Our next adventure was calling our names. The mighty Chester River (on which we had learned to sail for the very first time two years before) beckoned for us to explore from where her waters came from. We planned to sail up to Chestertown and return to the marina before the July 4th festivities began. Four days on the water, adventuring where we had never gone before!
We left after Damian came back from quick motor up to the fuel dock with our live-aboard neighbors from the dock, Rich and Betty from Trust Me, so they could pump out and top off their fuel with an extra pair of hands.
The Kent Narrows channel has become more tricky in the last year with new, “temporary” markers indicating where the dredged “water road” snakes around the dreaded shallows where many a boat (including ours once) have been grounded. Since I had most recently navigated the channel with Captain Dave in the 104 class, Damian had me take the helm for the first leg of our journey. That was more than ok with me!
Hoisting the main
Once we were through the channel, Damian took the helm so that I could prove to him and myself that I could successfully raise the main sail without help. He turned our vessel into the wind, I hoisted the main sail. At first, I wrapped the main line around the winch twice to haul up the massive sail several feet with each pull. One pull. Two pulls, Three pulls. But once the sail was mid-way up the mast, I had to settle for using the winch and fitted the winch handle into the top and began to turn.
Unfortunately, our dodger was designed in such a way that half of the winch is blocked by the canvas, so we are only able to winch around half of the circle when its in use. This dodger interference makes raising the main a frustrating process and grows patience in the sailor. One half-around, two half-arounds, three half-arounds. Had the main raised even an inch higher? Persevere. Persevere. Keep going. Keep going. What seems like hundreds of half-arounds later, the main sail–finally fully raised–flutters as the wind whooshes past it on both sides.
Chester River Sail
On the chart, Damian had noticed a section just past the channel labeled “Hell’s Delight.” Named so because the river narrows at this location, causing violent wind and waves during nor’easters and other storms to rack hell on vessels that find themselves at this spot on such unfortunate occasions. Sailing east up the river, we past the Eastern Neck National Wildlife Refuge on our port side. Our goal for the day was to find the entrance to the Corsica River, a tributary that empties into the Chester, and find a secluded spot for anchoring that night.
Before long, Damian decided to jump into our dinghy that we were towing behind us, because it was filling with water. It was only being pulled by one side line and the angle it was in as the dinghy bumped along was less than ideal for keeping water out of it. Damian used our manual bilge pump. Once the bottom was water-free, he exchanged the bilge pump with the air pump and spent a few minutes pumping the inflatable mini boat up in the places where the air was low. After that, Damian sat down to view the sail from a different perspective, much closer to the water’s edge. He was on his own–free to observe and think! Two things he loves to do! And so we sailed on like this for more than a half hour.