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On Board Cordelia
Our electronic log book. Welcome Aboard!!
Furlough Friday
Nick / 82, 8 knots, SE
10/04/2013, West River

With the federal government partially closed due to a lapse in funding (legislative talk for a government shutdown), my office has started a revolving furlough schedule so we are operating with minimal staff, but no one gets too far behind and things continue to chug along - albeit a much slower, less efficient pace. I know those are phrases most people think about when they describe the federal government...

Anyway, back to the topic at hand.

Meredith also took the day off and after a leisurely morning of reading in bed and going to the gym, we headed out to Cordelia.

The winds were light, but enough to keep us gliding along without too much effort. We raised the main while motoring away from the docks and had the jib out soon after. By the time we were just above Galesville, where the river turns toward the Bay (the area I consider the "real" West River), Cordelia was cutting through the water at a comfortable 4 knots in about 8 knots of wind. Meredith crawled up on the catwalk to get some sun - on an unusually warm October afternoon - while I just enjoyed being on the water.

After an hour or so we tacked back into the river. The autopilot came back on (I'm furloughed, so it's illegal to work after all) as soon as we were heading straight through the float free zone. I joined Meredith up on the bow and we popped the cork on our last bottle of rose - a pretty fitting way to say goodbye to the summer.

The West River ran out before we were ready to call it a day, so we turned back toward the Bay. The wind slowly began tapering off until it wasn't even able to keep the sail from flapping over us like a sheet. We laid on the bow a little while longer before reluctantly heading back to the slip and declaring it the best sail of the season.

Sailing On Board Cordelia
Easy Like Sunday Morning
Nick / 73, 4-6 knots, NE
09/29/2013, West River

There was a decent chance I was going to have to work on Sunday, but as of late Saturday it looked like I was off the hook. The weather was perfect for a day outside, but not really a day sailing. The winds were light and a tad shifty - a combination that allowed me to watch the windex do a complete 360 a couple times while we were sailing. But I didn't care. I've been in a sort of mild panic since Labor Day about the sailing season coming to an end and the prospect of pulling Cordelia for the winter. Between football games and travel, sailing weekends are quickly slipping away.

We pulled out of the slip a little after noon and with the winds again coming from the North, the main was up before we even made it to Thursday's.

The West River was the place to be on Sunday. Between the Seven Seas Cruising Association (Can you name them? Or, after you ask Google, have you ever heard of them?) annual gam breaking up, the West River Sailing Club's J-105 Sunday races, and people just out enjoying the great weather, Galesville might have taken Annapolis' title as the sailing capital - at least for the weekend. Meredith and I tried to go check out what was left of the gam, but the wind had shifted a little more to the East so the wind completely died as we entered the mouth of the Rhode River. I turned us around to head back to the Bay, sails flogging due to the lack of wind. I had flashbacks of the South River as powerboats plowed through the water, creating massive wakes, a few feet off our stern - there were a few so close I wondered if they even saw us.

The winds slowly picked up as we sailed back into the more open waters of the West River. Even then, the biggest gust - and just one - I saw was a whopping 8 knots. Not exactly white-knuckle sailing, but a great day to be on the water.

Meredith read and napped while I tacked out to the Bay. I eventually decided it was time to head home when I glided up to a J Boat and saw that the wind couldn't even muster enough strength to fill a set of Kevlar racing sails.

Meredith took the helm to motor us back to the slip while I flaked the main, furled the jib and coiled the lines. Neither one of were ready to head home so we spend the next couple hours reading, snacking and napping in the cockpit while listening to some music on the stereo - which I don't use often because the sound of the wind and water is so peaceful, but it comes in handy at the dock.

Who says you need wind to enjoy a great day on a sailboat?

Sailing On Board Cordelia
Solitary Confinement
Nick / 72, 11-13 knots, North
09/22/2013, West River

Meredith decided that she got her money's worth on Saturday and opted to stay home to cook dinner since we had friends coming over that evening. But I still needed to go out to Cordelia since we left lunch in the ice box, the refrigeration on and the battery charger charging just in case we wanted to squeeze in a quick sail Sunday morning.

I headed to the marina about 10:30, after going to the grocery store with Meredith. There were a couple little projects I took care of, and I almost decided to just go for a run instead of attempting to sail single handed. But it was a perfect day. Sunny, nice steady breeze, bright blue sky and the temperature was in the low 70s. You couldn't have asked for a better first day of Fall. It was simply far too nice to let an opportunity to sail slip by.

Sailing wouldn't be the issue. I knew I could handle tacking and gybing without any help. Docking was another story. The wind was blowing about 11 knots from the North. That meant it was blowing me into the slip and at an odd angle. The bow lines were the first to come off. From there the wind took over. After about 5 minutes of pushing off pilings, giving a little throttle, cutting the wheel, pulling on stern lines and some other not so graceful maneuvers, I managed to slide out of the slip.

I flipped on the autopilot right when I got out of the fairway to raise the main - with a reef. By the time I rounded Thursday's the engine was off, the reef was gone and about a third of the jib was out. Cordelia was heading up the West River at about 4 knots. I tacked all the way out to where the West River widens, gaining confidence and letting more and more of the jib out as I went. A J Boat was coming up behind me, and since I was the one going slow, I tried to do a quick tack so they could pass. Of course, with an audience, I straighten up too soon and back filled the jib. No worries. I cut the wheel hard and executed an effortless heave to and waved as they passed. I fell right back in behind them and we both continued out to the Bay, just like I meant to do that the entire time - fake it til you make it, right?

The wind died down some until a big 17 knot gust came out of the mouth of the Rhode River. Cordelia suddenly sprang to life, buried her shoulder and that J Boat wasn't moving so fast anymore. Every few minutes I'd slide a little more of the jib out and gain a little more speed as I headed toward Thomas Point Lighthouse.

By the time I slipped past the last red marker before entering the Bay the jib was all the way out. I did my last tack and ran back to the West River between a broad and beam reach, hitting 7.5 knots while passing several other boats.

Cordelia has always handled well, but you don't really get a feel for how well she sails until you are out there alone. There's no need to even touch the wheel when the sails are trimmed. I have more faith in Cordelia and confidence in my abilities. I'm not sure if the perfect conditions or having my total attention tuned in on sailing made the difference - probably a combination of both - but Sunday was one of the best days of the season.

And, surprisingly, docking was much easier than leaving the slip.

Splash Mountain
Nick / 75, 18-20 knots, South
09/21/2013, Annapolis

We had pretty high hopes for the weekend. Meredith had already bought groceries and planned meals for a weekend on Cordelia anchored off St. Michaels. Bailey was even coming along for the ride. The only hiccup in the plan was the weather. A cold front was bringing thunderstorms and a lot of rain Saturday afternoon through the night. It was a little disheartening when that's the only chance of rain in an otherwise perfect 10-day forecast.

We rolled the dice and went out to Cordelia Friday night, planning to play it by ear. We even briefly entertained the thought of sailing through the night, but a 3 a.m. arrival didn't sound all that spectacular. When we got up on Saturday the forecast was holding steady - I was holding out hope the front, by some miracle, would have shifted giving us a beautiful weekend. The rain wasn't supposed to set in until 3:00 or 3:30 so I figured we could still sail around as long as we were back by 2:00. But, even then, St. Michaels was out. Dealing with Bailey - who doesn't like the rain on land - and the required potty breaks on-shore would have literally put a damper on the weekend.

Instead of heading to St. Michaels, we decided on a quick sail to Annapolis and back. The weather Saturday morning was great and I hadn't sailed Cordelia past Annapolis since we launched her in the spring. The winds were about 11 knots from the Southeast and the seas in the two foot range when we poked our nose out into the Bay a little after 9:00 a.m.

The Hospice Cup was getting ready to kick off as we approached the Severn River and dozens of boats were leaving their anchorages and docks in Annapolis.

I furled the jib while Meredith made a quick lunch before we sailed into Spa Creek for a closer look at Annapolis from the water.

On the way up, I commented that I didn't really like the phrases about following seas and the wind being at your back because sailing downwind, especially in the summer, is miserably hot and waves from the stern do little more than push you around. Mother Nature seemed to want to prove that those sayings were around for a reason.

The wind started to pick up by the time we were back out in the Severn and clocked around until it was right on the nose. I motor-sailed us, still with just the main up, out into the Bay. I'm an awful judge at wave heights, but some of these swells seemed a little closer to four or five feet than the forecast two and forward progress was slow going. I pulled out about a third of our 150% jib, fell off the wind some and we hunkered down for a rough, wet ride. Meredith's concerns about the waves and building clouds off to the west quickly vanished when she announced that our sail back to Galesville was more like a log ride down Splash Mountain instead of a leisurely day sail. Not sure Bailey was having nearly as much fun as she was.

We were consistently topping 8 knots and were heeled - 40 degrees a couple times - so severely that the engine's water intake was above the waterline on a starboard tack. Despite the rough conditions, the sail back really was pretty enjoyable. We sailed past the Hospice races, successfully photobombed a couple races (see above photo) and even got to see Donnybrook do some tacks up close and personal. A 78 ft boat can sneak up on you fast when it's going 15 knots...

After a quick tack, we were in line with the mouth of the West River and heading home. It took about two and a half hours to get to Annapolis. I think we shaved 45 minutes off that on the way home. Even at the docks, the wind was still blowing more than 11 knots. We dried off Bailey, repacked the cabin after the bumpy ride and hung out in the cockpit before heading home.

It wasn't the day we had planned - and we got wet even though we avoided the rain - but we made lemonade out of the lemon-like weather we were given and had a surprisingly fun day.

Rain, Rain Go Away
Nick / Weather is perfect now, but what about tomorrow...
09/20/2013, At the dock

Aside from a quick motor around the West River, we haven't been able to take Cordelia out since our Labor Day cruise. Hope the rain will hold off tomorrow - or maybe we'll head to St. Saint Michaels tonight...

Things Go South On The South River
Nick / 84, 10 knots South
09/03/2013, Aberdeen Creek

A quick check of the weather ruled out St Michaels as our destination for the night in favor of tacking across the Bay - dodging more CBYRA races - and heading for the South River. Neither of us had ever been and we figured it was time to check it off the list. Boy were we wrong...

The sail down was great. Meredith again took the helm for a good chunk of the day and decided the cruising lifestyle suited her nicely. She might have even been okay with the idea to start it that afternoon and just keep sailing right past our intended anchorage.

Even approaching the South River was easy enough, with far less crab pots to dodge than I was expecting. The first item on our list was finding more ice - an 80 degree Dark and Stormy just won't do after a day of sailing. Despite the reviews that the South River wasn't just for power boats anymore, we were greeted with, what Meredith described, as "infinity power boats." She wasn't far off in her tally.

The engine came on and our Chesapeake guide books came out. Brewer Creek was our destination. Plenty of depth and they have ice. Umm... Wrong on both accounts. We soon gave up on finding ice and headed back into the river on our way to the marinas in Edgewater. Of course running aground would come first. I bumped the shoal protecting the entrance to Brewer Creek, but getting off only took a minute or two. Nothing too dramatic.

The wind had picked up to a steady 12 knots by the time we reached the marinas near the Route 2 bridge. The fuel dock at Liberty Marina seemed like the easiest spot to dock. There were already two boats there, so surely there would be a dock hand to help tie us off. The only spot to dock was between a large cabin cruiser and a smaller ski boat, a little closer to the bridge than I wanted to be, but it seemed doable. We were set with the boat hook and lines, but there was no one to throw them to. I had the engine idling and shifted into reverse to start backing away for another try when the engine stalled. I sent Meredith off to the bow in case we had to push off the ski boat while I cut the wheel and tried to restart the engine. Of course, it didn't start. By now we were what seemed like less than a boat length away from a very large, very hard, very non-forgiving bridge. I told Meredith to duck, unfurled the jib and tacked away just in time to avoid the bridge - or at least that was the way it felt.

Chuck and Norma would have to get the ice... They approached the dock and had better luck than we did. Chuck got close enough for Norma to hop on the dock. After watching her struggle, someone finally decided to saunter over from their nearby boat to lend a hand. Customer service and the always willing to lend a hand boater attitude seemed to be in short supply at this place.

Out of harm's way, I tried to crank the engine once more. It caught as soon as I hit the starter, like nothing had every happened. Just keeping you on your toes...

Ice secured, it was well past time to drop anchor and have a sundowner. Meredith and I discussed how happy we were not to have a marina on the South Rive as we motored down river a little toward Aberdeen. Trying to pull into Aberdeen Creek while avoiding the power boats zipping past was a lot like playing Frogger. The boats just kept coming, rarely opening a gap large enough to cut through.

Aberdeen Creek was worlds away from the South River, just around the bend. The anchorage, while a little crowded, was nice and calm. After a drink and explaining that our engine died - not that the jib line came loose - we went for a nice swim. We also witnessed an old man almost get run down by a jet ski - guess it wasn't that different from the South River...

We did a little exploring in the dinghy and found a very cool cove tucked at the head of the creek. The entrance was no more than 15 feet wide, but must have been fairly deep judging by the boats tucked at the private docks lining the shores.

It was a long afternoon, but the sail in the morning and the quiet cove ALMOST made the South River worth the trip. Now, I'm sure a lot of people love the South River, but we aren't among them. That box is checked, and might not get rechecked for some time to come.

We woke up Monday morning, tidied up a bit and parted ways. Chuck and Norma headed north to the Magothy. We headed out in the Bay to watch one last race before slowly sailing back home to the West River - where the guy a slip over was off his boat, ready to toss a line before we even pulled into our slip.

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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"There is nothing - absolutely nothing - half so much worth doing as simply messing about in boats." -- The Wind in the Willows

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