I just completed my second solo Delmarva circumnavigation, third time around total. This summer has presented some challenging weather off the mid-Atlantic. Concerned that the summer was slipping away without a trip, I finally gave up trying to find the best weather, and just took off when an opening appeared on my calendar. The greatest sailing challenge was pounding into the chop across the Delaware Bay entrance. The wind was 10-15 knots, gusting to 25 knots out of the Northwest. This produced 3-5 foot short-interval chop almost all day. By the time I reached the Cape May canal entrance, my auto pilot mount had broken and the leech of the mainsail tore.
While I had initially planned on sailing up and back in the Atlantic, I did not like the forecast for the return trip: southwest winds 10-15 knots on the nose. After four wonderful days in Cape May with my wife and son, I had to hustle back home on the inner route in only three long days.
Here are the five legs:
1. Urbanna, VA, to Kiptopeake Beach, VA, 46.5 n.m. 8/2/13 10:30 AM to 10 PM;
2. Kiptopeake Beach, VA, to Cape May N.J., 147.53 n.m., 8/3/13 6 AM to 8/4/13 5 P.M.;
3. Cape May N.J., to Still Pond Creek, MD, 66.2 n.m., 8/9/13 5:15 AM to 7:40 PM;
4. Still Pond Creek, MD, to Solomons Island, MD, 68.7 n.m., 8/10/13 7:30 AM to 11:25 PM; and,
5. Solomons Island, MD, to Urbanna, VA, 67.2 n.m., 8/11/13. 9:10 AM to 11:45 PM.
1. Used timing and navigation to catch more favorable than unfavorable tidal currents
a. Used shorter distance Beach Channel from Kiptopeake to exit Chesapeake Bay with favorable current at North Channel (at sacrifice of early morning, safer fuel run up to Cape Charles, VA, and back out).
b. Rode tidal current up Delaware Bay and River to C&D canal, then through canal and down bay.
c. Rode tidal current down Northern Chespeake Bay from Patapsco to Poplar Island, then Cove Point to Cedar Point on Patuxent.
d. Minimized/limited unfavorable tidal currents to Cape Charles, Atlantic immediately outside Chesapeake, flood tide entering Cape May canal, Pooles Island, and Chesapeake between Choptank River and Cove Point. I flew the asymmetrical spinnaker approaching hull speed several times to overcome adverse current near Pooles Island.
2. Comfort with shipboard routine, sail handling and navigation. Handling my boat seems second nature to me this time, even at night or in early morning.
3. Ability to repair and maintain boat:
a. Laid new fiberglass to repair autopilot mount broken outside Cape May entrance
b. Replaced hot water hose between pump and heat exchanger
c. Used sail tape to mend torn mainsail leech.
4. Better able to manage emotions while solo sailing:
a. More accustomed to cat nap sleep routine on overnight sail in the Atlantic
b. Accepted challenges of night sailing and resisted urge to anchor prior to sunset, when I most want to quit sailing/motoring and/or go home ("Why in the world am I doing this when I could be comfortably at home?").
Videos of voyage:
Beautiful sunrise sail off Ocean City, MD:
Pounding into Delaware Bay chop under full main and genoa:
Pounding into Delaware Bay chop under reefed main and working jib: