A waterman by the name of Jack, tall and thin with white hair, skin tanned from decades of shrimping, fishing and oysters, pulled up in his truck. He walked over to me slowly using a cane, a smile on his face. "I don't remember you at all," he said, "but I remember your boat." He gestured towards Spartina and recited things I had told him last year when I launched out of Pate Boat Yard in Hobucken. He shook his head and laughed. "No I don't recall you one bit, but the boat.....I remember that boat."
A compliment from a waterman. A nice way to start a trip.
I had pulled into the marina in Hobucken, a fishing village on Goose Creek Island, at 9 a.m. Shawn, the owner of the yard, was out front with a friend doing some work. "You timed the weather right" he said. A front had moved through a day earlier - rain, winds and tornado warnings. But clear skies and steady winds were the forecast for the next few days.
Shawn and I visited while I rigged the boat. We have got a lot of friends in common and a few of them had passed through his area kayaking in the nice spring weather. Shawn likes small boats, he always makes us feel welcome at his place. We had Spartina loaded and in the water by 10:15. I warmed up the outboard while sending on "ok" message from my SPOT and turning on my gps tracking. A little after 10:30 I was motoring the quarter mile down the narrow canal to Jones Bay.
The first day of any cruise is a short one for me. I like to have plenty of time to get adjusted, check the gear and make myself comfortable on board. The plan was to sail down Jones Bay, round Boar Point, cross the the Bay River and end up somewhere around Maw Point.
The northwest wind, a stiff breeze on the backside of the cool front, was perfect. I started sailing with just mizzen and jib, making three and a half knots. By the time I passed Drum Creek on Jones Bay I was doing almost 5 knots. I rounded Boar Point at noon, a place where I had sheltered in some rough weather last fall. Back then I had seen nothing but dark clouds and white spray from the winds and rain. This time I enjoyed seeing the bright green cord grass under blue skies. I slid past Sound Bay just yards off the marsh, reaching Bay Point on the north side of the Bay River a little before 1:00.
Under full sail I crossed the mouth of the Bay River doing a little over four knots, large sail and power boats heading north past the ICW channel markers in the middle of the river. On the far side I slipped into Fisherman Bay to explore a bit, found it to be crossed by a series of sandbars. With both the centerboard and rudder raised I cut back across the bars under mizzen and jib.
Rounding Deep Point I raised the main and sailed a few of miles down the shoreline, enjoying the mixture of small white beaches and rich, healthy marshes. I poked around both Maw Bay and a second, smaller bay as possible anchorage for the night. A little after 3:00 I dropped the anchor in a few feet of water in Maw Bay, cleaned up the boat, sat back and read my book. A while later I grilled potatoes, onions, peppers and a slice of Spam for dinner.
A nice way to start a trip.
11.7 nautical miles
4:16 moving time
9.8 max speed
2.7 moving average