Tuesday, June 2, 2020

Sailing North

I’ve learned over the last thirteen years of boatwork that I shouldn’t talk about dates and deadlines. Despite all that, I thought I would share some brief thoughts about my near-term sailing plans. I’m trying to keep to a regular schedule with the blog, but I’ve had a few good days of boatwork which nearly made me late for my Thursday deadline. The boat will soon be back in the water. I’m not going to say how soon, but soon enough that I’m thinking about sailing; where, when and how. Two things are going to stipulate that I move north first. 

The First of June is the start of hurricane season. It will be a while after that day that sv Ruth Ann is back in the water. I have liability only insurance on the boat but anyone more fully insured is required to be north of Norfolk, VA or Cape Henry by June. Heading south would not make a lot of sense because of the season, but it will also be plenty hot for a boat with no air conditioning. My new weather philosophy will be if it’s too hot, go north; too cold, south.  

The other reason to head north is a “Sail-In” gathering. I’ve been hanging around an old fashioned discussion board on these interwebs for well over 15 years; SailFar.net -- small boats, long distances. As a matter of fact, I found Ruth Ann through that very site. You can see that story here. The second weekend of September several of us SailFar-ers are going to meet up in an anchorage south of Annapolis, MD. That is just far enough away that I am quite sure that I can make it. I’ve signed on. I’m doing something wrong if Ruth Ann is not sailing by November. 

Depending when I get Ruth Ann launched, I will have some time to wander the U.S. East Coast. The world is still a strange place right now, but the Chesapeake Bay area seems to be opening up. I have always wanted to gunkhole around the Bay. I could get there in four or five days. So if there were no hurricanes brewing in the Atlantic when I left, Ruth Ann and I would have plenty of time to make it there safely; even offshore. Heading north, offshore makes sense with the Gulfstream Current helping. Coming south, it would make sense to use the Intra Coastal Waterway(ICW). 

I might jump from Masonboro Inlet to the Chesapeake or go straight out the Cape Fear River to round both the Frying Pan Shoals and Cape Hatteras on the way. After a rest in Hampton or Norfolk, I’d jump offshore again to the Delaware River; likely taking a break at Cape May. After that I could jump again and head to Atlantic Highlands, NJ. This is the place where Alex and I were stuck for several days waiting on the weather to jump around the State of New Jersey going south. A significant place in my sailing history; the start of my first ocean sailing. That’s likely all I’d have time for. 

There are family and friends I could see along the way. And watching the calendar, I would head south
in time to make the SailFar Sail-In. If I had made it as far as Atlantic Highlands, then Ruth Ann and I would have to go offshore again to get around New Jersey. This time at Cape May, I would head up the Delaware River to get to the C&D Canal. Across the canal to the top of the Chesapeake, I could then sail southwest, down past Aberdeen and Baltimore, sneak under the Bay Bridge and then head for the Rode River anchorage and meet up with my fellow sailors. All of that might take two or three days; anchoring at night. 

Once the meetup was over, if I’d made it that far, I’ll have to be looking for some way to earn some money; the proverbial cruising kitty. Frankly, it’s likely to be cooler than I prefer in mid-September near Annapolis. I’ll be ready to head south; down the ICW.  Down the Chesapeake to Norfolk, VA, then into the Elizabeth River and the ICW through the rest of Virginia and the Carolinas. From Charleston, or Port Royal, I might jump offshore to cut the corner to Jacksonville. I would like to visit the backwaters of Georgia; Darien and Brunswick, but Georgia is becoming a less friendly place for cruising sailors like me – like Florida. But … I have contacts, and friends, in Florida. I’ll likely head there to make a little money and ride out the winter. There are three or four situations in Florida where I could walk right in and have a job again. That counts for something. I could save money even while living out of a marina or a mooring field. We’ll see. I’ll keep you posted. 

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