Raising the bridge
25 August 2013 | Choptank River and Knapps Narrows
Ko Barrett: gorgeous end of summer weather
So, each year I set a few modest goals to help build my skill set in this vast new sailing universe I am now exploring. And I really mean modest here: grab a mooring ball while single-handing, various boat improvement tasks and, in this case, raise a bridge and negotiate the passage. Hard as it is to believe, I have hardly used the VHF since owning Little Wing and it was daunting to do this and secure passage for the first time.
But first I have to comment on our sail from Herrington Harbour North Marina into the Choptank to an anchor site. We left the marina around 10am in glorious weather with a steady NW wind. We hit a few snags backing out of the slip for the first time with the dinghy and dropping and having to retrieve a lost fender, but we negotiated those minor challenges well and headed off.
We headed to Irish Creek, which the Cruising the Chesapeake guide assured us was shallow but negotiable. Not so. We headed in, followed the instructions for avoiding shoals to the letter but scrapped bottom three times before turning around and hightailing it out of there, happy to have avoided getting stuck.
Low on fuel, we decided to head up Broad Creek (right next door) to what looked like a nice anchor site on Leadenham Creek. We arrived at around 5 and settled into a small inlet on the starboard shore just inside the first marker. A check of the fuel gauge gave us pause as we thought about our plan for the next day. But that could wait...our main task was to break out the celebratory victuals and enjoy the mostly wild coastline, interesting cloud formations and welcome breeze, keeping the biting flies at bay. We toasted the sunset to a soundtrack of Workingman's Dead.
Next morning, we decided to head for Knapps Narrows bridge in order to reduce sail time and fuel usage. The wind, which was supposed to shift helpfully to the SE, was barely discernible. Not wanting to risk running out of fuel while in the Narrows, I called BoatUS to locate a place to purchase diesel before transitting. They had a boat nearby and, since I had an Unlimited Gold membership, encouraged me to sit tight and await a fuel delivery for the mere cost of the fuel (well, at a premium price of $10/gal). Trevor arrived and delivered six gallons, while dispensing local knowledge that made it all worth it - who lived nearby, where to go for a sandy beach, etc. We were soon underway.
We motored to Knapps Narrows. I hailed the bridge as we were approaching the first channel marker. The bridge operator chided me in a good natured way for calling wayyyy too early and I confessed my nervousness about a first passage. I called back at a more appropriate location, he opened the bridge and we motored through without incident. We pulled up to the floating dock at Knapp's Narrows Marina for a lunch to cap off our experience prior to motor sailing back to the slip to end a magical weekend.