Monday, August 25, 2008

Exploring the Ware River - Saturday, August 23, 2008

Saturday was a great adventure. Our friends Leslie and Scott drove down to the Mobjack Bay Marina with us in the morning. There were nice 5 mph breezes out of the east as we left the slip about 11:00 a.m., which meant that I could put up the sails as soon as we had cleared the first marker. With the wind coming directly out of the east from the port side, Scott and Leslie took turns sailing down the bay, practicing the skill of making slight adjustments in the steering tiller as the wind veered a few degrees one way or the other, keeping the main and jib filled and sailing at optimum angle.
We sailed way down past Ware Neck Point, and then turned west into the Ware River, and I took the tiller. It's a bit tricky keeping the boat sailing directly downwind with the main sail pushed out on one side and the jib out on the opposite side like a bird with spread wings.
We sailed past a beautiful green marshy area called Windmill Point, swung around almost into the wind, and sailed slowly toward the shore until the depth meter showed 5 feet below the hull, then dropped anchor and lowered the sails. We put up a white sailcloth sunshade over the boom, and Leslie got out nice gourmet box lunches that she had prepared for all of us.
In the past few weeks all the jellyfish that I had seen in great profusion in July have now disappeared, so after eating I put the ladder over the side, and Scott an Jane went overboard for some refreshing swimming in water that was neither too warm or too cool.
Since the east wind was coming off the shore, I was able to raise the
anchor and put up the sails single handed as the breeze gently pushed the boat toward deeper water without starting the motor - something I had been wanting to try.
Now came the challenging part of the days' excursion...sailing directly
into the wind back toward the mouth of the Ware River. The wind had picked up to a good stiff breeze of 10-15 mph, kicking up a stiff two to two and a half foot chop. I zigzagged back and forth, back and forth across the wide river, gaining considerable amounts on each tack, while Scott and Jane took turns hauling in the jibsheets to switch the sail from one side to the other each time we came about. With both the jib and the main raised fully, the strong wind heeled the boat over 15 to 20 degrees, and whoever was on the higher side found comfortable positions with their feet planted firmly on the seats across from them.
StarLady plunged and leaped as it crested each oncoming wave and occasionally tossed cooling spray back to us in the cockpit as its bow splashed into each trough. As we rounded the last channel marker at the mouth of the river and turned toward the north everything changed.
Suddenly everything was serene, with following winds and waves coming from starboard side and the stern quarter, and it was time to break out another beer and relax as we watched several other sailboats heading back toward the marina.
To make the outing perfect, a pod of dolphins followed us long enough to pose for pictures.

With three other people assisting it was markedly easier to back the boat into the slip, get all the mooring lines secured and equipment and supplies stowed or
taken ashore.

Leaving Mobjack Bay, Marina Scott drove us past the almost invisible villages of Cardinal and Foster and across the swing-bridge to Gwynn's Island, where we ate fabulously delicious seafood dinners at the SeaBreeze Grill, which has big picture windows on three sides overlooking the water out to the sinuous back channel from the Chesapeake descriptively known as "The Hole In The Wall".

After dinner we explored the meandering roads around Gwynn's Island, stopping to admire a spectacular sunset over the mouth of the Piankatank River.

I snoozed in the back seat through West Point, and woke up as we were approaching Richmond. A most satisfactory day!

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