Whim's Chesapeake Bay Cruise
Aboard Mel Converse's 35' Allied Seabreeze Whim, with crew Rick Van Mell.
6/11/03 - 6/21/03
Our daily statistics are summarized in Whim Ship's Log for those who are interested.

Wednesday, June 11, 2003

It was easy to roll out of Whim's forepeak bunk about 0630 Wednesday morning June 11th in Galesville, Maryland. Mel already had filled the cabin with the aroma of fresh brewed coffee, and the gentle wind through the rigging augured a nice start for the cruise. In one way this was very different from the many cruises taken over the years - we didn't know where we were going to spend even our first night out.

It was both a luxury and a coincidence of circumstances that we could literally "go where the wind blows." Our only known destination was 9 days away - Annapolis on June 19th - but in between there were endless possibilities. This year was not the typical delivery to Maine, nor the schedule confines of picking up and dropping off crew bookended by work and the logistics of cars and planes, nor the long passages between desirable ports.

Central Chesapeake Bay is blessed with almost endless options for good cruising within very short distances. From 38 degrees, 60 minutes north, at the Chesapeake Bay bridge, south 60 nautical miles to 37 degrees, 60 minutes at Smith Island, there are perhaps a thousand safe, cozy anchorages in rivers, creeks, and coves. Plus an additional hundred marinas, yacht clubs and city docks to choose from. For the fussy, the only detraction from this paradise of a cruising ground is the tendency for July and August to become hot, humid, windless and buggy. But this year it had rained consistently for weeks - this was only the third day in a row when it hadn't rained - yet.

But Whim was stocked and ready. Mel had done all the provisioning from Rick's meal plan and shopping list. The icebox had been cooled by an initial 100 pounds of ice and the perishables were being kept cool by an additional 60 pounds added yesterday. The green and white Dartmouth Corinthian Yacht Club burgee flew straight and true from the pig stick above the truck of the mainmast, while the Staff Commodore flag flew at the mizzen - both Rick & Mel being past Commodores. Mel's Seven Seas Cruising Association flag flew at the starboard spreader.

Our Skipper checks supplies.
Whim looking good.
Proud burgees.
Whim is ready.
Let's get some dinner!
Under way at last.
But this morning it was pleasantly in the 60's, wind south with just enough haze to filter some sun. Mel's coffee was supplemented with orange juice and cereal as Rick began his traditional galley duties. There was just room to pack a last 40 pounds of block ice into the icebox brimming with a full cruise-worth of meats and vegetables. Mel backed out of the slip at 0834. Ospreys had started their day too, skimming the water for fish to feed their young occasionally seen in the many nests on channel marks. A pair fought for lookout rights atop the spar of a boat near the outer edge of the mooring field. By 0915 the engine was off and Whim settled onto a six knot beam reach under jib, main and mizzen.

Osprey sleeps late.
This is MY mast!
West River channel marks.
OK, who's next?
West River Sailing Club
Competition ahead.
A Sabre 34 was a third of a mile ahead sailing a similar course to deep water at West River buoy 1A. On a reach, 35 foot, yawl rigged Whim was slowly closing the gap. At the buoy, we both rounded up hard on the wind for Bloody Point Bar and the entrance to Eastern Bay. To us, at least, the race was on. Even though a yawl is typically not at its best upwind, Mel handed Rick the centerboard crank, and 20 turns later the 380 pound centerboard was down increasing our draft from four to seven feet. Immediately the knot meter jumped from 5.3 to 5.7 and we slowly clawed our way to windward of the Sabre. At first neither of us was able to lay the end of Kent Point and the Bloody Point light, but the wind backed and the current helped as we sailed the six miles across the open Chesapeake. With constant attention to trim, we overhauled our competitor, passed Bloody Point Light and skimmed within 250 feet of the 7 foot contour and eased off into Eastern Bay.

Mel works Whim to windward.
Got 'em now!
Bloody Point Bar Light
Perhaps a dozen boats beat southwest out of the Bay as we reached off another six miles for Tilghman Point. We arrived just before noon, and rounded south into the tiny entrance to Tilghman Creek. Using the GPS and computer to skirt the shallows we threaded our way into the creek and dropped anchor for lunch. A band of high stratus passed overhead and two or three drops of rain splashed around us as we pulled up anchor.

Headed for Tilghman Creek
Safe at anchor.
Lunch time!
Over a sandwich we had decided to head for the Wye River for the night. Our choices still included heading for the north or south side of Wye Island, and we settled on circling the southern side up to the limiting low bridge. Several bands of clouds alternated with a muggy, hazy sun, but enough of a breeze to still be enjoyable. Along the way we passed a dozen potential anchorages for the night, then poked our bow into three as we returned from the bridge.

Wye Landing turn.
Shallow territory...
... close aboard.
Nice boathouse.
Duck blinds abound.
Local swans.
Aerial hunters.
Low bridge coming up.
End of the line.
The first unnamed cove on the north side of the river across from Pickering Creek had a dock and boat tied up at the head, so we passed it by. Inching all the way up Granary Creek, we passed the Outward Bound camp, quiet this day, past a small landing with a power boat and daysailer tied up, into a small pool surrounded by tall trees. Idyllic and quiet it was, but by now it was 4 in the afternoon, getting hot and muggy and the light southwesterly wind was blocked by the trees.

Wye Island anchorage options.
Granary entrance looks hidden.
This pool is too quiet.
We moved on to one of Mel's favorites - Dividing Creek. Though there was one boat anchored near the entrance, and two more deep in the creek, we circled a few times between them and anchored in a spot where the wind lightly creased the water. We rigged the full awning for shade over the cabin, and the Windscoop over the forward hatch - Mel noted the temperature at the after end of the cabin, over the engine, had climbed to 92 degrees, and only a slightly better 88 degrees at the forward end. Rick rowed off in Whimper to take a picture of Whim against the lush green. A little water snake slithered past and the ospreys circled above.

Let's try Dividing Creek.
Only a few boats here.
Whim tries to keep cool.
What little wind there was soon died away. Moving slowly and staying under the shade of the awning as much as possible, we broke out the crackers and crabmeat for cocktail hour about 6:30. We remarked how we were hardly 18 miles from our starting point, but had covered 37 as we explored the various coves and creeks. A power boat and another sailboat entered Dividing creek and anchored 100 and 50 yards off - little concern about noise or swinging room. It was a little after seven when the sun finally slid below the tops of the trees and we declared it cool enough for dinner. Mel made quick work of the steak on the grill while Rick whipped up mashed potatoes and salad. Plenty of water washed them all down.

Back in the cockpit after dishes were done, it was utterly still. A gibbous moon hung in the south, thin stratus slowly thickening as the light faded just before nine. A few mosquitoes whined around us. We were loath to turn on lights for fear of attracting more, and were contemplating an early bedtime.

We both asked at the same time if the other had seen what looked like the faint, brief loom of distant lightning over the treetops. It wasn't long before another flicker confirmed the suspicion. We turned on NOAA weather radio and were not surprised to hear the cascade of severe thunderstorm warnings up and down the Bay shore. High winds, hail, frequent lightning and heavy rain were reported moving east over Annapolis and Anne Arundel county - directly toward us on the eastern side of the Bay in Wye River. Now we had something to do.

We had already stowed the big awning after the sun went below the trees - allowing for the "40% chance of rain" that had been in the forecast all day, and echoed forward for the rest of the 5 day forecast period. No sense in getting up in the middle of the night to take down a wet, flapping awning! As the lightning flashes began to acquire the low, long distant thunder roll of a major storm, our preparations accelerated. We put the cockpit cushions below, dogged all the cabin hatches, zipped up the window in the dodger, and rigged the - almost - rain-proof hood over the forward hatch that would let in some air and hopefully little rain into the forepeak cabin. At 2234 the rain and wind arrived together. Most of the wind shook the treetops - a good 25 or 30 feet higher than the top of Whim's mast, but we could hear the howl. Rain fell in buckets and two earsplitting thunderclaps announced that lightning had struck within a second, or about 1000 feet away. It was mostly over by 2315 and we settled in for a nice, cooler, night's sleep.

Thursday, June 12, 2003

We rolled out of our bunks Thursday morning at the very leisurely hour of 0730. A couple of cups of Mel's Rocky Coast Roast and a breakfast later we weighed anchor and left Dividing Creek astern. The cool morning breeze from the southwest corrugated the water as we powered down the Wye River and headed upwind for the Miles river and the little town of St. Michaels.

We paddled Whimper ashore, checked in, and explored the various restoration projects and exhibit about oystering on the Bay. We marveled at the tired old Skipjack oyster dragging sloops being reborn under the patient and practiced hands of woodworkers. Whole slabs of logs were pinned with pegs into the stern of one boat. From the rough surfaces the logs were slowly shaped inside and out until the exterior looked like planks and the interiors spanned the wide flat transoms. On another the teak deck strips were being relaid, one by one.

Arriving at Museum.
The Oystering Exhibit.
Safely anchored.
A downsized Skipjack.
Relocated screwpile lighthouse.
Whim from the lighthouse.
Skipjack alley.
Boatshop blocks.
A nice afternoon.
The attraction was the weekend Antique & Classic Boat Show. With the festivities due to start Friday morning, we figured there would be boats arriving and we'd get a chance to see them before the crowds filled the Chesapeake Maritime Museum grounds. We anchored just off their docks shortly after 1100 after a short, seven-and-a-half mile day's run. Putting Whim in shipshape trim, setting the awning against the increasing heat of the sun, and a little lunch were all accomplished by 1300.

We paddled back aboard around 1630, adjusted the awning toward the westing sun to garner a little more shade for the cabin top. In the breeze we read the program for the next day and thought about the rest of the crabmeat and crackers for cocktail hour, then head ashore for dinner. But once again high clouds captured the sun and our old friendly lightning flashes tinged the western sky. As we munched on crabmeat, we turned on the radar, and this time could see the approaching rain approximately 12 miles away. Repeating yesterday's drill, we stowed the awning and secured the ports. It arrived with a 30 - 35 knot gust front, ragged torn fragments of black scud and lightning. Right in the middle of this excitement a family powered their chartered sailboat into the narrow space between us, the channel and the museum and dropped their anchor. It was a sloppy set, closer than we liked, but it held. The boat's name was Almost Crazy.

The rain followed a few minutes later, and as the saying goes, "wind before the rain, soon set sail again" held true. The cells passed in about 30 minutes. The kids on Almost Crazy climbed into their dinghy to bail it out while mom took pictures and dad and dog watched. Two of St. Michael's finer locals swam past looking for a handout, and were less than thrilled with whole wheat bread - ungrateful swans, don't they know what's good for them?!

Forehatch rain dodger.
Almost Crazy bails.
Locals are hungry.
Mel tried rigging our little anchor light, but it seemed to have lost power. Surgery on the plug end finally seemed to solve the problem so we paddled ashore for dinner. Crabcakes did the trick, and we were back aboard in time to finish updating the log. The cool air hung damp and motionless above the glassy water. It reflected the lights of St. Michaels' encircling developments in long, soft streaks. We turned in anticipting a quiet night by 2200 hours.

Friday, June 13, 2003

Other than a few pesky mosquitoes it was a peaceful night and by Whim standards we slept in Friday morning. Rick rolled over and inquired if indeed that was the cabin-filling aroma of Rocky Coast about 0730. Morning ablutions and a leisurely breakfast ended with a casual discussion of our options for the day. The forecast continued to equivocate about when a weak cold front would arrive - the range had been from today through Sunday morning. With a chance of northerly and easterly winds to replace the muggy southwesterlies in the next 24 hours, we elected to stay right where we were and take in St. Michaels' boat show.

First, there was log writing and development of the traditional web page to attend to. It was late morning before we paddled ashore to deposit trash, fill four gallon water jugs, and pick up 40 pounds of ice for the reefer.. This was an easy way to keep up with the water supply without having to bring Whim to a dock, and was a process repeated about every day or two.

The Rocky Coast Roast!
Jersey Speed Skiffs
Chris Craft runabouts.
The boat show officially opened at eleven, even though some boats were still arriving. It was mainly a powerboat show, with 17 classic Chris Craft runabouts like the Century and Gar Woods in profusion. Another bunch were 6 sleek Jersey Speed Skiffs, capable of 60-80 miles per hour with big V8 engines hidden below their flush decks. Mahogany and varnish glistened everywhere. For those who have practiced the art of laying down a bubble-free, mirror like varnished surface over an expanse of wood, these were superb examples of an artist's work. There were larger boats too, including a beautiful 1947, 80 foot Trumpy "houseboat", the S.S. Sophie, with gleaming brightwork and expertly handled as she arrived. We ate lunch, then went ashore to take a closer look.

A short walk into town replenished the milk and onion supply. Mel did the chicken to perfection on the grill, Rick did the broccoli below. A full moon rose yellow-orange in the southeast, and it would have been idyllic except for two things. Thunderheads were again rumbling to the west while clouds swallowed the moon, and a disheveled older powerboat, aptly named Folly, insisted on dropping anchor between us and shore, despite our protests. She settled less than a boat length from our bow, and then the characters simply got off the boat and went ashore in the water taxi. Not wishing to see if their anchor, which had not been set, was going to hold, we turned on the power, hauled anchor and in the last of the fading light anchored among a dozen boats about a half mile off shore. We were made fast and shut down a few minutes before the thunder and lightning arrived with the evening's rainstorm.

Fast, slow, power & sail.
Pedal power.
One glorious sailboat.
Kids chill.
Moon before the storm.
Saturday, June 14, 2003

Clear, cooler light southwesterlies ushered in Saturday morning. We were under way by 0645 headed up Eastern Bay while Rick scrambled eggs with crabmeat and cheddar for breakfast. Tilghman Point dropped astern an hour later as we swung dead into the light wind and headed southwest toward Poplar Island Narrows and the turn into Knapps Narrows to save ten miles on our run to Oxford. The GPS helped us find the short, narrow 8 foot passage at the bottom end of Poplar, though the locals seems oblivious to any depth concerns and roared past in power and fishing boats. The bridge at Knapps opened graciously, and we emerged to see a fleet of sailboats about a mile ahead.

Knapps Narrows on the computer.
As we approached.
It's our turn.
We determined they were about to start a race in the light airs, and our course line took us just near their starting area as they started. Mel was determined to sail the six miles to the entrance to the Tred Avon River, so we had Whim under full sail in a trice. As if to taunt us, the wind slowly died away and our speed slowly dropped from 2 knots to zero and we had covered just two miles in over an hour. Back under power we furled the sails. The heat and humidity were building again - exacerbated by the total lack of wind.

We powered the two miles up the Tred Avon River to Oxford, and pulled into the fuel dock just after noon. An ice cream bar in the dockmaster's office was a welcome treat. We looped back outside into the river and anchored off the beach not far from the Tred Avon Yacht Club on the point. The morning's extravaganza of cardboard boat races was just breaking up as we arrived. What had been perhaps 20 boats and a half mile of people-packed beach with tents and loudspeakers dwindled away to just three boats by the time we finished our sandwich lunch.

Our lunchtime entertainment was aboard Blue Heron, about a 35 foot sailboat, anchored just outside us. In addition to Dad and Son, there were two pretty Golden Retrievers aboard. Dad would toss a small empty water bottle over the side and the boy and a dog would dive after it. It was hard to tell who was having more fun, the boy with his squeals or the dog who routinely out-swam the boy to the bottle. Like two kids, the boy and dog splashed each other, the dog seeming to enjoy the whole show. What happened next was remarkable. Both swam around to the transom where the typical stainless steel tube boarding ladder had been folded down with it's last rung in the water. First the boy scampered up and aboard. Then the retriever put paws on first one rung then another, stretched upward and fumbled paws, one by one, onto the ladder until it was back aboard - all by itself. The process was repeated, and at times the second dog would go in too, and it also had mostly mastered the climbing aboard trick, with only one helpful last minute tug from dad on one occasion.

Boy & Dog swimmers.
Who took my ladder?!
First step; pal watches.
One paw at a time.
Full stretch.
Safe aboard.
The afternoon heat was as enervating as each afternoon had been - only a bit hotter. It climbed to 92 degree below decks, even with the awning set before lunch. It was too hot to do anything below - and too bright on deck for computer visibility to work on the log or web page. Even with the big middle panel open, the dodger blocked most of the breeze, so Mel lowered it to increase air flow back to the cockpit. Sitting still in the shade was the drill. Mel took Whimper for a run back into town for water and some spare light bulbs while Rick read and tried to stay cool.

Cumulus billows had started forming early in the morning, but mostly to the west while skies above stayed clear and hot. Slowly their bottoms turned from white to black, the wind died to still, and an opaque curtain rose from the northwestern horizon. The squawk box was again talking about severe thunderstorms and the alarms started sounding by 1600 hours. This time it was described as a line between southern New Jersey and the Virginia border, moving southeast. It sounded like the cold front was finally headed our way. As warnings increased, so did the predicted intensity - 60 knot winds, plentiful lightning and penny size hail.

The radar's 24 mile range confirmed its presence - it's nearest rain echoes we just closing within 12 miles. We decided our exposed anchorage on the river might not be the best spot to ride it out, so we hauled anchor and tucked in Oxford Creek. There was a nice protected spot with a little over 6 feet of water just off the channel. Except for one other boat, it was available. We circled twice and dropped the hook, then set it hard by backing down with the engine. We wanted to be sure it wasn't going anywhere! We shut the engine down at 1714.

The front on Radar.
Oxford entrance is still calm.
Front approaches boatyard.
By 1800 the front was fast upon us and thunder rumbled its warning. Parts of the approaching line squall had patches that looked like roll cloud, microburst or tornado seed. It swept in over the town, the boatyard and the channel entrance. By now we'd long stowed the awning, rigged the forehatch cover, and relished the first cool blasts of air sweeping in with the front. We heard the wind start to howl in the rigging of boats just 200 years across the channel, white caps swept down the channel toward us. And then it arrived full force. Whim spun on her anchor to face the northwest, then veered port and starboard as the winds gusted at least to the 40 - 50 knot range. We had dogged all the ports by the time the first rain roared down the channel and engulfed us. We strained to see sight lines ashore - just a hundred feet away - to judge if the anchor was holding, and that the other boat was also still in place. The staccato beat of rain on the cabintop increased to a steady waterfall - visibility almost gone. Even lightning and thunder were muted by the deluge.

Front arrives over Oxford,...
... boatyard,...
..and gets serious.
Wind outside...
...down channel...
...and roars on.
The line arrives...
...with authority.
Here comes the rain.
Visibility going, going,...
Within an hour its fury had passed to the southeast. Washed clean with sweet water, Whim rode quietly to a gentle northwest wind. We opened and dried the ports and hatches. Then Whimpered ashore for a light dinner at Schooner LLanding (sic) and a walk through town before turning in. The cabin was down to 80 degrees, and cool air blew through the hatches.

Sunday, 15 June, 2003

A fine night for sleeping ended with the usual coffee at 0600. It was cool enough to toast English Muffins for breakfast, then we sorted out our options. Before bedtime we had considered using the predicted northeast to east winds for a run southwest to Solomons Island, a good 30 miles farther down the bay. But in the morning it was cloudy with a light NE wind. We opted to do laundry and resupply 60 pounds of ice here in Oxford, then mosey around to Cambridge on the Choptank River in time for a late lunch. We Whimpered ashore, accompanied by mother swan and her cygnets. We learned that the local Crockett's yard had just been bought by Hinckley Yacht Services, of Maine fame, and that they had also recently purchased yards in Stuart, Florida and Savannah, Georgia. Their plan is to provide a continuous string of facilities specially set up to service Hinckley boats, including their jet boats and Picnic boats.

Whimper ready to go ashore.
Our regal escorts..
Choptank weather buoy.
Whim liked setting sail again and Mel nursed her through light winds to Cambridge while Rick updated the log and web page down below. Along the way we passed a typical NOAA weather buoy - used all around the country to report hourly weather information. Cambridge was a small, almost commercial harbor with Snappers Restaurant a nice attraction. It reminded us that as of 1400 we hadn't had lunch ourselves, so Rick did sandwich duty as we headed on to La Trappe Creek. This little estuary is typical of dozens of similar potential anchorages. We wandered its entire length - all 2.5 miles of it - to the little Dickerson's Boatyard where the water beyond was too shallow for even Whim's board-up 4 foot draft. Homes along the creek were less modest than many - some verging on "starter castles". We considered several coves, and finally anchored by ourselves a short way from the entrance and the three boats that were already there. Nibbles hour, a Chinese dinner, and a songfest later, we crawled in as cool air made for a good night's sleep.

Computer view of La Trappe.
Strange buoy...
..but this bird's home!
A La Trappe cottage...
...and another.
Dickerson's Boatyard.
Catching air.
Tranquility base.
Nurture & Nourishment.
Monday, June 16, 2003

A beautiful bright and cool morning with a nice ten knot easterly wind begged for good sailing. This was an opportunity to work our way north with fair winds. We were under way at 0742 and had hardly cleared the La Trappe entrance when it was clear this was spinnaker time. We dug out both the spinnaker and staysail and, after sorting out a twisted sock string, had Whim dressed in all her green and white glory. We sprinted across the Bay touching seven knots and were reluctant to take it all down as we approached Knapps Narrows and it's bridge.

Heading north up Poplar Island narrows the wind increased to 15 knots and gray skies spread across the sun. Even though Whim was romping along with full sail on a beam reach at up to 7.4 knots, the ebb current, flush with 4 days of heavy rains, stole a knot to a knot and a half from our over-ground speed. As we passed under the bridge north of Annapolis the gusts approached 20 knots just as our course sharpened up to top Kent Island and enter the Chester River. So down came the sails and on went the motor. Mel added both heavy shirt and rain jacket over his shirt as we pounded through the wind and spray. One by one the eight waypoints we'd set up passed astern and we carefully entered Reed Creek, avoiding its 2-foot shoals, and nestled between a field and woods. A flock of Turkey Buzzards soared along the bank looking for their dinner and effortlessly riding the wind rising over the trees. It had been a long, ten-hour day. The ship's log registered 56 miles through the water; the GPS said we did only 50. Both were right. We had sailed an extra hour just fighting the current. It was a treat to crawl into a cozy bunk with a blanket for a change!

Warm Mel leaving La Trappe.
Nine hours later.
Chester River route.
Threading Reed Creek.
Looking forward...
...and aft.
Tuesday, June 17, 2003

A perfect 64 degrees in the cabin this morning. The wind has gone light, sleeping was as good as it gets and time for a leisurely breakfast. Rick broke out the eggs, sausage, onions, celery and cheese and set to work. Mel captured the process for posterity, and to show off the highly coveted and very special West River Sailing Club cooking apron. Awarded to Rick for his third year of culinary completions (if not quite Cordon Bleu), we celebrated that not once had we been reduced to peanut butter and jelly or even Dinty Moore Beef Stew.

Whippin' eggs....
Sausage, onions & celery...
Cheese please...
Come 'n get it...
All smiles.
With little wind and gray skies, we worked on the log and web page, including setting up a table of ship's log entries. Mel keeps a fine log book with departure and arrival time, engine hours run, ship's log and GPS distances, and a weather summary. We put the data into an excel spreadsheet which you can view at Whim Ship's Log. Navigation has always been a fun part of every cruise, made even more so with the addition of GPS to computer charts to give a complete visual record of every tack and turn. On Whim we had multiple navigation systems. First there was the MapTech ChartKit book of the Chesapeake Bay. Its 78 pages bound into book form covered every inch of the bay on paper charts - the only thing available for all of us when we first learned navigation. The next basic instrument is the speed and depth log which also has both a trip and total miles traveled counter. VHF radio is important for safety calling in case of an emergency, but is routinely used to get weather predictions and warnings, and communication with bridges, locks and marinas. Whim has a master station down below over the icebox, and an extension unit mounted by the helm for immediate use by the helmsman. Whim has a Garmin 48 GPS mounted above the radar control on a pivot arm which can be read from the cockpit or down below. They are linked, so waypoints set in the GPS appear on the radar screen. Radar's primary value is finding moveable objects in fog or limited visibility, and also, as noted above, for detecting approaching rain storms. For this trip Rick brought along another Garmin 48 linked to a laptop computer which shows the ship's position directly on charts on the screen - as if written on the paper charts we started with. This rig made it very simple to navigate into narrow channels not otherwise defined by buoys or other visible aids to navigation. Our various tracks throughout this log give good examples. One corollary to all this electronics is that we wound up with a spaghetti tangle of wires daisy chained with multiple connectors so the GPS, the computer, the satellite radio, and the cell phone could all get a 12 volt feed from one cigarette outlet!

Cockpit nav gear.
Cockpit VHF.
Spaghetti Central!
Basket Navigation.
What with all this activity, is was 1100 before we started on our day's journey. With no particular destination in mind, and a likelihood of light rain as a warm front moved north, we elected to explore local inlets as long as the weather held. We headed first for the next inlet upriver, the Corsica River. A few fine houses dotted the shore mixed with stands of trees and some farming fields. It's whole navigable length was less than three miles and we slowly powered upwind most of it before setting sail and retracing our steps. With a nice wind at first we set the staysail and enjoyed a brief, good ride. It went light and dead aft, so we reluctantly returned to engine power.

Corsica River cottage.
Little house on the prairie?!.
Staysail set.
Mel keeps it flying.
We headed back across the Chester River into Langford Creek - much longer and wider than the Corsica River. Go figure! There are several inlets branching off, and after passing Long Cove and Lawyers Cove (the cruising guide abstained from making suggestions here for lack of definitive information - litigation aversion we guessed), we turned into Davis Creek. Lankford Bay Marina is tucked right around the corner and was a perfect spot to top off the fuel tank, replenish water and add yet another 40 pounds of ice to the box. Their little store was well equipped with both marine supplies and convenience store staples - we picked up some more cans of iced tea and paper towels. While we finished off our late lunch sandwiches at their dock, a pretty skipjack recently refurbished was launched with their travel lift.

Our discussions of where to go next were quickly tempered by the first spitting raindrops from the coalescing gray stratus. We had been considering alternatives like Queenstown to get farther back toward the mouth of the Chester, or going the rest of the way up Langford Creek, but Mel suggested a short couple of miles run down to Grays Inn Creek. The entrance is not well buoyed, but with the GPS was very easy to run and afforded over 10 feet well up to the split where we elected to bend left and continue until water depth dipped below 8 feet. The rain had become light but steady, though Mel put on only a slicker top. Rick alternated between reading out courses and distances from the comuter below to brief stays on deck. He didn't even need a jacket when he went forward as we rounded up to drop the anchor around 1620. We settled in recording the ship's data, transferring the day's pictures to the web page and updating the log. The rain fell gently on the cabintop as we were snug below. Mel heated up a batch of tea. These are the times to read, learn computer programs, or just plain nap. Fresh baked biscuits highlighted dinner, then more reading as the rain beat down. Time is suspended, as are cares and worries. This is also cruising.

Skipjack hits the water.
Looking pretty.
June 17th track.
Grays Inn Creek anchorage.
Fresh, hot biscuits.
Wednesday, June 18, 2003

"Rain before seven, clear by eleven," worked again. Well, not exactly clear but the heavy rain of all night was gone and none was falling when we departed Grays In Creek at 0806. The dinghy had been pumped dry and coffee and cereal consumed. We reversed our route and headed out of the Chester River and back toward the western side. The majestic double bridges lay ahead and a big tug/barge headed north for Baltimore.

Neither rain, nor snow...
Bay bridges.
Northbound barge.
As we navigated the last ten miles of the river, we made a destination change. The original plan was to head due west across the Chesapeake to the Magothy River, but a review of the options surfaced Mill Creek, off Whitehall Bay which had a restaurant with docking accommodations, and it was only a couple of miles from Annapolis and we could get in an extra dinner with Sandy, Kelly, Amparo, Fabian & Gaston. A few cell phone calls confirmed the new plan, and be pulled into Cantler's Riverside Inn a little after noon.

GPS - Mill Creek channel.
A maze of marks.
Makes sense now.
Cantler's Riverside Inn.
Whim at Riverside..
Peeler crabs.
Softshell crabs.
Fresh fillets.
The crowd arrived about 7:45 for a tour of the boat and dinner. Sandy, with Kelly, Amparo, Fabian & Fabian's brother Gaston all came aboard for some nibbles and a drink. Amparo loved being aboard. Then we trooped upstairs for a fine feed.

Fabian, Sandy, Amparo & Kelly.
All smiles.
Thursday, June 19, 2003

We powered in a damp fog to Annapolis and, after one trip up and down "Ego Alley", got a dock space along Fawcett's dock right in the heart of town. Mel was able to get his offshore flares, and Rick picked up Amparo's first life jacket. Some off-and-on rain kept us close to the boat, but the afternoon looked a little more promising.

Sandy, Kelly & Amparo came downton and met us for dinner, while Fabian & Gaston had a "boys night". As we were finishing dinner, about 8:45, Mother Nature started in again with her flashing, so the girls dropped us back at the boat and headed home. We walked around the basin to get some great gelato, and felt the first drops of the next storm as we returned aboard. Crash, bang all over again.

Friday, June 20, 2003

It was originally going to be a sailing day for the whole family, but Kelly & Fabian had to work, so Gaston was going to sail on Whim from Annapolis on the last leg back to Galesville. The forecast was yet again for rain with light wind, so we reluctantly called and let Gaston sleep in while we shoved off early.

It was light at first, but a foggy 10-15 knots out of the north caught up with us as we turned south at Annapolis Harbor buoy #1. It was rolling as we went dead down wind, and even rolling out the jib only helped a little. We did manage to cover the 12 miles to Galesville without rain, and tied up at the West River Sailing Club dock about 1000.

WRSC was hosting the 5o5 Eastern Regional Championship with about 15 boats participating. They were launching off the beach as we tied up, and we enjoyed watching them get under way. By early afternoon yet another storm arrived, complete with the usual sound and light show and enough rain to white out visibility down to a quarter mile. The 5o5s sailed through it, with a few capsizes along the way, and sailed back in after three races late in the afternoon. The club laid on a fine BBQ complete with all the trimmings, and a good time was had by all swapping sailing stories.

Last storm at Galesville.
Saturday, June 21, 2003

Time to pack up and go. We powered the .3 miles from WRSC's dock to Whim's slip in 11 minutes and had the engine off by 0908. The dinghy was stowed upsidedown on the foredeck, the icebox transferred to a cooler to take on our next adventure, and the gear trundled to the car on a dock cart. We picked up Sandy in Annapolis at 1140 and were on our way to Steve Blecher's house in Scarsdale to start our next adventure - a Javelin cruise to Nantucket. Oh yes, it rained most of the drive up.

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