Mini-adventure No. 2

Evening twilight settles over San Domingo Creek, Maryland

Unable to secure crew for an immediate run to New England, I opted to take Further out for a short cruise on the Chesapeake Bay this past weekend. The impetus for the trip was that my former marina-mate, Renee, and another friend, Kathy, were heading out for a week-long bay cruise and their first stop was to be San Domingo Creek. Renee had a friend with a home on the creek near the town of St. Michaels, and this friend had invited Renee to bring others to a crab fiesta at his house. Free food? A chance to get out of dodge? Anchoring out? Yes, please. And to top it off, St. Michaels was going to have fireworks Saturday night. I was in.

Sadly, the forecast was for scorching temperatures and no wind, and that’s exactly what we got. Renee and Kathy took off early aboard Kathy’s lovely Bristol, Caribu. I did our regularly scheduled group breakfast at the Boatyard and then left my slip around 10:45 a.m.

Motoring south on the Chesapeake was mind-numbing but it was still nice to be on the water. At one point it seemed like there might just be enough wind to get some sailing in so I hoisted all my canvas. It was short-lived and pretty pointless but hey, I gave it a shot. The genoa was rolled up and the main sheeted tight amidships and the motoring continued.

I turned into the Choptank drainage before veering off into Broad Creek and finally into the San Domingo. Caribu was already anchored so I pulled Further alongside and we rafted up. After putting everything in order, we dinghied off to Renee’s friend’s home.

And, oh brother, what a feast. Lee has a beautiful home right on San Domingo Creek that’s at the end of a long driveway so there are no neighbors too close. There’s a semicircle of lawn fronting the creek, with a hammock and Adirondack chairs scattered beside a comfortable patio that extends from the house. And it was at a picnic table on the patio that a monumental food coma was induced.

I had never really done a crab feast before but Lee was a wonderful host and demonstrated how best to proceed. And proceed I did — to the tune of more than a dozen crabs, all doused in Old Bay seasoning as is standard on the Chesapeake. A few beverages to wash in all down and after a while it was all I could do to roll my fat ass to one of the chairs on the lawn. Which is where we proceeded to hang out and enjoy the gathering twilight on San Domingo Creek.

My dinghy doesn’t have any navigation lights on it so before it got too dark I had to pull the chute on the evening and shuttle Kathy, her dog Rio, Renee and myself back to our boats. And that’s where a fabulous afternoon and evening segued into a sublime evening.

Yes, St. Michaels had fireworks to celebrate the coming Fourth of July holiday. And we could sorta see them back over where we’d come from at Lee’s. But right in front of where we’d anchored some local was putting on a fireworks display that rivaled anything a municipality might have put on. Seriously. No, it wasn’t like something I’d seen put on by the cities of Boston or New York or D.C., but it was definitely on a par with what I’d seen put on by Newburyport. And it was just one person out in their backyard and off their deck. And it went on and on and on and on, all the way to 10 p.m., at which the final display faded into the dark…and we had the best seats in the house.

But it wasn’t dark for long because the now-past-full moon rose bright and orange in the east, with Saturn above it and bright Jupiter higher and farther west. Anchored in the quiet creek, taking it all in…just a fantastic way to end a wonderful day and evening.

(And in a brief, nerdly aside: being away from the dock for the first time since I’d installed my SSB/ham radio aboard Further enabled me to try the rig out away from all the radio interference in Annapolis. And boy howdy, what a treat! Worked an operator in Bulgaria as clear as day and easy as pie. I was stoked.)

On Sunday, Kathy and Renee and Rio were headed farther south to continue their cruise. Their destination was Solomons, over on the western shore of the Chesapeake where the Patuxent River enters the bay. They asked me to go but another day of no wind and blazing heat sent me scampering back to Annapolis. And again, it was a motor-the-whole-way kinda day. But upon nearing Tolly Point on the approach to Eastport, the wind freshened a bit. I killed the engine and drifted a bit and yes, it seemed like this was legitimate wind. So up went the main and out came the genoa and boom! Further was romping east across the bay.

What a little bit o’ breeze does: makes me smiiiiiiiiiiile.

It was a four-and-a-half hour motor to Tolly Point. I then spent three gleeful hours tacking back and forth across the Chesapeake out in front of Annapolis, just smiling and gallivanting and romping around. It was the culmination of a great outing and while I wish I had gone on to Solomons for another evening on the hook, the sailing I did off Eastport had me all fired up on Further, sailing and the adventures to come. Running on the engine is fine but moving under sail is magical and makes it all worthwhile. Between the wind and Saturday’s crab feast, fireworks and moon, it was a great weekend and another step on the path. Stay tuned for more.