Memorable Memorial Day
28 May 2014 | Chesapeake Bay
Nick / 85, 10-17 knots
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.