Wednesday, July 14, 2010

2010 SRYC Yacht Club Commodore’s Cruise

After being members of Severn River Yacht Club for 10 years, we were finally able to get away for an entire annual Commodore’s Cruise held each year around July 4th.

This one was to be around the Southern Chesapeake Bay. Our Commodore, Nancy named the cruise “Southern Comfort”.  Other than the winds from the wrong direction more than a few times, it certainly lived up to its name.  In weather, in meeting people, and in having a great time with good friends – it was always a Comfort. 
I loaded the boat Friday evening, and went back home.  We left from Fishing Creek on Saturday morning.  It was great weather, no rain in the forecast and the wind moderate from the south-southeast.  Unfortunately that was the way we were to be heading.

Day One

We motored with the mainsail up, for the 42 miles to Solomon’s, Maryland.  It was a long run and it got a bit choppy by mid-bay, while nearing the Gas docks off of Calvert.

We arrived off of the Solomon’s Yachting Center and after stopping for gas, anchored just to the north of the Yachting center.  The Club arranged for a space for us to have heavy hors d’ourves right on the water.  Discman Rich, a Club member had music.  We had a drink before the food was set up and I was quite loopy by sunset.  We danced, ate, and did some Karaoke (not me) until about 10, then headed to the boat for the night.

I ran the genset and we had air conditioning all night.

Day Two

We were up at 7am and weighed anchor to head to Kilmarnock.  It was another motor-sail for about 30 miles.  Not real rough and we were able to hug the cost as we only draw 2’ 10” of water.

When we arrived at the marina (Chesapeake Bay Boat Basin), we dropped anchor.  Vernice yelled to us that they had slips, and our location was not very good as the grain barges for Perdue come through there.

We stopped in the office and the owner offered us the end of the T-head at a great price.  So we took him up on it and spent another great night with AC power and air conditioning. 

The heat was almost unbearable.  The thermometer on the door of the boat registered 107 degrees.

Many of the group wanted seafood for dinner.  The Marina had a loaner van and we attempted to pack all the people in two trips to drive the 2 miles to the restaurant.  The restaurant was very good.  Quite causal.  We were probably 3/4 of their business for that night.

Day Three

I got up early and left Bonnie to sleep as she had caught the cold I was just getting over.

We motored out of the creek with a line of SRYC boats spread out ahead of us.

The wind was on the nose again, this time at 16 to 18 knots with gusts to 25 knots and seas from 2 to 4 feet.  We motor-sailed for a bit and then after figuring the rough VMG of falling off to about 70 degrees apparent wind would only slow us by an hour or so, we made a beeline for the Eastern Shore and killed the engines.  We ran for 3 to 4 hours at between 8 and 9 knots.  It was a bit bouncy, but was a lot of fun.

We passed the Commodore’s boat, which was motoring, as one of their guests was very sick.

Once we got across the Bay, we were somewhere around Belle Haven and still had about 20 miles to Cape Charles.  I alternated between motor-sailing into the wind, and falling off to the west on a port tack, then tacking back after a few miles.  Either way our VMG was 5 kts at best.  We made the jetty entrance south of Cape Charles and cut across the flats as it was high tide.  We made the marina in the early afternoon.

The thermometer on the boat's door said it was 105 degrees.  Even with the breeze, we were soaked with sweat.

The marina was incredible.  It was huge and as it was fairly new did not have a lot of boats in it.  All the boats from the marina mostly fit on D dock, except Skip and Judith who have a 76 foot motor yacht.  Our slip was 20 feet wide.  We had 50 amp power and enjoyed air conditioning for the entire time in Cape Charles. Lenore Savage ( is the dock master if you plan on going sometime.

After we docked, I noticed that the starboard anchor was missing.  When I looked closely at it, the dual swivel shackle had lost its front pin.  The anchor must have dropped off in a wave or when we were near the end of our trip.  I do remember seeing it about ¾ of the way to Cape Charles and made a joke about the anchors now being clean.  Unfortunately I got into a nice anchoring routine each day and built some bad habits.  Rather than reaching out over the bow rail to tie a rolling hitch on the anchor, I was tying the secondary line to the chain and back half of the shackle.  The only part not doubly tied off was the front shackle pin.  Of course, that is what failed.  I broke two of my own rules that led to the loss of the anchor.  One, I hate complicated parts, and never use a swivel shackle.  But the boat came with such a nice, heavy duty one, that when I attached this anchor I felt it was a waste not to use it.  The second rule was tie off everything with line.  Although I did, I had gotten sloppy in the easy daily routine we had.

The anchor was a Spade Anchor from the UK.  ( It’s was aluminum and only about 20 lbs.  The anchor held our old boat, and now this one, without ever a problem - sometimes even with 6 rafted boats in high winds.  I went to the website to look for a new one.  The cost is $960.00 plus shipping – OUCH!

The marina had a wonderful restaurant and a few nice stores.  It was built on an old landfill and the glass was surfacing out of the sand in the beach area.  Bonnie enjoyed hunting for sea glass at low tide every day.

Aqua, the five star restaurant at the marina, had heavy hors d’ourves and a cash bar for us the first evening.  We were stuffed and had no thought of eating dinner.

Days Four, Five, Six, and Seven

We took our folding bikes into town the next morning and went to the remodeled Rayfield’s Drug store and restaurant for breakfast.   It was built on an old ice factory and moved from some other part of the town.  It has apparently been around for 80 years or so.

We rode down Mason Street (the main drag) after breakfast.  We passed an office supply store that had a sign in the window that said "sea glass".  I yelled back to Bonnie, asking if she wanted to stop, and a woman’s voice in front of the store shouted back ‘sure’.  We rode to the end of the street, to the fishing pier, and then back to the sea glass store (  The lady who shouted was the co-owner of the store and the mayor of the town – Dora Sullivan.  She introduced us to the chief of police and to David, whom she called the “Shorekeeper” as he is the person who most cares for the local environmental issues in Cape Charles.

We had wonderful conversations, and Dora and Bonnie discussed the hobbies they have in common.

Bonnie complained that Bay Creek Marina had no recycling. David and Dora offered to send a truck over to get the recycling from the yacht club boats.  David came by about 3:30pm.  He was very helpful and full of knowledge about the area.

To learn more about Cape Charles, go to,_Virginia

Bonnie and I brought over some homemade wine to them the next day.  Dora shared her 'secret' Sea Glass searching places with us.  We searched out some of them and found wild dill and blackberries as well as sea glass.


During the second day in Cape Charles, the winds clocked around to the North.  We had had the wind on the nose since we left Annapolis on the 26th and now it would be on the nose again.

So for comfort – this was the Southern Comfort Cruise after all, most of us decided to spend another day in lovely Cape Charles.  So - another day of eating well, exploring the local area, searching for sea glass and making new friends.

The afternoon of the third day did not provide any relief in the forecast for winds for the next day.  We were a bit concerned.  The next morning many of the sailboats headed out for Onancock early.  We stayed behind as Bonnie was not feeling too well – having caught my cold, and the commodore’s guests were not ready to make the voyage, so they were pondering staying in Cape Charles another day.

On one of our explorations, we found a wonderful gourmet food store called Gull Hummock Gourmet Market.  The owner was very nice and let us try some wine and cheeses she had.  She carried many local wines, so we ended up buying a couple local wines from her.  We also purchased some nice cheeses for the BYO appetizers.

Arnon, the Commodore’s husband was able to arrange for some rental cars.  By this time the power boaters decided to stay put as well, and drive with us to Onancock for the Oyster roast and party we had planned there.  This left us without enough cars for everyone.  So Bonnie and I got on our bikes and headed to town to ask Dora about more cars.  She was calling a friend of hers about renting a van, when I mentioned that we only had about five people to accommodate.  She told her friend never mind and handed us her car keys.

We were very hesitant to accept such a gracious offer.  Dora was very trusting, not knowing us very well.  But we gave in (pretty easily) and accepted her kindness.  The drive up to Onancock was nice.  Gary and Julie, friends from another boat, rode with us.  I used Bonnie’s GPS (Garmin 486) from the boat as it had a land navigation mode.  That made it much easier.  Everyone else was packed into three other cars.  We purchased salt cured bacon at a rest stop along the way.  We arrived in downtown Onancock to meet the boats that were just arriving from Cape Charles.  They all had a bouncy trip.  We toured the town and enjoyed some sightseeing.

Onancock ( ) was a quaint town.  Not as nice as Cape Charles, but rich in history.  Our friends commented that many shops had closed since they were last there.  It did appear that most of the restaurants did survive though.

After touring the town and finding a birthday cake for Bonnie, we headed out to the family of one of the yacht club members – who were hosting the party.  The Ihling’s had a beautiful secluded place called Nowhere Point looking out on the Onancock Creek.

We ate raw and steamed oysters, and hors d’ourves then hot dogs, burgers, pulled pork, corn on the cob and a rich array of deserts.  It was quite a spread and we feasted as we had the entire journey.

We also celebrated Bonnie's birthday there.  We served cake with desert.  It was a nice treat.

We drove back to Cape Charles, full and content.  We dropped off Dora’s car with a full tank, and six bottles of her favorite wine.  Bonnie ordered a hat for her from REI as Dora said she liked Bonnie’s.

We slept every night with Air Conditioning, even if the weather was not too hot.  Our little catamaran never felt so much like a water front condo. 

Day Eight

We arose on July 2nd, had an easy breakfast, and waited a bit for the other boats to get gas at the fuel dock.  Then we took our turn and filled up the tank and the jerry jug for the generators.

We headed out of the creek and turned south with the other boats to avoid the break waters.  At the same point we came in at a few days before, we cut across the flats and off to the west.  The water was a little shallower, about 4 feet, but fine for us if we were careful.

We put up the sails and headed North.  As was the luck on this trip, we were directly into the wind.  I played around with a good heading and decided to head for the Rappahannock River mouth, as the VMG seemed good and we would get a nice sail. It was still rough and some of the power boats in the club got a good pounding.

We did pretty well, averaging 7.5 to 8 knots.  But I noticed the wind and current was pushing us off to the south a bit.  If I adjusted, we were end up pointing too much into a close reach and loose speed.  So I opted to run the leeward engine for a couple hours and gain the ability to point a bit.  That got us 8 knots with almost no leeward slide.  When we motor sail, I usually run the windward engine to help reduce rounding up and the load on the auto pilot, but this seemed to work better.  I’ll have to ask other catamaran owners what they do.

After a few hours we were across the Bay but slightly south of the river mouth.  I tacked a few times and started the other engine.  We maintained about 7 knots until we crossed into the chop of the Rappahannock River mouth.  That slowed our speed over ground to 6.5 knots.  I did a long tack in, then out of the river mouth.  Finally I gave up on sailing and we drove out of the Rappahannock straight north.  Fortunately the shelter of the western shore gave us a smoother ride for a while.

Just off of Kilmarnock, where we were the week before, I tacked out and got a really nice run for an hour.  Then the wind slacked and I again gave up and motor sailed the rest of the way to Reedville.  Such is the life of sailing.  Wild rides in choppy seas to no wind and motoring.

I did notice how well the new sails performed.  They did so much better than the old sails.  I could come into the wind more than we could with the older sails (in this catamaran, that's 45 degrees apparent).  And it was easy to keep a good sail shape with simple adjustments.

We arrived in Reedville at 6pm.  We anchored just beyond the Crazy Crab restaurant and marina, where everyone else was.  As I had lost my favorite anchor, I was left with an aluminum Fortress.  It set okay, but did not feel as well caught as the old one did.

We took the dinghy to the Crazy Crab and found Vernice, with her motherly kindness, had put in reservations for a table for us, and for Gary and Julie who were a bit behind us.  We all had a very nice dinner.  While there we found out that the town was having their fireworks display that night.

At 8:30 we went back to our boat to watch the sunset.  We sat on the trampoline and got to see our very first fireworks from the boat.  It was very nice and I think we both felt that we could abandon most of our land locked life for this one.  As soon as a put away enough money that is…

In the craziness of the trip and adventures, I forgot to email Ray and Paula who live in Reedville a few miles north of the Crazy Crab.  They also have a PDQ 36.  I emailed them when we arrived, but they had guests over and were not able to come to us on such short notice.  Hopefully we will see them on another trip soon.

Day Nine

It was to be a 50 mile run north to Solomon’s so we were up early and everyone was heading out well before 7am.  This time the wind was off our beam, but was so light, I had to motor sail to make any kind of good time.
I pulled up the anchor to find it fouled in the night as the boat swung in the tide change.  Did I mention how much I miss that Spade Anchor? 

We ran along the coastline, being careful of crab pots, fish traps and other contraptions in the shallow water.

Here is shot of the old Navy gunnery target SE of Solomon's, about mid-Bay.

We got a bit more wind at the mouth of the Potomac and got up to 8 knots for a while.  I left an engine on for that hour or so crossing the mouth.  Then back to both engines again on the other side.

The Yamahas are great little engines.  I love the low maintenance, reliability and low fuel consumption.  Also, they being gas, keeps odors down that other sailboats collect.  But those little gerbils sure do not like running the boat into the wind.  The weight of the boat and windage of the wide front really put a load on them and slow us down.  At times like that, I just remind myself that one engine costs less than a single folding prop on boats with diesels and I feel good again.  The engines just passed 100 hours on this trip.

The run was uneventful and we made the Patuxent in good time.  As we ran towards the river I was surfing the web on my iPhone for anchor alternatives.  The closest kind readily available was the Rocna.  I know a few folks at Mears have them and swear by them.  So I called West Marine in Solomon’s and they had one in stock.  I asked them to hold it and we set a course up the creek towards the neighboring Calvert Marine Museum.  We dropped anchor there and took the dinghy in.  We ran into Glenn, and old friend and carpenter Bonnie knew.  He has restored a beautiful catboat and was planning on racing it at the museum with other catboats the next day.

We took our bikes to West Marine.  I purchased the anchor. So there I was looking at my little bike and the 44 pound anchor trying to figure out how I was going to get it back to the boat, when a guy in line next to me came by in his jeep and offered to drop it off at the museum entrance for me.  What a break.  Especially since I also had a power cord I purchased for Peg and Bob for their boat, as they had no bikes or way to get to the store. Bonnie ran off to look for soft shell crabs and met me later.  

We arrived at Vera’s White Sands Beach Club & Marina about an hour later.  Carl and Audrey were anchored as well and offered for us to raft up.  We did and my new anchor sat unused.  As Carl was fixing everyone drinks, we noticed that we were moving.  The wind was dragging his CQR and us down the creek.  He let out more line and I rigged a bridle to keep our noses into the wind as the cat was making us appear like 3 boats in a raft-up with the farthest outboard boat having the anchor.  All was good after that and we didn’t move again.

Vera’s has quite a history to it.  Bonnie and I really enjoyed the tour of her house and the huge efforts that the new owner was making to make it a Bed and Breakfast.

The restaurant was also very nice and we all had a nice Commodore’s dinner that evening.  After dinner a band started playing and many of us moved to the bar area to dance a bit.  The music was very heavy metal and oriented to the usual younger crowd.  We danced for a while and then Peg decided to form a train to a heavy metal song.  We must have been quite a site.  Even the singer commented after the song that she had never had anyone do a train to that song.

Day Ten
We slept great, albeit with ringing ears from the loud music, and were back early in the morning for a group breakfast.  As it was only an hour trip to Peters’ house, we enjoyed our morning and took our time.

Today was the Fourth of July.

We motored to Peter’s with a lot more boaters, boat wakes, and commotion than we had experienced before on the trip.  We drifted for a while off of a creek near Peter’s house while the anchor boats set their hooks.  We then tied up with Arnon and Nancy.

I got a very nice swim, as the water was much clearer than the northern Bay near Annapolis.  I scraped the bottom of the boat and got rid of the pesky young barnacles that had attached themselves of the last two months.

I threw the casting net a few times and got minnow for bait.  I rigged a rod with a flounder rig and dropped it in.  I didn't get anything as the crabs got the bait first.

Peter and Mary Kay have a wonderful place on the water.  The dock was able to hold a half dozen boats and the rest were rafted-up in the creek in front.

For lunch we had some romantic alone time, caviar, and finished up the last of some open food, to celebrate our first anniversary. 

On shore at Peter’s, the bar-b-que, food from the caterer, and hors d’ourves everyone brought make yet another perfect meal.  The Club gave out some fun awards, gave recognition to all who helped put the trip together, and we ate, drank and danced (our fellow member Rich was the disc-jockey of course) the night away.

We were able to watch the Solomon’s Island Fireworks from a distance and Peter set off some of his own in the back yard.

It was a perfect final night of the trip and a wonderful way to spend our 1st anniversary.

Day Eleven

The last day of a journey is always the worst part of the trip.  The last run, where home is the destination, and clean up, packing and ferrying items ashore are the only adventures left to have.  It always make me feel a bit down.

We arrived back at Fishing creek about 2:00pm on July 5th.


This was the third long trip we took on the new catamaran since we purchased it in 2008.  It was certainly one of the best trips we have ever had.  I think only our honeymoon was as good.  This adventure also reinforced our desire to live aboard, a least part of the year. 

The total was about 300 nm.  We used about 40 gallons of fuel for engines and generators and were aboard for 11 days.

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