What did we do on our first Monday of summer break? We sailed, of course! While most people are driving into work amid morning rush hour traffic in the DC metropolitan area, we headed out on our first sailing adventure of the season to one of the most popular anchorages on the Eastern Shore. With our newly-patched dinghy strapped to the bow, we were eager to see if it would sink or float. Dividing Creek, off the Wye East River, would be the perfect place for this experiment to take place.
We left the marina after sharing our tentative float plan with our neighbors, Betty and Rich of Trust Me. We strapped Schnitzel’s life jacket on him and set out to make the 1130 opening of the Kent Narrows Bridge. I was on the helm and hailed the bridge tender over the VHF radio to let the know that we were southbound and awaiting the intended opening. Once the drawbridge separated, we were the third sailboat to navigate through the churning waters as Damian watched carefully to make sure that the mast cleared.
After the Gem&I was safely through, Damian took the helm and guided the boat through the channel into Crab Alley. We raised our main sail and unfurled our jib as we entered the wide Prospect Bay and followed the chart and plot notes that I had made the night before. I put in to real-life practice what I had learned from ASA 104 class with Captain Dave!
Damian worked the lines as we tacked back and forth, zig-zagging down Prospect Bay over the next several hours toward the mouth of the Wye River. With a semi-gentle wind, Gem&I maintained a steady speed, so we shut down our engine and let the wind and sails do the work for awhile.
We rounded the bend, following the channel markers into the Wye River. It was time to turn on our engine and motor up to our anchorage. After Damian furled the jib, I jumped on deck with the sail ties to guide the main sail down a few feet at a time to flake it and carefully but securely tie it to the boom as neatly as possible without lazy jacks. Oh to have lazy jacks, this job would be so much easier! Yet somehow we manage.
Wye East River
We passed the infamous Shaw Bay on our starboard side where Rumsfeld’s vacation home, Mount Misery, sits overlooking the shore, which was once the site of the plantation that Frederick Douglass was a slave. Gem&I continued motoring up the east branch of the river known as the Wye East River. Three creeks up on our port side lay the entrance to the secluded Dividing Creek. Lined with thick trees that shade the banks of Wye Island, this deep but narrow creek is the location where Captain Dave rode out a really bad storm without a scratch, because of the creek’s protection from high winds, rain, and current.
Even though the creek is naturally sheltered and somewhat concealed, it is well-known to the local boater and sailboater. That’s why when we arrived, there were already two sailboats anchored there. Too bad for pretending we were pirates! We chose to anchor behind both sailboats, since the creek runs pretty far back.
Dropping anchor is still a new process to us rookie sailors, and this was only our fourth time doing it. First, we check our depth and multiply by 7 (or 10) to determine how much anchor line to run out. Then Damian goes up to the bow to drop and set our Danforth anchor while I am at the helm, listening and watching for his directions. Depending on how hard the wind is blowing, the current is flowing, or how snug the anchor has initially dug into the muddy bottom below, Damian instructs me to maneuver the boat to aid him in setting the anchor so that we won’t drift. Once he is sure that the anchor has set, I put us in reverse and rev the engine to 3,000 rpm’s to see if we drag or remain secure and unmoving.