Tuesday, December 29, 2009

The next morning...

My alarm went off at 6 a.m. and all I could think was, "Do I have to?" Before you could say, "Jack Robinson," Peter was up and had disconnected the heater.

"Noooo!" I thought. "Leave it in until the last possible second!"

Then I got over myself and got dressed. I looked like that kid in "A Christmas Story." Seriously. Underwear, long underwear, sweatpants, a sweatshirt, my foul-weather overalls, the matching foul-weather jacket, a hat, a scarf, hiking socks, tube socks, the furry snow boots I bought for Iceland, gloves and hand warmers. Whew. I just prayed I didn't have to pee. (Later I just had to do it and it took about 10 minutes. TMI? Maybe. But it's important to know these things when you plan your winter trip.)

Now where was I? We put all the stuff (my lamp, the bilge heater, the hangers for the fancy-pants D.C. clothes I had no need of on the trip...) into my car and were all set to throw lines when... cough... cough... the engine decided to give us trouble. So, OK, maybe it was cold. Maybe it was 29 degrees out. Cough... cough... rumble.

Thank goodness for Sam. Peter and Sam put my drinking water hose on top of the fuel line for the engine. I never would have realized THAT one. Then again, I wouldn't have put the hose there in the first place. Hmm. Point was, we figured it out.

Finally, we warmed the engine up and were ready to go!

To the fuel dock.

We got to the fuel dock before it opened (this will be a trend for the trip) and set to for 7 gallons of diesel. Anddd... maybe I had to make two passes at the dock to get close enough. It'd been a while. Over the summer I was a Misty-docking master, but not so much after a few months sitting at the dock. I ignored my mild embarrassment, however, and soldiered on.

We figured the best way to tackle the trip was in shifts. On the way to D.C. we just.... did whatever. I'd steer awhile, Mark would steer... This time we went with a regimented rotation. So I started out steering for an hour while one of the guys was below and one was topside with me (technically you should have a lookout topside with you if you have more than one person aboard -- and it's safer in my opinion.) Then the second hour, I went below and made oatmeal and hot drinks and rested. So two hours topside and one hour below wrapped in blankets (and napping).

We ended up going to Cobb Island the first night, and we didn't get in until full dark. Cobb Island is the first sailboat-able (?) anchorage between D.C. and the mouth of the Potomac. The Potomac is all kinds of shallow and it winds back and forth and there is almost no way to sail unless the wind is full behind you because you have to change course like every half hour.

So we get close to Cobb Island while I'm below, which is one of the few things I regret about this trip. I'd been doing the navigation and should have been up there for the trip into the anchorage.... but I wasn't. So we ran aground several times.

This isn't AS big a deal as you may think. The bottom was soft mud, as is most of the Chesapeake bottom, and, well, if you sail on the Chesapeake for long enough, you'll run aground a few times.

Add that to the fact that the entrance to the anchorage is about 10 feet wide, and there's some problems.

In addition, we discovered the next day that many markers that are shown on nautical charts as lighted are replaced with unlighted day markers in the winter. Whose bright idea was THAT?

After we finally got in and anchored, we ran the engine on idle with the cover off below for warmth for an hour or two and I fried up the ham, potatoes and green bean mixture and made tea. And then we went to bed. Like... immediately.

The next day was EASY. We got up and left the second it was light and were docked into Solomon's Island while it was still daylight. Perfect day. Except for the fact that not one of us ate lunch. The water was rough on the second day. It seriously would not have taken a lot of convincing for me to hurl.

On a normal (read: warm-weather) trip, you just hang out on deck when you feel sick. This trip I'd have rather been warm and sick, so I just took Dramamine and WILLED myself to sleep for my hours off. But by comparison it was a great day. And we got tons of sleep that night since we needed to buy fuel in Solomon's and trade Peter off for Andrew the next morning.

Ominously enough, however, we kept getting reports of a snowstorm that would be hitting day four. Dun, dun, dun....

To be continued...

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