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Old 25-10-2007, 18:53   #1
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Boat: Morgan 461 S/Y Flying Pig
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October 24 - Oxford Dons and other educational pursuits

October 24 - Oxford Dons and other educational pursuits

When we left you, we'd just departed from St. Michaels, and had
anchored in the wilderness comfortably secluded from the wind and
waves. Once again Morpheus ruled the roost and we got a late

To be fair, that was partly my fault, as I'd somehow gotten it in
my mind that, having gotten this far, it was a very short run
into Oxford. No such luck, but I had lingered at the keyboard
until the ladies arose before we headed off.

We pinched off toward the far shore, as the wind appeared to be
in our favor once we got out far enough to head down to Oxford.
The wind was benign, at 10-15, and it was a great sail with
moderate heel. However, the further we got, the more off South
and more Southeast it became. That allowed us, though, to get
further south, slightly curving, before we had to make the turn
over to the other side.

As we were making our slight curve, there was a crabber in front
of us, seeming to move to keep in front of us the entire time, as
he picked up and pressure washed his traps. Of course, given that
we weren't a speedboat, but making only 5-6 knots, he was able
complete a lot of work before we got really close to him. And, in
the end, our paths diverged slightly so he passed comfortably to
port, cheerfully waving to us as we passed.

We were headed for a marker which also had a wreck in the
vicinity. The charts showed plenty of water there, where we were
to make our turns. Unfortunately for us, unmarked on the charts,
on the side we were intending to pass, there was a forest of
sticks vertically in the water, and, not expecting it, I missed
it until we were fairly close. It looked like a shallows with
dead trees. Instant engine on, into reverse, and crash jibe, as I
didn't want to be anywhere near that. I cursed the chartmakers
and boogied away from there under full throttle with sails backed
and otherwise looked very un-sailorlike for a couple of minutes.

In the end, it was just, effectively, an early tack, though we
did lose some time and westing in order to go on the other side
of the buoy, and we continued south. However, by this time the
wind had shifted to essentially directly on our nose, and, worse,
was honking, picking up to 15-20 and gusts to 25. After tacking
for a while, getting to about the middle of the bay, it had gone
directly south. No shore points looked at all inviting to anchor
for the night, so we took in the sails and motored full blast
into the building waves, doing our best to close the gap between
us and Oxford.

Green water came over the bow pretty regularly, but by this time
we were in the deepest water, and while the waves, relatively,
for the Chesapeake, were high, the boat took them in stride and
shouldered on through the wind, waves and spray. Forward progress
was slowed to just over 4 at best and usually more in the high 3
knot range, but eventually we did get to our turn into the next

Immediately, with the windage of the hull, even though we were
only a bit off of directly into the wind, we were sailing along
at over 5 knots under bare poles (and motor). Soon we were able
to turn into a course which allowed the sails to come out, and we
were making over 7 knots very quickly.

Dark approaching, we started looking for any possible anchorages.
Not much to offer, and certainly none before dark. Fortunately,
though, as we entered an area of shallow water in front of the
prevailing wind, the waves died down a bit, and we saw that we
might be able to also put a land mass in between us and the wind.

Unfortunately, it showed as very shallow, though a wide front of
land and shallows protected us from the fetch which had made for
the steep waves in the bay. Given the best of poor choices,
though, we opted for that, picking our way through the dark,
eagle-eyeing our chart and depthfinder, and peering into the
moonlight to see any obstructions. We saw an unmarked buoy on our
starboard and wondered, uneasily, what that related to. Having
seen nothing to suggest any difficulties, so far, however, we
continued to inch our way forward.

When we got to the point where it appeared to get shallow enough
to be of concern, we did what the tail-dragger airplane folks
would call clearance turns. That is, we did - as seen in "The
In-Laws" - serpentine tracks to see what we'd be swinging over
when we anchored. It all looked favorable, so we threw out the
hook to see what happened.

The anchor set securely immediately in what would prove to be
clean sand, and after backing down at about a 5-1 scope, I let
out enough to equal about 8-1 in anticipation of an increase over
the already whistling winds. The few houses' lights had, on our
survey, only three internet sites, of which one was open, but too
far away to allow connection. We had a late supper, and enjoyed
the wind blowing but relatively smooth water.

Dawn arrives and I am up, as usual, with the light. Much to my
horror, not 200 feet off our stern (the wind's shifted a bit
overnight), there's a long row of the same sort of sticks as
occasioned our crash jibe. I learn (education is key in our
cruising!) that this is an oyster bed - but I wasn't fond of the
fact that, despite my being on the bow, looking aggressively the
entire time of our arrival in this tiny cove, I'd not seen them.
Thus the recommendation against cruising the Chesapeake at night
as heard from any cruisers mentioning the subject! In any event,
though, we're very well hooked, and there's no danger of swinging
or dragging into it.

Fortunately, we've shifted enough to allow one of the marginal
internet sites to connect, albeit intermittently, and I catch up
on the email and send off some more vendor info requests. (We're
still fighting some electrical gremlins, there was some question
about the binocular order, and I wanted some added input on the
sails we're building.)

As we have only about 6 miles to go to Oxford, I let the ladies
sleep in, and, eventually, we get under way again. The winds are
still essentially South, and very stiff, so we make very swift
progress toward our turn up the Tred Avon (thus the Oxford, and,
much larger, Cambridge, in the area). Another marvelous sail
under our belts, we've done wing-and-wing, a beam reach, and a
pinch, all in about an hour. As we turn the corner we put away
the sails and call for local knowledge.

The local fuel and slips vendor kindly offers to have us pick her
brain, which we say we'll do once we get located. There are
several boats anchored just off the channel in the creek, and
after a false start due to being too close for comfort to another
sailboat, and an abortive attempt across the channel in very
loose mud and plastic bags (one came up with the anchor on the
first try), we set, hard, in a comfortable position just in front
of Schooner's, a local restaurant and marina.

Down comes the dinghy and off we go. Indeed, Kim, the very
helpful lady at Mears, gave us a quickie education on all the
good places to go to accomplish what we needed. She included that
we could bring our laundry, and shower there, and how to get the
local eatery to come pick us up and bring us back after dinner.
Since Lydia really wants to do some exploring before we find our
dinner, she suggests we go to Schooners, as they're currently
closed, dock our dinghy there as being closer than Mears, and
walk into town.

We do, and enjoy our rubbernecking, leashed-dog-patting and
chatting up the locals in the unseasonably balmy mid-October air
until we give the Latitude 38 folks a call. In fact, they do
provide a taxi service to cruisers, operated by the owner, Wendy,
who's just gotten back from a prize vacation to Nassau. As this
is going, as my good friend George puts it, into the 4th page, we'll
pick up this adventure in a future installment, but it suffices
to say that dinner is excellent and by far the most
value-for-money in our trip so far.

In our next installment, we'll talk about more we've learned :{))


Skip, at anchor in Oxford

Morgan 461 #2
SV Flying Pig KI4MPC
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