Morning is long in the tooth. Missed breakfast. Almost missed coffee, which would have been a bad thing. You know the old church potluck trick, the tip-the-urn-forward-to-get-the-last-half-cup? Just enough caffein in the bottom to fuel requisite fumbling with a camp stove for a batch of the real deal.
Low footprint campsite
Sleeping in the car is not so bad! Wouldn’t be much fun in summer without bug screens over the windows; but for Fall it’s pretty sweet. Less hassle than pitching a tent in the pitch dark. In the rain. Etc. It does, however, require forethought when changing clothes in a crowded campground. The family camped a few feet away was not disabused of faith in goodness and charity, I don’t believe.
Another consequence of the bad boys keeping us up too late is there’s less time for taking photos, given the prolonged recovery period required. But with several new boats and builders making appearances, I am anxious to get out and see them.
The flood tide has receded, leaving a pond behind in the launching area. Some folks take advantage of it and simply float their boats over to the ramp. Discussions on the docks included stories of water and other things out of place. Stingrays were seen swimming in the parking lot overnight. Not Corvettes; the big flappy fishy kind with stingers in their tails, cruising around under the streetlights.
First boat on the list is Eddie Breeden’s Sooty Tern Una. The Sooty Tern is a stretched version of Oughtred’s Arctic Tern, my favorite of his designs. Eddie and I corresponded before and during his build, and he happens to live on the way to nearby sailing grounds, so there should be opportunities to get together next season. He did a beautiful job with the build, and it was great meeting him and his son.
Eddie and his son
With only a couple of sails under his belt in a new boat with a new rig, he still managed to win his class in the race, nearly coming in first overall. This despite breaking his tiller extension and fixing it – not once but twice – on the way to the finish line. I’ll be interested to hear how things come together as he gets things tuned up. And look forward to getting a sail in her.
Another is Joe Mann’s Marsh Cat Makani. The more time I spend around these Marsh Cats the more impressed I am by them. Broad in the butt with a heritage straight out of my great grandfather’s era, they don’t catch your attention at first, but in action they sure earn respect. Maybe not the first girl you notice at a dance, but a girl to marry, for sure.
Following Kevin McDonald’s clean and elegant build of Little T, and the success of adventures therein, Joe took the detailing up a notch with his version. The jury is still out on the surround-sound audio system he installed, but everyone agrees the rest is excellent work. Joe took first place in the judging this year, as he has in the past with his previous builds.
Some other new boats: Tommy Barnes, one of the DC Melonseeds here this year, is getting warmed up to build a SCAMP, and won second place for his kit-built pram, his first effort.
And there are some more unusual craft. This one looks like it started out as a Stevenson Vacationer. Stevenson builders are known to take liberties with the design, but this one ended up rather further afield than most. No longer a sailing vessel, more a motorized houseboat with back porch:
Someone put a lot of time and thought into this boat. Dave Lucas has already commented it’s something that would be right at home in his shop in Florida. Of particular note are the rare, iconoclastic fenders. I don’t know the story behind the boat. It was gone by Saturday evening, so the story remains a mystery.
It’s already 11 o’clock, and the skipper’s pre-race meeting starts in an hour. Aeon isn’t even in the water yet, let alone rigged and ready. And the tourists have blocked in the trailer she’s on in the parking lot. Sheeze Louise. Had to roll the boat and trailer between a shiny Lexus and the Lincoln by hand, almost without touching either. Enough friends are still at the ramp to help lift her off the trailer and into the water, but I’m still rigging up while the other boats at the starting line. Always last to leave.
Seems it’s either dead calm or blowing like snot for the race every year, and this year is the latter. A Small Craft Warning was cancelled only hours ago, and the wind has clocked around from the East to the South to the West and the North before settling back to WNW at 12kts plus, hiding gusts leftover from the passing front. Unpredictable enough it would be a bad idea to risk taking the good camera while sailing alone. It settles down some by the race start, making a few photos and some video possible with the pocket waterproof camera.
Things clear out nicely by the time the race is over, and many of us spend the whole sparkling afternoon reaching back and forth across the Miles River. Near the finish line I spot Tommy and Jimmy in their Crawford Melonseeds. Seems the strategy of insuring they were too, um, tired from the night before to make it to the 1pm race worked well. Sailors are notorious for duplicity and playing dirty when there’s a race at stake. Just ask Kevin McDonald and Pete Peters. Pete is very competitive and always the favorite in the catboat class. Kevin finally bested Pete in Obadiah by, among other subterfuges, starting out with a reef clearly in so Pete would, too, then shaking it out while he wasn’t looking and going full bore for the line. Was fun trading tacks with two other Melonseeds for the afternoon.
Tommy in Muriel
And others, like the museum’s skipjack:
I found Tommy waiting for me back on the dock when I finally came in, and we went for a pleasant sail in Aeon. The guy is full of surprises. Starting with coming aboard carrying an actual printed book he’s reading. A smart, soft-spoken guy, his humility is both honest and deceiving. He presents himself as a boating neophyte, but he crews professionally, taking sailing cruisers across the Gulf Stream from the Bahamas, around the Caribbean, etc.. He’s restored a number of Flying Scots in the DC area for a local kids fleet, and lived aboard his own larger boat for a year, anchored in the Potomac during a very cold winter before he sold it.
I’m looking forward to getting together more when the weather warms up, and to follow his progress building the SCAMP. You can find his blog here: Wooden Boats to Windward
In the evening, we’re treated to a presentation by the museum’s new director, Kristen Greenaway. Kristen is not the buttoned down dusty museum administrator type, she’s a gung-ho boating person of the first order. She holds most of the records in the Everglades Challenge for Single Female Expedition Kayaking. If you don’t know, that’s a 300 mile unassisted race down the west coast of Florida in small human or wind powered boats. To me it sounds insane, but for Kristen and others like her it’s an annual right of passage, and for Kristen an essential way of life. She stipulated in her contract with the museum that she get time off every year to continue the race.
She shared photos and stories from her many trips, some quite, um, personal. She’s unusually friendly and accessible, too. And clearly not shy. The Q&A session at the end was better than most, for sure. What a lucky thing to have her leading this museum now. Her kayak was one of the ones that floated off in the tidal flood the night before. Her cherished handmade Greenland paddle, which has carried her through so many endless miles, was feared lost, but fortunately found tangled in the spartina marsh grass on the far side of the grounds.