Small Craft Advisory? Just Sail Right Into It. 

Four days with nowhere to be but the water. Four days to get past the mouth of the Potomac River, into the Chesapeake Bay and back home again.

Eh, not so much. Think small craft advisory and the beginnings of fall. 

After spending the night at a rustic marina and enjoying the best Sunday brunch on the river the next morning, we readied Chiron and prepared ourselves for day three, the two-day sailing trip home.

We didn’t quite make it to the mouth of the river as we intended when we started. Let’s just try to make it back. 

The first task of the day was the NOAA weather report which predicted a freeze warning with crop damage, high winds in the wrong direction, whitecaps, a small craft advisory and 3-4 foot swells. (Thank you to my mother for offering to drive down and pick me up.) The previous day’s swells and wind were exciting on the way to Tall Timbers Marina but faced with a full day of sailing directly into it, not so much.

Watching for crab pots during a small craft advisory is a cold and unforgiving full time job. Did I mention they’re occasionally in the channel?

Cold weather gear.
Cold weather gear to block the wind.
After too many hours of strong winds, high seas and countless crab pots, Charles made the command decision to pull into a sheltered cove at Cobb Island and wait out the winds and small craft advisory. I consider him to be fearless and able to take on the world- should I have been as worried about the conditions as he was and less worried about being cold and getting sprayed in the face?

Fill up wherever you can, whether on land or on the sea.
Fill up wherever you can, whether on land or on the sea.
Cobb Island’s sheltered cove was a lovely respite from the wind and waves, perfect for a proper warm lunch. We were making 3-5 knots on the motor with many hours left of the journey and not much free time to spare, so shortly after lunch we navigated a sea of crab pots and returned to the whitecaps and wind. I dream of being a cruiser but somehow it’s always warm weather in those thoughts. Lucky for that second trip home on day one for more cold weather gear before we left.

The wind is a sailor's dryer.
The wind is a sailor’s dryer.
The first mate has to trust the captain 100% so when Charles said we were sailing through the night I silently disagreed but nodded my head with a smile. The heck with getting back to work on time, the weather’s terrible! Can I take bad weather day? Besides, a day on the water beats a day on land no matter what the wind is like.

On the other hand and in agreement with Charles because I’m a good first mate, I can take an evening watch to prove my mettle no matter what the temperature is and whether I like it or not.

You can make coffee for the captain no matter how large the swells are as long as you don't let go of the pot.
You can make coffee for the captain no matter how large the swells are as long as you don’t let go of the pot.
Sunset on the swells was beautiful despite the wind and we kept our eyes out for crab pots, then turned on the spotlight after sunset and continued the watch for them.

Sunset and swells.
Sunset and swells.
As the evening progressed we neared the river’s curves that blocked much of the wind but did nothing for the temperature, the first freeze of the season.

Nanjemoy Creek. The curves of the river block most of the wind.
Late into the night we returned to Nanjemoy Creek, our first night’s anchorage, mercifully out of the wind and the water, still as glass. Careful crab pot spotting got us into the clear and we dropped the anchor. Using hand warmers improvised out of tea light lanterns, the cabin was a cheery and snug resting place after a rough day of sailing into the wind.

The perfect hand warmers make the perfect glow to light the cabin.
The perfect hand warmers make the perfect glow to light the cabin.

Next up- smooth sailing and hopefully not the last hurrah. 

6 thoughts on “Small Craft Advisory? Just Sail Right Into It. 

  1. Here’s to smooth sailing for you! I’d love to invite you for a sail on the Niagara River, as in the warm season it is gloriously turquoise, not often seen in rivers. However, there is a small cataract along the journey…
    Thanks for the ‘like’ and I hope to see more of your treks in the future!
    Keep warm.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Cool. Used to live there. It’s a close sail across Lake Ontario to Olcott Beach! Or Youngstown/Lewiston, NY. Then you CAN sail up river, a beautiful, calm sail, weather accommodating. I’m 7 min. from Lewiston. Look it up on the map. 🙂


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