Early morning hours I wake to a light shining on the boom tent, the low rumble of a diesel engine as a waterman looks at my yawl. After a minute or so he throws the boat into gear, throttles up enough to leave us rocking in his wake.
Sails up and getting ready to haul in the anchor a waterman motors by, says "Sorry about the roll this morning." I tell him no problem. Sail off anchor 5:50. Making 2.4 in the wind shadow of the trees on shore, then 4.3 passing the red channel marker leaving the creek. On the Choptank 6:15, 6.2 exposed to the north wind.
At 6:30 round up to tuck in both reefs, slip on foul weather bibs.
Double reefed main comes down at 6:45, sailing under mizzen and jib, 5.6 in rough water. Passing Cook Point at 7:20, leaving the Choptank River and slipping out on to Chesapeake Bay. Off Trippe Bay at 7:50, 4.7. Hills Point at 8:10, 5.8. Dodging black crab pot markers, hard to see in the morning light, just outside of the Little Choptank River.
I look south for James Island and it appears to be gone. Fifteen years ago tall stands of trees stood on the long narrow island. A couple of years ago just a few scrawny trees remained. Now I see none. Light overcast. At 8:50 I see a string of sand spits, all that is left of James Island.
Passing outside of Oyster Cove at 9:15, 6.4 in a pull. Round the point to see Barren Island in the distance, still great wind but calmer water. Wind directly on the stern, jibe out away from shore at 10:00. Continue downwind, jibing at 10:30, 10:45, 11:10 and 11:20. Approaching Barren Island at 11:45, several barges and tugs anchored on the western side that appear to be building up the island with rip rap. One tug pushing a barge heading towards the island, I call on channel 13 and negotiate safe passage behind them.
Noon raise the double reefed main. Off Hooper Island bridge at 12:30, steady sailing. At 1:45 off the Thorofare, the narrow shallow stretch of water that separates Middle Hooper Island from Lower Hooper Island.
The light green water reminds me of the shoals that reach out from Lower Hooper Island. A quick jibe to deeper water off of Nancy's Point.
At 2:20 crossing Hooper Island Strait above Bloodsworth Island, 4.8. More wind, round up at 2:40 to bring down the double reefed main. Sailing under mizzen and jib. Feels like wind against tide in the strait, very rough.
Curve south on to Tangier Sound. Raise double reefed main off of Deal Island at 4:15. Realize I have company, dolphins port and starboard. Making 6.0.
Off Little Deal Island and looking for an anchorage at 4:55. Bring down the double reef main in the afternoon gusts. 6:00 Pat Island of the port bow. Anchor down 6:30 in Shirt Pond Cove. Tired. Set up the boom tent, a quick dinner and then to the sleeping bag.
54.18 NM. (62.3 statute miles, a record for SPARTINA)