Tangier to Onancock

It is a rapid beam reach under full sail from Tangier Light to the town cut. Luna with full sail is overpowered, sails on her ear, but easily steers. Before beating to weather in the narrow cut, I drop and furl the main. We easily tack 4-5 times to reach the Chesapeake’s “Venice”. The wind is still gaining force so I attempt to coast up to one of the crab shacks and then ready the outboard, but as I drop the jib, the boat stalls out (I later realized we’ve not 4′ of water) and we stop 5′ short of a piling. Frantically I race back to the cockpit to mount the outboard, but not before I’m aground on the opposite side of the channel. With the mizzen still up, the boat is heeled and sticks to the bottom.

pilings missed and crab shacks

I start the engine readily, throttle up and walk forward to help the bow shake loose. However, because I forgot to add the motor bracket’s strut, the engine breaks  free and douse itself just as I grab the motor. Only the tether keeps me from losing the new engine. After setting the engine in the cockpit, Big T motors past. We try twice to yank Luna free. No luck. T’s 4 hp engine has enough to do keeping her in the wind. A 50′ motor catamaran passes by and all crew give us a wave. Keeping my fingers clutched I just shake my head. Now, I’m ready to haul the main up and sail off just when a kind waterman in his skiff “Miss Stuart” offers a tow which we accept. He takes us back to the piling we missed earlier and ties us to it. I reinstall the engine (with bracing bracket) and slowly try to turn it. It’s frozen. At this point I’m expecting the worse, but decide to drain the carburetor after which the engine seems to rotate. A harder pull and it fires up. Distrustful of it continuing to run, I allow it to for several minutes before casting off. The problem now is that we are again aground on the other side of the channel and can’t release the line from the piling. Had I been alone, I would have had to get wet or leave the dock line. Fortunately Kevin can sneak his boat in and untie us. So, once again we’re off and search for a crab sandwich. After a few futile attempts to dock, I suggest we head on to Crisfield or some place east. Agreed, we motor back toward the Sound.


Kevin and Big T

We fight the wind and waves to reach open water. My little engine barely has enough push to get there. I quickly raise the main as I think a stone jetty will claim Luna. We are quick to get clear, but soon realize we’ve too much sail. Waves are pushing 3-4′. I decide to raise the jib and allow it to luff before dousing the main. As  I drop the main, a jib sheet snags a rear hinge of the forward hatch and pulls it loose. With that, there is no going to windward. Water dousing the bow could quickly ship too much water. I see Kevin is struggling with his main. Neither one could help the other if need be. I feel I need to save my boat and decide to run with jib only. I lose sight of Big T. My VHF gets doused. Phones are useless. I begin to wonder if T is still floating. Winds are 30-35 and gusting. A 2 hour sleigh ride for Luna begins. The GPS shows almost 12 knots a couple of times. Once I realize how well she is handling the seas, my fears subside as we roll south of Watts Island and into the long 8 mile creek to Onancock. All the way the wind is howling, even at the town itself. We anchor and take a breath. Not able to hail Kevin by radio, phone or text, I decide to call the Crisfield Coast Guard Station. I give them T’s description and last known where-a-bouts and state that I suspect she was back in Tangier. An hour later Kevin confirms this by text and I call off the search and air rescue. I’m completely soaked and salt is on everything outside the cockpit. With a change of clothes, a couple of beers are in order before dinner and an early sack time. By 2100 I’m in the berth. As sleep falls, I rehearse the afternoon’s events and decisions. I make a list. What a day, a lucky day. I’m proud of Luna. LFH designed a “sensible” boat. She done good.



View from a quiet cabin

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