Dinghy Sailing on Rockhold Creek

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This is a photo Ruth took about a year ago.

Yesterday was stunning, weather-wise: bright blue sky, moderate temps in the high 40s, a breeze under 10 knots. Perfect for dinghy sailing.

There is a lot of water all around the region of the creek, and dinghy or kayak is the perfect vehicle for exploring because a lot of it is pretty shallow. Dinghy with oars is also the best way to tour a marina: you can go as slowly as you want, maneuvering is easy, you can talk to people and look at the boats at your leisure.

I traveled south on the creek, then cut northwest up Tracy’s Creek and past the west end of the very large Herrington Harbor North marina/boat yard.  I passed under the bridge and into the marsh pool adjacent to the local grass-strip airport. It was absolutely serene sailing that little cockle shell of a boat in the gentle breeze, drifting when the air went light, tacking and jibing as it shifted around and through the creek lowlands. When becalmed I sometimes resorted to oars to pull out of a wind hole, and at one point I brailed up the spritsail and just rowed for a while.

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My marina and house in view over the transom. Pretty calm, but not without a stir in the air. I was still moving.

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The view forward, and some detail of the boom attachment. The sprit is rigged the same way with a lanyard led through a padeye, then made off to a cleat.

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This guy’s doing what I hate. I just don’t like being up there. He’s recently had his rig down for maintenance on his big charter schooner, and now (I think) he’s rigging and adjusting the triadic stay.

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I think you can see the details of his bosun’s seat in this photo. It looks like a plank rigged with three-strand and a tool bag at the side. It looks like he’s also wearing a safety harness made up from three-strand. None of this makes me uncomfortable, except that he has shackled – not tied – his seat and harness. I wouldn’t trust a shackle like that. I’ve seen photos of Larry Pardey using a bosun’s seat similar to this one.

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Here’s a photo of the boat and rig.

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Another schooner yacht at Herrington North. This a fairly new wooden boat, and a fairly new tenant in the marina. I haven’t seen her under sail yet.

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Close-up of some detail – deadeye rigging, teak decks. Really beautiful, understated topsides paint color scheme.

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s/v Thalia. I would love to have a ride on her.

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View at the head of the creek. It gets very shallow (inches, really) up here.

I made it almost to the head of the pool at the end of the creek, but the water became too shallow, even for Sea Minor which only draws a few inches. I had to unship the tiller and center board up here. On the return, a down-wind leg, I unbrailed the sail and let out the sheet, steering with one oar trailing from its oarlock. Even then I stirred up the muddy bottom.  Finally in deeper water again, I shipped the tiller and daggerboard and negotiated the flukey breezes again. After a 160 degree turn back up Rockhold Creek, I tacked 8-10 times to get back to my marina. Fun! Exploring in small boats is so satisfying. It makes me want to build another small sailboat that sails a bit better than  Sea Minor.  She’s got such a short waterline, and her sail area is so small for safety’s sake – it takes a good breeze to get her moving well. Still, she’s the perfect yacht tender for us. As with cruising boats, everything about a dinghy is a trade-off of one sort or another. Sea Minor rows extremely well, is not a bad sailor, puts up with a lot of neglect and abuse, and is fairly stable for a hard dinghy. I’m happy with her as she is.

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7 comments
  1. Mike said:

    I can’t remember the book but I think I remember the quote about it being so much fun to muck about in a small boat. I am saving my pennies with the idea of getting a picnic cat to muck about in the mangroves of Biscayne Bay.

    • Mike, that is exactly what this is about. Wind in the Willows author Kenneth Grahame wrote those words that have become the immortal anthem for owners of small boats.

      Good luck with your picnic cat. Sounds like a lot of fun!

  2. James Eaton said:

    What “model” or type is Sea Minor? Looks like a smart sailing dinghy

    • James, it was designed by a guy named Steffan Kristjansen in Seattle, Wa. I bought a set of plans – probably in 1997 – after seeing this model on display at the Port Townsend (WA) Wooden Boat Festival/Show. I’ve looked up his address, and found this:

      123 E Edgar Street
      Seattle
      WA 98102-3133
      Phone: (206) 323-0314

      His website is listed as http://www.kristjansonboatworks.com, but it doesn’t seem to work.

      She’s not a bad sailor, for an 8-foot boat. It definitely takes a bit of experience to make it go well, though. The short waterline and limited sail area are factors that require special consideration. And, she rows with authority. She’s very good under oars alone.

      • Oh, and her design name is “Little Shot.”

  3. Looks like next week you can do more dinghy sailing with the temps rising again around the Bay. Possibly close to 70 on Christmas Day!

    • Yes, amazing weather we’ve had this fall. As cold as last year’s winter was, this one may be mild to the extreme. Thanks El Nino!

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