Neil Hoffman and Judith Kraines, Obbligato (Sabre 30)
Joe Rutolo and Conrad Vanino, Allegro (Precision 21)
Tom Stoner and Henry Borneman, Babe (O’Day Mariner 19)
John Pittman and Donna Ferron, Halcyon (Catalina 30)
Day One: 18 June 2011
This should have been day two for Halcyon but engine trouble kept her in her slip in Rock Hall until Friday morning, thus she made the approximately 40 NM trip in one day. Allegro and Babe put in at Shipping Creek boat ramp. Obbligato braved the Small Craft Advisory on Thursday and the notorious shoaling north of Kent Island Narrows. Allegro, Babe and Obbligato arrived at the Drum Point anchorage with plenty of time for a sundowner raft up.
Meanwhile, Halcyon tacked through a southerly wind and 2- to 3-foot seas on the outside of Kent Island until storms threatened from two directions. Halcyon’s crew dropped the sails, closed the hatches, donned life jackets, stowed the mother below and turned on the motor. The southern edge of one storm fortunately only produced a light rain until Bloody Point, the deepest part of the Bay, was rounded. The mother was let out of the cabin and Halcyon valiantly motored as fast as her 11 HP diesel could take her towards Drum Point to meet up with the other boats. To the south another more violent storm approached from Alexandria, VA.
Halcyon motored through Eastern Bay with the sun setting on her transom. She passed uneventfully by Rich Neck and Tilghman Creek where the crew would have anchored the night before. Upon reaching the mouth of the Wye River, the radio broadcasted a severe thunderstorm alert warning of strong winds, hail and cloud-to-ground lightning. By now it was dusk. The sun set behind the clouds in the west. To starboard the crew watched the dramatic dark clouds and impressive lightning display as the broadcasted storm moved towards St. Michaels. Thunder rumbled. They decided to head towards Shaw Bay instead of pushing on to Drum Point, which might have taken another hour in unfamiliar water in the dark. The anchor was dropped, the storm passed, and the crew set about making dinner. Obbligato radioed with the news that the Drum Point anchorage (chosen in part because it was new to everyone) was wonderful. Great. Wish we were there, especially since Halcyon’s crew had planned this trip. The hosts missed the first day of the party.
Shaw Bay is the first cove on the right after entering the Wye East River. This was Halcyon’s first time in Shaw Bay and it was Halcyon’s first time anchoring without being part of a raft. A few homes lined the shore and that night only three other boats shared the anchorage. It was absolutely quiet. The storm had passed to the south over St. Michaels but did not reach Shaw Bay. There were no sounds of cars or civilization other than the occasional airplane. Every few minutes a fish jumped and broke the silence as Halcyon’s crew watched the clouds pass in front of a big orange moon that rose over the water.
The mother was content. Life was good.
Day Two: Sail to St. Michaels 19 June 2011
Halcyon’s crew awakened at 0630 to a sunny morning and enjoyed a leisurely breakfast while watching a few small fishing boats going about their work. A cow-nosed ray splashed around the boat. Around 0900 all the BMSA boats made radio contact and began the sail to St. Michaels.
Allegro and Babe were first out of the gate. About an hour later Halcyon left Shaw Bay followed by Obbligato. The day was sunny with a wind that promised a good sail. The crew took in the scenery they had missed the night before and looked forward to sailing to St. Michaels. Halcyon raised her sails at the mouth of the Wye only to hang in limp company with those of Allegro and Babe who tried to gain distance with each stingy puff. At one point Babe seemed to be drifting backwards into Prospect Bay.
Finally, a wind blew that was strong enough to get the three boats into the Miles River. Allegro and Babe, with the advantage of being able to tack outside of the channel made progress while Halcyon was left inside the channel at the mercy of the power boat wakes. Surely each and every one of them had an emergency to attend to given their speed and total disregard to their wakes. Halcyon finally lowered the sails and motored through the narrow channel to where the river opened up near St. Michael’s harbor. There she once again raised her sails and tried to find some wind while waiting for check in time at the marina. Behind her Babe and Allegro continued their sail up the Miles River, happily tacking in tandem and seemingly inured to the larger power boats around them. Obbligato was seen motoring into the harbor.
Once settled at St. Michaels Harbour Marina the other crews hit the pool while Halcyon’s crew walked into town for lunch. While contentedly eating a delicious lunch at a saloon, they witnessed a seemingly miner fender bender in front of their window. This miner incident brought out the police, an ambulance, two fire trucks and the fire chief all importantly clogging up the small main street. The waitress informed the crew that nothing much happened in St. Michaels that these honorable public servants could respond to so an accident, even one this small, was almost an event.
Dinner that night was at St. Michaels Crab and Steakhouse. Babe’s crew had a fascinating philosophical discussion over each other’s menu choices. After dinner Halcyon’s crew was lost and then found in the bar and one of Babe’s crew went missing after being given firm instructions to wait by a tree while the rest went to locate Halcyon’s crew. BMSA members know how to make a simple dinner into an adventure.
Back at the marina several members retired to Halcyon for lively post-dinner conversation and Babe’s missing crew member finally appeared. The mother, who had not joined the other members for dinner gave a report on the antics of other boaters entering the marina. A glass of wine and a cockpit facing in the right direction is better than New Jersey Housewives on TV.
Day Three: 20 June 2011
The crews (all present and accounted for) ate breakfast at the marina and then prepared for departure. Obbligato left first to catch the high tide through Kent Narrows, Babe and Allegro then headed back to Shipping Creek.
Halcyon faced another long trip around the outside of Kent Island, so planned to anchor that night in Claiborne Inlet in Tilghman Creek and continue the trip home in the morning. They arrived at Claiborne around noon, dropped anchor and settled in to listen to the Phillies game over lunch. The crew experimented with a method for repelling flies given at breakfast by one of Babe’s crew and finally decided that he was laughing all the way across Prospect Bay. (See the Tips column)
Tilghman Creek has a tricky entrance and it is not advised to attempt entering for the first time without plotting a course on a paper chart and following it closely or having an electronic chart plotter to guide you. Once inside, Claiborne is a very small cove to starboard that is extremely tranquil with plenty of wildlife to watch. Halcyon swung at anchor much more than in Shaw Bay but held just fine.
Day four: 21 June 2011
The next morning Halcyon’s crew awakened to a moderate rain and a crab boat closely circling their boat. One crew member said good morning, the crab boat was that close, but received no response. Departure was delayed a few hours due to the rain and the man in the crab boat periodically circled and checked his lines. As soon as the rain subsided to a drizzle the crew discussed a strategy for weighing anchor without running over the crab pot markers. There was little room for error because of the depth and how close the markers were to the boat. As they made their preparations to weigh anchor the man circled one more time and when it was time to leave it was discovered that he had pulled up his crab pots on that last pass. He must have watched for signs that Halcyon was leaving.
The return trip to Rock Hall was uneventful with almost no wind and the water near the Bay Bridge and Rock Hall almost like glass. It was the exact opposite of the beginning of the trip days earlier. By 1800 Halcyon’s crew sat in Harbor Shack restaurant in Rock Hall eating hot wings.
BMSA plans races, day sails and cruises for all members. It is a great opportunity for new members and members without boats to get on the water. Multi-day cruises give members who trailer their boats but who may only have experience sailing in local lakes the chance to sail their boats on the Bay with members who also trailer and are experienced obtaining ramp permits, dealing with the Bay tides and the often unpredictable weather. At times, there is space available for extra crew.
The next overnight trip is planned for 13 August when we will sail to a marina in the Eastport section of Annapolis on Back Creek, have dinner, putz around Annapolis and return the next day. At least two experienced trailer boats will be going and Halcyon has room for (comfortably) up to two people.
We have a great time and so far have started and ended each trip with the same number of people and boats. What better incentive do you need?