Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Wye Me Lord?

To see a chart of where we were click here

This past Friday (11-25-11) we got super organized and got underway early in the day, clearing the breakwater into Herring Bay at 1230.  I think that's a record for us.  We had a beautiful day with a light breeze out of the SE, maybe 10 to 15 knots, scattered clouds and temperatures in the high 50's.  Perfect sailing weather.  Our destination was the Wye River in Eastern Bay which put us on a beam reach across the Chesapeake.  Unfortunately we had to motor our way across Herring Bay while Tom put in the new cotter pins for the rigging turnbuckles that he had forgotten to take care of last weekend.  Yikes!  With that taken care of we ran out the sails and had a wonderful sail across the Bay at 4.5 to 5.5 knots.  Around 1430 we were inside Eastern Bay and the wind was dwindling down to nothing.  I calculated we still had 10 miles to go and at our current speed of 2.5 knots we wouldn't get there until after dark.  We fired up the engine and ran the rest of the way at 7 knots, getting to our anchorage just as the sun set.

As you enter the Wye River off the Miles River (which is off Eastern Bay) it branches off to the right into the Wye East River and around the first point is Shaw Bay.  This was our first night's anchorage, mostly because of convenience.  It's a large cove with 20' depth and with that in mind I let out over 100' on the anchor rode for a 5:1 ratio.  There are large McMansions  lining the shore but most were dark, apparently being summer cottages or something.  Our evening here was quiet with absolutely no wind.  I mean, the surface of the water was like a mirror providing for some interesting pictures of the surrounding area.  The first picture at the top is from this anchorage.  For dinner we had some of Cheri's incredible crab soup.  Mmm, mmm good.

In the morning I woke up to the sound of hundreds, maybe even thousands, of Canadian Geese.  I went up on deck and couldn't see a single bird but the noise was deafening.  For breakfast we had oatmeal made with cranberries and cinnamon.  We normally do raisins but couldn't find any.  The flavor with the cranberries is incredible.  Never go back to raisins.  After breakfast Cheri threw together an apple pie, made from scratch.  I think I'll keep her.

Around 1100 we raised anchor and headed upstream on the Wye East River.  Leaving Shaw Bay I misread the shoreline and ran into Lloyd Creek, thinking that Gross Creek was the next leg of the river.  Boy was I surprised when we ran aground in what was supposed to be 47' of water!  The river is very twisty-windy and the entrance wasn't obvious to me until we turned around.  We proceeded kinda slowly after that but there's really no trick to this place, just stay in the middle and mind your charts.  Hmm, good advice, huh?

As we went along we saw several really nice spots to anchor, Dividing Creek being one of them.  We continued on though and after passing Pickering Creek the river does another loop-de-loop and we pulled into the next cove on the south shore.  This spot was absolutely beautiful.  No homes, no lights, no nothin'.  The closest house was half a mile further upstream and it was dark later that night.  We had the whole planet to ourselves.  Actually, we shared it with about 40,000,000 Canadian Geese and three Bald Eagles.  One of the Eagles was hanging out in a tree on shore directly in from our boat.  The other two we saw the next morning as we were headed out.  Such a beautiful place.  It's nice to know there's a spot like this so close to our marina, about a 4.5 hour sail.  It's all very natural along the shores on both sides with farmland beyond the trees on the south side.  There were homes built along the shore on the way in but once we got back in there we pretty much had it all to ourselves.  At night there wasn't a single light in sight.  Oh yeah, the sunset that night was pretty spectacular.

Cheri spent all day slaving away in the galley.  For dinner we had a 4 lb. Cornish Hen with stuffing, green beans, dinner rolls, some excellent white wine and that awesome apple pie with vanilla ice cream.  I've got lots to be thankful for, lemme tell ya.

For breakfast the next morning we had apple pie with coffee.  In bed.  Actually it was cappuccino but I'm already sounding pretty spoiled here so we'll just call it coffee.  Anyway, I was feeling so relaxed I felt like jello.  Or maybe that was from eating too much, I don't know.  We had a nice, slow-paced morning and finally headed out around 1100.  We saw the other two Eagles at Pickering Point.  Cheri took the wheel the whole way out to the Miles River, never ran aground once.  Totally put me to shame.  We ran out into the Miles River and put the sails up as we rounded R4 into Eastern Bay.  The wind was blowing out of the SW at maybe 15 knots and we sailed close hauled on course 245 degrees, which took us all the way out past Kent Point and into the Chesapeake.

Once past Poplar Island the wind swung around to the South and picked up force quite a bit.  Our wind speed indicator hadn't been working at all this trip but I'm guessing we saw 30 knots at this point and it built up to more as we got out into the center of the Bay.  We were heeled over about 25 degrees and making 7.5 knots when we decided to reef in the genoa about 30%.  That leveled us out to about 10 degrees and we picked up speed to 8.5 knots.  Woohooo!  Cheri thought the waves were about 4' but I'm guessing some were as much as 5'.  We didn't just have white caps, we had rolling breakers. We were cutting through the waves at an angle, spray flying everywhere.  Seeing anything at all was difficult because the Eisenglass in the dodger was covered with salt water and we were looking straight into the sun.  Nothing but glare.  Luckily, there wasn't much traffic out there.  My biggest concern was running into a channel marker or driving over one of those damned fish traps at the entrance to Herring Bay.

We held our course as best we could to 240 degrees, which should have taken us straight into Herring Bay.  We were running with paper charts and didn't have any markers sighted to verify our position.  As we got in close enough to shore to see anything I realized we had over-shot Herring Bay and we were headed for Chesapeake Beach.  Whoops.  As I glanced down at our depth gauge it went from 35' to 15' to 10'.  Just like that.  Yikes!  I threw the wheel over and turned us downwind so we were running with the waves.  Cheri let the Main out and we just kinda skipped across the shallows of Holland Point and found our way into Herring Bay.  Whew!  Never a dull moment with old Cap'n Tom at the helm.

Just outside of Herrington Harbour South we turned into the wind to drop the sails.  The "Tack" of our Mainsail has been giving me problems when it comes time to furl it and this time it was no different.  The "Tack" is the forward bottom corner of the sail and it's very heavily stitched for strength.  When I tried to roll up the sail into the mast the Tack jammed in the slot and wouldn't budge.  We're dancing around in the waves, the sails are flapping like crazy, lines are whipping around.  I tried three times and finally got the main in.  I was suddenly feeling very exhausted.  Way too much excitement for one day.  When we got back to our slip it took me three cappuccinos and two pieces of apple pie before I was feeling any better.

Driving by the seat of my pants is fun but I think I'm ready for a chartplotter and GPS.  I'm getting too old and too goofy to be doing this without some kinda help.  We've been saving up our pennies and I think we're just about ready to start working on that electronics package I was musing about over the Summer.  After this weekend I'd say this is something long past due.

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