DragonForce RG65 No Quarter Maiden Voyage

After parting with the RG65 No Quarter I’ve finally assembled the DragonForce No Quarter and went for a maiden sail at the river. Hopefully when the Richmond Model Yacht Club resumes racing in Richmond I might be able to take it out for a regatta there.


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Weather Website Relaunch

This July my weather website was relaunched on a new domain: https://buoy.report

I originally launched this site back in 2014 to enable me to more quickly and easily see weather buoy data in the various places I sail. Most of the existing sources of this data are slow to load and hard to read and I wanted something easier. The original site was PHP-based and ending up being a bit finicky and unreliable.

I’ve been spending my free time during COVID to learning AWS and getting the AWS Architect Associate certification as well as learning Python. This site has been a great project to re-invent the website using a modern serverless architecture that should prove to be a lot more reliable as well as provide flexibility for more functionality in the future.

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Ware River Yacht Club Sunset

We visited friends sailing Albacore’s at Ware River Yacht Club’s Governor’s Cup regatta and got to see an absolutely beautiful sunset. There was a pretty Blue Jay sailboat anchored in front of the club that made for a great subject. This was my first time really using a new to me Nikon D300s that I had picked up a few weeks ago.


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Nikon D300s

Having gone without an SLR for a few years I finally picked up a used Nikon D300s. It’s 10 years old and doesn’t do video well or have many fancy features, but is just enough to capture some sailing shots and some sunset shots that the iphone just can’t quite do justice. I paired it with a used 18-200 (not pictured).

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2020 July 4th FBYC Long Distance Race

This year Jess and I sailed lasers in the FBYC One Design Division Long Distance Race. All of the smaller boats <24′ waterline sail using the Portsmouth handicap system in a race that covers a total of 7-8 miles in the Piankatank River.

We had a variety of boats in the fleet from Lasers, Radials, Flying Scots, a Weta and a few J70’s. The 70s would be fast and the off-angle sailing under asymmetrical spinnakers would really give them a chance to pull away.

The start set the boats off on port tack eastward down the river. The rest of the fleet all came barging in on port tack at the pin and I did a starboard dip line start and forced all of them to give me room and Nostalgia had to circle around and restart. The J70 Billy Buff started just behind me and I was able to pinch them off and slow them down before they eventually went under and around me.

The wind held at a steady 9-11 knots out of the north east. The course took us towards Gywnn’s island, around #8 and then towards the entrance to Jackson creek. It then doubled back and then went ~3 miles west up the river and then back to Godfrey Bay.

I kept up best I could with the Flying Scots and stayed ahead of the Weta while the J/70’s sailed pretty far into the distance.

Following racing as we were packing up the boat the scorer walked by and let me know that after the handicaps were computed, I tied for 3rd with Billy Buff and we both beat Nostalgia by 2 seconds. Just goes to show that starting on starboard made a difference between 3rd and 5th.


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2020 FBYC Moonlight Race Start

FBYC had a beautiful start to the Moonlight race. We got to go for an evening cruise and captured some stunning photos of the fleet. What a great way to start the July 4th weekend!


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Engagement Photos

From the look of this blog it might look like we don’t have anything going on – but that couldn’t be further from the truth. Despite quarantining we’ve been busy planning a wedding for this fall and this weekend we went to Deltaville to get some engagement photos taken.

Huge thanks to Joe, George and David for letting us pose on their boats!


Photos: Nancy Topham https://miketopham.com/

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2020 FBYC Laser Spring Regatta

Since the last time I’ve raced a Laser the world has changed a lot. With the virus and social distancing and the cancellations and postponements – my first time Laser Sailing this year would be in June at the postponed Laser Spring Regatta at Fishing Bay Yacht Club. We had a fantastic turnout with 11 Lasers and another 10 radials like on account of few other regattas going on this month and Junior week that was postponed, but junior race teams that have started practices.

The forecast all week was for cloudy, windy and chance of rain. It ended up being absolutely beautiful with sunny skies, light winds to starts and moderate temperatures.

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Fleet start by Paul Almany

Out on the racecourse we were originally going to start the Laseres with the Radials – we did a practice start with all of us together and there was a lot of over-earlies and just a lot of confusion. After the practice start and a general recall the fleets were finally split and we sent the Radials first followed by the Standards. The wind was about 8-9 for that first race.

With a little boat favor I made sure to win the boat and stay in clear air. By the top mark I found myself in 2nd just behind Avery who sailed just a little to the left of me. I followed him downwind, but on the final upwind to the finish I got a little out of phase and dropped 3 boats to finish 5th. Having not sailed in almost 7 months it was great to hang with the fleet and have upwind speed. I’m also down about 10 pounds and the lighter air helped there too.

In the second race I again won the boat and led at the windward mark and downwind. On the final beat I missed a big shift almost auto-tacked. By the time i recovered Avery sailed by and I was able to stay ahead of Luke for 2nd.

In the 3rd race the wind went a little more left and picked up a bit. I had an ok start and didn’t quite win the boat. Rounded the top mark in 4th and wound up finishing there. Alex had a great race and got away from me and just about caught Avery.

Laser Radial start

For the 4th and final race I decided to start closer to the pin. The wind had come a little left and the boat was looking at little crowded. I sailed in clear air and was 3rd at the top mark. Downwind James got around me and I would wind up 4th.

It’s been a while since I carried my cell phone with me in a waterproof case to tweet from the race course – today was the first time I was able to tweet between races using a cell-enabled watch. The dictation wasn’t super great, but it worked.

Huge thanks to Lew and the crew of Catitude for heading up race committee today.

Results | Jon’s Pictures | Paul Almany Pictures

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Hinged Hoop House Raised Garden Bed

Jess and I had wanted to grow some vegetables at home and with the Coronavirus induced time we’d be spending at home we quickly made a plan to build a hinged hoop house raised garden bed. In years past we knew there were a number of squirrels and other animals in our backyard and wanted to give whatever we planted the best chance of success by protecting it. To make this easy we designed a hooped lid on a hinge with chicken wire on it.

We started by excavating the area and using a level to be sure it was flat ground we were starting with.

We built a raised garden bed that was ~18″ tall using 3 1×6 and using 2×4 to make the corners. We affixed some plastic fencing to the bottom to try and prevent anything from burrowing up into the garden bed (we have plenty of moles in our yard). As we were putting in – I had some second thoughts on both the plastic fence and the size of the holes in it and we put down some left over very narrow wire fencing, but didn’t have enough for the entire bottom. If I did it again I would have just gone with the narrow metal fencing over the entire bottom.

Tipped it into place and filled in around it and added some garden soil. Initially we just put a few inches in, but know as we do more composting we’ll start to add more and bring the level of the soil up.

For the hoop frame we used 2×4 to create a frame the same size as the bed. We cut some angle pieces in the corners to give it some more strength and put 1 beam down the middle of it.

Using a tomato cage we might like to put in the garden, we figured out how high we wanted to make the hoops. To affix the hoops to the frame we drilled holes in the plastic and just put 2 screws straight through the pipe into the frame on each side.

Next we put the chicken wire across the hoops. I used cable ties to connect it, but these will degrade in a couple years and I really need to re-affix it with wire to make it more permanent. Note we still hadn’t added the hinges which made it easy to move the frame onto some saw horses to easily get underneath it to affix the chicken wire.

With the completed hoop sitting on the garden bed, we added 3 fence hinges to one side to make it open. Then we added some eye hooks inside the frame and inside the garden and tied a rope to them to keep the frame from opening too far, but ensured it opens far enough that the weight of it holds it open and there’s no risk of it blowing closed while we are working in it.


  • 1×6 boards for raised bed
  • 2×4 for bed corners and hoop frame
  • 1/2″ pvc pipe for hoops
  • wood screws to hold everything together
  • narrow wire fence under the raised bed (optional)
  • chicken wire for the hoop cage
  • wire to tie the chicken wire together and to the hoops (or cable ties as a temporary solution)
  • 3 fence door hinges
  • 1 handle
  • 4 eye hooks and rope to hold it open


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2020 Biltmore Visit

Jess and I made a weekend trip to the Biltmore in western part of North Carolina. We’ve wanted to make a trip for a while and there was a Downton Abbey exhibit going on. When we got to town we noticed a tour bus at one of the hotels and while I was touring the Moog Music factory I asked about it and someone else on the tour knew that the Lumineer’s were playing. We had planned on a quiet dinner out and evening, so instead we quickly bought tickets and went. It was a great concert and we’re glad we went.

The next day we went early to the Downton Abbey exhibit, walked around and ate lunch at one of the restaurants near the main house. In the afternoon we toured the main house and some of the grounds. We followed that with dinner and headed home the next day.

While the Coronavirus hadn’t shown up in the US other than in a few places, we knew it was inevitable that it would come and change the way we travel, so it was a little bittersweet being on a trip knowing it might be our last for a while.


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