"When I think of all the fools I've been it's a wonder that I've sailed this many miles." -Guy Clark

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Day Nine - the river run

Up early, a beautiful sunrise beneath a line of low-lying clouds, a Chesapeake Bay dawn at its best.

We sailed off anchor at 6:30, passing the dozen or so boats anchored out on Reed Creek.  A light breeze, leaving the anchorage at just a knot or so, my favorite way to begin the day.  We followed the channel to Grove Creek, then out on the Chester River.

By 7:40 we were making three knots towards Spaniard Point.  Bruce had taken the tiller and would keep it most the morning.

I relaxed, caught up on my sleep and enjoyed the sail up the river.  No navigation was needed here, just keep one river bank to port and the other to starboard.  Chestertown was up ahead.

This was our longest sail we have ever made on a river, the wind behind and simply following the gentle curves of the Chester between farmlands and modest homes perched on the banks.  A light overcast with the sun sometimes breaking through, the wind was out of the south.  We made anywhere between 2.8 and 4 knots, sometimes with the wind over the starboard quarter, sometimes sailing wing and wing with the wind on the stern.  

Spaniard Point, Shell Point, Melton Point.  We rounded the gentle curves of the river finally turning northwest at the appropriately named Northwest Point.  And there, two miles ahead, we could pick out the 1800's farmhouse at Rolph's Wharf, our final destination.

We did not talk a lot during the last miles on the river.  With such peaceful sailing between the banks of the narrow river it was easy to get lost in thoughts about the trip, the places we had seen, the adventures we had shared.  But we made sure to take a photograph of the two of us together.  

Somewhere on that last stretch towards Rolph's Wharf I took the tiller.  We passed by the wharf and continued up river toward Chestertown.  Rounding Primrose Pointed we saw two masts coming around the bend.  It was the schooner Sultana out for a sail.  We tacked towards her as she nosed into the wind and began to raise her sails.  And then we sailed alongside - what a treat!  We followed for a while, me at the tiller and Bruce shooting photographs.

We turned downriver towards Rolph's Wharf, talking about our good fortune coming across the Sultana under sail.  There was a shout of "Ahoy" and we looked back to see the captain of the tall ship hailing us.  "Are you a wooden boat?"  "Where are you from?"  We tacked back toward Sultana and shouted our answers across the river.  "Yes, we are a wooden boat, nine days out of Onancock."  I could tell that the captain and crew could not understand every word, but they understood the journey, they could see we were out on an adventure.  Waves, thumbs up and well wishes, we sailed downriver as they turned back to Chestertown.  I can think of no better way to end the trip than sailing alongside a beautiful ship like Sultana.  Two boat so different yet enjoying the same water and the same breeze.  It was something I'll remember for a long time to come.

Minutes later we tied up at Rolph's Wharf and the trip was over.  There was still more fun ahead - seeing our good friends MaryLou and Fred, and a nice unexpected visit with the Sultana - more on that later.

For now, thank you to everyone who has taken time to follow this log.  Thank you for your time, thank you for your comments.  We enjoy the sails, we enjoy sharing our experiences.  And we are happy if you find the stories interesting.

for the day.....

distance traveled     15.9 nautical miles
moving average       2.8 knots

for the trip

distance traveled   234.5 nautical miles, 270 statute miles


Baydog said...

Seems like it was yesterday this trip started. Exactly how you both must have felt when you reached Rolph's. I look forward to some Sultana pics!

Ginger Travis said...

You will treasure that picture of the two of you at your ease on Spartina for the whole rest of your life. You ought to print and frame that one! Two copies, one for each of you.
Lovely trip. Thanks!

Floatsome said...

I have been rationing your days to savor them fully, and now that I've finally reached the end, I may be nearly as sad that the trip is over as you are.

Thanks for sharing!


Steve said...

Thank you, Dave. It was a good trip. Now it is time to think about the next one. Do you have any trips coming up?


Floatsome said...

Dawn and I, along with some other club members, are revisiting the Pate>Belhaven>Pamlico Point>Pate trip in August, and then there's vacation to hell three (Beaufort>Cedar Island>Beaufort) in early September.

She's also planning to do an outside transit from Beaufort to Swansboro this weekend; no sign of a Spot track yet, though.

Intense Guy said...

I stay on a boat at Rolph's ... You ever come back, I'll take you out to dinner. :)

Steve said...

Hey Intense Guy,

no need for dinner, but I'll be in Chestertown for the downrigging weeekend. Look for the little green yawl, come by and say hello