Thursday, 30 Oct 08, 0735-hrs
Galena departed Mears Point Marina heading toward the Bahamas... Again.
I'm now sitting in Solomons Island, MD
Trip: 47nm / Total 47 nm; Engine: 1904 hrs
It's 0200 hrs and I just woke up to check the anchor. Yep, it's where I left it: 88-ft off Galena's bow.
Yesterday was a cold and blusterly day with which to start a journey.
In fact, the wind was a big problem when I left the slip this morning. The wind was 15-kts gusting to 25 from the NW. That put it from 2-O'clock as Galena lay in her slip. I have to turn to port as I motor out. So when I was finally ready to leave the slip (which took much longer than I had expected; my word I am out of practice!) I had to use a 'thief knot' at the bow, starboard side. I cast off the three leeward (port) lines, I then cast off the port stern line. That left Galena hanging from just a bow and breast line on the windward (starboard) side. I made a final check to insure that I had disconnected all those pesky little things like shore power and cable TV lines. I checked the dink (which I would tow) to ensure it was properly positioned. Then I waited for a lull in the wind.
At least that's what I told myself I was doing...
Actually I was just savering the moment. I was about to start yet another adventure. This one would be unique. On the first two voyages I had my wife, Jane, with me. The third had Capt Tom on Evergreen sailing in tandem with me for at least the first portion. But this time I would be travelling all by myself.
Finally, the wind abated a little. I yanked the trip line for the thief knot holding the bow to windward and dropped the loop from the piling at the breast line amidships. The wind immediately started to swing Galena's bow to port. I gunned the engine and she started out of the slip. 3/4 of the way out I backed down a little to allow the bow to finish swinging to port and then accelerated down the fairway. A perfectly executed departure if I do say so myself.
We've had significant northly winds at Kent Narrows for the last few days. As a result the wind has blown all the water out of our portion of the bay. Usually in my slip I'm sitting in 7 to 8 ft of water. But this morning I was reading only 5.6-ft. And that was at high-tide! As I maneuvered around s/v Amici at the end of "O-dock" and headed toward the marina entrance the depth was 5.2 ft. Remember Galena requires 5-ft. As I motored past the covered slips halfway around the marina perimeter I felt Galena rise up as her full keel slid up onto a shoal in the muddy bottom. I pushed the throttle to 'full' and watched the water depth hit 4.6 ft. Galena continue to rise up... and slow down! As I got down to about 1.5 kts she started to settle into deeper (5.2') water. Finally I was out into Kent Narrows. I was 10-minutes early for the drawbridge. I checked in and started treading water waiting. The tide was heading out (South) and the wind was NW. So I would have a fast run through the bridge and into the lower part of the Narrows as it emerges into Eastern Bay.
After the bottoming in the marina I was concerned about the minor shoal at the southern end of the Narrows. In the past I'd read as little as 6.8 ft there. With the water having been blown out of this side of the Bay I might be quite a bit shallower.
As a side note, last year I went all winter without hitting the bottom more than two or three times. And here I was, rubbing the new bottom paint off of Galena's keel only a few hundred feet from her slip. This didn't bode well.
Galena maneuvered through the Narrows draw bridge at 0800 hrs and into the southern end of Kent Narrows. I read 5.2' at the shallow spot near Green '3' and I knew that was the end of the troublesome spots for at least the next few days. A few minutes later I had turned into the wind and raised the sails. I started with a double reef in the main plus the staysail. Once I turned back on course I was moving along smartly, directly downwind.
At the bottom of Prospect Bay I turned SW into Eastern Bay and my speed increased to 6+ kts. I shook out one reef and settled into my sailing routine.
It was cold out with the air temperature about 60-degrees. The sky had cleared and the sun was shining but providing no warmth to speak of. Just north of Poplar Island I turned south into the Chesapeake Bay, proper, at about 1030 hrs. Now I was running almost dead downwind again. I shook out the final reef in the main and ran with full main and staysail. Galena was making about 5.5 kts most of the time. When the wind gusted (to about 25 kts) she sped up to 7kts. Then she settled back to about 5 as the wind lulled.
At 1330 the sun started to warm things up a bit. The air was still cool. And the wind was uncomfortably cold. But sitting in the sun behind Galena's sea curtains I felt warm for the first time in days. I stripped off my heavy winter coat and then my sweatshirt. I was soaking in the sun in just a T-shirt and sweatpants.
That warmth lasted only about an hour. By 1430 everything got cold again. So I bundled up again in all my winter garb.
Everything seems to be working well. Galena sailed along quietly. But then the wind died. My speed dropped to less than 3-kts. My arrival time at Solomons Island quickly moved to 'after-dark' hours. So I fired up the engine and motor-sailed the last 15 or so miles.
I made it to my anchorage at about 1645-hrs. During the day I had seen 9 other sailboats ahead of me running down the bay. And I had heard a bunch of them calling marinas in the Solomons area. But no one was anchored in my little anchorage just inside the river entrance and just off the happy little tiki bar.
As I approached my anchorage I dropped all sails and slowed down to 1.5 kts. I went forward (I almost said 'I ran' but you never let them see you run; it looks so un-seamen-like, and so much of this is posturing for the other sailors) and dangled the anchor. I noticed that there was a lot of construction going on in the area. Everyone seemed to be building more docks. These docks were encroaching into 'my anchorage.' But I picked my spot and motored gently into position. I put the engine in idle reverse and walked forward to release the anchor rode. Down the anchor went just as Galena lost all way. I payed out rode as she started to slowly turn downwind and started making sternway under the reverse-idling engine. At 35-ft I snubbed the rode and set the hook. I walked back to the cockpit and increased the revs in reverse. I checked the side ranges (other boat's masts against shoreside objects) and noted that Galena had stopped once the catenary was taken up. I idled the engine and walked back to the bow to set my snubbers. All in all a text-book anchoring exercise.
I settled down to a nice cup of hot chocolate and a can of stew. I also called Sarah and Bill of s/v Moonlight Serenade. They keep their boat here and I was interested in seeing them again. Sarah said they were planing on coming down on Friday afternoon. So I'll sit here all day tomorrow and then visit with them.
My plan is that Saturday morning I'll sail down to Indian Creek and then on Sunday to Norfolk. There I may join up with Capt Ron on s/v Lastdance if he's still around.
Next entry, pictures. I promise. This was just a started-post.
The adventure begins. Cool, huh?