Wet Sails

We left Solomons for points south, but we weren’t really sure how far south we would get. A half-dozen possible anchorages presented themselves for our consideration, but it really depended on our progress. Three hours of good sailing turned into a sloshy but surprisingly mellow motorsailing passage across the mouth of the Potomac. That got us well past Smith Point, but not far enough to pass by the Great Wicomico River’s Ingram Bay and Cockrell Creek, so in we went and anchored. The next day started beautifully, perfectly, with a lovely stable breeze. A full main took us out to the bay, where we turned downwind and began to sail fast and furious for points south. A reef went in pretty soon and then two more reefs in a row as we barreled down the coastline, land to weather, sticking pretty close in order to keep the chop down. (The distance over which a wave can build height is called fetch, and we were trying to keep the fetch short, which keeps the chop down.) When the current turned against us, and the breeze turned a bit too fresh, we got serious about riding the chop at the best possible angle. With the water flowing in and the wind trying to push it the other direction, the bay begins making peaks that aren’t very soothing to sail in. When the land petered out, though, and the miles of fetch known as the Rappahannock River made itself known to us, those peaks were close, high, and mean. James handed the tiller over to me (Dena) with a shift kiss right before the roaring river mouth and I had the strenuous job of maintaining our desired direction while also riding the waves at an acceptable angle. I worked hard at it and[…]

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