Domo Arigato, Yanmar-san

Fog, not the white-out sea fog we had in Beaufort, this was lazy clouds slowly dragging themselves out of bed at the sun’s urging fog. Still, when we got up, we wondered how long it would persist. Then, boom, it was gone, and June sun was everywhere. However, the wind had changed direction 180 degrees (yep, right on our backstays) and was wavering between 4-6 knots.

So, we woke up Yanmar-san and off we went into a sea of crab pot floats. When we turned the corner at the entrance marker for Dividing Creek, the floats thinned to none and northward we droned.

In the mouth of the Potomac, the winds freshened and backed (shifted counter-clockwise on the compass). At ten knots, it was just right for us to set the spinnaker. We did, and off we took. Boat speeds in this wind were ~6 knots. By the time we approached the mouth of the Patuxent River, the wind had climbed to 15 knots. Our speed was such we decided to skip Solomons Island, Maryland and head for Dun Cove off Harris Creek on the Choptank River. We were now making seven plus but had to jibe west to improve our course. Off Cedar Point we jibed back into winds that were now topping 17 knots.

Unfortunately, we also jibed into two wave trains (the one coming up the Bay, and the “bent” one from off the western shore. Things got a bit rolly for a while. With the wind still pushing us north, the wave conditions improved north of Cove Point and steering became a tad easier. We were now getting oscillations up to 20 knots. [A gust punches you, an oscillation slowly rises and falls.]

Crossing the mouth of the Little Choptank, we entered two wave trains again, and the wind became gusty as it split around James Island and the eddies re-joined (right where we were). We pressed on for another six miles and then doused the spinnaker in the mouth of the Choptank (it helped that we have open channel two-way headsets we use now).

From there, we motored up to Dun Cove. We anchored around 1945. WOW. We haven’t done five plus hours under spinnaker since our days offshore racing in Florida, and that was with crews of four and five aboard. No one in those days would have even entertained the idea of just two people (regardless of age) being able to jibe a spinnaker on a boat this size. The new concepts in spinnaker handling, new sail designs, and the stability of this boat downwind left us less fatigued than we would have been had we motored the whole distance. For people suffering from sailing deprivation, this was quite a fix.

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