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 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.
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.
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.
Again, thank you Barbara and Harris.
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.