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Cruising

I’ve got a bit of catching up to do, since I didn’t have much cell service last night.

After a fairly leisurely morning, we upped anchor in the Rhode River and started towards the Wye River on the Eastern Shore. It wasn’t a windless day, but pretty near so. Once into the West River we raised sail and ghosted along at 1-2 knots. When the wind quit completely, we started the motor and made wake for the Eastern Shore, slowing down briefly for the hopes of sailing again, but with no substantive progress towards our goal. When the very light wind failed again, we motored on, finally dropping the hook in the first large creek to starboard on the Wye. We had hoped to go all the way up to our favorite place an hours’ motoring up the river – Ward’s Cove (our name for it) – but with an eye towards the weather forecast for the next two days, we decided to stay near mouth of the Wye. Rain was/is predicted today (this afternoon), as it accompanies a major cold front blowing through. Then tomorrow, temps are to drop into the low 50s with winds on the open bay up to 25 mph. Not dangerous for cautious sailors like us, but certainly not comfortable. We made the decision to come back a day early, and easy access to the mouth of the Wye took an hour off our trip.

Sunrise on the Rhode River

Sunrise on the Rhode River

Windless bay and another motoring sailboat.

Windless bay and another motoring sailboat.

We dropped anchor in six feet of water. There was much honking amid the many different groups of Canada geese in the creek. We were flanked by several of the typical Eastern Shore mansions one sees on the waterfront of many creeks, rivers and estuaries of the bay.

2016-10-20-17-23-052016-10-20-17-22-30I guess the is the country get-away for the east coast one percent. You can see why – it’s just beautiful up here. We relaxed a bit, had dinner, went to bed, and the wind picked up pretty good. 15 – 20 mph gusts made me anxious about my rode to chain splice, but we were fine through the night. Our new Delta 33# anchor held us fast.

Relaxing with a book before dinner.

Relaxing with a book before dinner.

Bugs not welcome. Although a bit worse for wear, our bug screens are indispensable, keeping the buggy wild life on the outside.

Bugs not welcome. Although a bit worse for wear, our bug screens are indispensable, keeping the buggy wild life on the outside.

Morning dawned clear and cool, then a brief fog rolled through, clearing up in about an hour. We got underway at 0930, and as I stowed the rode and chain down the hawse pipe I inspected the rope/chain splice – it was fine: no chafe, no rot, no problem, and no worries. Back out on the Eastern Bay, we raised the jib, as the wind was behind us (my least favorite point of sail with jib and main raised together) and made 3 knots. Turning left on to the Eastern Bay put us hard on the wind, at which point we raised the main. We had about 4 miles to go and a point of land to leeward to clear to get out on the open bay. I wasn’t sure we could point that high the whole time. We actually made it handily. Watkins 27s don’t have a reputation for being very weatherly sailboats, but I think they are fine if handled well and have a set of sails in reasonably good shape. Once we turned into the Eastern Bay, we followed a single compass course for the next 13 miles. Exiting from Eastern Bay, the wind gradually strengthened to about 15 mph and backed around from South to SSE. I kept easing the sheets until we were on a beam reach, and hitting 6.1-6.2 knots from time to time. The sky was blue, it was 70 degrees, and we were on a beam reach for close to two hours. Glorious sailing!

As we approached our home port of Deale, we saw the clouds moving in from the SW. We were moored by 1430, had the boat unloaded by 1500, and the rain began at 1600.

Tomorrow, cold and windy. Glad we’re home snug and warm.

 

 

Exciting day. We didn’t pick up the anchor, and we didn’t move the boat. In fact, we didn’t do anything. My metabolism conspired against me when I when to bed last night – I was awake for a long time after midnight, then woke once in the early morning hours, and stayed awake for a while.  Finally falling back asleep, I slept til nearly 0900! Ruth slept like the dead, but woke early. Finally rising, we drank tea (I’m off of coffee for now), ate breakfast after 1030. . . it was a very slow start to the day.

The anchorage is so pleasant, the weather so beautiful, the crew so lazy, that we simply stayed put, reading, napping (repeat 3x), ’til it was dinner time. In fact,the most ambitious we did today was to talk about taking the dinghy for a sail – but we never got past talking about it.

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All in all, a very satisfying day. Tomorrow we’ll move, probably over to the Wye River, approximately 15 miles to the east.

 

Although our wedding anniversary was in August, we couldn’t get away to celebrate until this week. Even so, we just had to carve out a few days from the calendar. Retired life can get fairly busy! So today through Saturday we’ll be on the bay visiting our favorite haunts, as the weather and wind allow. I will post daily, provided that I have cell service.

We finally got away from the pier at 1600 and made for the Rhode River, as a northerly course seemed to promise a more favorable point of sail. And it did, for an hour and a half, but as we got clear of the shadow of Herring Bay, the breeze clocked around to a vector more directly astern, losing strength at the same time. I finally dropped the headsail, sheeted the main to centerline, and started the motor. We didn’t want to be caught dodging crab pot floats in the dark. We made good time with a fair current, motorsailing until we made the final turn up the river.

I stowed the sails as Ruth steered, then mustered the sea-and-anchor detail (me).

We’re at anchor now, in a spot we’ve been many times, finished with dinner and waiting for the critical mass to accumulate for showers and bed.

Until tomorrow. . .

Last Friday, after a very busy week for Ruth, we stepped on board the boat and cast off for parts unknown. Really, our destination was unknown, as I looked at the wind forecast. I thought we might go north to Rhode River, but after an hour and a half of really great sailing, a giant storm cloud rolled in from the direction we wished to travel. It was a thunderstorm, and there was no good option really, but we decided to run away east, instead of sailing directly into its teeth.  Turns out, it didn’t make much difference what we did, because the storm chased us east and south, overtaking us about 2/3 the way across the bay. Fortunately, the storm wasn’t nearly as bad as it looked. I got damp – not even soaked – and Ruth took refuge down below.

We made Knapps Narrows in clear weather, and motored up to Dun Cove. We would have gone up to Drew’s Cove, but we had just finished what would have ordinarily been a 3-4 hour crossing in 5-plus hours, and we were getting hungry and tired, and Dun Cove was right at hand.

There was one other boat in the cove, and we anchored well away from it. Our “new” 33# delta set fast and hard with no drama, and we didn’t budge from that spot.

The only other boat in Dun Cove

The only other boat in Dun Cove

Dinner, reading, and bed. A restless night for me, despite feeling very secure about the anchor set. I think this is more related to the onset of old age. . . As a “younger adult” I used to sleep really hard and wake up really hard. Not so much anymore.

Ruth rose before I did and made coffee. As often happens at anchor, her day began when awakened by crabbers  – “chicken neckers” – puttering about the anchorage, often very near our boat, speaking in not-very-hushed-tones. They don’t realize there are people sleeping on board at 0530.

Intent upon their quarry

Intent upon their quarry

Ah well, they provided the morning entertainment, especially when they’re confronted with a larger-than-normal crab. You’d think they’d hooked a whale, judging by their excitement!

We hung out at anchor until about 1100, then cast off for home. 3 hours of motoring gets us back to home port at 5 knots (average speed) when the wind doesn’t cooperate – which it didn’t on Saturday. But time on the water is satisfying regardless. We were tired when we got back, but refreshed too. Looking forward to the next time!

Pelicans are an unusual sight for the this area of the bay. I grew up seeing them in Florida, and it was nice to see these last week too.

Pelicans are an unusual sight for the this area of the bay. I grew up seeing them in Florida, and it was nice to see these last week too.

We’ve been out a couple of afternoons recently, so I’ve posted a few images below so that you can vicariously ride along.

These have been glorious sailing days with perfect weather, wind, scenery and company. My life-mate and shipmate accompanies me most of the time, and we’ve just drunk in the glory of these fabulous sailing days of late spring.

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I guess I said something funny – don’t remember what it was, but it allowed me to captured this moment of genuine joyful expression on Ruth’s face.

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A more focused shot, if less spontaneous.

The moon has been a common feature of recent daysails into the early evening hours. Nearing the solstice and full moon, it's been very photogenic.

The moon has been a common feature of recent daysails into the early evening hours. Nearing the solstice and full moon, it’s been very photogenic.

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From last evening, just peeking above the horizon.

From last evening, just peeking above the horizon. Photo: Ruth Bailey

A little higher, a little brighter - or maybe the sky's a little darker! Photo: Ruth Bailey

A little higher, a little brighter – or maybe the sky’s a little darker! Photo: Ruth Bailey

Here she is, big, beautiful, with an orange cast. Photo: Ruth Bailey

Here she is, big, beautiful, with an orange cast. Photo: Ruth Bailey

I'm stowing the headsail, and enjoying a great view of the sunset.

I’m stowing the headsail, and enjoying a great view of the sunset. Photo: Ruth Bailey

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Photo: Ruth Bailey

More sunset shots.

More sunset shots.

2016-06-20 20.13.28DSC_5040That’s it for now. Thanks for coming along with us!

 

Being “retired,” or otherwise uncommitted to a schedule of a work week and weekends for our time on the water, it was unusual for us to cruise on Memorial Day weekend – of all weekends! We really enjoy having the bay mostly to ourselves during the week, and try to stay off the water on the weekends.  But this past weekend we met up with friends on the Wye River, and though there were many (many!) boats on the water, we had a wonderful time.

The passage from Deale is 4-5 hours for us, depending on wind, current, etc., and destination anchorage was close to five miles up river. We departed on Saturday about 1225, motoring out of the creek and into Herring Bay until we were clear to raise sail. We couldn’t have had a better day on the water – mid 70s, crystal clear skies, southerly breeze at 10-12 mph.  We raised sail and set off NE on a beam reach, the southerly wind vector backing around to SE through the apparent wind angle. 5.5-6.3 knots average speed – never over-powered, Cay of Sea in the groove surging through the miles.

We found ourselves in the middle of a race that began in Annapolis and ended in St Michaels. There must have been more than 100 boats. We were in the middle of two heats, rapidly being overtaken by much larger, faster boats. The really fast boats had already completed the race, and we saw them returning from the finish line as we were making our way north.

We're in a race!

We’re in a race!

Our trip was slightly more than 25 NM, and the route looked like this:

Wye RouteAs we approached the raft of boats we were joining, we realized we were in “Ward’s Cove.” This is a “secret” anchorage different cruising friends showed us several years ago. So, I guess the secret is out, and has been for a number of years. It’s an infrequently populated cove – I think mostly because it’s so far up the river – most cruisers want to drop the anchor long before they reach this spot.

We moored with the other boats and socialized and shared a meal through the evening, finally dispersing about 2230 to our own boats. Time on the water is exhausting and we were all feeling it, so the raft got quiet quickly. Next morning we gradually crept out, one by one, coffee in hand, or sharing coffee as needed, talking through the morning until. . .  it was time for lunch! (enthusiastic eaters, we sailors are), then due to a poor weather forecast, broke up the raft and headed home by about 1330.

We hit rain about 2.5 hours into the trip home, but it wasn’t too bad. I got a little wet, and my foulies got pretty wet, but I wasn’t uncomfortable. The trip home was all under power, as what little wind was moving wasn’t moving in the right direction. Just as well – we had the memory of yesterday’s sail to sustain us, and I wanted to get a good long charge on the batteries anyway. We were backing into the slip by 1730 (on the second try – my skills are rusty), and spent the next 20 minutes unloading the boat and cleaning up.

 

In the midst of a busy week, we escaped for an over-night, determined not to miss the entire autumn sailing season without savoring a short cruise. As usual, wind direction determined our destination, but I found out a little later that Ruth wanted to go to Rhode River anyway, so it worked out fine.

We cast off about 1600, traversed the length of Rockhold Creek to the open bay, then headed NE for West River, of which Rhode River is a tributary. Winds were SW so we broad reached until the wind backed deeper south, after which I dropped the main, sailing moderately under jib alone, then finally motorsailing until we turned west. Our route was lit by an amazing sunset, of which I took too many photos. I’ll only publish two here, but while we were watching, it was impossible to not be overwhelmed by God’s majesty and power.

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We had the hook down behind Flat Island in zero wind by 1905, and rigged for the evening routine. Dinner started, lamp lit, we chased the evening chill from the air. I cleaned up after dinner while Ruth relaxed, then we both settled in for reading until our eyes closed on their own accord. I went to bed secure in the knowledge that our new (to us) 33# Delta anchor was keeping us in place. It had set fast and hard. I rose once at about 0330 and checked our position, but there was no reason for it. We still had nearly zero wind. I think a rock on a string would have held us in place. Towards morning the breeze picked up to 7-8 knots without consequence.  We had a relaxing morning at anchor over two pots of coffee.

Ruth painted “Flat Island” behind which we had anchored. I took a poor photo of the incomplete painting, and a photo of the island itself. Interesting to see what an artist does in a painting to make it work. The composition is far more important than the details.

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I also photograph her art for reproduction and web publishing, and I do a much better job than this snap shot. Turns out, photographing a painting isn’t easy, as demonstrated above!

Here's a photo of the subject sans the anchored sailboat that has now departed.

Here’s a photo of the subject.

We watched this boat make sail from anchor and creep around the other side of the island and a shoal that extends a fair distance towards the far shore. Then he made for the river channel towards West River with the sun behind him.

Couldn't get a good enough image to guess at designer or manufacturer of this boat, but it's a good looker.

Couldn’t get a good enough image to guess at designer or manufacturer of this boat, but it’s a good looker.

Sailing into the sunrise.

Sailing into the sunrise.

We watched the research vessel from the Smithsonian Environmental Research Center take a sample with a drogue net and haul aboard.

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Towed net marked by buoy.

Towed net marked by buoy.

Hey, what did we get this time?

Hey, what did we get this time?

We finally got under way about 1000. The new Delta anchor is significantly more difficult to haul aboard, even with the bow roller and anchor platform. Takes me by surprise, and may take me a while to learn how best to manage it each time I drop or retrieve it. We made our way towards the West River and the open bay, passing on the way this elderly, but nicely kept cruiser.

Nice lines, nice boat.

Nice lines, nice boat.

With NE winds at 10 knots, our southerly route had the potential of keeping us on my least favorite point of sail the entire time. I experimented poling out the jib alone with no main, but was dissatisfied with both set and performance. At Ruth’s suggestion, we decided to tack down wind at a shallower angle to avoid the wind on our stern. So on a broad reach we sailed for several hours in one long board, not needing to tack or jibe until it was time to make the turn to Rockhold Creek. It was a wonderful morning sail. The boat performed very well like this, and we weren’t constantly slatting and rattling.

We met this guy coming up the bay.

We met this guy coming up the bay.

We turned west at the southern reaches of Herring Bay and made for Rockhold Creek. The breeze was strong enough to make me avoid a jibe, so we tacked 270 degrees and settled on our westerly heading. Just outside the creek, I struck all sail and stowed them as Ruth motored us toward home. In our slip by 1305, we were unpacked and had the boat buttoned up in record time, moving on to the next thing in the day.

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