Monday, August 25, 2008

Sailing to Wolftrap - Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Today was wonderful; my longest day sail so far. My original thought was to go for a half-day sail on the Mobjack Bay with someone, exploring some part of the rivers or coves I have not yet visited, choice depending on the vagaries of winds and tides. My second choice was my friend Bill, who agreed at first, but then called back to say that he needed to clean out the garage! Jane wanted to spend the day with her friend, so I decided to go down anyway and perhaps to go for a short sail after doing some touch-up painting.
The day was so beautiful when I got there that I threw away all plans of work, rigged the sails, warmed up the motor, and chugged out of the marina into North River, headed for the middle of Mobjack Bay. I had not yet decided whether to sail across the south wind up the Ware River, or motor into the wind farther south to the Severn River to explore the south-west branch, where I hadn't yet been. Maybe with the wind out of the south I could round the Guinea Marshes and into the York River, or even go as far as Hampton. As I continued to motor straight out, I thought that since the waves were only about one foot or even less, I should just sail out into the Chesapeake Bay, al the way over to Cape Charles on the Eastern Shore. It was fun to weigh the possibilities!

By the time I had traveled for an hour, the wind had shifted to the southeast, setting up conditions so that I could shut off the motor and head straight out toward New Point Comfort at the mouth of the Mobjack. I rounded the point well offshore, following the marine markers to avoid the places where the bottom shoals rapidly. Sailing directly across the wind is the easiest and fastest way to sail, and with freshening breezes I decided to sail north up the Chesapeake another 6 or so miles to the Wolf Trap Lighthouse. I had seen pictures of it, but had never sailed that direction before.
My earlier plan had been to sail a short distance, anchor in some sheltered cove and cook myself some lunch, but instead I nibbled on trail mix for energy, and drank some water while ripping along. By the time I rounded the Wolf Trap Lighthouse it was about 2:00 p.m. and time to head back.

The wind had picked up to about 20 mph, and the infamous "Chesapeake Chop" had kicked in, building the short-period waves to about three feet, making for a pretty uncomfortable passage. I was kept busy tacking the boat at an angle into the wind balancing the pull of the tiller and adjusting the angle of the boat to keep it from heeling over too far, but it was exhilarating!
As soon as I passed the New Point Comfort Light and headed up Mobjack Bay, the wind was behind me, and I could relax, setting the mainsail far out to the starboard side and the jib far out to the port side, coasting along "wing-on-wing" at about 6 miles an hour back toward the marina.
I was back in the slip about 5:30, with a slight sunburn, some tired muscles, and a big grin on my face, having put almost 45 miles under the keel.

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