Friday, June 21, 2013

Kids today

Hard to believe, but there it is: 42 years ago Monday, this biker fellow, shown at about 4 on my old BSA 250 in Arlington, was born at Ft. Belvoir VA.  He's still racing -- bicycles as well as cars in the "24 Hours of Lemons" races held here and there.

And then 35 years ago today at Wake Medical Center, this tractor girl, shown at about 11, was born. She's still moving about the countryside, more in cars than on 14-horse tractors.

 Both are flying in this weekend for an annual family reunion.

Happy Birthday, John and Mary!

Friday, June 14, 2013

Sending ships to sea

  Just the other day we were beating to windward on the Rappahannock River in East Virginia, clawing our way up from Deltaville to Carter's Creek, when someone asked whatever happened to that Grady White fishing boat we once owned.  We didn't know. We had sold her in 2007 to a college professor in Wilmington who liked to fish offshore.

  By strange coincidence came a note in the morning e-mail today from Steve Everhart, who had bought the boat.  The Facebook message said the vessel -- renamed Wooglin for a famous and ferocious dragon -- was on its way to Australia. Here's a photo as she was dragged off by the broker. Steve messaged that the buyer was paying more in freight to get it to Australia than he had paid for the boat itself.

It was a good 'un. We had repowered her with a 220 hp four-stroke Suzuki, put in new fuel tanks, rewired the thing and put in new canvas screens.  Great boat.

I feel a little like a shipping magnate, having bought a bunch of old boats, fixed them up and sold them to go around the world.  Or maybe just this hemisphere.  Our 37-foot sailboat, a heavy Hunter that was designed by the Cherubini boat yard, noted for producing elegant craft with beautiful interiors back when Hunter was interested in that kind of vessel, went to somewhere in Central America after we sold her. Here's a photo of Grace.

The fellow who bought her kindly sent back the mahogany stern plate that I had handcarved one winter.  That nameplate now graces our entrance hall here at the Rocky Knob Tractor & Yacht Club.

Although we have continued to crew on sailing and motor vessels since selling all our boats and moving to the Blue Ridge, we haven't had a chance to charter our own until the other day when we joined friends Barnie and Debbie Day to charter a 39 foot Jenneau sloop from Norton Yachts down in Deltaville.  Here's a picture of our crew, Rappahannock bridge in the background:

We sailed a few days, mostly on the Rappahannock, accompanied by John and Lise Dietz of Richmond, who own and operate Elysium, a 32-foot Cape Dory.   Here's a photo of that fine craft underway in gusty winds:

It had been 11 years since we took a sailing vessel out of a slip and put her under sail.  The Jenneau was a good-handling sailboat, but I was rusty as nails on a couple important things -- such as how to roll in an in-mast furling mechanism when the wind pipes up to about 18 knots and you're running out of water and into shoal territory.  With a little coaching on the VHF by John Dietz -- and some further clarification from my First Mate, who as usual was right -- the thing slid in nicely.  Here's a photo from somewhere, maybe Carter's Creek.

It was a great trip, though we were a little nervous about that big storm out west that threatened mayhem all across parts of Virginia.  So we yanked up the anchor at 5:30 a.m. Thursday -- just enough light to see the crab pot buoys we needed to avoid -- and motored hard for Deltaville.  Got back to the Blue Ridge just in time to get the car hosed off by a vicious rainstorm after nearly a six-hour drive from the marina.  But we broke nothing, lost nothing, never ran aground, no one got hurt, and the lone casualties were one ball cap and a handsome amount of good libations.