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. 

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