Living Aboard

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.





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. . .

Have you ever considered letting someone use your boat for a week, or a weekend? Does thinking of that make you anxious? Ruth and I gave her brother and his wife a week’s charter on our boat for Christmas a while back. It’s taken a year or two for our schedules to align so that it can happen, but finally the stars arranged correctly, and they will cruise our boat for the upcoming Labor Day weekend. I’ve been busy making sure nothing can go wrong during their charter, but I’ve also prepared a couple of documents for them to reference. While we are never farther way than the phone, cell coverage can be sketchy and every boater likes to be self-sufficient. With that in mind, I’ve assembled an inventory of each locker detailing tool location, spares, supplies, and every need for the cruising sailor aboard Cay of Sea. I’ve also compiled a set of operating procedures for quick reference.  I’m confident they will have no problems, but you never know. . .  it’s always best to be ready. Of course, I’ll give them a tour and operations brief, but if I were on the receiving end, I’d forget half of it.  It’s a comfort to have the reference docs at hand.

I thought you’d like to see them, so I’ve posted them below.

Cay of Sea Operating Instructions

Cay of Sea locker inventory

I’ll print two versions of the inventory for them: one sorted under location, and one sorted under item.

I would like to say that our final evening afloat was without incident, but that would not be true. What happened has underscored again our need for much more substantial ground tackle.

The weather and conditions had been fantastic all day and through the evening. I woke up about 0330, probably because I had sensed the wind pick up. Now blowing 15 mph with gusts up to 20, I got up and looked around. All’s well. I sat down to read, and an hour later I noticed the boat’s motion was different. Ruth was awake by this point too. I looked through the companionway again, and we were hard against the leeward shoreline, still bobbing, but definitely touching ground. Rats!

We tumbled into the cockpit, started the engine, and I led the anchor rode over to the coachroof-mounted port halyard winch and started cranking. We moved! I kept cranking until the bow was pointing back towards open water. Ruth put the boat in gear and we eased forward as I collected the rode and picked up the anchor. Whew!

Really, I’ve had enough of this. I guess the more you anchor out, the greater your chances are of dragging, but we’ve dragged more often in the last two years than ever before in our entire cruising lives. This has got to change, so before we cruise again, I will have substantially bigger, heavier, more effective ground tackle, and twice the chain length I currently use.

13 pound danforth-style anchor: not big enough for a 27 foot boat displacing 9200 pounds.

13 pound danforth-style anchor: not big enough for a 27 foot boat displacing 9200 pounds.

A late start to the day ensued as we recovered from our early rising. We got ourselves ready to sail in a leisurely fashion and finally picked up the anchor and motored south on Harris Creek. I snapped a few photos of a couple Eastern Shore bungalows. Here’s a nice little place for primative living while on vacation to the very rural Eastern Shore.

Primitive but livable, I suppose.

Rustic but livable, I suppose.

Back through the Narrows, we began across the bay, but not before encountering this:

I guess this is a dredge? Gotta love the ground tackle.

I guess this is a dredge? Gotta love the ground tackle.

With SE winds at 6-10 we had a gentle, beautiful sail across the bay at 2.5-4 knots. During the afternoon calm, we slowed to under 1 knot for half an hour or so, then the wind gradually increased, and we sailed on up to the green marker at Rockhold Creek. We tied up in our slip by 1600 after 8 days afloat, 94 nautical miles traveled, and 1 resupply stop.

Cay of Sea under sail. Photo taken in June by Jim Brewer.

Cay of Sea under sail. Photo taken in June by Jim Brewer.

We spent our last two nights on the water far up Harris Creek in a cove we’ve come to refer to as “Drew’s Cove.” About a year ago, in response to one of my posts about an over-night in Dun Cove, fellow blogger and almost-neighbor Drew Frye commented that there was another unnamed cove further north on Harris Creek that was virtually unvisited by other yachts. Our usual stopping off place once through the Narrows is Dun Cove. We like Dun Cove very much, as do many other people, for its spacious anchorage, good holding, and convenience to the Narrows – 45 minutes north of the Narrows, it’s an obvious and pleasant place to anchor en route to the Choptank (east) or from the Choptank heading west. However, if you are looking for seclusion, Dun Cove is not the place to find it. Please excuse me if I don’t publish the location of Drew’s Cove to the entire Chesapeake Bay community of cruising boaters.

Anyway, thanks Drew, for alerting us to the knowledge of this cove – Drew’s Cove. Give his blog a visit at

We arrived at Drew’s Cove fairly early in the day, having left Knapps Narrows Marina late in the morning. We were anchored and in full relaxing mode down below through the afternoon when we heard a voice outside: “Hello…!” I was so surprised to hear a voice. We emerged from below and found this man in an inflatable dinghy, who introduced himself – the very man himself, Drew Frye. We had not even been aware of him entering the cove and anchoring. I was surprised and delighted to finally meet him. Drew, an engineer, has written several articles for Practical Sailor magazine. His articles and blog posts are full of testing data about cruising materials, gear, and techniques that enhance and inform the cruising life.

Drew's ship - himself, a dedicated multihull sailor. Photo by Ruth Bailey.

Shoal Surviver – Drew’s ship – himself, a dedicated multihull sailor. Photo by Ruth Bailey.

We dinghied to the county pier two blocks south of St. Michaels and tied up to the bulkhead, then walked into town..

St. Michaels is an old historic waterfront town that remade itself into a quaint shopping and cruiser’s destination. I love towns like this. So much to look at, so many little shops to visit. But I can take about 90 minutes of shop visiting before my interest wanes, and my feet give out. Fortunately, my wife has a similar tolerance, so we spent a little time looking in shops, then stopped for lunch in the local Irish pub.

After lunch we had a couple small items to collect from the grocery store, including a block of ice, so we went directly back to the boat.

Next morning (today, actually) we visited a coffee shop/independent roaster we found yesterday, and took our morning coffee with scones there. Excellent coffee, great atmosphere. If we lived in St Michaels we’d be regulars. Check out Blue Heron Coffee if you ever get to St Michaels.

Our ice box seems tolerably well insulated, surprisingly. 10 pounds of ice lasted us four days, and that was starting with a warm box. Most iceboxes as manufactured by the boat builder seem to be objects of scorn and redesign/rebuild projects. Perhaps if I were installing refrigeration, I would go to the trouble to build/rebuild the box to insulate really well, and save the refrigerator unit lots cycle time. As it is, though, we can stay away from a resupply facility (marina) about four days before we need to pump the holding tank, take on water, and get fuel if we’re motoring a lot, so buying 10 pounds of ice every four days fits the resupply cycle anyway.

In fact, that’s what we are doing at Knapps Narrows Marina tonight – time for a resupply/Pumpout. I checked our drinking water and holding tank levels after a calm afternoon of reading at anchor, and realized we couldn’t comfortably last another night. Knapp’s Narrows was the closest marina. Two hours later we were tying up in a transient berth.

Old wooden Ketch. Looks to be based on the skipjacks that used to work the bay. Note the clipper prow and raked, solid timber masts.

Old wooden Ketch. Looks to be based on the skipjacks that used to work the bay. Note the clipper prow and raked, solid timber masts.

Delving deeper into land-based culture, we decided to have dinner at a restaurant within walking distance, and now I’m doing laundry to get us through two more days. Tomorrow we’re off the pier again exploring Harris Creek farther north than our habitual stopping place at Dun Cove.


As usual, I find it very difficult to post via phone, so now I’m several days behind. Cell service and blog posting software are a fairly sensitive combination.

We anchored in this very popular anchorage, but we were the only boat remaining overnight from the 20-plus boats that were here earlier in the day. All of those day trippers were here to take advantage of the sandy beach, easy boat beaching, protected water, and fairly deep anchoring with good holding. This a great place for swimming and relaxing by the water.

Raft-ups, beached boats, solitary anchoreds, jet skis, dogs, kids, beer, potato salads - summer fun on a hot day on the water.

Raft-ups, beached boats, solitary anchoreds, jet skis, dogs, kids, beer, potato salads – summer fun on a hot day on the water.

I took the opportunity that fairly clear water provided and dove on the prop for barnacle scraping. There were many tiny barnacles, but now they’re gone.  I also brushed soft growth from the bottom, as it had since early April when the bottom was clean.  This has given me back at least a half knot under sail, and more under power.

Joys of boat ownership. I can tell this is season Number Two for this coat of bottom paint. Just doesn't keep the soft growth at bay effectively during the second year.

Joys of boat ownership. I can tell this is season Number Two for this coat of bottom paint. Just doesn’t keep the soft growth at bay effectively during the second year.

We also enjoyed a fairly dramatic sunset, but my phone isn’t up to the task of faithfully recording it.  I’ll post a few different photos from our “real” cameras when we get home.


We left Deale about 1600 and made an easy crossing to Knapp’s Narrows by 1830, then proceeded north on Harris Creek to Dun Cove.

After experimenting with one anchor set with a new (used) Delta anchor I acquired cheaply, I switched back to my danforth, for a good set, and settled in.  Now 2030, we were ravenous, and Ruth made a quick dinner of burgers, sauted mushrooms, fresh tomatoes with basil, and broccoli – yum! Best burger and ‘shrooms I can remember.

We cleaned up dishes, showered and went to bed. Awakened by rain in the night, I closed the slider and narrowed the opening on the forehatch – back to sleep.  Still raining at 0730, I made coffee – drank coffee and relaxed ’til noon.

It took two trials to free the anchor – we use the forward momentum of the boat to break it out – so no worries about staying put last night.

We motored South on Harris Creek, then turned left at the marker signaling the western limits of the open Eastern Bay. Serene motoring for 3 hours put us outside the channel leading to downtown Cambridge and our free berth on the bulkhead.

Cay of Sea on the bulkhead in Cambridge.

Cay of Sea on the bulkhead in Cambridge.

Tonight we’ll get together for dinner with old friends from my former work life.

Scenes from the bulkhead in the turning basin - Cambridge.

Scenes from the bulkhead in the turning basin – Cambridge.

Lifting bridge leading to the inner yacht basin.

Lifting bridge leading to the inner yacht basin.

From July 8:

Ruth and I are cruising this week, and hope to update you as we go. Our tentative destinations are Eastern Bay area (St. Michaels, Cambridge, Wye River), and we are looking forward to easy days on the water, lots of time at anchor with books and small projects, and gentle exploration of our surroundings. Please come with us as I post as often as cell service allows.

Also, look forward to Ruth’s posts from her sketchbook journal published on

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