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On Board Cordelia
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Weekend of Firsts
Nick / Upper 80s, 14 knots, Southwest
06/03/2013, Miles River / St. Michaels, MD

My goal was to pull out of the slip by 10:00 a.m. to head over to St. Michaels, but of course the only reason to set goals is because you like to listen to them blow past you. The odds of that were immediately shot when we stayed up drinking wine until well after midnight with our friends Joel and Antonia - who are probably sailing with us next weekend. To minimize time packing , we bought a foot-long sandwich from Harris Teeter for lunch and then grabbed some snacks, figuring we would eat on shore.

This was the first hot weekend we've had and were drenched by the time we had everything stowed away. With a little hustle we were able to get half the things I wanted to do Saturday morning done and pulled out at 12:15 - not too bad.

The winds heading out of the West River were really light. We were burning up and Bailey - our dog - wasn't doing much better. The thought did cross my mind that we might end up in Annapolis or back at the dock. We motored out into where the West River meets the Bay and the promised winds picked up. Pretty soon we were cruising over six knots and had our routine down pretty well. Meredith manned the high side, Bailey the low. We rounded Bloody Point Lighthouse and started making our way up Eastern Bay in a little more than two hours. We had almost forgotten about how hot it was until we turned north to get around Rich Neck and Tilghman Point. Between the land blocking the breeze a little and running downwind, we were quickly reminded of the heat. Meredith and Bailey retreated to the shade of the bow and I cranked the engine. We motored about 20 minutes or so until the wind picked up and allowed us to sail right up to where the Miles River narrows north of St. Michaels.

I wanted to anchor in Fogg Cove, but knew it wouldn't be likely pulling in at 5:15 - made it about 30 miles in five hours, not bad. The water was a lot thinner than my charts suggested and anchoring would have been tight - I would assume you need to get there the weekend before The Crab Claw opens and never leave to get a good spot. We anchored out in the Miles River - twice. My first spot, while closer, was a tad too close to our neighbor and I didn't want to start the weekend by making them mad. After all, having a red-hulled sailboat not only makes it easy for friends to find you, it also is easy for others to remember you.

Anchor firmly set, we began the process of taking Bailey to the bathroom. Me in the dinghy and Meredith passing the outboard. It wasn't pretty, but we got it done. I loaded up Bailey and off we went. Bailey has a special way of showing you his displeasure at situations - it usually involves peeing in your lap. My lap unavailable, he decided my foot would work just as well. By the time we made it to the town dock, Bailey didn't need a bathroom break but I figured we could both use a walk - and Meredith said she would have appetizers and drinks ready in 30 minutes so I wasn't in a rush.

Peter and Judy from the marina happened to be in St. Michaels and saw us pulling in (see perks of having a red sailboat). They were nice enough to join us for a Dark & Stormy. Neither of us are huge rum fans, but the Gosling Black Seal, Ginger Beer and lime hit the spot after a day in the sun. Peter and Judy were grilling on their boat and Meredith and I were heading into town.

It was Meredith's first dinghy ride - and it showed. She executed a very nice swan dive into the dinghy and maybe flashed the neighbors in the 30 seconds it took to pile in and crank the outboard. We loved walking around St. Michaels even though all the shops had closed for the night, which I was kind of glad about. We decided to try Gina's Cafe (601 Talbot) for dinner. We had some fresh guacamole with homemade chips followed by a seared tuna taco with ginger and a spicy shrimp taco. For dessert we opted for a slice of peanut butter pie instead of walking back to the ice cream shop.

Back on the boat, Meredith did some reading while I poured myself a glass of wine and lounged in the cockpit looking at all the stars - I also fell asleep in the cockpit and woke up when I spilled a cup of wine on myself.

I got up before Meredith on Sunday - a rarity because she usually wakes up with the sun when we're on the boat - and took Bailey out. She joined us on shore and explored a little more while I went for a quick run. St. Michaels really is a great town, but breakfast options are slim - something everyone else at anchor must have known because they all headed home right after waking up. We ended up grabbing breakfast at Sweetie's - a local cupcake/cookie shop. The breakfast was actually really good (breakfast croissant and bacon-cheddar biscuits with sausage gravy) and the cinnamon bun even better.

We headed back around 10:30. I'm not very good at relaxing when other people are at the helm while the motor is running, but Mere motored us out of the anchorage and raised the sails while I admired a couple gorgeous boats, including a nice Hylas 54. The wind died down when we got in the Bay proper and the engine came back on. We did get to finish on a high note when the wind picked back up allowing us to sail into the West River.

It was a great weekend. We've been having so much fun sailing that it's time to spend some quality time at dock tackling a few boat projects, but hopefully they won't take too long so we can get back out there soon to explore more of the Bay.

So, our firsts? First long sail with Bailey. First time to St. Michaels. First time anchoring out. First dinghy ride for Meredith. First time Meredith "slept in" on the boat. First time Meredith raised / lowered the sails solo. First shower on the boat, which will be followed by my first time buying water purification tablets.

Sailing On Board Cordelia
06/03/2013 | Bob
Really enjoyed your last couple of posts. No wonder you choose the profession you are in...your writings keep us coming back for more. Glad you enjoyed your trip to St. Michaels, it has been one of our favorite spots and we use to go every Columbus day weekend. I especially liked all your "firsts". Say hi to Meredith and I look forward to seeing you guys in a couple of months.
06/03/2013 | Nick Simpson
Thanks. Meredith wants to organize a raft-up with folks from the marina one weekend when everyone is around.
Under the Bay Bridge…
Nick / 72, 14 knots, West
05/26/2013, Chesapeake Bay

I was a little worried about getting Meredith's parents back on the boat after the fiasco that was Friday. I was also a little worried about getting Meredith back out there. Everyone seemed in good spirits, however, as we packed the stuffed baby bellpepeprs, chicken salad on mini-croissants and lemon bars in to the cooler.

The temps were perfect and the winds had significantly died down. To a steady 14 knots with gusts up to 18. We stowed everything on Cordelia and met some friends a little after noon - who brought really great homemade whiskey sours - and fell in line with a parade of boats heading out of the West River. The boat in front of us put a reef in their main, so I figured I would do the same. We raised the sails, fell off the wind and had probably the best sail I've ever had, period. It made Friday seem like a distant memory.

Everything from fast, racing J-Boats to comfy, slow-moving comfortable cruisers were blanketing the Bay. There were more sailboats than I had ever seen. And, when there are that many boats out there, it's hard to not get a tad competitive as you trim the sails to squeeze every tenth of a knot of speed out of the wind. We flew up the Bay on a single port tack, adjusting course to get a close-up view of the tankers anchored out waiting for the pilot to drive them into Baltimore and then tightening the sails for a quick reach past the Severn and under the Bay Bridge before tacking back to do it all again.

We made it to the Bridge in 3 hours and back even faster - breaking 8 knots according to the GPS, outrunning several boats in the process.

The conditions were just right and the company was perfect. We were out long enough to enjoy a lot of food, a couple cocktails and plenty of time lounging on the bow, in the cockpit and there might have even been a nap on one of the settees. We've found that one of the most important things to a successful sailing trip is finding people who are adventurous and willing to try anything or pitch in when needed. That was certainly the case this weekend. Everyone took a turn at the wheel - which gave me some time to just enjoy the sites, and also gave me a few gray hairs depending on the captain.

I hated to drop the sails and fire up the engine - which did start, you see, Sunday really was the polar opposite of Friday. We pulled into our slip, turned on the radio and had a couple drinks. I think everyone was a little hesitant to leave when the sun went down.

Sailing On Board Cordelia
Towboats, Tetanus and a Couple Toupees
Nick / Lousy
05/24/2013, West River

The in-laws were in town for a Memorial Day weekend full of sailing and Meredith and I both took off Friday afternoon to take them, so dang it, we were going.

The weather wasn't great, in fact, it was downright lousy. Much too cold for late May. Much too windy for sailing. And overcast. All in all, a crummy combo for an enjoyable day on the water. We knew it going out there and the gale warning confirmed it. But, like I said, we were determined. Once at the marina, Donna told us to be careful because the wind and tides were blowing the water out of the Bay and with our deep draft, that's not a good thing. The batteries sounded weak when we cranked the engine. So, we're now up to about five strikes for the day.

Unlike previous days when I was trying to avoid rotten weather so Meredith would still love sailing on Cordelia, we decided to go for it.

Here's how the relatively short sail down the West River went: Steady winds of at least 18-20 knots, gusts to 30; heeling about 20 degrees under a jib set to spill a lot of air; Meredith's mother was sitting on the cockpit floor; and I'm sure her father thought it was a miracle we hadn't died on some previous outing.

Once we got back near Chalk Point, I sailed us into South Creek so we could have enough room heading out to furl the jib.

I turned the key, held the glow plug, and... nothing. The battery was dead, the wind was coming directly down the creek so we couldn't sail out. And then, just for the trifecta of bad, we ran aground.

Meredith called TowBoatUS and about an hour later Captain Bob from Annapolis did an outstanding job pulling us of the bar and getting us back to the marina. Since the wind was so strong, we had to tie off to the T-Dock in front of Bob and Sandy. We threw the fenders off the side and by this time David had come to help catch the lines as we approached the dock. I jumped off to tie the stern line and in the process - to add injury to insult - whacked my head pretty good on the head of a poorly placed 8 inch nail driven into the piling. I'm afraid a tetanus shot might be in my future...

This, for the record, was the first time I've ever worn pants to go sailing. Clearly that is the reason for all of this bad luck.

The one redeeming part of our Friday adventure (aside from a new flag) was that everyone else was smart enough to stay home so we didn't have too many witnesses at the marina - and Capt. Bob complimented me on how calm and collected I was. The mild concussion thanks to the nail might have helped.

I'm not sure about everyone else, but I sure needed a drink. We headed over to Pirate's Cove for a quick bite and some liquid medicine to lessen the sting of a bad day - and the growing lump on my forehead. What we got was possibly one of the weekend's highlights. Shortly after we sat down in the bar, a "band" started playing. I put band in quotations because Melanie & Friends was really just two people playing the keyboard and the saxophone occasionally. Our expectations were low, but once they started the dance floor was packed as they sang everything from Prince to Patsy Cline. Everyone had a great time - even if you were only people watching, or trying to figure out who had on a toupee - and even a pretty bad day on the boat is better than a good afternoon at the office.

Sailing On Board Cordelia
Red Sky at Night…
Nick / 80, 1 knot, West
05/20/2013, West River

And a forecast for 80 degrees, sun and good winds - Sailor's Delight.

Meredith and I were excited to take Cordelia out last Wednesday to watch the races on the West River. She filled our Thermos with a batch of mint lemonade vodka drinks (we found the recipe on Ketel One's Facebook page) while I checked the weather one last time before we headed to the docks. The evening wind forecast had me a little concerned, not because it wouldn't be manageable, but because it would have been better for the boats racing than those of us just observing with a drink in hand.

The forecast was right on two of the three predictions - the predicted 15 knot winds with gusts up to 25 were more in the range of non-existent with gusts up to 6 knots. The warm temps and sun were spot on. Despite the fluky, light winds, we raised the sails and did some drifting while we watched the tail end of the races limp across the finish line. We gave up on sailing, watched an amazing sunset from the cockpit and were really upset we left our phones (which is why this blog has no photos, sorry).

We eventually lowered the sails and motored back to our slip with a few minutes of twilight left. Bob and Sandy were sitting out in their cockpit so the pressure was on for a nice docking since we had an audience. All went pretty well, I got everything stowed and Meredith poured us two more drinks. We headed over to the Sea Eagle and likely overstayed our welcome (sorry about that) before heading home and crashing.

Meredith's parents are coming to town this weekend to visit - and see the boat in the water. The last time they visited was in February and they had the same reaction we had when we first saw Cordelia. We're praying for some great weather so we can spend the weekend exploring the Bay instead of the art museums in DC.

Boat Drinks & Nautical Nosh
05/24/2013 | Bob
It was good to see you guys again and you didn't come close to over staying your welcome. I was afraid we kept you guys too long since you had work the next day. Hope you get out with the in-laws this weekend.
05/28/2013 | Nick Simpson
Nah. Being a little tired the next day is a small price for hanging out on a boat.

Have a safe trip and see you in August.
America: Boats, Bald Eagles, BBQ
Nick / 70, 12 knots, South
05/13/2013, Rhode River

We headed out to Cordelia Friday afternoon with really only two goals - Meredith wanted to even out her tan, since the temperatures have still been on the chilly side, our tans end somewhere around our wrists and ankles, and we wanted to grill. We can't grill onboard at the marina so we knew anchoring or catching a mooring ball would be in our futures. I'm rusty at the former and so inexperienced in the latter we could just say I've never done it.

Since we were playing it by ear, we took Bailey in case we decided to spend the night.

We had a relaxing sail using just the jib in about 12 knots of wind up the West River and into the Rhode. We (by we I mean I) did some gybes and decided to drop anchor between Camp Letts and Flat Island - or some other mystery island not on my chartplotter - away from all the boats clustered on the opposite side of the river. This was the first time I had anchored a boat in years - at least since college when I'd go fishing in the Gulf on my uncle's boat - but it was fairly uneventful and the anchor caught hold on the first try.

We did a little reading and took in the sights. This, to Meredith, was what boating equated to in her mind: Relaxing, Grilling, Laying Out. All that other stuff (oil changes, waxing, fight sails in 25 knot winds, cleaning, emptying the holding tank) was simply unnecessary and obviously my responsibility as the one who really wanted to get a boat in the first place. A family of ducks kept stopping by for a free meal throughout the evening and the highlight was watching a bald eagle catch a fish about 20 yards off our stern. Can't get more 'Merican than that!!

We grilled dinner. It was a multi-cultural experience - a little Mexican (chicken fajitas), a little Korean (we used lettuce instead of tortillas), Southern (fresh corn on the cobb), and Hawaiian (grilled pineapple for dessert). Bailey's favorite part of the sail - or really life in general - is watching us cook or eat and hoping we drop or share. We did both so he was pretty happy.

It was getting dark so we fired up the engine and pulled up the anchor. Luckily Meredith didn't get a picture of me huffing and puffing up on the bow trying to get the anchor loose. Wrestling the anchor out of the thick, black mud was really the perfect activity for a pair of Chubbies (the raddest shorts known to man).

Since the engine was on, the wind was at our nose, it was dark and late, we motored back to Chalk Point where we decided to spend the night on the boat while watching the thunderstorms roll through.

True to tradition, Meredith woke us up at the crack of dawn. We walked Bailey, said good morning to Bob and Sandy and since the thunderstorms from Friday night were still lingering on Saturday headed off to find breakfast. We had decided to eat in D.C. when we made possibly the best decision of the weekend and stopped at Countryside Deli (just off of 4 in Lothian)- they will see a lot of us. I had a Western Omelet with grilled vegetables, sausage and cheese - not the frozen, diced, flavorless stuff you find in a lot of omelets. Meredith had the Country Fried Steak and eggs with the best sausage gravy I've ever had.

The winds Sunday were howling. I would have been fine sailing, but I didn't feel like fighting to get in and out of the slip. Besides, Meredith seems to love Cordelia. Why risk messing that up by going out in crummy conditions. I also had a couple projects to take care of and she still wanted to get some sun.

It was a pretty perfect weekend and we're hoping to get out there Wednesday night to watch the West River Races from the water.

Sailing On Board Cordelia
05/14/2013 | Kirk
Bob is not your only follower. I read with interest, all of your exploits on Cordelia. Your commentary reads like an article out of Garden & Gun. (That's a good thing.) I don't know much about sailing or the terminology but you make it interesting. And just as fun are your non sailing excursions into the restaurants and bars along the way.

Very nice Nick!!!
05/14/2013 | Nick
Glad you're following along and enjoying it.

Can't wait for y'all to visit and go for a sail this summer.
05/14/2013 | Nick
Also, looking forward to seeing everyone this weekend.
Thursday at Thursday’s
Nick / 72, still
05/10/2013, West River, Galesville

This time I wasn't stuck at work late, but we did get stuck in traffic and it was almost sunset when we got to the marina. There were two sailboats limping back to their slips with deflated sails. It seems the wind vanished with the rain.

Deciding to cut our losses for sailing, John, Taylor and I pumped up the dinghy and headed over to Thursday's. We had a pretty good dinner of cod sandwiches and steamed shrimp, a few drinks, and saw a first for us all - a guy wearing a leather jacket with deck shoes. The bartender did last call at 9:00 - again, so maybe the 10:00 closing on their website is only for the summer.

We hopped back in the dinghy and poked back to the marina through the darkness. The wake from our 5 horsepower Mercury were the only ripples on the water. After storing the dinghy and outboard, we had one last drink in the cockpit before heading back to D.C.

We didn't get to take Cordelia out, but just getting out of the city and on the water - in any form - is worth the drive.

Meredith and I are going to try and sneak out there this afternoon since the weather calls for temps creeping into the 80s.

Maritime Musing

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