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On Board Cordelia
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Sunday Funday
Nick / 85, Partly Cloudy, 11 knots, South
06/24/2013, Chesapeake Bay

We didn't go sailing Saturday because we were visiting friends in Richmond and getting fitted for golf club - Meredith even bought a wide-brimmed visor from the pro shop. We live in a condo, have an old dog, an old boat and new golf clubs - at this rate white Velcro tennis shoes, hip replacements and early bird dinner specials don't seem too far away.

It rained most of Sunday morning heading back to DC but we were determined to get a sail in since we will be out of town this upcoming weekend and over the 4th. We scooped up our friends Adam and Andrea at their place in Old Town and booked it out to a hot, humid, overcast and not very windy Chalk Point. I had to finagle with one of the battery cables because one of the terminals had become detached. After that quick fix, we were on our way. The wind kept picking up the closer we got to the Bay until Meredith thought we should put a reef in the main since we hadn't been out on a windy day with our larger jib. On a side note, the spot we ran aground the other week - despite our charts saying we were in 11 feet of water - now has a marker.

Having friends out on the boat is always nice, but it's even nicer when they jump in to help out. Meredith made a round of drinks before assuming her favorite position on the starboard lazarette and Adam took the helm while I raised the main. This has become a rather wet job, practically requiring foul weather gear, as collected rainwater falls into the cockpit. I need to check if our cover has a hole or just needs a good coat of Scotch Gard.

The hot, humid, windless conditions at the slip were gone and we were cruising along over 6 knots on a pleasant, sunny afternoon. Once we were in the Bay, we shook out the reef and picked up a little more speed. We had a nice beam reach through the main shipping channel and almost to the Eastern Shore before gybing back. It was great being able to sit back and relax for a bit while someone else was at the helm. We even debating calling in sick on Monday so we could sail straight to St. Michaels. I'm sure the sunburns wouldn't have raised any questions.

The sail back was just as nice and we didn't crank the engine until we were at the bend in the West River just above Galesville.

Once at the dock, the ever difficult task of finding dinner began. Big Mary's was deserted. Pirate's Cove was locking up. So we stopped by Brickhouse in Shady Side per Bob and Sandy's recommendation before driving back to DC. It was a pretty great way to get ready for the week.

Sailing On Board Cordelia
06/26/2013 | Bob
Glad to see you all continue to get as much enjoyment from Cordelia as you can and it sounds like you have been having some great sails. I look forward to reading your blogs every week and will miss it next week since you aren't going out. Hope you have a good 4th.
06/26/2013 | Nick Simpson
Just wish we were out there more. I'm going to try and make it next Tuesday and Wednesday evenings and then on Sunday the 7th.

Hope to see Sandy out there.
Taking the Day Off
Nick / 78, 12 knots
06/17/2013, Thomas Point Light

Meredith and I took advantage of what was shaping up to be a slow day work-wise this past Friday by taking a day off. We slept in, still ended up doing a little work, hit the gym and then headed out to Cordelia. We've had several rainy, overcast, hot and muggy days but Friday wasn't one of them.

I needed to re-rig the Furlex for the larger jib before we went out. When I switched from the 100 to the 150, I should have put a couple more wraps in the furler drum prior to furling the sail because the line ran out just when the sheets got to the forestay. Taking the jib down, washing the protective strip, raising the sail, and then spraying off the dirt and grass we got on the sail from washing it took a few hours, but we can now fully furl our much larger jib and were ready to go sailing.

Thursday's "derecho" - which amounted to two very fast moving storms of about 15 minutes each - had blown a lot of water out of the Bay and when we asked Sandy if she wanted to go out with us she quickly opted for staying on her boat and relaxing. We think she likely just read our last two blogs and was afraid to step foot on a boat with us that wasn't tied to a dock. The only time we stirred up some mud was leaving the marina, though the water never read more than 7 feet until we were past Galesville.

Meredith took the wheel so I could raise the sails. The winds were a steady 11-13 knots and we had a great sail out to the Thomas Point Light. Meredith commented - before stealing Bailey's towel - how good it felt to have Cordelia on a nice heel, the only noise coming from the water flowing past the stern. That's become one of my favorite sounds. On days when there isn't much wind and the going is slow, it sounds like a small, quiet creek and then when we're heeled over about 20 degrees and cutting through the water over 6 knots, it sounds like the water is boiling as it goes by. Both perfectly fitting for the occasion.

Our last great sail was on the way over to St. Michaels a few weekends ago. We settled into our quick afternoon sail routine - Meredith found a spot in the sun on the high side, I fiddled with the sails and Bailey, without anything soft to lie (lay?) on, curled up on a pile of lines on the low side. It was a great day off made better by beating a much larger Beneteau in a race only one of us knew was going on - or participating in.

We were doing pretty good heading back to the West River that would allow us to miss the crab pots that have sprung up while still making the channel markers, but the wind had other plans. Not too far from the river the wind died briefly before clocking all the way around from the Southwest to the Northwest. It was after 6:00 and neither of us had eaten since breakfast, we were at risk of getting "hangry" (hunger induced anger, not pretty), so we fired up the engine and took down the sails. The furler, by the way, worked perfectly and had plenty of free line to get several nice wraps of the sheets. Meredith decided that the perfectly nice heading I had us on wasn't exciting enough, so she took a detour through the field of crab pots before I made her get back in the float-free channel.

Back at the marina I walked Bailey and got the dinghy ready for dinner. We both love grilling on the boat but the added prep time - grocery shopping, packing a cooler, packing the ice box, etc... - on the front end makes it less appealing when we're trying to save time. Besides, I spent half an afternoon cleaning our anchor locker last week and getting it full of mud didn't seem like the best idea, especially when we are only a dinghy ride away from two restaurants. I love going out in the dinghy and will find any excuse to use it. Watching Meredith get in and out is an added bonus because it usually involves some less than graceful acrobatics.

We headed over to Pirate's Cove for dinner and a drink. That drink naturally turned into many while we listened to the "band" and enjoyed some people watching. It appears that Pirate's Cove has a pretty devout Friday night crew and the bar becomes something like Cheer's. I put band in quotations because I'm not sure two people with a keyboard counts as a band, but they play a wide array of music and everyone dances, surprisingly well.

We headed back to Cordelia about 11:00. I was seeing spots from the bioluminescence we stirred up and from Meredith's headlamp, which she shined directly in my eyes every time she tried to tell me something.

I'm happy to report that the earplug - sleep mask combo (and the vodka sodas) we decided to try after the overnighter to St. Michaels worked. We both slept until well after dawn.

Sailing On Board Cordelia
Things That Go Bump In The Bay...
Nick / Mostly Cloudy, 6-8 knots, Southeast
06/09/2013, West River

Well, it happened again. We were sailing with friends Sunday afternoon in about 9 feet of water when I felt a bump while tacking. I looked at my depth finder just soon enough to watch the 9.8 ft turn into 4.5 ft. We were aground... I tried to get off using my sails, but the wind wasn't really strong enough to do too much. Our friends tried to help the wind by pushing with our dinghy oars, but the water was too deep for that to do too much. I tried cranking the engine, and guess what... It didn't crank.

I sure hope this isn't a recurring theme.

After about 10 minutes, but it felt like 10 hours, the motor caught - I think something is up with my batteries, but I still haven't been able to pinpoint the problem - and we slowly dredged a new channel in the West River. Painting the bottom of my keel with anti-fouling paint was probably a waste of time because I'm sure it has all rubbed off from the groundings.

We continued sailing now that water instead of mud was under our keel and spent about two hours tacking out of the West River before heading back in the light winds. It would have been a great day to practice using the spinnaker, but instead I decided to try sailing wing and wing. The winds were so light that I wasn't afraid of a flying gybe causing any damage.

We made it all the way to Pirate's Cove before we furled the sail to avoid being run over by a massive powerboat in a hurry to get wherever he was heading. Meredith took the helm to steer us into the wind while I quickly doused the sailes because, as she reminded me, we were heading straight to the sight of our first grounding.

The West River had more boats on it than I had ever seen out there before - even on race nights. Small catamarans, large sailboats, Flying Scots, jet skis, fishing boats of all sizes. Everyone was out, and I assume everyone saw us run aground. Oh well, at least we got off and didn't have to call TowBoatUS again - who I saw towing two people in.

We didn't take Cordelia out on Saturday so we could take care of a few projects. I finally waxed the deck and scrubbed a few hard to reach spots. Meredith helped by making drinks and applying the wax in the cockpit so all I had to do was buff it off. She also helped me clean out the anchor locker and spray off the chain so at least the first half of dropping anchor won't be too messy. We also put on the larger jib while waiting for our chicken to cook on the grill - here's the recipe, it was very good and really moist. I also tried to eliminate the funky smell our water had. The lady at West Marine - who lives aboard - said the smell was caused by the hard water in the area. To fix that, we bought a water filter to put on our hose while filling the tanks and also flushed the tanks with vinegar. Once flushed, I added some water stabilizer. Hopefully that, and regular use, will keep the rotten egg smell down because while feeling clean after showering at St. Michaels last weekend, I certainly didn't smell clean...

On a side note. I think a good title for the blog would be "Injuries at Sea." It never fails, even on the best day of sailing, there is some form of blood-letting. The injuries this weekend - aside from pride and missed bottom paint due to the grounding - was stabbing my finger with a screwdriver while trying to pry a knot loose. Meredith also thinks she got poison ivy from sitting out by the grill.

Sailing On Board Cordelia
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

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