Not Canoeing



We planned a canoe trip. Once or twice a year we do a float down the James, which winds its way through our little town. Any easy and pleasant trip, we can hitch a ride upriver to Hatton Ferry or Warren Ferry landings, drop in, and float down through the countryside for a few hours, arriving again at the old Scotts Landing in the heart of town. Continue reading “Not Canoeing”

Soft Shackles

Soft Shackle made, ready to attach.


Earlier, I replaced the old Main and Jib Halyards with new ones made of Dyneema. Very nice. They’re slippery through the blocks and feel good in the hand. The first time I raised the Main, though, it was obvious the eye and carabiner arrangement, thrown together so quickly, was sub-optimal. Their combined length made the sail stop several inches short of fully raised. This left the sail hanging too long down at the deck – there was not enough sail track on the mast to pull the luff nice and tight. It worked, but not right.

Fixing it creates an opportunity to try something new – a Soft Shackle.

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Third Sail ~ Irvington, Virginia & Rappahannock River

Sailing out into the Rappahannock River 


Doug and his family have only been back in Virginia from California a week – or rather, he’s been a back a whole week – so it was high time to go sailing.







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Second Sail ~ Parrotts Creek

 T takes in the view on Parrotts Creek


The first time in the new old boat was just a taste. The original sails were too far gone to do much good. With Pete’s help, just finding that out, and that the boat would float (and still take on water), was progress.

The next time, on the Chickahominy with the newer good sails, told me more. Once away from the dock I found jib halyard was tangled. Since I was sailing alone I didn’t feel comfortable going forward to free it, so sailed again with the main only. This, too, was progress. I learned that within reasonable bounds I could easily handle the boat alone, and the newer sails make an amazing difference.

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Chesapeake Float 2016 ~ Arrivals

 Mike’s Melonseed “Pepita”


“Don’t wait for me.”

“Where are you?”

“Just pulling out of the driveway. Of course. Still a lot of things to fix.”

“Oh. OK, well, call when you get here. Not sure where we’ll stop, but we’ll be back sometime tomorrow.”

Two hours later, Freeport Landing looks deserted. The sun is low, throwing long shadows across the water. A row of empty trailers lined up near the ramp. One lone boat there. Hmm, maybe someone went along as crew and left their boat. And Mike’s Melonseed is anchored off the beach. Not a soul in sight, though. Sometimes people double up for company or to lend an extra hand.


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Steerage ~ Semi-final Rudder Repair



After seeing those new Lightnings up close, I got some ideas for how to do a few things on old #2833. Still much to learn, but it’s a start. And I got back early enough Saturday to get started. Then had all day Sunday. Two good days in a row, a new record. Main thing is to finish the kickup rudder. That’s essentially done.

John included the plans for the boat, and those came in handy for this. I could draw out the original rudder lines on plotter paper to see how Sparkman & Stephens intended it. Laying the parts down on the lines made it easy to make final decisions and adjustments.



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Lightning Potomac Regatta ~ Doc Gilbert 2016

Lightning Fleet #50 prepares for the Doc Gilbert races


With the Chesapeake Float coming less than a week off, it’s a bit disconcerting not to have had a chance for a single test sail in the Lightning. We set a record last week for most consecutive days of rain, weeks of rain, and that really set back progress on the boat. It may still be ready, barely, but I had hoped to have taken a couple of shakedown cruises by now. Lots of unknowns, and I keep finding ways to break things. Sunday morning it was the valve stem on one of the tires, which promptly went flat. I expect a handful of things to break the first time I try to sail in any wind.

I decided to try and see what I am in for, so took a drive to the near side of Washington, DC, to see some other Lightnings. Fleet 50 has an annual weekend regatta on the Potomac out of Leesylvania State Park, known as the Doc Gilbert. Was a couple of hours of driving, but well worth it. Many years ago I had some projects there with the CBYCC. The park has come a long way since then. Continue reading “Lightning Potomac Regatta ~ Doc Gilbert 2016”