We had a record number of boats at the Old Bay Club’s, now annual, Fall cruise on the James River, thanks to hosts Barbara and Harris. This event is a fair weather sailor’s dream. Honestly, the accommodations surpass any bed and breakfast, … and lunch, … and dinner. We ate more than slept or sailed. Both nights’ dinners were by fire and with cocktails on the beach. Both raw and steamed oysters were followed by Pennsylvania brats Friday night. A now infamous frogmore stew was served Saturday evening. The recipe is a guarded secret, but hiding the cobs of sweet corn, thumb sized shrimp, and sausage is impossible.
Eleven boats showed up for some easy sailing between the mouth of the Chickahominy River and Jamestown. We chased and taunted each other, all claiming to be getting the better of the other. Despite the razzing, some new friends were made. As always, we had a good time.
Last Thursday with daughter and UNA, we drove to Belle Island State Park on the north bank of the Rappahannock River to met Kevin and Little T.
By 11:00 that morning we we’re sailing downriver with the tide for the evening. Winds were westerly, light and predominantly downwind. To gain some breeze, we tacked toward Urbanna on the south bank. As the breeze had all but died we took a swim at the small beach just to starboard of Urbanna’s creek entry. Water, sun and beer were just perfect as we lay on the water’s edge. Kevin, opposed to bathing, motored on in to tour the creek.
The breeze returned from the east and we took the opportunity to sail across the river to Whitehouse Creek in the mouth of the Corrotoman. That was a 15 mile day. Dinner was Indian spread over rice.
We broke our raft up around 7:30 and by 8:00 were bunked and out. UNA is more of a 1 man boat for overnighting. All the gear I typically shove to port had to be stowed for additional floor space. The evening was just cool enough and we were sufficiently in a breeze to keep the bugs at bay. Regardless, it was a restless night arresting odd sounds from a bumping tiller to a rocking mizzen mast. Morning started at 06:00, cool and bright.
A NW breeze would make the sail back up river comfortable. We enjoyed the scenes along the banks.
We met several of the OBC crew and their boats along the way.
That night’s dinner menu included camp grilled brats from PA (thanks Peter), pasta salad, mellon, pineapple and deadly brownies (thanks Francie).
Saturday’s sail was more local as a girl needed to head home. Before that however, we had another enjoyable beach picnic. The water temp was fantastic and the sun just warm enough.
I said goodbye to my little girl and headed back out to chase the other boats. Racing back into the close quarters of the creek was my favorite part of sailing for the weekend. With a piped breeze and full sail, hiking out was needed. Reminded me of Moth and Laser sailing.
Dinner that night was out at the Lancaster Tavern. Too much to eat, but that is usually the case. Slept hard. Departed after breakfast Sunday morning. Some stayed behind to sail (Barry and Dennis). Wish I had too. Fun few days. Good friends.
Barry has some nice footage of portions of our gathering a few weeks ago. He always seems to find something when there appears to be nothing going on. That’s the eye of an artist. There is some good dog paddling going on here:
My middle boy and I met up with Bob down at Lake Chesdin for the day. This reservoir sits on the border of Chesterfield and Dinwiddie Counties. We had UNA and Molly in tow. The public landing has two concrete ramps with a short sturdy pier between the two. The day was overcast and hazy with little humidity, thanks to thunderstorms the night before. The 7-10 mph winds never materialized, but the 0-5 offered some challenging lake sailing. Bob provided and early tow upstream using his Torquedo. The quiet motor pulled to generate an apparent wind that almost felt like sailing. We stopped maybe 2/3rds of the way for lunch before a fun sail home. No, we weren’t racing, but whenever there are two boats on the water …
Molly and UNA traded tacks as we searched for the “luck”. A lot of racing is getting to that luck first.
The Sooty and Caledonia were very closely matched. I’m guessing my added crew made our displacements even. The Sooty does a slightly narrower water line beam. However, I observed that between 0-3 mph Molly slowly stepped away with +60 SF more sail area. Then, from 4-7 (high winds) UNA came into her own and seemed to gain on tacks.
The boats altered passing tacks maybe a dozen times all the way home. A win could not be claimed decisively. However, UNA got to the last bend in the lake first and slid home downwind. Just as we were about to tag base the wind died and on came Molly. She passed us not 60′ further off shore and scored a win in the last 100 yards. Congrats Bob! Looking forward to next time!
Here are 9 seconds of the “race” that typified the day.
Rose, Nip, Little T, Aeon, Molly, Whisper, Caesura and UNA. Sharon and Kirk, Peter, Kevin, Barry, Bob, Dennis, Doug and me with Huck. We all experienced a wonderfully long weekend by invitation from Floyd and Francie to enjoy their charming river house and sail the Yeocomico, a sleepy rural river jeweled with old homes and nestled on the south shore of the Potomac. To eat, sail, eat, sail, drink, eat, sleep became an easy rhythm to fall into. That we did. The hosts’ southern hospitality was sublime. Each meal highlighted Francie’s fantastic cooking and conversation was peppered with Floyd’s “histories” . No pounds were lost on this trip. My mornings started with coffee and country walks with Huck. Full breakfast fare proceeded gentle reaches downriver. Return trips tacked from bank to bank back home. Cocktails were savored with late afternoon breezes under big shade trees. From our roost we saw the sun set and a full moon rise. Lightning bugs, yelping of distant coon hounds, water reflections and tales told tall closed each day. What better way is there to spend with friends? This “bed and breakfast” sailing is hard to beat. Thank you Floyd and Francie! Thank you.
After last weeks’ aborted trip in Reedville (particular details are witheld on my end) we had several days of rain. However, Monday, my buddy Kevin with “Little T” and I with “UNA” decided to give sailing another go. This time we headed south to Beaufort, NC. The Beaufort Maritime Museum graciously allows us to use their event parking for our trailers overnight as the public ramp on Town Creek does not.
The first night we sailed Little T along the Beaufort waterfront to return to anchored UNA after dark. A good breeze from the SE greeted us the next day. We sailed against wind and current into the ocean to tack along the beach to Cape Lookout. Waters were almost tropical, the tour of the Lighthouse interesting and the sunset fantastic. The following day we cruised around Lighthouse Bay before reaching back inside along Harkers Island and into the cut along Beaufort again against wind and current. Little T motored. However, UNA tacked and wiggled up the channel and reached the museum pier first by a good 10 minutes. That was some of the best sailing.
After a burger at Clawson’s (highly recommended), we decided to go to Morehead City and sail along it’s waterfront, but after a 1st then 2nd reef in the main, I was tired of getting wet. The beat became a bash with increasing winds. The day’s sail already was reward enough, so we cracked off, rolled along Radio Island and reached back into Town Creek. Schedule also demanded my return. We said our goodbyes over a chart session where Kevin decided to go downwind up the Intercostal to anchor in Dumping Creek and on to Ocracoke the following day.
Despite my shorter trip, it was well worth it. Got some video of parts here:
A SMALL CRAFT ADVISORY MEANS WIND SPEEDS OF 25 TO 33 KNOTS AND/OR SEAS OF 5 FEET OR GREATER OVER THE COASTAL WATERS ARE EXPECTED TO PRODUCE HAZARDOUS BOATING CONDITIONS TO SMALL CRAFT. INEXPERIENCED MARINERS…ESPECIALLY THOSE OPERATING SMALLER VESSELS…SHOULD AVOID NAVIGATING IN THESE CONDITIONS. MARINERS SHOULD PAY CLOSE ATTENTION TO THE MARINE FORECAST…AND CONSIDER WIND AND SEA CONDITIONS IN PLANNING.
Today’s Small Craft Advisory was genuine. Winds were at the lower end and seas were more like 2-3 feet, but on the nose with pervasive white caps. We put in at Shell Landing Boat Ramp in Fleeton, VA with the second reef in the main. After thrashing out of Cockerel Creek, we bashed to weather into Ingram Bay. hiked on the rail, in short order we wished for the third reef in the main and one in the mizzen. It was a very wet ride, but thankfully the day was warm. Turning up the Great Wicomico gave some relief from the seas, but not the winds. They were steady and apparently building. UNA took it all in stride. Just after 1 1/2 hour sailing, we paused along a nice stretch of beach on the southern shore to “dewater”, grab a sandwich and put in all the reefs we could find. Turning back toward Fleeton, the spray flew as we reached back down river. It was a glorious bright blue windy day. No time for photos on the run, but here are a few from lunch.