Thursday, July 1, 2010

Day Two - bays and rivers, canals and creeks

We had the anchor up at 6:15. It had been a warm night, a few bugs but not too bad as we were zipped behind the mosquito screens in our bivy's. We motored past Dawn Patrol to say good morning and then headed out on the ICW. There was a nice breeze out of the east (where was that typical SW wind???) and we headed south at around 3 knots.

Approaching the canal section of the ICW at marker 14 we started motor sailing, the trees along shore were blocking the wind. For the next hour or so we switched back and forth from motor sailing to sailing. Sometimes we caught a nice breeze, sometimes we liked having the outboard running when we had to deal with oncoming traffic. Just after 8 a.m. we passed the fish processing plant and shrimp boats near Hobucken and turned east on to Jones Bay.

The night before, anchored in faux Dixon Creek, we had talked with Paul and Dawn about our plans for the next day. They were heading south on the Bay River to Chapel Creek to see their friend (and designer of their Core Sound 20) Graham Byrnes. We were planning to check out the little town of Vandemere and visit Jones Bay, Ditch Creek and the Dump Creek along the way. You can see the tracks from both boats below. We both started out on the ICW, Dawn Patrol continued south on the ICW while Bruce and I headed east (into the wind) on Jones Bay and then down the creeks to the Bay River.

Tacking into that wind on Jones Bay was a great ride. I tried to use up every inch of the bay, tacking up almost to the marsh grass before coming about. Sometimes I felt the centerboard touch bottom as we tacked, sometimes not. In the soft mud it didn't matter. Wind was strong enough that we were doing 5.5 knots. Bruce caught up on his rest (below) while he adjusted from the west coast to east coast time zones.

(Steve is correct that I was catching some ZZZs and at first I attributed it to time zone changes. But I think as the trip wore on and I was really feeling sleepy a lot, the tiredness was in part due to the heat and humidity. It really zapped me. Usually we are on our cruise weeks earlier or later in the year when all the heat and humidity aren't so potent. Steve just smiles and says,"don't you just love all the weather?'"or "You get used to it." That's like what we say in the west when the temp. is 120f, "Yea, but it's dry heat." We had days in the 90's and high humidity. Most of the time it was tempered by being on the water with a nice breeze blowing. That's when the sailing was great and life was good. Bruce)

We found the entrance to Ditch Creek and followed it south and then east until it turned into Dump Creek. I had passed through this area just six weeks earlier, it was just as pretty as I remembered it.

The creek, or ditch really, is not more than 15 or 16 feet wide. We dropped our sails, raised the cb and rudder, and motored down the narrow waterway. It took just 15 or 20 minutes to transit the creek. But it was a beautiful ride through the marsh. We had planned out the trip looking for just this sort of passage. In fact we had a total of four small canals built into our route.

(The canals are really fun to go down, nice for photography, and sort of reminded me of the Disneyland jungle ride, complete with croaking frogs and buzzing insect noises. Only these were real and were accompanied by routine visits from the dreaded deer flies. These incideous creatures can land on you and you can't feel them until they take a chunk out of your hide. OUCH! Then an itchy welt appears. These particular flies had a fetish for our feet and ankles. By the end of the day I had three bites on the ball of one foot. How they bit the bottom of my foot, three times, remains a mystery, but I had the itchies for several days and could feel the welts every time I took a step. Demon Bugs, they are. Bruce)

As we left the creek we could see the peaks of Dawn Patrol's sails to the west as they left the ICW at Gale Creek Point and turned up the Bay River bound for Chapel Creek. We followed a mile or maybe more behind them. We eventually lost sight of Dawn Patrol as they rounded Bell Point and sailed southwest to see Graham. We headed directly into the Vandemere waterfront.

I've got to say the visit to Vandemere turned out to be a disappoinment. Broken down piers lined the waterfront, what looked like vacant buildings lined the street beyond. We motored along and followed a power boat up a creek. There was a narrow boat ramp with an old pier beside it. A woman with kids crabbing on another pier pointed us toward a few nice sailboats tied up across the inlet at yet another pier. She thought it was a marina but it looked more like a private pier to us. So we turned back out of the creek and without having set foot on land we sailed back down Bay River towards Bonner Bay.

Entering the Bonner Bay a couple of hours later we could see a thunderstorm passing to the west of us with some lightning that reached down to the ground. We hoped Dawn Patrol was on the far side of the storm (she was, we later learned).

We spent the afternoon sailing in the bay and tracking the shore line, Bruce at the tiller while I cast a lure up along the marsh. I had my usual fishing luck - none - but that was fine as it was a nice afternoon and a beautiful bay. Bonner Bay, which is at the junction of the Bay River and four large creeks - Riggs, Spring, Long and Dipping Vat Creeks - was a great spot that reminded me of Wysocking Bay and Mouse Harbor. Lots of open water, lots of anchorage. Plenty of room for good sailing and plenty of protected water nearby.

We were fishing along a shoreline (A, above) about 4 pm when we saw the cat ketch rig of Dawn Patrol heading in off the Bay River. She looked beautiful in the afternoon light. We raised sails and headed out of meet her on the way in (B), turning to sailing along with her and get some photographs. With plenty of calm water in the bay we dropped anchor and rafted up for dinner (C) and compared notes on our day of sailing. (Bruce and I later moved a little to the east to anchor for the night (D)).

Paul and Dawn talked about their trip down the ICW, the visit to see Graham Byrnes and the thunderstorm that they had dodged. It sounded like a great day. The skies cleared for a very nice evening.

We had dueling shrimp dinners that night, Dawn fixed stir fry shrimp with asian noodles, Bruce fixed shrimp tacos with black beans, cabbage, cheese, cilantro sauce and guacamole. Both boats were doing very well in the food department.

And then of course the evening was spent relaxing and talking. By this time it was becoming evident that we all got along so well that we would be spending much, if not all of the trip together.

(I couldn't agree more. I really enjoyed our evenings with Dawn Patrol. Bruce)

And the great afternoon was followed by a great sunset with spectacular clouds off to the east.

As we re-anchored to the east of Dawn Patrol we got a pretty nice view of her at twilight.

I think I shot the photo above, a nice cloud and some of Spartina's rigging, and Bruce got the photo below of her mizzen boom and the setting sun. Nice photo Bruce!


Distance 29 nautical miles
Max Speed 5.9 knots (tacking into the wind on Jones Bay)
Average Speed 2.7 knots (includes drifting along the shoreline in Bonner Bay)
Moving Time 10 hours 34 minutes


SandyBottom said...

I just love that photo of our two sail boats rafted up together in the evening. It really shows us relaxed and enjoying each other.

I found our evening visits, swapping stories of our lives and adventures, and even sharing our experiences that day when mostly in sight of each other, a wonderful part of our trip.

Dawn Patrol watched that thunderstorm very carefully after we left Chapel Creek sailing back up the Bay River. For a long time it was difficult to tell which way the storm was moving, while hearing loud cracks of thunder. At one point I was so sure it was coming right for us, I insisted Paul stop and heave-to while we reefed all our sails, only to stop again and un-reef about 10 minutes later when we saw it move on. I even had a quick plan of moving us to the lee shore, with visions of huge winds moving in.

During our whole week, the only time I was nervous and worried was when we saw storms, and especially that one on Day 3 in Core Sound. But that’ll be in your next report.

Unknown said...

Steve, it will be interesting to see how your Chesapeake plans develop. I'm planning on starting at the Chester River and go north, counterclockwise around the head of the bay and south along the Western shore to Herring Bay, then across to Eastern Bay around the end of Sept to work south along the Choptank and Tangier Sound. If you carry a cell phone and we happen to be in near proximity, I'd like to meet and spend some time with you.