And work it can be. Chesapeake Bay is a bit over 200 miles long. We entered it at the south end on Monday morning, after leaving Hampton Creek near Norfolk. 4 days later we're only a bit more than half way up the Bay, due to strong NW winds that are conspiring against us.
Actually, on Monday the winds were gentle, and we made good time, traveling about 50 miles to anchor in protected Jackson Creek, at the mouth of the Piankatank River (west side of Ches.), and near the town of Deltaville VA. Monday was sunny so we (Riggs and I) spent the day on Spray's flying bridge. A couple hours after we dropped anchor, Margaret & Bob aboard GB32 'Thumper' dropped the hook right next to us. We had shared a dock with them back in Oriental NC (see earlier blog).
For Tuesday the NWS was predicting strong NW winds, and we woke to those and so decided to hang in Jackson Creek for another night. We took a long walk to Schroeders Boatyard in Deltaville, to see if sailboat 'Heron' with skipper Don had pulled in yet. We had shared anchorage with Heron 3 times in NC and knew that Don's goal was Schroeders for storing Heron for the summer. After a 3 mile walk we arrive to find that Don had just pulled in 30 minutes earlier. I helped him pull his foresail off Heron and he gave Riggs and I a ride back to Spray. We had supper that evening at a restaurant and found that 'Thumper's crew was there too.
So Tuesday was a fun day, but the strong NW winds that started the day fizzled before noon. It would have been an easy day to make some progress up the Bay.
For Wednesday the NWS was again predicting strong NW winds, but I wasn't to be fooled twice. We left safe, protected Jackson Creek at 7 am and headed up the Bay. Ooops! This time the NWS was right. In fact they understated the wind strength. We had 3 hours of 25-35 knot winds and nasty 3-4' waves, thankfully mostly off Spray's bow, before we headed up Cockrell Creek to the town of Reedville VA. We had only made 15 miles of progress but were glad when the hook was set. Reedville has some beautiful old homes, probably funded by the menhaden fishery - a good size fishing fleet and a (at times) real stinky menhaden processing plant (think fertilizer, fish oil, etc) are just south of town.
For today the NWS was again predicting NW winds, and today's travel started with crossing the 8-mile-wide mouth of the Potomac River, which has a looong NW fetch as it empties into the Chesapeake. Our strategy was to get moving early, before the winds built up, so we were moving before 7 am. This might have helped a bit, but only a bit. The rollers coming down the Potomac and crashing into Spray's port bow were impressive.
Spray is a great boat. She lived up to her name, with every external inch of her covered in salt spray both yesterday and again today, and she rocked and rolled, but she never hiccupped and got us safely through. Riggs too handled the nasty conditions like the World's Best Boat Dog that he is, mostly sleeping through it all on the helm seat (I stand in these conditions).
After crossing the Potomac, we passed Point Lookout and hugged the west shore as best we could, and the rest of the day's trip was easy enough. We're now anchored in the boater's mecca of Solomons MD and have done some exploring and grocery shopping.
Tomorrow, if you can believe NWS, should have great cruising weather: moderate SW winds and 80 degrees. We'll get some fuel and water, and then try to get 50-60 miles farther north. Stay tuned.