Thursday, October 31, 2019

day seven - broadsides

I'm up early at the Mariner Hotel, the wind howling outside.  Gusts 30+ miles an hour.  The forecast is for the wind to drop to the mid-20s in a couple of hours.  I carry loads of gear down to SPARTINA, the waterproof duffel with freshly washed clothes, the electronics pelican box with charged batteries, charts and notebook.

A breakfast bar with a bottle of soda at the hotel, then a walk along the waterfront where I find an old, decaying deadrise that looked to me like a painting.

At 9:30, with hotel key turned into the office, I push off from the dock and motor over to the boat ramp.  Just about every public boat ramp in Maryland has a porta-potti nearby, a convenient place to empty SPARTINA'S portable head.  Cast off again at 9:45, round up about 20 yards from the dock, raise the jib to sail out of the harbor.

Outside the breakwater raise the mizzen and bring up the centerboard for the downwind sail.  Very very windy, making 4.6 and rolling in the swell that wraps around Swan Point.  

Steep waves on the stern and I watch them creep up towards the boomkin, each time SPARTINA'S hull lifting as the waves slide beneath us.  Blue skies and wonderful sailing, making 3.4 to 4.6 as the waves carry us along.  

The sail down Eastern Neck goes by in no time and I'm looking for the fish trap off of Wickes Beach. I'm surprised to see it outside of us, I've sailed into the shallow water much closer to the shore than I expected.  No worries, the board is up and I see no signs of shoals.  We jibe at 11:10 and make 7.4 down the face of a wave.  

Strong gusts at Hail Point and the wind seem to be building.  A local boat runs close to shore inside of us, we've got deep enough water for sailing.  I lower the centerboard to sail across the wind.  Calmer water at 11:45 as we sail in close to the point.  I briefly consider turning up in to Hail Creek but it is too early in the day.  As we leave the protection of the top of Eastern Neck we're exposed to the steep waves running down the Chester River.  They are steep, almost vertically faced waves that hit SPARTINA broadside, the waves coming in groups of three.  They slap the side of the hull and white water bursts up alongside sending spray flying across the cockpit as SPARTINA heels to starboard.    

I think I see a low cliff that is near the entrance of Queenstown Creek.  I scan the area with the binoculars but in the waves I cannot see the entrance markers which I think are northwest of the narrow channel.  I trust my GPS - which I'm very glad to see is working - and sail due east towards the marker on the tiny chart.  Just as the red buoy pops up out of the waves into view the GPS shows 7.8 kts.  We turn slightly downwind at the first marker, passing the next - Green marker #3 - at 6 kts.  Past the sandbar and into the calm waters of Queenstown Creek at 12:15.  We jibe and sail west and south around the corner to the town dock.  

Tied to the dock at 12:30, I walk the few blocks to Queenstown Pizzaria for the usual - a small Philly cheesesteak, fries and iced tea.  I remember the first time I ordered lunch there.  The guy brought me the sandwich and I was a little surprised by the cheesesteak nearly filling the basket so I tell him I had meant to order the small sandwich.  He says "That is the small sandwich." 

Motoring down Queenstown Creek in the afternoon I share the water with a deadrise making the last few runs of the day on a trotline.  Anchor down Ditchers Cove 2:15.  I lay back in the cockpit and fall into a deep sleep under the warm sunshine.  

Waking an hour later I see a family, husband, wife and young daughter kayaking up the creek. The woman says "You've anchored here before, haven't you?"  I told her I had.  "It was a stormy day" she later reminds and I tell her she has a good memory.  They ask about SPARTINA and the trip, I ask about their farm with the beautiful old stone buildings.  They are nice people and I enjoy their company.  They paddle away, but not before inviting me to visit them at their farm next time I'm on Queenstown Creek.

A buffalo bar and a cup of fruit makes for a light dinner.  I break out the sleeping bag liner and an extra thick shirt, it is going to drop to 50 degrees overnight.  Wasn't it 90 degrees just a few days earlier?

Running total 186 NM

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