Category Archives: 2009

Downtime

Well, the season is all but over.

Having this latest ICW trip under our belt has given us a renewed appreciation for the Chesapeake. Although interestingly for us, the extra precautions we learned to take when anchoring on our trip led to several instances of difficulty getting the anchor set when back on the Bay. When we went back to our old approach, the problems disappeared.

Once again, in August, we went to California for our anniversary, and it was lovely as usual. The drive up the coast from LA and back were not plusses though. [United stopped providing reasonable connections from Dulles to SFO.] Shortly after our return, Janet and her two sisters and niece were joined by a gaggle of other ladies for a week-long beach outing in Virginia Beach. It included a rip-snorting celebration of Janet’s 60th birthday.

The big event for the (late) summer was the Seven Seas Cruising Association Annapolis Gam in late September. We were responsible for Registration, and I was the print program editor. We ended up being de facto concierges for the event and missed most of it. I was glad to have had all those years of event planning and execution when I was a Junior Officer. Once you have run base support for a Thunderbirds Air Show…

This blog is principally about cruising on Brilliant Star, and that’s not going to be happening for a while. So, we won’t be posting here for some time. For those who have expressed an interest, we will send out an alert when posting starts again.

Live Every Minute You Have

So, Sunday and time to go home for real. After a transaction with the West/Rhode Riverkeeper Honey Dipper (Pump Out Boat) we set sail about 500 meters from where we were anchored and reached in a nice breeze to the mouth of the West River where the wind went to ZERO. Three times it teased us on the way south. Three times we set and furled and cleaned up after. Three times we watched boats east and west of us sailing in breezes that were opposing and meeting right on top of us and going UP we assume. After the third come and go of breeze, we pointed the bow toward home and fired up Yanmar-san.

Fifteen minutes later we had 18-15-12 knots from the WSW. We could have sailed, but at this point we said, “nah.” Over the next four miles we encountered more boats out with sails up than we have seen in this area in many years. Very pretty — a few clueless made admiring the view more about paying attention for sudden and inexplicable course changes though.

Arriving at our slip we found marina workmen had left their floating platform in our slip, so we had to deal with that before we could get the boat secured. Fortunately, we were back to ZERO wind. I had a bit of trouble maneuvering the platform to where it wouldn’t create a potential for damage. In the end, I had to lay down on the dock and force it because it kept bumping into something submerged.

The German Embassy folks (few slips away) returned while I was dealing with the work-float, and Janet noticed quite a bit of high volume, high pitched sturm und drang at their arrival even though it was dead calm. It turned out, as we left for early dinner 20 minutes after that, they had spotted a human corpse floating in the water behind their boat — right where whatever I shoved out of the way with the float would have ended up. To their credit they had thrown a blanket over it so the constant traffic of to-from pool kids wouldn’t have to see. It had been a 62 year old live-aboard who’d been in our marina 18 years. The investigation lasted well into the evening, as it should have. The police wouldn’t let anyone on the dock, as was right. So we ended up at the pool conversing with folks we hadn’t seen in quite a while. Current speculation is a heart-attack.

We left today. Even with the ephemeral nature of the event, one’s eyes were drawn to where the blanket had been floating.

Wind!

Today dawned fair and warmer than previous days and trash bags were accumulating in the shower stall, so we decided it was time to go home. We knew from a minor swell starting about midnight there was a wind blowing up from the south. And, indeed, there was. We motored our way thru the wandering complexities of San Domingo and back down to the Choptank. There we found a fairly steady 15 knot wind blowing up from the SSE and a strong outbound tide setting west.

We set sail with a reef in the main and began beating our way out to the Bay. We almost made it on one tack, but current effects shoved us too far to the west,
and we had to work our way back across the ebb to clear the shoals off Blackwalnut Point. Now, the wind was a steady 18 gusting 22. Wind against strong tide sent us through three miles of white-capping, closely spaced green furrows that sent much water aboard. By the time we could fall off for the channel, we were more than ready to. Think of jumping a horse over closely spaced fences for a half hour while having trashcans of water hurled at you (sans cans).

Once in the Blackwalnut channel we set a course for home. We were running well over seven knots and topping eight from time to time. Before long Janet asked how much of a course change it would be to skip going home and… So we changed course for the West River. We made it to the River’s mouth in very good time with winds that had increased to a steady 25 and a helping current. We jibed to enter the river under graying skies with the Doppler radar hinting at rain.

By the time Janet had raced us into the river’s upper reaches, it was clear, warming and there was absolutely no hint of what it was like on the Bay. The front passed without rain, and by bed time we had light North-westerlies.

Wither thou goest, check the cruising guide twice

We made our way back up to San Domingo Creek (just a bit east and north of Baby Owl) with the loose intention of anchoring behind St Michaels and dinking in for a few provisions and lunch. When I anchored us in the wrong creeklet (just north of Hopkins Point), we decided we didn’t really need to go ashore.

Janet was merciful.

Where we did anchor would make an excellent hurricane hole, but it was about 400 meters from former VP Dick Cheney’s house, so we aren’t sure what it’s like when he’s in residence.

If this is Tuesday it must be Belguim?

Benevolent Weather

For some reason it captured our fancy to sail down, yes we could sail, to La Trappe Creek which is in the middle Choptank. It’s a lovely quiet place that we’ve just started visiting after all these years. The wind left us just as we arrived, but that’s OK. I think it was the wind that made this decision for us anyway. We spent the day in discussions of the next three days, weeks, months and years. Strange, we don’t seem to have reduced the calendar conflicts as much as we thought we would have by now.

Wind? The Sequel

Today, a defective weather forecast tempted us into leaving to use the predicted Northerlies for heading toward Baby Owl Cove off Leadenham Creek off Broad Creek off the Choptank. The Northerlies petered out about two hours later on our way down Eastern Bay. Even the spinnaker failed us once we reached Poplar Island.

So it became “Onward Diesel Sailors” once again. Both here and in Shaw Bay there was much wildlife. On our second night here, a mass of dead flies (2-4 per square foot) flowed past the boat for about an hour. The mass extended as far as the eye could see with binocs. We presume a farmer was spraying for something and got the flies. Lots of fingerling fish tried to feast on them, but the surface tension of the flies’ wings on the water made it impossible for the tiny fish. However, they broke up their schools to go after the flies and so some the bigger fish and terns had a little fish dinner.