Sunday, December 26, 2010

Cruise, Day 9

All night the howling north wind had the full fetch of the Susquehanna from Havre de Grace to Aberdeen, but finally settled to about 20 kts. just before sunrise. The rock studded point in our lee was not designed for peace of mind. After getting the second anchor aboard and stowed, we sailed out the anchor with a single reef and working jib. The wind that had started to ease before sunrise continued to weaken during the day.
At noon, we passed Plum Point at Still Pond. It was obvious we weren’t going to make Middle River with the dying wind, and I needed to get somewhere accessible so my daughter could come aboard for a daysail over the weekend. The only option was to sail back across the bay and make another stop at Fairlee Creek. I had to jibe one more time to clear all the dredging equipment off Worton Creek. I had seen the Aberdeen patrol boats out, so knew they were working. I stayed on the starboard tack, cutting slowly to the southwest. When I knew I was getting close to the restricted area, I jibed north of Poole’s Island and headed for Fairlee Creek. I had run further south than normally needed so I would have room to counteract the flooding current and still clear the dredge barge. Suddenly I saw the patrol boat off Poole’s Island with its flashing lights on, and a puff of black exhaust as it accelerated onto a plane. Sure enough, he was headed right at me. When he pulled alongside and called on the radio, I protested. “I know I wasn’t across the line. I’ve been very particular about that.” He responded, “No, you weren’t across the line. For the sake of safety, we just wanted to let you know we’re firing live rounds. You may just want to allow a bit extra room.” Actually, I thought they always used live rounds, but enough said. I was headed the other way anyhow.
One thing that had been very noticeable in the bay north of the Sassafras was a massive amount of floating grass. The current would stream grass in long lines that might run from a hundred yards to a mile. I’d no sooner find a spot to run through one line of grass than I’d be right on top of the next string. Then it would form mats or patches of floating grass the size of an average bedroom. Not wanting to get it wrapped around the rudder or centerboard, I tried to avoid it as much as possible, but avoiding it all was impossible. When I started to raise the centerboard for entrance into Fairlee Creek, the board wouldn’t go up. I could get in with board down, but the anticipation of having to dive to pull grass out of the centerboard pennant wasn’t appealing. Besides the days getting very short, the nights were quite cool, and I knew the water would be cold for swimming. I repeatedly raised and lowered it until it worked loose enough to get it up most of the way. Still, when the board is normally fully raised, you can hear it bump the inside of the keel. Between the absence of that and the board pennant not reaching its prescribed point on deck, I knew it wasn’t all the way up. When I set the anchor in Fairlee Creek and backed away, a huge glob of compressed grass, probably 20-pounds or more, floated clear. It had probably been wrapped around the leading edge of the rudder.
The forecast was for a massive weather system to come in and remain for a couple days. With heavy rain and high wind, it wasn’t looking good for a daysail for my daughter and grandson. The worst of the wind was supposed to be N to NW, so I tucked in under the tree-lined bluff opposite Great Oak Marina and set two anchors. At least we had been having some nice sunsets, so I sat in the cockpit with my single-pot dinner to enjoy the view.

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