MASCF ~ Saturday Sailing

photo courtesy Andy Slavinskas – me in Causura with the topsail up

 

I have changed the way I do MASCF. I now only take a tent and a sleeping bag – no stove, no provisions. Just sailing gear, a cooler and libations. Easier. After a fitful night of sleeping among the sonorous snorers of St. Michaels (I now pack earplugs every year) at dawn one can go to the Steamboat House for cheap coffee and donuts (gratis), or walk a few pleasant blocks through the morning mist in town, and get a good coffee and omelette for a few bucks. At The Blue Crab cafe, where one is apt to meet fellows of like mind and demeanor.

On the walk back, take a shower and a stroll along the docks.

Another change made over the years is to begin sailing as soon as possible. I used to hang around the museum for all the events, which are fun, but that meant I was often late getting on the water. Now I go sailing right after breakfast and don’t come back until time for dinner. It’s wonderful sailing, with beautiful boats coming and going to make a stunning view.

Zigzag along the docks – an appreciative audience waves and takes photos. In small boats like mine the technical challenge of threading docks and the mooring field is fun, hones handy skills. Reach across the Miles River when the wind is up, break free of the crowd to take deep breaths again, the sound of wind and waves absent of human chatter.

There’s a certain logic to this. The festival has become so well attended that finding dock space is like playing musical chairs. The moment you move a boat to use it, another will slide in to take your place. Someone is always circling nearby, looking for a slip. Once you slip the lines and pull out, may as well stay out.

Around noon the fleet will embark and swarm out to you in earnest. Boats everywhere. You will have missed the instructions for the race course, but it doesn’t matter. You don’t care, primarily, and secondly the course will likely change, as is it does today. There is so little wind today at the start, the committee shrewdly at the last minute shortens the course by half. As I’ve said before, it’s not a race, it’s a parade. Prizes will be awarded, true, but not just to the fastest boats.

After the race, many who have not been on the water all day will stay out, remembering again how nice it is to be free of land. “Oh, right, this is nice.” There’s a lot of cruising in close company to admire each other’s boats. The last of the cold front that brought the rain last night drains away, the skies clear, barely enough wind left to fill a light sail.

Then dinner, always a pleasant affair with congratulations, and much giving of thanks. It’s a devout congregation. A sort of religion, the people of small hand-made boats, and a tent revival. Very Quaker. The gods are fickle, but the ministers are kind.

After dinner, Webb Chiles gave a talk this year. He does routinely what few of us would do, ever, though some might like to. Around the world alone, over and over, in a too small boat. The “monastery of the sea” he aptly calls it.

Rightly so.

 

 

 

Whining and Dining

St. Michaels, Maryland

 

Steve sent a text saying if I arrive in time, meet at the Chesapeake Crab and Steakhouse for dinner.

There I found him, with Webb, Curt, and Tom. First order of business was to recount how each of us had come here.  Tom had trailered his Pathfinder 1300 miles all the way up from the Florida Keys. Webb, of course, had sailed in Gannet most of the way around the world to get here, dodging a hurricane on the way. Steve started in Cambridge and sailed Spartina for two weeks on a circuitous route of about 300 miles. Curt started on the western shore and sailed Annie across the shipping channel in the dark from Shady Side, Maryland. I weathered DC rush hour traffic towing a boat and risked aggravating Homeland Security.

 

Raked masts

 

So, for all of us, the trip to St. Michaels was an adventure of trials and tribulations. Being mariners all, some of us approaching ancient, the telling of the tale is part of the package. Mine would have seemed more adventurous in other company. Except perhaps for Tom, though, all would choose their tribulations over mine.

After dinner I found Dave Gentry and pitched a tent in the dark and rain. The campsites had filled up more than I’ve seen on a Thursday. I understand they had the most people ever on the Wye Island gunk hole trip. And Kristen, the museum president, was on her way back from solo-ing in a kayak for 60 miles around Kent Island.

 

 

 

Steve’s Pathfinder “Spartina” bedded down.

 

Friday morning was cool and breezy as a front blew out the rain. Good sailing. Took a bunch of photos of boats along the docks, then launched Caesura and spent the day on the water, returning in time for the traditional festival kickoff of steamed crabs and raw oysters.

 

 

 

 

 

Salient Saline

Steve alongside in Spartina

 

Steve and I have been trying to get together again for over a year. Work or weather always interfered. An unexpected cool front brought clear skies and gentle breezes this weekend, unusual for August, and we finally managed to pull it off. I wrapped work stuff up Friday at noon and threw some gear in the back of the car, hooked up a boat to head for the coast.

For a change we met in Tidewater, on the Rappahannock at Gwynn’s Island, where he and Curt and I spent a day on Curt’s Drascombe Lugger, Annie. It’s also where Doug and I sailed both my Melonseeds when he was visiting from California.

 

 

Apparently the posts I’ve shared about a restaurant on the water nearby peaked Steve’s interest, so we met there, I hopped aboard, and we sailed around a bit on Spartina,

Funny thing about when Steve and I go sailing: we don’t talk much about boats. He’s well-read, and we have similar tastes, but different enough that I always learn something new or get a good recommendation. In a couple of hours on the water, the conversation ranges from books, to writer friends, books, artist friends, history, sailmaker friends, films, family, books, seafood, etc..

In Norfolk, where he usually sails, these conversations are interrupted every few minutes by a barge or freighter trying to run us down. A few tense moments pass until we get out of danger’s way and can carry on. Here, no such problem. I catch Steve a couple of times realize he hasn’t looked up in a while, and reflexively snap up for quick look about. Makes me smile, because I know exactly what he’s looking for and why. By the end of the sail the lazy pace has settled in, and we realize we forgot to decide where we’re going.

Doesn’t matter, as long as it ends at the restaurant for a seafood dinner. Or more to the point, for three dozen oysters with some other food on the side. Oysters, like the waters where we sail, are ranked by their salt content. Sweet is nice, but salty is better.

 

 

 

It’s dusk by the time we finish. Steve then motored out to anchor across the water under a full moon. I didn’t have time to get camping gear together, so secured a room in a house across the river in Irvington.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Irvington, Virgina

 

 

 

Carter’s Creek, Irvington

 

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Kinsale ~ Sailing the Yeocomico River Video

youtube link

 

Last post from the Kinsale trip. Eight boats down the Yeocomico River. Crabbers, oyster farming operations, grain silos loading grain at a dockside depot, and fine weather.

 

 

 

Kinsale Moonrise ~ Video

youtube link

 

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.

 

 

A Short Fall ~ Sailing with T

Aeon at rest after a good run.

 

My desk faces two big windows. In the afternoon, the sun slants across the porch and peeks in. There’s a wisteria vine curtain that waves coyly if there’s any wind, and through the gaps are red and yellow maples that join in, shimmering. Further off still are woods, then mountains, a ripple of blue-greyed horizon, like distant surf. Makes it hard to get work done sometimes.

Tuesday was a beautiful day, a breezy day. I ignored it successfully and regretfully until it was too late to do anything with. Yesterday was much the same, though, and two in a row is just unfair. The Schooner Race posts will just have to wait a bit longer. Terri has her weekends in the middle of the week, so we loaded up Aeon and headed for big water, back to the Chickahominy. (Caesura gets no love until she muscles her way onto the trailer.)

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Topside Varnish

 

Doug helped me flip the boats while he was here so he could see them right side up. That gave me access to all the parts that still needed a last coat of varnish (this year).

The Decks and Coamings now have three coats, the Rails have two. I also got two coats on the Tillers and, finally, two coats on the Hatch Covers. Now they match the Decks, and for the first time you can see how the finished topsides will look with all matching woods and colors. Very nice, I think.

Working strenuously on the hardware now. More on that soon.

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