Sailing to Maryland Yacht Club

I’ve delayed writing this last day sail from the Sassafras River to the Maryland Yacht Club as we became very busy with cruising friends and activities that the Seven Seas Cruising Association provided here at the Maryland Yacht Club.  Wow!  What great people, so much useful information, and such a fun time!  However, we slept for 10 hours last night. to catch-up.

Okay, so the last sailing day to get to this beautiful spot.  This was our shortest day sail so far, only 35 miles.  It was still mostly overcast.  Rain, thunderstorms and a cold front were predicted later in the day.  As we did not have any cell signal, we decided to press on before the weather hit.  We were directly into the wind for the first 10 miles or so.  As we traveled further south the bay opened up and we were soon under full sail on a close reach.  We decided to get out of the main channel and make a straight line course over some shallows to our destination.  All was great until…

… we snagged a dark colored crab pot.  Our speed suddenly went from near 7 knots to 3.2.  Normally, we can back off of these by turning into the wind.  We tried that about six times with no luck.  We were definitely dragging something.  Anita was standing on the port hinged cockpit seat when Tom was on deck raising the port dagger board.  When she reached over to tighten the dagger board line, the seat hinges ripped out of the bulkhead and sent her feet flying backward (seat and all) onto the cockpit floor.  So lucky it was only a skinned shin!!  Next boat project – repair seat hinges.

We discovered we were not caught on either dagger board.  It was either on the propellor or the rudder.  The water in the bay is not transparent, meaning one cannot see through it, so putting a camera in the water would not help.  After 40 minutes or so we finally came up with a plan.  We dropped an anchor.  Tom donned his snorkeling gear and dove over the side with a line attached to his waist.  He used a suction cup to hang onto the boat and was able to free the buoy in three quick dives.  After he was back on board, he divulged there was a current pulling him away from the boat.  Good thing he had the suction cup and line!

The remainder of the trip we both stood watch and Anita hand steered around numerous dark colored crab pot floats.  Reminds us of Casco Bay Maine!  We anchored in the well protected cove behind the Maryland Yacht Club.  (See picture above)

The thunderstorm arrived after dark.  Gusty winds, lots of rain, thunder and lightning too!  The wind also shifted 180 degrees.  It was hard to tell for sure, but we were thinking the anchor had dragged.  Amazing how calm it became once the storm passed. We re-anchored in the morning as we did not like the new location, nor trust that the anchor was set properly.  Anchor’s been fine for the past five nights. Then it was time to setup the dinghy and venture ashore.

We plan to move Lone Star closer to Annapolis Sailboat Show tomorrow as we will work at the SSCA booth for 3 hours on Thursday afternoon.  We hear the anchorages are filling up, so wish us luck!!

Transiting C&D Canal

Picture: approaching a bridge as we transit the Chesapeake/Delaware Canal west bound.

Tuesday morning, September 25th.

Ah, what a difference a full night sleep and a nice hot breakfast of egg sandwiches make.  Lone Star was beginning to roll at anchor as the wind had shifted to the southeast.  We were ready to continue our trek into the Chesapeake Bay by 9:30AM.  Winds were southeast 10-20, still some southerly swells in Delaware Bay.  We were able to sail the 30 miles or so to the beginning of the 14 mile canal, then motored.  The wind dies in the narrow canal and they require the motor on anyway.  It’s ok, we don’t mind making hot water with the engine seeing there is very little sun for solar to provide it.

We only saw two other pleasure boats in the entire canal.  It is really quiet around here!  We expected to see more pleasure craft heading south at this time of year.  Upon exiting the canal we motor-sailed into head winds and a contrary current to the Sassafras River.

The anchorage we chose in the Sassafras River was near Turner Creek and across from Money Creek.  Seemed fitting as last night we were near Money Island so why not stay near Money Creek?  We were once again the only boat anchored there.  Arriving around 5:30PM we decided to leave the sails uncovered as they were wet from occasional light rain showers throughout the day and it was almost sunset.  Have I mentioned we really like our enclosed cockpit!!  Neither one of us needed a rain jacket yet, besides the rain is warm!  We had hoped for a lay day here.  However, the weather forecast was okay for the next day and lack of a cell signal encouraged us to press on to our destination: the Maryland Yacht Club in Pasadena, MD.  We will be attending the Seven Seas Cruising Association gathering (SSCA GAM) there.


Passage from SYC to Delaware Bay

Picture: Lone Star at the end of the rainbow while still on her mooring at SYC just minutes before heading south for the winter.

Our last day at Shennecossett Yacht Club (SYC) was a busy one!  We had a nice visit from our son and his girlfriend as well as a godson and his visitor from Germany.  Delivery of homemade chocolate chip cookies from Tom’s sister were much appreciated and are still being enjoyed!  We had a lot left to do before we could leave:  clean out our car, take it to the car wash, (we intend to sell it – anyone want a 2015 VW Passat TDI with under 15,000 miles? contact us by phone or email please!), pickup last mail at P.O., last grocery stop for fresh stuff, stow lots of gear, get ocean passage safety gear out and setup e.g. jacklines, life vests with integrated harnesses, and tethers to stay hooked to the boat; put on winter mooring, bring summer mooring to shore, put folding dinghy on deck, disassemble and stow it and the gear in it; finally, stop at fuel dock for fuel and water then head out to sea for two days.  Consequently, we left at 3:35 PM on Saturday, September 22, 2018.

We knew we had a small weather window to make the 225 nautical mile offshore passage to begin our journey south for the winter.  We had North winds from a front that just passed and another storm was coming to the shores off Cape May and along the New Jersey shore on Monday.  As long as we left by 4PM and maintained 5 knots of speed, we expected a good passage.  We each started with a 2 hour watch as we both still had things we wanted to complete when we were off-watch.  For example, Anita made up snack boxes for night watches.  We do not like opening wrappers at night, the crinkling noise can be bothersome and cumbersome.  Ours included dried fruit, nuts, fig bars, and an unwrapped dove chocolate in our snack box.  At 8:00 PM Saturday, we began alternating 4-hour watches.  The person on watch is making sure we are on course, at a safe speed, and avoiding all obstacles; floating, moving or stationary.

We had a good cell signal all the way out to Montauk so were able to send a few updates to family and friends.  We enjoyed steady downwind breezes and the quartering seas were far enough apart to be a gentle rolling motion.  Downwind is an easy point of sail on a multihull, because they do not heel or wallow.  Surfing down waves is a thrilling acceleration and a gentle up and down motion.  We were two days from the full moon, however it was mostly cloudy.  We each saw peaks of the moon a few times.  There were very few boats on the water; some commercial fishing vessels and a few big ships around the shipping channel entrances to major cities like New York and Atlantic City.

It was around Atlantic City that the wind started to build and stay above 20 knots, gusts were higher.  The electric auto pilot was having a real hard time steering Lone Star at 9 knots.  On Tom’s watch, around 1:30 AM on Monday, we decided to drop the main.  That improved our comfort, allowed Auto to continue steering, and we were still sailing above 7 knots under small jib alone.  We arrived at the Delaware Bay entrance at daybreak to a VHF (radio) weather forecast of small craft warnings for winds, rain showers, and 6-8 foot seas.  No, we didn’t beat the storm, but we have weathered storms before and we were prepared for this one.  They say Delaware Bay can be a nasty place and this time it was.  When the current turned against us in the afternoon we pulled out of the channel and headed for the nearest cove on the windward side (NJ coast) of the bay.  Nantuxent Cove near Money Island was a welcome and empty place to drop our anchor, enjoy a hot dinner, hot showers, a few quick calls or texts, and a good long snooze.  We are so appreciative of a safe passage, each other, and the partnership we have in handling the boat.




The Journey Begins


Thanks for joining us!  We will post highlights of our adventures here for friends and family.

We returned from our first two-year cruise in August of 1989.  We are so excited to be sailing south this year, 2018; 29 years later.  Our goal at this time is to escape winter: the cold, shorter days, and the snow.  We have no idea how long this journey will last.  As we said last time, we’ll sail as long as it’s fun for both of us.  To all of our family and friends that love winter – ENJOY the cold, snow, ice (the ice boating Tom will miss) and the extra hours of darkness for catching up on sleep!  We plan to soak up Vitamin D from the sun, experience different cultures and foods, explore coral reefs and sail and swim in warm tropical waters.

We will need to maintain our floating home as we go.  The project list of things to install, repair or enhance is rather long.  Thankfully the safety list that must be complete before we leave the harbor is short.

We plan to rendezvous with other cruisers at the Seven Seas Cruising Association (SSCA) annual gathering in Annapolis, MD at the end of September for: cruising seminars, an exchange of sea stories and practical information, camaraderie and lots of fun!  Then on to the Annapolis boat show for one final shopping spree.