Tuesday, October 17, 2017

day one - down the Choptank

Sails up at 9:25 just off the ramp in Cambridge, making 3 knots but struggling through the chop.  Light overcast with a steady N wind.  Calmer and making 3.6 away from the shoreline.  A starboard tack carries us toward the old brick marker at Hambrooks Bar, the curving shoal that reaches out from the southern shore of the river.  We round the light at 10:00 making a pleasant 5 knots.

Wind falls off and down 2.2 knots off Howard Point, three deadrises rigged for clamming coming up the river.  We struggle in the light wind and rolling wakes of the deadrises.

With Castle Point ahead I hear a rumbling sound across the river.  Five buy boats, classic and finely restored Chesapeake Bay boats, head up the river towards Cambridge.  Still under 3 knots off of Oxford, I think of heading into Island Creek to see some friends and anchor for the night.  But it is still too early in the day.  Schools of menhaden ruffle the surface.  Sailing is slow and steady, comfortable with temperatures in the mid-70s.  

More wind off the Tred Avon, making 4.2 knots with a skipjack off the bow heading to Cambridge.  Must be something going on there this weekend.  At 2:00 the wind falls off, we make wide tacks on the Choptank hoping for Steve's Cove on the for side of Broad Creek or maybe even Tilghman Island for the night.  

The chop builds and the wind dies off.  We sail in closer to shore to find calm water, making a steady series of tacks along the shoreline towards Irish Creek.  Mid-afternoon and I see the first eagle of the trip.  Lucy Point in sight by 3:45, rounding the point at just after 4:00.  

Anchor down on Irish Creek inside of Howell Point close to 5:00.

Evening.  The wind picks up and then calms.  The skies begin to clear.  Deadrises are tied to a dock along shore.  A great blue heron flying across creek makes a guttural cry.  Then the sound of a flock of geese in flight, unseen beyond the tree line.  

Sunday, October 15, 2017

back on the road again

Up at 3 a.m., in Easton at first light only to find Michael and Sheila busy cleaning water and leaves out of SPARTINA.  I told them they shouldn't be doing that, but no stopping them.  Breakfast on Kantala, the Michael and I removed the old broken axle and installed the new axle along with a new set of leaf springs.  Good to have SPARTINA back home where she belongs.

Thursday, October 12, 2017

watching the race

Checking on the Great Chesapeake Bay Schooner Race as all the boats head to the starting line I find that the race committee has been able to show boat locations overlaid on the Windytv map.  Very cool now that you can see their positions and weather real time.

And just for fun I've added yellow marks at three of my anchorages from the last trip, Queenstown Creek all the way at the bottom, Hail Creek above that and the Corsica River to the right.  Hope to start the daily log next week.

the new axle, the race

That's the new axle, very stout and solid, with new hub and leaf spring.  This should carry SPARTINA many, many miles.  I'll head up to the Eastern Shore early Sunday morning.  Installation should be fairly simple, cutting off the old bolts and reinstalling with all new hardware.  Michael and Sheila of KANTALA have offered to help, which means it will be fun.

The Great Chesapeake Bay Schooner Race begins this afternoon off of Annapolis.  The Virginia will be part of the fleet.  Looks like outstanding wind on the beam from 15 to 25 mph, I'm not sure I have seen such a favorable wind for the race in a while.  

Monday, October 9, 2017

a few photographs

top of the bay 325 track

why a broken trailer axle made me smile all the way home

The story of how an unfinished ocean crossing,
a museum, a few friends, a businessman, 
a father and son, and a landscaper can make a bad situation
seem to be not all that bad.

Hauled out and on my way home I was leaving St. Michaels when I took the right turn on to southbound 322 in Easton, Maryland.  I heard a noise, the kind you would hear if your ran over an aluminum can.  I thought nothing of it but a minute later looking in my rear view mirror I saw bluish smoke streaming out behind SPARTINA's trailer.  Uh oh.  

I pulled over to see the starboard side wheel tilted at an awkward angle.  I did not need to look to know that the trailer axle had broken.  And only 200 miles from home.

Before checking on towing I knew I would need a place to store the trailer and boat.  I texted Kristen at the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum about 15 miles away.  She responded instantly with the location on campus to store the boat, said she was alerting her staff of the boat's arrival and promised to keep on eye on SPARTINA herself.  How kind.

Next contact was with Boat US where I have both boat insurance and roadside assistance for the trailer.  And then I waited.  It is not easy to find a tow truck in Easton on a Sunday morning.

So while I was waiting I started thinking, something I don't do all that often, and it occurred to me that cruising friends Michael and Sheila had their boat Kantala at a marina in Easton.  Yes, these are the folks I met in Portsmouth last summer and later had a wonderfully timed chance meeting near St. Michaels last year.  And yes, these are the same folks I saw off from Hampton last July as they set off across the Atlantic for England.  I won't go into detail other than to say they had some steering issues that caused them to put into Nova Scotia and while waiting for parts it became too late to complete the crossing.  So it had happened that a little over a week into my sail I was on Queenstown Creek and received a text from Kantala saying the were back on the Chesapeake Bay  - I was still thinking they were in England - and would I like to have hotcakes for breakfast?  Leaving the creek just after dawn the next morning I looked out to see Kantala rounding up to drop anchor.  During our enjoyable breakfast they mentioned they were heading for Easton and would be tying up in a yard there for most of October.  The boat yard, I came to realize while standing on the side of the road, was almost within walking distance from my trailer with a broken axle.

So I text Michael and Sheila, who were in Annapolis at the boat show, about the boat/trailer and Michael calls to say just get the boat/trailer to the yard and he take care of the arrangements there.  I texted Kristen to tell her I had found closer accommodations and also called Boat US to change the trailer destination.  Boat US told me they were having an extremely difficult time finding a tow service.  I said thanks for trying, please keep trying.  Then I waited some more.

That's when Paul and Dawn, long time friends who were at the Mid-Atlantic Small Craft Festival, saw me on the roadside and stopped to check on me.  And I waited some more.

Steve and Scott, good friends who were also at the festival, also stopped by.  And I waited.

Then a third participant from the festival, one I did not know, pulled over.  And I waited.

Next it was a gentleman from Easton, on his way to the festival, who pulled over.  I explained the situation.  He gave me his business card - one from a large Washington-based real estate firm that listed his position as "Senior Director" - and said to call him if I needed help, he would be glad to keep an eye on SPARTINA for me.

Then it was a dad with his son, with a big four wheel drive truck, who stopped, saying he had driven by an hour earlier and was concerned that I was still there.  By this time I had gotten word that a tow truck was on the way, and I thanked them for stopping.

Finally it was a man driving a truck with a trailer loaded down with freshly cut tree branches.  Maybe a landscaper, he spoke with an accent that told me that English was not his first language.  He appeared to have been working all morning, with more work to do, but stopped on the shoulder anyway.  By this time I could point to the tow truck coming down the road.  He was still concerned.  Once the trailer was towed, how was I going to get it fixed?  I assured him I had it all worked out.  I could not thank him enough for his kindness, shook his hand and thanked him again.

Trailer and boat are now at the yard in Easton, two more measurements to confirm and Portsmouth Trailer will make a new axle for me.  So it is all working out.

Not the easy drive home that I had pictured but still if my axle is going to break why not have it happen near a boat yard where friends can watch over it.  And if I've got to wait for a couple hours for a tow, why not enjoy the kindness of many friends and strangers.  I hardly thought of the trailer on the drive home, smiling instead and thinking about how good people can be.

I got home in the evening and while pouring a glass of well-deserved red wine Pandora was playing a live version of  a classic Bob Marley song......

don't worry about a thing
every little thing gonna be alright

And it is.

Thursday, October 5, 2017

last leg

Arrived St. Michaels this morning about 10:30 on a nice southerly breeze. GPS shows a track of 325 miles. Just a great trip.

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Chilly, windy, Corsica River, Hail Point

I can't reply to comments from my phone, so I'll do so in this post.
Yes, Mary Lou, it was chilly that night, but a good sleeping bag makes for a great night's sleep.
Kevin, I missed the first cold front, tied up on the Sassafras, but caught the second for a wild ride down the Bay.
Bob, I agree that the Corsica River is a wonderful place. And I appreciate the background on Hail Creek. Interesting.
Photo is from rounding up this morning in Hail Creek.