Saturday, October 11, 2014

2014 June Cruise - St. Michaels MD

We drove to St. Michaels, Maryland in mid June for a five day cruise.  The weather forecast was for temperatures in the low 60's and lots of rain so I rented a slip at the Harbor Inn.  Other than a few large power yachts, we appeared to be the only transients.  It was nice to have hot showers, breakfast and other amenities.  This was our first cruise in our Core Sound 20 Mark II, newly renamed Wren.  It was also training for the 2014 Watertribe North Carolina Challenge scheduled in late September so we didn't bring a motor, relying exclusively on our new oars and sail.

Heading out - viewed through two of our fellow transients
On the first day it rained most of the time but we were able to get out for three or four hours in the afternoon.  The new oars worked well and we had an exhilarating 16 mile sail to the Wye river and back under a single reef.  As we approached the harbor, the wind picked up so we anchored and put in a second reef.   Under two reefs, we tacked into the harber and then rowed to our protected slip.  A hot shower and meal at the hotel bar finished up a great day.

Heading out - (the mainsail foot should be lower)

It rained so much the next day that roads were flooded all over the town.  We bought umbrellas and took the opportunity to do some walking and see a movie.
A dodger made from a tarp keeps the rain out
Commercial Oyster Drege
The weather outlook was slightly better the next day so we abandoned our posh slip and sailed out for a night or two on the bay.  Our plan was to make it through the Kent Island Narrows at slack tide and anchor north of there, but we got a late start and by the time we made it to the bridge a ominous storm front moved in from the west and we scooted into a small creek south of our target at about 3:30 in the afternoon.  We were comfy in our tiny cabin by the time the storm hit and after an hour or so, the wind eased up and the rain stopped and we were able to cook a hot meal and spend a relaxing evening in the cockpit.  We read to each each other from "The Code of the Woosters", by P.G. Wodehouse.

Wing and Wing on the Chesapeake Bay
The next day came bright, cold and windy with few clouds and winds at 15 to 20 mph.  We were able to put our new boat through its paces.

We started out in the morning with two reefs and water ballast. According to the nearby weather buoy winds were gusting to 27 mph (http://www.ndbc.noaa...p?station=44062).  Beating close hauled to windward for about two hours, we made five miles up to Kent Narrows and then floated downwind into the bay.  We always had a hand on the mainsheet but never had to pop it in a gust.  It was a bit wet at times.

In the open bay the wind moderated to 18-22 mph so I shook out a reef on a close reach, still with water ballast.  On a boad reach with ballast we were making 7-8 mph.  I put down the anderson bailer and in about 15 minutes all of the ballast water had been drained from the tank.  We started surfing and gained about 1 to 2 mph.  Our max speed was 11mph with one reef tied in and still a very comfortable ride.

Self Steering on a Broad Reach

Julie at the helm
After about 41 miles of adventure we dropped anchor in a little creek off the Wye river, close to a ghostly sunken tree and an osprey nest.  After dinner, we watched in amazement as the Osprey parents taught their chick how to fly.  We first noticed a fuss when the chick was in the air, furiously beating its wings and making lots of noise.  It was working much harder to stay aloft than the parents that were circling nearby.  The chick tried to seek refuge in a nearby tree but every time it got close one of the parents would swoop down and drive it back into the air.  This went on for at least five minutes until finally the parents showed some mercy and let the chick land.  They didn't give it much chance to rest though - after only a few minutes they were back at it again.

Anchorage in the Wye River

Drying out after a wet day

Oars at the ready

Final day of the cruise - 41 miles

This cruise was our third sail on the boat and I felt we got a good start at understanding how she works.  A few observations:
  • The new oars worked out very well (we didn't bring a motor).  I added some weights (zing shaft annodes) near the handles to give them a counter balance.
  • I love the way the boat heaves-to.  Just sheet in the mizzen, free the main, release the tiller and she drifts gently downwind with her bow pointed 45 degrees - stable and quiet.
  • We had a lot of rain on this cruise and it was great having a cabin but I found myself wishing for a cockpit tent. 
  • I love the anchor pulpit.  My anchor can be muddy and I don't have to worry too much.
  • I was very impressed to see her self-steering on a reach in fairly confused seas.  I found that I sometimes need to let the mizzen luff a bit in order to get her self-steering.