Sunday, May 31, 2020

social distancing sail, Chesapeake Bay edition

Heading over to the Eastern Shore tomorrow for some social distancing on Tangier Sound and Chesapeake Bay.  Like the last trip, no specific destinations, just which ever way the wind blows.  North limit will probably be the Choptank River/Cambridge, southern limit the little town of Onancock on Onancock Creek.

I do not know if Tangier and Smith Islands are open to the public.  It is possible that they are legally open but visiting is discouraged.  If so, I will leave them be.  There are plenty of rivers and creeks to explore.

I've updated the SPOT tracking map parameters and it should go live tomorrow.  It should have the same url as the last tracking map, the url posted below.

day seven - back to the dock

By the time I start bringing down the boom tent Curt is raising ANNIE'S anchor.  Calm peaceful night, a very pretty dawn.  ANNIE disappears around the corner headed towards Potters Marine.  I follow about 15 minutes later, following a winding path through the crab pot floats.  ANNIE is on the trailer by the time I get to the dock.  Hauled out side by side, Curt and I take our time breaking down the rigs.  It was a good trip.  Curt waves as he heads on home.  

Saturday, May 30, 2020

day six - a most fortunate wind shift

Up and about with sleeping gear and tent stowed a little bit before Curt, I motor over to the free dock on the Washington waterfront.  Soon Curt has ANNIE  tied up behind me.  

We walk a couple blocks to Rachel K's Bakery.  I grab a cinnamon roll and a glass of iced tea, Curt grabs his breakfast and we head back to the waterfront.  The visitor's center is closed but it has a great porch with comfortable rocking chairs where we relax and enjoy the light breakfast before the winds fill in.

Curt casts off first.  I'm a few minutes behind, leaving the dock under power at 8:45.  

Past the trestle I round up and raise the sails, making 3.8 in a fresh breeze and then 4.8 clearing the tree line on shore.  At 9:00 doing 4.1 with wind just aft of beam.  With ANNIE up ahead we reach Broad Creek Point a little after 10:00, 3.4 kts and dropping to 2.2 as I sit in the shade of the mainsail. Light winds by 10:30.

It's a beautiful weekend day and as morning goes on the power boats waken, SPARTINA knocked around by the wakes of the boats heading downriver.  Making 2.8 in light wind at 11:30, soon no wind and under power.  I look back upriver, five boats headed our way, all bringing steep wakes with them.  Ragged Point at noon and it's getting hot. My sunglasses fog in the heat and humidity.  

Enter Durham Creek at 1:15 just as a surprising N breeze fills in.  All sails up and time to explore the Creek.  It's a downwind run on the creek and ahead ANNIE disappears behind trees on a little point.  

I turn back toward the mouth of the creek, a series of pleasant tacks from shore to shore, exchanging greetings with a couple of power boats (not throwing wakes) and a group of teens out waterskiing.  Gentle sailing on calm waters.

Stalled for a couple minutes in the wind shadow of trees at the mouth of Durham Creek, we slip back out on to the Pamlico River just after 4:00.  The wind has picked up and swung from the north to the east, east of course being the way I want to go.

We make a series of tacks, the first off of Bayside on the north shore of the river at 4:30, then to the southern shore for another tack at 4:55.  It is choppy with a fun, bouncy ride and I wonder if the tide is running against the wind.  Looking to the west I strain my eyes until I can pick out ANNIE'S dark sails against the dark green tree line.  Having left the creek about 30 minutes after us, Curt is sailing parallel tracks.

Tack off of Gum Point at 5:10, then back to the south side, reaching the shore at 5:45.  Looking at the charts I expect at least three more tacks to reach north creek and I wonder if I'll be getting in about dark.  But as SPARTINA plows through the chop I noticed we are pointing more and more to the north east.  The wind has swung from east to southeast.  Perfect!  It's a long steady sail across the river at about 5 knots, our speed coming and going as we sail into the waves being pushed upriver.  

Just after 7:00 we cut inside the entrance marker into North Creek, the wind still strong but the water suddenly calm.  Anchor down on East Fork at 7:25.  About 20 minutes later ANNIE drops anchor just to the south of us.

35.59 NM for the day

Friday, May 29, 2020

day five - up the Pamlico River

Up at 5:15, a buggy morning in the mouth of Cedar Creek.  Quickly tuck away the sleeping gear and pack the boom tent.  Sails up on the calm morning, motoring out into Mouse Harbor to get away from the mosquitos.

Out of the harbor Curt and I round up to talk about plans for the day.  Wind looks good for a sail to Washington.

Rounding Pamlico Point I ghost the shoreline.  Rich green cord grass, calm water reflecting the blue skies, the call of marsh birds - just a beautiful morning.  Making 2.5.

Just after 7:00 doing 2.8 on the Pamlico River, the S wind falls off then returns, keeps coming and going.  Sailing towards Indian Island at 8:10, 3.3, then more wind, making 4.4 towards the island marked by stands of tall trees on the south shore.

By 10:25 doing 4.6, wind falls off and doing1.5 by 11:00.  Wind returns and back to 4.6 by 11:25.  Approaching Bayview at 11:40, I can see the Bayview-Aurora ferry in the dock on the north shore.

Looking upriver I can see Gum Point, Bath is just around the corner from there, on the north shore and Core Point on the south shore.  Partly cloudy, warm and very comfortable sailing.  ANNIE, sailing behind during the morning, gets a puff a wind and comes up alongside SPARTINA.

Off of Gum Point at 1:00, 3.8, passing the mouth of Bath Creek by 2:00, doing 4.5.  Light overcast and wind constantly changing direction and strength.  Ragged Point at 3:00, I watch as ANNIE turns into the wind and heads SW, Curt probably off to see a friend on Blounts Bay.

Broad Creek Point just before 4:00, afternoon wind stronger and making just under 5 kts.  Through the trestles and past the tree covered islets known as The Castle just after 5:00.  I tie up on the Washington waterfront and make my way to Ribeyes Steakhouse which is listed as being open for take-out orders on the google map.  Instead I find it closed with a chain across the steps.  Hiding my bitter tears I walk back to the dock and cast off, dropping anchor west of The Castle at 6:00.  Just as I get out the stove for a freeze-dried meals I see ANNIE come into view and drop anchor about 50 yards away.  I text Curt about my lost steak, getting little sympathy in return.

27 NM for the day

Thursday, May 28, 2020

day four - no wind, then wind

Up with the sun to stow the sleeping gear and bring down the boom tent.  Waiting for The Bean to open Keith and Allison drop by for a few more photographs.  A bottle of orange juice and a blueberry muffin from The Bean and we are ready to cast off at 7:50.  Keith grabs a few more photographs.  An all too brief greeting from Jeff and Allie - we had anchored near their boat on Whittaker Creek - and they stay on the dock to wave goodbye.

Not even a hint of wind as the glassy water of the Neuse River reflects the light overcast above.  Curt and I motor E on the towards the South River.  Checking weather radio at 8:45 I hear about a tropical depression forming in the north of the Bahamas.  Worth paying attention to that.

Just inside the channel entrance of South River I drop anchor.  Curt wants to check out the out cemetery at the no longer existent community of Lukens.  I'm content to clean up SPARTINA and catch up on my rest.

The sound of swooshing water wakes me.  Dolphins, I think.  I relax as I lay on my back in the cockpit, finding myself surprised by the sight of a mast looming near SPARTINA.  It's ANNIE, the swooshing sound was Curt sculling back from his exploration.

Sails up on the South River at 10:45 but not a breath of wind.  With mizzens raised on SPARTINA and ANNIE we motor out to the Neuse and turn north.  At noon the surface of the river shows some ripples, but no real wind.  The sun breaks through the overcast at 12:15.  Just past Lighthouse Shoals a light E wind arrives.  Sails up, 2.0 in a light breeze.

Making 3.3 by 1:00, a tug and a barge to the east on the ICW.  The wind builds, 4.5 with E wind just forward of the beam.  Maw Point at 1:45, Bay Point at 2:10, Boar Point at 2:30 and a rough crossing of the mouth of Jones Bay.  Curt and I round up in the choppy water to talk about the destination for the day.  Mouse Harbor, we both agree.

5.4  at Sow Pen Point, round the point and with wind aft of beam I partially raise the centerboard and make 5.8 across the mouth of Middle Bay.  Middle Bay point at 2:45, Big Porpoise Point at 3:30, making 4.9 as the wind swings to the south.  Little Porpoise Point at 3:40, sailing wing and wing to Sound Point and the entrance to Mouse Harbor.

A fast crossing of Mouse Harbor, sailing into the wind for the first time today.

Anchor down in the mouth of Cedar Creek at 3:45.  A northern water snake swims out from the marsh to SPARTINA'S starboard side, rounds the bow to port, then back again to starboard and finally back to the marsh.

Curt and I talk about tropical depression, both of us with the impression that we've got two more days until it reaches eastern North Carolina.  

29.8 NM for the day

Wednesday, May 27, 2020

engineering check

I thought I was going sailing yesterday.  The forecast was decent - overcast but a nice breeze and comfortable temperature.  Instead it was cold with a misty rain.  I don't mind rain when cruising but I do not like day sailing in the rain - it is too much effort to dry out the sails in the garage afterwards.

So once I got to Besty town I left the rig down and sails covered, launching SPARTINA for what my Naval Academy neighbor would call and engineering check.  I had replaced the centerboard pin assembly -  an 8 inch 3/4 diameter bolt, a four stainless steel washers, four rubber gasket, silicone tape  on the threads and just under the head of the bolt, two nuts and a lock washer - and wanted to make sure it was water tight.  The key addition, based on advice from Tom Head, was lithium grease. SPARTINA sat in the water for over an hour during which I raised and lowered the cb several times.  No leaks!

I had also had another neighbor - former Navy submariner (and if you want precision work done find a guy that served on submarines) change out the oil and lower unit fluid in the new outboard.  There had been a quirk with the outboard when idling, it would suddenly rev up.  My guy took that of that with a simple adjustment, and I confirmed by running the outboard several times while tied to the dock.

So all seems well with SPARTINA.  Looking for the next cruise.  Maybe Tangier Sound soon.

day three - a visit to Oriental

Chilly again overnight.  But not as cold as the night before.  Mist hangs over the water at the little cove on Whittaker Creek.  I can see Curt on ANNIE getting ready to raise his anchor.  I've got the sleeping gear and boom tent stowed.

Underpower a little after six, following the channel out through the narrow entrance.  I'm surprised how close the entrance channel to Oriental is.  Yesterday evening it was all backlit and I could not make out the waterfront homes in the town.

We're docked at 6:45, I tie up on the bulkhead and Curt ties up on the town dock.  The Bean is not yet open so we take a walk through town, stopping at Lou Mac park to watch dolphins swimming and playing just off the end of the fishing pier.

Back at the waterfront The Bean is open, iced tea for me, coffee for Curt and a couple of blueberry muffins.  An excellent way to start the day.  Sitting at the picnic bench we see Keith of TownDock and say hello.  We catch up with him a bit, he says he might have Allison drop by to talk about our boats.  

The thing you need to know about Oriental is that it is a town that is all about boats.   I heard before and I hear again on this visit that the town has a population of about 900 people and 750 boats.  I think that is pretty close to being true.  Everyone has a boat, once had a boat or owns multiple boats.

A lot of interesting vessels come through Oriental.  Our two wooden yawls seem to catch the interest of several people.  By 10:00 or so we probably had a dozen people stop to talk.  And it is fun to talk to people on the Oriental waterfront because they do know about boats.  One of them, Annie, says if not for the virus she would invite us to her house for dinner, all single handers get invited to her house.  We hear about great boats, ocean crossings and all sorts of interesting stories from the locals.  It is a treat.

Lunch is take out fried flounder sandwiches - the kind of flounder sandwiches where the filet is bigger than the bread - from M&M's Cafe, eaten on a park bench on the waterfront.

Afternoon Allison from TownDock drops by to talk with us and take some photographs of the boat.  I spend the rest of the day catching up on the logbook, walking around town and relaxing on one of the Adirondack chairs over by the Oriental Marina and Inn.

Back to M&M's for dinner, fish tacos on the waterfront.  One more walk through town and then I slip under the boom tent and into the bivy.

Sunday, May 24, 2020

day two - company on the water

A cold, cold night with gusts winds bringing even more of a chill.  Up in the early morning hours to slip on another layer of clothing before climbing back into the sleeping bag.

Sail off anchor at 6:00, the sun not yet over the tree line.  The gusts have died down, full sail down Slade Creek.  I hear a swooshing noise and see a swirl in the water, dolphins to see us off.  Leaving the creek at 6:30, a little more wind.  Making 2.6 then 4.3 and then 5.0 as we slip out on to the Pungo River with wind forward of the beam.  Falling off the wind we turn south towards the Pamlico River, still shivering in the cold morning.  Easy sailing, enjoying breakfast of an Rx bar, a buffalo bar and a cup of fruit.

Jibe at 8:00 off of Wades Point, pass the Pungo River entrance marker making about 3.7-4.1 depending on the following swell.  I raise the centerboard for an easier downwind ride.  Making 5.0 kts on the south side of the Pamlico by 9:00.  I think I see an unexpected marker ahead, a pole silhouetted against the morning sun.  I look away, look back and the "pole" turns broadside to show three dark sails.  It is Curt on his Drascombe Longboat Cruiser ANNIE.

We round up in the rough water in the mouth of the Pamlico River, I shout "south," Curt motions with a wave of his arm, indicating a course out and around Pamlico Point then south along the shore.  Round the point at 9:30, by 10:00 off Sound Point making 5.7 kts with Curt sailing a little farther off shore.

Big Porpoise Point at 10:20, Middle Bay Point 10:40, 3.3 and then 5.7 in a gust.  Off Jones Bay at 11:10, 3.8 and a lunch of tuna and crackers as we cross some choppy water.  Drop the center board and tighten up the mainsheet as the wind swings from NW to W.  Wind slacks and then fills in suddenly, 6.0 kts.

Bay Point at 11:40, wind swinging back to the NW.  Just after noon off the Bay River, light winds and a slow drift south on the Sound.  Wind fills in out of the W, 3.0 kts.

A puff of good wind off the white sandy beaches near Swan Island.  Dolphin swimming close to shore, blue skies and white beaches.  Perfect.  

I turn E to a little deeper water at Light House Shoals, raising the cb to slide over the shallows while Curt takes ANNIE out to a little deeper water.

Gum Thicket at 4:00, making 4.2 on the Neuse River.  A strong S wind fills in, sailing against the wind, waves and tide.  Making long tacks as the day gets later and later.

Just after 6:00, after 12 hours on the water and still about two hours to make it in to Oriental, I drop the main and the jib and motor through the narrow entrance to Whittaker Creek, ANNIE not too far behind.  

Anchor down in the creek just after 7:00, 44.32 NM for the day.  Too tired to eat, too busy having found a slight leak at the centerboard pin, I break out the tools, tighten up the nut on the leaking pin.  Satisfied that the leak wasn't a problem, I set up the boom tent and slip in to the sleeping bag.

Photograph courtesy Allie and Jeff