Doug in his Cornish Shrimper Tidings
Forecasts call for clearing skies and tempering wind overnight. But back at camp the rain has not yet dissipated. In the evening, in the Executive Conference Room, there is some disagreement regarding the direction the company should take in the morning. The destination is not disputed – the Manokin River – just how best to get there. Wind will be out of the North, dead on the nose.
- The Shortest Route: Motor north up the canal. Then beat into the wind until rounding the point to head upriver to the east. A nominal distance of about 9 miles.
- The Longer But Faster Sailing Route: Sail downwind in the canal, south, in the opposite direction. Then sail close-hauled across Tangier Sound on a single long tack in clear air, tack back once and bear Northeast, riding the stronger incoming tide the whole way. Then round the same point and head east. A distance of about 18 miles.
Doug owns the conference room, which is the cabin on his Cornish Shrimper Tidings. He favors Option 1. He is also plying the rest of us whiskey and beer.
Kevin M., soberest of the Executive Committee, favors Option 2.
Apparently, the rest of us are more easily swayed by whiskey than sound arguments. We do all agree, at least, on where to rendezvous for lunch: a beach at Teague Creek.
– : • : –
Morning is clear and sparkling. Thirty-six hours of wind and rain have washed the air clean, and all has been swept away by the cold front out of the north.
view from the bunkhouse cabin
north up the canal and across the marshes of Janes Island
After breakfast and breaking camp we’re all on the water motoring north up the canal. Except for Kevin M., who raises sail and heads south in the opposite direction, and is soon out of sight.
The fleet is down three boats due to schedules or maintenance issues, but has added four more, so in total we’re up to 5. In Obadiah we cross tacks with the other boats, working our way steadily forward through the fleet. Pete maneuvers us in good range for camera work, something he’ll do throughout the day.
Paul in Red Molly, a HandyCat
Joe in his new Marsh Cat Makani
It’s slow work against wind and waves, but steady. One boat, essentially on her maiden voyage, gets a jammed kickup rudder. We circle back briefly until things get sorted out, then soldier on. By noon we see what looks like a sail on the horizon to the southwest near Smith Island, what could be little t and Kevin M. And the wind has shifted 90 degrees, coming now out of the west. If it is Kevin, he’s now on a broad reach, with a favorable wind and the tide behind him.
We round the mark into the mouth of the Manokin and start a fast sleigh ride downwind. The wind and tide are in sync, so the waves, despite the long fetch, are smooth and rolling. It’s a fun run.
The wind is picking up. Scattered whitecaps appear. At Teague Creek Obadiah crosses the bar and rounds up onto the beach. Followed soon after by the other boats in quick succession – Paul in Red Molly (a HandyCat), Joe in his new Marsh Cat Makani, Ken in his O’Day, and, right on schedule, Kevin in little t. With all our tacking and beating, he actually only had to sail maybe three miles farther going the long way around, easily made up with the extra push from the tide and our maintenance delay.
The bar is too shoal for the shrimper, so Doug comes about and heads for Wolftrap Creek where we’ll anchor for the night.
little t catches up
on the beach at Teague Creek
The wind increases slowly and steadily during the lunch break. By the time we shove off there are whitecaps everywhere.