Monday, November 7, 2011

Open up a can of INSPIRATION!

Lately we've seen a steep decline in the number of volunteers who manage to make it out to our weekly working sessions.  And while I'm pretty sure it has a good deal to do with having to reef seams and dig out old fasteners, the work is becoming more enjoyable and even therapeutic as we progress into some more palatable aspects of restoration - such as scraping paint.  Or not.  But in all seriousness, between all the military personnel who have transferred in the last several months, we're down to a bare bones staff working excitedly on Monomoy No. 3 in the hopes of getting her into the water next year.  What's so exciting about that?  Well, that's where the inspiration comes from!

Monomoy No. 3 will be the first boat in our inventory with a centerboard - and by all accounts significantly better windward performance.  That means that our cruising capabilities go through the roof, and I see no reason why immediately upon launching and after a few "gruelling test sails" we shouldn't begin those longer trips.  Let me paint you a picture of what we have in mind, at the minimal end of the spectrum:

Getting underway from Norfolk, our reduced crew of 5-7 will use oars only to maneuver into open water, then proceed under sail.  With tents and camping gear stowed aboard along with provisions for several days, we sail out into Chesapeake Bay and make for any number of destinations.  Depending on preference, we can stop and beach to sleep or keep going, arranging sleeping on the deck of the boat with the crew 'on watch' remaining above the thwarts while moving about - arrangements that are far more comfortable than they sound.  The trip can be carefully coordinated and take place in just about any weather - we know from experience that Monomoys can take a tremendous pounding just fine, and once restored No. 3 is built like a tank.

There are myriad destinations in Chesapeake Bay that we could reach in a relatively short amount of time (3-5 days is a nice long weekend trip, we could easily travel the length and breadth of the Bay in that time if we have any wind at all).  Among these I would suggest:
  • Tangier Island - right in the middle of the Bay.  A place so remote it has its own unique dialect.
  • Cape Charles, VA - on the Eastern Shore, has one of the best pubs in the area and a great beach for sleeping.
  • Kiptopeke, VA - also Eastern Shore, a few miles south of Cape Charles, is guarded by two rows of WWII era concrete ships sunk to make a breakwater.  This was our destination for Conquer the Chesapeake last year.
  • St. Michaels, MD - a great waterfront town in the upper bay.
  • Mallow's Bay (on the Potomac) literally hundreds of shipwrecks line this cove right across the river from Quantico.
As if that weren't cool enough, how about an open ocean challenge?  For starters, a sail around Cape Hatteras to Ocracoke Island - the site of Blackbeard's demise.  This would take a well-seasoned and highly disciplined crew but would certainly raise a few eyebrows.

Each of these ideas has logistics challenges, but we've shown in the past that these can be overcome with good planning and plenty of back-up ashore.  We also know that each trip is an adventure in its own rite, and much sought after by our members and volunteers.  So get that bug back in your bloodstream, kids!  Bear in mind, this boat WILL be in service next year.  The crew for these trips will be selected from NHS Members, donors and those who come out regularly to volunteer at the Dockyard.  We'll also work actively with those folks to arrange the dates and discuss voyage plans.  That said, if you want to be sure you have a place in the crew, now is the time to start locking that up.  Here are a few ways to do that:
  • Become an NHS Member.  Go to and complete the process online or print the form and mail it to us.
  • Help out at the Dockyard.  Starting this week, we'll try to start up Saturday working sessions to accommodate all the folks that can't come on Wednesday nights.  For more information about how to join in, email me at
  • Donate!  You can use our website to donate funds, or you can buy the things we need in the Dockyard and send them to us!  You can access our wish list and ship directly to the Dockyard.
Oh, and some shout-outs on this one - Eric, I know you're reading and we're going to need a good cook on these trips - love to have you, let me know!  Chuck, let's chat dates soonest so you can get here from Colorado.

High gear - get there.


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