Re: Hampton VA to Herrington Harbour South in June
Follow-up to the original post.
We made the trip, departing Southall Landings, Hampton, VA on Sunday 7 Jun at around 9:15 am (delayed a weekend due to work getting in the way of finishing boat projects, and another day due to the weather forecast) and arrived Herrington Harbor South, North Beach, MD on Monday 8 Jun at around 6:40 am. Total time, 21 hours, approximate distance 116 NM, average speed above 5.5 kts.
My crew was made up of three buddies from work, two of whom own their own sailboats and one who is thinking of getting one (he's also been on big ships his entire adult life). This would later be shown to be a very good decision on my part.
We departed the pier, got underway, into beautiful weather with winds out of the east at between 5-15 kts, variable. Unfortunately, the sea state was a little nastier than I expected in the lower part of the bay - to get the sails up, we had to get through getting plunged up and down from rollers. As if my body was trying to break a record, I got seasick faster than I ever had before. We got ourselves on a nice beam reach heading north before I had to escape below to lie down for a few minutes. I got up on deck when I could.
We saw speeds of up to 7 kts under sail, which was great. The weather was gorgeous, sunny and warm. Every once in a while, the wind would drop out, and we'd start the iron jenny. I know some of you are purists, but we wanted to maintain speed for a pre-noon arrival the next day.
I seemed to have recovered nicely in the afternoon, which was great. I didn't eat anything because I was tired of giving it right back to the fishes, but my friends enjoyed a nice lunch. We got to see a large sea turtle (I didn't know that they came up into the bay!) and some pods of dolphins in the distance. At some point, I decided to refill the diesel tank as a precaution (I didn't want to do it in the middle of the night), and I discovered that it was a trigger for the seasickness.
Around the same time, we were approaching the mouth of the Potomac. The sun was still up, but on its way down. The wind was shifting south. We decided to gybe and head west, when the wind really picked up. We rode it on a nice reach, and then gybed north again. Normally, our boat hates to run (she tends to wallow and I have to rig a gybe preventer), but we wanted to see how she would do on a wing-and-wing. She proved she still hates to run. With the wind directly on our stern, and the sun dipping below the horizon, we decided to take down the sails and motor instead of reefing and gybing back and forth all night.
After getting the sails down, I was forced below for most of the night by the mal de mer after making sure all of the safety gear was satisfactory (jack lines, safety harnesses, and PFDs). The temperature dropped into the mid 60s, and just to get on long pants, sweater, and foul weather jacket for warmth was a real challenge. My friends managed the boat, despite some big following seas (they were reporting 4-6 feet). I wanted to join them up on deck, but my body wasn't having it. I just laid there and listened, dozing from time to time.
Around 3 am I was finally able to get up on deck, and I took the helm. During the night, we had been overtaken by a large cargo vessel. While I was on deck, we were overtaken by a large ferry vessel and we saw a few tugs and tows, but the traffic was very light. The stars were fantastic - that's my favorite part of a night sail. The moon came up at around midnight, and as we had planned, had 83% illumination and made it easy to see. The sea state was still pretty rolly when I got on deck, but it smoothed out over the course of the next two hours.
I had the helm until we made our final approach into Herrington Bay, when I was seized by another bout of seasickness when we started prepping for arrival. We got everything set up, and I decided not to take the helm based on my inability to stay on station. I turned it over to my friend. The approach was very well marked. The sunrise also helped illuminate everything. We were tied to the slip by 6:40 am.
My friends did a great job with the boat. I cannot overstate the helpfulness of an experienced crew. I've been afflicted with seasickness before out at sea, but usually I have several hours of warning and I'm usually not so debilitated. I stupidly thought that since this was the Chesapeake Bay, that I didn't need to take my medication prior to leaving (normally I don't need medication on a day sail, and I thought that this would be similar). This was the worst it has ever been. I have now tried everything except the scop patch, but I'm going to try to get ahold of some Stugeron 15 to try that first. Bonnie works a little for me, but the side effects include dry mouth and feeling of detachment that I don't like, and I still usually get sick.
Overall, despite the mal de mer, the trip was great. The sailing was top notch, we were among friends, we had beautiful warm weather, we told some hilarious stories, we saw the night time stars, and we got to be out on the boat for 21 hours. Thanks for all of the advice that we received.
1981 O H Rodgers 33
"The cure for anything is salt water - sweat, tears or the sea."
- Isak Dinesen