Sunrise to Sunset and What Happened in Between on a Windy Day

The windiest day in months is the perfect time to get up early for a sail. I stopped for a picture at the crack of dawn (no pun intended because it was actually the crack of dawn). I don’t see the sunrise very often so this was breathtaking. Old salts may say sunrises are a dime a dozen but I’m a new salt so it’s still a sight to behold.

The engine didn’t sound quite right when we left the dock but it was So! Windy! that we decided to take our chances. There was less water than usual coming out of the diesel and a bit of white smoke that we thought was condensation and would burn off. Not so with the diesel about to overheat. There was no seaweed in the strainer so what could it be? We slowly motored back to the marina with a very hot engine and Charles figured out there was seaweed in the raw water intake; he’d recently been to a shallow marina at low tide and we ended up with some marine hitchhikers in the lines. Shortly after clearing out gigs of plant life we were ready to get back into the wind.

Windy days equal fabulous things with the sails. The wind was directly behind us so Charles put up a lovely butterfly configuration. For most of the summer the wind has been light and we’ve been doing lots of motoring so having both sails filled was beautiful. Did you ever notice that the back of the boat is never far enough away to capture the majesty of your sails?

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We had pretty strong gusts and with a new speed indicator we watched the speed fluctuate to fast and faster with each gust of wind. Our top speed was the fastest I’d ever been sailing! Charles has sailed faster while moving the boat in March (March winds, anyone?) but I’ve only sailed under the heat and gentle breeze (i.e. no wind) of the summer.

Time for lunch! Dogue Creek is close to home, bordered by McMansions and a private marina on one side so we anchored near the wooded side. One rib eye steak, one piece of tuna and some grilled veggies later and the sun was on it’s way down. It was still pretty gusty and Charles worked against the wind to pull up the anchor that weighs half as much as I do. We’re looking for a set of bluetooth ear pieces so we can communicate with more than primitive hand gestures and yelling while he’s pulling up the anchor and I’m steering. This time, hand gestures and yelling.

With the anchor finally up and the sun low we sailed for home. Motoring versus sailing is a big difference. Think plodding along on the diesel while you stand around with the auto pilot on watching for crab pots and steering into the wake from power boats. Then think sailing with gusts of wind, tacking, feeling the direction of the wind and listening to only the sound of flowing water streaming behind the boat.

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Fall is here and I’m already planning my cold weather gear. I want to be on the water when the folks on land are picking pumpkins and drinking hot cider. Maybe a few months from now after some cold sailing trips I’ll change my tune but for now, I can’t wait until the wind picks up and all the power boaters have pulled out for the season.


23 thoughts on “Sunrise to Sunset and What Happened in Between on a Windy Day

  1. If your whole day was as glorious as the dawn in that photo, it must have been wonderful indeed.

    Looking back on our first month on Meander, we’ve known a lot more plodding along on the diesel than of listening to the simple sound of water flowing by under sail. We hope to change that soon.

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    1. There is a certain something about standing at the wheel and all of a sudden hearing the water a little louder behind you when you’ve picked up speed.
      We didn’t have a speed gauge for a while so we were periodically tracking it on the iPhone. Motoring all the time, you just know your speed by the RPM’s. The speed gauge is new and it coincided with the very windy day so I was like a kid watching the speed pick up! I read your recent race post and I totally agree that it’s like watching paint dry from land, but getting up to a whole 8 kts on the Potomac was really something!

      Our schedule should work out on 10/10 for lunch after our meeting with the Gemini dealer.

      Have you seen the Wicked Salty videos on YouTube? We recently discovered them and they’re not bad! They’re good to tide you over between La Vagabonde releases.

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  2. Yes, we’ve heard that subtle quickening sound; our love of it is what separates us from the motorboat owners. I once read somewhere that whenever a sailboat shuts down her auxiliary to lean on the wind, someone on the boat inevitably says, “Ah, that’s better.” That’s us.

    Our plans for the sailboat show are still uncertain. I think we are beginning to doubt our ability to handle the effort to get to Annapolis and to deal with the traffic we will find, and it’s making us reconsider what we might hope to accomplish there. Lunch with comrades in arms would definitely be a lure, though. I’m giving us until this Thursday to decide; then I can let you know.

    Pam says she’s shown me some Wicked Salty videos, but I forgot them, so I looked up the first one. No wonder the series is so popular–that guy’s cute. Kinda reminds me of myself when I was his age. Not.

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    1. Wait till you see La Vagabonde- they’re lovely to look at and the videos are quite entertaining. They make cruising look so carefree and I suspect they have somehow magically overcome all the regular cruiser stuff that we think about like laundry and how many one-pot meal recipes you can come up with.

      We have been to one sailboat show when we had a 32′ monohull and we didn’t come away with anything but the desire for a shiny new boat with modern amenities so I get not wanting to brave the crowds for fancy window shopping. I do enough of that with the international liveaboard blogs I follow!

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    1. It the article posted online? Our paper maps could really use an update but they came with the boat so they’re nice to scan along with the iPad and Garmin.

      As with all my other boat things, I know many sailing wives have gone before me with hand signals and yelling to the captain at the bow.

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  3. I want to thank you for liking “Little Boy’s Dream 4” on papermudandme.com. Now that I’m in my mid 80’s all I can do is remember. I will certainly be reading you sailing post and remembering. Thanks again and Aloha-pjs/

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Hi Guys,

    I always like to read sailing/cruising stories from around the bay, good work. There are not enough folks out there writing about the fantastic cruising area in which we live.
    If you did a simple blog search on sailing I feel that you would get the impression that everybody who had a boat was in the Caribbean 😉
    Keep it up and if you decide to venture south to sample the pleasures of the Rappahannock and Fleets Bay let me know, we can show you around.

    Keep dry…

    Adam

    Santoshasailing.com
    Urbanna, VA

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    1. Hi Adam! I agree -so many cruisers in exotic locations and not enough of us near the Chesapeake. We have plans next summer to cruise further down the Potomac as vacation time allows and we would love to explore the Rappohannock. I’ll subscribe to your blog so we can keep you on our radar. So nice to meet other folks who aren’t posting palm trees in their updates.

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      1. Sailing is good, fleets bay has 4 good creeks, the Rappahannock is big, not Potomac big but big. Deltaville is ok do a stop but the Carrotoman or Urbanna are better. The wind can really whistle down the Rappahannock as it is pretty straight. Windmill point can get a little nasty if there is wind over tide.

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