I’m developing some theories about sailing based on our experience getting the boat ready this spring. Basically, I think it’s easier to keep cruising and fix stuff along the way than deal with spring start-up. When you put your boat up for the winter and have it launched in the spring everything breaks at one time! First it’s leaky plumbing, then it’s the electronics and then you go crazy and broke fixing things!
Our basic boating skills also got rusty over the winter. We went for a week-long cruise that started out very shaky but ended up on a positive note.
We packed up everything and headed to the boat last Wednesday to finish up some projects and go sailing. At some point on Thursday I realized that when I prepared everything for varnishing I had removed the throttle handle and gear shift lever and put them in the varnish box…which we took home. Doh! Since these items were essential to our operation of the boat we had to go back home to retrieve them. (At least we didn’t discover it when we went to leave the slip!)
We left on Friday with plans to travel with the Corinthians on their spring cruise. After a beautiful one-jibe sail to the Rhode River we discovered that our windlass wouldn’t work. Arrgh! It was working before–we checked it! Since we couldn’t anchor (with all 3/8″ chain to lower and raise) we called our friend Greg to ask if we could stay at the West River Sailing Club. We picked up a mooring and Skip went to work diagnosing the windlass problem. After much testing with the volt meter he discovered that the wired control unit was the problem. Luckily, we have a wireless remote that we never use but it worked fine. I guess I never used it before because I worry about losing it overboard.
With that problem resolved, we proceeded to grill an excellent birthday dinner for Skip. The next morning, Greg and Susan invited us to their lovely home for breakfast. What a treat!
The first stop on the Corinthian cruise was the Chesapeake Yacht Club in Shady Side. It was a beautiful place to meet up with our new club. We knew a few people in the Corinthians from our Sabre association but met many more nice folks.
Leaving the dock on Sunday morning we made a huge rookie mistake and managed to wrap a dock line around our prop for the first time in 25 years of sailing. Our line cutter cut the line but once we were motoring we could tell from the vibration that something wasn’t right. Skip made some calls and we decided to go back to the marina and get a short-haul to have a mechanic look at our prop and shaft.
When backing into the haul out slip, the engine stalled and we plowed into a race boat tied to the dock. I guess it was good that we have a dinghy hanging off the stern because it acted as a fender but we still bent their stanchion and mangled one of our davits. The next morning we were hauled out and found a clump of line still wrapped around the prop. Upon further investigation, our mechanic thought that our Max prop may be damaged. We will have to find a 3-blade prop to put on the boat and send the Max prop to be fixed. In the meantime, the prop would work okay but we don’t want to go on a long journey with the possibility of it failing. All in all, that stupid dock line cost us a lot of money. At least no one was hurt–just our pride.
On Monday, Skip removed the damaged davit, walked up to Kato and bought a new one. That was convenient!
Back in business, we motored to Lankford Bay Marina in the Chester river on Tuesday to rejoin the Corinthians for a potluck dinner. The next day, we decided to stay in the marina so Skip could work on more leaky plumbing. The club was heading back to the Rhode River so we didn’t see much point in motoring all the way back there. The marina folks were very friendly and helpful. They actually had the part that Skip needed – a new check valve for the hot water heater.
In the evening our friends Bill and Barbara picked us up for dinner. They are old friends that we knew from when we kept our first boat at the Sailing Emporium in Rock Hall. We hadn’t seen them in a few years. They are no longer boating and Bill has had a rough time with medical issues. It was great to see them and it definitely helped me put our problems in perspective.
The next day we traveled through Kent Narrows to St. Michaels. Most boaters prefer to avoid the Narrows since the northern entrance has tricky shoals and there’s a wicked current and a bridge to contend with. Being veteran ICW cruisers, the bridge was no big deal although getting the bridge tender to respond on the radio was a challenge!
We docked at the Chesapeake Maritime Museum and spent a lovely day in St. Michaels. I had my first taste of steamed crabs this season at the Crab Claw and they were delicious. ‘They’ve even joined the modern age and now accept credit cards. Afterwards, we visited the ice cream shop!
On Friday we motored back up the Miles River to join the Corinthians at the Kent Island Yacht Club. About 5 or 6 boats arrived at the same time and they weren’t ready for us. What a mess! Boats were circling and trying to figure out where to dock. We lucked out and got a spot on their face dock. There’s a strong current which makes docking a real challenge. Later, we heard that the club was told to arrive around 3pm for slack tide. That little piece of information wasn’t published in our cruise guide so many of us arrived too early.
The dinner that night at the yacht club was a dressy affair. Skip wore a blue blazer and tie (first time for those items on our boat!) It was a great dinner with lots of good stories about their races throughout the week. (We didn’t race–too much work!)
Saturday, we motored back down the Miles River and anchored in Hunting Creek. Moondance was hosting the Chesapeake Bay Sabre Association Memorial Day wine tasting rendezvous. Ten other boats arrived and joined us for wine tasting (more like swilling;-) and appetizers. I counted at least 12 empty bottles and that was just on our boat!
Our last night out was very relaxing. We joined Calypso in Tilghman Creek for a wonderful dinner (Eva’s ginger wine chicken). I made drinks with fresh pineapple soaked in dark rum for a few days. There was some excitement when we arrived. A sailboat had dragged anchor and was stuck in the mud. They were trying to kedge off and another small sailboat was trying to pull them off. Skip and Rick went over to help. The grounded boat ended up tying their halyard to the other boat to lay the boat sideways and release the keel from the mud. I should have taken a video!
We motored back to the marina on Monday. It got really hot so after resting up a bit we packed up and went home. We still have a list of things to fix. The chart plotter isn’t sending GPS data to the other instruments so we’ll have to send it back to Garmin for repair. The anchor chain is very rusty and needs to be replaced. The engine-driven refrigeration doesn’t seem to be working right. Our Waeco freezer was stuck on one setting and wouldn’t change. The list goes on and on…