The trip back was a 10 mile romp. The wind was now blowing at 15 to 18 knots, with a gust to 25 picked up by a buoy at the mouth of the Patuxent. Once we got away from the shore you could feel it. Most of the boats had reefs in. George stayed near the south shore where the chop was not as bad. I didn’t like what the trees did to the wind, so moved farther out, the rest riding it out in between.
Much of the video from this leg was shot by Kevin Brennan, some good stuff, mostly as we left Cremona Creek – once out in the river we all focused on sailing. I sat perched on the rail for a good ten miles. After a while you could read the wind pretty well. A new blast coming across the river made a broad dark wash across the surface, and knocked the tops off the waves. You could it see coming a quarter mile away. The whitecaps looked like a flock of geese taking off. I grabbed a little video during one of the brief lulls, so the relative calm is deceiving.
I aimed Aeon for the gap in Broomes Island again. This time the tide was low, though. The board dragged bottom, and the skeg touched sand a few times. At least the cinder blocks were visible above the surface now.
Past Broomes Island, past Sotterley Creek, a few miles further on we turned north and ran with the wind behind us into St. Leonard Creek.
The mouth of the creek is shaped like a funnel, with high banks on both sides. This concentrates a southerly wind – and waves driven by the long fetch – like a nozzle. We shot past the butter churn of chop and deep into the creek. There we found the tall convoluted shoreline made challenging wind patterns. Calm eddies, sharp blasts, and quick reverses made invisible surprises as the wind muscled its way inland.
Kevin B and I tacked back and forth while the others rafted up in Egypt Cove. Even deep in the creek behind a bend the wind had some kick left. With eight on a hook they were dragging anchor badly, and threw out three more. The last of us tied up alongside and quickly broke out refreshments, began reviewing the day. Kevin M pulled out a laptop and he and Pete studied the day’s GPS track log.
Before we got settled, a boat came motoring around the point under bare poles, heading straight for us – another catboat. We all stood up for a look. A pretty one. Was he one of us? Were we expecting someone? When he got closer he hollered, “Is that Pete Peters in Obadiah?” It was Steve Flesner of the Chesapeake Catboat Association. Small world. His wife had spotted us from their house as we charged into the creek – eleven boats in formation under sail, one after another, like time-traveling marauders. And a beautiful sight it was, apparently. He couldn’t resist coming out for a closer look.
Steve was gracious and generous, offering use of his dock, a private outdoor shower with hot water, and restrooms. Much appreciated. I was out of fresh water and needed a refill. He owned three classic catboats, two for sale, and we tried hard to convince Doug to buy one. Steve took photos, admired the barebones nature of the adventure a little wistfully, and hinted at a writeup for the club newsletter before departing.
He also warned us about Vera’s. We could see the lights and docks farther up the creek. The only watering hole on the water for miles around, it drew a lot of traffic. High speed power boats roared up the creek, got tanked up at the bar, and roared back. It would pay to stay clear of the channel and hang out a bright light.
More music and storytelling until after dark, finally dispersing for the night. I rowed over to Rollins Cove by starlight. Kevin B and Ken motored over, as well. Nice night, full of owls and shooting stars.
“Cold Summer Landscape” by Blear Moon – http://blearmoon.com/)
“Lullaby2” by Tom Atwood – http://www.tomlaw.com/Tomtunes/ https://soundcloud.com/atwood1956
Kevin Brennan on Penny Whistle