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Bermuda Ocean Race or Wedding?

There aren’t too many things I’d rather do than crew on a Bermuda Ocean Race boat. The race is scheduled to start at 1330 hours on  Friday, June 8 in the Annapolis Harbor.

However I’ll forgo the race since high on my preference list is to see our youngest daughter get married at Williamsburg Winery on June 9th!  Now, that I wouldn’t miss!!

As an alternative to the BOR, I’ll be sailing my boat from Annapolis to Norfolk this coming week to be at the wedding. I’ll return  June 12-13th along with the rest of the fleet escorting several dozen Tall Ships on their overnight trip up the Bay to Baltimore as part of this year’s OpSail and Sailabration festivities – .  Not a bad alternative 🙂

Addendum — sadly, boat repair schedule changed plans – will catch up with the Tall Ships in Annapolis.

(Pix from off Annapolis June 2011)

Community matters

As one who lives quite far removed from the waters he sails on, I connect to the local sailing community mostly by a common love of things nautical. Because of geography, only intermittently do I wander the Eastport streets and hang out in the marinas and watering holes frequented by my fellow sailors and local denizens. Those normal routines for local folks help define a sailing community. Us sailors who live some distance away seek other connections.

When friends share a day’s sail or a longer cruise – or just the telling of it, there is no distance between us. Community ties are strong, and the fabric of the community is strengthened by our common experiences. These connections are typically ingrained and pervasive such that most of us give it not a bit of thought.

I think about this because a sense of belonging is a fundamental human need. Perhaps it has its origins around the fires now distant in time, when being part of the clan meant survival. Absent a connection to community, even today, we often feel some subtle unease. So, I wonder about ways in which the sailing community in particular fashions ties between us that benefit both the individuals and the larger community.

Many interconnections and commonalities draw us together. We join local clubs – often several. We participate in organized activities both on and off the water. Some spend time on internet forums where we can share stories and information. Our leaders provide examples to follow (or not), and we share goals such as the creation of a sailing hall of fame. All give form and substance to our community.  The dividends are apparent when we unexpectedly find old (or make new) friends at distant anchorages, receive help online to some puzzle with our boats, or guidance for a difficult passage or harbor entrance, or just a helping hand with dock lines. How close a community it feels when a marina manager remembers you from one overnight there two years previous. Some wander singly around the globe to test skill and endurance or feed the soul, but most of us find our satisfaction in the company of other sailors.

Important, and woven into those many ways in which we nurture our sense of community, is how we treat our fellow sailors – friends and strangers alike.  If we are welcoming, helpful and respectful we nourish our connections. If otherwise, we create tensions that weaken them. The courtesy with which we treat others is anything but common. Even the small wave to a passing boat is part of the glue that keeps us together as a community of sailors, and feeds that fundamental need to belong.

While I’m not a fan of bumper stickers, I do smile at some, sometimes curse at others, but always nod in agreement with the one that says ‘Choose Civility’.  At a minimum, that is good advice for how to treat others on and off the water – should I say ‘even power boaters’? 🙂

Sailing to a Pig Roast

What a great reason to sail to the DNR camp on the Wye River – good music, good food and good company! And, it was an outstanding sail over. We slipped the dock lines about 0900, had the main sail up before we left the creek and did not drop sail till we were within a few hundred yards of the anchorage.

Teri Lyn just astern on Eastern Bay

What started as very light NE wind, slowly built to 8-14kts giving us SOG of 5 – 6.5Kts on a comfortable point of sail down the Bay and up Eastern Bay around the point back south to the entrance to Wye River.

Wye River DNR Camp

After a bit of a shuffle with anchor boats, we built a 6-boat raft nose to toes and had lots of great company.

The on-shore festivities got under way with a pig roast and all the fixing along with live music. Some of the revelry extended well into the evening making for a slow morning to follow.

A great treat!

We paid for the trip down with a hard slog against adverse tide and wind.

After a long beat across the Bay and a tack back, making little progress north we fired the engine and motor-sailed north past Thomas Point until we cleared Tolly Point. Then it was an easy run to home.

Click on the link to see the SPOT track

Doesn’t get much better!

Forecast:  winds 5-10kts from the south with increasing clouds and chance of rain.

What we got: 10-18kts SE and blue sky.  A near perfect day for sailing!

With good crew (Dane), we left the slip about 10AM and had sail up before clearing Back Creek and headed across the Bay in a steady 10-12kts. Winds gradually strengthen to 15-18kts prompting a reef in the main and shortened head sail – still making 5-6kts – occasionally faster.

About an hour out we sailed through one of several on-going races getting some vocal direction from one of the young participants. She clearly wanted us out of her way! We cleared her course and didn’t cause her to slow down. It was a pretty sight to be surrounded by a dozen or more small one-design racers.

About that time we spotted the Sultana headed in from the Bay Bridge and changed our course to sail by. For the next hour our course crossed the Sultanas making for some nice picture opportunities.

After a pass through Spa Creek anchorage about 3PM we headed back to the slip. On approaching the turn into my branch, we encountered two young men stretched out on a dingy paddling their way up the creek. We drifted alongside to see if they were OK – seems they ran out of gas. So, we took their line and towed them the rest of the way to their dock, then returned to the slip.

All in all a great sail and interesting day, but not quite over. As were finishing getting the boat secured and everything stowed. Another crew from the SOS club joined us for ‘happy hour’ followed shortly by my slip neighbor and his crew. A pleasant end to a great day!

Click on the SPOT link to see the days course…….

A Primer on the Volve Ocean Race

Here’s a GREAT STORY and a look at all the technology behind watching off-shore sailing/racing! You won’t want to miss watching the videos! $10 million boats just for a start — click on the link…….

PUMA 1st on leg to Miami (VOR pic)                                 

CAMPER 2nd  (VOR pic)

Some thoughts on water, climate and our choices

If you aren’t giving serious attention to matters that affect the waters of our planet, perhaps you should. The water world is a constantly changing place. Those of us who sail on it should be intimately aware of that, and also of the critical importance of that resource for its quantity. distribution and quality.

Whatever you think about changing climate and its causes, the documented warming trend and rising sea level warrants your attention. Increasing ocean temperatures and receding polar ice cover are not trivial changes. The implications for the sailing community are substantial – not necessarily all bad. Frankly, I could use a bit more water depth at my slip. Costs that the Corps of Engineers bear to dredge and maintain navigable commercial channels might go down. But, fixed docks could be submerged and many marinas with them. As a cautious person, I think I’d be building floating docks right now – just in case.

More important are the predictions for increasing frequency of weather extremes. Consider that more named storms means more costs to BoatUS for the haul outs they subsidize, and the likely increase in insurance costs. The winter of 2012 brought exceptional warmth to much of North America, while Europe experienced among the coldest on record, with remarkable snow accumulations. Long-standing records fell at both ends of the spectrum. In the mid-Atlantic region, which harbors many thousands of boats, it was mostly a waste of effort to have winterized those boats. Sub-freezing temperatures occurred only briefly, and little if any ice resulted from the occasional dips south of 32F.

Governments at all levels have, or are beginning to develop, plans to accommodate these predicted changes. Changes may be especially troubling to communities like New Orleans that lay at or below the current high water mark, but also to all the coastal communities with many economic ties to their waterfronts.

That we have the ability to affect water quantity and quality on a very large scale should be clear. We’ve caused rivers to run dry, the Aral Sea in the USSR has gone from the second largest sea in the world to a desert – ironically for the sake of agricultural production.  Many lakes and rivers are simply not safe to swim in. Close to home, living resources in the Chesapeake Bay have been reduced substantially from historic times with the loss of associated economic benefits. On a positive note, we can and have stopped, and even reversed, some of these trends which demonstrates our ability to have large scale effects on natural systems.

It’s not a time to follow the motto for the intellectually uncurious – ‘What, me worry?’  But worry is only constructive if it leads to effective action.  Constructive response is what is called for if we’re to make sensible plans for a possible future. Let’s agree that changes are happening, that there are good reasons to believe that the trends are real and may well continue at least long enough to produce some unpleasant outcomes. If so, contingency planning for predicted outcomes is prudent.

Given the magnitude and complexity of the issues, what should/can we do about it personally? For most of us it means lending support to, or voting for those who will make the decisions. With that comes personal responsibility to be sufficiently educated about the issues such that we can lend informed support. While doing so, be aware that philosophical and political biases often lead to unwise solutions, and partisan stereotypes about solutions to and views about environmental challenges are often not good indicators of effective policy.

Grass and Bay quality..

The Chesapeake Bay Program recently released a report on the extent of underwater grasses – an important indicator of Bay health.

(pic from MD Sea Grant Program)

From the report ….

“Underwater grasses provide significant benefits to aquatic life and serve many critical ecological functions in the Bay and its tributaries, such as:

  • Providing shelter for young striped bass, blue crabs and other species

  • Improving water clarity by helping suspended sediment particles settle to the bottom

  • Adding oxygen to the water

  • Reducing shoreline erosion

Scientists believe that having more grasses in the Bay and rivers will dramatically improve the entire ecosystem. The expectation is that as nutrient and sediment pollution decrease and water clarity improves, underwater grass acreages should expand. Experts closely monitor underwater grasses because their well-being is dependent on good local water quality.  Therefore, their abundance is an excellent measure of the Bay’s health.”

For more, read the full report at