Join Date: Mar 2006
Thanked 5 Times in 5 Posts
Rep Power: 11
My last 3 sailing trips have been awesome, each in their own way. 3 weeks ago we had guests down on our boat and sailed over 25 miles just messing about. We sailed from Broad Creek, tacked around Stingray Point and into Fishing Bay where we had lunch, then gybed our way back around and headed up the Rappahannock where we sailed a straight line close hauled all the way up past the Norris bridge and into the Corrotoman River where we anchored for dinner intending to stay the night. The forecast was for isolated thunder storms, so after dinner I checked the weather again on my XM equipped GPS. WTF, It looked like a giant yellow and red monster was coming to attack us. This line of storms extended from southern PA southwest into NC. These were no isolated storms, so we decided to haul a$$ and motor back down the River to our slip, figuring there was less risk in entering Broad Creek at night than there was taking on a storm like that at anchor. I let my guest helm the boat down the River, until we turned to enter our creek and he was beaming the whole way. The creek entrance was stressful but uneventful using a light on the foredeck to spot the ATONS and we had the boat secured in her slip at around 11PM. The weather got there about 2 hours later. While I had hoped to have these folks experince a peaceful night on the hook, I think they really enjoyed the experience, at least the husband really did. lol
The next week I crewed a Tartan 40 for the 60th running of the "Down the Bay Race" from Annapolis to Hampton. This was my first race of that distance and the first race that required overnighting on the boat underway though I've done night races in the past and have navigated my boat at night. The race proved to be a beat all the way down the Bay (120 miles) with winds from 10-20 knots, most consistently around 15kts. At the start of the race we got a fly-by then a fly over by the Blue Angels who were reconning for the next days airshow as part of the Naval Academy Graduation. Then near evening when we were near Pax River Naval Air Station, we again saw the Blue Angels this time doing a full Airshow which I assume was a practice for the graduation. As day faded into night the wind built into the 20's and the waves built into the classic Chesapeake Bay chop averaging 4 feet or so with the occasional brute that would blast spray everywhere and really wash the foredeck. I turned in at midnight and came back on for a 4 am watch. (The following was snipped from my post re: the race elsewhere on this site) I will have the memory of my 4am stint at the helm, close hauled in a steady 18-20 knots on a moonless night for a long, long time. The shooting stars sparking across the constellations like fireflies, as the boat moved effortlessly from my slight corrections at the helm kept me in awe, inspite of my weariness. Occasionally, the navigation lights of a fellow racer would appear, sometimes just to recede in the darkness as we crossed tacks, other times hovering with us, until one boat or the other tacked away again to once again become a solitary speck under the canopy of the Milky Way. Just an amazing experience.
This past weekend my wife and I got out on the boat alone for the first time this season. Winds started out at a nice 11kt and we set sail for the Great Wicomico River. Of course the wind went light and fluky as soon was we rounded Windmill Point. The wife had the helm for the entire trip and really learned a lot about how this boat handles sailing a deep reach, then turning in towards the River to sail wing and wing DDW until a final turn put us on a reach to the anchorage at Sandy Point, which is among the nicest anchorages we've visted thus far. We enjoyed a nice dinner and watched the sunset before turning in. When I awoke all was calm and we set about preparing breakfast. About the time the coffee was ready I noticed the boat had started "horseing" back and forth across the anchor. What's up with that? I flip on the instruments and climb into the cockpit to see peak winds nearing 25kts at the mast and notice menacing looking clouds as far as the eye can see. Good job mister weather man. No mention of anything like this in the forecast. Crap, if its doing that in this well protected anchorage what's it doing out on the bay? We gulped down our coffee got the hook up, hauled up the main and started motor sailing back out to the Bay. We were getting quite a push from the main and it steadied the boat nicely. Before exiting the river we heard a boat ahead of us report a gust of 30kts!!! Oh dear, what to do? Things were fine where we were, so I decided to leave well enough alone until I could see conditions on the bay myself. I was anticipating a sporty beat back home at the very least. By the time we reached the bay entrance the same boat that reported the 30kt gust was reporting they were about three miles ahead of me and the wind had died to nothing. Nothing is exactly what we found when we entered the bay. Zero wind but 4-5' Chesapeake Chop, I guess whipped up by the earlier short duration event and there was clearly a rain storm approaching us. Shortly thereafter, we were in full foulies in a steady rain for the next 2 or so hours as we slowly hobby horsed under iron genny and main. Of course as Broad Creek came in sight the sun came out, the waves settled and the winds filled in to match the rosey forcast. As we were heading in, I dropped the main on deck then threw one sail tie on so I could see to enter the creek. As we motored in, we passed boat after boat headed out for a nice day sail in perfect conditions. They must have thought we were nuts in our foulies and sails in a bunch on such a perfect day. Still in all it was a good sail and my wife got to spend a lot of time on the helm in challenging sailing conditions which I think really helped her confidence in handling this boat.
s/v Palmetto Moon
1991 Catalina 36