Thursday, September 7, 2017

Professional Photographer?

I started Nautography two and a half years ago with little more than an iPhone, a background in sailing, and a dream.

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About a year later, I bought my first "real" camera*, a bottom-of-the-line refurbished Nikon DSL.

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A few months ago, I started getting instruction from pro photographers and using Lightroom/Photoshop to post-process my images.

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And now I'm an on-the-water contributing photographer for Spinsheet Magazine, having provided their August cover and now with my first regatta shoot under my belt.

It seems that while my 'blog posting has been somewhat anemic and my sailing adventures have been somewhat lacking (at least this past year), my photography has really been taking off.

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It's been a lot of work, I still have a lot to learn, and I haven't gotten here on my own. I want to thank everyone who has helped me along the way, with a few special shoutouts: Kat for her experience and patience, Jen for the opportunities and encouragement, Molly and Mary at Spinsheet for having complete faith in a rookie photographer, my folks for providing me more creative genes than I had realized, and most of all my lovely wife Sara for being fully supportive of me running headlong into a second career even though we just had a baby.

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Somebody pinch me....

*I did buy a GoPro in there somewhere too, but it hasn't seen much use. Maybe I need to rectify that. Hmmmm.....

Thursday, August 3, 2017

Bon Voyage

The tail end of 2016 was quite eventful for us in that we found out that we bought a sailboat and found out that we were having a baby. Earlier this spring, Sara & I decided that it would likely be best for us if we sold the boat; we wanted to be able to focus our attention on our new arrival and it didn't seem prudent, or good for the boat, to leave it sitting unused for a few years.

Yesterday, the sale was finalized, and Sara & I are no longer boat owners*.  It was a hard decision, and I'll miss Bird, but it was absolutely the right thing to do. I wish her and her new owner many wonderful voyages!

I know it's been a while since I posted (big shock, right?) but I should have a few new posts up soon. I've been quiet, but I haven't been idle. ;^)

* Well, we do still own the dinghy. I mean, come on. We couldn't give up the dinghy! B^)

Friday, March 17, 2017

Thumbs Up: A Severn River Shipwreck

Around the middle of last December, I caught word through an Instagram post that a sailboat had run aground at Jonas Green Park in Annapolis. Being the curious sort, I stopped by after work the next day with my camera to catch a glimpse of the shipwreck.

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By the looks of it, she was a Cal 22 in otherwise good condition aside from being aground. She was reasonably upright and her hatches were closed and her hull and rigging looked solid, but her engine and sails had been removed. I'm guessing she had been in storage on a mooring ball or at anchor somewhere and broken free.

I came back the following morning before work when the tide was considerably lower, and she was clearly heeling, almost to the point of her cabin windows being submerged.

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I did what any concerned sailor should do and notified the proper authorities of her whereabouts and gave them her registration information from the hull. Under Maryland law, I couldn't legally attempt any kind of salvage operation until after a certain amount of time had passed without the owner claiming her, so for now I would have to be content to watch from shore.

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That morning, in the light of day, I could see that she had been in the water for some time. Barnacles were growing over much of her hull, although oddly were absent from the lower portions. I can only guess that she was at leas partially buried in the sand, roughly upright, prior to arriving at Jonas Green. The tides in mid-December had been quite high, so it's entirely possible that she drifted there from a previous grounding.

As the weeks passed, I stopped by every so often to check on her. She was working her way further up the shore, so far that by early January you could touch her bow at low tide and not get your feet wet, and was no longer standing even close to upright at high tide. Shortly after her initial grounding, she had rolled over onto her port side instead of her starboard side.

By late January, she had settled enough onto her port side that she started taking on water. First in the cockpit, then eventually in the cabin. At this point, I realized that she was more than likely a total loss.

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Around the time that Sara & I moved to Annapolis, we had purchased a dinghy. One Saturday, I got the bright idea to take that Dinghy to the park and see if I could read the boat's name off of her transom. It was cold, damp, and I was fighting the sniffles, but it was an opportunity I couldn't miss.

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Although I never got a single clear picture that showed her name in its entirety (largely because of the placement of the outboard mount), I learned that her name was Thumbs Up. An oddly optimistic name for a boat stuck in such a pessimistic position.

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After the flooding came the winter storms. By the first weekend in March, her mast had broken in two, and her rudder had broken off. The following weekend, her mast had fallen entirely off into the water. The elements were taking their toll on the poor boat.

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After her mast had fallen off into the water, I took it upon myself to drag up what I could onto the shore. It wasn't much as the lower half of the mast and the boom were still connected to the hull by various lines and shrouds, but I wanted to make sure that the upper portion, which was free, didn't get buried or wash away.

I asked a passing DNR officer about the status of the boat, and he informed me that her owner was coming to salvage her the following week. I thanked him and went on my way, not quite believing that, after all this time, her owner had finally come for her.

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On March 16th, I stopped by Jonas Green Park and Thumbs Up was nowhere to be seen. Her owner had finally come and gotten her. I was sad that I would no longer be able to photograph my favorite shipwreck, but also hopeful that she would get a proper salvage and sail the waters of the Severn River again.


Sunday, January 1, 2017

2016 Recap in Pictures

2016 was a hell of a year for us, packed with new adventures and some painful losses. And, just like last year, I was too busy going and doing (and photographing!) to actually get as much 'blogging in as I would like to. So, I'd like to send 2016 off with a little tribute.

In January, we moved in with Sara's mom.

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In March, I bought my first "real" camera.

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In April, we took Sara's mom sailing in the Caribbean.

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In May, we lost Sara's mom to cancer.

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In June, I started volunteering with CRAB.

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In August, we took our friend Jen sailing in Spain.

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Later that month, we lost Sara's grandfather.

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In September, we moved to Annapolis.

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In October, we bought our first boat.

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And, finally, in December, we were happy to announce that we'll be having a baby in June!

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Happy New Year! May your 2017 be joyous and eventful!

Thursday, December 15, 2016

The Badass Swede

Every time I charter a boat, it seems like I see some incredible maneuver happen. This Spring in the BVI, it was The Gods of Docking, and this summer in the Balearics is was the Badass Swede.

We had entered the anchorage of Cala Pi on Sunday afternoon and gradually worked our way up towards the beach as boats closer in left. As we settled into our final spot, the skipper of a departing boat suggested that we set a stern anchor in order to keep our boat from swaying beam-on to swell throughout the night.We did this and ended up having a very peaceful night.

At this point in the afternoon, the anchorage is pretty full and I thought there was no way that another boat would fit in as close as we were: we were only a boat-and-a-half away from the cliff on the west side of the cove, and we were close enough to the marked-off swim area that squeezing in would have been exceedingly difficult.

Enter the Badass Swede. I have no idea of the his actual nationality, but his boat was flying a flag that looked decidedly like the Swedish flag, so the name stuck.

The Badass Swede drives his 45-ish foot sailboat into the cove looking for a spot. He comes to a stop near us and begins to execute a perfectly stationary 180 degree turn while asking me where our anchor is set. I point it out to him, he nods, and then when his bow is facing out of the cove, he goes reverse slow towards the swim area.

I sincerely regret not grabbing a video camera at this point because what followed was nothing short of maritime ballet.

Shortly after going into reverse, the Badass Swede shouts up to his man on the bow and he nonchalantly kicks the anchor overboard. No slow, measured lowering of the rode, he just lets it all go at once, which means that he had let out a set amount of chain in advance. The Badass Swede keeps going in slow reverse for a moment until the anchor sets, and it sets solidly because the boat stops almost immediately.

At this point, their stern is maybe 20 feet from the edge of the marked swim area.*

Within a heartbeat of stopping, the Badass Swede had another man in their dinghy motoring out with a stern anchor to keep the boat from swinging. Rather like the rode for the main anchor had been measured out in advance, so too had the stern anchor and the dinghy been set before they even entered the cove.

The entire operation took under five minutes. It was seamless, took only a small handful of commands to execute, and I didn't see their boat move a damned inch the whole time we were there.

 Badass Swede (on the right-most boat in the picture above), I don't know who you are or what nation you hail from, but thank you for giving me something to aspire to. Bravo sir, bravo.

*My one beef with the Badass Swede is that his stern anchor was set into a marked swim area, which meant taking the dinghy somewhere it shouldn't have gone. I'm not sure that I would have done that, but given the overall level of badassery involved, I'm willing to let it slide.

Landlocked Part Deux

Just like the last half of 2015, the last half of 2016 has kept me away from 'blogging. Shortly after getting back from Spain we started making preparations to move to Annapolis, and the whole "moving/settling" process obviously took a lot of time. Fortunately, I've managed to spend a lot of time in Annapolis taking pictures, so my Instagram feed has been pretty full until recently when it started getting cold. Brrrr!

We also managed to, rather unexpectedly, buy our first sailboat. I say "rather unexpectedly" not because we were surprised that we bought a boat (what sailor moves to Annapolis and doesn't buy a boat, right?) but because we weren't really planning on buying a boat that quickly, or one quite that old. S/V Bird's Nest (Bird for short), a 1967 Bristol 29, has already provided us with some...interesting times and I've already started on some repairs necessary to get her back into operating condition and we should be able to have fun sailing her this summer.

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I plan to spend some time this winter writing up the story of how we acquired and moved Bird to her new home closer to Annapolis, and the work I've had to do on her engine so far.

Stay tuned!

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Balearic Island Highlights: Cabrera

Cabrera is the largest island in a small archipelago off of the southeastern shore of Mallorca, only a couple hour sail from Colònia de Sant Jordi, Sa Ràpita, or any of the other stopover spots along that stretch of coast.

While there are several well-protected harbors, no anchoring is allowed as the entire archipelago is a nature reserve. However, in the main harbor there is something of a rarity in the Balearics: a mooring field. There are about 50 overnight moorings for vessels of differing sizes, and you must reserve them in advance. Be aware that reservations cannot be made until 20 days before your desired date, and in peak season they go very quickly. You can reserve a spot for 2 days during peak season, or for a whole week when it's less busy.

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To reserve a mooring, follow this link. You will need the full registration/owner information for the boat, so if you are chartering make sure you ask for this before you try to place a reservation. I didn't* and it forced me to reserve a spot a day later than I had hoped, which cost us a whole afternoon there. Reservations are from 6PM local time on the day of your reservation until 5PM the following day. Unless you get stuck on one of the large-ship red moorings at the mouth of the harbor like we did (they were the last ones available), the moorings are in a quite protected part of the harbor. Even our more exposed position was relatively calm while we were there. There are also day-only moorings in the same harbor, and more on the other side of the island, but I am not familiar with how those are reserved.

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So, with the "how" out of the way, let me get into the "why". Cabrera is absolutely beautiful. There is a small pier with limited facilities in the main harbor; the single best dinghy dock we saw all week, restrooms, and a small cantina that serves a variety of delicious tapas. (Note that, unlike many other restaurants on Mallorca, the cantina on Cabrera closes a bit on the early side at 9:30 PM local time.) There is a strict "no trash" policy, so don't expect to be able to bring any rubbish or recycling ashore. From the pier, you can find a series of hiking trails that lead to, among other places, a small medieval castle overlooking the harbor that is partially open to the public. The castle is definitely worth checking out even if you're not a history buff because the views of both the harbor and the Mediterranean are spectacular. There are also a few areas in the south of the harbor where you can dinghy ashore to beaches and some good areas for snorkeling, but we didn't get to any of them.

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But the crown jewel of Cabrera has to be the stars. There is virtually no light pollution there, and with the high cliffs surrounding the harbor you get what Sara calls a "snowglobe" effect where the stars all feel close enough to just reach out and touch. On a clear night like we had, words don't really do the view justice. I'd love to go back an just spend a few hours ashore taking pictures of the stars.

One piece of advice: if you're moored near one of the cliffs in the harbor like we were, keep your anchor light on even though it's not required in a mooring field. Imagine motoring in your dinghy towards a massive wall of blackness, several times taller than your sailboat, that fills your entire field of view and trying to find said sailboat without any lights on it. Even with the anchor light on it was a tad disconcerting, but without a light on it would have been downright unpleasant.

We only got to stay for about 18 hours due to scheduling pressure, which is not nearly enough time to explore, but even in that short time we fell in love with the place. If you ever find yourself planning a trip to Mallorca's southeastern shore, I highly recommend at least a whole day stopover at Cabrera.

*The main base of the charter company did though, and they provided it quickly once I asked. It was the 6-hour time difference that really slowed us down though.