05/12/2013, Homeport:Swansboro, NC
Mother's Day 2013
The SPARROW has reached her destination of Swansboro, NC. We left from Beaufort Saturday afternoon having waited for my crew to come in from Raleigh. We thought it appropriate to sail in honor of my Mother, Helen Louise Smith Wallace on Mother's Day into her home port for the first time. My crew, her grand daughter, Chelsea Lee and of course Kelly Belle.
The wind was up again, gaining and gusting over 20+ on the nose all the way West into the wind up the Intercoastal Waterway along the Bogue Sound/Banks. We didn't leave until 2pm and arrived at the narrow channel into our slip after dark at 8pm. We attempted to make the channel, but without light on the pvc pipe markers, we ran aground. The next morning, I saw where we ran aground on the point of a salt marsh sand bar. The channel is only 15 feet wide and the Sparrow is 10 feet wide so we were close....so we tied up at Dudley's for a few hours and in the morning dawn, I brought her in while Chels and the Belle slept.
After so many months of imagining her here and after so many weekends out of town in "little" Washington, NC, it felt so good to have her home! The marsh grass looks greener and the briny smell prickles the hairs on my neck, this is the place I've called home for the past 25 years ever since we sailed our 41' liveaboard S/V SNOWGOOSE north and found this little piece of paradise. Bogue Inlet and the White Oak River have been our water~fun playground on countless boats and adventures.
We look forward to bringing SPARROW into the bays, inlets and salt marsh creeks and allowing her to do what she does best.....sail into people's hearts!
Come SAIL with us!
The Captain and her Sparrow
|small boat adventures||
04/15/2013, Carolina Inland Seas
Took us two days three nights to reach our destination and travel back for vehicles. First night we spent in Bath, North Carolina in a gunkhole cove wondering where the legendary pirates might be~
Majority of the voyage took place from sun up to sun down on the second day. From Bath down the Pamlico River to the ICW that left me in the shipping channel with a two barge tug coming up my tail the whole way until we entered the Pamlico Sound at the mouth of the Neuse River and wide open spaces.
SPARROW's African Queen ran like a top, I've begun to trust her now. Was considering stopping in Oriental, but the afternoon was bright and headed on into Adam's Creek instead and on down to Beaufort's Gallant's Channel access to the NC Maritime Museum docks. We anchored for the night until permission was granted the next morning to come ashore and tie up for the month until the Wooden Boat Show.
The dink "Little Star" handed down from the "ARIES" (my parent's boat) did a wonderful job getting Kelly Belle ashore when nature called. She rows as well as I remember, but we had the sailing gear along if needed. Kelly Belle actually slept most of the way~
I am thoroughly impressed with the sea-kindly nature of the SPARROW. Most of the voyage was relatively calm with the wind on our nose, but the first night threw us some big rollers and she managed them well and carried us in without issue. (well maybe one). We had the boom crutch lengthened for the raising of the gooseneck and headroom in the cockpit, and it's pins did not stay put...quite annoying actually...that will have to be rethought! Everything else on the voyage performed without a hitch....it was a beautiful weekend for the move...and the maiden voyage was a success!
|small boat adventures||
03/10/2013, inner banks to outer banks, NC
St. Patrick will be sailing with us for our Maiden Voyage down the Inner Banks of the Pamlico Sound south to the Outer Banks of the Crystal Coast, SOBX! Sparrow has been in preparation all winter and with spring on the horizon, it is time to begin the move South.
Ports of call enroute will be Oriental (sailing capitol of NC) and Beaufort (hailing international port). We're envisioning mooring in Beaufort before sailing west to her home port of Swansboro on the White Oak River.
Provisioning ongoing, as we bring "SPARROW" up to speed for her commissioning as a salt marsh/barrier island charter and studio boat. Her mission will be to provide both traditional sail training and aesthetic adventure for intimate experiences on the waters of Bogue Sound and coastal Carolina~
Major sewing projects still ongoing as her new canvas are being updated in beautiful toast browns, greens and golds to match her traditional emerald green hull. Her mast has been painted to set off the sandy tones for her deck, yet to be repainted. Once she is in home-port Swansboro, the finishing touches of varnish coats will go on her beautifully trimmed teak & mahogany cockpit and coaming creating a sense of warmth and comfort. Down below, her salon will be splashed with natural tones of marsh greens and shell golds.
On either side of her centerboard trunk, she sports a water pump/sink for studio-boat clean ups and a deep cooler cabinet for plenty of beverages and picnic snacks. She is coming together!!
When we get the first shots of her sailing along the southern barrier islands, we will snap some pictures so you can compare them to those Winslow Homer paintings I keep boasting about~
bon voyage my petite sweet SPARROW
|small boat adventures||
02/09/2013, home at the cottage
This past week has taken our journey down another new stream of consciousness. My trusted companion of 14 years on the water has developed a heartbreaking illness where her quality of life and existence came into question.
As much as Kelly Belle has always been a keen observer, smart and a devoted protector, she has also been the best companion a girl could ever ask for. Ever at my side, come rain, cold, snow, floods, hurricanes, kids coming, kids going, a string of different boats along the past 14 years, she has retained a sense of happiness and joy with a stick wherever she's traveled. Whether she's hanging out the window confident that the wind in her face was a testament to our moving mission or standing on the bow of every vessel poised in the wind as if giving respect with her stance. Her disposition has brought joy and laughter to faces everywhere she goes on water and roadway!
This all came into question this past week when her sunny disposition became horribly devastated by a geriatric vestibular condition that took that all away. Her worsening condition came in short events similar to seizures and then in the middle of the night, the condition took her mind over completely. After numerous vet visits and emergency calls in the night, they finally came to this diagnosis having observed her condition in it's current status. And the irony here, this is a dog that has "more sea miles than most people" and yet the only medication the vets could recommend was seasickness pills! The vestibular condition attacks the area of her brain that controls her inner gyroscope that allows her to stand ready on deck. So as we work with her rehabilitation, it is as if we are trying to straighten out the saunter of a drunken sailor...and her gaze has been reduced to rapid eye movements as if she is spinning out of control.
The positive side of our decision to love & care for her condition was found in her alert nature, her physical strength, her desire to overcome and her responsive wagging tail.
What a blessing this wonderful sea~dog has been in my life, setting an example of devotional love and unwavering stamina in overwhelming odds against her.
God bless you my sweet companion, Kelly Belle~ may you stay forever young
01/21/2013, Pamlico River, NC
Ol' MLK day was cause for celebration and it was time to prime the pumps and take the SPARROW (African Queen VOLVO) for a spin. Mostly due to the cold weather, I've been unable to get her 7 hp VOLVO diesel to turn over. But there were other issues as well, she has an automatic bilge pump cycling on and off every few minutes and that puts a drain on battery 1 (especially when there's nothing to pump). So we installed a battery 2 to help conserve power for an engine start. We've had several things installed since the SPARROW became mine....first of all, she did not have her glassed-in fuel tank hooked up (she was on a red polyethylene tank), upon investigation, the tank had to be cleaned out and we decided to install a RACOR fuel/water separator. Then I knew I would need an inverter for those times when you just need to plug something in. So with the cold weather, battery debacles and fuel feeds...I had yet to have success with turning her over.
That day had arrived, we put my handy dandy black n decker battery charger on for at least a half hour and then the marina mechanic came down and talked me through this 'monster's' routine. Thinking I just wasn't holding my mouth right, he went through the specific sequence with this engine and low and behold on the third try she stuttered into motion.
AHA....the secret was the ol' decompression valve I was not holding long enough. Once I understood that, it all made sense...even though I was not convinced that her coughing was actually a good sign that she was revving up! wOw...so much to learn with every different boat. The mechanic threw off my lines and off we went with a grin from ear to ear!
What a beautiful blue-sky day in mid January, in the 60's. Kelly Belle on the bow playing hood ornament and the open harbor opening up a whole new attitude toward this project. That little VOLVO ran like a top and I wondered if that young mechanic knew who I was talking about when I nicknamed her the African Queen, for that's exactly how she sounds. We tested out her turning curve and 'under power' hull speed forging up river and then out the mouth of the harbor for just a taste of the open water~
She swam like a dream in flat water and seemed to know the way back to her mooring where she coasted in without ordeal. The mechanic was proud to see her out and about and recognized we had some 'getting used to each other' time to spend. For our first solo together, she was stout and responsive!
~next time we launch her wing in the wind
|small boat adventures||
01/14/2013, Pamlico River, NC
So 'eyes are on the SPARROW' as she hosts a flurry of engine mechanics, riggers, mast climbers, catboat enthusiasts, canvas stitchers, transom board carvers and onlookers watching her steady transformation into a 'beautiful swimmer'.
Upon splash down and her somewhat permanent mooring by the lift dock, it became immediately apparent that her rigging was not quite what it should be. So with some back and forth conversations with MARSHALL, we downloaded and printed out the manufacturers rigging guidelines and found out there are good reasons that her rigging is not fully functioning. Mostly due to overkill and misplaced hardware aloft, her halyards continued to twist and the misalignments caused spars to not lift properly. The consensus on the dock was to go back to the drawing board and reconfigure her running rigging as "originally" intended. This is where this story begins like every other 'restoration project' boat.....most often, a boat must be 'restored' to her original intention not from weather abuse or even use....but by a series of judgement calls by previous owners.
This SPARROW had a unique beginning though (which we are still researching).....MARSHALL MARINE up on the New England coast just celebrated their 50th Anniversary in 2012 and the SPARROW will celebrate her 40th birthday this year. Here's where the story gets sketchy.....Marshall Marine was producing so many catboats early-on that they decided to sell a few "kit-boats". SPARROW began as one of these. She was sold as a hull to be finished out by the buyer. It was obvious that along her journey, some owners had done well by her and others were seafaring artisans, not. Actually, her below decks is quite unique and favorable to the "open" concept and so the standard cut up by bulkhead layout was tossed for a U-shaped wrap around salon with a handy table that fits snugly over the forward end of the centerboard trunk. The head then sits smartly at the bow abaft the mast tabernacle with a modesty curtain hung above. She bares a backing cushion that wraps around from beam to beam creating a finely fitted U for a cozy conversation, dinner or round of cards. All of these cushions are currently being replaced, refilled and updated to accentuate her warm inviting character.
As for her coat of many colors, we love her traditional~eco green hull with wood accents. Her pasty decks are next on the to-do list. Since her boot-stripe is white, but her decks are creamy, the Bristol Beige on the mast needed to tie into all the horizontal surfaces, leaving the verticals as white. Of course once all the painting is to a triad, then we can focus on bleaching out the toe rail to match the eventual cetol finish on the cockpit woods. Hopefully the brass rail will come back up to a nice finish. We're investigating a new hybrid material for the hand rails and cabin sole and still considering the wood trim around the main cabin top housing. And selecting a traditional canvas tweed for her sail covers and cockpit cushions. Of course all of this is cosmetic splash that will make her sparkle!
So the work continues: mechanical, electronic, rigging, hardware, cushioning, covering, painting, scrubbing, etc all for the love of a 'beautiful swimmer'.
I've been throwing out the tag line: "she'll be like a Winslow Homer painting, sailing around the Swansboro waterfront"~