Up before dawn to walk to the showers at the Cambridge Yacht Basin. A new set of clothes felt good. Then a walk to the Black Water Bakery for an iced tea and blueberry muffin to go. Motor the few hundred yards to the ramp located just behind the hospital. Leave SPARTINA at the dock to walk to Yacht Maintenance Company to retrieve the jeep and trailer. Haul out, take my time unloading the boat and breaking down the rig while I enjoy that blueberry muffin that is chock full of blueberries.
A few things about this trip:
- I use a Rite in the Rain notebook to write down speed, locations, observations and anything that strikes me as interesting during the day's sail. At night I write out the day's log, based on the notes, in a Moleskine notebook. The logs here are an edited version of those hand-written logs, using gps tracks, photographs and time-filtered memory to be as accurate as possible.
- This has been a busy tropical storm season. Several of the storms, too many, came in to the gulf coast. The remnants of those storms head north and then curve east, often passing over the mid-Atlantic. I was affected by remnants of two of those storms, Sally and Delta. Weather related to Sally kept me at Knapp's Narrows for a day and two days later had me waiting out the high winds in a cove on South Marsh Island. I came back to the ramp when I did because the remnants of Hurricane Delta were headed to the mid-Atlantic with a forecast of three days of heavy rain. I have heard from friends that forecast was accurate.
- I noted on most days what I had for breakfast and dinner, I rarely mentioned lunch. Lunch for me on a boat is not a one-time meal. It is more about grazing on various foods throughout late morning and early afternoon. Canned tuna from Italy, the Rio Mare and Callipo brands, is part of every lunch. So are crackers, fruit in a cup, dried fruit, mixed nuts and ginger treats.
- In re-writing the logs here it struck me that I most commonly started the sailing day between 6:50 and 7:05. That was not planned. Only in rare instances, when I need to make a bridge lift for example, do I use an alarm clock. Typically I wake to Chesapeake Bay's own alarm clocks - birds calling in the marsh as dawn approaches and the rumble of diesel engines on deadrise boat as watermen head out to their fishing grounds. That time frame, right around 7:00, is perfect for the fall sailing trips. I am very happy when the sails go up just before the sun comes up.
- I packed breakfasts and lunches for 16 days in plastic ziplock bags. Each evening I would transfer the next day's meal to an insulated lunch box. I had another two weeks of canned tuna, Rx bars, buffalo bars vacuum-packed and stowed down under the thwart next to the centerboard trunk. As friend Curt said, "canned tuna makes for good ballast." He was right. I had 30 freeze dried meals stowed in five or six two-gallon bags, also under the thwart but as the meals are light I had them stowed outboard of the cb trunk. Even with all that on board I still had unused storage available.
- New favorite piece of gear: the Hyke and Byke 30 degree down sleeping bag. It kept me very warm and comfortable. And it packs up very small in a waterproof stuff sac. Each morning when I woke up I would put the sleeping gear away by putting the sleeping bag in the stuff sac, deflating and rolling up the sleeping pad and pillow, and rolling up the bivy. Sometime during the last few days, when I knew the trip would end soon, I was doing the above when I thought to myself "I am going to miss this." There is something special about the routine, after a good night's sleep and with the the thought of the new day ahead. I do miss it.
- One missing piece of gear: waterproof insulated gloves. I could have used them a couple of times. I have since bought a pair.
- It was by far my best striper fishing trip on the Chester River. Other trips I have fished the same way, trolling, with the same lure and caught nothing or maybe one fish that is always a quarter inch shy of the legal limit. This trip I knew I could catch a striper every fifteen minutes or so and they were just about all good-sized fish. That trolling rod earned its spot on the boat.
- I saw several friends on the trip. Curt, on ANNIE, Fred and Marylou in Rock Hall, Kristen on MAGDALENA on Queenstown Creek and in St. Michaels, the two Kathy's, one the bartender and the other a waitress, at the Marker 5 on Knapp's Narrows, the farm family on Queenstown Creek and former colleague Vicki at both Knapp's Narrows and Cambridge. Only one of them, Vicki, would I have known if not for SPARTINA. So much for building a boat and getting away from everyone.
- Being unemployed and not having a set schedule changed the cruising experience for me. All other past cruises I had to be back at work on a certain date. The trips may have been four days long or fourteen days long, in the back of my mind I was always calculating and forecasting my trip with the goal of being back to the ramp and a certain time on a certain date. That weight has been lifted from my shoulders.
- I was very pleased when I arrived back in Cambridge after over three weeks of sailing to find that I was clean, well-rested, in good spirits and still had a couple sets of clean clothes in the duffel. SPARTINA's gear was in perfect shape, the boat as organized as they day we cast off. I could have easily re-supplied with food/water and kept on going. Maybe I will next time.
So SPARTINA hauled out, unpacked and ready for the drive home, I head over to Snapper's and get a table outside on the deck. Soon Vicki, a long-time friend and former colleague, now a co-owner of an organic no-till farm on the Eastern Shore, arrives for lunch. We both get the Caesar salad with mini-crabcakes. Excellent! After lunch we are saying our goodbyes and she gives me a gift of fresh cut flowers from her farm. How nice! What a perfect way to end a trip.