Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Duckpunting HO! MRS MUMBLES on the loose again!

This is going to be very straightforward.  Any Intrepid Reader knows exactly how this is probably going to go, and I assure you that this crazy blog won't disappoint. I KNOW you've been waiting all year with heart-in-throat and I have pictures of sure proof that all is still right with the world: The sun still shines in your portion of the cerulean sky and we are not part of an extraterrestrial hologram.  Breathe that sigh of relief, Intrepid Reader, tuck your children into bed with joy, enjoy that whiskey by the evening fire, and rejoice! The Cold War is over!

And Dory Dan's duckpunt still leaks!

We gather to sail south, towards the Clamming Grounds.
This year, I brought my hypothermia kit.
Winds were honking when we got to the ramp, I'd say gusting to 20kts, a little more than we were expecting or asked for.  However, champs like us see this as an opportunity to test our mettle against the elements.  What are a couple of New Englanders like us afraid of?  We are sailors and gritty, and like it cold and wet. Our ancestors had it worse. Full speed ahead!  I brought my hypothermia dry bag in case I dumped it and went into the drink.  I'm glad, because I forgot my drysuit at home.  Dory Dan forgot his bailing bucket at home.  This induced a moment of extreme incredulous in me for as we may remember... the first sail of the season for his duckpunt usually means she has to "take-up" a bit.

He looked at me, I looked at him, and I promptly poured the rest of the contents of a windshield-wiper fluid bottle into a spare nalgene rolling around in my car (I'm not going to waste wiper fluid, I come from a long line of frugal Yankees) and then I cut the bottom off.  While doing this, Dan told me about the slick-seaming he did and how he left the punt outside this winter so it shouldn't be AS BAD AS LAST YEAR, etc., and then added: I have my clamming bucket, but it has holes in it, and other such gems of conversation. Anyway, I made the Instant Bailer, boom! This saved the expedition from more lateness to the Clamming Grounds, as the tide was about to turn in but a few moments and we had little to lose.

I sped off, making good time. The punt is exhilarating downwind! There was a small mudflat to my starboard and I put in briefly to re-arrange my living situation.  Dory Dan was close behind, charging hard.

Why so stern heavy Dan?

check out bailer in aft cabin

YES! The picture that begins the season for realz! DORY DAN BAILING HIS PUNT!
History! Intrepid Readers rejoice!
"I can see it coming in through the planks," he says!
Tumultuous crowds line the banks of the marsh to ogle!
Mayor proclaims May 17 as Dory Dan Bailing Day!
"It's coming in as fast as I can bail it out!" he mutters to himself!

Dory Dan finally southbound--
...still bailing...
Chasing Dory Dan downind. What a day! What weather! 

I hug a mud flat at machspeed-loony and watch the bottom go by, scant inches away.
This is sailing a duckpunt, in all it's glory. What fun!
For the record, this was a very difficult picture to take.
We arrived at the Clamming Grounds just as the other clammer-types were cleaning up their gear and heading home.  Dan anchored his punt and starting clawing away at the mud, making excellent time and many large holes.  This guy is Mr. Muscles, fo' sho'.  We had to quickly retreat into the middle of the flat as Dan was forced by the tide to leave behind one hole after another. Three holes he dug, in quick succession, throwing clams into his bucket. I watched the boats, now in the distance, slowly float and then become isolated beings in a sea of water.  As the tides closed over the mudflat, I looked around myself in a sweeping circle while standing in ankle-deep water, thousands of feet from the nearest shore and surrounded by the broad blue expanse.  The sun began to set beyond the clouds with golden fingers flecking the virgin green grass on the marshes.  Silence except for the wind washing across the sound.  This was certainly a moment of reckoning, of isolation, of mortality, as the water rose to my boot tops.  The siren song of the sea, I suppose, or something else.  So close to humanity and yet in that moment so far, far away.  'Twas a beautiful moment.

Back to the boats, and the long slog upwind to the ramp.

Dory Dan clams in the distance

MRS MUMBLES and Dan's Punt get cozy. They make a good punting team!


New England Sea Captain to his bones.

Dory Dan leaves the punt to take up over the week.

What joy, this duckpunting.
And, may I say with some humbleness, A GREAT LUNCH THE NEXT DAY!

New England Life 4EVAH

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Good Poetry and Delightful Rosé Get Mixed Up With a Bad Crowd

What is this life if, full of care,
We have no time to stand and stare?
(from Leisure, WH Davies)

This got frustrating, so I quit doing it.
There comes a time in the year when every noble skipper and daring captain decides to prepare for the upcoming season.  In theory, this means a careful inventory of gear and supplies aboard the ship with some elbow grease thrown in for good measure while things are set to order, Bristol Fashion, etc. etc. I can see all you seasoned salts now, nodding your heads in collective agreement, stroking your fine beards and thinking of Preparations Past.

I strive to do the same, but fail on a regular, disheartening basis.  I am coming slowly to the point of accepting that I am a lazy, messy sailor, a somewhat indifferent boatbuilder, and while I may aspire to higher levels of exacting standards I'm almost positive that I'm only fooling myself.


Who wants to putz around the boat in the backyard on a beautiful spring day when there are ISLANDS TO CIRCUMNAVIGATE and BRIDGES TO DUCK UNDER and other such funness that is paramount to long and healthy life?!  It is mucho easier to pack the above mess back into their respective bags, compartments, boxes, and 5-gallon buckets and hitch the wagon to the black and dark and somewhat underpowered 4 Horses of Mazda and get the screw out of DODGE!  Vroooooom to Great Bay! It was ascertained by close examination of nautical charts that there were two islands that were begging for some hot NNECS action! (did not actually look at charts but happened upon islands that had been forgotten to the mists of memory and time)

The true nature of reality beckons from.... JUST BEYOND
(please someone pull the plug on TED... please, anyone, please)

NNECS' own Captain Callsign circumnavigates these two islands
in the western portion of Great Bay!

With much bravery and gusto Lovely Wife and the dashing Captain Callsign hit the Squamscott River and motored north.  We had wind and tide against us and a low slung railroad bridge to contend with.  The Iron Mizzen started on the first pull with last year's gas (!!! huzzah, I say, this is where you should say "huzzah" as well), and we plowed northward into the beckoning and everlasting sky and the endless horizons that only salt water delivers.  SCOUT purred contentedly, afloat once more as she shook off her winter sentence of garagist isolation.  The garage is just the WORST.

We plunge into the open arms of the blue
The masts go up and sails roll out.
The flags fly and we power ahead, quiet now.
We sneak up on those islands.
One of the islands we circumnavigated.  The second one is in background.
Once we arrived at the islands the circumnavigation commenced.  We pull around the first one, and beat up the narrow channel while watching copulating horseshoes up on the banks.  The Lovely Wife found this oddly exciting. The channel was narrow and the tacking strategic, and I made a wonderful close pass of the weather end of the island, dodged some rocks and took off wing-and-wing back down the other side.  We pressed in close to the terrain, skimming the bottom by a few inches.  I love the Sea Pearl 21 for this! Whatta boat.  Lovely Wife finds it unremarkable as she knows nothing else but shallow draft.  "Is this something special?" she asks, slightly annoyed as I continuously point out the perilously close bottom that speeds by.  YES. YES IT IS. Shallow draft. Follow at Own Risk.

We glided into the lee of the first island and dropped the hook for a SCOUT special: Picnic On A Herreshoff Designed Cutting Board. Everyone knows how special this is.  Today's fare consisted of a prosciutto sandwich, a chicken shawarma burrito (you can find this delicacy at Wellington's in Concord, NH) and a "delightful" bottle of rosé by Famille Lafage... Miraflors 2015 from southwest France. Of course, it was kept cold, thanks to SCOUT's very modern high-tech cooler that is the envy of all other coolers.  I know a thing or two about coolers.  Also joining us for picnic was my new Mudd Knife, courtesy of Lovely Wife, and the book "Good Poems."

During picnic time there was much enjoying of the rosé, the sandwiches, and most deviously, the book "Good Poems." Clandestine-like at our secret anchor hide-out we read several poems to each other as we swayed in the quiet lee of the island. It was a devilish affair, very deviant, and dark.  The only other sounds were the lapping water, some seagulls, and the wind in the trees as it swirled complex shapes around this terrestrial obstruction, our island. AND OF COURSE we were serenaded by the continuous yapping of an obviously untrained derelict spoiled dog coming from the deluxe apartment compound on Moody's Point, just south.  'Merika.

Anyway, great book. Good poems.  Really.

NOTE: Mudd Knife. Herreshoff cutting board.
The book is not a joke. I carry books on SCOUT.
Intrepid Readers should know this by now.

Bound for Island TWO and then south to the ramp.
I scared the seagulls into lofty flight.
Lovely Wife rests in her world famous chair.
Boy oh boy, I hope we get back before last light.

I poet now!

Go sailing, Intrepid Readers. The Waters, they beckon you like songs from above and over the horizon, those songs that you can't hear but you know that they are there. Go, answer their call, their siren call. Lose yourself, just go, go now. Water is calling.... Answer!