Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Waiting out the weather

We are anchored in the West River, between the communities of Galesville and Shady Side, Maryland.  We arrived here Sunday evening after a nine-hour, 66 nautical mile cruise, our longest day under way to date.  Even though I wrote in my last post that we had hoped to reach Herring Bay, with Solomons as an earlier backup, conditions on the bay were absolutely perfect on Sunday, and we decided to make as much progress as we could while the going was good.

Point No Point Light, in much calmer seas than my last lighthouse photo.

It became clear as we passed the Patuxent that we would be passing the entrance to Herring Bay by 2:30, which would give us a nice early arrival there around 3pm.  But we reasoned we could make it here with plenty of daylight to spare, with two marinas and a reciprocal yacht club as backup options to the three anchorages here in the river.  So we changed course north of the LNG terminal at Cove Point and set a direct course for the West River entrance markers, which brought us close to the eastern shore en route.

That managed to put us right in the middle of a sailing regatta between the Choptank and the western shore; from a distance it looked like we'd have to weave and dodge between the contestants as we crossed their course.  By the time we reached the pack, though, we realized it was all a lot more spread out than it appeared from a distance, and we did not have to alter course or speed even once.

The same could not be said for the recreational sailors out for the weekend a bit further north -- one boat decided at the last minute to tack into our path almost immediately in front of us, causing me to have to throttle back to idle and disengage the autopilot to dodge it.  As we got closer and closer to Annapolis and its environs the number of weekend boaters taking advantage of the perfect weather skyrocketed, and we had a somewhat challenging approach to the West River, between the crab pots planted right in the channel, the sailboats with the right-of-way, and the go-fast crowd who seem oblivious to the effects of their wakes.

We nevertheless made it safely to the anchorage and dropped the hook just before 5pm.  Once we were comfortable that we had a good set and the boat was secured, we splashed the tender and ran in to the Pirate's Cove restaurant in Galesville, which offers free dockage to patrons.  This was really our first opportunity to use the new tender and engine combination for its intended purpose, and all worked very well.

One of the services available here in the West River and the neighboring Rhode River is a roving pumpout boat that operates Friday-Monday, and we availed ourselves of that service yesterday ($5, plus tip).  The rest of the day was given over to the ever-present project list, snug in our anchorage as the Chesapeake raged under a small craft advisory.  Among yesterday's projects were re-caulking the forward shower, as we will have guests aboard next week, and getting more things put away in that area after the chaos of the boatyard.

Another project was further investigation into the battery charging problems.  The one kilowatt-hour battery bank has been acting like one a mere tenth that size, and the charger gives up early on in the absorption cycle.  It's always possible that we just have a bad charger, but I've been pulling out all the stops to find a different root cause.  At one point I decided to pull the main positive cable off the battery bank to clean the terminal lugs, as I could see some corrosion there.  When I started to clean the terminal with emery cloth, though, I noticed it felt loose on the cable.  I unwrapped the insulation and was able to pull the terminal off the cable with my hand.

This high-quality Panduit lug, meant to be crimped with a hydraulic press, was instead crimped with a "hammer-style" crimp tool involving a u-channel and a bar meant to be struck with a sledge hammer.  They make terrible crimps, and this one was so bad as to be loose.  The rest of the cables, all "professionally" made by a boatyard, appear to have the same type of crimp and I will need to open up, inspect, and possibly replace every one of them.  I did have some 4/0 crimp lugs on hand for the upcoming inverter project, and I was able to replace this one and properly crimp it with my hydraulic crimper.  This made a huge improvement, and the charger is now running full cycle to completion, although the capacity is still a far cry from where it should be.  More work is needed.

We had left the tender in the water over night, and yesterday we dined at Thursday's, just a stone's throw from Pirate's Cove and also offering dockage.  Thursday's will even let you spend the night, but does not carry enough depth for Vector.

Some of the lousy weather on the bay found its way into our anchorage last night, as the winds clocked around to the north.  I'm going to guess we saw 15-20 knots with gusts to perhaps 30.  Our new snubber is doing a great job, and we only needed 60' of chain out, here in 8.5' of water.  Nevertheless the anchor alarm did wake us once in the night, as I think we moved back a few feet as the anchor dug itself in a bit deeper.

I did go up to the pilothouse to check on things every time I got out of bed to use the loo, and we did not otherwise budge in the blow.  But on my last check in the pre-dawn hours I was a bit surprised to see the navigation lights of a sailboat coming up the channel from the bay.  I figured they must have had one hell of a ride and were happy to be heading toward safe harbor.

In the full light of day, over our first cup of coffee, I noticed a sailboat, which I am guessing to be the same one, was hung up in a fish trap that extended from the shore out through the shoats and into the 11-foot contour.  We had had to steer around this same obstruction on our way up river -- it was easily visible in the daylight and also showed clearly on our radar.

I am guessing in the tired darkness these sailors were navigating by chartplotter alone, even though they clearly had a radar set aboard, and followed what looked like deep water right into the nets.  It took two other boats and a diver a couple of hours to free them, and then they were towed to one of the yards here across the river from us, likely for repairs to the running gear.  It didn't do the fish trap any good, either, and the waterman did not look happy.

Today involved more projects, including fashioning a latching system for the new medicine cabinet door to secure it under way, repairing the GPS mount on the dinghy, and getting an MMSI for the dinghy and programming it into its VHF radio, so we can use the DSC feature.

This last item proved a bit frustrating, as the two older Icom radios on Vector require a finicky key sequence to answer DSC calls from other radios, and the Standard Horizon unit on the tender would give up waiting for the reply before we could key it all in properly on the Icom.  Icom was designing for a more commercial fully-manned-bridge environment when these were made.  Calling the tender from Vector, though, was a snap, and either boat can query the position of the other with no intervention required, so long as the radio and GPS are on.

We had leftovers this evening, having exhausted the only two boat-in options here, and so we hoisted the tender back aboard before dinner.  That presented the opportunity to scrape the six-week accumulation of marine growth off the hull before dropping it in the chocks, and I spent an hour underneath the boat with a plastic scraper and the pressure washer.  It came out reasonably well, although we still have some work ahead of us with Soft Scrub and some Scotch Brite pads to finish the job.

All in all we had a very pleasant stay here at West River and will add it to our list of favored anchorages.  We have only 30 nautical miles left to Baltimore's Inner Harbor, which we will split into two legs.  We should have decent weather tomorrow and plan to get under way in the morning, leaving the West River and passing under the Lane Bridge which stretches across the Chesapeake from Annapolis to Romancoke Island.  We will find a pleasant anchorage for tomorrow night, most likely off the Magothy River, about halfway to our destination.

1 comment:

  1. Sounds like a good trip to Annapolis. Hoping you get some more of your many projects done so you will be able to enjoy your guests and tell them of your adventures!


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