Posts Tagged ‘Chesapeake Bay’

Dropping the Hook

July 8, 2011

John and I are making up in 2011 for Halcyon’s engine problems that kept us dockside in 2010. So far this season we’ve loved every minute of our trips and every inch of our boat. We have no regrets with either our choice of a Catalina or that she’s a “good old boat.”

This summer we’re discovering the joys and benefits of dropping the hook in a peaceful (or not so peaceful) cove for the night. Our first experience with anchoring was with the Chesapeake Catalina Yacht Club over Memorial Day Weekend. We spent the first night in Grays Inn Creek and then across the Bay in the Magothy River.

The head of Grays Inn Creek is in Rock Hall, MD. Our slip neighbor recently told us that if we had a dinghy we could head up the creek from the anchorage, beach the dinghy and walk to the Java Rock café in the center of Rock Hall for coffee in about ten minutes. Reaching Grays Inn Creek by sail took a little more than four hours as we had to sail south around Eastern Neck Island and then up the Chester River on the other side. If we motored the entire time our track would be u-shaped.

The entrance to the creek is marked by green can “1” on the Chester River. We motored carefully down the center of the channel as the depth often dropped to as low as six inches towards the shoreline. There were quite a few boats in the cove on the other side of Browns Point when we arrived. Our club consisted of four rafts of four boats and a couple boats that anchored alone, almost 20 boats. We found our assigned raft and tied up next to another Catalina 30, introduced ourselves and settled in for the night.

Our group was a bit noisy during the cocktail hour(s) on the party raft. Members zipped between the four rafts and took pets ashore in dinghies. There were two houses on the cove and I wondered if homeowners know what they’re getting into when they choose to buy or build a home on a navigable waterway. During the week the coves are fairly quiet but on the weekends the more popular spots can be the place to be for serious partying.

The next morning we sailed back down the Chester River, across the Chesapeake Bay to the mainland and into the Magothy River. The Purdy Point cove where the club met was located on the north side of Gibson Island, across from a picturesque horse farm complete with cannon on the manicured lawn. This was an extremely popular anchorage and space was at a premium. Marine police patrolled and ensured that boats did not anchor too far into the extremely narrow channel.

Halcyon was the baby boat of that second night’s raft, tied between two newer Catalina 350s. It was nice talking boats with the other members, some of whom started out with the 30 and moved up. Larger, newer boats have their own maintenance headaches and repair costs rise with the boat length. Halcyon may not have in-mast furling or a generator to run air conditioning and an electric head, but she gets us places in relative comfort.

John joined the party raft while I chose to stay on Halcyon with a book, a glass of wine and a bowl of guacamole and watch the sun set on the farm. The farm had a dock from which kids jumped off into the water. Others fished along the banks of the creek below the pasture. They were part of an organized group and had set up tents behind the dock. I thought how nice it was to see teenagers outside enjoying nature and not sitting at home with video games and smart phones and bad moods. I hoped that the weekend provided the kids with fond memories to look back upon when they became adults. I hoped as adults they find their own Halcyon to continue making memories.

Purdy Point

Purdy Point, Magothy River


Introducing Halcyon

April 17, 2010

In October 2009 John and I purchased a 1980 Catalina 30 tall rig sailboat. Halcyon is our second sailboat. Our first was a 1972 Venture 2-22 on which we learned how to sail and perform simple maintenance such as fiberglass repair, hull painting and installing a masthead antenna. I taught myself fiberglass repair and learned that I need more patience and probably should leave it to professionals. But I know that in a pinch I can do it and at least I now know what is involved from a hands-on perspective. I learned not to wax at dusk. There are still bits of dried wax on the hull that I could not get off. I learned that while it looks fantastic, a solid mahogany rudder is a pain to take on and off in rolling seas. On the other hand, John has an electrical background and did an excellent job on the marine wiring, making sure that we wouldn’t burst into flames at an inopportune time. Like there is ever a good time.

When we decided to take the plunge and buy a larger boat I researched sailboats for two years, narrowing our choices to three boat manufacturers before choosing Catalina. The Catalina provided more headroom (we’re both tall), more cabin space for its length and an extremely strong owner’s association to tap into for advice. I spoke to several people who had sold their Catalina for other boats and regretted it. The Catalina is a lot of boat for the price, which was also important given the economy. The ability to ask questions of Catalina owners was priceless as we were able to pinpoint known issues and decide whether we wanted to take them on and could afford to have them fixed. Our broker told us that after a few years most Catalina 30 owners trade up to a larger Catalina and I find myself already eying a Catalina 445…but I’m sure his point was that we should get a fairly decent resale price if we are diligent with maintenance and upkeep.

Our primary cruising ground with Halcyon is the Chesapeake Bay. Halcyon’s home port is Rock Hall, MD located on the Eastern Shore. Because we bought the boat so late in the season we only had two trips on her: a perfect sail from Annapolis where we bought her up to Rock Hall and one day sail out of Rock Hall with air so light the Bay looked like glass. We have a few major fixes to complete and then we have a full season of sailing planned.