Saturday, November 8, 2014

Moving Her South

So many projects had been completed over the summer and now it was time to really see how well I could handle this classic boat on my own.

Project List

New Lifelines Installed
New Mainsheet
New Jib Sheets
New Traveller Control Lines
Replaced All Portlight Lenses
Center Starboard Portlight Re-bed
Starboad Stanchion Repaired/Reinforced
Starboard Handrail Re-bed
Starboard Eyebrow Re-bed
Rudder Shaft Stuffing Box Re-packed
New VHF Radio Installed
Cabin Sole Refinished
Damaged Veneer in V Berth Repaired
Old Deck Paint Removed

Days were getting shorter and nights more chilly and so, with October drawing to a close, I knew I had to get S/V SeaSprite pointed in a more southerly direction. The first stage of what is likely to be a very protracted journey with many long breaks was a three day sail from Herrington Harbour South on Herring Bay to Regent Point Marina on the Rappahannock River.  

Leaving early morning on Friday 25 October I headed for Solomon's Island. With the exception of my pre-reefed mainsail coming "unreefed" when I hoisted the sail, the first day was just pure fun. Sailing south on a very broad reach there was lots of surfing as S/V SeaSprite made great time averaging over 6 knots for the 40 nm leg. At Solomons Island I tied up to a floating dock at Calvert Marina. While not a "resort marina" I found it to be very cruiser friendly. The floating docks are very nice and the "Bistro on the Bay" is a first class restaurant just steps away from the slips. The sunset was absolutely amazing!

The next day was characterized by very light wind. I was able to make about 4 knots under sail for the first three hours before the wind died completely. After motoring for another two hours I reached the mouth of the Potomac River where I was greeted by a nice breeze. Unfurling the genoa again S/V SeaSprite was soon coasting along at 5.5 knots. The entrance to the Great Wicomico River was simple and I was soon docked at the Crazy Crab Restaurant & Marina.

The most challenging conditions of the trip occurred on the final day's cruise from Reedville to Regent Point. The wind was blowing a very stiff 22-25 Knots out of the NW which made for a relatively easy and very fast run under double reefed main and single reefed genoa South from Reedville but once I made the turn to the West at Windmill Point I was confronted by a very disorganized sea state created by the confluence of wind and outgoing tide from the Rappahannock. For about an hour or two S/V SeaSprite really got a bone in her teeth, laid her rail down in the brine and demonstrated her strength of character as we cut across the chaos.  Once in the lee of Windmill Point the rest of the trip up the river was a joy ride.

S/V SeaSprite has now reached what is likely to be her winter home. There is a chance I will get an opportunity to keep heading South over the Christmas holidays but I suspect the weather will be prohibitive. For now, she is safe in her slip at Regent Point Marina and I continue to work on refit projects and look for opportunities for short day sails on Rappahannock.

Stay tuned!

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Solitude & Grace - the lure of Single-Handed Sailing

S/V SeaSprite had been back in the water for about a week and I was really looking forward to my first serious single-handed sailing effort.  The first day of October arrived with a breeze blowing a steady 15-18 knots in the morning as a front moved through bringing some rain.  Around noon the weather improved, the rain stopped, the sun peaked out occasionally and the wind dropped to around 8-12 knots so I decided to "go for it."  

Backing out of the slip and motoring out of Herrington Harbour South I was more excited than I have been in years.  Working my way through the minefield of crab pots stretching across the 2 to 3 fathom line I was easily able to get the sails up and trimmed.  Standing there at the helm while the boat quietly accelerated I quickly understood the attraction of the pure solitude of sailing alone;  just the wind, the sea, you and the boat.  My pleasure was made more intense by the pride I felt in S/V SeaSprite as she was soon cutting through the Chesapeake Bay at 5 - 5.5 Knots.   She had been somewhat neglected when I found her about a year ago and she was now very close to regaining her originally grace and seemed to be strutting across the 3 foot Chesapeake chop.  

Over the next hour the wind actually increased and I was soon hitting 6.5 Knots.   As I closed in on Poplar Island I noticed a large RoRo (Roll On/Roll Off) Ship approaching at 20 knots in the deep water channel.  Time to tack!  Thanks to the auto tacking feature on the ST4000 Wheel Pilot single-handed tacking proved to be a simple task.  I continued to sail northeasterly track until I reached the mouth of Eastern Bay where I decided to commence my return leg.   Over the course of the late afternoon the weather continued to improve but the wind slowly diminished leaving S/V SeaSprite to coast leisurely along at 3.5 knots as we reentered Herring Bay. 

With the sun dropping low on the horizon it was time to drop sail and head in to face the fear that confronts every single-handed sailor;  how to safely dock the boat.  Luckily by the time I reached the fairway the wind was negligible and I was able to bring her along side with ease.  

I am very excited about the opportunity to take her south at the end of October.  Stay tuned!


A Beautiful Day

S/V SeaSprite is a Fractional Sloop and 
Points Exceptionally Well

Safely Home

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Relaunch and Storm Sailing on the Chesapeake

After two months on the hard S/V SeaSprite goes back in the water and sails into a storm. 

Safe in her new temporary slip at Herrington Harbour South

Monday, September 8, 2014

Breathing Some Soul into the Sole

The restoration of S/V SeaSprite is progressing well. Refinishing the cabin sole was the latest undertaking. The Sea Sprite 30s were not finished with the traditional teak and holly but rather a sole of what I suppose is solid teak planks with a dark mahogany finish. At any rate, while the sole was in decent condition it was clear that refinishing would dramatically improve the appearance of the interior. 

When I first purchased S/V SeaSprite I spent some time thoroughly cleaning the wood interior, to include the sole, with Murphy's Oil Soap and then oiled everything with Lemon Oil. That revealed the beauty of the interior wood work and joinery but unfortunately the results were temporary as the oil dried over time and the dull appearance returned. 

The solution was obvious. The sole would have to be refinished. Not having much experience in the wood refinishing department I checked in with Buster Phipps at Phipps Boatworks. Buster indicated it would be an easy enough job.  Just use some 220 grit sandpaper to sand/clean the floors. Then apply 3-4 coats of Helmsman Semi-Gloss Spar Urethane to the sole with the requisite sanding between coats.

After an initial sanding with 220 grit sandpaper

Access Cover Sanded

V-Berth After 3 Coats

I would like to post a photo of the entire salon but the glare off the cabin sole was too strong. Hopefully when the project is completed I will be able to get some better photos.

So what's next? Well, I will apply at least one more coat and maybe go with a 5th coat. Another really large project that continues to progress is the slow removal of the old deck paint that was applied to the non-skid by a previous owner many years ago. Eventually I'd like to repaint the entire deck but that may have to wait until I have more confidence in my own skills or the $$$$ to pay for someone else's. Finally, I still need to refinish the exterior teak and replace those horrible looking dorade cowl vents. 

More importantly, I have scheduled a launch the week of 22 September and hope to be moving S/V SeaSprite south soon afterwards.  Stay tuned!

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

An Update

S/V SeaSprite has been on the hard at Herrington Harbour North since Sarge and I sailed her up from Regent Point Marina at the end of June. Since then I have completed the following projects:

1) Repack the Rudder Shaft Stuffing Box
2) Repair Delaminated Teak Veneer around Salon Portlight
3) Replace Portlight lenses
4) Re-bed and reinforce a stanchion
5) Replaced the old VHF radio with new one that has remote mic/controller for the helm
6) Repaired damage teak veneer in the v-berth
7) Re-bed the starboard side cabin top handrail.
8) Removed the old name and homeport and applied the new name, homeport, and mascot logo

Here is a video update

And a look at the new name, homeport and mascot logo

Saturday, July 5, 2014

No Sale…but Definitely a Sail!!

After listing S/V SeaSprite on and Ebay I had numerous inquiries.  In fact, I was slightly surprised at the level of interest this 30 year old boat attracted. The first Ebay listing did not reach the reserve price of $22,500 but there were more than 30 bids and it did make it to $16,500 so I re-listed it starting at $16,500. A couple of days after re-listing the bidding reached the reserve price and the high bidder contacted me to ask a number detailed questions. He had been looking for a C.E. Ryder Southern Cross 31 for some time and had experienced a couple of disappointments when boats turned out to be far less seaworthy than described. Unable to find his preferred model he had widened the search to include the Sea Sprite 30. He was very interested in the condition of the decks and the engine and pending a successful survey he was committed to buying S/V SeaSprite. In order to end the auction early we negotiated a final sale price of $26,000.  

The prospective buyer had grown up in Annapolis and was planning to live aboard at Port Williams if he ever found a decent boat. He asked about delivery to the Annapolis area and I noted that I was planning to move S/V SeaSprite to Herrington Harbour North (HHN) over the coming weekend and if he really wanted to check out the boat then he should come along for the trip. He accepted enthusiastically and we agreed to meet at HHN Friday morning so we could drive down to Regent Point Marina and prep the boat for an early Saturday departure.

The buyer, I will call him "Sarge," was a great character. He had served in the Marine Corps from 1970-1979 and it clearly had a significant formative impact on his worldview and personality.  Sarge arrived at HHN wearing Vietnam era olive drab fatigues, a white t-shirt and an old USMC cover (hat), his clothes were stuffed in a green duffle bag and his vernacular was right out of "Full Metal Jacket." Lee Ermy couldn't hold this guy's rucksack!   Interestingly, he was also wearing some wild sunglasses with clear frames and black hi-top converse Chuck Taylors with orange laces so there was a bit of a rebel in there somewhere.  

Sarge w/ his Chuck Taylors & Sunglasses

Arriving at Regent Point Marina around 1:30pm we set about provisioning the boat. We topped off the diesel and water and went to the Deltaville Market for food. Sarge stocked up on canned beans, vienna sausages, Mac & Cheese, and copious quantities of milk! 

Back at the boat I walked Sarge through the various systems and even started the engine to be sure all was in order for our planned 5:30am departure. As I am 6'5" I offered to sleep on one of the settees and offered Sarge the V-Berth but he declared he would prefer to sleep in the cockpit. Luckily the bugs were absent and we both had a good night's rest. Sarge rolled out his sleeping bag and then opened a can of butter beans and ate them cold right out of the can! For desert he finished off a can of vienna sausages washed down with a pint of milk!!!

We were both up at 4:30am.  Sarge made coffee on the propane stove in his vietnam era canteen cup while I removed the sail covers and made final preparations to get underway. We cast off at 5:45am and motored slowly out of Regent Point's tight channel. It was close to low tide and my depth gauge was reading dangerously close to the 4'8" draft of S/V SeaSprite.

We hadn't gone more than 50 yards beyond the marina retaining wall when I felt the nose of the boat lift up and then settle. I had drifted slightly to starboard of the main channel and found the soft Rappahannock mud bottom. We were aground but the tide and the prevailing breeze were in our favor and within about 45 minutes we were back underway.

The wind was blowing a steady 12-15 knots right out of the East which meant we had to motor all the way out of the Rappahannock but once we reached Windmill Point we raised the main and then the jib and were soon flying northward at an average speed of close to 6 knots.

Once we had the sails trimmed and the autopilot engaged there was more time to discuss the merits and demerits of the boat.  I quickly realized that Sarge was not aware of the magnitude of annual maintenance costs for a 30 year old boat. We spoke of bottom paint, sail inspections and repairs, engine maintenance, seacock servicing and occasional replacement, hardware re-bedding, haul outs and storage fees. I could see the surprise and concern in ol' Sarge's eyes each time I described a new maintenance requirement and its associated cost.  

To further complicate the matter, S/V SeaSprite was sailing beautifully. With the wind building to a steady 18-20 knots and heeled over to 25 degrees she was regularly exceeding 7 knots.  Her motion was very sea kindly, even in the short square waves of the Chesapeake. As she cut through the dark tea colored Chesapeake Bay chop I really began to regret putting her up for sale.

Sabre 40 en route to Solomons Island

We made great time covering more than 55 nm in about 10 hours and found ourselves racing a beautiful Sabre 40 as we approached the mouth of the Patuxent River around 6:00pm. We sailed in tandem with the Sabre right up the river and dropped the sails just in front of the entrance to Solomons Island where we spent the night at Spring Cove Marina. After a warm shower and some sandwiches for dinner (Sarge ate beans straight out of the can again!) I was settled down on my settee and surfing the web when I noticed a new listing for a C.E. Ryder Southern Cross 31 located right in Deale, MD. I mentioned it to Sarge. His eyes lit up as he asked me to send him the link.  

Southern Cross 31 Listed on

After another pleasant night's sleep we cast off from Spring Cove Marina in a complete calm around 6:45am on Sunday morning. The motor out was pleasant as we admired some of the beautiful boats moored at marinas along the creek.

S/V Falcon

The Bay was dead calm. The wonderful breeze of the day before was completely gone so we motored north for 5 hours until we were just off Chesapeake Beach which is just south of Holland Point and the entrance to Herring Bay.

Sarge Giving the "3rd Herd Salute" on the motor up to HHN

By 1:00pm the wind was just starting to pick up so I put Sarge through an abbreviated ASA 101 course. Once he got the sails up we toodled around a bit and even hit a scorching 3 knots before calling it a day so we could make it to our temporary slip at HHN by 4:00pm. Of course, once we dropped the sails and motored in to Herring Bay the wind picked up to 10 knots but c'est la vie…

Sarge at the Helm

A summer Sunday in Herring Bay must be the sailing equivalent of a Friday afternoon on the Capital Beltway. Common sense was an uncommon virtue as speedboats, PWCs, sailboats and even paddle boarders all vied for limited space and right of way. In the end we made it to the dock at HHN without incident, secured the boat, removed our gear and said goodbyes. Sarge still seemed keen to buy the boat and said he was going to stop by the Marina office to schedule the launch and re-haul for the Sea Trial.

S/V SeaSprite @ HHN

It was a good trip!

I returned to S/V Corsair at her slip in Herrington Harbour South and as I reflected on the trip I became increasingly depressed about the prospect of selling S/V SeaSprite to Sarge. I worried that not only would he not be able to afford or otherwise keep up with the annual maintenance but I also began to realize that I wasn't mentally ready to part ways with this good ol' boat in to which I had invested so much time and money. How could I avoid selling her without offending my new friend? I was contractually obligated to go through with the sale as long as Sarge was willing to pay the agreed price. The survey and sea trial were scheduled for 8 July and Sarge was paying for the launch and re-haul.  

I remembered the new listing for the Southern Cross 31. I sent Sarge an email with a link and suggested he check it out since it was right there at HHN. Then I opened up Yachtworld and did a quick search of new listings only to find a 1978 Southern Cross 31 (Yachtworld SC31 Listing) that had never been launched until 2013. Everything other than the hull was brand new! This had to be more than serendipitous! I decided it was an omen and I immediately sent the link to Sarge suggesting this was a better deal than S/V SeaSprite if he cost averaged the total expense of ownership over 5 years. The next morning Sarge sent me an email saying he would like a release from the sales contract so he could make an offer on the SC31. I happily agreed and even offered to help him sail her up from Oriental, NC if his offer was accepted.  

As far as I know Sarge hasn't yet closed the deal on a Southern Cross 31 but I am happy to know that S/V SeaSprite will remain in my care for a while longer. She is on the hard now at HHN and I am planning to continue the restoration over the next few months.  I guess she is still for sale but any prospective buyer needs to be more of a collector of fine art than someone shopping for an R/V.

S/V SeaSprite on the hard at HHN

Thursday, June 5, 2014

SeaSprite is for Sale….

Yes, its true.  I have decided to sell SeaSprite.  After some careful consideration about my future sailing plans and some business and family related changes (major new initiative at work and eldest son not coming home for the summer, etc) it no longer makes sense to take her down to the Outer Banks.

The good news is that whoever buys her will be reaping the rewards of all my hard work and financial investment.   Asking $32,500 but accepting any reasonable offer….

SAILBOATLISTINGS - 1984 Sea Sprite 30 for Sale