Sunday, May 30, 2010

Five Days - Awesome Sailing

SILENT MAID is on the loose. Left Philly in 85 degrees under the ISM burgee. motored most of the way down river with Charles & Joan Bernstein added to the crew. Sailed into Cohansey Creek to a hot buggy marsh, some of the best kept secrets in the state. The tide runs fast in Cohansey but we tied up at Hancock's Harbor with no difficulty. Bill & Kate Thompson hosted us royally for a great porch supper, picking us up and then running us back to the boat. Peter Thompson came over and we got a peek at his John Brady designed shad boat. I've always been a sucker for shad boats. Back at the dock, we rigged mosquito nets for the night and since we had shore power, slept with the box fan on. Thankfully it had been left on the boat by the dock crew. Bright and Early we we up for showers and shopping at the local emporium of everything.
Cooled down somewhat overnight and we were on our way. The refrigerator is now working, the bilge pumps are working, and the stereo is working but not much wind. We motored across the bay and set sail off the Morris River. The parrel bead line broke and set the saddle free tearing out the first grommet at the throat. The breeze picked up significantly. The electric winches were tried and they worked. I was steering and couldn't see the foredeck. At first, I thought something awful was happening until I realized it was the winches making that noise. We did a man overboard drill. The Williamson turn was executed. The hat was recovered. We dropped sail and motored to Chuck & Hilary Prichard's dock in Cape May. We enjoyed a great dinner with them and their friends and family.
We left Cape May early early morning via canal into the Atlantic. I was beset by the third day gollywobbles and spent a couple hours prone on the cockpit sole. I did get to sail both a bit before and for a long while after. Ran the Atlantic City inlet under sail with a following sea swell that was an adventure in surfing.
MAID actually will surf for a bit if the waves are big enough, her acceleration is quite noticeable. The steering pattern was strikingly similar to URCHINs up and down hill runs, but the period was longer, took a couple of sets to get comfortable. We jogged up the marsh mark to mark behind the dunes. I was having a glorious time steering and was just about to say so when...
You know the part of Riddle of the Sands where Davies is sounding out the edge of the channel with his oar. John had entreated me to stay right on the channel markers. I gently found the edge of the sand with the boat and she stuck. John hopped off and pushed the bow around, off we sailed ...
to find the other opposite edge of the channel. Now I know exactly how wide it is right there. (Not very) John and Pete gallantly jumped in again to push (MAID weighs in at seven tons) and they turned us around again. The wind was still kicking and we ran off the rest of the miles, jibing through the marsh channels.
Jibing with a boat this big is quite a challenge. She
has running backstays, one eased out, the other hauled tight and belayed, about a mile of mainsheet at 12:1 and she definitely has a bit of helm at this point. I tended to oversteer on recovery by not correcting soon enough. This was gently explained to me by my mentors. I am so thankful for their kindness and endurance.
Dinner and a dockspace at LEHYC are provided by John Coyle and his wife, who vindicated my point to point steering
by saying that everyone runs aground in that spot as the channel has shifted-local knowledge will out. Our overnight berths and showers were offered by Greenwelds and Coyles. The hospitality all along this leg of the trip has been wonderful. Tom gave us a diner style breakfast at the counter with quips and stories while we watched the chef in action. It was raining while we ate. Back at the boat, the rain quit and we were off sailing up the bay under cloudy skies. Later the sun popped out and we ducked into Tom's River for fuel and water. Bill DeRouville comes over in his yard boat and Sherrie catches us on film. Check out her FACEBOOK posts. Continued up bay, the bridge opened for us quickly and politely and we set sail again. The foredeck crew got lots of workouts that day.
Our last host on this trip was MAIDs owner. I went shopping for food, planned and cooked
dinner, a barbecue, while the guys unloaded the boat and put her in his slip. We were treated to showers and wonderful rooms. An open house, theirs was full of hospitality.
MYTH arrived and took another slip out front. We were treated to a delightful sail and lunch on her the next day (a most excellent potatoe soup). MYTH was built by Timo during his tenure at
ISM and is a copy of an old NJ catboat that is in the collection. She is a bear to steer. I was on mainsheet while our most experienced skipper ran down a narrow channel like a wild sleigh ride. MYTH has a tendency to roll down wind, and the holiday traffic was making lots of waves enhancing that tendency. I have some pictures from that sail I'll put in another post.Our transit ended Sunday by bringing the MYTH and SILENT MAID up to join BARNEGAT for a bow tie party at BHYC.
We left via helicopter back to Philly. I will miss SILENT MAID and my shipmates as they sail on to NYC next.

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