Mobjack Bay 2021

June 19th, 2021

Today I went on a 34.3 mile trip around the Mobjack Bay. The wind was westerly and predicted to back southerly around midday, so my plan was to leave from the public boat ramp on the Ware River and sail through the marsh off Guinea. Then I’d head over to the New Point Comfort lighthouse and hopefully return on a broad reach. Unfortunately the wind didn’t shift so I had to beat upwind which was going well until it died altogether. After rowing/drifting for about 4 miles the wind came back when I was at the mouth of the Ware River. The entire trip took exactly 9 hours with an average speed of 3.8 mph and a max of 6.9.

Heading down the Ware River. I set out reefed since I thought it might be rougher out on the Mobjack and I felt a little silly until I got out there. One unforeseen issue with reefing is the sprit is getting hung up in the main halyard on starboard tack. Maybe I should move it to the port side if I plan on reefing.

Cutting across a shallow spot off Jarvis Point I saw a patch of crab pots that was denser than anything I’ve ever seen.

I think you’d almost be able to walk from one to the next.

It’d be a good idea to stay out of this spot if you’re a crab!

Out into the Mobjack and I was glad I started out reefed, although I still had to sit on the rail at times. There wasn’t much in the way of waves since I was close to shore and I was making 5-6mph for the hour it took me to get down to the marsh.

Heading for a cut through the marsh that would lead to the wider Monday Creek. I nearly missed it and had to tack back.

My plan was to thread my way through the islands, but it was low tide and the wind was against me.

There’s the narrow cut off to the right and it had about 6″ of water in it. I had zero centerboard and my rudder downhaul had long since popped out of the auto clam cleat so there wasn’t much hope of making it upwind. Somewhere along in here I surprised a northern diamondback terrapin who took a gulp of air and put his four flippers into high gear.

Got stuck as I was trying to get turned around, so I took the opportunity to eat some lunch. Then I got out and pulled the boat to deeper water.

Back in deeper water I hove to and shook out the reef since the wind had calmed down quite a bit. I’m always surprised by how gentle heaving to makes the boat feel. I drifted at about 1 mph and it took 7 minutes to get the reef out.

Heading across the mouth of the Mobjack Bay towards the lighthouse.

I saw this guy on a constant bearing, decreasing range situation a long ways off, but decided to keep on my course since I didn’t want him to wonder what I was doing. As we got closer it was clear to me that I’d pass in front, but he kept turning to point towards me. Eventually we passed at a safe, although closer than I’d prefer distance. Not sure what his problem was… he didn’t appear to be engaged in fishing, there was plenty of water, and I’d been pointing the same direction for 4 miles.

All day I’d been thinking the lighthouse looked funny, and eventually I realized they’ve set scaffolding up around it. I climbed it in 2017 and it was in really rough shape.

They’ve taken the iron lantern room roof and windows off.

From 2017 when my wife and I canoed out here. The railing was so wiggly a good shove would probably rip it off. There are more pictures of the inside here: New Point Comfort 2020

It was definitely low tide! I should get some help on the way home.

One last look as I rounded the island.

Heading back up the bay. The wind was supposed to back around to the south, but it mostly stayed like it had all morning so it was all upwind.

Eventually I made it to the mouth of the East River so I tacked to head for the other side of the bay.

About halfway across all the sailboats around started dropping their sails and motoring off.

That means I gotta start rowing. I left the sails up since I thought they were catching the barest hint of a breeze, but I’m not sure it was doing any good. Probably I was just trying to convince myself so I could be lazy and not have to take them down. I was making 2.5-3 mph.

After rowing and drifting for 4 miles, I saw deliverance on the horizon heading towards me!

It was so light at first I experimented with booming the sail out with an oar. I also realized I had the snotter set up too hard and I saw a noticeable boost in speed when I slacked it to get rid of the tack to peak crease.

Eventually the wind picked up and I made ~4mph up the Ware River.

Finally the ramp was in view. Along in here I saw a small school of minnows near the surface and a gull kept flying in an orbit around them, swooping down to grab one on each pass.

Back to the ramp… I’ve never been here before and it was pretty busy. I had to get in line to launch and the pressure was on to not look like a total fool. I’m also getting better at getting the sails down without dropping anything overboard. Today went really well and I got everything down in less than a minute and nothing got wet.