Saturday, November 27, 2010

Fall Chesapeake Cruise

Shortly after ordering Ibi in August, Thistle and I made a fall cruise trip to the Chesapeake Bay. To break up the tedium of non-stop planning and preparation, I’ll intersperse some sailing and gunkholing. The trip east was 1,502.7 miles while burning 122.24 gallons of gas. I’ve tried several routes while towing the 3-ton boat and trailer, but this was the ‘never again’ route’. The trip from Oklahoma to Louisville was hilly, but once we got into Eastern Kentucky and West Virginia, it was nothing but mountains and hard towing. I was happily surprised when I looked at my trip figures to see that we had made 12.29 MPG, which with all things considered, I didn’t feel was too bad. We arrived at the Chestertown, MD, marina after four days in transit. As soon as I dropped the trailer, my first duty was to make a run to the Fish Whistle Restaurant overlooking the Chester River for a self-congratulatory crab cake sandwich and beer, and then went into Chestertown to do my provisioning.
By the next morning, the remnants of a hurricane sliding up the coast combined with an Atlantic storm to bring high winds, flood warnings, and torrential rain all the way up the coast from Florida north. The water level rose high enough that the piers in the marina were submerged, forcing the electrical power to be cut off. With Thistle still on the trailer, the marina flooded, and the winds too high for the marina to risk launching, I spent four days in the boat reading. Some relief was offered when the marina suggested that I might be more comfortable spending some time sitting in the office, and one evening I went into Chestertown for a movie.

On Tuesday, 5 October, we finally launched. I couldn’t escape thinking this would be one reason for transitioning from sail to paddle. Here I was eight days into my ‘cruise’ without being able to get a sail set yet. While the sky was heavily overcast and threatening all day, the rain held off. By evening there were even patches of blue showing between the black clouds. David and Linda Sockrider surprised me by coming over from Milford, DE, to take me to lunch at Harris’ Crab House at Kent Narrows. It was great seeing them after such a long absence from the area. Things were looking up.
The rest of the day was spent getting the boat set up. With the slow improvement in the weather, there was hope I could get underway in the morning.
Before the trip, I had built a nesting dinghy specifically for the trip. Designed by Danny Greene, the design is titled Two Bits. An upgraded evolution of the design, Cameleon, is available through Duckworks.
I had set it in the water of a nearby lake to scribe its waterline, but this was the first chance to actually try it out under oars. It handled and rowed great, and I really loved the way the nested dinghy went entirely in the back of the pickup. As the sun set, several flocks of Canadian geese flew over the boat and marina. I really enjoy seeing them---a real sign of fall on the Chesapeake. Yup, things were really looking up.

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