Some days need to be savored as they will never come around again for a long, long time. With an unexpected week off, we headed to the boat. We put our stuff on board and settled in just as a rollicking good thunderstorm passed overhead. There was just enough atmospheric whatchamacallit to enable the ancient (well, circa 1980s) radio/CD player installed by the previous owner to tune to the Phillies game on a Philadelphia AM station. We listened to our team win in between the static. The storm ended by dinner time and left behind a fantastic sunset and a good sleeping wind.
The approximately 10-knot wind lasted into the morning. With cloudless skies, low humidity, and layers of sun screen we left Gratitude for Hart-Miller Island. We have yet to sail north out of Rock Hall and I thought that the popular island would be a good day sail. That and the Active Captain review of the anchorage behind the island said that there was a “beef boat” that catered to the boats in the anchorage. I was curious.
At the end of Swan Point Bar we raised the sails and pointed our bow westward. As the sails filled the boat jumped forward and took off. The north wind put us on a beam reach and Halcyon responded like the sleek racing boat she ain’t ever going to be. Wind on the Chesapeake at the end of July: A rarity to be exploited. Being a Tuesday, there were few boats on the Bay and other than two crab boats we passed on our way down the bar, most of them were sailboats. With no power boat wakes to turn into, thus losing headway, we headed towards the mainland at a good 6 knots.
The day was perfect. We were at the end of a record 8-day heat wave and just three days before our little weather station at home recorded 109.7 degrees. But on this day there was not a cloud in the sky, not even a single jet trail, and the almost 90 degrees was made more than bearable with the wind. Did I mention the day was windy? In JULY? Before we knew it we were in the middle of the Bay nearing the mouth of the Magothy River.
We went into irons just long enough to eat lunch then we raised the iron genny, searched for those all too important ripples on the water and headed towards the wind. By now it was even a little bit stronger; probably around 15 knots. We tried tacking towards Hart-Miller Island and realized that with the north/northwest wind we would never get there in time to return to Rock Hall before dark. So we sailed back and forth across the Bay, our Bay, because we could and because we had nowhere else to be. We fiddled with the sails, we adjusted our course ever so slightly to tease out just a little more speed, we fiddled with the sails some more. We imagined what it would be like to maintain that course and just keep sailing. Of course, the land mass that was the rest of the country would have to move out of our way, but we dreamed anyway.
By mid-afternoon the wind began to shift until finally it was from the south. Once again we tried sailing to the island, this time wing on wing. A first for us. I don’t like this maneuver as the potential is great for an accidental gybe and it really isn’t faster than being on a broad reach. John, however, has wanted to try it for a while and with no other boats in the vicinity we went for it. The wind at our back didn’t help much so we turned around and headed for home, again on a beam reach. We sailed until just past the entrance to Rock Hall harbor when we had to lower the sails in preparation for docking. That was the first time we had enough wind to sail back to Rock Hall. Usually the wind dies just as we’re passing Love Point and we end up motoring the last hour.
We didn’t end up where we planned to be, but we had a great time not getting there.