April 17th, 2021
Today was forecast to be pretty nice with 10-15 mph winds from the west which would swing northerly around noon. I figured I would head north from Windmill Point on a beam reach and visit Reedville which is 16 miles away. Then the wind would change and I’d have a run back to Windmill Point. I didn’t think to check the tide which I ended up fighting the whole day. I ended up going 40.7 miles in 9.25 hours. Average speed was 4.4 mph with a max of 8.1 mph.
It was so calm at the boat ramp that I launched without brailing. The improvements I made over the winter have really made rigging easier, although it still took about 35 minutes.
Heading out of the marina at 7:20 am with the faintest breeze. Someday I want to make a topsail for ghosting along. But I think that’ll have to wait until after I get camping aboard figured out.
Out into the Rappahannock and the breeze picks up, but the only waves come from a passing deadrise loaded down with crab pots.
Just about at the end of Windmill Point. Straight ahead is the Eastern Shore about 20 miles away.
I made the turn at the point and headed due north on a beam reach in beautiful weather and I settled in for a pleasant day of sailing. Reedville hasn’t popped over the horizon yet, but I could see the far part of Fleet’s Bay. Somewhere along here I scared off a flock of surf scoters… they’re big fat ducks with a white patch on their forehead and back of their neck. Dad did a lot of duck hunting and he always called them skunkheads.
Alas, Mother Nature didn’t check the forecast and the wind went northerly way before it was supposed to and I had to start tacking. I was also fighting the current which I had neglected to check before leaving. At times it was a bit frustrating since the wind seemed to keep shifting, or maybe it was being influenced by the land which made it a bit difficult to know how to keep making progress. One of my tacks got cut a bit short when I came across some watermen working a trotline. At the time I thought it was a gill net and didn’t know if I’d get tangled up in it.
About 3/4 the way to Reedville I went by Dameron Marsh. This is a low lying, marshy area with relatively shallow water all around. I managed to skirt by with 50 yards to spare and it was pretty rough. The wind had picked up and the waves were short and steep.
Crossing Ingram Bay was the roughest part of the trip with lots of white caps and gusty wind. It wasn’t quite to brown pants level of wind, but there was definitely sufficient wind. Once I managed to get in the wind shadow of land it got a lot better. One of these days I really need to figure out reefing…
Heading to Cockrell’s Creek where the waves really calmed down.
My original plan had been to go to Reedville and get lunch at the Crazy Crab and then check out the wooden skipjack and buy boat at the Fishermen’s Museum. But it was already 1:30 pm so I decided to head back after checking out the smoke stack at Omega Protein.
The menhaden fleet at Omega Protein. These ships rely on spotter planes to find schools of menhaden in the Chesapeake and Atlantic. Then they drop a pair of purse boats which encircle the school with a net. The fish are vacuumed out and later rendered down for their oil at the factory. Rendering puts off a powerful smell of money and I remember getting a whiff of it as a kid 15 miles away when the wind was right. These days it’s not as bad since regulations have improved.
This is a menhaden ship from the 1940’s which carries the purse boats on davits. Modern ones have a pair of ramps at the stern to winch them out. Right now all the purse boats are stored on land beside the stack.
The Morris-Fisher stack was built in 1902 and stands 130 feet tall. A decade ago it was in real danger of falling down… a huge chunk was missing from the top, there were cracks running down the side, and bricks fell off regularly. Funds were raised and it was restored in 2011.
Reedville was at one time the richest town in America. There were over a dozen fish factories along the creek and many owners and ship captains built their mansions on “Millionaire’s Row.” The red roofed building in the center is the Crazy Crab where I was going to have lunch and on the left is the ruins of a fish factory. You can just make out a few of the mansions too. One of them, “The Gables” is made from bricks used as ballast and has a mizzen mast running through the center of the house to support the roof.
Heading out of Cockrell’s Creek there are some more ruins and piling.
Back into Ingram Bay and the wind and waves started picking up. But it was great because I was on a 14 mile broad reach!
I averaged about 6.5mph which is a little slow because by now the tide had started coming in again. I mostly sat on the side deck straddling the rowing thwart. Lots of hiking and the leeward side of the boat had a constant stream of foam shooting out. The waves were probably about 2′ with an occasional bigger one. It always looks scary until the boat just slides up the face and it’s gone.
Back to the familiar waters of Windmill Point.
These guys have front row seats to all the hurricanes and nor’easters.
Wing and wing after making the turn into the Rappahannock. I’ve been thinking of building some kind of combo whisker pole/boom crutch, but I haven’t quite got it figured out yet.
I dropped the jib as I approached the entrance to the marina. Closer to the boat ramp I let the peak droop to depower the main with my new snotter led aft arrangement. Then I removed the toggling snotter block and dropped the main halyard. The sail came down easily without hanging up on the thumb cleat due to the new spiraling robands, I definitely think the winter improvements are working well.
This guy’s got a bit of work to do before summer fishing! While I was waiting for a guy to pull his boat out, he asked me how old mine was. He was pretty surprised when I said three years, he said he thought it was “an original!” I think someone has complimented Ross’s design on every outing.
So all in all I’m pretty happy with the winter improvements, although I did find a few things that need tweaking.
There’s a leak where the centerboard cap meets the rowing thwart and I spent the whole day sponging out water. I had this problem last year and I guess I didn’t put enough bedding down when I bedded the cap.
The snotter definitely needs some purchase. I think the peak pennant is stretching because I had a terrible time keeping a diagonal crease out of the mainsail. Might need some better line, or maybe the snotter purchase will fix it.
The toggling snotter block is a vast improvement to my cow hitched version, but I think removing the thumb cleat and adding a mast traveller will be better. I’m not sure if I want to attach it on a line to the main halyard, or run its own dedicated halyard. Either way it needs to be easily removable so I can put it on the mast while it’s stepped.
The side benches are ok, although not quite as comfortable as sitting on the sole and leaning against the side deck. Points for keeping my butt dry, but my head did get knocked by the boom more often.
My radio runs out of battery after 8 hours. I’ll try to remember to keep any emergencies within that timeframe.
Will I ever be able to go sailing without finding something new to fix?! Maybe on the next trip.