Passage South for Watkins Rendezvous

Most difficult day on the water I can remember. Weather conditions, while not benign, were definitely the most favorable we ever had for a trip south. Rain with winds out of the NE at 10-15 mph.  Big following seas, which made steering an active struggle at times. But the conditions themselves weren’t the problem. It started when I assumed towing the dink would be no problem. It turned out to be a significant problem. After 8-10 miles of great sailing (if not a little cool and damp), the dink was pooped by a breaking swell, and gained 10 (or so) gallons of movable ballast. We were immediately in an untenable situation. Now the dink plowed under tow, bow high, transom low, inviting another boarding sea to swamp her. The only thing to do was get her on deck, which was so difficult, and so dangerous. We managed it, with a few scrapes and bruises, but I never want to do that again. After 11 years of towing the dink everywhere, this is the first time we’ve had a problem. Maybe we’ve just been lucky.

It took a half hour to do this, and we were exhausted by the effort, and freaked out by the safety hazards it presented. While landing the dink on the foredeck, I managed to break the plexiglass window in the forehatch. Fortunately, rain doesn’t come through, because the dink covers it. Having the dinghy in the foredeck complicates sail handling and anchor operations, so that was a struggle today as well.

We finally anchored at Solomons, after having our usual fun getting an anchor to set in the St Mary’s river. I relaunched the dink to set a second one, and just couldn’t get it positioned correctly, or set satisfactory. Retrieving the dink allowed me to reposition bow-forward, and that improved working space at the bow. My final blunder of the day was to deeply cut my right thumb while trying to unlock a knot in a line. I used the wrong tool, and of course it slipped and cut me just about the time I recognized the risk. I bled all over the deck, the line, the dink – while finishing my tasks, and finally went below and took care of it. . . but what a day of fun on the water.

We have determined to make tomorrow’s leg south better than today’s.

  1. Good Luck Rick, wind looks to be coming from the North/NE the rest of the week, but the weather should be breaking for the weekend.

    • Yes, wind direction will be in our favor for the entire trip. When we start home on Sunday, winds shift to south and east, and will now us home.

      Yesterday would not have been bad, but for the dinghy mishap. That sort of started a chain of things, which were probably spawned from our exhaustion.

      • Hope that you made it Rick, if you want to stop somewhere before Deltaville check out Fleets Bay, lots of great Anchorages. Dymer Creek has a nice Marina. Or if you get here early pop up to Urbanna, much nicer place than Deltaville. I should be down there late morning Saturday. I’ll hit you on the VHF when I get close.

      • Currently anchored in Little Wicomico, but will get underway in an hour for Deltaville and Dozier’s marina. About 22 km today, so it’s a short haul, all off the wind. Forecast calls for gentler winds today, but we’ll see. The weatherman is often wrong.

  2. Anonymous said:

    hi ,thanks for the running commentary on your trip. . here on most of the west coast of the U.S. ,you are exposed to open ocean as soon as you pass the breakwater so towing the dingy is a not an option …we have heard of numerous bad stories of dingy towing problems ; sprained fingers , wrists , shoulders ,even sometimes broken .. ..beat up bodies and boats . or the ONLY option was to just cut the painter and say good by to the dingy .. the Lord was with you 2 in this experience . it could have been much worse .you learned a good lesson with out to much lose or pain. hope you and Ruth have a great day today .blessings and fair winds, jim Donavan Lamentations 3:22-23 s/v eternity allmand 31

    • Quite right, Jim. God had mercy on us, protecting and preserving. This could have gone so very wrong. As we asked His mercy and protection today, He answered our petitions, and we had an incident-free day, though the conditions were the same, or even slightly worse. We are currently safely at anchor in the Little Wicomico River, just south of the Potomac.

  3. james donavan said:

    wonderful .P T L . Just keep moving forward .the good fellowship will be worth the effort after a good meal and a peaceful nights rest . jim

  4. Ells said:

    Wowza!!! Glad you’re ok…

    • Once again, God had mercy on the naïve and foolish. I was pretty humbled by the situation.

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