Well, since the last time I visited here, I've sailed and motored to Cape Charles, VA and back, a distance of 417 miles in 7 days. About half the trip was under sail and excellent speeds, the remainder of the voyage involved motor sailing. The Final 50 miles, however, was motoring only.
I had three friends with me, all of which have varying degrees of sailing experience ranging from instructor to small lake sailing. Ironically, the ones with the most experience were somewhat of a headache at times. They tended to be backseat drivers when it came to navigation, ignored my local knowledge when we encountered a major storm and demanded that I do things that I knew were wrong (which I did not do).
Day one, a Friday, began a lot later than I wanted, mainly because the crew brought so much gear and food that it took more than an hour to load it all on the boat. The oldest crew member brought a bushel of fruit, apples, oranges, pears, peaches, tangerines, bananas. He also brought 24 small bottles of wine, a couple large bottles of wine, and several 2X2 foot square plastic boxes about 8 inches thick that contained other foods.
Another was told to bring a single bag of clothing, which he did, a bag large enough to hold a body. It was immense and weighed about 80 pounds. He brought other bags as well. After stowing all the gear, we motored out of the marina, pointed the bow south and the predicted NW wind of 5 to 10 MPH was 10 to 15 from the SW - right on our nose. Consequently, we motored the 6 miles down the Havre de Grace channel to Sandy Point, put up the sails and spent the next 10 hours tacking, arriving at our anchorage behind Dobson Island about 8:30 p.m.. Dinner was late, but fortunately, the weather was cool and sleep came easily.
The following day kicked off with breakfast at 8 a.m., after which I fired up the engine and headed for Fairwinds Marina near the mouth of the Magothy River, a location where I frequently gassed up in the past. First thing I noticed was there were no gas pumps at the end of the dock, which is where they were last fall. The new owners decided to move the gas pumps next to the launch ramp so they would be close to the store and more convenient for the person working the store. Problem is, the location is very, very tight, nearly impossible to get into with 33-foot boat and the depths are just 4 feet, which puts me scraping the bottom. I felt a bit like Houdini getting the boat in position to gas up, and everyone at the marina couldn't believe I managed to squeeze into that tiny space. Dumb luck prevailed.
After gassing up, I eased out of the Magothy, the wind was still southwest, blowing about 10 at most, and the boating traffic was such near the bay bridge that conflicting wakes made sailing damned near impossible. Consequently, we motor-sailed for the next 10 miles, then shut off the engine and sailed all the way to the mouth of the Patuxent River, went into Solomons and anchored up for the night, arriving just before dark. Another long day. The crew cooked and ate supper on the way, which made for an easier evening. Soon after we arrived, a monster thunderstorm hit the area, but we were anchored up in an area sheltered from winds from all directions and didn't have any problems.
Sunday morning came early, breakfast at 7 a.m., then it was off to the fuel dock where a beautiful, young lady helped us tie up and handed my the diesel hose. When I told her "No, I want gasoline." She said, "What do you mean, this is a sailboat, you need diesel." When I explained that I have a gasoline engine, she said this was the first sailboat she ever saw that had a gasoline engine. Nice gal, though. We also picked up three bags of ice for the three cooler chests the crew brought along to hold all the additional food. Though we planned to be gone for two weeks, there was enough food for two months aboard the boat, and then they wanted to eat out in some restaurants.
For the first time, the wind was in our favor and we sailed on 10 to 15 MPH NW winds south toward the mouth of the Rappahannock River. We intended to meet up with an old friend that day at Locklie's Marina, but just after passing Point Lookout, my phone rang and he said that he could not meet with us because of some medical issues with his wife. Consequently, we opted to anchor up in Little Bay, which is on the north side of the Rappahannock peninsula, a tiny bay that is fairly well sheltered from all directions but northeast. By that time, the wind had died completely, so the sails were dropped and we motored toward our destination. As we entered the Little Bay we encountered a few pound nets, and unfortunately, I opted to pass on the wrong side of one, which by the chart showed 13 feet of water, but in reality was less than 2 feet deep, all hard sand. The boat stopped dead in it's tracks and was hard aground. I did my best to extract us, but to no avail. The crew climbed onto the cabin on the port side, grabbed the shrouds and tried to make the boat lean, but that wasn't gonna happen with the Morgan. It won't heel more than 5 degrees in a 20 knot wind beam reach. Fortunately, the hard, ebbing tide washed the sand out from under the keel and the boat began to drift towards deeper water. In a few minutes, I fired up the engine, motored close to the pound net stakes, which I knew would be in deeper water, and made my way to the anchorage a few hundred yards away. It was a quiet night, but the winds came up from the southwest at about 20 to 25 around midnight and whistled through the rigging, keeping me semi-awake through much of the night.
After a hearty breakfast of sausage, scrambled eggs tex-mex style, English muffin, orange juice and coffee, we were on our way. As soon as I passed Stingray Point, the winds became a bit more westerly and we sailed all the way to Cape Charles, where I then fired up the engine, dropped the sails and motored into the Cape Charles City Marina, a beautiful, relatively new facility that charges $2 a foot for transient dockage including water and electricity. There's a very nice restaurant on the premises, where the crew quickly headed for supper. I opted to take a hot shower, and eat aboard the boat in air conditioned comfort. That AC felt really good that night and drowned out the roar of the loudly snoring crew. (Yes, all three of them snored very loudly, which made sleeping damned near impossible.)
Next morning, NOAA called for SW winds of 5 to 7 knots, which was a joke. The actual winds were SW at 15 to 20 and gusting to 25, therefore, I opted not to head for the bridge tunnel and Kiptopeke or Norfolk. Additionally, two of the crew members informed me that they had things they had to do on Saturday, which blew the cruise plan all to Hell. One had a house to look at, while the other had a dinner engagement. WTF! So, the best laid plans..., were quickly changed and I raised the sails and pointed the bow north for Tangier Island.
About 15 miles out from Tangier the western sky began to look bad. Weather radar on one of the crew's cell phones revealed a nasty cell headed in our general direction and the wind began picking up, so I dropped the main, fired up the engine and motor sailed on the jib toward out destination at 7.5 to 8 mph. The wind was such that I figured it would be best to enter Tangier via the east channel. We were two miles south of the channel when the storm passed just above us, slamming up with 40 to 50 mph winds from the back side of the storm, which did their best to try to drive me into the shallows. When the #1 day marker came into view, we were pummeled with rain and high winds, making visibility quite limited, and that's when one of the crew became frightened and insisted that I head for another green marker out in Tangier Sound. I told him that was not the entrance marker, but instead, a main Tangier Sound channel marker. Unfortunately, he and another crew member were looking at the chart, which is a large scale in this area. I had been through the Tangier Island's East Channel a dozen times in a powerboat and knew where I was going. I got mad, told them that I was right and to be quiet and let me do my job, which was to keep everyone safe. 20 minutes later, we motored down the narrow channel, made a right turn and pulled into a slip at Park's Marina.
As I docked the boat, the tide was roaring out, which anyone that has been here knows really roars. Consequently, I had to dock bow first, which I rarely do. The temperature seemed to be near 100 degrees and the humidity was horrendous. The rain had stopped, but the flies and mosquitoes soon took over. Thank goodness for the AC. The crew once again went ashore for supper and ice cream, while the captain opted to stay aboard, pop a TV dinner in the microwave and sip a Margaretta.
Next morning, the wind was a bit whacky, but that's nothing new for this time of year. There were a few storms on the radar, but probably wouldn't arrive until late that night, so we headed north, hoping to reach Solomons before they arrived. Most of the day was spent motor sailing because of the winds, and we entered the creek at 8 p.m. at Solomons. The crew decided it would be a good night for fillet mignon, which they grilled on the boat's kettle grill, and served them with sauteed onions, sweet potatoes, and steamed broccoli, which they wolfed down. I opted for Ravioli, which I ate an hour before they sat down to eat. I cannot eat that late at night without getting acid re-flux.
After another big breakfast at 8 a.m., we arrived at the fuel dock about 9 and gassed up. The winds were blowing about 10 mph SW when I exited the Patuxent River's mouth and headed north, hoping to make Fairlee Creek by sundown. Knowing my son would be there, I called him and discovered that there had been no dredging over the winter and the channel had silted in even more since my last visit, which meant I had to continue up to Worten Creek instead. As we motor sailed north, large thunderstorms passed both north and south of us, and another began to form just west of Baltimore just after I passed beneath the Bay Bridge at Sandy Point - not a good sign. Fortunately, we had a favorable tide and motor sailed at about 7 mph most of the way and as that storm entered Baltimore, it fell apart, leaving just light showers and gentle winds.
After a bit of deliberation, I decided to continue to Perryville just after passing the mouth of Fairlee Creek, which turned out to be the right decision. A few more, small thunderstorms materialized, but they passed either north or south of us during the night and I arrived at the dock at exactly 3 a.m., fired up the AC and dove into vee berth. At 5 a.m. I heard music playing on one of the crew's cell phones, which was the time he had set his alarm for. I closed my eyes and went back to sleep. When I awoke at 8:30 a.m., two of the crew had already packed their gear and left. The remaining crew member rode to the marina with me in my car, so he had to stick around and help me unload our gear.
The following day, Saturday, I returned to the boat to clean up the mess, a chore that took the better part of 5 hours and I still have to clean the cockpit cushions, which I will do later today. When I got home Friday afternoon, I took a hot shower, hit the sheets and didn't wake up until 10 a.m. Saturday morning. Next week, after the 4th or July holidays settle down, I'm headed south again, this time maybe I can convince my wife to go, but if not, I'll just go alone - I kind of like it better that way.
I would have posted a You Tube link and photo bucket link of the trip, but because of the recent screw ups with the site, I had to re-register and cannot post links until I have 10 new posts. Sorry guys and gals.