Admittedly, I've been pretty behind in documenting our sailing outings this summer. Now, with the weather turning colder and my camera finally downloaded, I can sum up the experience.
It was a season full of firsts for me. It was my first time sailing down the coast, heck, my first time on a sailboat out at sea! Followed by a month or two of sheer terror at the possibility of running aground and the generalized fear of disaster. As the blind fear wore off slowly and I began to understand the principles of sailing on such a large boat, I started to enjoy our outings. Soon I relished the feeling of the wind catching in our sails, tilting us over and steadily propelling us through the waves.
On the hottest day of the year we took out a few friends for a day sail. It was literally 110 degrees in the shade. The light breeze felt like a hot desert wind and there wasn't much in the way of brisk sailing that day. Nevertheless we anchored in the shallow north Chesapeake and swam in the brackish water that could have been bathwater. Mac (in the captain's hat) resisted getting in to cool off - his reasoning? "The sharks like the shallow water!"
This was our first 'on-wings' sail configuration of the summer. My mother and friends (visiting from Virginia) enjoyed the day out with us, even though we didn't have much luck with the wind that day either. My mother still enjoyed flaking the sail in and out to get the optimal amount of efficiency.
My mother hanging off the back of the boat as it idled through the water at 4 knots or so. Great sharkbait...
Despite checking the weather (as has become my ritual the night before and the morning of a sailing outing) it became clear this day once we got out into the Chesapeake that some stormy weather was upon us. This roiling sky, though very menacing looking didn't do much other than keep the powerboat people at home.
As we headed down further into the Chesapeake, we realized the bad weather was going to give us some fantastic sailing conditions. We got up to speeds of about 16 knots or so and occasionally scared ourselves a bit with the amount of tilt the boat achieved.
Our fellow sailors enjoyed the 20 to 25 knot winds as well. After lunch we headed back up towards home. Our guests cozied up down below while Jason and I got soaked to the bone once the rain started falling, and we stayed that way for the several hours it took to get back to the marina. It was great.
This shot is of our first overnighter anchored out on the bay. It was also the first (successful) time Jason and I took the boat out with just the two of us, as we had a lot of trouble getting anyone to join us for an overnighter. We sailed all day in fantastic conditions. Our point of sail was perfect agains the wind direction, so we were able to sail for several hours without changing a thing. It was the first day I looked around and said to myself 'we are a couple of badasses!' When the sun started to set we began looking for a place to anchor. We settled just across the bay from Baltimore, seeing the glittering lights brighten up in the distance as the sun dipped out of sight. The water was glassy and we saw several blue crabs swimming close to the surface, and fish jumping all around.
Once it got dark the wind picked up and an internet search alerted us to a storm which wasn't in the forecast when I had checked that morning. It never actually rained, but the wind was high and our moods were alert as we had no frame of reference for this experience. Neither of us slept much that night since we feared the wind would help break loose our anchor hold and drag us into something solid. We set the alarm for every hour to check that we were in the same place... and our fears were unfounded as it solidly held all night.
We brought up the anchor at 5 AM and took turns motoring in shifts back towards home. During one of my shifts I heard the engine sound change. Since I started sailing I've become very, very sensitive to noises. If I don't know what that noise is, I am in high alert. The frequency changed quickly and then just stopped... suddenly I realized we were without power in a shipping channel, and I was the only one awake! I managed to steer us out of the shipping channel with the remaining momentum we had and ran downstairs to wake up the mechanic. With a wealth of adrenaline running through my veins I went back upstairs to keep watch while Jason diagnosed the problem. Luckily the wind and the current were working in our favor and we drifted towards more open water in a predictable way. The engine problem was simply that the one of three fuel tanks I was on ran empty, and a quick switch over to one of the other tanks solved the problem. Phew!
A still day back at the marina...