Shake Down Over-Nighter: Rockhold Creek to Rhode River

I’ve been into nearly every system on the boat this spring, and we’ve taken much of the gear off for the winter.  So an overnight is the perfect way to ensure all is in order before we spend 9 days on board cruising south down the bay.  Good thing we did this!

The overnighter actually began with carrying all the plates, bowls, and cookware into our house and running them through the dishwasher.  Once clean and dry, they were repatriated to their stowage on board.

All packed, food on board – cast off and here we go.  About three hours up to our anchorage in Rhode River.  Although this is mid-May, it hasn’t been overly warm or sunny, and we were in long sleeves and jackets for the trip up the bay.  All systems for the three-hour transit under power seemed just fine.  As we neared our northern waypoint, it became clear that my new hand-held GPS operated under different assumptions than the old one.  I had spent a fair amount of time with it last year, but the reality of finding navigation markers and reading the screen took some adjustment.  This was a good thing to discover, but I’m not sure that I could have planned for it, other than setting up waypoints ahead of time.  Still, the details of finding the marks on screen and negotiating the protocols while piloting just had to be experienced in practice to understand.  We made it without error, but were carefully checking and rechecking as we went.  Glad we weren’t doing this in the dark.

Map of area transited

Map of area transited

We anchored late in the day with no problems.  We’ve never had the slightest problem with the holding in this anchorage and set the anchor as usual, backing down with gradually higher rpms.  We cleared the cockpit for rain, set up bug screens, and went below.  Ruth started getting dinner together and I lit the oil lamp to ward off the chill, grateful for the copious amount of heat it casts, as we were pretty much chilled to the bone.

The circular wick is about 2.5 inches across. When it begins to draw, it produces more heat than you expect. Much more than the common flat-wicked lamps.

The circular wick is about 2.5 inches across. When it begins to draw, it produces more heat than you expect. Much more than the common flat-wicked lamps.

After dinner and clean-up, we went to bed.  I’m not a light sleeper, but I toss and turn a good bit, and wake fairly frequently.  When on board, I usually get and look around once or twice through the night. This isn’t something I have to set an alarm for – I just do it because I’m aware that I’m awake.  On this night the wind blew up stronger than anticipated.  I began to feel that the boat’s motion was not typical of this anchorage, but didn’t connect it with anything specific.  When I got up and looked around, it made sense.  We had dragged nearly a quarter-mile up the cove toward the mouth of the narrow river channel.

Anchorage and point to where we dragged.

Anchorage and point to where we dragged.

Fortunately we were not aground, but would have been by morning.  Also fortunately, there were few boats in the anchorage, and none of them were near us.  I woke a very sleepy Ruth, who took the helm while I managed the ground tackle.  After raising the anchor, I noticed a small limb with leaves caught on one fluke.  This may have kept the anchor from setting well early in the evening, or we could have picked it up on our drag across the anchorage – regardless, it wasn’t going to reset like that.  We motored back up in range of our original anchoring place, but slightly west of it, not wanting to retry where the holding had failed earlier.  And this time I set two anchors.  I didn’t want to wake up again like that!  All of this took 45 minutes to accomplish.  I didn’t realize how groggy Ruth was – but trying to be clear, I gave very specific instructions to her for helm, throttle, and gear selection.  Next morning she related how important that had been – she had been so sleepy that her powers of reasoning were pretty well impaired, and receiving specific instructions was exactly what she needed.

Heading toward a grounding.  This is the mouth of the narrow river channel.

Heading toward a grounding. This is the mouth of the narrow river channel where I found we had dragged.

We awoke to cloudy skies and intermittent rain, which gave us the perfect excuse for sitting in pajamas and drinking coffee all morning – just the kind of morning we love at anchor.  Finally deciding that we should head home, we prepared to retrieve the anchors, when I discovered that the transmission wouldn’t shift.  What?  This came out of the blue . . . it was perfect last night at 0100.  Very happy this didn’t happen last night while we were re-anchoring.  As I manipulated the shifter, it became obvious that the cable was the problem, so I removed the ladder and engine access panel and looked in over the top of the engine.  The cable coupling had come off the shift lever, and dropped into the reservoir beneath the engine.  I retrieved it and looked in my spare fasteners for a nut of the right size to use as a locking nut.  No joy.  Instead I put a split washer on it and tightened up, and everything worked fine.

We retrieved both anchors – and happily, I could not get them up easily, so the late-night set was very good.  Got most of the mud off of them, and sluiced the deck a couple of times with a canvas bucket while Ruth motored back down the river towards West River and the bay.

We motored our first hour going south, until I was convinced that the headsail would pull.  Winds were SE, but we were traveling SW – seemed like we should be able to sail.  Although the forecast called for light winds, we had 13-17 knots and Cay of Sea made 4.5 – 6 knots under headsail alone.  We did eventually loose too much ground to leeward, but not until we were deep into Herring Bay, where we rolled up the sail and motored for the final mile into Rockhold Creek, staying out of the skinny shoal waters near the entrance.

So what did we find out on this trip?

  • I want to install a lock nut on the shifter cable connector.
  • I want to adjust the stuffing box again before we go.  When I checked the shifter cable, there wasn’t much water below the box.  Maybe I just need to check it again, and watch the drip.
  • We forgot our bed sheets!  Had all the blankets, but no sheets or pillow cases.
  • Need more trash can liners.
  • Forgot our long-handled grill lighter – instead we dropped burning matches in the stove burners, which we had to clean out after each use.
  • Need to inspect the anchor chain-to-rode splice
  • Need to repair mosquito netting in the vented swash board
  • Need to replace 3-4 galley utensils that Ruth hates (keep the cook happy at all costs)

And I think that’s it.  I also discovered how cool it is to have ebooks on my phone.  This might be preferable to paper books, because I can read at night when Ruth is asleep, and the phone’s luminescence isn’t very bright.

All in all, this was an important trip.  After 5 months not sailing, and 3 of those months spent tearing the boat apart and putting it back together, it was necessary to make sure it all still worked.

The season has begun.  See you on the water!

  1. Glad things worked out for the best, looking forward to your posts and photos on your summer sailing! :-)

    • Thanks Donna – really have been enjoying your osprey photos!

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