"One morning in Mid August, instead of going to work I packed my lunch and went to sea. My wife was asleep so she could not object......I sailed up the Chesapeake from my home port of Queenstown.....I felt good about this first step. I dropped anchor in a tiny cove and fixed supper."
We pay the $16 toll at the Chesapeake Bridge Tunnel in silence, flourescent lights glowing in the night. Stingray's, the gas station/diner that is our usual stop for breakfast on the eastern shore, shows no sign of life as we drive by before dawn. A hint of the coming day, a cool clear one, comes with an orange glow to the east at Machipongo. Daybreak comes at 60 miles an hour on Highway 13 passing by T's Corner and the turn off to Chincoteague. We pass through Pocomoke just above the Maryland state line, make a wrong turn in Salisbury, have breakfast just north of Easton. We pull into the small parking lot at the Green Lane boat ramp in Rock Hall, Maryland after five hours on the road.
(4:30 am. Early by any measure, and up we are. Usually I would be very sleepy but this morning I am excited to be off. I have been waiting a long time for this trip and I am pumped we are on our way. I am excited that we will be taking Spartina out on the Atlantic for our cruise down to Ocean City. Steve says he will be pleased if we make Ocean City, we will need good wind and some luck, and very happy if we can make Chincoteague. I really want to sail that far, but most of all I want to sail on the Atlantic. The morning is clear, a good sign I think. Bruce)
We rig the boat quickly with a steady breeze blowing through the stacks of crab pots at the ramp. Bruce hands over supplies - food, propane tanks, life vests and enough gear to fill the back of my jeep - and I tuck it all away on Spartina. It disappears below the thwarts, below the bunk flat and below the coaming. I wonder how it all fits in such a small boat.
A quick hello, handshakes and hugs, from our Rock Hall friends MaryLou and Fred who come down to take the jeep and trailer to their house. Then just as quickly a wave goodbye as we motor away from dock. Out in the Rock Hall Harbor near Waterman's Crab House we cross the path made three years earlier coming in a bumpy ride from Kent Narrows.
(As we pose for a photo with Fred and MaryLou we notice a mockingbird has gotten itself stuck inside a crab pot. This is a pot on top of a stack of pots on top of a trailer. Too high to reach without some assistance. Steve to the rescue, he locates a stick, I loosen the band securing the door and Steve pushes the door up and open, leaving the stick wedged on the pot so the door stays open. It doesn't take long for the bird to escape. A good omen to start the trip. Later Steve looks at me seriously and says the bird was probably some waterman's trained crabbing bird. He'll probably be ticked when he sees we released it. We share a good laugh. Bruce)
All sails up with a teasing wind outside the Rock Hall jetties. We are glad to be off the highway and on the water with a beautiful day. I make a few tacks out towards the bay then a few more north towards Swan Point. A little after noon we are motor sailing - more motoring that sailing - on the calm water. We head north just off the beaches and marshes that line the eastern shore. To our port a large sailboat motor sails alongside of us, then comes a tug pushing a barge up the deepwater channel. The skies are blue with white puffy clouds.
Through the binoculars I see a schooner ahead coming toward us. Like Spartina, she has her sails up but is motoring. Just as she approaches her limp sails fill with wind. The water darkens behind her as a solid breeze sweeps across the bay. Soon Spartina's sails are filled by the west wind. We shut down the outboard and sail north making 3.5 knots.
We wave to the crew on the schooner, a man and a woman, just as the winds takes hold. I look with binoculars but the dinghy blocks the stern and I cannot make out of the schooner's name on the green hull. Maybe she is heading to Fells Point in Baltimore for the schooner race. Or maybe she is heading south for the winter. I look down at the gps and see Spartina is moving at over 5 knots.
The wind carries us steadily north past our first possible anchorage at Fairlee Creek, and soon beyond the second anchorage at Worton Creek, a half knot current helping us on our way north. I put out the trolling line but get no bites.
Bruce, standing up forward, spots the creek's opening to the right and sees that the creek jogs back quickly to the left behind a small island and a low lying marsh. We ease in with the steady wind, people fishing in a small park to our starboard and the tiny island island that hides the creek to port. Past the island and the marsh is a small Coast Guard station and a couple of boats at moorings. The creek splits in two, the branch to south has boats and homes along the water's edge. The branch to the north, Codjus Creek, has nothing but trees and marsh grass along the shoreline. We head into Codjus Creek.
(This was a great first day of sailing. It was nice to be out on the water and exploring new areas. We are never certain what kind of anchorage we will find, but that's all part of the fun of out trips. This one was perfect. I am certain it is popular during the summer. Bruce)
About 4:30 we lower the jib and drop the anchor in what has to be one of prettiest anchorages we have visited. A good first day on the water. Dinner, a little conversation and then planning for the next day's run to the C and D Canal.
distance traveled 18.28 nm
moving average 3.6 knots
moving time 5 hours 3 minutes