It is cold and there is only a little sunshine, but otherwise it is a grand day to be sailing a schooner down Chesapeake Bay. There are white caps and the wind is gusty off the quarter and we have all sail up doing 8 to 10 knots and that fancy, plastic cat with his ultra fancy sails is not catching us.
Nev called out to the first pelican this year. He looked cold and we thought his blond "hair" and generally light coloration marked him as some kind of Nordic descendant. Soon enough, there were squads of them and Nev was cheering them on.
Later that Manta 42 DID pass us, but we made him work for it. Arni and Cam were with their daughters on their brand new boat and took several photos of us under full sail as he passed so he was a gracious winner, and that night he showed us the super duper, easy breezy sail handling on Jade. He sits in his chair and pushes buttons for all the navigation and sail controls. While we do not want to go THAT high tech, we would like some easier sail handling especially when reefing and furling sails. We have wanted this a long time and are getting ready for drastic action.
We spent yesterday at Rebel Marine here in Willoughby Bay, near Norfolk. The people here founded and still organize the Chesapeake Bay Schooner Race which is a relaxed celebration of schooner rigs both old, new, and simply incredible. They have the Norfolk Rebel, a schooner rigged, purpose built, steel hulled working tug boat. Yup! They call her a tugantine and her galley saloon is covered in plaques from all the major classic boat gatherings up and down the US East coast. The Norfolk Rebel has pumps, patches, spare parts, three kegs of beer, and the ability to tow any boat that might need assistance during a race. Folks at Rebel Marine are also involved in restoration work on old schooner fish boats, yachts etc, and are interested in just anything to do with schooners. We met some of them last winter in the Bahamas and stopped in briefly on our way north last spring and loved the friendly, relaxed, family feeling of the place. While the Grand Old Man of schooners, Capt. Lane Briggs, died recently, a few of the younger members of the family, and several experienced schooner sailors helped us reconsider our sail handling in detail. We will do SOMETHING, but currently the details remain undecided. We considered and later rejected full batten mega roach sails because they do not spill wind and a catamaran needs to do that in gusty conditions. We might also require different kinds of masts and maybe spreaders to contend with the different forces. Ugh! We considered tracks but may reject that too because of problems with attaching the gaffs and strains on the mast plus potential rot from the track fastenings. We considered rope lashings to the mast but the guys at Rebel said something unprintable about rope lashings. We are considering wooden hoops... maybe. The guys at Rebel nodded approval and I like the idea that you can use the hoops to help climb the mast. Most likely there will be gaffs because they CAN spill wind as needed and I love them. They may be alloy or carbon fiber to make them lighter and so I will love them even more. There WILL be a more extensive lazy jack system starting right away and some kind of sail reefing and furling must be developed next summer that I can do alone. Worry is no fun and I worry if it takes both of us in good health to shorten sail. What if one of us is injured?
My mother's grandfather was a schooner captain and I guess that may be part of what draws me to the rig and perhaps sailing in general. But my years as a singlehander taught me that operation of a boat needs to be simple. Wharrams have a simple construction method that we all admire, but greater simplicity and ease of OPERATION is needed now. Even old people wanna go sailing!
Another decision we have made is to go ahead and haul next time we get the chance and add several coats of ablative antifouling paint.I could say something unprintable about Copperbot paint! We look forward to having a slick bottom and maybe meeting Jade again some day... Rebel Marine helped us buy their favorite bottom paint which is real good and cheap too. It is for tug boats.
The Great Chesapeake Schooner Race is going to have a hard time deciding the handicap and class for us, but we have entered the race scheduled for the third week in October 2006 from Baltimore, Maryland to Norfolk, Virginia. We will be mostly interested in seeing all the other boats and will not make any particular attempt to actually go fast. It will be mostly a social event for us. But there are several Wharram designed schooner rigged catamarans being built along the US East Coast now, and we will hope for a multihull schooner class in the future. THEN we might try going fast and see what we can do with a slick bottom and easily handled sails! Come on guys and gals! Mix that GLUE!! This could be a whole lot of fun for all of us! But let's not get serious about winning... just have a good time.
My cough is now somewhat better so we will be heading down the ICW for a few days on the safer inside route behind Cape Hatteras. Already it is a little warmer, but we are only half way to Florida...
We went through the Dismal Swamp Canal again and their US government funding is still in question. A number of you wrote your congressmen last year to save the Dismal Swamp Canal and it did help. But this year the employees are on a month by month basis for their jobs. More letters are requested!
In Pamlico Sound there were a gang of dolphins leaping right out of the water and we greeted them with whoops and laughter. Such bringers of joy!
We are near Beaufort/Moorhead City which is a jumping off place for vessels heading offshore. We will wait for appropriate wind anchored in Adams Creek where we have friends on a boat named Pearl. Nev will tighten the rig, I will have a general check around, and there is a north wind with our name on it pretty soon.
We often are able to use the mobile phone when sailing just offshore so we can use it to send email with this tiny machine and keep in touch with family etc. But if the phone does not get a good signal, there is no need to worry. We will get there eventually. We are familiar with Cape Fear, Charleston, Savannah, Fernandina and Jacksonville. It will be getting warmer as we go along... something to say for that!
Love, Ann and Nev
© Anne and Neville Clement, 2005