Thursday, December 9, 2010

Cruise, Day 5

We motored out of Fairlee Creek, and as soon as we cleared lighted #2, full main and genoa were set. The plan had been to sail into Worton Creek and right back out, but I decided to make a stop at Worton Creek Marina to see if a gasket could be found for the reserve gas tank cap. The poorly fitting cap was allowing gas to leak from the tank. I went ahead and furled the sails and started the engine at Nun #2 in Worton Creek and secured alongside the bulkhead at the marina shortly after. I was surprised when I turned into the creek. There had always been hundreds of boats moored in the creek with a small fairway along the east side of the creek. Now, the moorings were all gone. There weren’t more than a half-dozen boats anchored along the entire stretch of the creek. There was no gasket to be had here or at any of the other dozen marinas I tried during the cruise. The leak around the cap was ended, however, by putting a shopping bag over the spout and screwing the cap over that. A small hole had to be punctured in the bag to allow for expansion, but the problem was solved, even if not as I would have wished. While the engine was still running, I ran a good ways up into Mill Creek and back out to again set full main and genoa.

Keeping the channel dredged is a nearly full-time job, and as I sailed out toward Worton Point, I had a chance to sail past a few of the tugs, dredge, and barges working there. Just as I drifted past dredge barge #428 from Norfolk, I saw an immaculate Friendship Sloop motoring south. I would have loved to talk with them, but they were trying to make time, and in the light air there was no chance of drawing closer to them. She was a well cared for lady, though, and reminded me of the many Friendship Sloops we sailed with in Friendship, Maine.

Just then a large bee landed on the deck. It stayed with Thistle for over an hour as it rested. This was not a unique occurrence, and unfortunately the way it played out wasn’t unique either. Over the years we have had countless flying insects and birds land on board seeking relief from an arduous flight over long expanses of water, or after being blown offshore. When he felt he was ready, the bee made a few test flights up and down along the side deck, landing each time to rest. Finally it lifted off and flew out over the calm water. He hadn’t gone twenty feet before he made a slow, spiraling dive into the water and to his demise.

I switched to a gennaker off Still Pond. We finally got Howell Point abeam by 1300, but the air kept getting lighter and lighter. I drifted with the ebb while I made lunch and watched not just for traffic, but any crab pot we might drift over and snag. An hour later, after finishing and cleaning up from lunch, I started the engine and headed into the Sassafras River. As we passed Betterton Beach, which my wife and I know as Diamond Beach, I shot a couple pictures to show my wife how it had changed in the years of our absence. One day we sailed past Betterton was a hot August day many years ago. Like today, the only air movement was convection. We decided to anchor off Betterton for lunch and a swim to escape the stifling heat. While she was swimming, my wife suddenly felt her diamond ring slip off her finger. We were in about twelve feet of water, but she dove to the bottom and felt around for it. Miraculously, she found the ring, and was swimming back to the surface to lay it on deck. Just as she surfaced, the ring slipped and went back to the bottom. Contrary to the old myth, lightning in fact will strike twice in the same place. It’s luck that won’t strike twice. Her ring is still there---at Diamond Beach. As for Betterton, other than the ring, pretty much everything we remember from eons ago is gone, but it is still a public beach.  When the huge amusement pier and resort hotel were here, this was a major destination for large excursion boats that would bring hordes of people here from Philadelphia and Wilmington.

With the last of the day’s light, I slipped into Turner’s Creek, went to the headwaters and anchored in 5 ½ feet.

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