The days are getting longer. Pitchers and catchers are in camp. The buds are forming on the trees. It is time to think about getting on the water.
The Watertribe website says it is nine days, 21 hours and 11 minutes until the start of this years race down the west coast of Florida. I read that there are 140 boats entered in this years event, which should be interesting as they like to hold the expedition style event under the radar. Stealth camping with a fleet of 140 boats, that should be interesting. I have a lot of friends - some that I have met in person, some that I have not - who will be competing, and I will be watching their progress on the tracking map.
I like the race for two reasons. First, it is an exciting event with some vary serious sailing and kayaking through the everglades and along the white sandy beaches of Florida. And second, the event typically marks the beginning of at least a chance of sailing in the mid-Atlantic. Spartina will be ready, but with a hard winter will the weather?
I just received an email from Kevin who sails the Navigator "Slip Jig." He includes me on his batch emails for the annual Chesapeake Bay spring float, which I never seem to make but always enjoy hearing about. This year's event will be out of Dames Quarter (once known as Damn'd Quarter according to an early 1700's map), just up from Deal Island and near the mouths of the Wicomico and Nanticoke Rivers. It is an excellent place to launch, with options of exploring those two rivers, plus Fishing Bay, the Honga River and the islands of Tangier Sound. Kevin says he's been thinking about the trip while enjoying John Smith's Voyages, 1607-1609, a book which I've added to my reading list. Kevin quotes from the book in his email, which I've copied here.
"Of all the places visited by John Smith and crew in 1608, the Tangier Sound, Pocomoke marshes, and the marshes of the Nanticoke to this day retain a wonderful sense of what the Chesapeake Bay looked like back then. The three thousand oyster dredging boats of the 1880's are reduced to a dozen. The nineteenth-century-farmed hummocks in the marshes have reverted to forest. And the area today is viewed mostly as a preserve for plant species and wildlife."
Maybe that why I like sailing in that area so much.
As for Spartina's spring trip, I had planned to take a couple of weeks for sailing but will now take about ten days, saving the extra days for the fall trip. I will plan for two trips for late May, choosing to go with the one that best suits the weather.
With north wind I will leave out of Chincoteague with the goal of sailing around the bottom of the Delmarva Peninsula, then head north to Tangier Sound, finishing at Onancock. That trip, a second attempt to round the bottom of the peninsula, is marked in red.
If the wind is out of the southwest I will put in at Onancock, sailing north to Tilghman Island and then back south again to Onancock, which is marked in yellow. This is very similar to Bay Days 220 trip of a few years ago, a very enjoyable trip. That was a fall trip, with football on the radio and fresh caught bluefish and striper for dinner. This would be a spring trip, with baseball and peak season for soft shell crabs.
I don't thing I can go too far wrong with either trip.