03/28/2014, Russel's Boat Yard, MHC-NC
It has surely been a cold, wet, snowy, icey winter here in the Carolinas. We sailed down to Morehead City on a blustery New Year's Day with gloves, caps, mittens and layers to keep warm. Thankfully the partly cloudy day didn't dampen our spirits, what with a newlywed couple onboard, homemade pumpkin bread, homemade beef jerky and lively conversation, we clipped right along~
Having left after 9:30, we arrived into the Morehead City waterfront by mid-afternoon. Russel the Yard owner was waiting for us, guiding us into the 'lift' berth, surprised maybe to see we actually came through with our sail plan. We closed her up and felt assured that we left her in good hands, you see she was in desperate need of being hauled. She had a slow leak from the engine shaft bolts that at this point were dribbling and causing the bilge pump to run every few minutes. That was all fine until over the Christmas holiday while I was out of town, the automated bilge pump chip decided to die. Even with someone onboard to push the button every 10 minutes, she was gaining water weight, especially loaded with crew and the engine screw running full bore.
Russel could easily see what was in store for his winter project onboard SPARROW. Thankfully, he was exactly the right person to bring her to. He ended up having to totally excavate the entire prop shaft and replace everything with a dripless system. It took some time and a lot of extra change, but soon, SPARROW'S bottom was looking so much better and so many issues had been solved. This bilge pump was non accessible, due to being placed under the engine, so he devised a liftable shelf plate for the new pump. The engine itself had wore out it's foot pads and he extended the shaft to make room for replacing zinc collars now and then. I am ecstatic about the repairs and how he solved all the dilemmas....paying for it was a hard swallow~
Now we're just hoping for a warming trend, last night it was back in the 20's, but we are promised into the 70's for the weekend...but more rain. I am still searching for the right dock space for this season though, we will not be returning to our previous dock due to shoaling at low tide and strong currents causing limited access. The Nancy Lee Fishing Charter docks were convenient but were not working out for us. The docks were also in the process of being sold to the town for public park access and we didn't feel comfortable with SPARROW being open to public access 24-7 with no security. It was nice digs for a season~
Better things to come-
03/27/2014, Morehead City, NC
We rescued each other from the cold, dreary winter blahs! My new pup came to me through the Lenoir Shelter during one of the worst snow & ice storms we've seen here in coastal Carolina. We've spent quite a bit of time bonding and overcoming psychological baggage and as spring is now in the air, so our energy levels are rising!
I am pleased to introduce, Tybee Rowe, a year and a half ball of energy that looks something like a miniature Belgian Shepherd with some bull terrier in the mix. He is very smart and handsome, but we're working on his social skills!! He LOVES other canines, but is still reserved when it comes to humans. My only hope is that he will like the water. He had his first visit to the 'SPARROW' and sat very still on the transom. Once the rest of us climbed onboard, opened up the engine room hatch and went down below to discuss mast rake, he warmed up and began prancing around the cockpit demanding his official status as one of the crew!
01/11/2014, Cedar Point, NC
"....many waters I have sailed
throughout the voyage of life~"
How do I begin to honor my best friend, my companion, my first mate for the past 15 years. Maybe I can begin with how she lived....but then, anyone who has followed our adventures would know exactly what kind of special dog Kelly Belle was. So I only know to tell of her adventures....the 'best sea-dog' ever!!
She came into our lives the spring of 1999 when we had decided to bless our new island home with a pet. Having gone out to find a kitten, we returned with a sweet little blonde furry retriever with a dark nose and ears. We found our 'brown-eyed girl'. Her training began immediately, as she would ride my shoulder as I swam out through the breakers off Emerald Isle beach. She was an excellent swimmer and loved surfing back in on the waves. Many a youngster was delighted by her willingness to bound out through the crashing waves to fetch a ball or stick that was thrown. She would go all day with boundless energy if I would let her~
Once I knew she could pass extreme swim conditions, I knew she was ready for sail training. She was a natural. She loved sailing on Hobie catamarans, she was always on the high side and instinctively knew where to place her weight. Folks of the Bogue Inlet got used to seeing us fly by up on a hull or skim across a shallow sand bar. Upon sailing past Carrot Island off Beaufort, she jumped ship and swam ashore in pursuit of herding some island ponies. Once I beached the catamaran and hiked into the dunes, there she was holding off the stallion while she had penned the whole herd into a tight circle...a natural.
Although she has sailed on too many vessels to mention, she loved small boats the most because of the intimacy and nearness of the water. At a moments notice, she could be wet. So in the fall of her 10th year, we searched for the perfect kayak/canoe design that would accommodate both of us. We found a 12' Magic in Wilmington and began a whole new chapter of cold weather adventuring up rivers and within the marsh creeks. Places we couldn't reach by sailing vessel. I know for sure her favorite boats were the catamaran and kayak.
This past year, in her geriatric age, we opted for a beautifully sweet 22' catboat. I knew she would be able to ride in comfort as we were to take her final voyages. She got the best of both worlds because she was able to sail in comfort long distances, come into some sweet coves by kayak to discover remote beaches and maritime forests. And the decks of this catboat are low enough to be excellent diving-in platforms...if we came close enough to shore and she saw me heading for the anchor, she knew it was ok to go ahead and scout out the new location. Job no.1, was to scout out a fresh batch of sticks for throwing. When we weren't in the water or on the docks, we were investigating islands and paths through the marsh and brush.
Her last voyage this past fall down to Bald Head Island was epic! Although I coined the name, the 'geriatric cruise', she would not have wanted anything more than to spend 24/7 onboard a vessel going anywhere with me. This was definitely my gift to her for a lifetime of adventures. Just her and me and the sea!
Lord knows how much I miss her already~
10/06/2013, Port of Swansboro
The Sparrow has proven her gentle salty nature as a stout vessel capable of distance cruising. But she has so much more in her nature, she sails with grace.....a beautiful 'rack of the eye' that gets attention everywhere we go~
As I sailed her down the coast and watched her handle each day's challenge, she became a trusted companion for my pup and I. She has surely earned her "heart of oak" status: with her beautiful integration of compound curves in fiberglass and warm woods like a cozy northern cabin. I cannot think of another boat so well suited for such a commission.
As we gear up for a busy fall schedule including a holiday flotilla, art festival and small craft sailing meet, I recall times when she was just a vision in my dreams..
When I first began my career and designed my very first business card, it was the stern of a traditional sailing vessel that was drawn out. Then recently when working up a poster design sketch for a coastal art festival, I found that same transom vision coming to mind. It occurred to me after my recent voyage that the vessel I have been drawn to all these years was that of my Sparrow~
Is it true that what lies in our mind can manifest itself somehow one day? I am now a believer!
10/03/2013, Bogue Inlet
I have to say after sailing down the coast to some of the most popular places on the Carolina coast, I still have to say "I live in paradise"!!!
All the big money and fancy huge waterftont homes of Wilmington do not shake a stick at what jewel we have right here in the Bogue Inlet.
We sailed up here 25 years ago on our liveaboard 41' trimaran and when I woke up on the foredeck the next morning, "When, what to my wondering eyes should appear" but my new HOME PORT....
I think it took sailing away from here and returning to validate why this place became my home! As I came north a long the ICW I couldn't resist taking a right hand turn into Cow's Channel out to my beloved Bear Island and the glittering Bogue Sound, a sight for sore eyes.
Bald Head Island was richly quaint and the people so kind, but I think it took me by surprise how I felt to be back home....this place is beyond compare! If you're not a water person you would not understand~
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10/03/2013, Canp Lejeune to Swansboro ICW
Last morning dawn for this voyage!
Getting ready to paddle Kelly Belle to shore so we can get underway eatly before daybreak.. Funny how I've been getting up before dawn voluntarily without complaint, something about being under nature's timeclock just makes the world feel right!!
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