Pathfinder in Tangier Sound
By Steve Earley - Chesapeake, Virginia - USA

Here are some photos from my four day cruise to some of the islands of Tangier Sound on Chesapeake Bay. I had a great time. Spartina, the Pathfinder I launched last June, performed wonderfully. I had all kinds of weather - from a steady 10 knot breeze to dead calm to a small craft advisory. A fun way to spend a long weekend, I can't wait to go back.

Work and family life are keeping me pretty busy these days, so I don't have time to write much. But here are the photos and below is some information to go with them.

click to enlarge Loaded up with all my gear, food and water in Crisfield, Md. Eight gallons of water under the two ports in the bunk flat. More than I needed, but I wanted to see how she sailed with the weight. Clothes and food are under the hatches in the thwart. From left to right you can see my yellow foul weather gear bungeed under the coaming. A grey tub with flashlights, candles, matches and notebooks. My safety harness tether is coiled in front of that, next to the red throw cushion. The yellow bag contains my hypothermia gear - a double bagged set of warm clothes to be brought out only as a last resort. Under the foredeck is a gas can, porta potty, anchor and mesh bag with onions and peppers. Bungeed up under the foredeck is my boom tent, sleeping pad and sleeping bag. Wrapped in white polytarp on the right is my cook stove with a burner and griddle. Aft of that is a grey tub with my cook kit. As you can see, all that gear and I'm still left with a wide open cockpit! I could not detect any change in performance of the boat with all that gear on there.
click to enlarge Not the best looking guy, but I'm having a nice time crossing Tangier sound in a 10 knot breeze. I've got my harness on, life jacket is nearby to the right. I'm a baseball hat kind of guy, but the wide-brimmed straw hat was perfect protection from the sun. Ten or twelve hours exposed to the sun in an open cockpit can be a long time, I'll take any protection I can get.
click to enlarge Anchored for the evening at Great Fox Island, my $10 l.e.d. anchor light swinging from the lazy jacks.
click to enlarge Tried my hand at fishing, but not much luck. But a very nice way to spend the afternoon. I cast a bit looking for fish, but mostly enjoyed watching the dolphins swim by out in the deeper water.
click to enlarge Setting sail at sunrise at Great Fox Island. Second day of the four day trip had the lightest winds. They kind of came and went. Fog moved in late morning. I sailed south to Watts Island in the fog using a compass and tracking crab pot markers along the shoal that led from Great Fox Island to Watts Island.
click to enlarge Dinner! Grilled onions and peppers with salmon out of a foil packet, all served over the rice boiling in the pot to the right. Talk about good!
click to enlarge The boom tent up at Tangier Island. A front came through that night, strong winds and heavy rains. The tent, made with polytarp, tape and grommets (total cost of about $60.00) kept me perfectly dry and comfortable. I slept through the storm and waited out the wind and rain the next day while reading a good book. Weather cleared about 2 in the afternoon, I set sail with a reef in during a small craft advisory. Interesting thing about leaving Tangier was sailing backward with the cb up and the rudder partially lowered. I was under complete control sliding across the sand flats dodging a couple of duck blinds. As I got to the opening of the sound I raised the jib and reefed main and took off in to the breeze.
click to enlarge Sailing across the sound during the small craft advisory. Just a great ride.
click to enlarge A visit to Watts Island. Once an island large enough to support a plantation, now eroded away to a narrow uninhabited strip of land.
click to enlarge Does anybody else out there have a JW pennant? A gift from my Mom, it arrived the evening before I left on the trip.
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The Pathfinder has proven to be a great design. I wonder where it will take me next.

best wishes,


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