Thursday, October 25, 2007

Southern Bash

Monday, October 22, 2007: Solomon’s Island to Reedville

Today was a beautiful day: blue skies, temperatures in the upper 70’s (upper 20’s in Celsius), and a nice breeze. A perfect day to be on the water, except when you wanted to go south! Then, you got a whole different experience…

The four of us got up at 5:30 am. We had an 8 hour day ahead of us and the later it would get, the harder the wind would blow and the higher the waves would be. After going back and forward for hours, yesterday, about leaving Solomon’s today or not, we made the decision to go for it and beat into the wind. This wind had been blowing from the south for days. Maybe the weathermen were off again and the wind would shift a bit to the east or west, so we could sail. Mmmmmmm. Not so much.

We left our anchorage before seven, and half an hour later, a red sun rose from the water, turning the sky into a painter’s palette of all kinds of bright colors. Once back in the bay, the wind came due from the direction we needed to go. This wasn’t good. We bashed into the waves for an hour. Very uncomfortable, but we didn’t want to turn back at this point. Mark and I decided to get off course, raise the sails, and tack south. The movement of the boat was a bit smoother that way, but… from the moment we left the main channel, we had to deal with tons of crab pots, and after five hours we did find ourselves back on track, but only a third of the way! Time for plan B: motor sailing. We furled the jib in and left the main sail out, while the engines ran full speed. The sail helped us maintain a pretty good speed, even though we had a lot of obstruction from wind and waves. Our foul weather gear kept us warm.

The seas were building in the afternoon. The wind reached speeds of 25 knots. We reefed the main, twice. And, for the next five hours we pounded into the 2-3 foot waves, going up and down. One second I saw the horizon, the next it was gone. This was a good day for motion sickness pills, and Mark was happy that I had thought about that before we left. Kali was feeling stressed and miserable, because the boat kept jerking up and down in these conditions. Still way better than a monohull, though, since we were not heeling at all. Darwin was hanging out in the cockpit, trying to sleep. He’s such a good, mellow boy (at times)! The only moments he got annoyed, was when Kali stepped and sat on him.

Irie took a beating. Constantly, we heard waves banging underneath the salon floor. The emergency exit windows are leaking again, with the new gaskets. Water spouts shot up through the drain holes in the cockpit. We had our own little fountains! The two hulls dipped under the water quite a few times, leaving the whole boat drenched in salt water. We hope it rains soon. The cat dodged more crab pots (what a pain these are), and on the way to our anchorage, we got company from four other sailboats, undergoing the same fate. Around 5pm, the chaos stopped. We found ourselves in a nice, quite, and calm anchorage up Mill Creek, near the smelly town of Reedville. No wind, no waves, no sound, no movement, no warm clothes, close to land, happy crew. We will stay here until the next cold front and storm have passed, before continuing towards Norfolk.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

The Adventure Has Begun

Believe it or not, but Mark, the dogs, and I did leave Edgewater last Wednesday. Our first destination would be St. Michaels. Not exactly on our way south, more like a huge detour, but we had heard nice things about the place. We motored out of the South River and tried to get to the other side of the Chesapeake Bay under sail. That only lasted one hour because of lack of wind. This bay is nothing like San Francisco Bay, where the wind is a steady 10-15 knots (in the afternoon). We started the engines again, and reached our first anchorage around 3pm. St. Michaels is a quaint little town with friendly people, historic buildings, a European style church bell that plays a little melody every 15 minutes, and the most expensive fuel prices along the Maryland coast. While we were on the boat, we got startled by four helicopters. Being in the Washington DC area, that could only mean one thing… A huge army chopper landed on the grounds behind a building nearby, followed by two identical white helicopters. The fourth one stayed in the air and circled around until the other ones left again. It was a pretty exciting event. We never found out whether it was Number 1 or Number 2 who paid the town a visit.

Friday morning, we left at dawn. A big storm was coming our way, and we wanted to beat it by getting to the next anchorage by early afternoon. We got about two hours of sailing in, before we needed to head straight into the wind to reach Knapps Narrows with its narrow channel and little draw bridge. To get there, we had to dodge hundreds of crab pots, a very challenging and tiring activity, especially under sail. Around noon, we arrived at our secluded anchorage in Dun Cove, to ride out the bad weather. The anchor dug deep into the thick mud, and we made sure we had enough anchor rode out. The “terrible” storm didn’t hit until 10:30 at night. For about an hour, the wind gusted to 20 knots and it rained for less than ten minutes. I’m glad we were well prepared… :-)

The next day, a computer voice on the VHF weather channel told us it would be very windy on the bay. A small craft advisory was in effect. Mark and I decided to risk it. Not every day you get a strong west wind and we felt silly not to take advantage of this favorable wind for our trip south. When we reached the bay, it was dead calm. There wasn’t a cloud in the sky. We tried to sail and reached a pumping speed of 1.5 knots. Aaaaah, weather men! It was a relaxing two hours, though, and Mark had the bright idea to throw a fishing line out. Totally unprepared and unskilled, he caught a fish… Everybody got excited there for a second, until the fish chose to get back in the water. Ooooops. I’m glad Mark has a new hobby, though. Maybe one of these days, we get a good meal out of it!

A little later, the wind picked up and the trip became a blast. With all the sails out, we reached speeds over 7 knots. It was a gorgeous day on the water, and we found a nice place to anchor near busy Solomon’s Island. Today, we will replace the gaskets of our emergency exits (they leak) and explore the area. It’s another sunny day in Chesapeake Bay.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Time to Go

“A boat is big hole in the water, where you put money in.” Every boater is familiar with this saying, and… will fully agree with it. B.O.A.T. = Break Out Another Thousand. True as well. I can go on about this topic and come up with a few truths and statements as well, especially if it has to do with all the work and all the stuff that can go wrong, when you obtain a boat. I wont, though, since this is supposed to be a happy blog.

After living and working on the boat for a good three and a half months, we think we are finally ready to leave. We fixed all the problems, installed new electronics and gear, and made Irie a happy and clean girl. I think she forgave Mark for hitting her. He learned his lesson and suffered through wearing a cast for five weeks.

Tomorrow we will leave the marina in Edgewater, which was our home for over two months. The dogs loved it here, because of all the grass and beaches. It was a great place for them to cool off during those stifling humid summer months. Next time we spend a summer in Annapolis, we’ll get an air conditioner, though! We also met a lot of interesting people, and fit right into the soap opera life taking place every day. Maybe I’ll write a book or a story about it, one day.

The car is sold, the boat is equipped and provisioned, the dogs are washed and brushed, and we are mentally prepared to leave land, with the necessary spare parts. And just like that, a new adventure begins. The leaves are changing color, and we had to exchange our shorts and T-shirts for longer equivalents. It’s time to leave. We only have one mission: going south. That can’t be too hard…

For more stories about these last three months, check out

Sunday, October 7, 2007

Soon to come

This website/blog is in its start-up phase. Check back soon, and you will see why it will become your favorite site. Or at least one of them. I promise... :-)