Captain Kidd's Boatyard



Chesapeake Bay Trip

Posted by [email protected] on May 18, 2015 at 8:35 PM

After eight years (I wrote this account in a journal in 2008) many smaller details have been forgotten, but the trip is still fairly vivid. I’m going to chronicle the trip on a day-by-day basis. We planned a 5 day/4 night trip. We would leave on a Monday and wanted to be back by Friday evening for a special church service with an ensemble from Pensacola Christian College.

I don’t remember ever sailing Flying Lady, our Kells 23, on any body of water other than Lake Gaston, except our vacation on the Chesapeake Bay (I did have her on Roanoke Rapids Lake once but that was only to reposition her on the trailer). The Chesapeake Bay trip has provided us with a lot of memories over the years, memories which span the spectrum.

It all began when I learned of a tall ships parade that was to take place in the summer of 2000 in honor of the arrival of the new millennium. I thought it would be a great experience to be on the Bay as these majestic ships sailed up its waters. The parade was to take place in June.

As events would have it, Tara was involved in a serious head-on collision on June 3 and took a severe blow to her right femur. She was in Maryland at the time and was airlifted by medivac helicopter to the famous Shock Trauma unit in Baltimore. Though she had no broken bones the bruise was debilitating, at least for a time. Tara was on crutches and would be unable to sail. We delayed the trip for several weeks (and consequently missed the tall ships).

Day 1 – Monday, July 17

We left in the morning. Our trip to Deale, MD would take several hours. Deale is roughly due east of Washington D.C. and about 20 miles south of Annapolis, MD. I had researched the Bay using the Chesapeake Bay Guide and felt this was a good destination. I had found a marina that would allow us to park our tow vehicle and trailer for the duration of our stay. Tommy Daughtry loaned us his 2-door, red, Chevy Blazer which was a great blessing.

After much planning, it was quite exhilarating to finally be on the road for my first “big-water” sailing adventure. Excitement was tempered by caution though, and maybe even some trepidation. With absolutely no-zero-nada big water experience I was a bit nervous. I’d tried to do my homework and had studied charts, guides, chart plotting, etc. My skills (or lack thereof) were about to be put to the test, and the test was going to begin sooner than I imagined.

After only one hour of driving, as we were going around Petersburg, VA on I-295, something bright caught my attention in my right side-view mirror. Almost simultaneously I glimpsed something out of the corner of my left eye – a wheel zipping down the interstate past me! The bright-something was my axle throwing up sparks and the wheel was mine!! I’d lost a wheel off my double-axle trailer.

I knew better than that. I knew wheels needed grease but had neglected to check. At that time I didn’t have bearing buddies (needless to say I do now), so it wasn’t the easiest thing to do; but it turned out to be a costly mistake.

I immediately pulled off the interstate onto the shoulder. It just so happened that we were on the overpass of US 460. My wheel had bumped the passenger-side door of a car being driven by a twenty-something African-American military guy who was driving one of his family’s cars. He was very nice and understanding. Thankfully no one was hurt. I’m certainly glad we were on a divided highway and not some two-lane road where that wheel could have hit oncoming traffic and done some serious damage (to both body and vehicle).

Well, there we were on the interstate with a broken-down trailer. I disconnected the trailer and headed toward town. I stopped at a muffler shop and they recommended a guy who specialized in 4x4’s. We tracked him down and he agreed to fix it; but we’d have to wait for him to get off from his day job. Now the big question: will a 23’ boat on a trailer fit on a rollback? Yep – quit a sight!

Here's a picture of the boat at the shop up on jacks:

Day 2 – Tuesday, July 18

It took a full 24+ hours, a motel stay and $500 (he talked me into replacing both axles), and quite a bit of convincing to get Robin back on board (pun intended); but we were back on our way. We were able to get the boat in the water and into the slip by dark. The rigging went ok with a little bit of yelling but we were in the Chesapeake Bay. (hint: don’t yell)

Day 3 – Wednesday, July 19

After our first night on the boat we awoke to cloudy skies and windy conditions. A nor-easter was blowing in. We decided to head out and try it for a while. As we motored through the channel I was trying to be careful. I sure didn’t want to make any more mistakes on this trip. I kept the buoys right in sight. What I failed to account for was windage (my inexperience was telling). Suddenly, I felt us hit the soft bottom. Hey, what’s going on here? I quickly threw the motor into reverse, got out the boat hook to push a little and we were back into the channel. Close call! All I needed was a grounding with a storm blowing in.

When we got out into the open water we had 3-4’ waves which were coming in rapid succession. We didn’t even raise the sails. It would have been absolutely foolish to attempt that with our level of experience and the weather conditions. We returned to the marina.

I think this picture was taken on our way back in:

This was taken during the same segment of the trip - just can't remember exactly what point:

We decided to find some crabs. After a few phone calls (from a phone booth) we drove about 20 miles to Chesapeake Beach and enjoyed a $20 all-you-can-eat crab feast: truly a special treat for us after having lived in Maryland for almost 18 years and learning to love steamed crabs.

But the night was young… before we could get out of the restaurant Robin started feeling sick. By this time it was raining “cats and dogs”. We got soaked just getting into the Blazer. Very quickly we realized that Robin needed a bathroom and the faster the better. The problem was that we were in the country. Nothing around. Finally we found a convenience store. No public restrooms! A hedge-row and an umbrella would have to do. Poor girl. She spent most of the night in the marina bath house. Some vacation.

Day 4 – Thursday, July 20

By morning she was better. The rain had stopped so we headed out into the bay. Waves were 2-3’. We hoisted the sails and were finally sailing on the Chesapeake Bay! We sailed for a while and Tiffany had a blast with her feet hanging over the bow riding that bucking bronco. I tried to triangulate our position with Tara’s help (this was before GPS). When you’re on big water the shoreline looks like… well, shoreline. It’s hard to make out any distinctive features. Tara got a bit seasick. I was uncertain whether the storm was past and what kind of headway we could make towards the West River where I hoped to anchor for a night; so I headed back in. We ate lunch and took a nap.

Eating lunch on the marina picnic table:

The skies cleared and the wind subsided. I decided we could safely head up the bay. We motored on water almost as smooth as glass. I was constantly concerned about grounding or hitting under water objects. The chart showed lots of underwater trees. I was unsure as to how far offshore I was – one, two miles? It was otherwise pleasant motoring for a few hours. When we made it to the West River I tried to be especially careful to follow all the channel markers and buoys. That fear of grounding just wouldn’t go away.

We motored up the West River, turned north on the Rhode River and anchored in a peaceful cove on Fox Creek behind three islands. We enjoyed a nice supper and peaceful evening in the cove. We decided not to swim.

Playing cards that evening:

Day 5 – Friday, July 21

We awoke to a beautiful day. In fact, there was a deer grazing on the shore. We had breakfast and began the trip back. On the way out of the river we passed a large, black-hulled sailing yacht anchored off to our starboard. I’d like to have motored closer to get a better look but we needed to make some time getting back.

can you see the deer?

The trip back was actually quicker. Guess maybe we had some current helping us. One neat thing happened on the way back. We had a small, cheap portable radio we were listening to though it wasn’t picking up a whole lot. We did hear George Jones as clear as a bell sing “He Stopped Loving Her Today”. Man, what a tear-jerker. Don’t think any of us but Robin knew the song well and out there on the water the lyrics just hit us. A memory made.

leaving the anchorage behind:

About three miles out the wind picked up; and we were able to sail the rest of the way. In fact, we sailed around just a bit because it was just so nice out. Our time ran out though and we had to head in.

passing a crab boat:

on her nest:

Takeout turned out to be horrible. Takeout was always aggravating with the Kells (a problem I failed to solve until just before I sold the boat). The winch post was always in the way due to the angle of the boat ramps, and it was even worse with the marina ramp which was steeper than most. We wound up cutting the winch post off above the winch, hauling the boat, and then “splicing” the post back together with a piece of 2x4. To our good fortune there were contractors on site doing work on one of the marina buildings who helped us with tools and a piece of lumber. It was hot, we were frustrated; but, finally, we were able to get the job done.

The trip back to Roanoke Rapids was uneventful, and we made it in time for the special service.

Flying Lady back in her home waters:



Categories: Adventures on the High Seas

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