Monday, June 25, 2018

Update

Since I last posted we sailed down the Chesapeake from the Chester River to the Rhode River on the western shore; then further down the Chesapeake to the Little Choptank River. When we were deciding when to travel from the Rhode River to the Little Choptank we had two options. If we left on Friday we would have lots of wind and could sail, but the conditions might be a little crazy. If we left on Saturday we would have very little wind and the conditions would be calm, but we would have to motor. Since the trip was 37 miles and we had already done so much motoring recently, we opted to leave on Friday. It was indeed windy (in the 20’s) and the water was choppy. We raised the mainsail with 2 reefs while we were still in the West River. We expected the conditions to get even worse once we entered the bay. Shortly after we raised the mainsail George spotted a large pod of dolphins!  How cool!  We weren’t able to get any photos but we did enjoy having them play with us until we had to gybe. We had a lot of wind and some light rain all morning. The temperatures were in the 70’s and we were actually cold for the first time in several days. We discussed putting the enclosure panels up but decided not to bother. We were hoping the rain wouldn’t get any worse. The wind chop on the water made for a bumpy ride and I would start to feel queasy whenever I went down into the cabin. I didn’t relish the idea of going down below to get the panels or even to get my phone to check the radar. Big mistake. Just before we passed the Choptank River the skies opened up with heavy rain. George was driving the boat and got soaked through his foul weather jacket - the entire cockpit was wet. The visibility was very poor and we didn’t see two ships approaching from behind and one approaching in front of us. One of the ships hailed us by name on the VHF radio and asked us to switch to channel 13. Once we switched to channel 13, George attempted to communicate with the ship but another boat (George thought it was another sailboat) kept talking over him.  It is very unusual for ships to hail us so we assumed they wanted us to change course but we had to be able to talk to him to make sure. Eventually the other boat stopped talking and the cargo ship hailed us again. George answered and the ship asked us to turn west. We did but that put us directly in the path of one of the ships approaching from behind. We kept going west (even though it was away from where we wanted to go) and the ship was only a mile away when we were finally clear of its path. Phew! The problem was that the three ships and Breeze On all converged in the same spot at the same time. Because the ships have to stay in the deeper water of the channel they didn’t have many options to avoid us so we had to alter our course. We would normally be on top of ships approaching by looking at their AIS on our chart plotter. The heavy rain and wet conditions made that difficult so we didn’t stay on top of that. We had a very tense few minutes but learned a few things from it. We should check the radar frequently, put the enclosure panels up sooner rather than later, and definitely stay on top of the ship traffic on the Chesapeake. Once we made it to the Little Choptank and anchored on Hudson Creek we enjoyed some nice, hot chowder for dinner. 
On Saturday we motored a few miles over to McKeil point to anchor near the house of Bob and Cathy, who were hosting the June CYC/Cambridge Power Squadron rendezvous. Fred and Ruth Ann on Shooting Star as well as Sue and Gord on Unity also anchored nearby. The rest of the folks came by car. Bob and Cathy’s house and yard are really lovely. Those of us who came by boat enjoyed a swim in their pool before the others came. There was a ton of food and we had a great time. In the morning the boaters, as well as a few others, came back to Bob and Cathy’s for breakfast. 
Yesterday morning the crews of Breeze On, Shooting Star and Unity motored over to San Domingo Creek. After anchoring and going for a quick swim we all dinghied in to St. Michaels to have dinner at Awful Arthur’s.  Jim and Kara on Second Wind were also at San Domingo Creek. They snapped photos of Breeze On at sunrise before they left to sail home. The conditions are great for sailing today so we have decided to sail over to the Tred Avon River and anchor out one more night before we head for home. 



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