Sunday, May 23, 2010

Baltimore to night sailing with no lights

It had been over 3 months since the last time I had stepped aboard Swift Ranger. It was mostly unfamiliar at first. The wood was sun bleached from the summer, the smell of old bilge water was almost unbearable, and lastly, there was no Alaina. I was about to move our boat 150 miles to "someplace cheaper, chesapeake bay."

A few friends from Denver happily joined me to help with the trip. Colin, an old friend that I have known from 100's of concerts and Brian, a relatively new friend that I met through my wife. Both great people. Both like beer.

We quickly got the boat back to its proper standing and purchased enough food and drink for the ext 4 days. We wouldn't have that much time to go shopping again. Turning on the VHF radio for the first time in sometime, I was overwhelmed with the familiar voice of the NOAA robot broadcaster. He feels like a father. "Don't go to sea today, it will be a shit-storm sonny." Just our luck, he announced in his usual monotone that there would be no wind for 4 days.

We cast the lines and motored out of our dock, looking out over the glass-like water, we sat back and relaxed as we steered by pinky. Nothing could be more lackadaisical.

We pulled into my nostalgic homeland euphoria - Annapolis - and rafted up to an old friends boat: Kevin and Jan on Pearl of Eastport. Two ducks in a row. The very second we stepped off the boat we were greeted with frosted "Natty Bo" and a warm smile. Kevin was preparing to show us the town a little more than Alaina and I previously were able to. The town tour consisted mostly of drinking at various locations. Thank you Kevin.

And of course, Clams

The next few days can be summed up very shortly: no wind. We motored our way to Solomon's Island and had a quiet night on the boat. Here Brian had to make his way out to the airport for a flight back to Denver, it was just Colin and I from here on out.

The daddy robot voice came on later that night, "Cold front moving in on Friday night, winds 30 gusting to 40 knots." We should be fine we thought, it's Wednesday. Only one more day to Deltaville, our final destination for this trip.

Again no wind. We motored and motored and made very little progress toward Deltaville. The current from the Rappahannock is absolutely terrible. Six o'clock quickly came upon us and we were still 4 hours out. "Should we just motor through the night?" Of Course.

The very second the sun went down the wind somehow increased and I proceeded to scare the shit out of my wife. We were motor sailing with a full job and full main and in seconds the leeward rail was in the water. In a few more seconds a wave came over the bow and knocked our crappy electrical out - my fault - and sure enough we are without navigation lights. The sun is down.

The wind continues to increase. I tell Colin to turn on the radio and check the weather. "Cold front has sped up and will be affecting the bay area tonight, winds 35 knots with gusts to 40" And this is how we are greeted. The bay is no place to sail with high winds. Between the current and the shallows, the waves become really short and sharp. Nothing like on the ocean side and by all means I would have rather been on the ocean side that night if we didn't haphazardly find an emergency anchorage.

Colin and I found a spot in the lee on Fleets Bay and we sat in shifts making sure our unplanned anchoring didn't fail. The morning came with another weather forecast. "Winds sustained at 35 knots throughout the day." We would have to sail straight into the wind for another 35 miles to make our final destination. This was not going to happen. With a little VHF talk and some chart study, we found a small cove in Reedville that hopefully would accommodate us. Sure enough, not only could they accommodate us, but there haul out fees and monthly rates were half the price of the marina in Deltaville. Perfect trip.

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