A Milestone Achieved
06 November 2010 | Annapolis, MD
Today was the eighth straight day of moving along. This morning we left Chesapeake City and headed out into the Chesapeake Bay. As soon as we passed the light that marks the end of the Chesapeake and Delaware Canal we put out the trusty staysail. It was giving us a bit of a boost. We motored with the staysail only for a while. In the upper reaches of the bay you have to stay pretty close to the shipping channel, as it gets shallow quickly on either side. There were a lot of barges and tugs. In one area they were going every which way. They may have been dredging and bringing barges in to take the fill. It wasn't dredging with pipes and pumps like you see; there was one barge with a huge bucket and the other barges were coming up to it. Anyway, it was pretty confusing as we approached it.
After we got past that confusion and out where the bay opened up we raised the main (yes, lesson learned, the main was ready to set when we left the dock). We were hoping for some good wind but there wasn't much. Bud wanted to pull the genoa out, too, but I asked if we could wait until we had more room. We postponed the genoa, and as it turned out the wind started to drop. We ended up motoring with both the main and staysail for a while. Eventually we had to drop the staysail, but we left the main up. I'm not sure how much good it was doing, but it made us feel better. We have been out for three and a half weeks, we were moving 17 of those days, and we've had the engine off for 2 hours.
The current did more for us than the wind. We left just before high tide, so there was a slight current against us to start, but by time we were into the Chesapeake we had 2 knots of outgoing tide to help us along. We hoped to make Annapolis, but weren't sure we could. Thanks to the strong tide we got here at 4 PM. The tide was slack again by the time we arrived, but had done its job.
Our route took us out of the shipping lanes and across the bay on a diagonal. That's when we discovered the joy of crab pots as foretold by Jon and Arline. The buoys used to mark them are tiny. Sometimes they have a little piece of flag flying, and sometime just a bit of stick. To make matters worse, we were going southwest under a November sun, which never gets very high in the sky, so in the afternoon we stared into a sea of sparkles for hours at a time trying to pick out the little sticks and flags before we ran them down. We did manage to miss them all, even the one or two we didn't see until they were behind us.
True to form, as we turned into the Annapolis harbor and prepared to drop the main, the wind came up. A sailor's life! Once we get to warm weather we need to change our pace to match the wind.
We got a berth at the Annapolis Yacht Club. They put us just past the drawbridge on Spa Creek. Fortunately, we arrived in the creek at 3:56, as on the weekends the bridge is raised on the hour and half hour. Bud held the boat in the approach channel for only a few minutes while the Annapolis junior sailing contingent went zipping by in their little boats, and other power boats went in and out. Soon enough the bridge opened. Only one small section in the center of the bridge opens up. As you come up to it, it looks like you have about a 20-foot gap to get your mast through. We were still trying to get straight through the gap in the bridge when we spied the dockmaster indicating a slip just past the bridge. Bud had to stop and back a bit to make the 90-degree turn into the slip. Once we were here and tied I mentioned that it was a really difficult spot. "Not my favorite." was Bud's typically understated reply.
But here we are in the sailing capital of America, even if we have only sailed for 2 hours in our quest to get here!