Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Smith Island to Oxford ...

We are in Oxford, Maryland, after an adventure leaving Smith Island, three days in Solomons, Maryland old  from Encinal Yacht Club on San Francisco Bay.  In Oxford we have seen other old friends from the world of the history of technology, and after three days here (partly waiting on weather), tomorrow we'll make a thirty mile sail to St. Michaels (which is just 5-6 miles as the crow flies), where we hope to meet another friend.  Then it will be time to turn south and head back to Florida, which we figure will take us three weeks plus.

Leaving Smith Island, we had planned to wait for high tide at 11:45 in the morning, but I spoke to a local waterman who said we could follow him out in his crab boat so we'd better navigate the channel and do it before high tide.  So, although we hit bottom in one tricky spot, I managed to navigate around the shoals in the channel and make it out at 09:30.  By 10:00 we had our sails up on a close haul and laid in a course for the Solomons.  Along side us our slip mate from Smith Island, John, sailed his Francis Hershoff designed gaff rigged, two-foot draft boat with dagger boards, which is powered by a Solomon-built electric wheel motor with 12 AGM batteries.  A very pretty boat, indeed, and he looked great under sail.

At the Solomons we tied up at Spring Cove Marina right in front of Lu Sea, Karl and Lucy's motor vessel.  We had a cocktails and watched the sunset on Lu Sea's fly bridge, had a great dinner at a local restaurant, enjoyed spending time together, dinghied into another place for lunch the next day, walked around Solomons, had a party on the fly bridge the second night where I played my new Casio keyboard and we all over-beveraged, provisioned at the local market, and generally had a rousing fun time.

On October 4th, Sunday, we were up to see Karl and Lucy head out for Norfolk (a hundred mile run) and then see John and Gail off in their rented car to catch a flight out of Baltimore after a day in Annapolis.  Then we cast off for Oxford.  We had a good sail, though close hauled, for the morning, crossing the bay and back again before turning to motor sailing.  We navigated our way through an enormous crab pot field, which was my own fault for skirting the main channel while trying to keep from going head into the wind.  Then coming into the Choptank River we killed the engine and had a nice broad reach to the Tred Avon River, where we beam-reached up to the Town Creek entrance at Oxford.

We anchored in Town Creek and six feet plus water, and then dinghied over to Schooners restaurant to meet Bob and Dian for dinner.  Great fun, indeed!  ... The next day we wandered about the town, got a couple of things at the local market, and lazed about on Alizee.  We thought about weighing anchor and going to another anchorage a couple of miles up the Tred Avon, but we were so comfortable, we just stayed and read and relaxed and made plans to see Bob and Dian again for dinner the next evening.

The Link monitoring system for my batteries is on the fritz ... it was when I first bought the boat but I had it repaired.  Now it's out again.  I think I'll have it replaced when we get back to Daytona Beach.  Meanwhile, I'm a bit worried that the batteries aren't holding a charge as they should, so we made a reservation to spend Tuesday night at Mears Yacht Haven.  Good thing, because the batteries really needed a charge.  I may have a bad battery, as well as a monitoring problem, though I surely hope not. 

Another little bit of excitement was that we docked at low tide on Tuesday.  As the tide rose, the stern of the dinghy (with the motor on it) got caught under the dock and was wedged in tightly.  Pen suggested if we let some air out of the dinghy and lifted the bow up, it might slip out.  Fortunately, a fellow from an adjacent boat came over, and with his weight and mine in the stern, air let out of the dinghy, and Pen lifting the bow, we managed to slip it out.  It was easily re-inflated with a foot pump, and we averted a real disaster.

It was just in time for Bob and Dian to pick us up and take us out to dinner at a really nice restaurant with a name well familiar to sailors on the Pacific Coast: Latitude 38.  No souvenirs sold, or to be sure I'd have bought one.  I found it intriguing to know that Oxford is at 38 degrees 41 minutes north latitude, and I felt a brief wave of nostalgia for San Francisco Bay.  Not much though, for we were soon into a scrumptious meal and talking about plans to meet again in St. Michaels on Friday or Saturday.

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