Tag Archives: Sailing

Getting a Lift from Kent (Island)

When strong southerlies blow (SE to SW), they tend to be bent into the wide river mouths lining the Chesapeake.  Variable distances inside the river mouths these bent breezes tend to fan out and become turbulent as the higher level unbent southerlies blow over them.

So, as one starts a beat down Eastern Bay one can expect arrhythmic lifts and headers near Tilghman Point with port tack generally favored.  The turbulent tumble of wind across the farms and trees lining the south shore is almost always misleading.  The farther one progresses down Eastern Bay on port tack, the more of a lift one gets.

This is because the south side of the sharply receding shoreline of Kent Island tends to increase the fanning of the breeze, causing it to back about 2-5 degrees per mile down EB.  If there is a foul current in EB (flood) the Kent Island side is even better as the currents are weaker here.  If the sea-breeze kicks in and adds an Easterly component to the Bay winds, the north side is even more favored.

This Tuesday was like a field trip demo of these phenomenon.  Rounding Tilghman we were lucky to fetch an unsteady 270°T @ 4.4kts, by the time we reached Kent Point, we were on rails, fetching 235°T @ 5.8kts.  Winds throughout ranged from 12-19kts across the deck. We tacked six times (once to avoid a shoal spot that may or may not be there).

What a joy it is to sail.

Rambling Reach

Fall flicked its finger tips across the Chesapeake as Earl exited. Brisk westerlies ushered in dry, sub-60 night-time temps.

Those breezes provided a fast jib only broad reach from Herring Bay to Eastern Bay where the wind and the tide conspired to provide leaping, crossing, breaking seas that failed to confound the autopilot but made sitting with an arm slung around something essential.

Inside Eastern Bay, under the lee of Kent Point, the wind dropped and backed, so we set the main and sailed a more northerly course until the Tilghman Point buoys roughly ranged with the entrance to Wye River. There, we jibed.

A bit later we dropped the hook in Lloyd Creek with 25 kts blowing across us. The breeze abated but only as the sun dropped behind the treeline.

What a lovely day with brilliant sky, brilliant water, brisk wind, and loving companionship.

The Early Bird Catches the Breeze

Winter Wind, Summer Heat

We motored out of Baby Owl Cove dodging more trot lines at 0720. Had we found it necessary to motor home, I wouldn’t have been surprised or all that happy. As it was we set sail in the mouth of Broad Creek and sailed somewhere between a beam reach and a beat all the way home, tacking but twice off Chesapeake Beach and Holland Point. The air had a look between stannic and cupric, but a steady-ish 9-12 knot breeze between 355 and 015 °, belied the look of impending meteorological violence. We crossed Long Bar with four inches to spare at the low spot and were quite pleased to tie off at 1300 — a swift passage considering. The pool beckoned and we heeded the call.

Springing La Trappe

Now we know what Dim Sum feel like…

Got away at 1000 —  motoring out into a zephyr-rilled Choptank. Passing Castle Haven, Janet suggested we delay returning home in favor of Baby Owl Cove.

Never one to interfere with inspiration, I shut off the diesel and we set sail for Broad Creek. Once again our newly recut jib pleased. The boat sailed itself most of the way to the creek. Unfortunately, the wind more or less evaporated as we tried to reach north. So we motored yet again.

Anchoring in this welcoming creek, it was clear we were in for a scorcher. As the day progressed, even showers on the transom failed to banish the fire. So we dove below into air conditioning. It only took three hours to get the interior temp below 80 deg F. Ugh.


Warming (is “Hotting” a word?)

Independence Day dawned warmish and with a light SW’ly. After the watermen cleared their trot lines from around us — one crossed our anchor chain, but that’s rare — we motored down to Yacht Club Point to set sail. We swung by Serena again; no joy again. Light traffic in the lower river meant it was possible for us to keep the sails full and drawing. In 6 kts of breeze we were able to beat at 3.8 kts down toward Bachelor Point. Nearing there, we got a helpful bend in the breeze off Benoni Point that lifted us clear of the shoal. From there, we were able fall off a bit and foot down to the entrance to the middle Choptank at Chlora Point where an ebb current slowed us quite a bit. We still fetched the entrance to La Trappe, just slowly.

Motoring in, we had three power boats decide to contest the space we were traveling through. None of them were looking at us as their battle of egos commenced, so we did a 360 to put some distance between us. There was clearly a booze factor involved with the biggest of the three. The man at the helm was having a hard time just standing up.

We anchored in our usual spot and were glad for the SW’ly breeze. Our awnings went up, and we spent the day reading in the constantly moving shade.  By sunset, it had cooled enough we were in the mood for fireworks and more satellite watching. Cambridge and Horn Point filled the first bill. Who knows who filled the second with the two satellites we saw cross the handle of the Big Dipper.

In Pursuit of Fireworks, West River and Flatty Cove

This cannot be July already.

After luxuriating in the peace, quiet and cool temps, we decided it was time to sail back down to West River for fuel and to pump the holding tank. The wind went light on us for a while, and thus we arrived too late in the day to do either without rushing so, we kicked back and relaxed some more. The next morning, I called the pump out boat and was told he’d be in our area between 1000-1100, so we waited. Later, when he motored past us at 1130 without stopping, I called him again and was told he’d forgotten.

Even so we made it to the fuel dock by Noon, where an indifferent dock minder lounged around waiting for a tip while Janet schlepped the trash all the way to the back of the marina. I gave her the tip. Once clear of the West River mouth, we set sail and were able to sail on a variable N’ly all the way to the mouth of the Tred Avon River. There, we encountered two racing fleets starting off the Yacht Club with the ferry to Bellevue in the mix. We zigged and then zagged in such way we didn’t discomfit anyone. We saw Serena in the Oxford Moorage but saw no dink and pressed on to anchor in Flatty Cove well out of the river channel and well positioned for fireworks viewing.

Anchoring took three tries. Twice the Bruce anchor skidded across what had to be an old oyster bar. Moving 100 yds south solved the problem. Fine weather continued to make open-hatch sleeping possible. Fireworks were excellent but one could tell the show was economically constrained and there were far fewer boats out to see it than in years past — we still rocked and rolled from wakes for an hour after as the boats that dribbled into the viewing area over the day all went home at once. After that…quiet and satellites! I saw my first Iridium “flare” where the solar panels caught the sunlight just before the satellite disappeared from view creating a flaring match phenomenon. The second one was in a strangely inclined orbit and persisted in view for quite some time.