A low pitched diesel rumbles nearby at dawn. I raise my head off the pillow to peak over the coaming to see the Davey III about 50 yards away, the watermen lowering his scrape into the shallow water. I've anchored over shallow beds of eel grass, a scraper's prime territory. I wonder if he was unhappy to find me anchored at the mouth the the creek but I get a smile as he near motors off Spartina's stern close enough to exchange morning's greetings.
Just after 7:00, with mizzen, jib and double reefed main set, I raise an anchor covered in black mud and seaweed. Clearing the anchor I get a splash of mud to the face. There's a steady, strong NE wind and small craft warnings. Under a light overcast we make 4.3 knots across the Little Annemessex towards Island Point and Tangier Sound. We follow yesterdays track through the field of blue and yellow crab pot markers.
Out in the sound away from shore we find steep, steep waves coming out of the NW in batches of two or three and strong gusts out of the NE. I round up into the biggest waves and I round up into the strongest gusts and I begin to wonder about dealing with the gusts and the waves at the same time. Sailing north, it is miles without protection. Weather radio tells me it will be this way, maybe even worse, later in the day. At almost the same spot as yesterday I slack the jib, tighten the mizzen and walk forward to drop the main.
We make our second retreat into the Little Annemessex River. Frustrated, I begin to look at our options. I could always return to Jenkins Creek, but not sure that the crab scraper would be happy to see me and I wouldn't want to spend another day there anyway. I could head into Crisfield, maybe have lunch. But what I really want to do is make some progress north.
Looking at the charts I notice the Daugherty Creek canal, which I had passed through before, and think I could motor up the canal into the Big Annemessex River and seek shelter there. At least I'll be moving forward. Back in the river I raise the double reefed main and tack towards Crisfield and the canal. The deadrise rise Betty Jean comes off Tangier Sound, a friendly wave from the waterman as they pass by.
I make a few more tacks just north of the entrance to Somers Cove, seagulls feeding on the baitfish in the shallows to port, a woman watching me from the second floor of a condo to starboard. I bring the main and jib down and we motor into the canal.
I stop to get a bottle of tea at the ranger station and drop off a bag of trash, then continue north on the canal. We follow the canal to where it opens up on a creek which curves slightly to the east and then north as we lose the protection of the trees on shore. The channel leads directly into the wind and I find that we can barely make headway under full throttle. The river is covered in a stiff chop and the wind is howling across the peaks of the waves. Clear of the shallows I raise mizzen and jib but can't make any progress up the river. I put up a single reefed main to try and punch through the chop but Spartina heels sharply in the gusts and we round up three or four times to avoid taking water over the coaming. I drop the main to look at the charts. I could head back into the canal easy enough, but soon notice that I can also fall off under mizzen and jib towards nearby Pat Island and Hazard Cove, maybe a nice place to wait out the weather.
The wind is on the beam and we sail comfortably across the mouth of the river. Looking at the charts I see that we can easily make Hazard Cove, but also on this same course we could reach across the the mouth of the Manokin River to Deal Island, and beyond that we could enter Hooper Strait and then the Honga River. It's lunchtime and I get out the tuna salad, crackers and a cup of fruit as we sail past Hazard Point. Across the mouth of the Manokin River it is a bumpy ride with the swells rolling down the length of the river but we make 4.6-5 kts under mizzen and jib. Just before 1:00 we are off of Deal Island and Bishops Head is in sight, we decide to keep going. The upper part of Tangier Sound is rough heading towards Hooper Strait, the waves slapping the side of Spartina's hull. Bigger waves coming down the Nanticoke River but we keep a steady pace towards the Honga River. Focused on getting into the lee of Bishops Head I forget to keep an eye on the gps and at 2:45 the cb touches the bottom near the point between Fishing Bay and the Honga River. We fall off just as the sun comes out, soon we are in the protection of the point - calm water, warm sunshine and wind on the beam. I glance back at Tangier Sound, a little bit surprised to have made it up the sound on a rough day.
Easy sailing up the Honga River, staying close to the side of the river near Norman Cove, falling off now and then to avoid the fish traps.
We skirt the shallows of Crab Point and head up into Fox Creek. Anchor down at 4:30 and I jot 35 nm in the notebook before a nice dinner and a little reading. Flocks of egrets hover over the brown marsh backed by the tall pines.