Thursday, June 21, 2018

Ch-ch-ch-changes… Summer Sailing Trip, Part 2

We had tentatively planned to circumnavigate the Delmarva Peninsula. 

We knew these plans could change. Weather, mechanical trouble, and scheduling are just a few of the potential delays. This year, weather was the culprit. One day, there was so little wind, the entire Bay was glassy as far as we could see. 

So, instead of trudging onward and struggling to make the necessary miles to complete our circumnavigation, we changed our plans. Melanie looked through William Shellenberger’s Cruising the Chesapeake. She found several new places to explore. 

Our first night was in familiar territory. Bells Creek, off Indian Creek, is a great anchorage and a creek that we have been sailing for nearly a decade. Both boys learned to sail their optis on Bells Creek. Anchoring there brought back wonderful memories. When we weighed anchor at 6:15 AM, our plan was to reach Annapolis, but there was no wind. 

Some sailboats are motor-sailors. They happily motor or sail. Generally, they do not do either as well as a motorboat or sailboat. Ours is not a motor-sailor. The Beneteau First 29 is a sailboat. It is happiest in 10-30 knots of wind. Over 30 knots of wind is heavy weather, but the boat can easily handle it. Under 10, it light wind and slower going. 

No wind means relying on a little Volvo diesel motor. It can push the boat along at 5 knots. However, riding at 5 knots in 90˚ with 95% humidity and no appreciable shade is uncomfortable. We motored all day on Sunday, June 17, my birthday and Father’s Day. We tried to catch any whisper of breeze. A falling tide meant fighting a current, so we rarely made more than 4.5-5 knots. It was clearly time to change our plans.

Melanie pointed out the Little Choptank River on the chart. We considered going up Slaughters Creek to a small town called Taylors Island, MD. We opted, instead, to anchor in the mouth of the Little Choptank River. There was a pleasant evening breeze. Melanie made a salad for dinner. And, we all went to sleep early. 

On Monday, June 18, we went swimming. 

With predicted light wind days and microbursts in the afternoon, we decided to sail north to the Choptank River and explore Oxford, MD. We rented a slip at Bachelor Point. The marina had bikes so we rode around Oxford. We ate lunch at a restaurant called Capsize and swam in the marina pool all afternoon. We went out to Sunset Grill for dinner. Turtles swam all around our boat.

On Tuesday, June 19, we headed south toward the Patuxent River. We found a few light breezes along the way. 

We found a slip and ate lunch at Pier before a little thunderstorm blew through. 

Again, we borrowed bikes from the marina. After the storm, we explored Solomons Island, MD.

We left Solomons Island early and headed south. Riding a falling tide, we motored at 6.5+ knots for much of Wednesday, June 20. We saw another incredible sunrise. 

We passed Point No Point Lighthouse. 

And, we passed Smith Point Lighthouse.

The tiny breezes diminished and more thunderheads lined the horizon. 

As we reached the familiar waters around the Northern Neck, a pelican welcomed us back. 

We reached Stingray Point in Deltaville at 3:00 PM. After five days and four nights, our family summer sailing trip was over. We set the dock lines, unpacked the boat, put everything away, closed the seacocks, and washed the deck. Our boat is a magic carpet. It takes us new places, delivers us safely, and provides a home for the journey.  

Every trip is an adventure. We never know exactly what will happen when we cast off the dock lines. Sometimes things work perfectly and we follow our plans exactly. Other times, various factors require us to change our plans. In either case, every trip on the boat enriches each of our lives. I am thankful for every opportunity to set sail with my family. 

Saturday, June 16, 2018

Our 2018 Sailing Adventure Begins…

At 4:30 AM, my alarm sounded. It did not wake me to begin my family sailing trip. It went off so that I could begin my trip from Texas to Virginia. I attended the 2018 Cooperative Baptist Fellowship General Assembly in Dallas. It was very good. But, my return travel date coincided with the first day of my family vacation. 

My traveling companion and fellow minister Will Brown and I rode took a flight to Charlottesville, connecting through Atlanta. Each flight was uneventful—as is ideal. When we reached Charlottesville, my vacation began! 

Melanie, Dean, and Eddy picked me up from the Charlottesville airport in the early afternoon, and our fraternity of four was off! We drove to Deltaville. Our boat is a 1985 Beneteau First 29. It is 29.67’ long and 9.75’ wide. It has two cabins, a v-berth forward where one of my sons sleeps. The other is an aft-cabin with a large berth for Melanie and me. My other son sleeps in the main saloon where there are two settees, a small galley, and a navigation table. There is also a small head. We named the boat Life on Mars and it is configured as a masthead sloop. There is a mainsail and genoa. In light wind, we fly an asymmetrical spinnaker. 

Boats like to sail. They do not like to be left alone at the dock or in dry storage. Using them means they are ready to be used. Over the last four years, we have undertaken project after project to repair or improve the boat. Throughout it all, we sailed the boat. That informed each project or improvement. For example, when we considered where to put a cup holder, we knew from experience where we wanted one. 

After moving to Charlottesville in 2017, we left Life on Mars in dry storage while we acclimated to our new life. In early 2018, we began getting the boat ready for the next sailing season. We attacked any deferred maintenance (fuel and oil filters, bottom paint, new zinc, and more). We repaired a de-zincified stern tube. Melanie installed a new headliner. She also recovered the cushions in the cabin. We put in a new chartplotter and two sets of rope clutches and deck organizers. 

In May, the boat seemed ready! One Friday, I tested its readiness by showing up, shoving off, and sailing to Tangier Island. Everything worked! The boat was amazing. So, when June 16 arrived and my family picked me up from the airport, we slipped our dock lines within an hour of reaching the boat. 

The sun set today at 8:30 PM, so we planned a conservative first day’s run. We left Deltaville and have the intention of circumnavigating the Delmarva Peninsula. Even though it would be great to complete the circumnavigation, we are prepared to enjoy wherever the winds take us this week. We could encounter weather or mechanical delays. If so, we are fine. We are here for the adventure. 

We left Deltaville and sailed out the mouth of the Rappahannock River. We turned northward in 18 knots of SSE wind. Under mainsail alone, we made over 6 knots as we rounded Windmill Point. We knew sunset was approaching, so we turned slightly westward and headed to Indian Creek. Eight years ago, we kept the Tortoise Revenge, a boat we lived on in Puerto Rico, at Dick O’Neil’s house on Bells Creek, off Indian Creek. When we first moved to Kilmarnock, we sailed often from Dick’s house. When Dean started sailing an opti, we taught him to sail on Bells Creek. He would sail out to the red number “6” marker on Indian Creek. Later, we had a Flying Scot and sailed it regularly in these waters. 

Tonight, Life on Mars rides gently at her anchor in Bells Creek. She is protected from the SSE breeze. Melanie made a wonderful salad for dinner. We have our supplies stowed. And, we are ready for what the week holds. Life is an adventure. Each day is a gift. 

Friday, June 15, 2018

CBF General Assembly 2018

I am attending my first Cooperative Baptist Fellowship (CBF) General Assembly. It is 2018 and CBF has had me on their mailing list since 1992. Over the years, I have attended state Baptist gatherings and recently went to my first Alliance of Baptist gathering. But, I have never been to the big, annual meeting of the CBF before. 

There are booths representing fair trade coffee, Baptist Women in Ministry, the Association of Welcoming and Affirming Baptists, seminaries and divinity schools, church-related services, and more. There are sessions covering a wide variety of contemporary issues. Some sound useful; others do not. Some are well-planned and well-executed; others are not. Worship is a significant part of the event. And, the worship is fantastic. Before the official events started, the Association of Welcoming and Affirming Baptists held a worship Service. It was fantastic. 

Seeing old friends and making new ones plays a significant role in gatherings like this. These friendships are part of the richness of being in the family of Christ. Over the years, annual gatherings provide an opportunity to check-in on one another’s lives. Social media makes it easier to keep track of where friends live and what they are doing. But, being in one another’s physical presence deepens the relationships. 

When we gather as a diverse group of Baptists, we can learn about what Baptist-oriented Christians are doing in different places. What music are they using? Are there new hymns? If my church has one style of worship, a gathering like this allows me to experience other styles of worship. What liturgies do people use? Some are good and worth taking home. Others might have sounded good in someone’s mind but did not feel right in worship. Being together and worshiping allows for experimentation and sharing. 

One new experience for me was a story slam sponsored by Baptist News Global. The event highlighted empowering women. Six women told stories in the vein of The Moth Radio Hour—a storytelling show on NPR. The women’s stories were funny, heartbreaking, and powerful. They helped me better understand the experience of women in ministry. One woman told about the gut-wrenching time her boss told her to “smile more” after making an off-color, slightly misogynistic comment. She shared about what was going through her mind—lunch. She was trying to decide what to have for lunch. Instead of confronting the micro-aggression, she decided to have a hamburger for lunch. It was a strong choice to ignore the negative and focus on what was positive and good. 

What am I taking away from my first CBF General Assembly? This is a group of my friends, and they love Jesus. They do not have a more genuine affection for God than other Christian groups, but this is my group. We share ideas and that helps me see my own church with fresh eyes. We worship together. We encourage one another. We partner together to do God’s work. And, in a year, we will get together again.