On Board Boats

Chapter 3

The Adventure Begins

We've made it back from our first real trip to our boat. Christopher and I went down for two days last Fall, and even sailed for a few hours with Jonathan L. A. Jones. But this trip is more in the nature of assuming the responsibility for our boat. This was a 2.5 day excursion during midweek to take advantage of the sailing lessons included in the purchase of the boat. In fact, the sailing lessons and an interest free loan from the dealer were part of the inducement to buy.

Our instructor was Jay Sorkin, a native of Cheltenham as it turned out. Wait until you get a load of this life story. At the ripe old age of 25, after three years as a mechanical engineer, Jay decided that he had had it with the rat race. His escape was made to St. Thomas in the U.S. Virgin Islands. There he began as crewmember, instructor, skipper for charter boats. Eventually he owned several of his own boats which he managed in the charter trade. Over the course of fifteen years he worked the Carribean trade, the Mediterranean, and the seasonal trans- Atlantic migration. By the end of 15 years the competition was getting fierce and he realized that he was making only $50 per day per boat when the boats were on the water. Also, he was seeing little of his wife; a United Airlines stewardess. They sold the business and returned to the U.S. and now maintain residences in Florida and Maryland. He earns a living from sailing lessons and trading in the used Mercedes market. As a consequence of his years of contact with people in the charter trade and Mercedes market he claims to have superficial acquaintance with every job you can think of and not enough knowledge to do any of them. He did assert that someday he would have to grow up.

As an instructor Jay was very thorough, extremely patient and non-judgmental. These are all very important qualities for a teacher.

In preparation for our trip we planned out all our menus beforehand. They included lots of food that would be eaten hot at both lunch and dinner. This was quite deliberate. Spring has been very slow in coming to this region of the country. In looking back over my bike training logs I see that we usually turn off our furnace by April 15, at the latest. It is now eight days beyond that date and we are still burning oil. Meals included Beef Bourgignon, Quiche, lentil soup, and spaghetti. At the end of the first day of sailing we augmented the menu with hot oatmeal for the next day's breakfast; it was that cold.

We arrived at Fairlee Creek by 9AM on April 19, so had time to stow all our gear on the boat before Jay showed up. That first morning we spent our time learning to drive the boat. That is, control her with confidence and safety while under power. We had never before driven a boat that size. Our classroom was Fairlee Creek. Although protected, there was still a very cool breeze on the creek; cold enough that we wore our long underwear, watch caps and winter coats.

The first exercise was to learn how long it would take the COLONEL BUCK to lose momentum in both forward and reverse. It takes a long time for a 31', 11000lbs boat to come to a stop from 4 knots. Then we practiced pulling into the fuel dock. This is like pulling into a parallel parking space head first without the benefit of brakes and while being buffeted by the wind. We managed to park next to the dock instead of on it. With this as a confidence builder our next job was to learn how to get in and out of our slip.

Slips are assigned on the basis of draft and first come- first served. As new kids on the block and shallow draft we have been assigned one of the most difficult slips in the whole marina. We are at the shore end of the fairway. In fact, we are only two slips from the bulkhead holding back the shore. And we are in a very narrow slip. To complicate matters the dinghy dock is at our end of the fairway. And to cap it all off it is customary to be in the slip stern first. A sailboat does not handle well under power when going forward. It is positively uncooperative in reverse.

When trying to get into the slip the wind can be on the bow, on the stern, off shore or on shore. Of the four possibilities only the on shore and on the bow breezes are likely in our location. This means that while you are trying to back into your slip the onshore wind is blowing you onto the dinghy dock or the bow wind is turning you at an angle to the slip. And of course you cannot put on power to overcome the force of the wind because you have to come to a halt at the end of the 35 foot slip!

The best analogy would be driving your car on a frozen lake without brakes in a high wind with lots of other expensive cars trying to get in your way.

Anyway, that first morning the breeze was uncharacteristically off shore. We did manage to get in and out of the slip twice each without taking off the rub rail, without doing grievous harm to the pulpits, and without dismantling the dock. Our level of confidence was soaring.

In the afternoon we had a session in the seminar room at LaVida Yachts, the broker. This included various safety procedures, rules of the road, knots, points of sail, theory of locomotion for a sailboat and sundry other topics. This was capped off by an instructional sailing video prepared by Pearson, the manufacturer. The weather in the video, it goes without saying, was of the short sleeves-light breeze variety. It all looked so easy. Our homework for the night was to read a variety of instructional mimeos given us by Jay.

Anticipating cold weather we had all brought our sleeping bags. We also used four blankets. Or Maria and Christopher used two each; my sleeping bag is of the Army surplus alpine variety so has lots of feathers in it, many of which were floating around the cabin by the next morning. We also had a small electric heater, which we turned off when we turned in. The low temperatures reported that night on the eastern shore were all in the 30s. The wind whistled and howled in the rigging all night. BRRR! But we were snug as bugs in our rugs.

The weather forecast for our second day was for sunshine and a daytime high approaching sixty. It might have approached that temperature in a sunny, protected place on shore. It did not get that high out on the bay. But it was sunny.

Like the first day, our second day of sailing was split into two parts. In the morning we sailed under reefed main alone. The purpose of the lesson was to show us that the boat can sail itself, without anyone at the helm. If the main is trimmed correctly, for the bearing of the boat relative to the wind, then you can let go of the helm and she will stay on that course. Of course there is some amount of heading up and falling off. It is possible to do the same exercise on all points of sail between a beam reach and a beat. The other part of the day's lesson was getting in and out of Fairlee Creek.

Coming off the bay one sails southeast toward Fairlee Creek. Upon picking up the Red 2 nun off your starboard bow, you must sight along the two "8" range markers on shore. Travel along this line, exactly, until you reach the green can, then make a sharp turn to port in order to line up the "7a" range markers. Continue on this course to the next green can then turn hard to starboard through the cut into the creek. At no point in this journey can you count on the navigable channel being more than 30 feet wide. On a summer day with lots of coming and going this course can be difficult.

The afternoon of the second day we sailed under both main and jib. Since the day was still quite windy we continued to sail under reefed sails. The theoretical maximum speed of our sailboat, based on length of the water line, is 6.5 knots. Under reefed sails we hit more than 5 knots that afternoon.

The afternoon's lesson consisted of appropriate sail trim under all points of sail. We did pretty well. The final exercise was to return to and pass between two channel markers about .5 miles off. We were allowed only one change of point of sail between the start of the exercise and passing through the target. Since we were headed away from the target at the start this proved to be a vexing problem. We ended up making two tacks since we missed by about 150 yards on the first pass. Had the channel markers been a man overboard he would have had to spend more time in the water. The point of the lesson was not lost on us.

When we returned to Fairlee Creek the wind was stronger than the previous day. And was now on the bow, for purposes of backing into the slip. This means that if your bow comes out of the eye of the wind it is carried off. We did manage to get into the slip after much squeaking of the rub rail.

Our homework for the night was to plot a course from Fairlee Creek to Still Pond. Included in the plot are bearings, distance and travel time based on four knots speed. In a really careful plot over longer distances it is important to adjust for tidal flow, which can approach 2 knots. We didn't have to make this adjustment. Since I have been working with Paul's Christmas present "Dutton's Naviagtion and Piloting", plotting this course was pretty easy.

That second night the wind was down and the temperature up. The sleeping was easier. But I ate hot oatmeal, not one of my favorites, for breakfast again.

The intent for the third day was to sail to Still Pond and back. Incidentally, Jane and Bob Hellawell live on Churn Creek, which runs into Still Pond. The weather forecast from NOA on channel 2 of the VHF was for a high of 70 degrees and winds from the west at 7 MPH (5 knots). Had this been the case we would have had an easy broad or beam reach, as the wind shifted, up and back. However, the wind on the bay was not as NOA was reporting. It was a lot less hospitable. There were 2-3 foot waves with whitecaps and quite cool temperatures. The whitecaps indicated that the wind was at least 12 MPH. We motored out onto the bay for our first lessons in heavy weather sailing.

Because of the high winds and our novice status we elected to not raise the sails. Instead we learned that it is possible to sail the boat with bare poles. On what would ordinarily be a broad reach we were able to make 4 knots with no sails! While out there tossing about we talked about handling squalls and storms while out on the bay. When in doubt, reef.

About 1030 we turned for safe harbor. The wind in the marina was quite strong today, and blowing on shore. We made two tries at our conventional maneuver for getting into the slip. Both were unsuccessful. Then we tried the alternative of backing down the fairway. Again unsuccessful, twice. Our frustration was rising and after 2.5 days Christopher was getting tired and bored. Now a new technique was described. Drive down the right side of the fairway, make a hook turn to port so that we come to rest along the pilings two slips off shore from our own, make a bow line fast to one of the pilings. Heave a sigh of relief. Now you are tied at the bow to a piling across the end of someone else's slip, two away from your own. Run a bow line from the piling which is amidships and let the wind ease the boat backwards to the point where you can just lever your stern into your own slip. You are still held at the bow, but adjacent to your own slip and with a new piling amidships. Tie a bow spring and a stern spring to the piling amidships, using the jib sheet winch to harden the stern spring. Now release the original bow line and push off so that the stern swings into your slip. Once in the slip, ease off the stern spring and take up the bow spring in order to draw the boat more fully into the slip. As you shoe horn yourself into the slip pick up the permanent docking lines and you are done.

After quiche we departed for home so that I could be back in time to teach my Thursday afternoon. Christopher was really good about the whole experience. Particularly when you consider that we could not pay very much attention to him. The quantity of information to be absorbed, and the cold weather, exhausted us all. The instructional intensity and the difficulty of handling 31 feet of boat made us decide that we will buy two more days of sailing lessons from Jay. Although he was on board and instructing us at all times, he made us feel that we were responsible for our actions and their consequences. I found that responsibility particularly daunting. On seasickness: I am not sure if Christopher was sick, bored, frightened, or tired. Maybe he was all of the above. By the end of the second day Maria was a bit queasy; as much from fatigue as from being on the water for six hours. I didn't feel queasy until we got home and I was in class.

The Second Voyage

Just two and a half weeks after our first voyage we will be headed for Fairlee Creek once again. In the intervening weeks the weather has not shown a great deal of improvement. The daytime temperatures are only a few degrees higher and it has been raining almost constantly. But the end-of-week forecast is for much better weather.

Our plan was to be on the boat for Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Jay, our instructor-captain, would not be with us on Friday so our intent was to use that time for practicing driving in and out of our slip if the wind was light.

Friday dawned with steel gray clouds and intermittent showers. Ever the optimists, we packed up the car and headed south. If the sky brightened even a little our excitement became palpable. Alas, we were only to be disappointed. It rained all day, varying only in intensity.

Among the rationales for buying the boat we included the mental change of pace and doing things as a family that did not rely on strength or prior skill. We put those reasons to the test on Friday. You can only spend so much time unloading the car and then an entire wet day confronts you. Anticipating some period of inactivity we had brought along several books and games. Christopher has emerged as the grand champion of Dino- bones. And then we spent some time over lunch and a siesta. After our siesta we concocted some needs that could be filled only in Chestertown: A visit to the Post Office and the grocery store. By now we were into the late afternoon and decided that this might be strategic time to visit Great-grandma Buck at Magnolia Hall.

Without making excuses, Great-grandma ('great' by virtue of Ian, Christopher and Jonathan ) always struck me as the quintessential grandmother. And visits as a boy to her house were entertaining. Her dusty attic filled with toys from my father's boyhood, the dark basement and the enormous eminently climbable tree in the backyard made each visit something to look forward to. And she always seemed to have a sly wit. Her attitudes and outlook on life probably reflect the end of an era and the society within which she was raised. Now, a year after her stroke, those attitudes are working to her detriment.

The stroke took from her the motor control of her right side. Modern rehabilitation can restore much of the loss of function. But Great-grandma steadfastly refuses to rehabilitate herself. She is now down to 88 lbs. and atrophy has taken much of the use of her left hand. She was never one to admit failing eyesight. Now she admits ocular weakness but will have nothing to do with having stronger glasses made. The debilitating stroke and its crippling after effects greatly wounded her pride and the process of trying to overcome her new frailties is too humiliating. Without glasses, without a TV and a refusal to participate in the nursing home activities make us wonder how she passes the time, how she has been able to maintain her sardonic wit. If I assess the situation in a cold and remote fashion then I would say that Great-grandma is committing suicide by slow starvation. She has abandoned the fight for improved quality of life. And this by a woman who drove round trip from Garden City to Providence in a weekend with small kids in the 1920s. This has to be very hard on her children; it certainly saddens her grandchildren, but we cannot fight the battle for her.

Saturday was bright, breezy and warm. No need for long underwear on this our 4th day of sailing. We were all up, washed, fed and ready to go by 8 AM. This trip we brought along Christopher's fishing rod and had stopped at the general store for a new drop line. On one of his trips to the head on shore Christopher found a worm left high and dry on the macadam by the previous days' rains. That worm was soon dangling over the edge of the dock on Christopher's drop line. It kept him busy while we stowed bedding, checked on the engine's vital fluids and washed dishes. The last slurps were just being drained from coffee cups when Christopher announced, with some pride and incredulity, that he had caught a fish. Sure enough, there dangling from his hook was an ugly eight inch catfish! I prevailed on him to let me remove the hook and throw it back. That greedy catfish had gotten the hook through the bony part of his jaw near the corner. I'm afraid I did him grievous harm freeing him from the hook. He floated by the next day belly up.

After the excitement of the fish we dug out our plot of the course to Still Pond and resolved to sail up there under the watchful eye of Jay Sorkin. The wind was out of the north- northwest, which meant a beat if we took the most direct route. By sailing more toward the western shore we could sail a close reach on a starboard tack, come about and sail into Still Pond on a port tack. But the charts show that the waters of the western shore, opposite Fairlee Creek, are associated with the Aberdeen Proving grounds and as such are retricted. As a practical matter this means that on certain days one cannot venture within the line created by the yellow retricted waters buoys. Saturday happened to be one of those days. We could hear the guns booming and there were patrol boats stationed along the line of buoys. The resolution was to sail a more direct course with a few more changes of tack and point of sail. Sailing upwind is regarded as the more tiring for crew and more uncomfortable for passengers so is best done in the morning. We would have an easy run or broad reach on the way home. Provided that the wind did not change.

It was warm enough that even with the breeze we did not need more than a light jacket. On the way up to Still Pond we discussed the rules of the road and the determination of position from prominent land marks.

The rules of the road depend on whether you or the other boat are under power or sail, who is to windward, and who is on the starboard tack. Most importantly, when in doubt, give way and make your intentions clear. The laws of the sea are such that the boat with the right of way may be culpable in an accident if the captain did not take all precautions to avoid a collision.

Nautical charts show a great deal of land mass detail which, in principle, is visible from the water. However, when you are two miles offshore the shoreline looks as though it is all in the same plane. It is virtually impossible to distinguish small inlets and wrinkles in the shoreline. One must rely on points and spits of land that lie ahead or astern. Of course, if there are no such features then one must be able to recognize towers and smokestacks. But the few symbols on the maps do not do justice for the variety of of such landmarks which surround the Bay. We got into several spirited discussions on both Saturday and Sunday about which tower we were looking at.

Upon arriving in Still Pond we had to anchor. Previously we had never done much more than peer into the anchor locker. On this trip we discovered that the previous charterers had left the anchor rode a tangled mess. We untangled enough of it to put out the requisite 70 feet when standing in ten feet of water. Christopher then very patiently untangled the rest of the line.

After lunch we made our way back to Fairlee Creek in a wind so light that we barely made any progress against the tidal current. But I am getting ahead of myself. First we had to get the anchor out of the muddy bottom without popping a nut. The trick is to bring the boat up so that the anchor rode is vertical then use the bounce of the boat in the swells to break the anchor loose. Then you have all that gloppy mud to deal with before stowing the anchor in its locker.

Heading south toward home our landmarks are a set of tall, dark cypress trees on the creek. What little was left of the afternoon we used for more practice in shoe horning our boat into its slip. Today's practice session was made more difficult by two middle aged bimbos who were learning to drive their inflatable dinghies at the end of our fairway. Jay told us not to worry. We should think of the inflatables as extra fenders between us and the dinghy dock.

Before dinner we walked with Christopher out to the beach at the entrance to Fairlee Creek. This location is a favorite place to explore. There are lots of interesting shells to scavenge and stones to skip. Christopher really hit the jackpot. He found a crab pot float. He spent the rest of the evening and most of the rest of the next day speculating on how long it would take before the rest of the trap floated on shore. Several days later I think we have convinced him that galvanized steel will not float.

Associated with the caught fish and crab pot float was a lengthy discussion with Jay about catching crabs. Christopher, an aficionado of soft shell crabs can't wait to put his float to work.

On Sunday we sailed southwest, as the wind had backed around to that direction during the night. The principle exercises today were more coastal piloting and a man overboard drill. The man overboard was admirably handled by Maria at the helm, in spite of my bad advice about where the eye of the wind was. In any case we retrieved our docking fender, the man, on our first pass. This drill was unannounced. Jay put the man overboard while I was just coming out of the head and Christopher was trying to take a nap down below. After the exercise we had to explain to Christopher the importance of such drills, and the importance of his following directions during them.

The broad reach back to Fairlee Creek was shorter than expected so we practiced tacking singlehanded. First me,then Maria. The point is to demonstrate how well the boat steers herself, how much time one has to complete the maneuver, and how to make the turn as controlled as possible. And, as with all the exercises, to show/give us the skills necessary to sail the boat in the event that one of us is injured.

On Sunday evening we had a new obstacle to cope with when we returned. Someone had brought their power runabout in to the dinghy dock and tied it up so that the stern was sticking out into the fairway. This further reduced the angle of attack on our slip. To aggravate matters, this person had raised their inboard-outboard so that the propeller was just about on the surface of the water. And the wind was in its prevailing direction, trying to blow us onto that spear. We did get into the slip without mishap, two times each.

Captain's Log, 6 June 1988

Our plans for this past weekend had been to drive to Boston for Ian's high school graduation. The trip is about 5 and a half hours one way. The last time we made the excursion, about a year ago, the trip was 1.5 hours longer than usual. While crossing the George Washington Bridge a piece of steel fell off the truck in front of us. Before I could react, that small piece of angle iron had ripped a whole out of one of our tires. An unplanned stop in Spanish Harlem, where they did not have Pirelli tires (visions of Wolfe's Bonfire of the Vanities dancing in our heads), and New Rochelle where they do have exotic tires, and $98 dollars later we were on our way.

But we didn't make it to Boston this Spring. We have just recovered from three weeks of one or the other of us being sick enough to stay home nursing coughes, sore throats and colds. As of Thursday past Christopher and Maria had been home in bed for a total of three days each. I was immobilized for about two days and generally felt lousy for the greater part of the period. Our recent illnesses and the prospect of 11 hours of driving in two days left us cold, no pun intended; our fond memories of Harlem and New Rochelle notwithstanding.

On Thursday we called LaVida to check on the charter status of the COLONEL BUCK. There were no clients; the boat was ours if we wanted it. We did. We decided to go down Saturday morning. For this trip we eschewed the usual advance menu planning in favor of cooking eggs in the AM, eating sandwiches in the PM, and going out for pizza for dinner.

We did not get a really prompt start on Saturday morning, leaving the house about 8:30. Guess we were still dragging from having been sick. That put us at Great Oak by 1030. After stowing our gear and listening to the weather report for the Bay we resolved to sail to windward to Still Pond and have lunch there. We got under way very nicely and found a light breeze out on the water. By the time we were three quarters of the way to Still Pond it was already 1345, and the wind had died. Christopher was asleep below, fortunately. Otherwise he would have been moaning and complaining from hunger. In the name of expediency we doused the sails and motored the remaining distance to Still Pond. We anchored without mishap. Christopher woke up for lunch. Our anchorage was protected from any breeze so our siesta was quite warm. Christopher went down the stern ladder to his knees. He wanted to go in all the way, but only if I would go in with him. Having just eaten lunch I asked for a rain check. By 1500 we were away under sail toward home. The sail back to Great Oak was on a starboard tack, broad reach the whole way. Maria kept the helm, with a little kibitzing from me. Christopher and I spent most of the time sitting on the windward rail. About halfway home we were making well over 4 knots when just off our starboard bow there was a boat absolutely stock still, under full sail. We zoomed right by. We really felt like seasoned sailors and patted ourselves on the back for having proper sail trim. But 100 yards past the becalmed boat we also slowed to a crawl. Once we got out of the deadspot both boats moved along at a nice clip with only about ten yards seperating us. Christopher struck up a rather lengthy conversation with the young boy on MISQUA. They were also headed for Great Oak to spend the night. We decided to have two races. A slow race and a fast race. That way neither boat could be a loser!

On return to Great Oak we put the boat in the slip bow first. This gives us more privacy and is easier to maneuver. After dinner, pizza from Chestertown which was still sitting in our bellies the next morning, Christopher wandered over to the dinghy dock and introduced himself to Joel and son Daniel. They belong to TRINITY from the Middle River near Baltimore. They were anchored out in Fairlee Creek and had come ashore for dinner. We agreed that we would look for each other in the future so that our sons could play together.

On Sunday we were all up and about quite early. The wind was up over twenty miles an hour and from the southwest. Following Jay Sorkin's advice we plotted our course south toward Rock Hall so that the return home would be a broad reach or run. Our first job was to back out of the slip. This proved no easier than backing into the slip under similar wind conditions. Our exit was not very graceful. But we didn't put any dings in our boat or anyone elses. The waves on the Bay were about two feet. Not heeding the advice of our instructor I set all sail. This was a mistake. The angle of heel was quite acute with the leeward rail under water at times. With all the power of full sail we were really bashing through the waves rather than riding over them. The boat is designed so that it has some weather helm. The wind had so much power under full sail that Maria could not hold the boat on course. I took the helm and was having a good time. But my crew was growing increasingly anxious, and a little green. We would have been better off with the main taken in to both reef points and the genoa mostly furled. The boat would have sailed more upright, making it more efficient, and Maria could have taken the helm. As it was we decided to head into the wind, douse the sails and motor back home. But Maria was not strong enough to hold the boat dead into the shifting wind. The result was that we hove to.

Heaving to is a maneuver whereby the boat is headed into the wind, the main and genoa are trimmed to opposite sides, and you are steering into the wind. When done right the effect of heaving to is to put the boat perfectly upright without any significant forward motion. Of course there is wind in the sails.

Being hove to and without enough strength at the helm to really get us into the eye of the wind, I had to use brute strength to furl the genoa. Once that was done Maria was able to hold the boat into the wind while I went up on the cabin top to bring down the main. While I was up on the heaving cabin top Christopher announced that he wished we were back in Still Pond.

Motoring back in my crew regained some of their composure. We went into the slip bow first, and quite gracefully given the strength of the wind. We certainly did a better job than some other crews we watched.

Well we learned some things. When in doubt, reef. This is as much or more for the comfort of all aboard as for anything else. We found that we can handle the boat under full sail in such a strong wind: We can get her out of the slip, out of Fairlee Creek, the sails set, the sails doused and back into a secure harbor. This is all very important in the event that we are ever caught in a summer squall, quite common on the Chesapeake. The advantage to having the experience now is that we didn't have rain, lightening and thunder to further intimidate us.

Maria was quite magnanimous about the episode. Later that day she offered to go out again. I demurred as the wind was even stronger by afternoon.

Well, we spent the rest of the day lounging about on the boat, the pool and on the little beach at the entrance to Fairlee Creek. Interesting people we met at the marina: a woman who lives directly across the street from Glenside Elementary School. Christopher had been wandering around in his GES Bears sweatshirt and she stopped us to inquire. We also met Griff Schrak, his wife, and two kids: From Elkins Park and also proud owners of a new Pearson 31.

Captain's Log, Stardate 16-17 July 1988

This weekend we took our first overnight excursion away from Fairlee creek. We sailed up to the Sassafras. Weather and winds were fair on Saturday. We anchored out a few miles up the river, behind ordinary point. On Sunday we sailed up the river to Fredericktown. The wind was bengin enough that Christopher was able to sit at the bottom of the ladder, in the water, as we cruised along at about three knots under sail. He had a rope around his waist of course. The river is very pretty throughout. On the way out of the river the wind died and the sun came up full force. We really sweltered. Eventually we gave up on sailpower and motored out to the bay. It really made us appreciate the ready access to the bay from Fairlee Creek. In the afternoon we sailed home, uneventfully.

Captain's Log, Stardate 22-28 August 1988

Well, this is it, our first big trip. We've cached a week of food on board, brought a week's worth of clothing, and planned our route.

22 Aug 88: Fairlee Creek to Swan Creek at Rock Hall

23 Aug 88: Swan Creek to St. Michaels via Kent Narrows drawbridge overnight at slip

24 Aug 88: St. Michaels, anchored out in harbor

stmikemd.jpg (28492 bytes)

25 Aug 88: St. Michael's to Annapolis, Around Bloody Point light, Slip at Town Dock, Maria spends the night at the hospital

26 Aug 88: Hours of motoring back to Fairlee Creek to meet Susan Goldy, who has called to say she isn't coming

27 Aug 88: Still Pond

28 Aug 88: Still Pond to Fairlee Creek. Stiff wind

29 Oct 88: We're out again at last. The boat was out all of September and part of October. The other weekends of Oct we just couldn't get away. Ran aground in our slip.

30 Oct 88: Ran aground in Worton Creek. Got off easily. Ran aground hard behind Poole's Island. Golden Retriever had to come out and bring us in.

5 Nov 88: Rain most of day. Out for an hour with Dad. Coming back in he literally picked up the bow line.

6 Nov 88: Middle River with Dad. Great sailing. Almost hit steel daymark. Dad leaps for the fuel dock, gets stranded with him on the dock, the hose between his legs and hung up on stanchions.

7 Dec 88: Down for the day to polish woodwork, vacuum, clean stainless steel and test out some of my new products.

23 April 89 Sailed one day with CCB and Maria down to Tolchester and back in AM. Returned to GO by 1300. Good breeze. All systems go.

29 April 89 Rain Today. Went down to Md in PM. Visited Great Grandma. She is increasingly frail and now shows the mental ravages of her isolation.

30 April 89 No wind in AM. Nice breeze in PM. We just sailed around north of Poole's Island.

6 May 89 Warm, sun, good breeze. Late start due to car. Cancel sail to Baltimore due to late start and bad forecast for Sunday. Wind approx 15 knots. Sail up to Still Pond tie up to "my Commission" for a beer. On return wind to 20+ knots, waves 2-3 feet.

7 may 89 Did not go out today. Sunny, cool. Forecast is for wind to 30+ knots. White caps on the Bay. Felt it would be too much. In retrospect we could have sailed.

3 June 89 Sailed to Magothy River today. Warm sun, very light breeze. 4+ hours. seldom over 2-3 knots. Area behind Dobbins Island very crowded. Anchored behind Little Island. Then checked chart. Cable area! Moved to back side of Dobbins Island.

4 June 89 Departed Dobbins Island early. Had good breeze at start. Sailed at 4-5 knots. Wind died about 1030. Motored for an hour. Wind picked up at 1130. Back in by 1330, when wind piped up to 15 knots, but we had to leave.

24 June 89 Left early to meet Mom and Dad at GO. Light winds, slow trip up to Still Pond. Late aftermnoon wind freshens. Quick sail back to GOL

25 June 89 With Hellawells. Goal was Middle River. No Wind! We anchor off Poole's Island for lunch and swim. Return GOL early. Heavy rains this spring have filled bay with sticks branches etc.

22 July 89 Breeze less than ten knopts from the NE. Sailed to windward to Still Pond. Current almost enough to overpower wind. Hot and Humid. No wind in late afternoon, motored home.

23 July 89 No wind. Not a breath of air. We did not go out today. Hot Humid sunny.

12 Aug 89 Glenside to Great Oak. False start to retrieve perishables left on deck adds 40 minutes to the trip. Did not leave slip; used time to settle in.

13 Aug 89 Great Oak to Annapolis. little wind, motor sailed whole way; CCB consumed by mosquitos last night; tour of academy; tied up in slip in ego alley.

14 Aug 89 under way to Oxford by 0730. No wind. Arrived by 1330. Foggy most of the way. Met Daniel and Virginie travelling from Montreal to Carribean on 5 year sail. Have been out 3.5 months. We bought Christopher a crabbing net. Crabbing from the dock. We made the mistake of thinking CCB wouldn't get any crabs. He did. We put them in the bottom of the inflatable for the row out to the boat. Those critters have very sharp corners at the points of there shells. They put holes in the dinghy so we now have several slow leaks. We had seen crabs swimming near the surface of Tred Avon by the nundreds. Saw turtles swimming. V&D had found a turtle shell on the beach. Anchored in Town Creek.

15 August 89 Calm and overcast again. Departed about 1030 for Solomons. We drank our bottle of blue bottle wine with V&D last night to celebrate our anniversary. 6.5 hours motoring. Anchor on Mill Creek about .33 miles from Solomons.

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16 Aug 89 Heavy dew last night, sun out and bright and hot by 0930.

Visited Calvert Marine Museum, Dove Pt screw pile light house, and Lore Oyster House . Bike ride around town. CCB spots ducks, crabs, saltwater gar in marina. Overnight in Zahniser's. Dinner at Light house restaurant. Good food.

17 Aug 89 Depart Solomon's at 0930. Heavy overcast, 70 deg F. very light wind from the east. crab omellette for breakfast. Wind died by noon. Ominous weather coming in St. Mary's River. Motorsailed the whole day.

18 Aug 89 rain most of last night. No facilities here at St. Mary's. Did laundry in college dorm. visited living museum, most of which was cancelled by rain. Rain almost all day although there is some wind.

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19 Aug 89 Sun out this AM with nice wind at 10+ knots but we chose to stay in St Mary's to see the old ship Dove, have breakfast, crab for CCB. The 300 boat race fleet in Governor's Cup Race, Annapolis to St Mary's came in during the night. Pretty impressive sight this morning. Left St Mary's about 1230. Actually sailed for 1.5 hours before the wind died. Motored rest of way to Smith Island arriving at 1730. Very buggy here. It is an island of mud flats. Tied up at Evans Genereal Store dock. for $10 there are no services, not even fresh water.

20 Aug 89 Smith Island is a working fishing village. Because of its inaccessibility from the mainland there is nothing to make the tourist assess it as charming. I would characterize it as quaint. Most cars lack registration, but then there are only three miles of roads. A general store, a post office. And Bugs, bugs, bugs. So many bugs that we got up early to sail away. Winds 20 knots. We got up and departed before listening to weather, checking oil, stowing gear or eating breakfast. Very confused waves under shortened sail. We went 6.5+ knots all the way across the bay, about 4.5 hours. Maria couldn't go below nor steer so we didn't get breakfast or lunch.

21 Aug 89 We had a slip last night at Spring Cove Marina in Solomons. Swimming pool. Went to Solomons Crabhouse yesterday night for obligatory hard shells. Too much salt in the crab spice. Anchored out between Spring Cove and Zahnisers for the coming night. Bought softshell crabs for tonight's dinner.

22 Aug 89 Solomons to Oxford. Sailed for about 1.5 hours on light breeze. Afternoon sun blazing hot, no wind, motored most of way. Anchored out at our previous spot on Town Creek. CCB caught crabs which we cooked for use tomorrow. Saw a number of Rays on the passage to and from Oxford.

23 Aug 89 Oxford to Magothy River. Marathon sailing day for me. Wind 15+ knots most of day. Started in rain. Clear by 1100. went 6 knots on close reach for most of the way; 45 miles. Nine hours at wheel with a break to make lunch for the crew. Anchored behind Dobbins Island. Went for short walk on the Island. No sea nettles so we can swim here.

24 Aug 89 Magothy to Great Oak. Wind howled last night. by the time we left it was light, and died by 1130. Motored rest of way to Great Oak

25 Aug 89 today we had a nice sail from Great Oak to Still Pond Creek. Very pretty and quiet on the creek. Wind died by the time we started back to G.O.

26 Aug 89 Pack and drive back to Glenside. The lack of wind over the two weeks was a great disappointment to me.

22 October 1989 This Sunday is our first weekend back from Japan. In spite of being jet lagged from the trip I have felt compelled to come down to the boat. Maria went up to Easton yesterday, and has elected to stay home today. Christopher and I are going to sail alone. We got out of Fairlee Creek at about 1130, just a couple of hours past high tide. On the way out there was a sail boat run aground on the section of the channel dog leg between the sets of range marks.We had a great wind. Since I was essentially sailing alone I had put in the first reef in the main and did not completley unfurl the genoa. Nevertheless, there was hardly a time we did not sail faster than five knots. We headed back in about 1430. The grounded boat was still there. Very stubborn people. We had told them LaVida monitored Channel 9 and would probably pull them off. At five when we finally left for home they were still grounded.

28 October 1989 Magnificent weekend. No need for long johns or jacket out on the water. Unfortunately there was no wind. We tried to sail up to Still Pond, but never made it. Oh well, it was very relaxing for us.

15 March 1990 First sailing of the season. Dad was here for the week to visit Grandma in Chestertown. Most of the morning was spent recommissioning the boat with Jonathan Jones. In the afternoon Dad and Jane came over to Great Oak for a sail. There was a good breeze of about 20 knots. No clouds to speak of. Went down to Poole's Island light and back. Over 6 knots on every point of sail. Spent all of the 16th cleaning up the boat for the start of the new season.

8 April 1990 Today Maria, Christopher and I went down to Great Oak for the day. While I checked out systems and put the strainer in the shower sump pump line C&M played miniature golf. The wind in the marina was clocking 20+ knots. We sailed on the bay under a single reef in the main. Over six knots on every point of sail. I don't think Maria was comfortable with just a single reef. Lots of sun. Maria was cold and a little seasick so we only stayed out about 1.5 hours. Coming into Fairlee Creek we had an ebb tide. The engine had to run at 2800 rpm to overcome the force of the tidal current. Getting in the slip was a challenge, but we did it without any mishap.

28 April 1990 Today Maria, Christopher and I went down to the boat. We took along Chris Andersen, whose parents and brother were to meet us there. We sailed for about two hours below Poole's Island. Wind was blowing about 15 knots. Was hot on land, nice temperature on the water. Headed out of Fairlee Creek we were involved in a near miss with a power boat: LOOKIN' GOOD. She was entering the creek by running down the wrong side of the channel, completely ignoring the range mark. She nearly drove us aground by trying to get inside us so as to pass on the proper side. Whoever used the boat the last left both reefs in the main. The result was that our hoisting of the main was not so elegant as we had to wrestle the jiffy reefing out.

29 April 1990 We intended to go out today but ominous skies induced us to just motor up Fairlee Creek then go back to the slip. We got back just in time. It rained torrentially for about two hours. Instead we played Scrabble and Rummikub then gave the Andersens a quick tour of Chestertown.

17 May 1990 Drove down with Dad this morning to meet Dunkelberg at Great Oak. Plan was to sail south. Weather forecast for squalls and high winds in the afternoon. Wind from the southwest at 20+ knots. We tacked down the bay to a point where we had a choice between Baltimore and Rock Hall. We chose the latter as it was closer and storm clouds were gathering on the western horizon. We just got into Rock Haul harbor and a single dockline on a piling when the most incredible squall hit us. I had already put on my foul weather suit. Dad and Dunk were in shirt sleeves. No sooner had we struggled to get on four dock lines than the squall passed and the skies cleared. We were in one of the two best places to be during such a squall: either out on the water or in a slip. A boat which came in after us and was more picky about a slip ended up being driven aground in the harbor.

18 May 1990 We have a good wind of 25 knots from the WSW, putting us on a close reach home. The sail home was very fast under generally clear skies. Both days we have sailed 6-7 knots on all points of sail. Wave heights were a little higher today; maybe 2-3 feet. Great sailing weather

16 June 1990 We met Simon, Audrey, Rami and Doron for a weekend sail. We got off late and drove slow. We were not able to get under way until close to noon. Light winds; under ten knots. We sailed to a beach at the mouth of the Worton Creek to swim and eat. No wind on the return trip. Had to motor.

17 June 1990 Lots of fog this morning. No air moving at all. We went for a walk and puttered about. At noon we motored up to the same Worton creek beach to swim again. No wind. Motored home. Christopher has a sore throat. Someone has seriously bent the bow pulpit. Jonathan does not seem prepared to make the repairs at his expense.

July 14 - July 15 Down just for the weekend. As usual there is a bit of wind in the morning but we don't seem to be able to get up and started. We sail up to Worton Creek. CCB and I go for a walk on the beach below the red clay cliffs. Sunday we go up to Still Pond. I row around the point into the entrance to Churn Creek. At the mouth it is very shoal. There are too many power boats in here.

11 August 1990 Packed car; drove to Great Oak to spend the night before going on to D.C.

12 and 13 August 1990 Drove to D.C. to see the sights with Placido and Christopher: The Mall, Air and Space Museum, Museum of Natural History, Botanical Gardens, Capitol Building, White House, Viet Nam War Memorial, Lincoln Memorial

14 August 1990 Took Placido for a short sail to beach at the mouth of Worton Creek. Light breeze in AM. No wind in afternoon, motored home. Hot and hazy and humid. Drove Placido back to Philadelphia.

15 August 1990 Motored to Baltimore. Hazy, Hot and Humid. No wind. Interesting run up the Patapsco. This is a working harbor. Took a slip at the Inner Harbor marina. In this kind of weather it is almost imperative to have some place to wash off the sweat. In the afternoon we went to the Aquarium; a great place to visit.

16 August 1990 Maryland science center, walk through town, Streetscape at public works department, Anchored for night in harbor beneath the world trade center.

17 August 1990 Up early for a start. I check bilge and engine fluids. Add a bit of oil. We can't get the engine started. Plenty of cranking power but it won't catch. With some help from Roy from PINTA (Houston, Tx) we get it started. There are billows of smoke coming out of the exhaust. Fuel is just being pumped out the exhaust. With it running the way it is the engine won't keep going when we put it in gear. Panic. Roy comes back on board to offer more help. I notice that there is a lever on the valve cover, one of two, that is wiggling excessively. We turn it. The engine starts to run normally. Apparently I knocked open one of the compression relief valves when adding oil to the engine. Motor out to Fort Carroll. Set sail. We are able to sail all the way home; rather slow at times.

18 August 1990 We stayed in the marina today to rest, grocery shop and clean the boat.

19 August 1990 Hot, humid and overcast. Heading out for St. Michael's today. No wind. We motor down to Queenstown creek on the Chester River. CCB and I row into town. Cute. The 1708 courthouse is still in use. About 2000 the much forecasted cold fron comes through. Very cold. Strong wind; 15+ knots. We let out all of the anchor rode to avoid dragging while we sleep.

20 August 1990 AM Very cool breeze, rain. We lounge all morning hoping that the rain will stop. Eventually we depart about 1100. We arrive at the Kent NArrows bridge and must wait 40 minutes for the 1300 opening. Due to wind and current we did not delay our passage through the channel from the Chester River. On our way in we saw two sailboats aground near the channel. The channel is very shallow, more so than reported on the charts.

PM arrive in St Michael's. Wind down Prospect Bay and the Myles River was 10-15 knots from the N/NE. Sailed wing and Wing down Prospect Bay to Myles River then broad reach over to St Michael's. 5-6 knots over the water all the way. Very quick trip from the drawbridge to St. Michael's. We have anchored in the harbor just in front of the Crab Claw Restaurant. Two other areas have been dredged since our last visit so our anchorage is not crowded, just one other boat. With the wind from the N/NE there is no protected, quiet anchorage here. In late Pm we went into town for a short walk.

21 August 1990 AM: Maritime Museum

PM: groceries and crabbing. CCB gets a dozen from the newish docks on the other side of the museum.

22 August 1990 Wind still from the N/NE at 10-15 knots. Heavy rain. At 1130 rain has stopped enough to set sail. We sail a beam and close reach up to Crab Alley Creek. Very quiet and protected anchorage. This AM there was some excitement as SILVER GIRL swings over our rode and becomes entangled. With a bit of tugging and slckening of the rode she comes free. Husband and wife team on SILVER GIRL are a real trip. They go from being ensnared on our rode to being tangled with the buoy marking the boundaries of our little anchorage. When finally free they begion to drift down on us since there engine is not running. At last he gets the anchor up and finds a tire on it!

23 August 1990 Wind from the north at 10 knots. Rain. We delay our departure from Crab Alley Creek until the rain lets up. Underway by 0920 and make the 1200 opening of the Kent Narrows Bridge. Close to Beam Reach to the mouth of Chester River. We then got to close hauled, sailing 340o to 30o. Tide is going out. Heavy rains add to the flow. Our knot log shows 4-5 knots through the water but by 1600 we are still well to the southwest of Poole's Island near the western shore. To get home would be a beat for several hours. We start the engine in the name of expediency and get in our slip by 1730.

24 August 1990 We spend the whole day cleaning the boat. Vacuuming polishing and washing. No sooner am I done than CCB starts to track mud back on board.

25 August 1990 I guess vacation is over. Today we pack up and are headed toward home by 1020.

20 October 1990 Today we left for the boat after Christopher's soccer game, arriving about noon. It was a clear, cool day with a light breeze. Being too late to go anywhere we just sailed out and down below the Poole's Island light. By the time we turned around to go back we had run out of wind so motored back to our slip. There was quite a bit of activity on the water and in the marina for so late in the season.

21 October 1990 Today we sailed up to Still Pond. The wind died off Worton Creek so we motored the last half. We went as far into the cove at the mouth to Churn Creek. Before lunch I went for a swim. That water was pretty cold; almost enough to take your breath away, certainly enough to give goose bumps. After lunch we rowed into Churn Creek. Against the current and with three people in the boat it was pretty slow going. We never made it up to Jane and Bob's.

10 November 1990 Christopher and I have taken Woody and Brian Starkweather and Kevin Miles sailing with us for the weekend. We all got to Great Oak about 0930 and were underway by 1030. We sailed on a beat down to Swan Creek at Rock Haul. Beautiful warm day, nice breeze. The knot log has been removed for repair so we couldn't measure our speed. Judging by distance and elapsed time I guess we sailed over four knots. Kevin slept most of the day. Brian was constrained by his broken arm tied at his side. We were all asleep by 2030.

11 November 1990 We have awoken to fog and no wind. The fog is light enough to get out of Swan Creek, but too thick to see the Bay Bridge from Rock Haul. We try sailing for awhile but creep along at less than 2 knots. Upon giving up the sails we motor to within 4 miles of the Bridge; we still could not see it in detail. We then turned and motored home. Woody and Brian really enjoyed steering and reading the chart, figuring out where we were on the bay. We were back in our slip by 1530 and headed for home by 1700.

On Board Boats: Table of Contents

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