Sporting a new bimini and enclosure, new solar panels and a reliable, repaired Perkins diesel engine, Liberty raised sails and left her mooring ball in the Magothy River just north of Annapolis at noon on Saturday, November 5, 2011, southbound for sand and sun. After spending several months in the Annapolis area, enjoying the company of friends and working on many boat projects, we sailed overnight 135 miles down the Chesapeake Bay.
Dave's friend and Skadden colleague Lance Brasher joined us on board for a cup of coffee and a review of our trip plans (as well as lamenting our unfortunate timing - he really wanted to join us for the passage, but a family commitment kept him on shore for the weekend), Nancy ran a couple of last minute errands, while Dave removed sail covers, tied down the last few loose items and prepped Liberty for her first real sail since June. Just after noon, we raised the main and mizzen sails, dropped the mooring line, and left Dividing Creek. Within an hour, we were departing the Magothy River, and at two hours underway, we were passing under the Chesapeake Bay Bridge. With fairly light winds from astern, it was a pleasant, if slow, sail during the afternoon. Sunny and warm, we all enjoyed being underway again.
As the sun was setting and Liberty was changing course for the 30 mile southeasterly leg between the West River and the mouth of the Potomac River, the winds quickly shifted nearly 90 degrees to ahead of the beam. We raised the mainsail (dropped earlier because the wind was so far aft) and pointed high, sailing on for a couple of hours while enjoying a dinner
of pasta with chicken and mushrooms in cream sauce. The light winds kept shifting to the nose, and eventually we found ourselves firing up the diesel around 8:30 pm. Chris and Nancy were just turning in at that time, to get a few hours of sleep while Josh and Dave stood the evening watch. With the drone of the diesel, they found it difficult to get the volume high enough to watch the third Lord of the Rings movie, but they managed (and even managed to keep watch, avoiding ships and shoals until the movie ended around 2:30 am). With the epic battle for Middle Earth over, and the moon setting on a crisp, cold night, Josh turned in and Dave woke Chris and Nancy for their shift. Of course, at around 1:30 am the winds had shifted favorably enough for Dave to unfurl the jib and shut down the engine, prepping the boat for a late night of great sailing for Chris and Nancy. As soon as the oldest and youngest boys had hit the rack, Nancy and Chris trimmed the sails and Liberty surged ahead, making the best speed of the passage on their shift.
What to do for breakfast while underway on a cold November morning at sea? Did I mention it was in the 40's at night? Fire up the oven and bake! We enjoyed cinnamon rolls and glazed orange rolls and hot coffee and hot chocolate in the cockpit, with a brilliant sun shining in the southern end of the Chesapeake Bay. Overnight passages can really eat up the miles, and given the falling temperatures Liberty was ready to eat up some miles! We decided over breakfast to go to a secluded anchorage on Chisman Creek off the Poquoson River on the north side of the peninsula between the York and James Rivers, rather than the anchorage in downtown Hampton. We sailed all the way into the Poquoson River, not turning on the engine until we were less than a mile from our anchorage. At 3:10 pm we dropped the hook in a beautiful anchorage, surrounded by brilliant fall colors and big pine trees and calm waters.
The clocks changed during our passage on Saturday night, falling back one hour. Now, who was going to get to take advantage of that? Chris and Nancy thought that since they don't normally come on watch until around 2 or 3am, they could get an extra hour sleep and Dave and Josh would have to keep an extra hour watch. Hmmm. Didn't go over too well! So, instead, having no one to account to, we decided to postpone the annual ritual of turning the clocks back one hour until Sunday night. As this was our first overnight passage in many months, we were all tired on Sunday night. After dinner, we watched as many episodes of M*A*S*H as we could to keep us awake and then finally turned in at 10:00, which promptly became 9:00, and we all got the benefit of an extra hour of sleep!
Nancy's mom has agreed to join us for a few days to visit historic Jamestown, Yorktown and colonial Williamsburg, so this morning while at anchor we took care of a few projects and got ready for her arrival. While the boys and Nancy did school, Dave wired two of the new solar panels (jury rigged until he has time to do the full installation) and re-commissioned the watermaker. Later, Dave dinghied over to the nearby Dare Marina where he checked in, bought some dinghy gas, and arranged for Mom to park there. After Mom arrived, we all jumped in the dinghy for a tour of Chisman Creek and its tributaries. With Chris at the helm, we putted along, soaking up golden sunrays, marveling at the beautiful fall colors, enjoying glasses of tawny port (well, the adults anyway), and chasing a bald eagle from one side of the creek to the other while we tried to get close enough for Nancy to take a picture. It was marvelous to watch this magnificent bird wheel through the sky and soar from tree to tree, mighty wings flapping as he departed each perch just as we got close enough to spot him.
Back on board, the arrival of standard time found the sun dipping low in the sky right around 4 pm, and after an early dinner in the cockpit we all settled in below for a round of Farkle (a dice game) and cards before turning in for another chilly night.
Chris drops the mooring ball and we leave Dividing Creek.
Sunset on the Chesapeake Bay
The sun sets on Liberty and her tired crew, anchored on Chisman Creek
A view of Chisman Creek as we dinghied around
The bald eagle we pursued across Chisman Creek
Liberty at anchor on Chisman Creek