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Posts from the ‘SAILING STUFF’ Category

Another Spring —

So, it must be sailing season!

Well, the calendar says it’s Spring, and the forecast seems to confirm that. Temperatures are rising, but not yet safe from overnight cold. Meanwhile, Spring boat chores are underway. With a new to me boat acquired less than a year ago, the to do list is lengthy. Some of it is cosmetic, but some more substantial. An engine tech is currently working on replacing a leaking water muffler – hopefully done this week. The canvass shop is modifying my main sail cover. The cabin and all storage spaces have been emptied and cleaned — now to organize gear and supplies that will be needed for the sailing season.

Fortunately, a sailing friend has volunteered some time to help work thru the list beginning this week. Water at the marina gets turned on in a few days. Freshwater tankage and AC lines will get flushed and engine run to clear antifreeze from the lines. A trip to the pump out station will have Mischief ready to sail.

The first trip was a run down the Bay to Galesville. Home port is moving from Bodkin YC to West River Yacht Harbor. Improved logistics and proximity to a number of other Hunter sailors are the primary reasons. We’ll stay social members of the Bodkin YC.

Three significant plans are in the works for the season. First, I’m entering Mischief in the West River Wednesday nite races – non-spinnaker class. Working on lining up crew now. Second, my helpful boat friend is purchasing a 40ft trawler that currently resides in the St Lawrence river (upstate NY). So, I get to help bring her down to the Bay via Lake Erie, the Erie Canal, Hudson River, off-shore to Cape May, up the Delaware Bay and Down the Chesapeake to her home slip. Looks like a fun 2 week cruise. Third, a float plan is in the works for a cruise around the perimeter of the Chesapeake stopping at interesting harbors/anchorages along the way. That an occasional Club cruises should make for a full sailing season.

Tuesday April 4th was a beautiful sunny and warm day to be on the water although the winds were right on the nose as we moved Mischief south to Galesville. Cleared the bridge early PM, and made it into the slip — with no help from strong winds – about 4pm. All in all a good day!

‘It gets easier, as we get older’…..

Or so the song goes – ‘…to say, not today’. It’s my new favorite Willie Nelson song. [  A good way to think about shifting priorities with age, and maybe why we’re seen as getting cranky by some! In any event, it seems to fit the aging sailing skippers that I know – and I’ll own up to it as well.

I do notice that the physical requirements of managing a cruising sailboat are becoming more apparent. Still manageable, but not as easy as in recent seasons.  My single-handing days are not yet over, but I do plan to open the boat to more frequent crew this coming season. Finding and selecting compatible crew is a task that demands attention and time.  I’ve taken it on over winter to get acquainted with interested folks figuring those that would also take the time now are likely serious about sailing opportunities. A slow process so far, but promising!

In parallel to the crew search is the process of preparing a ‘new-to-me’ Hunter 33.5. She’s an older boat, but in solid condition.

Recent engine service and winterizing by a professional tech has been a bit pricey (what boat related work isn’t) but well worth it. It provided an opportunity to learn a lot about the lay out and especially the plumbing.  At least I now know where all the thru hulls are located 😊. Some fitting modifications of the cockpit canvass surround is done. The below deck inventory and storage plan is well along. Managed to build a set of companionway doors to replace the annoying drop boards…

The serious above deck and hull cleaning and waxing is a Spring project, along with some minor gelcoat repairs.  Maybe a trade off with some crew help? Also need to get the new name (Mischief) and port-of-call (Annapolis, MD) affixed to the hull.

Meanwhile, at home I’m spending time developing cruising plans. I started looking at the Downeast circle, mapping out routes and working out equipment and boat modifications that would be needed. Then reality struck following a chat with a friend who just made that trip – 4,000nm and 4 months among other considerations took that off the table.  I’ll get to hear more details when he presents a seminar next month. A cruise up to the Maine coast is still alive on the planning table. If not, then extended cruises exploring the many anchorages around the Chesapeake will pretty well fill the season. Over the years, I’ve visited most all the popular spots and some less so – all worth going back to. Then there’s always a circumnavigation of the DelMarVa peninsula which I’ve done twice and provides a bit of off shore sailing.  Also, have two extra sails I haven’t flown, including a gennaker. Looking forward to experimenting.  Had my first spinnaker experience in the Fall races on another person’s boat – including a broach ☹

Just survived the first winter cold front with temps down to 0 degrees f and high winds. Boat managed with a small heater on board. Appreciated the weather updates from my friends who sailed south – not! Past the winter solstice so lengthening days and warmer weather nor too far away…..

Coming home

Paperwork done – she’s mine now. Time to get her to home port at Bodkin Yacht Club. Dean, the buyer of my previous boat Valinor II, volunteered to help with the delivery. We picked a favorable south wind day with lots of sunshine.

I previously completed all the setup of dock lines in the new slip and arranged them to ease the arrival. The slip is outside facing the creek making for a simple entry.

The sail up the Bay from below the Bay bridge at Annapolis met with varied wind conditions. The course was mostly straight north.

The Departure from the West River all the way up to the Bay bridge met with steady south wind around 5kts, so a motor sail trip. With engine and some wind assist, we made about 6kts over ground even with a slight outgoing tide. (Note: the plan was for a motor sail regardless of wind to test out the engine)

North of the bridge the wind picked to 10-18kts. That provided a good chance to take her off the downwind course and try out a fun beam reach … and fun it was. She sailed well and solid with moderate heel.

At the entrance to Bodkin Creek, we dropped sails and headed in through a narrow entry channel seeing a bit less than 6ft depth for our 4.5ft draft. Once through the entrance, it was an easy run up the creek to the Club and her home slip.  A few members on hand helped with lines and she was secured quickly — time for a beverage – or two – to celebrate!

Persistence Pays

That’s what I said in my last post, and for once I was right.  Success was achieved by following all reasonable sources in the yacht brokerage world on a daily basis. For some reason, the inventory of used boats is very low at this time. I speculate that, as we came to end of the covid ‘lock down’, folks decided the future was less certain and it was time to enjoy the present. Good decision to my way of thinking.

So, a new to me boat joins my list of things to enjoy NOW.   She’s a 1989 Hunter 33.5.   She’s exceptionally well equipped both for sailing capability and cruising comfort.  The short list of projects mostly revolve around detail cleaning and organizing while I learn a new boat – always an adventure.

Part of the transition process involves renaming, which means deciding on a name. Previous boats were Valinor and Valinor II – the name derived from Lord of the Rings in which Valinor was the undying lands to which the heros went at the end of the tale. Valinor III was an option but passed on as I didn’t want confusion with Valinor II now owned by a nearby sailing friend.  To stay in the same imaginative world, I picked ‘Mischief’.  For those that know the tale, you will recognize the ‘Mischief Managed’ quote which, when spoken, would instantly hide the printing on the Marauder’s Map. I will be very careful to avoid that with respect to nautical charts…….  There will, of course, be an appropriate renaming ceremony to avoid Poseidon’s wrath with all the right words and beverage(s).

So, for all those in the Chesapeake Bay area – look (out) for Mischief (the boat that is) on the water soon.

Back in the market

Well, I’ve been there more than once. It can be a confusing place, not to mention frustrating. Yacht World, Boat Trader and assorted other sources all offer the means to sort for just what you want – in the hope that there are several good choices, and all within an easy drive to see. Then the probability is that the perfect boat is at the other end of the Country, if in the home Country at all……

So, I’m in that search stage. Have already looked at several boats that by description and pictures promised to be a near perfect match.  Therein lies the frustration part. Learning to read between the lines (lies sometime) is critical to avoiding a lot of wasted time. Granted, older boats are not going to be showroom perfect. Adjusting expectations to reality needs to be done early in the game.

Somewhere out there, within a day’s drive to see, is my boat. Actually, the one I sold a couple years ago meets the criteria.   Sadly, he won’t sell it back……

Fortunately, I also have friends in the business who are keeping an eye out for my boat, and providing good critique on some I’ve considered. It helps to have friends.

Persistence pays, or will at some point, and I’ll continue to search enjoying as best I can the process.

Being mostly optimistic about life in general, I’m hopeful that finding and acquiring my boat will precede the arrival of winterizing. There’s still plenty of good sailing weather here in the Chesapeake until early December, or later, depending on just how hardy you are.

So look for me sometime soon out on the water. Meanwhile, I will be enjoying the search and spending time with other sailors at my new boat home at Bodkin Yacht Club and crewing with a fun bunch for Wednesday night races.

Back on the water

Well, it’s been a few years but it all comes back quickly – except I never was a racer. This past Wednesday evening was only my second sailboat race. The first was several years ago for fun in my then Catalina 30. This time I have the good fortune to be invited to crew on a similar boat, but rigged out for class racing. Even got to fly a spinnaker! Proud to report, we came in first — (full disclosure, we were the only boat in our class). I’ve signed up for the season of Wednesday night races to the extent I can manage. Looking forward to sailing with a good crew and some fun time on the water. Pix follow……

Circling for the start
Good crew, good boat


Life is a moving target. To live fully, one must constantly be adjusting their aim. Practice helps, but perfect aim, if achievable at all, comes late.   I would never describe my life as uneventful or mundane. The watchword has been constant change, some minor and happening slowly, others fast and substantial. In any event, it has been an interesting ride – so far.

The latest significant change is my decision to sell Valinor II. That means taking off the skipper’s hat, but perhaps finding an occasional crew spot. My sailing career has been long and varied. I’ve first and foremost met and made good friends on the water throughout my travels. I’ve seen a lot of coastal US (east side), and spent many wonderful days exploring the remarkable Chesapeake Bay. It’s been a good run, and the destination has always been Valinor.

I trust there’s time for more adventures of some kind, and will share as they materialize …..


‘Hindsight is 2020’ they say … (This is NOT a political post)


We should soon put 2020 in the history book and find our way out of what has been an especially challenging year on so many fronts.

In part, because of the virus and some pretty inconvenient weather systems, this has also been a very challenging sailing season. Add to that some ongoing repair/improvement efforts on a newly acquired boat (late 2019). My enrollment in Spinsheet’s Century Club challenge proved overly optimistic. Not nearly as much time was spent on the water as planned. Even so, I managed to break the 50 day mark …..

First, early in the season I moved the boat to a new location at Maryland Yacht Club on the Patapsco River. It was a friendly and well-equipped site with a very generous sized slip and good marina neighbors.

On the down side, it was a solid 4+ hours sailing time to the Annapolis area where many friends are based and closer to my very familiar cruising waters. On the up side, it gave me opportunities to try my hand at some fun racing. Even a grand-daughter got a chance for some racing lessons at the helm of a friend’s boat.

One such race was cut short abruptly by a broken steering cable – right at the start line. It offered a little excitement and an opportunity to test out the boat’s emergency tiller system.

This new interest in racing led me to enter a novel Annapolis-based event, the ‘2 Bridges Fiasco’. This was the first year for this race which was patterned after a regular San Francisco event. It was perhaps the highlight of the season. We had good winds,10-20 mostly, and I scored an assist from very experienced crew.










That experience paid off given the 130+ boat fleet, and the staggered start all of which would have otherwise been a bit stressful. We managed a respectable finish in the middle of our class – not bad for a 34ft cruising boat. We topped 7kts and put the rail in the water a few times.





Even with the virus restrictions, the Club managed a few overnight cruises with small rafting groups in some lovely Bay anchorages.








For assorted reasons, I made several trips down Bay to Annapolis. One of those produced a record time with favorable wind and tide making for a really fun sail. Sadly, the usual weekend raft ups fell victim to the virus constraints.

It’s now mid-November. I’ve relocated the boat back to Annapolis at my former marina in preparation for some over-winter work. The process of setting her up for winter is underway, but final winterization is on hold pending the chance for a few more day sails. So, hoping for some moderate, breezy days and friendly crew to share some bittersweet time on the water. Barring a change in current plans, Valinor II will have a new skipper by next season. Stay tuned for new adventures………

Music on the Water

A great evening with dozens of other boaters, plenty of ‘social distance’! The Eastport Oyster Boys gave a live concert on the stage of the Stanley Norman surrounded by sailboats, power boats, and dinghies. Good music with good friends. This is a VERY popular annual event, and the EOBs deserve a big hand for doing all the work it takes to stage this event, and for a good cause. Thanks to the Stanley Norman Skipjack for hosting in a glorious day for Shorerivers / Wye River Pump out Boat… over 200 boats shared the evening and helped the cause.

I had the good fortune of leaving my boat in it’ slip and taking a ride with my best sailing friend on his boat. All the fun, half the work! That said, we managed a decent sail down Bay before motoring up Eastern Bay to get to the concert site in Shaw Bay — don’t know the country? … pull up online charts! It was about a 24nm trip. We enjoyed evening snacks and libations, and a quiet night before motoring home in the morning with less than 5kts of breeze. Another great weekend on the water!

A repost from July 2016

Current disheartening events suggest not a lot has changed in four years other than increasing partisanship and division in the Country – the responsibility for which is broadly shared across the leadership, both political parties and the media ….. (current comments in italics)


Given the unfolding events of the past week (months) or so, I stopped to assess my feelings and have tried to ferret out the truth from all the hype and questionable reporting. Based on the responses I see from my on line community, and considering the sense of the Country, it is a remarkably unusual time. I have never seen a more disreputable or dysfunctional Presidential campaign in my 50+ years of experience. We face profoundly important choices in the near term that will affect our children’s and their children’s lives.

I shy away from the conspiracy theorists and extremists of all kind. Yet, recent events cannot be ignored. Evident, blatant campaign fraud; mishandling and destruction of classified materials; clandestine and unethical meeting crossing political and active legal interests; lying to the Congress and FBI; death of an email hacker in a jail cell; apparent conflict of interest and possible fraud in the management of a family Foundation. Granted that these stories are often spun for political gains, but in mass, and given the timing, it doesn’t pass the laugh test to believe there has been no wrong doing. I believe both political sides have their own set of troubling issues. (now add the violence and protests that have persisted, along with the Country’s response to the current virus)

Others have said it, and I believe it – we face a crisis of confidence in our leadership. Laws are being bent or ignored to accommodate the powerful, examples of inequality/injustice are pervasive – not just in race and life style, but across the spectrum of human activity. The elite behave as though they have the only truth, and the rest of us had better get with the program or be penalized – and the laws apply differently to them, or not at all. These conditions cannot persist if our Country is to survive in a form we can accept, and the Constitution and Bill of Rights promise.

I called for the FBI Director to be fired for what I believe was a breach of justice if not law. After some consideration, and further information, I retracted that statement in part. In fact, the responsibility and accountability rests higher up the chain. The DOJ Attorney General still has the opportunity to set it right however unlikely that may be. Further, the President is culpable in his enthusiastic support of a candidate whose integrity and judgement is very much in question.

I appreciate what this Country has stood for, even with some occasional warts. I have been pleased and proud to be a citizen. Yet the treatment of all our citizens by the government has increasingly restricted our personal freedom, whether in the name of safety from external threats or the imposition their ‘wisdom’ over ours to force changes in our behavior and/or beliefs. This is all very disheartening. Should this trend continue, conditions will become far worse than merely disheartening. I fear increasing and violent turmoil if our leadership doesn’t correct the path we’re on. Worse, I see little or no evidence of that correction, and strong indications that the electorate in general is unprepared and/or unwilling to act in the Country’s best interest.

From a practical perspective, I cannot in good conscience vote for either of the presumptive candidates, (still true today) leaving my only option to vote for those ‘down ballot’ who demonstrate a willingness to bring thoughtful change to a broken governmental system – I hope others will do so as well.