Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Day Four - mizzen and jib to Oxford

The evening before the weather forecast was for a small craft advisory (again). Four days into the trip and three of them had weather advisories. I don't remember the specifics of the forecast, just a lot of 20 knot winds, gusts to 25. That kind of thing.

It was the sound of a small outboard that woke me up that morning. Two guys in a skiff running a trotline for crabs in Steve's Cove. They apologized for waking me up, the shallow cove was the only place they could find calm water on a windy morning.
I packed up the sleeping gear, had a quick breakfast of a granola bar and a fruit cup, then sailed off anchor under mizzen and jib.

Spartina was doing 6.6 knots under just the two small sails as we left Broad Creek and entered the Choptank River. I followed the shoreline SSE to Benoni Point and the entrance to the Tred Avon River. So far I had been on a broad reach but now on the Tred Avon I had about a two mile run into the wind.
To me this is where sailing a John Welsford yawl is at its finest. Just mizzen and jib, sailing perfectly balanced close hauled into the wind. The boat was dry and comfortable, just as if sailing into a strong, gusty wind and plenty of chop was no big deal.
It took an hour and twenty minutes to make the two mile run, tacking from shore to shore, but it seemed to go by quickly. I got a nice little wind shift at marker "2" that let me sail right up to the entrance channel to Oxford Harbor.

With all the wind and the narrow harbor I decided to go in under power. I wasn't quite sure where I could tie up and expected to be looking around for a while. I ran down the harbor past a supply dock, a restaurant and a couple of high-end boat yards. The restaurant had some open dock space so I turned around and motored back to Schooner's Landing. The restaurant wasn't open yet so I ran inside to ask the manager if it was ok to leave Spartina tied up there for a while. It was one of awkward deals where he comes the door of the restaurant, looks outside and says "Where's your boat?" and I say "Over there" and he looks and looks and can't see it and I finally have to say "Look down. No, down lower." He squints, sees it, laughs and says "You're fine."

I walked through the streets Oxford like a drunken sailor, my legs not quite ready for solid land after four days on the water. I seemed to weave back and forth on the sidewalks. I walked four or five blocks to the Oxford Convenience Market on Morris Street, a great little shop with just about anything you need there on the shelves. I got a cold tea, a gallon of water, some spray cleaner and some lotion for my dried out hands.
By the time I walked back to Schooner's they were open and I had a burger and iced tea while reading the paper. A very nice lunch.

An hour after tying up I was casting off, heading back out on the Tred Avon, this time for a nice down wind run. I started out under mizzen and jib, it was still blowing pretty good. This cutter below sailed over to say hello. A very nice conversation. Windy, sometimes hard to make out the words, but a nice visit with some friendly people.

Past Benoni Point and out on the Choptank again the wind seemed to drop off - or maybe I was just getting used to it - and I raised a double reefed main for a southwest run across the Choptank and out onto the Chesapeake Bay. Midway across the river I shook out a reef, leaving one in place.

At Cook Point I turned south and followed the shoreline of Trippe Bay. The wind was gradually easing all afternoon and I shook out the second reef. I put out the trolling line and got a couple of hits on the lure but lost the fish both times. Small bluefish I was thinking.

At Hills Point I turned southeast on the Little Choptank River toward my anchorage behind Ragged Island. The drag on my trolling line goes off and I brought in a decent sized bluefish for dinner.

About 4:30 I rounded Ragged Point and dropped the anchor in clear, shallow water behind a tall stand of pine trees. As I was dropping the main I glanced up to see a bald eagle fly overhead. And then there was a second eagle landing in a tree. And beside that was an eaglet, still covered in dark brown feathers. Wow. I watched them fly around the trees all afternoon, listened to them screech in the darkness after the sun had set.


distance sailed 27.7 nautical miles

ave speed 3.4 knots

max speed 11.3 knots according to my gps, but I don't believe it (I suspect it was more like 7.5 or 8 knots early in the day)


S R Wood said...

Steve, I know these must be laborious to write, but thank you so much for posting them. It's great to hear the Pathfinder will jog along happily under mizzen and jib.

Great stuff!

Also, what's the board your fish is lying on? You don't clean the fish on those beautiful decks, do you?


Steve said...


That's a fish cleaning board, the kind with a big clamp at the end for holding the tail and groves cut in the wood so the fish doesn't slide around too much.
I usually slice open the sides of a two gallon plastic bag, spread the bag out on the thwart to set the board on before cleaning the fish. It minimizes the mess, then I put the plastic sheet in the trash bag.
Are you going to the small craft festival?


S R Wood said...

Aha, thanks Steve. No, we're missing the small craft festival to do the opposite of sailing: spending time in the Utah deserts. It's great to go into the wild but I will be thirsting for salt water and wet wind by the time we return.