Saturday, August 15, 2015

Day Two - St. Michaels to Beards Creek

We woke at a reasonable hour, getting the Dogs fed and walked. Returning to the boat,  we made some breakfast and readied the boat for departure. As the sun rose higher in the sky, the breeze started to fill in. It was looking to be a great day! After we motored up the Miles River and into Eastern Bay, the wind direction became favorable and we were able to sail our way out into the Chesapeake Bay, past Bloody Point. As we were sailing along, there was a Catalina 380 going the same direction. Anybody who's a sailor knows that whenever two sailboats are headed in the same direction it's a race. A 38 foot sailboat should be able to easily sail away from me, just based on waterline length and sail area. But time and again, as we were tacking our way out of Eastern Bay, he was unable to shake me. I take pride in good sail trim and it was clear that he was not paying enough attention to his...

Who's a spoiled dog?
After we cleared Bloody Point, we turned Northwest towards the mouth of South River. Unfortunately, the wind decided to go on it's afternoon siesta and we were barely drifting along. Combined with an adverse tide, it was starting to get frustrating so we fired up the engine. Two hours later, we made our approach to Mikes Crab House south. Of course this was the time that the wind decided to pick up, just as we were attempting to pull into a slip. Eventually we got things sorted out and had September Song securely tied up. Time for showers and then we could go get some dinner!

Plenty of slips available at Mikes - Even on a Saturday!
After dinner, we went back to the boat, and during the process of getting ready to head to our anchorage for the night we started noticing a foul odor coming from the head (bathroom). It seems our sewage holding tank had filled up and at this moment it was leaking bad stuff out of the vent. Boat sewage tanks have a vent line (outside the boat) that lets air escape from the tank when you pump more stuff into the tank. The problem is that when the tank fills up, the fluids can also escape from the vent line and go overboard. Since the Chesapeake Bay is considered a "no discharge zone", we needed a pump-out ASAP. At 7 PM on a Saturday, our options were few, and getting fewer as time went by. I grabbed my cell phone and pulled up the Maryland DNR list of pump-out stations. After making a few calls, we found a place that was less than a mile from our location. Kudos to the fuel dock guys at Oak Grove Marina who, after receiving my urgent call, stayed open later than their usual time to provide me emergency pump-out service.

Finally, after all those matters were tended to, we headed to Beards Creek, where we were spending the night. We found a nice, peaceful spot to anchor right off the runway of Lee Airport. Doesn't sound too peaceful, but there wasn't any air traffic after dark, and the few planes we did see were small private ones. There really aren't too many good places to walk the dogs in Beards Creek. Let's just say that I cannot confirm or deny that we may have landed somewhere with a "No Trespassing" sign.

Total distance covered: 39 miles

Friday, August 14, 2015

Day One - Rock Creek to St. Michaels

Love Point on the Horizon
I spent the morning getting the boat loaded and provisioned and when Janet finished working we headed down to the boat. After getting settled in and everything ready, we got underway around 13:15. On the way out of the marina, we stopped at the pump-out to make sure our sewage tank was empty. We could not get anything to come out, so I assumed that the tank was empty. More on that in a future post.

Looking at the forecast, the weather guessers were telling me there would be very light SE winds, which meant we would be a motorboat today.

As we approached Kent Narrows, we fell in line with a steady stream of boats all heading in the same direction - through the narrows. We found a few shallow spots on the North side - favoring the green side seemed to help with the depth but I had to leave room for boats coming in the opposite direction. Arrived in the Narrows at 17:05, just missing the bridge opening which is every half hour. Since we had the dogs aboard, a decision was made to stop for fuel and dog walks at Piney Narrows Marina. The dock hand there was great and got me fueled up quickly. Since the fuel dock wasn't crowded, we were allowed to wait there until about 17:25 when it was time to get over to the draw bridge.

Catchin' Rays on Eastern Bay
After clearing the bridge, the sailboat ahead of me was moving kind of slow and started drifting off to the right. Thinking they were heading to a marina, I throttled up and began to pass them. I had to move left to stay in the channel. The usual rule is "red right returning", meaning that when "returning", or heading into a body of water, you keep the red buoys or markers on your right, and the green on your left. The unique thing about Kent Narrows is that it is open on both ends. Chester River to the north, and Prospect Bay to the south. Once you pass through the draw bridge, the red and green switch sides. Since you are now leaving the narrows for a larger body of water, you need to keep green on the right. By this time it was clear to me that the sailboat I had passed was not heading to a dock, but was in fact about to pass the green on the wrong side. The water in this area goes from about 20 feet deep to 3 feet. As I passed them, they looked over and waved as is customary when boaters cross paths. I waved back, but it was more of a frantic "You need to be over here" wave. Fortunately they realized the mistake before it was too late and they fell in line behind me. So today I made a deposit in my Karma account.

Sundowners at Dinner
The light winds continued as we passed through Prospect Bay and down into Eastern Bay. We kept on motoring, and finally made our approach to St. Michaels harbor at around 17:00. We squeezed into the inside anchorage and dropped the hook. Quickly got the dinghy rigged and shuttled the dogs ashore for another walk.

When we returned to the boat, we could see that the wind had shifted and we were dangerously close to being aground. With the tide falling, we decided to move to the outside anchorage where there is deeper water and a better breeze for night time ventilation.

Then it was off to a late dinner at the Town Dock Restaurant. I had a crab cake and Janet had the Grilled Mahi. Excellent meal with live musical entertainment and a view of the water.

By the time we got back to the boat, grabbed the dogs for one more walk, and hit the sack, it was nearly 23:00 - well past "cruiser's midnight".

Total distance covered: 36 miles