She Gets It

Created by my wonderful daughter. Last summer’s cruise in Maine. She gets it.

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Mid Atlantic Small Craft Festival 2016

For me, a 4 hour drive is a long haul to go sailing with Mobjack only 1 1/2 hours away. However, MASCF is an exception. Almost 100 small boat enthusiasts, many with crew, bring their respective craft to enjoy friends new and old, savor some seafood and get in a bit of boating. Last year’s event was washed out by hurricane threats. This year was just our second attendance in what was the 33rd running. Friday and Saturday were wet and windy. Sunday, still overcast, offered barely a whisper. Regardless, the time in Saint Michaels was fun. My youngest son and I took kayaks we built and left UNA behind. She was missed, but we got rides from our pal Dale to watch Saturday’s race in his Ben Garvey outboard. With an almost 7′ beam, he can set up a tent  in the boat’s floor and still have room to keep his skin-on-frame kayaks aboard. Complimented with a 40hp four-stroke and a folding bimini top, Dale may have found another attractive access to the water.

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Dale at the helm

Later in the day we paddled around the harbor to take in the sights. This town has been a regular stopping point over many years of cruising the Bay. The visit never grows old. Though the boutique shops seem to be taking over the main drag, pockets of childhood memories still survive. This is in no small part due to the Maritime Museum there. Now that I have been to Mystic, I can say it reminds me of that fine museum on a smaller scale. In this quaintness, St. Michaels is more approachable. At this festival, one can wander amongst the current builds and renovations. You are welcomed to nose around and we did.

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Ducker Preparations

In order to proceed with the Ducker hull, I need more room in the garage. So, last month I added a small addition to the backyard shed we built 10 years ago. All of our gasoline equipment, tools, cans, etc. are now housed there. I wagged an estimate of $650 in materials to complete the space. It ended up more like $800. That’s $14.25 a SF. If you threw in my free labor in there I guess you could triple the cost. The worst of the project required digging 2 holes for the outboard post footings. Nothing but hard clay and rock (lots of rocks). Thankfully I had my 18 yr old son and his buddy to sweat the digging with me.

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The low slope roof just sneaks under the existing gable window. 30# felts are under the shingles. The Hardi Plank siding was nasty to cut with circular saw or jig. Finally, I discovered that 3 scores with a utility knife on both sides allowed for a clean enough break without all the dust. Some policing of the adjoining grade still needs to be done. Also, the soffit vents are still missing, but we can move on now.

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In the interim, LUNA’s hatch has been repaired, again, and both the boat hook and bilge pump handle have been stripped and varnished.

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Next up: can we make UNA a boat cover out of Emily’s 2 awnings? Solving that will allow UNA to stay outdoors temporarily while the Ducker hull takes shape. I may begin with the spars and other parts before that.

Mid-Atlantic Small Craft Festival

We’re just back from the Small Reach Regatta in Brooklin, Maine and still I’m ready for the next event. In terms of sailing, the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum in St. Michaels, MD hosts a great gathering of sailboats, rowboats, canoes, kayaks, etc. The event page has 2 double enders bookending the header photo. To the left is my UNA and to the right is Peter’s NIP. After last year’s cancellation due to hurricane threats, this year should be extra special. We are going.

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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.

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ghosting under Dory

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

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Goodbye “Emily’s Grace”

Boats are full of memories, … if used. Our Beneteau First 42 “Emily’s Grace” provided hundreds. Unlike today’s plastic bottle spaceships, EG was designed by the renowned German Frers to the old IOR rule (International Offshore Racing). When searching for the “next boat”, we looked at several dozens of sailboats. Many appealed, but none clicked. However, I immediately fell in love with her sleek lines and knew she’d be perfect for weeks with a growing family on the Bay. With her huge wheel and balanced rudder, she sailed like a dinghy, was responsive and quick. For the seven plus years we owned her, decades of quality family time was logged. Our previous boat, a Pearson 10M “Emily”, was no exception the 16 years before EG.

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Emily’s Grace

Sailing’s romance is not so much your destination. Instead it is about the journey and the promise of a distant horizon. Sounds trite perhaps, but I wouldn’t trade any of sailing’s memories or adventures for anytime on any beach. No beach cottage ever coaxed exploration to discover what lay behind a point of land. Sailing has always offered to me an unmatched freedom and independence.

So, its not without some sadness that we say goodbye. Simply put, the children have grown up fast. They naturally want their own independence and schedules were making it rare to have the entire family aboard. The thrill of sailing can be done smaller when the number of crew shrinks. It is often said that a boat owner’s best days are the first and last of ownership. This is often quipped by one who can’t sail, nor would. I take exception and don’t subscribe. I’ve missed all our boats for one reason or another, but mostly because of those memories. On our last cruise we took a few videos and photos. I never seem to take enough. The camera does intrude on the experience sometimes. This compilation shows both languid days and bashings to weather. We witnessed gorgeous sunsets and crisp morning breezes. These memories I’ll always treasure. Though of a particular week with the family, it draws upon all those previous voyages we took. They can’t dismissed. I’ve yet to find anything quite so satisfying as working with a crew as we press toward the next harbor. I hope the new owner enjoys her half as much as we have. We wish him many memories. Goodbye EG-

Never On A Sunday?

After nearly 2 weeks of rain, we got sunshine. I put the canoe in the truck bed, grabbed the cooler and drove with my 2 youngest boys upstream along the James. We put in at the public ramp at Maidens and out at Watkins Landing. A roughly 10 mile trip that was a relaxing 3 hour cruise. breeze was stiff, but following. We lazily paddled around and between the several small islands dividing the river. The current was swift running. Any rapids we usually encounter were submerged. Was a great way to spend the afternoon.

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