Solomons, day 2, plus thoughts on navigating

Solomons Island, MD; Chesapeake Bay
Posted by Bill

Well, we stayed another day, and the day was absolutely beautiful. Not a cloud in the sky and 73 degrees with no wind. Tricia worked but we managed to go to breakfast and take a bike ride to West Marine for lunch. Later we took a dinghy ride through all of the creeks in the surrounding area. It was amazing to see the number of watercraft, particularly sailboats, most of them very large and expensive. This place is just teeming with boats. You can dinghy to several restaurants and bars, or for smaller boats, you can just dock your boat behind the establishment. Tomorrow the wind will pick up again, but will be out of the west, which will make for a good sailing day down the bay to Reedville, VA.

I haven’t mentioned a couple of things about the bay that have taken some getting used to. They are things that we just don’t have to deal with in the Great Lakes, the 2 biggest being crab pots and tides. There are crab pots and fish nets everywhere that there is water under 30 feet, which is most of the bay. You can’t see them very well until you are on top of them, especially if there are waves. They space the crab pots in approximately 50 foot intervals. If you are sailing, no big deal, but if you are motoring, the float lines can get sucked up into your prop and wrap around the prop shaft. This can cause your engine to seize and/or damage the transmission, so you really have to avoid them. You can be cruising along half paying attention and then, CRAP!, crab pots! It makes navigating tough. Tides create currents that can get up to 2 knots in the bay. It can really affect your speed and drift, so you try to time your trips to work with the tide, which is not always possible. The other thing that tides do is work with or against the wind and waves. When the tide is in opposition, the waves become steeper and the sea state is rougher. You also have to account for tide when when determining how much anchor chain to put out when anchoring. If docking, you have to adjust your dock lines to account for the tidal range. So far, we have had a tidal range of 1.5 to 2 feet, which is not bad. We are getting the hang of how to deal with tides, but I hate the crab pots and fish nets!

It is also interesting, the number of people we are seeing and meeting that are doing what we are doing. Every day we see more and more, and are beginning to see some of the same people we saw before. They are of all different ages so far, and there are a lot of foreign sailors, mostly from Canada. I think the Bahamas is going to be very crowded! Most have been doing this for several years, and we have only met one couple that is on their virgin cruise like us. The veterans are telling us that it is very late in the year to be moving south and that we will likely have some cold weather if we don’t get the hell out of Virginia soon!

We have been getting spoiled staying in marinas the last several weeks. We hadn’t planned on using them that much, but I have erred on the side of comfort/safety with the weather lately, and we took advantage of a great day in Solomons. We will have to start anchoring as long as the weather is good, to get our expenses down. I like being “on the hook” better anyway. You just have to deal with not having shore power and being dependent on the boats shower and head (toilet), vs shore side facilities. The upside is that you have a 360 degree view of the water, your neighbors are not right on top of you, and you can move if you don’t like the surroundings. Today we topped off the dinghy fuel and generator fuel in preparation for anchoring more often.

Sunset on the Patuxant River today:

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