Thursday, October 8, 2009

DAY ONE - a backdoor cold front

It was cold, gray and raining as we left Chesapeake, crossed the Bay Bridge Tunnel and headed up the eastern shore. Weather radio said a "back door cold front" was coming up from North Carolina bringing with it a "complex weather system." We could deal with the rain, and the wind was blowing in the right direction. What could be better (we didn't know it then, but the wind would blow in the right direction all week long).

(I was still on South Africa time, six hours difference, so I was awake really early this morning. As I laid in bed thinking partly about the trip just completed and the trip to come I stared at the ceiling in the darkened room dozing off now and then. As I laid there I was entertained by lightning momentarily brightening the room. Distant thunder rumbled and rain hit against the window. I recalled our first cruise where we started off in the rain. Rain really doesn't matter if you have the right gear I learned on that trip. It's the wind and sea and the currents that make the difference. I knew we were going anyway and we would just have to see what the wind was doing when we got to Crisfield. This time we made sure all the hatch covers were securely in place for the drive to Crisfield.)

We bought a one day pass to rig and launch at Somers Cove Marina in Crisfield. If I had left the jeep there for the duration of the cruise I would have needed to buy an annual pass at $35, but the owner of a nearby hotel said I could leave it on his property. Very nice of him. We launched and motored away from the dock with N to NE wind around 15 mph. We raised just mizzen and jib to sail out of the narrow entrance to the harbor on to the Annemessex River. Once on the river we raised the main and headed west to Tangier Sound. Wind picked up on the sound and we rolled along at 5 to 6.5 knots.

Below is Bruce at the tiller with Janes Island in the background. The first day's sail was a short one, once we passed south of Janes Island it was only four more miles to the entrance channel to Smith Island. Bruce, fresh in from Africa, handled the boat as we crossed the sound. Somehow - either I had mismarked the waypoint to the Big Thorofare (the entrance channel) or I was fooled in to thinking some fish stakes were navigation markers - we found ourself about a half mile south of the correct channel markers as we approached the island. We came about and sailed close hauled up to the the Big Thorofare and then fell off into the narrow but well-marked channel.

(I am not so sure that Steve's marks were off that much. We were using the GPS to help us navigate to the waypoint. I had the GPS set to "bearing marker" instead of "course marker". Therefore the direction arrow never seemed to be going in the right direction putting us off course a bit. We later changed that to "course marker"so the marker was always pointing in the direction we were headed. I also learned, as we used the Blue Charts more to navigate, that with such a small screen you have to be zoomed out to see the entire course on the chart. The course line is always pointed directly to the next waypoint, as the crow flies, which of course you may not be able to sail directly to as land and things can get in the way. So while it appears you are on the right path, as you zoom in, you find as you get closer to your waypoint you may not actually be headed directly at the waypoint and you need to adjust your course. (Or occasionally zoom in and out to be certain you are on course.) Hopefully this makes sense to somebody other than me.)

Sailing up the channel was some of the prettiest sailing I've done. We had plenty of wind but the water was very calm with marshes on either side. The narrow channel followed a gentle curve towards the northwest then north and finally toward the west. I tacked once at green marker #21 and touched the bottom on a shoal. But otherwise it was peaceful sailing moving along at a steady 5 to 5.6 knots.

We watched one of the island ferries disappear into a thicket of trees, the southbound cut through a wooded island in front of Ewell. We dropped the main to enter the cut and came up on the town's waterfront under mizzen and jib. I tied up at a "public" dock where a small sign said "$25.00." We couldn't find anyone there to pay so we walked through town (really just one street) looking for the B and B and ended up at Ruke's to ask directions. The ladies that were working there said we could tie up behind the restaurant for $20. It was a better pier and closer to our B and B so that worked out well.

Below is Spartina at Ruke's dock with her boom tent in place. We got her settled there and then went off in search of food.

Distance - 10.7 nm
Max Speed - 6.9 knots
Ave Speed - 3.5 knots
Moving Time - 3 hours 2 minutes

A pretty good start to the trip.


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