Friday, December 3, 2010

Cruise, Day 3

The smaller birds were probably most affected by the high winds and driving rain of the last week, but today they were appearing to make up for lost time. As the sun first began to lighten the sky to the east, the chattering of thousands of birds was impressive enough to compel me to slide the hatch back to witness their rise from the fields. They kept flying in circles as more and more rose to fall into formation. Pretty soon they comprised a huge fast moving, undulating, black cloud. Then the geese started to stir and their honking could be heard as more and more in the opposite direction, to my west, began to rise into the air.

The winds for the day were forecast to be 15-20 NW with higher gusts, which brought out a small craft advisory. By 0830, we had sailed off the anchor with a single reef in the main and working jib. We sailed into Bungay Creek until we lost way, as the wind was still light in the confined waters, but already the tops of the trees were swaying. Thistle came about and sailed on down West Fork of Langford Creek. When Paul Higbee, a friend from South Georgia, joined me last year for the fall cruise, we had sailed up East Fork and anchored for a restful night in Lovely Cove, so having sailed the East Fork, we continued west. At 1030 we were off Gray’s Inn Creek, but the shoals on either side of the entrance were unmarked, so I hove-to further out while I plotted an approach course line. We continued up Gray’s Inn Creek to the community of New Yarmouth where we came about when we reached the charted sewer line on the creek’s bottom at Cherry Tree Point. The distinctive calls of numerous Whippoorwills came from all about the creek.
It was such a peaceful setting, it was hard to imagine that this was the site of an engagement between local militia and seasoned British troops during the War of 1812.

On the way back down stream, we sailed into Harrington Creek, and then set the anchor at the entrance to Browns Cove for lunch. By 1240 we sailed off the anchor again and reached the south end of Eastern Neck Island by 1400. We started to sail further south in anticipation of rounding Cedar Point, but the forecast 15-20 mph winds had gone 20-30. Between the wind and the anticipation of the confused, short seas almost always encountered off Love Point, I decided we would make a short day of it. I dropped sail and started the engine to head up into Hail Creek in the heart of the National Wildlife Refuge. Progress with the outboard was slow at first between the chop and the wind dead on the nose, but we gained speed as we found ourselves more and more in the lee of the marsh. Continuing to the head of the cove, we anchored at 1450 in 3 ft. of water.
I was beginning to wonder how we could be in the middle of a wildlife refuge and see no evidence of life. Then there was a screech, and I turned to spot a bald eagle as it soared into the top of a pine. With the binoculars I could see it, the nest, and what I assumed was its mate in the treetop.

The wind continued strong into the night. There was nothing to get good anchor bearings on, but with the soft bottom and my sense that we had already dragged just a bit, I went ahead and used the last of the day’s light to set the second anchor.

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