Yesterday was stunning, weather-wise: bright blue sky, moderate temps in the high 40s, a breeze under 10 knots. Perfect for dinghy sailing.
There is a lot of water all around the region of the creek, and dinghy or kayak is the perfect vehicle for exploring because a lot of it is pretty shallow. Dinghy with oars is also the best way to tour a marina: you can go as slowly as you want, maneuvering is easy, you can talk to people and look at the boats at your leisure.
I traveled south on the creek, then cut northwest up Tracy’s Creek and past the west end of the very large Herrington Harbor North marina/boat yard. I passed under the bridge and into the marsh pool adjacent to the local grass-strip airport. It was absolutely serene sailing that little cockle shell of a boat in the gentle breeze, drifting when the air went light, tacking and jibing as it shifted around and through the creek lowlands. When becalmed I sometimes resorted to oars to pull out of a wind hole, and at one point I brailed up the spritsail and just rowed for a while.
I made it almost to the head of the pool at the end of the creek, but the water became too shallow, even for Sea Minor which only draws a few inches. I had to unship the tiller and center board up here. On the return, a down-wind leg, I unbrailed the sail and let out the sheet, steering with one oar trailing from its oarlock. Even then I stirred up the muddy bottom. Finally in deeper water again, I shipped the tiller and daggerboard and negotiated the flukey breezes again. After a 160 degree turn back up Rockhold Creek, I tacked 8-10 times to get back to my marina. Fun! Exploring in small boats is so satisfying. It makes me want to build another small sailboat that sails a bit better than Sea Minor. She’s got such a short waterline, and her sail area is so small for safety’s sake – it takes a good breeze to get her moving well. Still, she’s the perfect yacht tender for us. As with cruising boats, everything about a dinghy is a trade-off of one sort or another. Sea Minor rows extremely well, is not a bad sailor, puts up with a lot of neglect and abuse, and is fairly stable for a hard dinghy. I’m happy with her as she is.