Thursday, September 10, 2009

In Memorium

In memory of dad...
This is in memorium to my dad, Quinn Lewis Stewart, Jr., who at the age of 94, August 28, 2009, went on to be with the Lord. He never was one to miss out on a good trip. He would often tell of how he and mom, along with aunt Sara and Haywood had visited all 48 contiguous states and would have gone to Hawaii if someone had built a bridge.
I don't think he would have been opposed to sailing there.
Even in his 90's he went down to the beach and sailed with my brother and I on Briar Patch. Any time from now on when I am out sailing, a piece of him will always be with me.
The following poem is in memory of dad, my ship.
The Ship
I am standing upon the seashore. A ship at my side spreads her white sails to the morning breeze and starts for the blue ocean.
She is an object of beauty and strength, and I stand and watch her until at length she is only a speck of white cloud just where the sea and the sky meet and mingle with each other. Then someone at my side exclaims, “There, she’s gone!”
Gone where? Gone from my sight, that is all. She is just as large in hull and mast and spar as she was when she left my side, and just as able to bear her load of living freight to the place of her destination. Her diminished size is in me, not in her.
And just at the moment when someone at my side says, “She’s gone,” there are other eyes watching for her coming and other voices ready to take up the glad shout, “There, she comes!”
And that is dying

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Sailing in and around the Chesapeake Bay

Mid-August, 2009 Susie and I went to White Stone, VA, in the subburbs of Kilmarnok, to visit a dear old friend of ours that lives on the Northern Neck penunsula of the Cheasapeake Bay. Jim Hatch actually lives on Carters Creek, which is off the Rappahannock River, which feeds into the Cheasapeake Bay. If you are looking at a chart, the Rappahannock is the river just south of the Potomac. It is a beautiful place to live, mostly because it is a beautiful place to sail. On Saturday we went sailing with Jim's neighbor, Carl and Debi on their new Hunter 45 along with two other friends, John and Sammie. It was a very light-air day, but we didn't care. Any time you are sailing (in comfort) with friends, old and new, it's a good day. The next evening we took JAZZ, Jim's Pearson True North, up the Rappahannock to the quaint little town of Urbanna where we casually walked from the harbor one block into town and had a great dinner at the Cafe' MoJo restaurant. What's neat about the Chesapeake Bay is that there is so much waterman history and all of the quaintly named towns and bays live up to their charming expressions. Another day we took JAZZ on an extended cruise down the Rappahannack into the Chesapeake Bay and
burned some of Jim's diesel fuel. It was great, and would have taken a week on a sailboat in light air. Somewhere I have heard, "there is a boat for all seasons". Susie and I treated Jim to a birthday dinner at the Tide's Inn in Carter's Creek. The Tide's Inn is an old historic hotel that looks like it was part of the days of the film, "Dirty Dancing". It has such character.
After we left Jim's, we drove to Newport News, VA and had a great tour of the Mariner's Muesuem and then headed further south down to the port town of New Burn, NC. We stayed the night in a riverfront hotel and had the chance to visit some of the historical buildings, eat great seafood and, of course, walk the docks and look at boats. The next day we headed out to Charleston to attend a wedding of an old family friend. We flew Chase, our son, into Charleston to participate in the festivities, and of course we ate lots of seafood, walked the docks and looked at boats. Are you seeing a pattern here?

Monday, July 6, 2009

Sailboat Bay to Apalachicola, FL

On June 14th through the 20th, 2009 Jim Jones, Quinn Stewart and Charlie (that's me) sailed Briar Patch from Gulf Shores to Apalachicola FL and back. We left Sunday morning on the 14th and went East to Pensacola. From there we went out the ship channel into the Gulf, and at about 20 miles out, set our course at 107 degrees. With the wind off our starbord quarter at about 15-20 kts, we were able to beam reach all day, all night and make landfall at about 10:00 the next morning at Port St. Joe. We cruised about the St. Joseph Bay a while and then cut up the ICW through the swamp to Apalach. When we got to Apalachicola, we tied up at the Waterstreet Inn and went ashore and immediately ate several dozen raw oysters. That's the only place on the planet that I will eat raw oysters. We eased out to the edge of Apalachicola Bay, and after assessing the shallow water and the Govt. Cut in St. George Island, we headed back through the ICW to Panama City and anchored up in St. Andrews Bay, just off Shell Island. That sunset, the emerald water, and the pristine white sand dotted with palms and pines was as pretty as any in the whole Gulf of Mexico, including the Keys. At 0600 the next morning we headed out the PC ship channel about 10 miles and then set our course on 283 degrees toward Destin pass. We were pointing close to the wind all day, but had a terrific sail with the wind SW at 14 knots. At 1645 that evening we entered the "rocking and rolling" Destin pass. Not a pass that I would recommend for tender hearts, and never, never, never would I attempt landfall there after nightfall. We came in at low tide, and were able to get under the Destin bridge, by just inches. Our mast is about 48 feet with light, windex and antenna. From there we went on in to Fort Walton and anchored off the municipal park pier. Once we reached Pensacola, we anchored up in Big Lagoon and listened to the surf of the gulf across the spit of beach. The good thing about anchoring off Pensacola is that you get a really nice wake-up call when the F-14's from NAS take off and scream over your head. Of course the trip wouldn't be complete without a stop at Pirates Cove at Perdido Bay back in Alabama. All in all, we traveled 470 miles, and burned 27 gallons of diesel for the whole trip; in a 6 ton boat. Normally we should not have run the engine so much, but the entire trip back, heading West, we were into the wind, and as it turned out, we would have had to have waited two weeks for it to eventually turn favorable. We didn't have time for that. That's a difference in the sailors of today and those of yesteryear.

Dauphin Island Race, 2009

On April 24, 25 and 26 2009 Jim Jones, Quinn Stewart and Charlie sailed the Briar Patch, a Pearson 323 sloop from Gulf Shores to Mobile, then raced from Mobile to Dauphin Island and then back to Sailboat Bay in Gulf Shores, AL. This is our 24th DI race. We didn't win a trophy, but we did have a good time, and actually corrected over a boat that was much faster than us. Hooray for handicaps. This was the first shakedown cruise after the major refurbishment of the mast, standing and running rigging and power plant in 2008 and early 2009. All systems went well and nothing broke or fell off the boat in what turned into some pretty rough seas and windy conditions. That's us at the starting line (above photo), not the Hinckley B40, but the Pearson right behind it. Life is good, but not that good.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Mast Step redo for Briar Patch

On December 7, 2008 we pulled the mast on Briar Patch and put it on blocks in Nelson's Boatyard. After 20+ years of an aluminum mast sitting on a steel step in the salty bilge of an aging boat, electrolysis and other nasty natural elements took their toll. The mast step was in dire need of being refurbished. I have read of other similar Pearson 323 boats having the same problem, and that prompted me to take a keen look at what lurks beneath the floor in the bilge of Briar Patch. Owners of other P-323's had been so kind to post their experience in replacing the mast step, and refurbishing the mast. I took heed, took aim, and then took action to do the same.

After pulling the mast and examining the situation, we cut off about 2.5 inches of corroded mast from the bottom. I went to a machine shop (JV Lamar who does great work) in Gulf Shores and had him make a new mast step out of stainless steel. He then made a mast extension block that replaced the 2.5 inches that we had cut off the mast.

While the mast was out, we took the opportunity to sand and paint it to bring it back to like new looks. We primed all bare aluminum with zinc chromate, and then primed with Interlux primer.

We then put 2 coats of Interlux Brightside polyurathane paint for the finish. I talked with an Interlux engineer about our paint strategy for aluminum and he said we were on the mark.

Now all we have to do is tune the mast stays and shrouds, and set the sails.

Thanks to my friends and the professionals at Nelsons and JV Lamar machine shop for their help. Special thanks to a good young friend, Garrett Gozdur who helped me re-wire the mast lights before we set the mast and to Jim Jones who was the "roll" of the roll and tip painting process.

Click on the url below to see the before and after pictures. This yacht is ready to go sailing again!

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Gulf Shores, Alabama to Key West on Little Wing

On Feburary 16, 2009 we four guys, Steve Tedford, Mike Darden, Ken Rollins and I set sail from Gulf Shores, Alabama, to Pensacola Pass, to Clearwatrer FL, to Dry Tortugas, to Key West, to Marathon, FL in the Keys. We sailed on the fine 37 ft. yacht, Little Wing. Here is our story in pictorial form.