Hello, friends. When I last wrote, we were motoring up the Chesapeake Bay as the sun set. I’m happy to report that the bay was as calm as I’ve ever seen it during the 16 hour overnight voyage from Solomon’s, MD to Chesapeake City, MD.
After a few hours of motoring into the darkness, a tugboat, the Island Trader began to gain on me. I reduced the throttle for about an hour and soon he was out ahead of me giving me something to look at instead of just the navigational screens. Even though he eventually got about 3 miles ahead of Mavis, his stern light was like a star to steer by.
Even with that very exciting light to stare at, after a few more hours I began to get pretty tired. There was a lot of ship traffic and a few ships required radio work to coordinate our passing so I wasn’t comfortable leaving Cindy at the helm. She offered, and she would have been fine but I knew that a few minutes after I got into bed a ship would be hailing us. Sure enough, soon a container ship hailed me. We worked out a “two whistle” pass meaning we would pass starboard to starboard at about .10 miles apart… Much closer than I prefer when dealing with these ships, especially at night.
A problem with the Chesapeake at night is that it seems anywhere the water isn’t very deep (and many places where it is), there are crab pots. Snagging one of those could easily be a major issue for us. Mavis’ drive leg is a rather finicky and dainty contraption. So, in the Chesapeake at night, I prefer to run in very deep water, just outside the shipping lanes. Unfortunately that means the ships get really close and you’ve got to keep an eye on the screen to get an idea of what’s coming while they’re still 10 miles away.
By the time we were up past Baltimore and out of the areas where the ships run, I was feeling very tired again and struggling to stay awake. I went to the head and washed my face, slapped myself a few times, made myself another pot of coffee and began doing air squats in the cockpit every few minutes. I popped in my airpods and put on some techno. I’d scan the horizon for traffic, check my navigation screen and engine instruments, then do 10 squats and sit down for a few minutes. Rinse and repeat this for about 4 hours…If anyone could have seen me… This kept me awake until the sun came up and by this time my glutes were on fire and we were on the Elk River fighting the current. As is usual for this stretch, there were numerous partially submerged logs floating here and there. As we passed the Turkey Point light, two logs hit us within seconds of each other. I didn’t see them until they were in our wake but they hit with enough force to do damage. Thankfully they just bounced off our thin hulls with a very loud thud.
Finally we made it to Chesapeake City, MD where I tied up the boat and immediately went to bed for a few hours. After my nap, we walked Willow around and enjoyed our time ashore. We had an excellent dinner at Prime 225, a great little steakhouse and turned in for the night. I slept incredibly soundly.
This morning we decided to move the boat about 5 miles down the C&D Canal to the Summit North Marina. I’ve stayed here before. It’s an enormous marina that’s fairly well protected from most winds. We will hang out here until Tuesday morning. As of now, it appears that if we leave here at sunrise Tuesday we will catch a favorable tide and gentle winds for most of the 50 nautical mile voyage down the bay. We may have an hour or two of 15 knot winds on the nose as we approach but I’m hoping to get in and be tied up before the winds pick up.
In Cape May we’ll wait for a good weather window for the final hop offshore to the Fire Island Inlet. The Coast Guard and Sea Tow have confirmed that enough buoys are back on station after the dredging this winter to make transiting the inlet safe. It’s 125 miles and as of now I plan to leave Cape May late morning next Saturday and arrive Sunday morning into the Great South Bay. We’ll obviously keep an eye on the weather and adjust our plans accordingly. Right now I’m just looking forward to getting the Delaware Bay behind me and staging in Cape May.
If you read this whole thing, thanks… More updates soon… I hope from Cape May.