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

Tuesday, June 30, 2020

day seven - cool breeze from Canada

I sleep in a little later than usual after a rough night.  There had been the one evening storm, which was a small one, and then a series of larger storms in the middle of the night.  I had anchored for wind out of the north but instead the wind came strongly from the south and it must have been wind against tide as SPARTINA bounced around on the chop for a long while.

The Canadian cool front has arrived, clear, cool and dry air in the morning with solid wind out of the North.  Sail off anchor at 7:00.  Making 4.6 down the Honga River with mizzen, jib and single-reefed main.

Windmill Point at 7:45, 4.2.  Bloodsworth Island on the horizon to the south just after 8:00, crossing Hooper Straits at 8:30 doing 5.5 with wind just aft of port beam.  Shake out the reef at 8:45 with wind dropping, 4.1.

Making 3.7 at 9:30, Bloodsworth Island just a thin dark line to the east.  Adams Island to the southeast.  Next is Holland Island and then South Marsh Island, where I anchored the first night out, at 11:00, 4.2.

Solomon's Lump Lighthouse straight ahead as we enter Kedges Straits at 11:25, 4.8.

Pass the old unbalanced-looking lighthouse in very rough water at 11:40, the light never quite looking right after they removed the light keeper's house.  Out of the straits and on Tangier Sound at 12:20, doing 3.5 to 4.5 in a rolling swell.  Jibe towards Tangier Island, the water tower on Tangier showing as a tiny blue dot on the horizon at 12:50.

The wind builds and we are overpowered.  Thinking of tucking in a reef or two but easier just to drop the main and sail under mizzen and jib, making 4 kts and better under the two small sails.  

Wind drops a little and the main goes back up at 2:45, doing 4.6 to 6.  East of Port Isobel, the little island just across the flats from Tangier, gps shows 7 knots riding a gust down a wave.  Sail into Cod Harbor with a skiff running alongside.  "I like your boat" says the waterman.  Anchor down Cod Harbor at 3:45.

Boiling water for a freeze dried dinner I see a skiff come down the channel from the village.  It's Ooker Eskridge, Tangier's mayor.  "Are you ok?" he calls out across the water (as if I had not heard that one before).   I tell him I am fine and introduce myself, reminding him I spent an afternoon with him at his crab shanty a couple years back.  I tell him about my trip, ask him about the island. He says Tangier is doing fine, crab prices are "sky high" and that is good enough for him.

Another skiff comes by later, an older waterman.  He circles SPARTINA, points at the hull, smiles and with a nod heads on his way.

Beef stew for dinner.
35.69 NM

Monday, June 29, 2020

day six - should have stayed

Calm clear morning at Knapps Narrows.  A light west breeze forecast to continue through the day.  Cast off 7:35, out of the entrance channel on the Bay side at 7:45 and ten minutes later all sails up.

I'm surprised by the wind, better than expected, and crab pot markers are showing an ebb tide which helps up head down the Bay.  Weather radio reports a Canadian high coming overnight bringing cool air and a N wind.  Off Black Walnut Point 8:45.

Easy sailing at 3.0 and I break out breakfast, an Rx bar, Tanka buffalo bar, cup of fruit and a ginger treat

At least a dozen deadrises working the clam beds at the mouth of the Choptank River.

By 9:30, wind dropping and getting hot.  Sails down, under power at 10:05.  And I start wondering why I had left Tilghman Island.  Coulda, shoulda stayed there for another night.  A day sipping iced tea in the shade at the Marker Five, sleep on board SPARTINA at the marina or maybe even pony up for a hotel (I am, after all, a man of means).  But the morning breeze had caught my fancy so now I'm baking in the heat and motoring south.

I cast at a school of menhaden hoping for a striper lurking below.  No luck.  Passing Hills Point at 10:40, crossing the mouth of the Little Choptank by 11:00.  Passing the eroded James Island as I watch a cormorant staying between SPARTINA and her six little chicks.  I don't think I have ever seen cormorant chicks before.

At noon shut off the outboard and raise sails, hoping for at least a hint of wind.  No luck.  Getting hotter.  Should have stayed at Tilghman.

Back under power at 12:20, the tide has turned costing us a half knot of speed.  Out on the Bay I can see a deadrise and a large cruising catamaran heading north on the bay.  There is a thin dark line on the water to the south and west.  Wind??  Sailing up and making 1.2 for a while, then nothing.  Back under power with the sails still up but just for shade.  

At the north end of Fishing Creek channel, what I always call the Bamboo channel because it was lined by bamboo sticks about a decade ago when I first used it, at 2:20.  The channel has become progressively shallower and narrower over the years.  Looking east I see the channel markers are gone, all replaced by "danger" signs.

A southwest breeze comes at 2:55 just off the south end of Barren Island, 1.3 against the wind and tide.  Motor sailing, hot, frustrated.  

Under the bridge at on the Honga River at 4:00, anchor down at 4:30 just south of Wroten Island.

I hop in the water to cool off, then clean the hull of SPARTINA.  Feeling much better I climb back on board and fix a self-heating O-Meal of hash browns for dinner, perfect after a long day.

I see a thunderstorm coming off the Bay and set up the boom tent.  The storm arrives, rain and a little thunder, moves on quickly, leaving a rainbow as an evening gift.

31.7 NM

just a simple day sail

A little hot, a little humid. A nice breeze.
It felt great.

Sunday, June 28, 2020

summer in the South

A little hazy on the river in Betsy Town this morning with a nice west wind.

Saturday, June 27, 2020

day five - a dog named Bimini

Awake at 5:20, sail off anchor at 5:55 and I am pleased with stowing the sleeping gear and boom tent, tying everything in place, raising sails and anchor in 35 minutes.  Light overcast with a S wind.  It looks to be high tide so I should have the current with me sailing down the Choptank River.

At 6:25 crossing the Choptank, 4.0 kts, toward LeCompte Bay.  Into the bay at 6:40.  The sun breaks through the clouds.  In search of future anchorages I head toward LeCompte Creek, the charts showing a depth of seven feet at the entrance and then four back up in the creek.  It feels like old Chesapeake Bay with old farms, houses and barns.  Redevelopment hasn't seem to reach the creek and it strikes me as a good anchorage protected from just about any winds.

A light breeze leaving the creek but the wind fills in near Castle Haven Point, 4.1 with more wind and sun.  We round the point with wind swinging to SW, 4.5 approaching the shallow flats near Chapel Creek, no anchorage there.  Tuning downwind to open towards the open Choptank wind is on the port quarter and making 5 to 5.5 rolling in the waves.

By 10:00 lighter wind making about 3.0 off Holland Point headed to Broad Creek.  10:30 a little more wind and we slip by a favorite anchorage at Steve's Creek, jibing at 11:00 off the mouth of Leadenham Creek.  

Passing eroded Hambleton Island at 11:25 I turn to port into San Domingo Creek with a following wind.  Easy sailing up the creek, relaxed and peaceful.  

Just after noon turn back down the creek, tacking into the wind and dodging a series of deadrises working trotlines.  The waterman on STALKER smiles and shouts "looking good!" as I sail by.  

Back on Broad Creek it is a series of 10 minute tacks out and back along the shore, the skies blue and the water a bright blue green.  Then one longer tack to round Nelson Point at 2:45.

The plan is to sail west to Change Point then turn downwind to find an anchorage off of Harris Creek, maybe Dun Cove or one of the other little creeks farther north.  But rounding the point with building wind I can see that sailing close-hauled would take me right to the entrance channel for Knapp Narrows.  And I start thinking about the Marker Five restaurants and a cold glass of iced tea.  So the Narrows it is.

Sails down at 2:45 and under power in the Narrows, the bridge tender says "comin' right now" in response to my request for a bridge lift.  The bridge opens and I'm surprised to see a sailboat on the other side coming my way.  But the tide is with me and I've got the right of way, passing through first.  Joe the dock master helps me to a three-point tie up at 3:00.  I straighten up the boat and set up the boom tent because of some small storms in the area.

The barmaid at Marker Five recognizes me from past visits.  I must have looked thirsty as she brings me a glass of iced tea and the pitcher too.  I fill out my log and enjoy the tea in the shade on the waterfront.  My timing is perfect, it is the restaurant's very first open day since the pandemic began.  When I'm done I get a bill for a couple bucks, leave the barmaid a $10 dollar bill, say thank you, I'll be back for dinner.

Afternoon is for charging batteries and catching up on emails.  Back at the Marker Five for dinner, shrimp avocado toasts with arugula as an appetizer and an excellent burger as the main course with a house salad, washed down with a couple of cold beers.  All the while a friendly dog hangs out nearby.  I hear the boatyard workers talking about the dog, how he seems so at home in the yard.  They tell me he is a rescue dog from one of the hurricanes that hit the Bahamas.  His name is Bimini.  

30.63 NM

Wednesday, June 24, 2020

from Curt

Just found this wonderful sketch by Curt from our spring sail in NC. Very nice, Curt. Thanks!

Monday, June 22, 2020

evening storm

me and the girls

Great weather at Sandbridge. Great food. Great to have the family together for a few days.

little what?

Just ordered a batch of oysters and calms from Cherrystone Aqua-Farms on the Eastern Shore.  Excellent quality shellfish and they are doing free overnight shipping (might be a minimum purchase on that, not sure, but if you are doing any kind of clambake I'm sure you'll meet the minimum).  Can't explain the name of the oysters but an eastern shore friend tells me they are the best.  Crawfish tomorrow night, clams and oysters the following. Life is good.

Friday, June 19, 2020

a performance and an intermission

That is John Z playing his cello during a recent Chesapeake Bay cruise on his Pearson 30 OLD BLUE.  I can tell you for a fact that he had some pretty good wind (I know because I was sailing mid-Bay at the same time).  His sailing area was between Annapolis in the north and Tangier Island in the south with side trips on the Potomac/St. Marys and the Little Choptank River.  He has put together a very nice log which you can find here.  John sails with the Chesapeake Shorthanded Sailing Society, which sounds like my kind of sailing.

As for the intermission, that will be mine.  The Pilgrim, daughters and I are sneaking off to self-quarantine in an oceanfront house that we certainly cannot afford (desperate measures for desperate times).  I've posted four days of the I'm OK 281 log.  The next four days will come after we return from our beach escape.

Stay safe! 

Tuesday, June 16, 2020

day four - a social distance date

A comfortable night in my private anchorage.  And then a spectacular morning.  Anchor up at 5:50 and under power on a windless morning, a crabber working a trotline from his skiff at the entrance to LaTrappe Creek.

On the Choptank River by 6:00, glassy calm but I raise them main just to see if I can catch a breeze.  I've got three things to do in Cambridge:  top off the fuel can, empty the head and have a social distance lunch with a former colleague and a friend.

I motor to Cambridge Municipal Marina and tie up at the floating dock.  After wandering around a bit I find the office and see it doesn't open until 9:00, which is fine.  I've got some cleanup to do.  But here comes Perry, apparently the dock master, an hour before the scheduled opening.  And he's asking what I needed.  

Gas and a tie-up for the day, I tell him.  $10 to use the dock and I walk with him to the fuel dock for a gallon of gas.  Perry is friendly and easy to work with, just a pleasure.  He walks back with me to the floating dock to have a look at SPARTINA, then gives me a rundown on the Cambridge restaurants within walking distance.

I walk a few blocks down High Street and make a left on Race Street to the Black Water Bakery,  taking my place in a short social distance line for some food to go.  A nice glass of iced tea and a biscuit with strawberry jam, excellent.  I enjoy the walk back to the marina in the shade of the magnolia trees in this old southern town.  Back at the dock I sit in the shade of the old lighthouse to enjoy my iced tea and catch up on emails.

Vicki, my former colleague and now an organic gardener on the Eastern Shore, shows up right on time at Snappers Waterfront Cafe and Tiki Bar.  I am tempted to go with the usual - crab cake sandwich, fries and side salad.  But I change my order to match Vicki's when she requests the Caesar Salad and mini-crab cakes.  A nice light meal that will serve me well during the forecast afternoon heat.

It's a very enjoyable meal, my second time out of my "bubble," and her first.  Afterwards she joins me for a walk back to SPARTINA as we talk about our old jobs and her new stint with the agricultural life.

Cast off the marina at 1:15 but only after telling Perry the town was so enjoyable that next time I'll spend a day and a night there.  Some wind arrives about 1:45, all sails up and making between 1.8 and 2.6.  On a starboard tack I set in the shade of the sails as the heat builds.  A shifting breeze at 2:45, then no wind at all.   Under power to LaTrappe Creek, anchor down at 4:00.  Checking the phone app I see storms on the way so I put up the tent before dinner, just in case.

11.71 NM
Good To-Go Pasta Marina with a can of tuna
added, a perfect light meal.