Southbound

Exactly one year to the day, and we are on our way again!

We are going south! We don’t know where, but we have given ourselves one month to get there. We will see how much we can put up with in the meantime. If all goes well, we may make it as far as Beaufort, SC, or maybe just to Oriental, NC. Either way, the journey will be full of adventure and beauty.

On August 5th, I woke everyone up at 530am, to guarantee an early start. Most people travel from around the country and even around the world to partake in the pleasure of Chesapeake Bay sailing, but for me, I just wanted to get the Bay behind me. Last year’s harrowing adventures left me a little shaky in my boots.

We unplugged our shore power, and said goodbye to Nester, our very nice and informative seasoned sailor/neighbor. We motored slowly, but not quietly, out of the Great Wicomico River.

All of us were waking up slowly to the quickly progressing wind and waves.

And this time around, in the effort of adult-ing responsibly, and not partaking in reckless activities: we brought along crew!

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Braden Russel, aka Capt. Ron, agreed to come along as crew on our Chesapeake Bay south bounding. Another Lake Julian fellow sailor, Braden contributed the perfect amount of positive vibes, and sailing intuition. Not to mention he was able to lend another 2 hands when 4 weren’t enough.

Things went bad quickly as they tend to do in this neck of the woods. At the mouth of the river, we set our sails, and noticed a hang up on our jib.  What appeared to be a dangling piece of string (which I mistook for a perfunctory tell-tale) was caught up on our starboard shroud. We could not furl in the jib because it was tied in an ever progressing knot about 20 feet high. Every second was putting enormous pressure on our jib sail as the wind was trying to tear it free; mild panic and havoc began to ensue. 

Thinking quick, Adam took our telescoping boat hook and taped Braden’s sharp as hell rigging knife to the end, and with the dexterity of a ninja, cut the string loose.

Whew!

Catastrophe averted, we set sail on a perfect run with the wind on our backs. There was still time to start this journey off on a nice, relaxing note.

 

Haha, just kidding.

Mere seconds after our jib hang up, our marine toilet started to fill up with water. Water from the outside? Where ever this vile substance was coming from, it wasn’t pretty. I believe that marine toilets were sent here to destroy us all.

This one was trying to sink our boat!

Adam closed the sea cock and messed with the Jabso handle and returned with an “I think it’s fixed, ” statement, which did NOT settle my nerves. But there wasn’t much to be done about it now.

The wind was quickly progressing, so we put in two reefs, to set us as ease. No one wants to reef in heavy weather.

Soon the boys decided that we weren’t moving along quick enough, so they went ahead and shook out the reefs, against my better judgement.

The northerly wind continued to push us along, steadily increasing the waves and our speed. Braden suggested we put those reefs back in before things got messy.

I took the wheel and turned us into the wind to begin the reefing process, only to get slammed by 18-20 mile an hour winds and the occasional 6 foot swell. The wind and the waves feel so different when they are in your face! I also think we turned directly into some heavier weather.

With the motor at full throttle I could barely keep our nose into the wind. Adam was none too happy about that.

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And while furling in the jib, that same piece of string got caught on the other shroud! We couldn’t furl it in all the way, so the corner of the jib kept catching just enough wind to push us out. The jib sheets all the while were flying about like flailing lizard tails tying themselves into an impenetrable knot.

What a mess. Adam taped the knife back onto our telescoping boat pole and braved the waves to cut that string again. I don’t know how he managed to do it without cutting anything else, but miraculously he did cut it loose. He and Braden then proceeded to spend about 15 minutes untying the death knot, all while I struggled to keep our nose into the wind.

They furled in the jib and reefed the main, and we headed back on course.

Once the wind was behind us we had instant reprieve from the rolling waves and bashing wind. Now I know why they call it “gentleman sailing.”

We were all a little shaken up from that event, to say the least. But we felt so grateful to have Braden’s help, and not at all overly cautious in asking him to come along.

The ‘string’ that kept getting caught on our shrouds was actually the luff bolt, and it was ripped out of our jib sail by a length of about 3 feet. It was definitely going to get caught up again until we could cut it down.  We opted to leave the jib furled in until we dropped anchor later that night.

It was a slow and steady main and motor sail down the chesapeake.

The dolphins greeted us on and off throughout the day.

11 hours later we reached our destination: Mobjack bay, about 45 miles south from where we started.

We picked a beautiful little anchorage that protected us from the predicted northerly winds.

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The boys took a long deserved swim in the salty bay.

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Before calling it a night we needed to attend to some things.

Adam and Braden lowered the jib sail and cut the luff bolt rope that had broken free and kept getting caught on our shrouds. It has solved our immediate problem, but eventually we need to have a sail maker replace and repair it. For now, our jib looks a little haggard, and we hope that it wont fray beyond the initial stitching along the luff.

We also noticed that our main sheet had a very distinct fray along a specific area. It looked all but sliced right through. Apparently it was getting caught along the jib cars which have knife like edges, while we were trying to reef. We were pretty confident it would handle one more heavy day of sailing, but not 100% sure. We had no sturdy lines that were long enough to replace it with, so we flipped it so that the busted end was closer to the cockpit. And as soon as possible I am going to have to either sand those edges down with a file, or put some tape along the sides.

But for now sleep was a welcome guest on this boat.

The next day was far less harrowing, but just as long!

We started early again, as I wanted to put the last 40 miles behind us. Bright and bushy tailed at 530am! Norfolk isn’t going to come to us!

The wind was coming from the north again and with our jib back in action, we were wing on wing as we exited Mobjack Bay.

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As the day progressed, the winds shifted from the east, giving us a beautiful lean.

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The wind was a steady 4-7 knots, easy sailing, and allowed us a relaxing day that the previous didn’t.

We approached Hampton Roads in the afternoon with the wind on our backs, and the dolphins at the mouth of the harbor to greet us.

It felt a bit like driving through a big city for the first time. The frog hasn’t seen that much action since buzzard point marina in DC. And even this was busier. Definitely a boater’s destination. Motor boats and sailboats alike.

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We couldn’t help but get a little googly eyed as the big boats passed us left and right.

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This one was 74,000 tons!

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We waved at the one seaman we saw standing on the ship, and he waved back heartily with both arms in the sky, cigarette dangling from his mouth. I had to wonder how long he has been at sea!

We approached our destination, Tide Water Marina, in Portsmouth, VA, at around 530pm. Another 40 mile day, long but incredibly satisfying.

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We are officially at Mile 0 of the ICW!!

2 thoughts on “Southbound

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