(This is a post started last August; am just getting back to it.)
It will take nearly four hours of driving to get there, to get where the boat is, a boat built by hand in the loft of an old barn. We head out at sunrise while there’s still dew on the grass.
We don’t go east toward the coast, though, where most boats and builders of them live. Instead, we turn and go the other direction – to the southwest into the mountains. Instead of the land of crabs and oysters and skipjacks, we’re going deep into coal and bluegrass and moonshine country.
After 200 miles of driving we’ll still be in Virginia, though just barely. From south of Fries it’s just 10 miles as the crow flies to the Carolina line, and 20 to Mount Rogers, the highest peak in Virginia. This is where Marvin Spencer, proprietor and master craftsman of Brush Creek Yachts, lives and builds boats.
From the first evening. The Sooty Tern and the Marsh Cat playing in light air with the ducks and the geese. At dusk we slid both Melonseeds off the beach at Kinsale, and went for a row on the Yeocomico.
Beautiful evening, capped by the rising full moon.
In 1813, a handful of lightly armed vessels, sent down from defenses at Baltimore, confronted British warships out in the Bay and were cornered here in the Yeocomico. It did not go well.
Morning is clear and warm, with a light steady breeze out of the West. It will be hot today.
Several of the boats are out in the creek already, or working their way downriver. Doug’s new Marsh Cat is not yet finished, so he’s sailing the second Melonseed. From the beach I can see Caesura’s tanbark sail glowing and gliding against the bluegreen treeline in the distance. Then I, too, am off.
Unlike last time we were here, there is no argument over which direction we’ll go today: North. The wind will continue out of the Northwest – sensible in the morning but build steadily throughout the day to something very unsensible. I’ve always heard old sailors say the wind is strongest on the backside of a cold front. This prediction bears that out.
Based on the forecast, I plan to explore the marshes inside Janes Island in the Melonseed, staying clear of big water, but Harris suggests I ride with him. He has a sparkling new Caledonia Yawl, Mabu, bulit by Geoff Kerr of Two Daughters Boatworks in Maine. Sounds good to both of us. I’ll be free to take photos again, and he might like two sets of hands when the wind pipes up, especially in a new ride. Continue reading “Janes Island ~ Bright Sun, Big Wind”
(edit: Word from Ned is this boat now has a new owner, congrats to both.)
I’ve been writing about Marsh Cats a lot lately. The boat I sailed aboard for the Chesapeake Float to Smith Island was Pete Peter’s Marsh Cat Obadiah. Magnificent boat.
Also on that trip were Kevin McDonald in his Marsh Cat little t – the same boat that he and Mike Wick sailed from the Florida Keys to Dry Tortugas. Twice.
And also on that trip was Joe Manning in his new Marsh Cat Makani.
Another regular of these trips is Doug Oeller and his Marsh Cat Comfort, though he brought new boat this year.
These Marsh Cats have appeared consistently on all the extended camping trips and events I’ve attended over the years, and they never cease to impress me. Big, stable, comfortable, and fast. Perfect camper expedition boats, especially when you want to explore shallow creeks and shorelines, and roomy enough to camp aboard for several days at a time.