Sailing in the Wake of a Cold Front

I reached for the coffee this morning and noticed the thermometer on our window sill:  outside temp was 61F.  61 degrees on a morning in late August. . .  We opened up the house and enjoyed cool air coming in through the windows as we drank coffee.  We are so thankful for this house that overlooks the creek – we drink coffee every morning in this sunroom that has a water view.

A cold front blew through last night bringing hard rain, thunder and lightning.  After that, the temp dropped 15 degrees, all the rain water dried up, leaving low humidity with breezy conditions on the bay.  Sounds like a day-sail in the making.  Ruth had other plans for the morning, so I called my father-in-law, who also had plans, but promptly changed them when I asked him to go with me.

We cast off at 1015, Dad at the helm, and motored one mile out to the bay.  Pointing into the wind, I raised the main, unrolled the headsail, and we romped off to the northeast for an hour.  We skimmed along with speeds constantly in excess of 5 knots, occasionally touching 6 knots –  with a Length-Over-All of 27 feet, that’s a pretty good turn of speed.  This was the off-wind leg, so our aspect was pretty flat and level.  As we reached farther into the bay we left the protection of the shore.   The gusts were stronger, heeling us over more and creating more weather helm.  I finally rolled up a third of the headsail and that let us sail more in control.

Dad at the helm having a great sail.

Dad at the helm having a great sail.

Flat conditions with gusty winds, at least near shore.  Winds were from the west, so we had flat sailing for a while.  I love the light in this photo.

Flat conditions with gusty winds, at least near shore. Winds were from the west, so we had flat sailing for a while. I love the light in this photo.

The air was so clear – 20-plus miles away, we could see the top span of the Chesapeake Bay Bridge.  Closer in, we could clearly see Kent and Tighlman Islands.

Chesapeake Bay Bridge - click to enlarge to see it better.

Chesapeake Bay Bridge – click to enlarge to see it better.

Okay, here it is again, cropped and full-sized.  Now you can really see it.

Okay, here it is again, cropped and full-sized. Now you can really see it.

We traveled 5 miles out and came about, taking a reciprocal course back to Rockhold Creek.  Now we are closed-hauled, and the gusts are pushing us around more and Dad’s fighting a bit more with the helm.  I contemplated a reef in the main, ultimately deciding that the calms and gusts balanced each other – a reef would have made the calms really slow.

Half way back, I noticed a fish trap to leeward – we were either going to have to tack, or we would squeak by.  We squeaked, but it was close:  maybe 40 feet to spare.

Passed by a slim margin.

Passed by a slim margin.

The wind strengthened.  I flattened the main, hauled it closer to center, and sheeted the headsail in tighter.  We were overpowered by the gusts more often now, so Dad steered right on the edge of constantly luffing.  That also kept us close to our course back to Rockhold Creek.  We finally came about again, heading northwest toward the breakwater, when we struck sails and motored the rest of the distance.  It seemed calm and warm inside the breakwater.

We tied up at 1245 and went in the house for a post-sail cup of coffee.

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6 comments
    • It was a brilliant morning. Having the company of Ruth’s dad made it even better. He’s a great sailor and a wonderful friend.

  1. Tate said:

    61 degrees! I wiiiiiiiiiiishhhhhhhhhhhhhh.

    • Sorry Tate. This is one of the many reasons I like NOT living in Florida. Bugs are another. . .

  2. Joe Hochadel said:

    What a wonderful picture you’ve sketched here Rick! I really miss days such as this on the bay. I’m glad that you and your father-in-law were able to take advantage of the weather.

    • Thanks Joe. Wish you could have gone with us! It was a great day on the water.

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