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On Board Cordelia
Our electronic log book. Welcome Aboard!!
Sleeping on the Hook
Nick / 82, light Easterly winds
07/22/2014, Rhode River

After a couple day sails with friends, I was eager to do an overnight trip.

We toyed around with the idea of cutting over to St. Michaels, up to Eastport or maybe even Rock Hall, but we got a late start on Saturday and opted for an easy sail up out into the Bay in light winds before cutting back into the Rhode River. Once we found a good spot for the night, away from the jet skiers, skiers, tubers and other assorted drunk people, we started dinner prep and poured a glass of rum.

Shortly after we got settled, Chuck, Norma, and their co-boat owner pulled in. They anchored just in front of us and we rode the dinghy over for a predinner cocktail and to check out some things on their new-to-them boat, a Catalina 36. They had a reef system like Cordelia's, so I was able to help them figure out how to run the lines.

We headed back for dinner as the sun was setting and grilled some vegetables and pork steaks. I guess pork steaks are a Midwest thing because I had never heard of them, but Meredith's family makes it all the time. It's just sliced pork shoulder with BBQ sauce. We lounged around after dinner, looked for a movie on Netflix and then went to bed before actually watching anything.

On Sunday, we took the dinghy through some of the coves and creeks off the river before sailing back into the Bay for a few hours. The winds were even lighter, dropping to about 4 or 5 knots on the way back in. It was a downwind sail, which would have been brutal if it was any hotter, but we set the sails, turned on the autopilot and climbed up to the bow to just enjoy a pretty relaxing afternoon.

Meredith's parents are in town this upcoming weekend so we are going to squeeze in a couple sails with them, weather permitting.

Playing Catchup and Hooky
Nick / Lower 80s, Winds 5-18 knots, South
07/01/2014, Mill Creek

Despite the lack of posts, we have been getting in some good sails. I just figured I'd give everyone a break from the usual - and happily mundane, uneventful - daysails with friends. Since the last post, we've sailed three weekends with a dozen friends and even got in a couple of swims at anchor.

Meredith's sorority sister Lauren just started a new teaching job in DC so moved up a few weeks ago. She was present for the inaugural swim - and waterline scrubbing - two weekends ago. She "wowed" us with her graceful cannonball skills. The weekend before we sailed with our friends Anne and Jack and Leah.

Leah - along with 5 more friends - was also on hand for this past Sunday's longest one-day sail, largest and first trip on Cordelia to Cantler's. We pulled away from the slip shortly after 9:00 a.m. and motor-sailed in light winds the entire 16 miles up to Cantler's, carefully navigating the U-shaped Mill Creek inlet. The anchor was down about noon. With drinks in hand we began ferrying everyone via dinghy to Cantler's.

The place was already predictably packed and the salty smell of Old Bay was heavy, but we were able to squeeze up to the bar while we waited for our table on the back patio which great views of the creek and Cordelia. We ordered a bucket of beers, an assortment of fried food and crab dip to get us ready for the main course: two dozen large crabs. I'm not sure if these Bay Crabs were from the Chesapeake Bay or some other Bay, but they were heavy and full of meat. Possibly the best steamed crabs I've had. The setting and company, in my opinion, is what really makes picking crabs worth the effort and neither could be beat.

After we had our fill, we headed back to Cordelia. The wind had picked up and we were able to sail most of the way back to Chalk Point. We probably never topped 5.5 knots the entire time - it was enough to say we sailed, but not enough much that it interfere with afternoon naps on the bow or drinks in the cockpit.

Monday, however, was all about sailing. I greased the furler and added the 150 jib on Saturday, but today was the first time we really got to test it - and as the wind continued to build throughout the day, I wondered if I should have kept the smaller 130 on a little longer. But, who would have ever guessed the winds would still be so good the last day of June.

The West River was abuzz with activity. The sailing club was holding their junior regatta and some local camps might have been out on the water as well. In all, there were easily 75 sailing dinghies darting back and forth across the river. I sailed as far out of their way as I could, but with my draft could only go so far and had to call "starboard" to one of the boats who was less than thrilled at having to alter their course so we could safely cross paths.

In the Bay we were holding steady with high-6 knot speeds and made it to the Eastern Shore - where we tacked behind one of the Navy 44s - in about an hour. On the way back our speed picked up along with the wind allowing us to sail clear into Galesville on a single tack - topping out at 8 knots briefly.

Once securely in the slip, we toasted a great sail with some rum and called it a successful day.

Sailing On Board Cordelia
Three’s a Crowd
Nick / 81, 5-17 knots
06/13/2014, West River

Another weekend on board Cordelia is in the books. We had a pretty packed weekend, and although the majority wasn't spent on the water, we still got in two good, albeit short, sails.

On Saturday, Meredith and I had dinner plans, so I headed to the boat with a friend a little earlier than usual while Meredith hung out with a friend in DC. We were on the water by 10:00 and with the northeast wind were able to get the sails up just outside of our slip. The winds were light enough that I could easily single-hand up the channel. Once the river opened up I sailed toward the Rhode River to avoid tacking all the way into the Bay. The wind, which was on the lighter side to begin with, predictably slowed down the further up the Rhode we got. By the time I sailed us to the anchorage by Camp Letts, we were barely making a ripple as we watched the campers paddle around and explore the islands.

A quick gybe and we were heading back down the river. A tack later and we were in the Bay with no destination in mind. I knew I had to be back at the slip by 2:30. I trimmed the sails and settled in, only needing to mind the helm every couple minutes to adjust our course after a gust or large wake hit us.

Around 1:00 we turned back toward the dock - as most of the other sailors were just leaving their slips - and sailed wing-on-wing until it was time to drop the main and furl the jib.

Meredith and I played golf Sunday morning so we didn't get to Cordelia until after noon. We originally were going to meet some folks at the slip for a quick sail followed by crabs at Thursdays, but their plans fell through. Which was fine because it gave me the opportunity pump the holding tank, check the pressurized water pump - which due to some miracle, now works fine - and give the deck a quick wash-down.

The weather forecast and several folks at the dock warned of winds building to 21 knots, and we were slightly concerned being the only boat, on a very crowded West River, heading out while everyone else was motoring in. Just to play it safe, I only hoisted the main and we were being pushed along at 4.5 knots. After closely watching the wind speed and not seeing anything over 12 or 13, I decided it was time for some real sailing. I unfurled the jib and our speed quickly shot up over 6 knots, getting close to 7.5 thanks to a couple gusts heading back to the slip.

We aren't setting any records, but according to our GPS have sailed more than 175 nautical miles on about 20 trips since we launched Cordelia on April 19th.

Plumbing Problems… AKA: Head Case
06/04/2014, Chalk Point

As with any trip on a boat, something has to break. It just wouldn't be complete without it. If you're lucky, it's something small. In the grand scheme, we were pretty lucky.

When I tested the pressure water at the dock Thursday night, I noticed the pump wasn't cutting off. Easy fix. There's a leak in the system. A few yoga poses in the starboard lazarette and ready to roll. Meredith put sheets on the v-berth, got out the earplugs and joked that we should have a blog title, "What Sailing is Really Like" where we just post pictures of us wearing headlamps, covered in grease, contorted in small spaces or crawling all over each other getting into bed while wearing ear plugs and sleep masks. You know, just to counter the Kennedy-esque mental image of sailing everyone has. But I digress...

Even after the leak was fixed. The pump wasn't keeping constant pressure. I continued searching for smaller leaks but couldn't find any. The problem became very clear mid-shower on Saturday, after I was covered in soap I might add, when the pump completely died. Add that to the project list.

The second issue had to deal with the head. Meredith noticed that when she flushed the head the cabin and cockpit had a less than pleasant aroma. I tried to convince myself that carry around a couple gallons of "gray water" was bound to not be pleasant, but she wasn't satisfied with that answer and turned to Google. They had a long list of possible causes and I decided to look at the tank to see what was up. As I pulled back the settee bottom a nice wave of stench hit me. Apparently the marina forgot to tighten the holding tank lid after they winterized it and each flush caused some delightful stuff to seep out. I found a new washer, tightened the lid, bleached the top of the tank and called it a night. Once back at the dock we tackled the issue head on, so to speak. I pumped the bilge into a bucket for disposal. Cleaned it with bleach and dried it out.

Hopefully that fixed the more noticeable of our two plumbing issues that popped up over the weekend. On to the water pump next, which means more working in small - but less smelly - spaces...

Boat Projects
Mo’ Dinghy, Mo’ Problems
Nick / 75, winds between 0-20 knots
06/04/2014, St. Michaels & The Wye River

Graceful dinghy entrances and exits aren't Meredith's strong suits, so this was really all just a matter of time. So, coming back to the boat late Friday night - after a couple sundowners, followed by a drink at dinner and a quick-ish stop at a bar - was really just pushing our luck. So, as the dinghy pulled up to the swim ladder, Meredith grabbed on about the time we started drifting around the boat. You can use your imagination as to what happened next as her feet stayed in the dinghy and her hands stayed on the ladder.

Moral of the story: A couple drinks improves some things, like your ability to play golf or bowl, it does not improve your ability to board a boat.

Overall, though, we had a great weekend on board Cordelia. Blue skies and perfect temps made up for the light, then too heavy, then non-existent wind. This was our first on-the-hook overnight trip of the season, as well as our first time to really explore St. Michaels. On our trip last year we brought Bailey, got there on the later side of Saturday and left Sunday morning - all limiting our time exploring.

Cordelia was packed and just about ready to set sail first thing Friday morning. We pulled out of the dock around 11:30 a.m. - later than I wanted, but if we made good time still early enough to avoid anchoring out in the Miles River, hopefully. Once we were out in the Bay the wind picked up to about 9 or 10 knots and gave us enough of a boost to kill the engine and sail all the way to the Eastern Bay on the same tack. Throw in a couple tacks up to round Bloody Point light and we fired up the engine again to pull into the Miles River. The prime anchorages were pretty empty and we easily got a spot between the Bay Museum and the Inn at Perry Cabin.

We cracked open a bottle of wine and waiting to make sure we weren't dragging before setting out for dinner. I was on a quest to find a fried softshell crab sandwich, which I did and which was very good, even though it meant eating at a "more touristy" place on the water. On Saturday we did some window shopping and explored the Maritime Museum. It is a really great museum, if you haven't been. Very hands-on and they take full advantage of their prime waterfront real-estate.

For a change of pace, we decided to anchor out on the Wye Saturday night. The wind really picked up and the choppy, green-brown water of the Miles reminded me of the Mississippi Sound. We motor-sailed into the wind and tucked into the first bay on the Wye, where we spent the night grilling and listening to some '90s R&B blaring from two powerboats anchored up nearby before motoring home Sunday morning a dead calm.

Sailing On Board Cordelia
06/04/2014 | Dave
We love Dividing and Granary Creek on the Wye.

Sounds like you were anchored in Shaw Bay.
06/04/2014 | Nick
Yeah, we were in Shaw Bay.

Thought about heading a little further up river for some protection from the wind and a little privacy, but we wanted to stick close to Eastern Bay for a shorter trip home.
Memorable Memorial Day
Nick / 85, 10-17 knots
05/28/2014, Chesapeake Bay

One of - if not our best - sails was last Memorial Day weekend with Meredith's parents and some friends. The wind was stiff, from the West and we had an amazing broad reach up the Bay and back. Cordelia almost hit 8 knots that day, something we've only bested once since.

This Memorial Day didn't set any speed records, but it was still great sailing.

Meredith was out of town on Saturday so I snuck in a sail with our friends - and the people who sealed the deal on us buying a boat - Chuck and Norma. We sailed from the Magothy down to Spa Creek, where they were going to get a mooring. The sailing in the river was nice and relaxing - with just enough gusts to keep things fun. About halfway to the Bay Norma realized she forgot her overnight bag. I left my car in Annapolis and offered to drive them back to their car at the marina after we secured a mooring ball - the drive was faster than the sail and we were also worried that if we arrived too late, all the moorings would be gone.

Once we were out in the Bay, the wind was dead on our stern. We glided along, talked about everything from another BVI vacation to when getting an adult beverage would be acceptable. We decided anything after 12:01 p.m. would be fair game.

We made it to the Bay Bridge before finally decided to crank up the engine - they had dinner reservations and our progress was nothing if not deliberate. Motoring into America's Sailing Capitol on a sailboat isn't the ideal way to make an entrance, but when we passed J-24s with flogging sails and cruisers bobbing in the river, we took solace in the fact that we would have a mooring ball and they wouldn't. Or maybe not...

By the time we turned to port to enter Spa Creek, the field was full. We used the 15 minutes before the bridge opened to get all the lines ready to race the half dozen other boats waiting to grab a spot farther up the creek.

The bells rang. The lights flashed. The bridge started to slowly open. Boats on both sides of the bridge started jockeying for position. Air horns blew and people gave a few salutes from the bow as boats narrowly missed colliding under the bridge. We were the third boat through and quickly spotted one of the last two balls in the second field. We were able to grab it on our first try.

We sat in the cockpit and watched the free entertainment of paddle boarders, kayakers and other boaters enjoying the weekend. It would have been easy to completely lose track of time if we didn't have the drawbridge reminding us every 30 minutes. After a while, we called the water taxi and went to find Norma's clothes.

We were sailing with one of the girls in Meredith's golf group and her boyfriend on Memorial Day. He had sailed before - and learned how at a summer camp down in the BVIs while he was in high school. Not a bad way - or place - to learn. I was also excited about sailing with someone who had at least a vague idea how to sail. To take full advantage of the opportunity, I picked up the spinnaker on the way out to the marina.

The winds looked kind of slight, and were nonexistent at the dock. The closer we got to the Bay the more the wind picked up. It was blowing 10 knots by the time we got in the Bay. Perfect sailing conditions for entertaining and hanging out with friends. We made it over to the Eastern Shore and tacked back. Just off Thomas Point there was a lull in the winds. We took advantage of it by hoisting the spinnaker for a while.

On our way in we spotted Bay Tripper coming back from a week plus cruise around the Bay with their sailing club and Muse - really moving under just their main. We tacked back and forth entering the West River, where the winds had picked up to about 17 knots on our nose, and celebrated a great sail with some leftover champagne from mimosas.

Memorial Day is a pretty special weekend for a lot of reasons - our troops, the start of summer, the sudden abundance of American flags - but it also might be the best sailing weekend of the year.

Sailing On Board Cordelia

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On Board Cordelia
Who: Nick & Meredith Simpson
Port: Chalk Point, West River, MD
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