Despite drop outs from our little gang, we still had some wonderful sailing on Smith Mountain Lake. Camping facilities were adequate. The parties were good ones. Video below-
Zephyr, Molly and Mabu (all Caledonia Yawls) joined UNA for a 2 night cruise around creeks in Ingram Bay. Weather was mostly clear, winds variable and temps moderate. Delightful really. In fact, swimming was dare near perfect. “Racing” gave a good challenge.
The crew all took photos. Made for a fun mix of perspectives. Footage here:
Mid August sailing in Maine can be trying, or at times, non-existent. UNA, Molly and Little T put in at Rockland to visit Hurricane Sound, The Basin, Carver Harbor, Seal Bay, North Haven, Perry Cove and Pulpit Harbor to return to Rockland for the long ride home. There were a couple sunny days on either end, but the predominant “color” was grey, a perfect background allowing some sublime reflection. With each visit to this coast the outside world seems to have leaked in. However, those quiet and raw pockets still exist. I think we found a few.
Travelling by small boat frequently invites curiosity. Private space and time no longer are yours. Is it lunacy to sleep a week in the floor of a 19′ boat? Perhaps. You’d think that would ward off inspection.
“Are you guys Outward Bound?” If so, no one seems willing to come along.
“Oh, yeah, I had a little 8′ dinghy I’d row about.” Sorry, not the same thing.
“What kind of boat is that?” I never understand that question. Are you asking generically? Sailboat. Type? Balanced lug yawl. Design? Sooty Tern. What’s that? A seabird. Comical at times and yet the interest somehow validates the decisions to make the trip.
I won’t bore with too many details of the trip. The winds were light at best. The friendship was great. And, all those greys … beautiful.
Just got a text with this fine painting from Mabu’s skipper, Harris. He and his Caledonia were anchored just to windward of UNA that colorful evening on Yarmouth Creek two weeks ago. Seems like ages now. I can hear the slap of the water, cries of the geese …
Somehow the cold is gone.
Sub freezing temps and small craft warnings make neither a good nor wise cruise. Earlier forecasts were off a day. Our planned three day sail shrank to two. Five boats were to gather. Weather pared the group to three. Still, it the sailing was spectacular. The higher winds had dropped to a gentle breeze. The winter light became brilliant. The night would drop back to freezing, but the crazies wore on. That’s two Caledonia yawls, Mabu and Molly, and one Sooty Tern, UNA. We awoke to frost on cars and boats. By mid morning we were sailing off the wind from Governors Land on the James River for an 8 miles up the Chickahominy River. Our trio slid past banks of cypress trees and glided into the watercolor marshes of Yarmouth Creek. Drinks and yarns accompanied our late afternoon anchorage. Tents, sleeping bags, long johns and wool caps tucked all in shortly after sunset. A good book was the evening’s entertainment.
Daybreak offered little air. We motored back down the Yarmouth, took a cut called Shipyard Creek to meet the Chick again. There we raised sail and had a great beat home. Una was in her element.
It was a fantastic couple of days with fine buddies. Hopefully its not the last sail in what has been such a fraudulent year. If so, perhaps this video will stretch us to Spring.
Monday was “breezy” with small craft warnings. However, Tuesday and Wednesday were as perfect as perfect can be. Winds started at 8-12 mph from the NW moving to the W the following day. Air was crisp, evenings cool and skies blue. The attending boat count got whittled down to two, but that offered some spirited “racing” both days. It was Caledonia vs Sooty Tern and the leads changed hands enough to make both parties happy.
Enjoyed it Bob!
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.