I have finally received my two calendars for the coming year - the 2012 Calendar of Wooden Boats plus my work schedule. A quick look at both of those shows that my work schedule is not ideal for this year's cruises. But I will make do.
I work a rotating shift at the office, some nights and some days, some weekends and some weekends off. The end result is that with monthly schedule changes I sometimes get three or four day weekends. Take a three day weekend, add five days of vacation time plus the following weekend and I've got time for a nice adventure. But this year the schedule does not work to my benefit - instead of nice three day weekends around the usual cruising times I have, instead, one day weekends. I will just need to volunteer when I can and build up some comp time. It will all work out.
May and early June are proving to be busy months between work and family commitments. With that in mind I hope to do the Spring walkabout, a four or five day trip, in late April which is a week or two earlier than usual. It might be a little cooler then, but maybe not. I find no consistency in the weather that time of year - it could be 50 or it could be 80. I'm looking at Tangier Sound for the walkabout.
The longer Spring trip may in fact be in early Summer trip. It looks like I won't be able to get away until the second or third week in June, two to three weeks later than usual for that cruise. I CAN tell you it will be HOTTER that time of year. That trip should be a longer sail in North Carolina, including a visit to Cape Lookout.
And then the Fall trip will be the top of the Bay, Delaware Bay sail. I haven't look that far ahead on the schedule, but will soon.
While trying to mark out the trips for this year on the calendar I started thinking about my favorites from last year's cruises. Favorite what? I've listed a few below.
Favorite cruise - Back to the Islands Spring cruise with Bruce, from Onancock to Chestertown with 270 miles of fun in between
Favorite lunch in a restaurant - it's a tie between softshell crab sandwiches at Lorraine's on Tangier Island and the shrimp burger at The Grill at Morris Marina on Core Sound
Favorite fish caught - Bruce snagging a nice striper south of Smith Island
Favorite bit of advice from a local - that I could save myself some time by cutting across the sandbars leading out of Ewell on Smith Island during the high tide, this from the same guy that told me I did not know how to tie knots (he was correct in both instances)
Favorite rough water crossing - South Marsh Island to Deal Island, a dark grey morning with wind and currents in opposite directions and a very steep chop
Favorite dinner on board - sirloin tips with grilled potatoes and onions, washed down with cold beer, on Tilgman Creek
Favorite storm - two hours of wind, rain and lightning anchored in Cod Harbor at Tangier Island
Favorite afternoon sail - heading north past Jones Bay, Middle Bay, Big and Little Porpoise Bays, Mouse Harbor and then rounding Pamlico Point to ghost off the pretty white beaches of the Pamlico River
Favorite breeze - the one that carried me on Day Two of the Spring walkabout across the Neuse River down West Bay to the Thorofare out onto Core Sound under bright blue skies
Favorite evening with new friends - anchored with Curt and Alan on Swan Creek during the Spring walkabout
Favorite waitress - the one that gave us a couple of extra beers and a bottle opener at Deep Creek Marina
Favorite tall ship - the schooner Sultana coming out of Chestertown on the last leg of the Spring cruise
Favorite decision in the middle of the night with an approaching squall - to forget about the boom tent, zip up the bivy and fall back to sleep in the warm sleeping bag
Favorite lure - the one that a big fish grabbed and stole on Day One of the Chesapeake Bay trip with Bruce (I really liked that lure)
Favorite waterfront town to leave behind - Saxis
Favorite skipjack - the Rebecca T. Ruark, coming out of Dogwood Harbor on Tilghman Island
Favorite anchorage - it's a tie between a glassy calm Cod Harbor, Tangier Island and Swan Creek off of Pamlico Sound
Favorite weird sight - coming around the bend on Fishing Creek in the Hooper Island to find the channel to Chesapeake Bay lined with bamboo markers
Favorite reminder of heaven and hell - coming across a deadrise named Devil's Den in a fog bank on Fishing Bay followed by another deadrise with religious hymns blaring out of her speakers
Favorite boat - Spartina
Favorite past time - thinking about the next trip