Deal Island 2005
On Thursday September 1, I arrived at the boat for provisioning and an eventual Friday Morning Departure. My crew this year were to be my friend Keith Henry and his son Michael who was home visiting from the CessPool where he lives and works. What a trip down we had!
Keith, like me, is more interested in the sailing than the destination. Friday's trip down to Solomons in light air was about as spectacular a day as I've had sailing. The weather was pleasantly warm without being hot and the light breezes kept us moving well enough to be satisfied at the progress. So, not having seen Keith or Michael much in the last few years, we did a lot of fine catching up and the conversation moved lightly from sailing to politics to rednecks and beyond.
On Friday, our run across the bay to Hooper Strait was a rollicking reach. With Winds out of the NW at 10-15 and temps in the mid 80s, it was a delight to be on the water and running before the wind. Our tide timing couldn't have been better. We caught the last of the falling tide coming out of Solomons Island ran across the bay at slack tide and caught the incoming tide through Hooper Strait.
In a most serendipitous moment, the wind very dramatically switched from NW to NE, just when we needed it, mid Hooper Strait! The previously steady winds had become flukey and at one point Keith at the helm and me on the lines watched the windex do two 360 degree swivels and as it began to settle on NE, Keith yelled out, NORTHEASTER, just as I leapt to the lines pulling both mainsheet and genoa at the same time in a desperate attempt to trim in time for the gusts that were sure to follow. Sweet! Now, we're Close reaching through the straits at 8 kts... God, but it's good to be back on the water, cruising.
Some people go to Deal Island to party. Some people go to Deal Island to race. Some people go to Deal Island for the Skipjacks. Me, I go for the Skipjacks. For each year, might be the last time we see these grand old ladies.
I also go to rejuvenate my soul. There is nothing in life half so much worth doing as sailing. Except perhaps killing enough flies on a trip to make Fly soup.
Okay, so I go for the party, too... Sailing is after all, all about kicking back and enjoying life. Oh, and the spectacular food, too! Lots of good eats while Cruising aboard TWB. Aah. Made some new friends, shared time with some old friends, danced on the grass with the wife and kids to the musical stylings of the Cruzers and just had a grand old time.
And if by chance, I get the opportunity to let the old girl put her shoulder to the wind and charge to windward for a half dozen hours, well that's just icing on the cake for a chance to kick back and talk of sailing, life and everything in between with old friends and new. Paul West was my companion for the trip home. Monday, after the Skipjack race, Paul hopped from WaterColor II, Gerry Gerlitsky's boat, where Paul had been crew for the race over to TWB, where he would happily spend another 12.5 hrs sailing to windward, while all around us would-be sailors drove through those spectacular winds, 15-20 kts all day.
Shoulder down and making 7 kts to windward, we charged north up the bay to finally drop the hook off the Oxford Shore about 2200, Monday night. Monday's trip has to be a record, I do believe it is the very first time my return trip has not been marred by a complete dearth of wind for at least half the voyage. What a spectacular day and evening on the water it was! Following a robust dinner of pork chops Beans and a few Yuenglings, we crashed in prep for the next leg.
Aside from the best 5 day stretch of great weather and great sailing I have ever done on the Chesapeake, the highlight of my trip was having Keith, Michael and Paul to share the great voyages with. Well, that and making fly soup...
Ain't Life Grand?