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The Write Byte's Log. Log 2000 January 1 - May 31

Highlights of this log
Sailing Through the Fog
Millenium Madness
Sailing Preggo
A baby is born
Work on Sansted
Bryan Jr joins us
Stedman Smith Cup
Susan and Karl join us
Memorial Day Weekend

January 1, 2000 1130 ED 3708 Top

Enroute to Cambridge from Annapolis in dense fog. Visibility is now up to about 80 yards. Approaching Poplar Island. Motor sailing in a very light breeze, maintaining 3 kts, mostly power, barely keeping the sails full. The GPS is working perfectly, sending a signal to the chart software, but for some reason, the software doesn't think it's getting a signal. However, using the coordinates from the GPS and DR, the software and GyPSy are working perfectly, except the automatic part. When we get to a nav buoy, both the GyPSy and our DR on the software say we are there. Grrr. It would have been a lot less nerve racking coming out of Spa Creek if I had thought to cross check the GyPSy with our DR, and trust the GyPSy. I didn't. Because the software wasn't getting a signal, I trusted my DR. The flaw in that logic was that I had a first time fog helmsman and his disorientation screwed up my DR because he wasn't steering what I told him to steer.

We ended up in 6' of water off Greenbury point, with about 100' of visibility. Thank goodness David spotted the nav marker sillouhetted in the fog, we motored to it, and resumed our course. About 10 minutes later, I figured out the cross check that I have been doing ever since. It was also about 10 minutes later that Bryan told me he'd figured out a method to help him steer a good heading. We went right to G87, where we crossed the shipping channel without incident. We have been buoy hopping down the eastern shore side of the shipping channel ever since, mostly in about 18' of water where the ships can't reach us. We haven't seen or heard a single large ship, though. Not even so much as the throb of a distant large diesel.

Two shortcomings in technique and we were almost aground. Even though in this muck, it wouldn't have been a big deal, I am taking it very seriously because if this had been Maine, those would have been rocks waiting to grab us. I'm the only one who has been in fog before. What should I have done? Should I have taken the wheel sooner? (I knew we were not maintaining a correct heading, could see Bryan's technique was poor.) Should I have coached him more? Despite wishing we hadn't gotten so close, I think I did the right thing. I coached him some, but not too much or too harshly I hope. When we got to 6' of water I took the helm saying simply, "If we're going to run aground, I want to be at the helm. After all, I have been every other time." We were never in any real danger. Bryan figured it out. We're doing great now, and have been.

I'm getting ready to feed the crew, Bryan Twigg and David Long. Two more eager or excellent crew, would be hard to find. Bryan and Dave have been crewing with Doc Smith since a year after we bought The Write Byte. So, that would make it two full seasons they have crewed for him. It seems like more, because they have come so far, so quickly. Sailing with Doc is like that, though. I doubt they would have learned as much from me in the same time. Part of the reason is that Doc can do so little, they had to learn to do everything, and learn it much on their own, because Doc's method, is pretty much, "Well, shall we go?" Me, I like to have things done a certain way every time, so I think I "teach" too much. I think they get worried about doing it right, and don't learn to just do it... I don't know. It helps me to learn a technique. So, I teach the technique. The big picture falls into place, later. These are excellent fellows and I enjoy sailing with them. And the best part, is there isn't so much teaching to do anymore. It's just that this fog thing is new to them.

January 1, 2000 1415 ED 3716

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Sharp's Island Light. Maintaining 5 kts now that we can see. The fog has finally lifted, but the wind died. We are motoring in a sea of glass, the jib furled to keep it from flogging. The main is up, but it's hard even to keep it full. I have never seen the bay or the Choptank so flat. It is literally a mirror. What a beautiful day though, eerie in its stillness. We have seen two boats. One at Greenbury point appeared to be a little jon boat buzzing by at about 20 kts in the fog. The second was a classic looking 25-28 foot cruiser. Very pretty boat. Ghosted by us off Tilghman island near the channel to Knapp's Narrows before the fog lifted.

Dave and Bryan are being superb crew again. Not only are they becoming very good sailors, I enjoy their company immensely.

January 1, 2000 1825 ED 3726

Nearly home, approaching G19A. It was a beautiful sunset. Getting bloody cold, now that it's been dark a while. Water temp is 36 degrees. No need for any mishaps, here. Glad we're almost home.

January 1, 2000 2145 ED 3729

The Write Byte is in the barn. We took on 24 gallons of fuel. More than I expected. I'll have to monitor consumption a bit closer. A good trip, though I would have preferred to sail. Couldn't take the luxury in this weather with tomorrow's forecast being dicey. Dave and Bryan stuck with me and helped me clean the boat, put it to bed. That's the first time crew has stuck around for a big cleanup, normally, they are anxious to be off. I don't mind though, because putting the boat to bed is my wind down time. A private time for me. But it's been an exhausting day and I'm glad they helped.

(P.S.) January 2, 2000 was warm, about 65 with steady 14-18 kt west winds all day. It would have been a perfect day to sail home... sigh.

Terry came up to the boat and spent New Year's eve with me there. First Night as they are now calling it there) was a trip. I don't think it would be worth driving all the way up had we not already had the boat up there, but it was fun, anyway. It was also made more fun by the fact that we could be part of a crowd of masses of humanity, and yet not bothered by being jousled, fighting for space, or a warm spot to stand, either. That was pretty cool. The boat was docked in Ego Alley, about 6 boats from the very end of Ego Alley. All evening, starting about 6 O'clock, there was this migration of people going past the boat to the wharf, where there were tents set up with bands playing, and other things to entertain the folks. It looked like the constant stream of people you see in refugee footage, albeit they were slightly better dressed. (First Night is an excuse in Annapolis to get decked out in the furs and diamonds, if you are so inclined, or your funky home made Unicorn hats, if your taste or budget swings the other way.)

A little side story: Directly across the alley, was docked a Hans Christian 33 that just happened to win this year's medium sailboat class in the Annapolis Christmas Lights Boat Parade. A beautiful boat, the owners evidently take the boat parade very seriously and have won for the last six years, each year with a new and different display. This year, the owner had created a masterpiece. In the fore triangle, he had two kings. In a huge rectangle behind the mast, he had hoisted a framework that featured Elvis decked out in his tackiest early 70's garb, bogeying to some unknown song. (During the parade, he was playing Elvis doing Christmas songs on a loudspeaker, but Friday night, thank God, the boat was silent.)

But, the crowds were not. Normally, when tourists walked down the dock, they stopped to quietly admire the boats, or if I was out swabbing decks (lots of seagull turds thanks to bloody tourists feeding them...) or something, they'd maybe ask a question or two. "Do you live aboard?" and "Don't you get cold?" were the two biggies. Sailors would ask about the boat and how she sails, and compliment me on her beautiful lines. I never could get that. I didn't design her, but thank you, anyway. Not Friday night. All night, there was in this river of people, a spot where they recognized Elvis, and would cry out with glee, "Oh look, it's Elvis. Oh and two kings dancing, it's the three Kings, isn't that cute?" That spot unfortunately was when they were standing next to our cockpit, where Terry and I were trying to enjoy ourselves.

Terry started to get bothered by this, saying if she heard "Oh look it's Elvis," one more time, she was going to hurl. Being in a rather sporting mood, I started pointing it out to the folks that didn't notice. That didn't go over very well with the Admiral, so I had to stop...

Our favorite was the little boy that pointed out to his brother. Look, there's Elvis! And the King and Queen are doing the humpty. (This assumption was completely understandable, since one king's crown was differently shaped, and the two kings were lined up like the pips doing dancing motions in unison that could very well look like they were doing the nasty, since their bodies overlapped rather suggestively, if you were thinking about things in a bend her over the table sort of way.)

Terry found it funny that he thought they were king and queen, and I pointed out that one king might very well have been a queen, since that was the position they would have been in, and the one liners kept rolling for some time after that. It helped us drown out the never ending exclamations in the background, Look, it's Elvis and the other two kings..." And the flashbulbs of the people taking pictures of the wondrous sight. Won't they be surprised when they get them developed and in the foreground is Terry leaning over the rail hurling chunks and I'm leering into the camera, flipping them the bird...

About 9:30, the flow of people switched from families, to 20 and 30 something yuppie scum coming out of their restaurants with their dates, anxious to ring the new millennium in with style and substance. And the crowd quickly doubled and tripled in size. By 11:00, the wharf was evidently too full to accept one more body, so they started filling up the parking lot in front of the boat. People started sitting on the concrete canal wall in front of us. We were treated to a young mother and daughter. The Mother had a silver foil colored home made Unicorn hat that must have been 4 feet tall. Her daughter was about 8 and they were both eating ice cream in the 30 degree weather. Then when they sat on the cold concrete, got really cold. I was about to ask them to join us aboard to get warmed up when they were joined by some rowdy Gen Xers. I stopped myself, because I didn't want them inviting themselves aboard, too and causing a scene. (I didn't know if she knew them.)

They were joined by a quartet of 20 something revelers, sporting black ties, gowns and huge cigars all around. Rather loud and pretentious, we got to listen to their self importance until midnight. At 11:30, I happened to look over my shoulder and behind me, there was a solid mass of people on the other side of the canal, stretching all the way up Main street as far as I could see. I was struck by how quiet it was for so many people. Aside from the pretentious ones right in front of us, that is...

We were quite amused on discovering the two couples had met at a hotel package party, they had both paid big bucks for. Even more amused when the more pretentious of the two was complaining that their "complimentary" bottle of champagne had turned out to be a very cheap and very sweet domestic. He said, "You'd think for $1,000, we would have gotten at least a bad year in a Dom, or something." Then, it got really fun, when the other couple revealed that they had only paid $500 for the same package because there hadn't been enough people stupid enough to pay $1,000 for a millennium party and a hotel room so they could get laid.

At the stroke of midnight, fireworks were almost anti climactic which was reflected by the fact that the crowd started leaving well before they were over, all trying to get to their cars first, I suppose. That was fun watching, too. By this time, Terry and I were standing on the cabin top leaning against the boom, watching the fireworks and the fun at the same time. When the pompous quartet decided to look up some after midnight parties, one fellow had the decency to look around, wondering what they should do with the three bottles of champagne they had consumed. The $1,000 guy told him to blow it off. Upon which moment I took the opportunity to shout out very loudly, "Excuse me, but there is a garbage can directly behind you, specifically for your use!" Embarrassed, the $500 guy said thank you and promptly threw the garbage away. The $1,000 guy however got disrespectful and started giving me the "You the man" jive. But, we already knew he was really stupid, so I didn't take offense.

The good news is they missed the grand finale of the fireworks which was pretty decent after all. The fireworks were done about 12:20. By 12:45 the parking lot and wharf were empty, save the silly string, confetti and empty champagne bottles. Amazing.

Friday March 24, 2000 1100 ED:3745 Top

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Temps in the high 60s, mostly clear, almost no wind at departure. This is the "Take Spot for a sail day." With just a week or so till the baby is due, we're giving Spot her/his sea legs an early start. Actually, Spot went out 4 weeks in utero and again last November at about 4 1/2 months. Bryan Twigg is crewing for us so "little mother" (as some ESSA members call me) can relax.

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When we got out of the piers and hoisted the pretty new sails, there was no wind to fill them. So, El Capitan and crew looked around for water signs of wind and scooted us to the opposite shore where we picked up a lovely little breeze and surpassed 7.0 kts on the GyPSy.

Just a little 2-hour jaunt. For sporting a Wilson/Spaulding basketball in front, I maintained balance pretty well. Discovered I could reach the trash bag in the wet locker if the boat heeled to starboard, setting spot on the counter. But, level or heeled to port - no go.

I knew Spot would enjoy this - after all, baby's world thus far has been a private ocean.


Saturday April 8, 1500 Top

Temps are in the low 60s, winds 25-30, storms predicted for later. Came to check on the boat and take a nap. Becca Delivery was born yesterday. I need a good sleep but am still on an adrenaline rush. Laid down for 1/2 hr. No sleep came. I guess I'll go to the hospital to keep Terry company before I wait too long and fall asleep at the wheel on the way there. If today is anything like yesterday, Terry will be overwhelmed with visitors. Hope she holds up.

Bryan Souder says he lost the pool. There was a pool on what time I'd get to the boat, Saturday. I got here at 1400, he had 1100. (He was making it up, because when he mentioned it to Richard, Richard didn't pick up on it quick enough...)

Thursday April 27, 1400. Top

I need to pick up the sewing materials for the Dodger. Due to the size of the window material, I'm going to take it home, cut it on the big dining room table, then bring it back for sewing and fitting right on the boat.

Last night was the Choptank Fleet Tune-up race. We took second of three boats. Keith took us, again, in light air. Partly due to the fact that ESSA H had shifted and I sailed to where it was supposed to be, instead of where it was. Refused to go where it was, due to depth issues. Still, it was a good sail. 6-8 kts of wind, just where Keith is at his best, and we are barely starting to perform. I hope the rest of the season isn't like that. If so, it's going to be another long season...

The sails performed fairly well, though I haven't worked out the proper tension for the full battens, yet. We worked on them frantically before the race, but didn't get finished. During the race, we had a shape that didn't allow all the telltales to fly at the same time, so I know we weren't getting the best performance we could out of her. After the race, we adjusted the top two battens and were able to get all telltales flying, again. See you next week, Mr. Henry...

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Also Yesterday, Bryan, Dave and I worked on Sansted. While waiting for some epoxy to cure, we sent Dave up to the top of The Write Byte'smast. Dave, being the lightest of us three, got elected. I enjoy going up, but I'm the heaviest, and people don't much care for sending me up, usually. Anyway, Dave was sent up with two tasks. Troubleshoot the Masthead light, and install the new Windex, which meant taking down the old one. The old one was tied into an instrument pod that no longer exists, and it was sticking, anyway. So, not knowing what Dave would face up there, we loaded down the bosun's chair with all sorts of tools from volt meters, to crimpers, to spade terminals, the works. The bulb wasn't properly seated. It works perfectly, now. Dave stayed up quite a while, working on that Windex, though. Finally, he got it all done and it was almost perfect, first look. It wasn't

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until he came down that Dave mentioned he's afraid of heights. I certainly owe him dinner for that one, I think. Though I guess he enjoyed it, and would be willing to go up, again. What a mensch.

Bryan and I will return Saturday to finish the job on Stedman's boat. Perhaps we'll get in a sail, too.
Saturday, April 29, 2000. 1400

Bryan Twigg and I have worked all day replacing the genoa track on Sansted. Since we both have commitments this evening, we have to leave and won't get to sneak in an afternoon sail. sigh.

Sunday May 7, 2000. 1900 ED 3773 Top

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Well, I guess it's working. As long as I keep taking the digital camera and keep taking pictures of friends, then maybe I'll keep up these logs. The weather has gone from one extreme to the other. Two weeks ago, it was cold and rainy, had been and made all intentions of staying that way for some time. Then, this weekend, it's suddenly sunny and hot. The good news, was that the water temps are still cool enough that out on the water, it was still pleasant. Though, Saturday morning when I got to the boat, the water temp was 65. By this evening, it was 75.

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But, we got out sailing today. Bryan Twigg, Bryan Twigg Jr. and Dave Long joined me for a perfect day of sailing. Made even more perfect by the fact that we made toast of Monarch, as we left the marina. Monarch left the marina just after us and by the time I thought to take a picture, they were so far back, the boat was unrecognizable. This, despite the fact that they motored to catch up with us while they raised the sails. I was very impressed with the our new sails. We were pointing higher and going faster. Last year in about the same wind, Monarch wasted us. Not today. Today, we only had one thing to say. SEEEEYAH!

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The Breeze varied, ranging from 4-8 kts over the course of the day, though for the most part it was a steady 6 kts or so. On a close haul, we were able to do nearly 5 kts. We sailed deep into LeCompte Bay, then hoisted the spinnaker for a drift home. It wasn't that much of a drift, we were able to maintain nearly 4 kts all the way back, sometimes nearly 5 kts.

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The beauty was, that Monarch had ventured into LaTrappe Creek, then when we got our spinnaker up, came blasting out of LaTrappe and flew on a close reach to 19A, about a mile and a half in front of us. Then, after they hoisted their Spinnaker, we just kept bearing down on them until we caught them, just as they dropped their spinnaker on the Talbot county side of the Choptank river across from Great Marsh Park. Dave, Bryan, Bryan and I did a near perfect jibe of the spinnaker and headed off for the hospital, while Monarch finished stowing their sails.

With Bryan Jr. at the helm, we finished up our spinnaker work, then started messing about close hauled. The wind was freshening a bit, and we didn't want to go in, but after Bryan Jr. hit 6.2 kts, we decided it had been a perfect day, couldn't get any better, so we dropped the sails and headed for the piers. We all agreed, it just doesn't get any better than this...

As usual, the fellas helped out with shutting the boat down, cleaning up and even helped swab the decks. I always appreciate their efforts, since most folks just book as soon as we get back.

Saturday May 20, 2000 1610 E.D. 3837 Top

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Last week, we raced to Oxford and back under a blazing sun with no wind in the Stedman Smith Cup. Starting out at 0930, we didn't return until 1900. Today, with cloudy skies and a northerly breeze of about 10 kts, we flew to Oxford and back in less than 4 hrs. Having departed the slip at 1215, we are now back in the slip with the boat put to bed at 1610.

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Not a bad day sailing at all. Made even better by the company of Bryan Twigg, his wife Susan and their sons Bryan Jr. and Carl. Bryan Jr., is an excellent and eager crew. How exciting it is for someone who loves sailing as much as I do, to watch the fire light in a young boy's eyes at the prospect of throwing a sheet off a winch during a tack. I can only hope that my newborn daughter loves sailing as much as Bryan Jr. does.

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Never underestimate the power of a cookie. I read that in a book about a solo-circumnavigation by Paul Lutus, Confessions of a Long Distance Sailor. It has become a watch phrase on The Write Byte and Carl agrees. Parents and skipper alike were a little nervous at the prospect of keeping a 4 yr old fireball occupied on a small boat for several hours. As you can see, Carl did just fine, thank you very much. Cookies, pudding and lots of places to explore on the boat kept him busy and happy.

Susan like many women, was reluctant to take the helm on her first ever sail. In fact, if it weren't for the eager badgering of Bryan Jr., she might not have been talked into it at all. And, like many women, she was a natural at it. Susan took to the helm with ease and a sense of the boat's motion. She dug in and found the groove and only got nervous when a puff threatened to bury the rail. Soon I think, she'll be walking around saying things like, "If the rail ain't wet, you ain't sailin'...

Bryan of course, had a great time. We'll turn sailing into an obsession for him, yet... After all, what could be better than sailing with your wife and kids, everyone having a great time and a great sail to boot?! Nothing could be finer.

Monday May 29, 2000 2235 E.D. 3878 Top

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Today is the third anniversary of our purchasing The Write Byte. Appropriate then, that we took our 7 week old daughter Rebecca on her first cruise this weekend. We went to an idyllic spot that shall remain un-named in this forum, lest it become something less than we found it, DESERTED save us. And that on a major holiday weekend! What a delight the anchorage was!!! Traveling with us were good friends "Doc" Stedman Smith and Bruce Franz. What a pleasure it was to have Doc and Bruce cruising with us. Better shipmates one would be hard pressed to fine. Doc will be 86 in October and hasn't been well, lately. The original plan was for Bruce and Doc to cruise with us aboard Doc's beloved Sansted. With Terry pretty much dedicated to caring for Rebecca and Doc not being strong, both Bruce and I would have been essentially single handed. With the deteriorating weather, we decided to all cruise together aboard The Write Byte.

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What an excellent choice that was. We had a lot more fun together, I think. Doc is an old man who has sailed forever and a day. You'd think this would be old hat. Yet his delight while exploring territory new to him was incredible and brought tears to my eyes. The cold and the rain couldn't keep this indomitable spirit from the pleasures of the day. Even with the rain, we got in some rousing sailing, and of course, the company of good friends always makes cruising that much better.

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As you can see from the pictures, when it's cold and rainy and you've arrived at your destination, nap time is a big event. Cooking fabulous meals, small projects, playing with new cameras and trying to get a perspective on just how small this daughter of ours is anyway, were other diversions. Three years of hard work have put the boat in excellent shape. The new sails are doing great duty, so all that was left was to enjoy the beauty of our secluded anchorage.

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But, everyone had been pushing hard in other endeavors lately. So, with Rebecca calmed by mother ocean as it were, we took advantage and got our own respite. While everyone else napped, I got three small projects done, thanks to a cordless drill and the fact that I've now got about 1,500 lbs. of spare parts, wire, and other odds and ends aboard to meet the continuing maintenance needs of our floating weekend home. Thanks to a laptop with a DVD player, we treated ourselves to an evening movie and before long, it was bedtime again...

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My goal was to reach 4,000 nm E.D. (elapsed distance) on the GyPSy log by today's third anniversary of acquiring our beautiful yacht, The Write Byte. We fell short of that goal by 122 miles. Amidst the rain, the cold and the company of good friends there was a quiet yet persistent reminder this weekend; that it is quality not quantity that is important. Here's a tip of the glass to the times of our lives. And to the brave men and women who gave their lives in defense of our country, which in fact is why we had a long weekend to enjoy this trip.

Unskilled and Unaware

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