A maintenance guy from Somers Cove Marina holds the lines while I back Spartina down the ramp on her trailer. Another guy, this one from a boat hauling company, offers to cast off the lines so we can motor around the corner to tie up at the dock. People are helpful in Crisfield. GPS track reset, SPOT "ok" message sent, we motor from the dock just after 10:00 a.m. into a nice southeast wind. Mizzen up, main and then jib, I push the tiller over and we head to the narrow cut between the condos and the crab house. The crab house has signs posted for bushels of crabs, $80 for #1 jimmies, $40 for #2. Ahead we see blue skies and the Little Annemessex River.
Out on the river crab scrapers work the eel grass in the shallows to our starboard, small deadrises dragging nets across the bottom. Larger deadrises come in off Tangier Sound with stacks of full bushel baskets. The captain of the Miss Maxine waves through the window of the small cabin at the bow, his mate at work with a mop in the stern. Just off of Old House Cove, with the lone brick tower standing on the sandy spit, I open a can of tuna salad for lunch.
We round Island Point into the waters of Tangier Sound and head north, the swells coming around the point lifting Spartina's stern while we navigate through a field of crab pot markers. Headed north towards Deal Island we sail wing and wind, the water calmer as we move away from Janes Island into the sound. With straw hat and sunglasses I sit in the shade of the mizzen, enjoying the idea of beginning a journey. I look above and watch the clouds.
By noon Kedges Strait Light is to the west, the entrance to the Annemessex due east. We are making 4.6 knots and the wind seems to be picking up. The mizzen, with wind on the stern, tugs Spartina to the side so I bring down the small sail. Ahead is a thin green line on the horizon, Little Deal Island.
A little after 1:00 I raise the mizzen and turn northeast into the Manokin River, following the marshy shoreline and looking for a break in the cord grass. Small white waves breaking against the dark, eroded shoreline show me Shark Point and the entrance to Laws Thorofare. Turning north into the thorofare I see nothing ahead but green marsh grass where overlapping points hide our route behind Deal Island. I zoom in on my GPS and follow the curving path through the marsh. We are sailing downwind with the falling tide in our favor. Small baitfish splash in the water along the mudbanks as I raise both the centerboard and rudder.
The water is so shallow that the board and the rudder are barely in the water. I see the channel opening up ahead, but in the middle is a small marsh island. The GPS does not show me which way to go. I choose to go to starboard, realizing immediately it is the wrong way. Center board and rudder come completely out of the water, the wind and tide carrying us north and Spartina's hull sliding over the muddy bottom. Spartina begins to head toward the marsh, I back the jib and she turns back to the channel. And then we are back in deeper water.
Ahead I see tall raked masts - Deal Island's working skipjacks. One is in a slip with her pushboat hanging from her davits. The other, marked with the number 44, is tied along the waterfront. Beautiful! A man sits on a chair on the dock watching Spartina under the boom of the skipjack. I wave, he does not. Slipping past the skipjack's stern I see the man's gaze is following Spartina. I wave again, this time he waves back.
The wind is on the beam as we head east on the Wicomico River in the lee of Deal Island Wildlife Management Area and Dames Quarter. Cheese and crackers are the afternoon snack as we make almost five knots on the calm water. I sail in close to the beach looking for an anchorage, then back out on the river for another mile or two until we drop anchor for the night just off a sandy point at the mouth of Pigeonhouse Creek. Not bad for a first day on the water.