Delmarva 2012 Brief Trip Report.

Greetings All,

Well, after more than six months of planning, the PSA 2012 Delmarva circumnavigation is history. The trip went very well, although we could have done with a bit more wind! More on this later. Starting from an initial list of 11 boats, this had winnowed down to five serious boats and held stable there for several months. But in just the last few weeks before the trip, various problems surfaced that eliminated all but two!

So it was that the final list consisted of Ed & Joan Criscuolo, and crew member Bill, on our P-323 "Dolce Vita", and Mike McFeeley, and crew Carl and Brian, on Mike's P-323 "Wings". Also, PSA members Mike Descoteaux and Melissa Bailey, who were on their own separate month-long trip on the Chesapeake, happened to be in the area at the right time and joined just the Friday raftup in their P-33 "Bold Rascal".

Because "Wings" home port is on the Potomac, their trip started two days earlier in order to meet us for the raftup on Rock Creek on Friday evening. But trouble struck. Wings was experiencing a fuel delivery problem, and had to divert to Cambridge for repairs and parts. As a result, they were unable to meet up with us Friday evening, but joined us enroute on the Bay Saturday morning.

Saturday was a glorious day, and had the best sailing of the week. We beat our way up the Bay until time and tide forced us to motorsail the rest of the way to the C&D canal. We rafted up off of the free town-dock at Chesapeake City and grilled a couple of wonderful dinners.

Sunday, we transited the canal uneventfully, and began down the Delaware. Winds were southerly, but useable. However, they were just too light. After making only 1.2 kts for a while, and with almost 50 nm to go, we once again motorsailed. At first it was great, as the Delaware's substantial tidal current was building and with us. At one point, the GPS was showing a speed-over-ground of 8.1 kts!

All this changed at Ship John Shoal Light. The tide had turned against us, the wind was square on the nose, and began to build, reaching 15 - 18 kts. This turned things into the typical passage on the lower Delaware; a 10-hour ordeal of pounding into the chop. We arrived at Cape May just before nightfall, and went through the Cape May Canal and spent the evening at Utsch's marina.

The weather forecast was looking good for the next few days, with a stable high pressure area dominating the mid Atlantic coastal region. So, on Monday morning, we motored out of the inlet onto the Atlantic and set our course South. And once again, the winds were southerly and light, and forecast to remain that way throughout the day. So, we again motorsailed. At this point we were joking that maybe we should have used a trawler instead! But spirits remained high. At one point, around lunchtime, "Wings" pulled up close alongside and asked if we had any Grey Poupon! The gentle swell, complete lack of chop, and cool temperatures combined to make it an extremely pleasurable experience.

Later in the afternoon, when the boats were separated but still within line-of-sight, we got a somewhat cryptic message from Wings that they were experiencing some sort of pump problem, but were fine and in no danger, just needed to shut down the engine for a while to effect repairs. Turns out that their situation was somewhat understated. It seems that their prop shaft had shifted back within the coupling, and this caused their packless shaft seal (PSS) to separate and begin leaking water faster than the bilge pump could handle! Fortunately, the crew and captain of Wings are quite mechanically capable, and had the situation repaired in no time.

Around 3 am Tuesday morning, just off of Chincoteague Island, we were hit by a small line of isolated squalls. Lots of rain, but we were briefly able to sail at over 6 kts! It cleared quickly, and we continued motoring.

At this point, Wings was well ahead of us, and all we could see of them was their stern light. Morning came, and we could see the entrance to the Bay. Wings got around the Cape, under the northern span of the Bay Bridge-Tunnel, and into Cape Charles Town Harbor well ahead of us. There, they took a vote among the crew, and decided to forgo an overnight stay, instead pressing on to to their home port on the Potomac. We arrived at the harbor at 10am, just as they were pulling out.

The facilities at at the Town Harbor are top-notch and brand new. Floating docks, a brand new bathhouse, and a new restaurant that had just opened 2 weeks before. A fuel dock with water, ice, and pumpout. And its a short walk into the town. We ended up spending two nights there, giving us a full day to explore the town.

Thursday morining, we set out for the Great Wicomico River, a point about halfway to Solomon's on the Patuxent River. The Bay was almost glassy, and temperatures rose to the 100 degree mark. Again we motored.

About 4 pm, we anchored inside of Sandy Point on the Great Wicomico. There were a group of 3 cruisers already anchored there who were traveling together. Over the next 3 days, we would keep encountering them at the same anchorages we had chosen!

We had been looking forward to a swim at Sandy Point, but as we arrived, we discovered that the jellyfish were already there ahead of us! So much for swimming. Joan played around in the dinghy instead. Weather remained clear calm, and hot! This was the only night we had trouble sleeping!

Friday, we set out for Solomons. Another hot, windless day. More motoring. I think the gods misunderstood my request: I said "windlass" , NOT "windless"!! As we reached a point about halfway between Smith Point on the Potomac and Drum point at Solomons, we received a severe weather alert. A line of almost stationary thunderstorms was forming from Cape Charles to Smith Point. 50 kt winds, hail, and possible waterspouts! Boats in that region were advised to seek shelter immediately! Fortunately, we were well above Smith point and out of the mess! Later, a watch was issued for our area, and we experienced a small thunderstorm that dropped the temperature by 20 degrees and provided a welcome relief.

At Solomons, we once again met up with Bold Rascal as they were proceeding South on their trip. The original plan had been to anchor out and raft up, but Bold Rascal had tried, and ended up dragging 100 yds in one of the t-storms. So we both took slips up at the end of Mill Creek and shared a dinner aboard Dolce Vita.

Saturday, it looked like there might actually be some wind! It was WNW, which wasn't so great, but we were so starved for sailing that we decided to use it and just tack up the bay for a while. We got 4 or 5 good hours of sailing out of it. Of course, this made it impossible to get to Annapolis, our next destination, at a reasonable hour, so we diverted to Galesville instead. There, we found the harbor filled with boats, and all the slips taken. There was a giant raft-up party with a full band and a dozen or more boats in the raft.

We ended up tying up for dinner at Thursday's. There, our crewmwmber Bill "jumped ship" and got a ride home, as he had some business matter to attend to. Afterwards, we moved away from the noise and anchored up on the Rhode River around midnight.

Sunday was slightly cooler, but windless again. After a fancy steak & eggs breakfast, our last aboard the boat, we motored out onto the Bay and towards Baltimore. We noticed an unusually large number of freighters and tankers anchored south of the Bay Bridge, all awaiting a berth at Baltimore. After an uneventful ride, we were back at our slip on Rock Creek, 10 days after we started. The final numbers were:

Duration of Trip: 10 days
Distance Traveled: 415 nm
Time Sailing: ~9 hours
Time Motoring: 77 hours
Gas Consumed: ~70 gal

It was a great trip, despite the minimum amount of wind. We thoroughly enjoyed it.

Time to start planning the next trip!

@(^.^)@ Ed Criscuolo, 2012 PSA Commodore