Monday, August 25, 2008

Chesapeake Bay Cruise

I flew back from Montreal on July 13, spent the night home and drove back to DC on the 14th to pick-up Jean-Paul at the airport and return to Norfolk. We arrived quite late in Norfolk and spent the night at home.
On the 15th, we went to the boat and made the final preparation before leaving for our Bay cruise.
Finally, we were able to leave on the 16th, but unfortunately, mostly for a day of motoring that took us into the East River where we anchored for the night.
Next day was a little better and we were able to partially sail to Onancock. Very nice small town, with a restaurant on the water where we had a nice dinner. Next morning, we walked up to the only convenience store in Town to get a few provisions before departing for Redville. Again, very hot weather with little wind but we were able to sail almost half of the way. In Redville, we went all the way up the river to avoid spending the night in the lee of the smell of the fish factory. At the small marina where we stayed, we had the opportunity to set up the standing rigging a little better and remove the topping lift which was interfering with the mail sail on tacking.
The next day was probably our best day of sailing and we were able to fly the spinnaker almost all the way to the Choptank River and the anchorage in front of Taylor's Island marina. The wind was mostly from the south at around 20 to 25 knots but we were well protected and spend a good night.
Then on Sunday, we went to St Michaels, this time again motoring all the way. In St Michaels, we got there early, and got a slip in the marina opposite the Crab Claw. Very expensive, unfriendly and with very clumsy staff. However, we had time to visit extensively the marine museum, which was the main purpose of our visit, followed, of course, by dinner at the Crab Claw.
Monday was to be our last day of sailing before Jean-Paul would fly back to France. Again, hot and no wind, except for a severe thunderstorm around noon, with 60 knots of wind and solid rain in it. It cost us one of the cushions in the cockpit, but otherwise, no problem. We arrived early in Solomons and used the slip on brother Easy's house and next to Captain Go-go's house. And shortly after we arrived, brother Snapper King and Margie crossed the creek to join us. In the evening, Captain Go-Go took us to dinner where we were joined by his captive Charlene.
Next morning, we rented a car to go to Annapolis with a triple goal : visit the naval academy, drive across the bay bridge and buy Annapolis t-shirts on main street.
To visit the academy, we took a guided tour. It lasts approximately 1h25minutes. During the first 50 minutes, the guide talked exclusively football. Then he switched to La Crosse, then to swimming. After that, it was time to go and watch the cadets prepare for lunch while performing the very challenging exercise of memorizing the menu. The tour ended by the visit of the chapel, which did not leave any time to talk about studies or sailing. However, that does not take away how impressive the academy is and from the majesty of the site.
Then we drove to the Bay Bridge and were able to take some pictures from the marina on the Eastern Shores side.
Back in Annapolis we had a quick lunch at the market place in the Harbor and walked up the main street for the t-shirt buying operation.
We then drove back to Solomons to get ready for the party put up by the Solomons table.
This felt like home. Almost every brother who was in town showed up at Snapper King's house and it was a lively brotherly evening with lots of crabs, lots of beer, and lots of everything. Great evening. The Solomons table is up to a great future.
Thursday morning (July 24th in case you lost track), I took Jean-Paul to the DC airport and then went on to Portsmouth to pick up Stew and Diana and return to the boat in Solomons. We arrived there in time for a few more beers aboard Papy Jovial with brothers Snapper King, Easy and Captain Go-Go.
On Friday, lots of motoring and a little bit of sailing between Solomons and Miller Creek. There, as brother Blue Stache was taking us in, I saw my confidence in my MaxSea navigation system go down a notch and my confidence in trusting those with local knowledge went up a notch. We actually sailed across an area showing 2 feet depth on MaxSea and almost 11 feet on the depth sounder.
Saturday was the best day of the week-end and we were able to sail all day. We did not go very far (we got 19 miles closer to our destination for the day), but we sailed all the way into Jackson creek. Again, I could verify that as Papy Jovial is set with the new main sail but the old jib, the best we can do is around 135 degrees between tacks. Definitely a gentlemen's boat (gentlemen don't go to weather).
Leaving Jackson creek in the morning, I took advantage that brother Blue Stache was doing something else to go aground for a little while. I had not touched bottom since we left Norfolk with Jean-Paul and was beginning to worry for my reputation.
That last day was unfortunately again a day of motoring. We got early into Ocean Marine to refuel and have Diana pick up her car and join us in Scotts Creek where we returned.
This was the first time that Blue Stache, Diana and myself were sailing together for a few days and it looks very much like work in progress with lots and lots of things to do to be ready for the big one.
All in all, a very profitable cruise for me which allowed me to learn a hell of a lot about Papy Jovial and her limitations.

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