Monday, October 12, 2015

day one - lights winds, dolphins

A couple of North Carolina fisherman sleeping in the back of a truck by night and fishing for spot on the Bay during the day come over as I rig Spartina at the ramp in Cape Charles.  They see the gear going in Spartina - sleeping bag, water tight duffels and food - and wonder where I'm going.  North, I tell them.

We cast off just after 9:00, a crystal clear morning, a breath of wind at best.  We motor out of the harbor, past the old buy boat and the big sailboats at the marina.  Out beyond the jetties and sandbar I raise main, mizzen and jib but there is no wind for them to catch. Under power.

Mid-morning a breeze fills in and we make about two knots, then more wind, and then none.  Heading north on the bayside of the Delmarva Peninsula I look east to the pretty white beaches backed by tall pines on Savage Neck.   A little wind late morning as we pass the entrance to Mattawoman Creek and I'm happy to make two knots, just happy to be on the water.  

More wind by noon, clear green water and blue skies.  White puffy clouds over the peninsula seem to lead the way.  I see fish feeding so I put out the trolling line.  Realizing it is just menhaden schooling on the surface, I can see their silver bodies flashing as Spartina passes over the school.  Back under power by 1:00 with Nassawadox Point in sight. The wind comes and goes.  I wear my broad-brimmed panama hat against the sun but there is a hint of fall in the air and it is cool and comfortable.

There are a few dolphin off the point, then a few more and soon there are dozens off to the NE jumping and flapping their tails on the surface.  I sail in their direction and a few peel off from the school and swim towards and then under Spartina.  Beautiful.

By 3:30 we are approaching the mouth of Occohannock Creek.  Just off to the side is Johnson Cove where we sail in to find it is very shallow but well protected.  The board touches bottom a few times and we drift back toward the entrance and I drop the anchor near the north shore.  Later that evening a man and a woman come out on a small boat to check their crab pots.  They motor over to make sure I'm ok, not often seeing sailboats in the cove.  The man suggests I move out towards the center, right where the crab pots are, to make sure I don't end up on the bottom at low tide.  I thank him for his advice and move about thirty yards out.  

It's a pretty evening.  Freeze dried biscuits and gravy for dinner, surprisingly good.  There's a light SE wind.

I jot down 20.9 nautical miles in my notebook.


Bill said...

I read your mention of Mattawoman Creek and did a double-take. We anchored overnight in Mattawoman Creek on Sunday night. But it was the Mattawoman Creek in Maryland, off the Potomac. Now I know there are two different Mattawoman Creeks.

Steve said...

You had me second guessing myself, but just now checking and there is in fact a Mattawoman Creek just south of Hungars Creek on the Virginia end of the Eastern Shore. steve