Monday, June 12, 2023

Why Do I Do This?

Hi Everyone!

If anyone is still following this I thought I would talk a bit about why I keep doing this cruising stuff. It's been a couple of weeks since I picked up the old mooring and I have been able to reflect a bit as I reenter the land based life once again.

It has been interesting to run into folks around the neighborhood who for the most part have no idea what cruising is about, what it is like, and why anybody in their right mind would do it. And they typically have their own problems to deal with and aren't really interested in learning more. That's OK. I feel a quiet satisfaction in knowing that I successfully completed my sixth trip to the Bahamas on the White Seal and made it back in one piece. There are a lot of things that can go wrong on a trip like that. I am very grateful. The real boosters and enthusiasts out there are those who have done this sort of thing. You know who you are! I will look forward to seeing you around the water this summer.

Back to the question I posed. I don't really have a clear answer. It boils down to the fact that there isn't much more satisfying than making a long trip in a small boat. There are a lot of folks out there that share a similar dream but never seem to make it happen, as seen in the thousands of well found boats secured more or less permanently in marinas everywhere. I am very thankful that I have been able to make these voyages, as well as voyages on other boats. I have always had a bit of the wanderlust in me and a real need to travel.

Thanks to everyone who followed along and may you all have fair winds as you pursue your own adventures!

With gratitude, Charlie 

Monday, May 29, 2023

Journey's End!

 Hi everyone!

It was yesterday around noon that Ron and I came round the corner into Kingsland Bay and picked up my old familiar mooring. Nothing like it, to successfully conclude a long trip in a small boat. And I was so happy to be home. My Langworthy side of the family has lived in Vermonts Champlain Valley since the 1780's, so I have an attachment for the place. I was really quite homesick. My lovely wife Meg was waiting patiently on shore and it was so great to be back with her.

It has been quite surreal being back on land. And a distinct step up on the ladder of civilized living. I'm really kind of overwhelmed and will try to post a coherent assessment of the cruise after a few days of unwinding. And after tackling a few items on an extensive honeydo list!

Very best to all, Charlie

Wednesday, May 24, 2023

Homeward bound!

 Hi everyone!

Presently at Castleton on Hudson where we will unstep mast. We signed in last night, paid up, and spent the night on the mooring. My goal was to be by the crane at 9 AM, pull the mast, and get underway. However, a Canadian boat, which shall remain unnamed, came up the river and took the spot at 8:45 without bothering to sign in or checking with the only other boat (me). Since they are a ketch, they have blown the entire morning and have just gotten the mizzen down. Unfortunately, I am in a hurry to get home for a big family gathering coming up in Connecticut. We may end up having to spend another night here. We should have been underway at this time, which is noon.

Enough whining Charlie! I am enjoying the company of Ron Rost again, who joined me i Atlantic Highlands. I had had a very fast and boisterous sail up the Jersey shore in a SE wind. The official NOAA forecast had been for 10-15 knots. had called for 20 with gusts to 28 and that is what we had. I did not see any other sailboats out there, in fact, very few vessels of any kind. It was very rough going out the Cape May inlet in spite of the flood tide. Once out however, and able to beam reach, it was pretty spectacular. I got to Sandy Hook around 11 PM when the wind died. The seas were still quite large and the tide was ebbing at the Hook. I ended up taking the sails down and just drifting till about4:30 AM when I started the engine and went with the flood into Atlantic Highlands. Ron joined me later in the day.

The next morning, in a brisk NW wind, we sailed off the anchor and headed thru New York Harbor cloaehauled the entire time. I started off with storm jib and full main.  The wind dropped a bit in the lower harbor so I put on the working jib. Then, when it picked up later we reefed the main. It was just spectacular sailing. Truly a great life experience, sailing thru that harbor in a really stiff breeze. We managed to stay sailing almost to the Tappan Zee, where the tide turned and the wind died. We spent the night anchored at Nyack, just north of the Tappan Zee Bridge. 

Next day had us enjoying the stunning section of the Hudson that inspired the Hudson River School of painting. Bear Mountain Bridge, West Point, World's End, Storm King, and Bannerman's Castle were all inspiring. A night anchored at Norrie Point State Park, another lovely day on the river, and here we are!

Best to all, Charlie

Thursday, May 18, 2023

Delaware Bay Punishment

 Hello fellow sailors,

As usual I have lagged behind in keeping this little missive up to date. I am anchored in Cape May, after a rollicking sail down the Delaware yesterday. And of course there have been other adventures since emerging from the depths of the swamp.

Sometimes it feels like low grade combat when sailing alone. I started yesterday morning at 5:30 only to find I was hard aground in the basin at Chesapeake City. A quick look at the tide tables made me realize I should just wait, and the tide would float me off. At about 7, I became impatient, and ran out a kedge anchor in the dinghy. No success. It refused to set, and resulted in a large load of putrid mud being deposited on my deck. Twenty buckets of water later and things looked better. A few more minutes passed, and I motored off. I just needed a bit more patience. The C&D canal was no problem. The current was with me and I was through in short order. Coming out of the canal is like being catapulted into an active firing range. There were 2 large ships, one northbound, one south. They were passing right at the intersection I was being thrust into. The wind was out of the north, 20-25, opposing the current, and the river was a mass of whitecaps. A tug and barge combo was anchored outside of the channel, and another barge was visible downriver, but headed my way. Adding to my stress level was the fact that my Navionics navigation app had been out of commission for several days, something I was none too happy about. Since I wanted to avoid getting creamed by a 50,000 ton ship I decided to hold off on hoisting sail until conditions were more favorable. Using my paper charts I stayed in shallow water until the massive piles of steel had lumbered away from the area. I was fighting a strong tide which kept my speed low. The motion was excessive, and my autopilot was acting a bit wonky, needing close supervision. I hoisted the jib and saw a dramatic improvement in speed. Shutting the engine down I made my way past the nuclear power plant on the New Jersey side. 

But wait, another sailboat appeared on the other side of the river , also headed south. And they were sporting a main AND a jib. Clearly, the red flag had been waved, and a race was on. Getting my main up whilst being thrashed in the waves was not pretty, but I did it. And the tide finally began to turn. Sadly, the other boat was clearly faster. It was about a mile away and I never got a good look at it. As the tide strengthened my speed rose to a peak of 9.2 knots. 2 of those knots were due to current. I may have achieved higher but I had my hands full as the boat surged thru the waves. I am finding that the autopilot has a tough time in heavy downwind conditions. All of this time I am recording my position, avoiding other ships, and generally getting beaten around. After several hours I met a really huge tug towing a massive barge with containers piled high. The initial wake didn't seem bad, but the subsequent hills of water were something else. There was a loud snap as a pin in one of my preventer shackles broke. The preventer keeps the mainsail from jibing, and potentially removing Charlie's head from its foundation. So I dropped the main. This involved scrambling around and securing the sail as the boat careened from side to side. The autopilot steered while I replaced the broken pin. I was too beat to rehoist it. Things were looking good and I was 5 miles from Cape May. I was running directly downwind, with the jib jibing back and forth when suddenly there was a blast of wind, from directly ahead! Not in the forecast at all. So now I was faced with a new wind, directly on the nose, and the tide was now contrary as well. I gave up and turned on the motor. I wanted to get into Cape May before dark and I did, just barely. I anchored in a questionable spot, and sure enough, at 1:30AM, I was aground. Same way I began the day! No harm done. Flat calm. Soft mud. 

Hope to head north along the Jersey shore tomorrow!

Best to all, Charlie

Tuesday, May 9, 2023

Back to the Swamp

 Hi everyone,

I must be a slow learner but here I go again. Tied up at the public dock in Elizabeth City and heading into the Dismal Swamp tomorrow. Called the canal authorities and they report that my nemesis, the duckweed infestation, is gone. With strong northerly winds in the forecast I figured the swamp would be better than the Virginia Cut route. We shall see.

Had spent a night in Belhaven, where I caught up with my friend Paul, who is working on his Alburg 35 in a yard there. Then it was a long day to the mouth of the Alligator River. Today I made my way across the Albemarle and up the first part of the Pasquotank to Elizabeth City. There was some nice sailing involved. Lots of crab pots to dodge. Thunderstorms in the forecast but so far I have avoided them.

Cheers, Charlie

Sunday, May 7, 2023


 Hi everyone!

Sailing wing and wing on the Neuse River with the autopilot doing the work. Realizing I should be blogging more frequently when things are fresh.

I gotta put a plug in for Oriental, NC. It's a small place, with a postage stamp harbor and about a thousand people. Nothing particularly exceptional about it. No grand architecture that I could see. Off the beaten path. About a half dozen shrimp boats. But the overall vibe is just stellar. Enjoying a cup of coffee on the porch of the Bean, looking out over the harbor with my new friend Keith is great. The town is something of a boating mecca, situated as it is on the banks of the Neuse. I spent 2 nights there, tied up at the free town dock. Laid in some provisions, and helped my friend Emily for a day on her boat. You remember Emily, right? I towed her thru the Dismal Swamp last fall.

Gotta leave now. Wind picking up. Attention required!

Best to all, Charlie

Saturday, April 29, 2023

Waccamaw River

 Hi again!

It's been 3 short days since leaving Charleston. About 30 miles on the first one, 35 on the second one, half of which was under sail, and about 20 today. The upcoming stretch is pretty much devoid of anchorages. And the forecast tomorrow includes a real potpourri of bad events, so I may be staying put.

Back to Charleston. What a lovely place! Unfortunately, it looks like millionaire status is needed to gain entry these days. But it was so nice to be able to walk around and soak it up. I toured the South Carolina Historical Society Museum and the Charleston Museum. Loved them both.

Joined my friends on Pathfinder and Sweet Dreams 3 for a nice restaurant dinner. Great time. 

Last night I anchored in my secret anchorage, of which I have spoken in the past. Just a perfect spot. Never been anyone else anchored in there. 360 degree protection. Scenic. Deep up to the banks. Wide enough to turn the boat around in. Love it!

Best, Charlie