I had such a good cruise
to Annapolis this summer from Oriental, got there and back in about three weeks in June. While I did plenty of motoring at times, particularly in the Dismal Swamp and from Portsmouth to Annapolis, I got to sail a lot in conditions from 15-33 knots. Most of the trip was singlehanded, so I got much better at sailing, anchoring
, and docking
alone with this boat.
My 13 yo son sailed with me to Manteo, via Ocracoke
. Both trips were fully under sail, beam winds or aft, 15-20 knots. Rode
out a summer gale in Manteo, and did 13 yo type stuff. Beach was shut down for the weather
, but plenty to do anyway.
Met wife halfway upstate, then I returned to finish riding out some rough weather
for a night before heading north. Stocked up at the Manteo farmers market before weighing anchor
. Was surprised to find some young farmers I knew previously from the mountains 400 miles away, and stocked up on tiny new potatoes and fresh green beans and other good stuff to go along with my fresh meat and eggs from my farm. There was no end to the good meals
while I was out, including beef, pork, lamb, chicken and eggs all from the larder, and typically grilled. The eggs I eat hard boiled mostly and make a great meal when on a passage
When I weighed anchor
in Manteo, I intended to try to sail close hauled across the Albemarle sound. Winds were still a solid 20 knots out of the NE, and with my course in the 340 range, I was prepared to motor
if I couldn't make the point of sail, in order to take advantage of two unseasonably cool days for the dismal swamp and the southern Chesapeake. I was prepared to get wet, fortunately, and dressed warmly, including wool hat and hood
up most of the time, as the cockpit
took on a fair amount of spray. About half way across the Albemarle, motoring along because my boat just does not point that high, I snagged one of the gazillion crab pots. My stern rose and fell about 5 feet on steep
chop and I knew that getting under the boat was a dumb idea. I fired up the engine
, quick bump in reverse, another forward, and I was back on course. Despite my attentiveness, I snagged that black one, and cursed the fisherman that use faded black pots throughout the sound.
Up the Pasquotank, then through the Dismal swamp with long sleeves in mid-June. Nice. Sail up the bay included lots of motoring, and quick stops in Detaville, Solomons, then on to the mooring on Lower Spa Creek. This was a new experience for me, with J-boats winding through the mooring field of a evening, the tourist boats, the constant traffic up to Ego Alley...this is not the hang out in your boxers in the cockpit
kind of place.
I loved Annapolis. On approach, it took me a while to figure out that all the tankers were anchored below the bridge, not really part of the traffic scheme. After making the river, I saw what looked like an impenetrable fleet of dinghies under sail. As I neared them, the lane was evident, although it took some paying attention not to run the various campers over. Ate at Chick and Ruths, and sampled soft crabs here and there, biked around, visited the Naval Museum -- which was a highlight. Experienced one really good thunderstorm threat, and listened to the teenage daughter on the neighboring boat plead for her life to her dad as the sky got dark. She was sure she was going to sink there and I felt sorry for them but I turned up the radio
and enjoyed myself thoroughly.
After a few days I was bored and ready to move on, so I sailed over to St Michaels. I was amazed to see all the boats out under sail, something I've never really experienced on that scale. Everyfricken body uses their sails
to get places up there when there is wind
, plus there were tall ships out on the bay. Anchored out in the Miles River in calm conditions, water
taxied in to the crab place, and had a soft crab sandwich. Neighboring table was about to leave 4 whole crabs and they enthusiastically offered them to me. I holed up like a coon in the boat and got high on old bay and crustacean, it was epic. $36 a dozen they wanted for them; I was thrilled to get a good taste for free.
After a couple of nights in St Michaels, another forecast
sent me up the Wye East to ride out a blow. Hardly felt it back there. I got to visit the historic Wye Angus farm on the shores of the river. The herdsman was particularly curious about this cattleman arriving by dink from his sailboat in the river, but went out of his way to accommodate and show me all over the farm. These are some of the experiences I really look forward to on a cruise
was then forecast
to blow 25-30 knots out of the N. I could not resist this, and weighed anchor in the Wye about 1700, just on the heels of nasty thunderstorms that rocked parts
of the southern bay. I could see the high pressure building behind the widely scattered storms still affecting the bay south of the Potomac
, and the wind picked up significantly over the evening as I made my turn south out of East Bay. That was right about dark, and right when my chartplotter
started failing. Back to paper, plenty of lights charted, but still one more thing to make it more complex as I ran under jib
Winds increased through midnight, with gusts to 34 knots, but sustained in the mid twenties. I was surfing at unbelievable speeds, with the waves mostly square to my stern. The Crealock
handled very well under those conditions, but the autopilot
was overwhelmed, so I pretty much steered for the night. Since I was using paper, and have no depth sounder
, I was in a little deeper water than I would have liked, given the traffic. I could not believe how easily the ships would just appear, despite my vigilance. I talked to most of them, and issued securite calls on 13 every time I thought I saw one. A couple of them asked if I had AIS
. Yes, but chartplotter
was down. Made for an adventurous night. Back to Portsmouth after a 24 hour sail from East Bay, I made good time.
Thanks again for the tips and suggestions, just thought I'd write a little report for those interested.