Breakin’ Away

A classic sailboat sunset at Great Sale Cay

A classic sailboat sunset at Great Sale Cay

Once we departed Allan’s-Pensacola Cay, it was the beginning of the end. From this point we’d be working our way west, only this time, with so many favorable crossing days, we planned to not do an overnight. 🙂 This would be a welcome change from years prior when we quickly got our act together and crossed over 200 nm in one fell-swoop.

Paul Simon assures us that there’s 50 ways to leave your lover, well let me assure you that nearly as many ways exist to leave the Bahamas! Given our current state of drunkenness, we used the 3-step method of ever-increasing daily distances. Not only would this keep us in the Bahamas just a little while longer; we’d also score pirate points by staying past the 120 days Mr Grumpy allowed on our visa. The boat gets one year, but we don’t; however you can extend your time by visiting a nearby customs/immigration office right before (not sooner!) your time expires.

Step One: sail to Great Sale Cay from Allan’s-Pensacola. 30nm, 85% sailed. Gorgeous, low humidity day. Cleaned and began to pack away my beach treasures. Great Sale is three miles long and its main purpose (maybe only) is to provide anchoring protection. Winds out of the east through south allow you to use the north side; just pull up and drop the hook in the area noted on the chart as “good holding.” By nightfall nine boats were comfortably nestled in for the night. Or so we thought. Anchoring etiquette notwithstanding, common courtesy should come into play, not to mention common sense.

In the middle of the night a boat dropped their anchor and noisy chain about two boat lengths off our starboard (sleeping) side. What was wrong with our plenty-of-room port side? Or farther behind us? I bet others lost some sleep too. In the morning, we noted the boat name, Bad Betty! Darn right she is. Too funny. Close enough to hear them talking, I had no trouble seeing the captain remove the steering wheel; “bad wheel, you made me get too close!”

Step Two: sail to a banks anchorage in the Goodwill Channel approx. one mile above West End, Grand Bahama. 48nm, 81% sailed. Another lovely day with an accurate forecast. Watched several boats (all monohulls here except us) raise anchor, raise main, turn about 60 degrees south and head off. Would have been our MO too, if not for too close s/v Bad Betty.

After raising the anchor- oh let me backtrack a second- sometimes the anchor comes up with gobs of sand that takes a few minutes to rinse off, so Russ lets the anchor dangle then finishes bringing it up and securing it. I make sure to proceed very slowly until the anchor is secure.

Ok, so we raise anchor and Russ comes back to the helm to help me reverse far enough so we have room to get the main up and turn behind BB. We make this happen successfully and get going on course. I hear a clanking noise and go into detective mode, first checking where the sound seemed to emanate from; the bow area. Uh oh. “Honey, the anchor is still down!!!” she cried out urgently. Well, not all the way, just still dangling in the water. Note: when you are old and deaf you shouldn’t go cruising.

Several boats were ahead of us headed toward West End, maybe the marina, maybe to anchor in a bit of land lee on the banks just above West End. One was way behind.

Find the blue A; that's about where we spent the night. Alone with no other boats to worry about

Find the blue A; that’s about where we spent the night. Alone with no other boats to worry about

Our selected spot was going to look and feel very weird; dropping the hook practically in the middle of nowhere in shallow water with the Atlantic Ocean (Straits of Florida) one mile away. This was preferable to anchoring about 10nm further north on the banks at Memory Rock with no land in sight and no shallows to cradle you. The wind would settle in around 8-10kts but then pick up during the night (sure, why not?) so that we’d be seeing 14-16kts into the early morning hours.

Anchored in Goodwill Channel, looking Northeast at nothing but water

Anchored in Goodwill Channel, looking Northeast at nothing but water

Around 5:30 a sailboat came down Goodwill Channel and we watched her go around and enter the marina. Umm, s/v Bad Betty perhaps? Then we hear the dockmaster calling, “sailing vessel attempting to anchor in turning basin, this is Old Bahama Bay.” No reply. Again. No reply. Third time brings in that charm thing and s/v Bad Betty answers. Oh boy, the anchoring baddies. A very annoyed woman returns, “I guess we were mis-informed.” You know that tone of voice; I know it’s one I would be tempted to use, but know better. (at least not over the air waves) Then when she asks the dockage rate, the dockmaster says they don’t discuss rates over the radio. Can you picture the faces, screwed up, pissed off and steamin’ mad? Entertainment for the rest of us who enjoy a diversion from thinking about the upcoming night and the 80plus nm trip on Saturday.

A clear view in 5ft of water near sunset

A clear view in 5ft of water near sunset

Sunset off West End, Grand Bahama Island

Sunset off West End, Grand Bahama Island

Step Three: crossing to Ft Pierce, an 88nm trip that took 14 hours. About 6 hrs able to sail. We allowed 14 hours so that our coming in to the channel would not be right at full raging out ebb tide at over 2kts. This meant the alarm chimed at 4am; nice and dark with some West End land lights helping. Our path in was the same as we’d take back out to the channel that led from the banks into the ocean.

Having a path to follow when you can’t really see is immensely helpful. Within 10 minutes of raising the anchor (and securing it too!) we’d left the banks and were in open water, crossing through small breakers we knew were there, but we hardly felt them. By this time the wind was blowing around 16kts and the angle would give us an excellent sail. I always dread raising the main in the dark when I can’t see outside and can barely read the dimmed dials. But when you do this out on the open water, no other boats, land or objects close-by, the fact that you have to do this by instruments and the Captain’s direction only, is no big deal; it only feels that way.

We zoomed along between 8 and 10kts, hitting 10.4 for a few tense (only for me) seconds once. The swells were coming at our stern quarter, maybe 4ft high but a comfortable 10 seconds apart. No matter; I wasn’t too keen on looking. By sunrise, the wind dropped down and for much of the remainder of the day, was generally no more than 10kts- oh and it shifted, which made sailing very difficult.

Sunrise... and the seas are down, so too the wind and with it our speed

Sunrise… and the seas are down, so too the wind and with it our speed

The northward pull of the gulf stream means us slow boats need to set a course at least 20 degrees less than the 305 degree heading called for to get from West End to Ft Pierce. Sails up and down, in and out. Heading changes; yep at least 50.  An active day passes the time. A couple of hours out found us motoring in flat, calm seas as the ridge of whatever weather moved out, down, or away.

Did the flag exchange and when cell service was good enough, Russ called to clear us in. Easy. Switched the chip in my phone to remove the Bahamas one and put my U.S.one back in. We anchored for the night behind Causeway Island, the same place we left from on Dec 1.

Sunday would find us on a T-head at Ft Pierce City Marina. Hanging out to have our Frigoboat freezer repaired (please,please), re-provision, deal with misc chores and maybe some historic downtown sightseeing.

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Mother Nature Has the Last Laugh

S/v Liberty Clipper and m/v SEALINK out of Nassau have wave protection at the government docks

S/v Liberty Clipper and m/v SEALINK out of Nassau have wave protection at the government docks

The different weather services can and do use different models to create their forecasts. Often two may agree but a third is somewhere out in left field. We always hope that when all the ones we use are in agreement, that they’ve nailed it.. because can they all be wrong???  Isn’t that a leading question? The answer is yes they can!!! And they were and we suffered… but not alone. Thursday was predicted by our two sources to be somewhere around 13-16kts, winds out of the SW, going to west and dropping way down as they clocked around to NW and then north.  Governor’s Harbor is exposed from WNW to NNW so we knew we’d be in for a certain amount of discomfort until the wind and waves moved north and then NE.

The trip began well enough at 8:15 as we began sailing right away in 10-12kts of SW winds. We wanted to sail the entire way before the wind dropped down too much. Oh what a joke. Within the first hour of the 3 ½ hour trip it became clear the forecast was oh so wrong. When the wind hit 20kts we reefed the jib and I began to envision a very unpleasant few minutes when the time came to drop the main. Have I mentioned that this process is not as simple as head into the wind and whoosh the main drops right down into the stack pack? Our speed often exceeded 8kts; great if we’d been racing, but funny, not single other boat departed Rock Sound.

A reasonably good-sized island, Levi Island sits a stone’s throw above the harbor and we briefly considered anchoring there for protection but with SW wind, it wasn’t any better than the harbor. We chose the lesser of the weevils, so we thought, and figured we could tuck in fairly close to shore in the southern corner. Wrong again. Some floating house raft thing with AIS named KhanTiki or something close to that, was anchored exactly where we wanted to be.

Never saw anyone aboard, but they had the best spot in the harbor. This was taken in calm conditions

Never saw anyone aboard, but they had the best spot in the harbor. This was taken in calm conditions

Anchoring with the shore at one’s stern is not desirable and we could have moved to Levi, but the forecast had promised the winds would lessen and so too would the large swells entering the medium-sized harbor. To make things more interesting, the charts indicated “poor holding” unless you could find a sandy spot or get closer to the beach where sand was abundant. Our first attempt was perfect; the anchor grabbed right away, but we found our stern in 4ft and that was not going to work since the swells caused a great deal of pitching which made the rudders touch bottom. We eyeballed a spot that looked sandy further away and dropped the hook. I’m at the bow as usual and if I hadn’t been so focused on doing my job I might have noticed how large the swells had become and how much we were bobbing up and down in them. This was a new one for the log book.

The anchor didn’t grab right away but then it seemed to hold fast and after I attached the bridle and we pulled back again, she didn’t budge. Needless to say, we cursed the weather, watched the chartplotter to be sure we weren’t dragging, set two drag alarms, and waited in vain for the wind to shift to a non-west direction. I was extra bummed because we could see seafood being sold from two fishing cleaning stations over on the shore road that runs along the beach.

View from our stern of the beach and harbor-side buildings at low tide

View from our stern of the beach and harbor-side buildings at low tide

By 5pm the wind had dropped down to 10kts out of the NW but the swells, which take longer to change direction, were hitting us broadside so preparing dinner was fun. Two monohulls had anchored behind Levi and from a distance they appeared to have made the better choice.

I almost believed Russ when he assured me that, “tomorrow will be a better day and we can spend time ashore.” No doubt he still wasn’t giving up on the lunatic forecasters.  Mother Nature had continued to outfox us all; Friday was quite the weather day; it began with pouring rain at 5am, increased wind and distant lightning. Rain on and off all day, moderate NW to NE back to NW winds with a peak at 24kts one time.

This is not my idea of a better day- compare the sea state to that calm one at Rock Sound

This is not my idea of a better day- compare the sea state to that calm one at Rock Sound

During the day a small sailboat about 26ft anchored close to us and one of the two from Levi anchored on our other side a better distance away. Conditions were slightly improved once the wind shifted more north but those boats, especially the smaller one rolled from side to side and pitched in the swells that I was becoming seasick just watching. By 3pm things were looking calmer and a “better day tomorrow” for Saturday was beginning to sound believable. At least all anchors were holding; can’t rely on what the charts say either- for which we were immensely thankful. Note: we talked with the two Levi Island boats on Sat and they said that even Chris Parker was fooled by Mother Nature this time.

Return to Exumas: Boot to Stocking..Lee that is

sailing

Occurs to me that this would be described as Three Sheets to the Wind

Never say never, so I will graciously allow that for ONCE the forecasting was right on, giving us a most glorious 51nm sail from Cat Island’s New Bight to Lee Stocking Island via Adderly Cut. In fact the wind speed and angle were perfect for a once (maybe twice) in 4 year flying of all three sails at once- for nearly three hours of the total six and ½ hrs we were able to sail. Our speed stayed up well into the high seven knots, often into the eights and our top speed for a few seconds was 10kts.

During the trip as we crossed Exuma Sound, we saw a very rare Bahamas event; a vessel (45ft lovely monohull) being towed. Couldn’t say for sure from where or to, but the angle looked like perhaps from Long Island heading to Spanish Wells; quite a long, read “overnight” trip at maybe what, 5 kts max?

Our timing through the cut was close to slack but with SE at 11kts the cut was benign; always much appreciated. We weren’t sure what to expect at the anchorages but figured maybe 6-8 max. Imagine our surprise at the many masts sticking up above the tree line as we came around the northern tip, dropping the main and turning toward the looking-more-full-by-the-moment anchoring areas. Found out that yesterday being the first Friday in Feb… well it was time for the Farmers Cay First Friday in February Festival, or 5F to we locals. 🙂 176 anchored boats were counted early Saturday in and near Little Farmers Cay. Thanks to the great weather before, during and after, the festival must have enjoyed near-record attendance.

One chore needed to be done before we could spend the next three days immensely enjoying the beautiful, calm, pure Bahamas days about to appear. The threads holding the zipper down the length of the stack pack had given their lives to the sun and more sewing was needed there as well as patches on a few holes near the front where the fabric just beats itself up flapping about. Not exactly well designed.

About 10ft long and loaded with tiny shells along its length- it stunk

About 10ft long and loaded with tiny shells along its length- it stunk

So we worked on that for 30 mins and then Russ noticed a 3/8” black line floating in the water about mid-ship under the starboard hull; we could see just a foot or so of it floating next to the boat. Humm. Here’s my version: Russ thought the line might be attached to something, maybe an old mooring or something heavy sitting 8ft down with a line on it. When we made our approach to anchor I was watching at the bow to be sure we dropped anchor in a sandy spot and I did not see anything in the water. Of course, I could not be 100% sure- but 95% anyway.  I suggested we use the boat hook to try and pick it up and see what happens. That idea was rejected. A short time after we spotted the line, a slight wind shift moved us and what do you know but the line was still under the starboard hull in the same spot. So now I am adamant that this line is not in the sand but somehow attached to our hull, like a remora.  More of the line seemed visible so I retrieved the boat hook and was able to lift up enough of the line so Russ could grab it. At that moment I realized, and Russ did too, that the line must have gotten wedged into the dagger board trunk on our trip from Cat.

Moving the board up and down didn’t dislodge it; pulling on it from on deck or in the water didn’t work, but the next day we managed to pull it out with the dinghy. Well that’s a first. Trying to fish and we snag an old line; at least it didn’t find its way into a prop.

Two years ago we stopped here and spent time hiking around and taking the trail up to Perry’s Peak- the highest hill in the Exumas. But today was perfect for Driving Ms Bunting around the beaches and shoreline of Lee Stocking Island.

So many beaches, so much blue sky and white puffy clouds

So many beaches, so much blue sky and white puffy clouds

Loved the look of the curved palm tree

Loved the look of the curved palm tree

Down close to Williams Bay we spied a large stingray and as we headed slowly back, we started seeing one after the other, most resting in a few inches of sand.  Sea stars were even more abundant and easier to photograph, but lacked the visual appeal of the stingrays.

So clear you'd think we used an underwater camera

So clear you’d think we used an underwater camera

Snuggle stingrays look like ghosts in sand

Snuggle stingrays look like ghosts in sand

This stingray had a remora friend along for the ride

This stingray had a remora friend along for the ride

sea star

Isn't this one nearly invisible?

Isn’t this one nearly invisible?

We planned to head for Rudder Cut Cay around 2pm to catch high tide through the Pimlicos which are a banks route for shallow draft vessels like us. As usual, we engaged in our typical tide discussion first. 🙂

Jumpin’ Jumentos!: Swells, Cave and Fast Sail

Two Palms now One Palm.... some day no palms

Two Palms now One Palm…. some day no palms

The move, all one mile (probably less) of it brought us over the two anchoring spots on the cay’s west (protected) side. The preferred place was off of Two Palms Beach, which sadly now is only One Palm Beach. I wonder how long the charts will still keep it as Two Palms? We know it’s been one for at least a year. Two cats- our Aussie friends from Water Cay- were there already so we snuck in next to a monohull and in front of another in 8ft of water with a sandy bottom at the next beach.

First stop, the dinghy drive-in cave just around the corner. Visions of Thunderball Grotto appeared in our heads as we approached and cautiously entered the large cave with stalactites and sky lights.dinghy-in cave

Inside the cave- enough head room at high tide and enough depth for the outboard

Inside the cave- enough head room at high tide and enough depth for the outboard

Looking straight up at one of the cave's skylights

Looking straight up at one of the cave’s skylights

We’d walked Two Palms Beach earlier so landed Bunting on the beach in front of us. Our senses heightened thanks to our osprey friends the day before, we swear we could hear an osprey cry and as we looked up at the abandoned light on the hill, there sat an osprey at the top. Or was it? I snapped a picture anyway. The beach offered several small conch shells to add to those I’d picked up the other day and we found the path up to the light. You know, the small white light with the small solar panel that viewed from a distance at the right angle looks like an osprey. Yes, that one.

We did get a photo of Ortolan at anchor but the sun was right in the way, so it wasn’t blog worthy. The cactus grew well and wide on the hillside, one with flowers and another with large plum-like fruits on the leaves. Perhaps a prickly-pear?cactus

While I did one last beach tour, Russ hung out and got awesome shots of some very vocal birds. bahamian birdAbout that swell; better after we moved over, but worsened throughout the night as the wind picked up. Happy that we’d moved.

Come Wednesday, once we got underway flying those white hankies and moving along at 8kts on a beam reach, the swell was inconsequential. Free Bird provided an updated forecast that indicated more wind (yeah- like right now) and staying upwards of 18kts for at least five days. No front in sight though which always makes us very happy.

The tricky part of our return trip to George Town was transiting Hog Cay cut but not at low tide or within 2 hours of it; but that’s assuming you know the time of low and high tide. Someone decided long ago that Nassau, being the important spot in the Bahamas, should be the area where the tides are “accurately” calculated and most others are based off that. For example, on the George Town morning Net along with the weather, the Nassau tides are given each day. The Explorer charts have the Nassau tides going out several years, but unless you buy a new chart, eventually the tide data gets old. An oft-asked question on the Net is, “how does the tide in Elizabeth Harbor compare to Nassau?” Answer, “Ask 10 cruisers, get 10 different answers. But generally it’s the same, give or take 15 mins.” We agree.

Tide times are a source of lively discussion between the Captain and his Admiral; usually “close enough” is good enough but at a time like this, going through a cut where you KNOW the water is low and you’ve never gone through before, well, it would be nice to get it right. Fortunately we’d talked to others in previous years about the cut and to Free Bird that morning who felt with our draft we could safely go through around 2pm. They needed another full foot of tide and believed that the tide at Hog Cay was roughly one half hour after Nassau, which put low at 1pm. We felt comfortable shooting for 3pm, because even though we trusted their experience we also had tide info for a spot a few miles away that indicated one and ½ hours after Nassau; let’s hedge while still being able to get into the harbor before dark.

So what happens when you are sailing along briskly and comfortably? Going too fast, that’s what. The only way to slow down sufficiently was to drop the main and plod along at 4kts with only the jib. At 2:15 Free Bird passed us and we thought how brave they were and surely we’d be fine when we got there.  About ½ mile away, didn’t they drop their sails, but then dropped the hook. We went ahead, me on the bow to point out any “black things in the water. The worrisome spot is only 3ft at low and while much of the cut is deep with a sand bottom, this 15 yard stretch is a rocky bottom that the water can’t cut away fast enough.

Getting closer to the cut

Getting closer to the cut

Here we are past the shallow hard-bar spot and into deeper water

Here we are past the shallow hard-bar spot and into deeper water

This section is truly one for the books, a classic example depicted in the chart books where you need good water-reading skills, if only just for interest. After expelling a collective sigh of relief, we hailed Free Bird to say that the lowest depth was 5.3 ft.  Sounded like they’d go through soon but probably anchor nearby for the night since dark would fall before they’d get back.

Once past the cut we hung a left and covered twelve miles in two hours of motor-sailing and sailing in the lee of the islands, the wind out of the SE.

Closing in on Elizabeth Harbor's south entrance

Entering Elizabeth Harbor’s south entrance

Dropped the anchor at 5:35 (sunset is 5:48), exactly nine hours after leaving Flamingo Cay. Dropped the main after the anchor to save time. All in all, a swell and interesting day on the water with no mishaps!

Fish on! Tail off!

Exuma Sound as we pass by Three Sisters, bound for George Town

Exuma Sound as we pass by Three Sisters, bound for George Town

If crossing from Florida to the Bahamas is a cruiser’s Main Event, then for most cruisers in the Exumas, the Run to George Town is Part II. I think if you didn’t have to exit out a cut (into the Sound) and back in at Conch Cay Cut at the northern entrance to Elizabeth Harbor the trek wouldn’t be so worrisome. Helps to have a bit of North in the wind since you are headed SE and less than 18kts is preferred thank you very much. And so the waiting goes for a favorable window to jump down 30-50nm (depending which cut you use) to George Town. Can you say Pilgrimage?

We staged at the same spot we did last year; worked well then, why not this time? Russ read an ActiveCaptain review that further down off Rudder Cay, David Copperfield had placed a sizable piano and mermaid sculpture in 15ft of water just off the channel for our snorkeling delight. We considered going that far but nixed it in favor of beach walking, promising ourselves to stop on the way back. Only one other boat stopped at our spot and we were happy to see it was Matt and Tina on s/v Mattina-clever uh? Farley is the star of the show though and even I couldn’t resist giving him a big hug – allergies be damned. No barking, very patient – the perfect boat dog. Mattina’s plan was to stay on the protected banks side and enter the Sound through Rudder cut; would be closer to slack tide by then. Our plan was to jump out at Galliot cut about a mile away if the wind was down enough in the morning. Backup was to continue on to Cave Cay cut or Rudder if we didn’t like the looks of Galliot cut.

Come Thursday morning, the wind only 9kts, we upped anchor at 8:15 and even though the wind and the current were opposite (this creates nasty wave conditions) it didn’t turn the cut into a flume roller coaster, so out we went. But hey, what’s with the ESE stuff?? Remember we expected some North! So we dealt with 2-3ft swells and motored for a couple of hours, giving Mattina an update when they called to check on conditions. Gradually, the wind shifted, we raised the main, the swells calmed down, we put in two fishing lines, Mattina came out to play and soon we were sailing with main and jib; our ETA 3pm.

One typical cruiser topic is fishing; where, when, how, how many and who’s catching ‘em. Matt shared that the talk was no one was catching much yet this season; that hardly bode well for us, the ones who’ve caught three fish in two years. Can you say, “Starving souls?” Around 2pm, during the period of lovely sailing in 1 ft waves, we looked back and the line was down. Russ goes to the steps and begins to pull..then I hear, “Fish on!” I gather the tools: camera, alcohol, gaff and begin my job- so glad we are only sailing at 5kts-ish and the Sound is calm. At first, the fish seems to be small but then as we get it closer- uh oh.  Not having the audible fish-on notification system in place this time has cost us a fine meal or two. If the tail section was the only piece missing we’d have kept it, but that extra bite ruined the meal.

Unidentified fish was lunch for some lucky shark. Bummer for us.

Unidentified fish was lunch for some lucky shark. Bummer for us.

Our perfect afternoon wind continued and we sailed all the way down Elizabeth Harbor, dropping the sails as we turned toward Sand Dollar Beach to anchor.

Anchoring space is easy to come by in December off Chat N Chill and Volleyball Beach

Anchoring space is easy to come by in December off Chat N Chill and Volleyball Beach

With only four other boats around we had our pick and we chose well.  The anchor grabbed right off in the sandy bottom and within 20 mins we’d launched Bunting and were headed across the harbor to the market for produce and cheese. And who did we run into there? Stay tuned.

Stealth Again

004

Early risers gather before going out for today’s catch

Wanting better protection for the night and positioning for heading south down the Bay in NW winds, we left Oxford bound for Balls Creek off Broad Creek (one of many Broad Creeks around). During the night the wind would shift from S to NW, picking up to 20kts with higher gusts.

We had a new (secondary) anchor watch app for the iPhone5 called Anchor! and thought this was a good opportunity to try it out. Ideally you mark where you drop your anchor (as in be out with the app going at the bow and touch the anchor symbol) then create a comfort zone circle around yourself. The app will notify you with an email, sound an alarm and your phone will flash if you move outside your safety circle. If you are off the boat and get the email, you can use the “Find My Phone” feature to see on the map just where the boat has moved to. Another app we tested out had the option for the on-board phone to call your other phone so you’d know asap if you might be dragging. We contacted the creator of Anchor! to suggest he add the calling option to his app (we liked Anchor! better than the other) and heard back quickly that he would if he could make it work with his application.

The good news is that we didn’t drag, the bad news was I got the worst night’s sleep of the trip. The wind was noisy and so was the base of the mast and some furl line squeaked on and off all night. Ugh.

As we left our creek for Broad Creek which would lead to the Choptank and on in to the Bay, so many oystermen were gathered- twice as many as I could photograph- ready to begin their day which for us was starting earlier than usual. My Salada tea tag read, “Wind is air in a hurry.” How apropos for today. The wind was still honkin’ for the first few hours but after 10am we shook out the reef and let the jib out full. The wind continued to diminish and soon we were motor-sailing, then the last couple hours were a pure motor.

Heard s/v Harmony II calling another vessel; closing in on them!  This cool dude was heading north along the western shore. Our friends at Wikipedia say she’s M80 Stiletto, a prototype naval ship with a pentamaran hull design. Launched in 2006 she appears to be an “only.” A healthy cruising speed of 40kts with a top speed of 50kts, she was crawling at 30kts when we saw her (AIS).  Carbon fiber construction with a 2 1/2 ft draft for her large 90’x40’ body; she could visit the Bahamas easily with such a shallow draft. 🙂

Naval stealth boat M80 Stiletto- barely skims the waves

Naval stealth boat M80 Stiletto– barely skims the waves

Further down the bay several miles north of our turn east through Kedges Strait a Navy vessel hailed a southbound catamaran- but it wasn’t us. Hadn’t seen many sailing vessels today, so was curious to see another cat probably headed for Crisfield too.  We subsequently spoke to Navy Moose and learned that target practice was occurring just south of our turn east and we just needed to keep a healthy two miles away. So that explains the AIS vessel near the dotted “bombing” circle on the chart.

We arrived at Somers Cove Marina in Crisfield at 4pm, a 62nm, eight and ½ hour-day. Wind more hurried today than usual. A great sail while it lasted.

A Walk in the Park

Coast Guard buoy tender moving buoys in the Bay near Annapolis

Coast Guard buoy tender moving buoys in the Bay near Annapolis

But first, a brisk sail 22nm down to South River where we’d stop at Liberty Marina to drop off our screecher and jib for their get well treatment. Warrior Yachting would take those white hankies and in a few days, return them all re-stitched, head webbing replaced and capped on screecher, etc- adding up to a few not unreasonable shekels.

A coastal low, the remnants of TS Karen from the Gulf of Mexico would push its way to shore, stall a bit and make sure we paid dearly for the beautiful warm weather it would replace. Ok, so now I AM glad to have those cold weather, no grill required meals on board.

The Captain outdid himself by finding Harness Creek. A tall tree-lined bank provided complete protection from the NE winds. A dock provided access to Quiet Waters, a 346-acre park with six miles of paved trails, picnic areas, playgrounds, an art gallery, gardens, an ice rink and at the creek, Paddle or Pedal who owns the dock and operates a small-boat and bike rental. Yahoo! Finally we could touch land after nine days.

Entrance to Harness Creek- park overlooks and gazebo

Entrance to Harness Creek- park overlooks and gazebo

The walk through the park was lovely and we came upon joggers, walkers, moms with strollers as we made our way to the entrance and then a couple more blocks to the Main Ingredient where we’d feast on a fabulous breakfast.

Our delicious gourmet breakfast- I was stuffed all day

Our delicious gourmet breakfast- I was stuffed all day

I ordered tea presented in a wooden box for my choosing; the pot was stylish and the loose tea sat in a strainer under the lid.  Divine. With an eye on the approaching rain we pulled our stuffed-selves away from the table and walked to the Giant grocery (picture Stop&Shop) for as much as we could comfortably carry. Local boaters offered a ride but we were headed in the opposite direction. The walk was easily close to two miles; my right knee complained the next day. Sigh.

The rain approached at a turtle crawl which allowed for another brilliant sunset.

Sunset looking at the shore of the creek opposite the park

Sunset looking at the shore of the creek opposite the park