Thursday, September 30, 2010

Day Six - Tangier Sound all to myself

The weather forecast the night before was that same broken record. Small craft advisories, winds 20 knots with gusts to 25.....

And the forecast was accurate. Nearby Bishops Head was reporting sustained winds out of the south at 19 knots. The water outside Wheatley Point Cove looked pretty choppy. I thought about staying anchored for the morning, maybe read my book and relax, let the wind drop off a little. But a few minutes later I was tucking a double reef into the main, setting the jib and raising the anchor.
As I left the cove the wind seemed to fall off. I wondered if it was really dropping, or maybe I was just getting used to sailing in that kind of wind. Maybe a little of each.

I tacked back and forth on the Honga River. I felt like Spartina wasn't moving all that fast. Checked the gps to see I was doing 5.7 to 5.9 knots to the ESE. Up ahead I saw (I thought) green marker "5" in the distance, a straight run down the river. So I headed right towards it without bothering to confirm with my chart or the gps. The closer I got the more certain I was of the navigation. Trees to the right were the western shore, trees to the left were the eastern shore, marker right in between on open water. Until I got closer and the marker wasn't on open water, it was in a marsh. And then the marker wasn't a marker, it was a deer stand in a field. Thinking I was sailing downriver I had sailed into Lakes Cove.
So I tacked back west, kicking myself for the bad navigating but at the same time noticing two eagles and an eaglet fishing in the cove. Yes, I made a mistake. But I really enjoyed watching the eagles. Sometimes mistakes have little rewards.

So back out on the river I spotted the real marker and worked my way south, finally under full sail as the wind dropped on the approach to Hooper Strait.

I passed the top of Bloodsworth Island and began a series of tacks the width of Tangier Sound with Deal Island to the east and Bloodsworth to the west. It was early afternoon, all the waterman had headed back to the docks. A rough windy day midweek, there were no sport fisherman or pleasure boaters out there. I had the sound to myself.
I made five tacks back and forth across Tangier Sound under full sail, the wind strong and afternoon waves building out of the south. It was a great ride.

On the last tack from Deal Island, a port tack, I sailed directly for Pungers Cove on South Marsh Island. I sailed through the south end of the cove and up into the entrance to Little Pungers Creek. Dropped anchor inside the marsh at 4:15.

After almost nine hours out on the chop it felt good to be inside the protection of the marsh. I took off my harness/inflatable vest and hung my foul weather gear up to dry. Notice I had the bilge pump out there on the bunk flat, thought I would take on quite a bit of spray. But I never used it.

After dinner I sat in the cockpit and read. I was just getting to the exciting part of The Lost City of Z, A Tale of Deadly Obsession in the Amazon. I read until it was too dark to read. Great book.

Below is a photo of my surroundings that evening. What a pretty spot.

I had one more full day on the water to go, one more island to visit.


distance sailed 33 nautical miles

ave speed 3.3 knots

max speed 11.3 knots (I don't believe that either, it was probably 7 knots or so)


Fernando Costa said...

That's wonderful Steve! To read on board a small sail boat, sailed in solitary. Especially if we read a book counting maritime adventures. During my last expedition on board my little "Estrela d' Alva" I read with great pleasure the second volume of ARABIAN NIGHTS.

Good winds

Fernando Costa

Did you read my post - WindVinder? I wait that yes. Very interesting.

You must visit the site of the artist author of the WindVinder!

I am shire you will enjoy it!

Steve said...

the book I was reading was about the disappearance of Col. Percy Fawcett in central Brazil in the 1920's. Have you heard of him?


Baydog said...

Green with envy, Steve. I appreciate the amount of thinking time you have while you're out there. Really spiritual.

Perry Burton said...

I'm glad your enjoying your trip Steve. Soak it up, winter is on its way! How did you find Spartina under the 20+ knot winds? Those "waves off the bow" shots are always cool to see. My pathfinder handles well in 20 knot winds with the main reefed. But I play it safe. As for your speed at 11 knots, I believe you.
Happy adventuring

Steve said...

how are you doing? Good season of sailing I hope. How late in the year can you sail?
Spartina does well under mizzen and jib. I've thought of trying her under just a reefed main. I'll put that on my list.

I've never been accused of spending too much time thinking. But it was nice to get away for a while. I'll talk about that in a day or two.


Fernando Costa said...

Hi Steve

You are the first person that talk to me about Percival Harrison Fawcett (18 August 1867 - in or to after 1925. But I finished to read a short biography of him. Very interesting. At the moment I am " investigating" the shipwreck of ferryboat " Estonia". I can't stop thinking about it?

What do you say about that? And what about the WindVinder?

Good winds!

Fernando "Estrela d'Alva" Costa