Just out off the marina, we hoist and flattened LUNA’s mizzen. A CS 36 passes on a beat downriver. We raise the main, then jib and give chase. Within a mile we close the +/- 100 yard gap, duck just to leeward of the chase, pass and reach off across Mobjack. Not bad for an old wooden boat. Maybe the CS wasn’t racing, but we were. He certainly messed with his sails as we bore on. “We” being my pal Huck and me.
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.
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.
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.
Sailed LUNA last week for our first overnighter of the year. From Mobjack we had a plus 45 mile run to Reedville where we met Kevin with his Capri 22, Big T.
Shortly after Stingray Point, the wind died. We motor sailed and eventually spied Kevin off Reedville. He had been just north of the Potomac the night before coming from Cambridge, MD.
Entering Reedville is the last remaining stack of what was over 20 from fishing processing plants. Built in 1902, this one now serves as a “gateway” to the town and is lit at night. In danger of collapse, the icon was saved by the community and Omega Protein fishing company to memorialize a part of the town’s history.
We anchored off the town’s water tower, enjoyed a swim and watched the sun set as the evening cooled. The nearby boatyard had some classic old workboats.
With Luna’s new 4″ berth cushions, sleep was easy. However, at 5:00 a passing workboat shook things up. I thought someone had climbed aboard. I sacked out for another 1.5 hrs when I decided to make coffee and take a short sail up the creek to seek out a college friend who I hadn’t seen in forever. I knew he had a Corsair trimaran, so locating his pier wasn’t hard. As we coasted up to his dock, he threatened to shoot. In apology he offered coffee and we caught up before saying goodbye to wake up the world’s heaviest sleeper, KMac. A quick passing rap with a boat hook on Big T’s bow pulpit got him stirring.
The fresh morning breeze takes us out into the Wicomico and Bay. Setting a course for Tangier Island, we head dead downwind. I devise a whisker pole using the boat hook to sail jib and main wing and wing. Luna practically sails herself for hours until we seem to be headed for the same point and time where both a tug and cargo ship are headed. We first bear off close behind the tug whose following barge make a slick of the sea. The huge prop wash pushes us around. We then have to head up and cross behind the container ship as it’s wake lifts and lowers us like an ocean swell.
Around 1100 Tangier’s houses emerge from the Bay. Winds and seas begin to build. Not certain the western approach has enough depth, we elect to sail south around Tangier Light, up the Sound and into the town cut east. We think we have arrived, but the remainder of the day is going to get a lot more interesting …
The number of active sailboats on the Bay has been dwindling for years. Yet, countless marinas have neglected boats melting away as their encrusted hull grow closer to the bottom below. How many broken dreams lay tied to so many piers? Also, gone are the huge regattas I recall as a child where literally hundreds of dinghies would participate. Optis, Turnabouts, Moths, Windmills, Skipjacks, Thistles, 5-O-5’s, Hamptons, etc. all showed up on the big weekends. It was great sport and the post race festivities were something to enjoy, if not sit back and observe. Why the numbers have declined, I don’t know really. I blame the “virtual reality” of TV and it’s effectual inducement of mental laziness. Correct me if you will, but where has people’s sense of adventure gone? The spirit of entertainment and immediate gratification is killing genuine experience and outdoor adventure. I know, that’s another discussion. We’ll leave it for now.
Through sailing UNA, I have found a small group who are passionate about just sailing. Many don’t care to race or compete at all. That’s OK. Their love for messing about in boats is the treasure. I value their friendships immensely. And now that our big boat has found a new owner, we’re looking to do more varied and frequent sailing.
Accordingly, yesterday, after meeting a canvas maker, my daughter and I took a short sail in Mobjack with LUNA. Winds were light and varied from NNE at 4-6 mph. We reached across Mobjack and west into the mouth of North River where we met some of the most dedicated sailors in out little marina. Barbara, Ayars and their Cape Dory 30 “Dory” day sail their nice boat almost every week during the season. Now that we have the Rozinante, I expect we’ll be crossing paths more frequently.
Yesterday I went down to check on Luna and remove her canvass. The temps proved too tempting. T-shirt weather, sun and a stiff breeze. It was awesome. Though now a dream, I hope it sustains until Spring. The scent of water and land, and warmth of the sun are absent here, but you’ll get the drift …