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Ballard Sailor

Time for a Shakedown!

Rating: 44 votes, 5.00 average.
Thursday was our day, time to go for shakedown cruise, where are we going? Hadn’t quite figured that out yet... We left the dock by noon on Thursday and headed out into the Chesapeake bay to test out some sails before retiring for night in Galesville, just South of White Marsh Creek (where Holiday Hill Marina is) over on the West River. We toured the bay looking for a good anchorage and ran across another C&C 27 at anchor near a pier-side bar, Thursday’s, with plenty of empty dock space.

Well, it’s Thursday, shouldn’t we? In we went, but first some shakedown cruise maintenance. The previous day I had sent Jennifer up the mast to install the wind speed indicator and subsequently spent the night tossing and turning not able to sleep because of the incessant noise the scoundrel thing created all night. That thing’s gotta go, so up the mast she went again to take the infernal thing off so we could sleep that night. Off it went and down she came - time for some celebratory beers and oysters at Thursday’s on Thursday in Galesville, Maryland.

We woke early Friday morning, well we spent most of the night awake due to the system that came through late Thursday night, but it was time to go. The wind was up over 20 out of the North, we had a full fuel tank, and we decided to head off South to Solomons Island at the mouth of the Patuxent River some 40 miles South. We had a great sail out of the bay with the rail in the water, turned the corner and poled out the jib ripping downwind off the small bay swell. Expecting an early arrival in Solomons we settled into the wallowing surf and enjoyed the beautiful sunny and windy day. Not for long though as the winds backed more to the east and died down till we were making only 4 knots through the water. Break out the spinnaker! Up it went and we spent the next 20 miles running along under the old radial top - we wondered when was the last time this boat had a spin up? We pulled into Solomons and found a great anchorage spot in Back Creek as the sun was setting - 40+ miles in 8 hours, not bad for the old girl with all our gear on board.

Saturday morning we set out to tour the Island, well to figure out how exactly it is an island because it sure doesn’t look like one on the chart. Our first stop was in a local boat yard were we ran into another C&C 27 owner getting his boat ready for the summer. She was 2 years newer and had a nice new rudder but an Atomic 4 the owner was rebuilding. Glad we had a diesel, off we went in search of the public dock and this infamous Island. Passing the Tiki Bar we where reminded of stories we heard about this bar’s opening, April 20th. They close the island down, no body on or off by car, and party down along main street - The Bar’s Open! Coinciding with Rock Fish season I’m guessing this is a big fisherman’s party - one we heard people come all the way from Germany to be a part of. Finally, down the road we found the Public dock, no moorage but at least a pump out and then just on down the road was the “cut” in the narrows that made this thing an island. If you weren’t looking down you would of missed it as you walked along looking at the scenery. The bridge is no more than 10’ long and looks just like the rest of the road. All of a sudden we were “Off Island!”

We found the local Chandlery and got some needed parts and headed on back to the boat to commence on the many small repairs we discovered on our sail South. Saturday turned into Sunday on the anchorage but the work got done and by Monday morning we headed North on our long trek back to Holliday Hill Marina, as we need to drive back to Philly on Friday for a family wedding. We sat Sunday night and totaled up all the bills for the Libra - everything, purchase, parts, pieces, launch, moorage, title and tabs - she’s cost us $6900. Hopefully a price we can get most of it out of her at the end of our adventure but a cost that is under our limit of $10,000 and we are out sailing!

Our plan Monday was to head to the Little Choptank and find a marina or anchorage for the night. The winds where out of the West/Northwest 15 to 25 with gusts forecast to 35. A windy day but on an angle that’s a tight reach, with the #4 set (that’s our small jib) and the mainsail ready to reef we headed North on the windy but sunny day. Halfway up we got hit by a big wave forcing that quick duck under the dodger before the wave crashes down on the cockpit. We learned a few things here: First, the Dodger worked perfectly, keeping us from getting immediately soaked. Second, the Dodger has this interesting feature, it sucks you in to avoid the crashing wave from above and then douses you with the water running down the cabin top under the front edge of the Dodger, nice. Third, the anchor holder doesn’t work too well and we learned the banging crashing sound down below was actually the anchor pounding into the hull on the leeward side after the big wave hit. The anchor quickly retrieved, without any major damage, we sat in the cockpit and learned the Ensign, the American Flag on our transom, decided to take leave of us while we fumbled around under the dodger and on the foredeck securing the anchor. A funny series of events, hopefully the worst on the day.

As we arrived at the mouth of the Little Choptank we discovered a possibility for its’ naming. The bottom shoals up to under 15 feet and the waves build to over 4 feet, not frightening but a fun wild ride into the mouth of the shallow bay with waves crashing into the transom and our dinghy scooting by us on a good surfable wave. Things quickly mellowed down as we got into the Little Choptank and we decided to explore up into the Hudson River, a little side channel, for an anchorage. Way up in the Hudson we found a nice protected 6’ deep spot for the night, the tidal range is about 1.5 feet here so no worries about running aground on a 4.5’ draft boat, and we got here just in time too. Offshore a squall was developing and pulling with it some strong puffs. Easily over 30 knots and forecast to be hitting 40 knots we swung at anchor happy with our fortune at finding such a quiet spot for this windy evening. Libra did well today with water down her deck most of the way. Everything still seems to be attached and tomorrow we plan to head on over to Herring bay, 20nm with winds on the nose at 15 to 20 - we’ll see what Tuesday brings! Hopefully a nice sail and $2 crabs and beers at Skippers in Deale, Maryland.

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