A Great Circle

We sailed a great circle over the last week. Not in the traditional sense of navigating along the shortest path, but in the equinoctial Chesapeake sailor’s way. And we looked good doing it. The wind direction and intensity, the direction and speed of the tidal currents, and the long list of neat places to visit combined to allow us a circular path around the upper Chesapeake. In winter, the winds come largely from the north and, in summer, from the south. In the shoulder seasons, though, the wind cycles through the compass as weather patterns form and pass over. This gorgeous anchorage (unofficial, like most of the places we drop the hook) rewarded us well for an unexpectedly hard day. The whole point of the spring circle is to have easy weather for the whole trip, wind on or abaft the beam, and helpful currents that don’t turn choppy running against the wind. On this occasion, we jumped the gun by leaving Annapolis before the tide had well turned. We slogged a little – like walking through a few inches of water, though, nothing drastic – and motorsailed in the morning’s light wind. As we came up next to the Magothy River, a loud clunk preceded the onset of a heavy vibration. A rattling, beating vibration that got everything on the boat moving, even at the top of the mast, where the 3′ VHF whip antenna taught an impromptu lesson on sine waves. We figured out pretty quickly that it was drive-train, not engine, and sailed up the Magothy to a spot I (Dena) decided would be safe and convenient for both anchoring and receiving help. We’re getting pretty good at receiving help, something that surprises and pleases me. We’ve been so independent for so long and it’s nice to[…]

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New London to Baltimore

…One Giant Leap New London was the perfect place to duck in, provision up, and sit out a powerful fall nor’easter that blew up the river Thames like nothing we’d ever seen before! Humbling is a good word for it. The winds were well in excess of 40 knots for the worst part of that three day weather event and on the second night the waves rolling up the Thames were as fearsome as any ocean growlers we’ve seen on this coast! It was incredible, then it was over, and we sailed away. The weather window was just about as perfect as any late-fall Long Island Sound weather could get, so we opted for a straight shot west down the Sound with no stops before Port Washington. There was nothing for me (James) to take pictures of really, just wide open flat water with a mirage of land on either side of us. Our course throughout the day was just as uneventful, it took us straight down the middle of the Sound using the mighty currents to blast us west as much as possible before they turned around and fouled the ride and of course, that happened after sundown. By 0230 we were shagged off a ball in Port Washington, New York. For me (James), overnight passages are truly an incredible experience, the ships that pass through the night and how the wildlife seems to flee and the way the world changes all around you as the sun’s light circumnavigates away from you… And the sounds of the wind rising and dying through the rig hypnotized me into the rhythm of the world. Up and down, in and out, breathing without the fear of moving a 6 ton vessel through blackness. We slept and ate good food and once again,[…]

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