Wye River to the Little Choptank

This morning we arose not-so-bright but early. We were up before the sun and were pulling the anchor just a little while before sunrise. Before dawn is a time that Rode Trip is not too familiar with and boy was it cold! We left Wye Island so early because we had quite a distance to go to make it to the next anchorage.

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We motored through the narrow winding channels of the Wye river and as we made it closer to the mouth of the river the wind really started picking up. As predicted the wind was out of the Northwest and we decided that we would motor around Tilghman point so we wouldn’t have to tack our way up to it. We were motoring from point “1” to point “2” on this chart.

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The wind was going in exactly the opposite direction and it was blowing HARD. Since we haven’t paid up the big bucks for any type of wind measuring apparatus we usually just guess, and we think it was blowing just about 25kts. (I was very curious while writing this so I looked up the wind for a station near where we were sailing this morning) Turns out this time our guess was pretty good. That spike at 8am was right when we were trying to motor upwind.

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I said try because it was tough going. It was only 3 nautical miles, and under engine power this should have been a quick 30 minutes. The waves were exactly the wrong size for Rode Trip and as soon as we would start to get some speed the bow would go way way up in the air and then come way way down while the stern went way way up and the prop would come out of the water and the engine would rev up. The boat would lose all of its headway speed and we would have to start accelerating again. We didn’t want to cause any problems for the engine so we tried to throttle back if we thought the prop was going to come out of the water, which slowed us down even more. All in all it took us about one and half hours to motor those 3 miles, and it was wet and uncomfortable the entire time.

When we reached point “2” we raised the sails, a double reefed main and staysail and turned down the bay and thankfully downwind! Rode Trip handled this part much better. With the sails up the ride smoothed out right away, and since we were going downwind we stopped getting splashed every 15 seconds. Stephanie later pointed out that getting saltwater in your eyes “isn’t fun” I agree.

Over the next several hours the wind continued to get lighter and lighter. We gradually put up more sail area and continued to move until around 2pm when the wind just quit altogether. We looked around for a nearby anchorage, but found that our planned anchorage was the closest and we still had quite a ways to go. We turned on the motor and were on our way.

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Along the way we found several schools of bluefish that were splashing and swimming along on the surface. I even managed to get one to bite on a lure, but he was too small and I returned him to the bay.

We arrived at the Little Choptank River with a couple of hours of daylight left. We took advantage of this to explore a nearby marsh by kayak. It was a nice paddle and we even discovered some treasures hiding in the grasses, Oysters! Stephanie paddled around while I got busy and found some large oysters and piled them into my kayak.

Upon returning to Rode Trip we scrubbed the oysters clean and steamed them for dinner along with a mashed butternut squash and leftover brussels sprouts, yum.

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Up Delaware Bay

Last night our lengthy stay in Cape May finally paid off (not that we expected it would) as we met a great group of young cruising friends! No offense to our older cruising friends, of course, but it was nice to know that people in our age group are sailing. We had a fabulous evening with the crew of Anthyllide, Scott & Kimberly, who are venturing into their seventh year of cruising and the crew of Serendipity, Matt & Jessica, who are embarking on their cruising lifestyle just as we are. We decided to cruise together through the Delaware Bay as we are all on similar schedules and heading to the Bahamas for the winter.

We had a GREAT sail today. The morning started off when Matt and Jessica came by in their dinghy and we headed in to the yard sale at Utsch’s Marina. Steph and I made out really well. I acquired some fishing equipment that I have been wishing I had on the boat, but the big news is that we finally decided to buy an outboard for our dinghy. Our paddles to shore have been getting longer and longer, and we decided it was time. We are now the proud owners of a used but in very good shape Nissan outboard.

We hurried back to Rode Trip to get our anchor up and we left right on time to catch the current up the Delaware Bay. Our first step was to motor through the Cape May Canal. The clearances above the top of our mast were a little closer than we have been used to, but we made it under the fixed bridges with 7 feet to spare. It is very unnerving standing on the boat looking up at the top of the mast. The angle of looking directly up the mast makes it look like the mast is going to hit the bridge every time.

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Motoring through the canal went very quickly and we raised our sails as we were exiting the canal. Matt and Jessica took the direct route up the bay, while Stephanie and I took a slightly longer track where we headed out until we caught the stronger current near the shipping channel. This was a good decision as we won our imaginary race with Serendipity. Who knew the Wetsnail had so much get up and go!? We had a great broad reach up the bay with the current pushing us. We were moving along at 7 and sometimes 8 knots with only small waves.

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We took advantage of our windvane again and both Stephanie and I were free to move about the boat while keeping an eye out for other vessels.

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You can see in this picture the control lines rigged to the tiller. We are really enjoying using the windvane instead of hand steering all the time. We aren’t very good at it yet, so it takes a long time for us to “tune” the windvane to actually steer the course we want, but once it is setup it works wonderfully.

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“Look ma no hands”

We sailed past the “Ship John Shoal” which has a lighthouse standing on it out in the middle of Delaware bay.

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We also sailed past a Nuclear power plant.

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As we made our way farther up the bay the current kept pushing us faster and faster. By the time we were nearing the C & D canal we were doing a consistent 8+ knots! Unfortunately we picked up hundreds and hundreds of little black flies that thought it would be nicer inside our cabin than being blown around outside. When we finally realized they were sneaking in we put up the screens but it was really too late. I spent a lot of time killing flies this afternoon…and this evening.

It turns out that going out of our way to catch the extra current paid off, and we arrived at the C&D canal just ahead of Matt and Jess. Stephanie took the helm and motored us safely through the canal while I went below and cooked up a chicken curry.

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Shortly after coming out of the C&D the sun went down and we were caught in a small thunderstorm. The rain came down in buckets while we motored for our intended anchorage. We arrived and dropped the anchor only to discover that the wave action was going to make for a very uncomfortable stay. We only stayed long enough for the lightning to move out of our area and then we picked up the hook, and headed across the channel to “cabin John creek”. The water is very still here and we are looking forward to a good nights sleep.

Southbound!

Stephanie and I have been watching a weather window and decided last night that we were going to take this opportunity to make a jump south. We left Newport harbor at 7am and are headed out past block island and then taking a straight shot for the Delaware bay,

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This is going to be our longest passage so far, and it will take 2-3 days of sailing around the clock for us to make it to Cape May, NJ.