Wednesday, October 28th, 2015
Wednesday, 28 October 2015
While still in Annapolis, I spent an interesting day at the enormous US Boat Show, marvelling at the luxury yachts on display. Catamarans with airy living space and all imaginable creature comforts. State of the art sails and electronics. Hundreds of ways to ensure that your every movement can be tracked and you will never get lost. Motorised everything. All was gloss and shine.
I envied some of the smaller boats on display with lifting keels and rudders enabling them to sneak up those shallow little creeks that I am forced to avoid. But there was not one that I would have preferred to my tough and reliable Speedwell. Enough has been said about the beauty of simplicity and I shall not expound further.
Inevitably, when I am asked about my junk rig and try to explain its advantages, the first response is ‘Ah! But it doesn’t go well to windward’. True enough, and yet… Recently I have been heading south as the cold weather is starting to make itself felt. Other boats are also heading my way. This is a beautiful time of year for sailing on the bay. Plenty of sunny days, no more biting flies and enough favourable wind to get from one anchorage to the next in daylight.
I normally leave my anchorage at first light having got everything ready the night before: dinghy on deck, wind vane paddle installed, washing up done. Usually we are the first to leave. Others soon follow. Being single-handed and uninsured, I use the engine until I am safely away from the other anchored boats and then the noisy thing can be switched off and we start sailing.
If the wind is against us, the other boats will soon overtake, but it is obvious that in most cases they are motor-sailing. On a downwind day, I have the advantage, as this is what junk rig is best at. No need to pole out the jib – the big main works almost as a square-sail and we romp along. The other boats are motoring. Some with no sail up at all. Downwind. It makes one wonder. Are the sails only actually used for those Wednesday evening races? Does everyone have some critical piece of rigging that is about to break? I shall rant no more, but what a pleasure it is when you do see another boat actually using its magnificent sails.
After leaving Annapolis I made a short trip around to Harness Creek on the South River. One of the prettiest anchorages I have been in. It has a convenient dinghy dock giving access to Quiet Waters Park where a hiking trail leads to the shops in Eastport. I stayed longer than planned as I really enjoyed the walk through the woods.
The trees were just starting to change colour and each time the breeze moved the branches, leaves would drift down, almost like snowflakes. The wide path was littered with crimson star-shaped leaves and squirrels scampered about gathering acorns.
Then, after an overnight stop in the shelter of the cliff at Herring Bay, it was a fast sail to Mill Creek on the Great Wicomico River. I was tempted to stay and chill out but the wind was too good to miss and the next day took me on to Jackson Creek at Deltaville. Again, I stayed longer than planned, this time spending a day installing a new starter battery for the engine. The old one was showing signs of severe fatigue, being one that I had bought 5 years ago in Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil.
Another fast run with the new sail performing superbly, got me to Chisman Creek in Mobjack Bay where I decided to take a break and wait out some strong southerly winds before heading on to Norfolk and the start of the ICW.