traded tacks as we searched for the “luck”. A lot of racing is getting to that luck first.
The Sooty and Caledonia were very closely matched. I’m guessing my added crew made our displacements even. The Sooty does a slightly narrower water line beam. However, I observed that between 0-3 mph Molly slowly stepped away with +60 SF more sail area. Then, from 4-7 (high winds) UNA came into her own and seemed to gain on tacks.
The boats altered passing tacks maybe a dozen times all the way home. A win could not be claimed decisively. However, UNA got to the last bend in the lake first and slid home downwind. Just as we were about to tag base the wind died and on came Molly. She passed us not 60′ further off shore and scored a win in the last 100 yards. Congrats Bob! Looking forward to next time!
Here are 9 seconds of the “race” that typified the day.
Rose, Nip, Little T, Aeon, Molly, Whisper, Caesura and UNA. Sharon and Kirk, Peter, Kevin, Barry, Bob, Dennis, Doug and me with Huck. We all experienced a wonderfully long weekend by invitation from Floyd and Francie to enjoy their charming river house and sail the Yeocomico, a sleepy rural river jeweled with old homes and nestled on the south shore of the Potomac. To eat, sail, eat, sail, drink, eat, sleep became an easy rhythm to fall into. That we did. The hosts’ southern hospitality was sublime. Each meal highlighted Francie’s fantastic cooking and conversation was peppered with Floyd’s “histories” . No pounds were lost on this trip. My mornings started with coffee and country walks with Huck. Full breakfast fare proceeded gentle reaches downriver. Return trips tacked from bank to bank back home. Cocktails were savored with late afternoon breezes under big shade trees. From our roost we saw the sun set and a full moon rise. Lightning bugs, yelping of distant coon hounds, water reflections and tales told tall closed each day. What better way is there to spend with friends? This “bed and breakfast” sailing is hard to beat. Thank you Floyd and Francie! Thank you.
After last weeks’ aborted trip in Reedville (particular details are witheld on my end) we had several days of rain. However, Monday, my buddy Kevin with “Little T” and I with “UNA” decided to give sailing another go. This time we headed south to Beaufort, NC. The Beaufort Maritime Museum graciously allows us to use their event parking for our trailers overnight as the public ramp on Town Creek does not.
The first night we sailed Little T along the Beaufort waterfront to return to anchored UNA after dark. A good breeze from the SE greeted us the next day. We sailed against wind and current into the ocean to tack along the beach to Cape Lookout. Waters were almost tropical, the tour of the Lighthouse interesting and the sunset fantastic. The following day we cruised around Lighthouse Bay before reaching back inside along Harkers Island and into the cut along Beaufort again against wind and current. Little T motored. However, UNA tacked and wiggled up the channel and reached the museum pier first by a good 10 minutes. That was some of the best sailing.
After a burger at Clawson’s (highly recommended), we decided to go to Morehead City and sail along it’s waterfront, but after a 1st then 2nd reef in the main, I was tired of getting wet. The beat became a bash with increasing winds. The day’s sail already was reward enough, so we cracked off, rolled along Radio Island and reached back into Town Creek. Schedule also demanded my return. We said our goodbyes over a chart session where Kevin decided to go downwind up the Intercostal to anchor in Dumping Creek and on to Ocracoke the following day.
Despite my shorter trip, it was well worth it. Got some video of parts here: