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Old 08-24-2013
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Re: 2013 Sailing Season

Just got back from our 9 day cruise around the Chesapeake! Almost 200 nm round trip, 10 gallons of diesel and a half a gallon of gas burned, a healthy amount of provisions consumed. The details:

Friday: Departed from the Patapsco mid afternoon. No wind but we had the tide going out with us. Motored down the bay to the Rhode River. Lots of boats were anchored south of Flat Island so we went north of it and dropped the hook in Sellman Creek off Camp Letts around 7 PM. Other than for the water skiers and jet skis, it's a beautiful serene area.

Saturday: Launched the dinghy in the morning and headed over to the Smithsonian Environmental Research Center. Hiked the trails and went to the nature center there. Weighed anchor late morning and headed south toward the Choptank. We were able to sail down the bay in 12+ knot winds on a close reach and then when we hit the mouth of the river go close hauled and beat our way down to Oxford. Pulled into Mears Marina around 6 PM. Hopped off the boat and headed to Pope's restaurant where we had a great dinner followed by ice cream at the Scottish Highland Creamery.

Sunday: Rain, chilly in the AM. Had free coffee and doughnuts on the covered deck at Mears. Strolled around Oxford in our foulies for a couple of hours. Motivated ourselves to leave around lunchtime as the rain was letting up. Wind went light so we motored over to San Domingo Creek and dropped the hook.

Monday: Took the dinghy to St. Michaels via the San Domingo dinghy dock. Went to CBMM and the wood sailing skiff I had helped build as part of the class afloat and apparently ready for auction. Strolled around the town a bit and headed back to the boat around lunchtime. Set off southward on an increasing wind. Wind built to 12-15 as we beat our way out of the Choptank and down the bay. Eventually the wind went light and we ended up motoring the last few hours to Solomons. Dropped the hook right at sunset just off of Zahniser's.

Tuesday: Took the dinghy to Zahniser's for much-needed showers in their very clean facilities. From there rode the dinghy over to the Calvert Marine Museum, which neither of us had seen before. This marked 3 out of 3 remaining screwpile lighthouses we had seen on this trip. Walked into Solomons and had lunch at the CD Cafe. Unexpectedly got an amazing meal and great service. Eventually headed back to the boat to find the house bank struggling. Ran the engine during dinner to put some juice back in and it seemed to do the trick. Dinghyed over to the Tiki Bar for a drink at sunset.

Wednesday: House bank was dead to the point that the fridge had to be turned off around 2 AM. In the morning, had to flip over to the reserve bank to start the engine (I have plans in the works to rectify the battery/power situation, it just didn't hit home how bad the situation was until this trip). No wind today so we motored back up the bay. Decided to make Knapps Narrows our stop over since Sharon had never been to Tilghman and they have a nice marina with a pool where we could plug in and fully recharge. Docked around 2, went to the island's self-serve fresh produce stand, then to the little grocery to do some reprovision. Finally hit the pool for some chilling out.

Thursday: Awoken early by watermen heading out starting before first light. It was kind of fun to watch the spectacle of just how many boats were headed out though. The marina has a hotel on premises and transients are entitled to the free continental breakfast there. We filled up on bagels and doughnuts and then took off back out toward the bay. The initial plan was to head up Eastern Bay and to the Wye, but light SE wind meant zero apparent wind for us on one of the hottest days of the trip. We decided to stay cool and turned NW back toward the West/Rhode mouth. Ended up dropping the hook off Galesville and jumping in the surprisingly nettle-free water to cool off. We took the dinghy to the town dock and walked around looking to see if there was anything to do. There wasn't but oddly we did find an open house so we walked in and checked it out. Great views of the West River if you've got $975k. We capped off the evening with a nice dinner at Pirate's Cove.

Friday: Forecast called for winds at 8 knots out of the north so I knew it was going to be a day of either beating or motoring. When we got out to the mouth of the West, winds were double that! We spent a while motoring straight into it getting our brains beat out until we finally decided to beat our way up the bay for a smoother ride. With the north winds expected to continue through Saturday, we decided anchoring in Swan Creek would set us up nicely to sail home on Saturday. We anchored pretty far up and enjoyed seeing a rainbow and a spectacular sunset.

Saturday: North winds continued as expected and we screamed across from Swan Creek back into the Patapsco seeing 6-7 knot speeds over ground and surfing 2-3 foot chop. A really fun ride home to close out the trip!

We had hoped to make it as far south as Crisfield or Tangier or Smith Islands but even from Solomons they turn out to be a pretty long haul without options for protected stops. We probably could have pushed harder and spent less time in port, but the trip would have been much less relaxing had we done so. Hopefully in the future we'll have more time to explore the southern bay, but this was still a great taste of the mid-central Chesapeake and overall an awesome trip.
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