Monday, June 27, 2016

VAExit, Dragging, and Baltimore

Sorry...lots of topics on this one as I try to catch up with "real time".  We are in Baltimore and I have better internet access but the rush to get here is now a rush to get the boat ready for the boatyard and us ready for a trip back to Colorado.

In my last post we were at Windmill Point, just outside of White Stone, VA. After waiting for a cold front that brought bands of thunderstorms through the area on Thursday, we departed for Solomons, MD on Friday. We sailed a bit, but after a front passes the winds tend to calm down and we ended up motoring or motor-sailing much of the trip.

One of the old Chesapeake lighthouses.

We were trying to find a place to anchor out and my wife came across a marina that offered floating docks for $1/foot with a BoatUS discount. We figured why not and tied to the dock for the evening. Calvert Marina is a large facility with lots of fixed docks, some covered (for boats without masts), and some reasonably nice and new floating face docks for transients.  The facilities are rather rustic, but the price is right and they also have a courtesy car if you need to re-provision in town.

The next morning we slept in a bit and left the dock around 10 AM.  There was some wind, but as far too often seems to be the case, it was coming from where we wanted to go (straight down the bay).  We beat into the wind for a little bit, but after a couple hours of velocity made good (VMG) around 1.5~2 knots, we again fired up the engines and made our way to an anchorage on the Rhode river just south of Annapolis MD.

Rhode Creek Anchorage.  Boat on the right is the one we
believe ended up a bit too close later that night.
As soon as we turned up the river, the 15 knot wind died (or this anchorage is far more protected than it looks).  The anchorage (known as "Rhode River 1" in Active Captain) already had a number of boats but we were able to find a spot and threw the hook.  We had dinner and settled in for the night.  Sometime around 10 PM the wind picked up a bit.  I don't recall why my wife went outside, but she summoned me out and we found a boat rather close to us.  I checked our anchor alarm and we hadn't moved other than to clock into the wind.  Best we could tell in the dark, the other boat dragged past us.  Although we weren't 100% sure, I thought the boat was the one anchored beside us earlier that evening and there were people on board.

I grabbed my handheld spotlight and tried to get the attention of the occupants of the boat.  After a couple flashes, someone appeared on deck and looked like they were scrambling around a bit (with our generator running to top off our batteries for the night, we couldn't hear or talk to them).  I don't know if the crew of that boat got the anchor to reset or it just reset itself by the time they were up, but the boat seemed to be OK.  Downwind of us and a bit closer to shore than I would be comfortable with but no longer moving.  Crisis averted, or so we thought.

Thomas Point Lighthouse, near Annapolis MD.

About 2:30 in the morning I needed to answer the call of nature.  I noticed that the wind had mostly died and what little there was had caused us to clock around about 180 degrees.  I decided to take a look around and, to my surprise, the dragging boat was now nearly beside us and only a couple feet from our starboard bow.  Since our cabin is right where the other boat would have hit us and since we didn't hear anything, I can only assume that we didn't touch. I was able to grab my boat pole and, without extending it, knock on the deck of the other boat.

I think the guy that popped his head out was a bit surprised to see me standing over him on the bow of my boat.  I told him that I've verified our position with my anchor alarm and that it appears he is dragging.  My estimate is that he dragged several hundred yards, making a U shaped path nearly around our boat.  He asked if we hit or if there was any damage and I told him I didn't think so, but that his anchor might be in the shallow area near the shore so he should be careful when he retrieves it.  He got his crew up and pulled up anchor while I monitored to make sure they, and us, were OK.  To my surprise, instead of resetting the anchor, he turned on his navigation lights and motored out of the anchorage under the moonlight. Not sure why he didn't just go reset his anchor, but either way I guess the problem was solved.  The next morning all the rest of the boats, including us, were where we left them the night before.  I do wish I had a chance to talk with the guy that dragged as I would be interested to know what anchor he was using and what see if there was anything I could learn from the second boat to have almost dragged into us in the past couple months. Only thing I know is that his rode was mostly line with only a few yards of chain on the end (what I could hear in the dark while they were raising anchor). Glad our Mantus anchor had no such problems and kept us in place.

Chesapeake Bay Bridge, and some wave generators.
The next morning, after making coffee, we raised anchor and pointed the bow of the boat up the Chesapeake once again. It was our last leg to Baltimore and was a nice and sunny day with almost no breeze so playing motorboat was again on the agenda.  We motored past Annapolis and under the Chesapeake Bay Bridge.  It was Sunday and there were a lot of boats about.  We came to learn that there was a sailing race across the bay later that day, but based on the number of fishing boats out, I wonder if most were actually interested in the race or just an excuse to anchor out, toss out a fishing line, and have a few beers. Given the number of dead fish we've seen floating in the upper part of the Chesapeake bay, I'm not so sure I would trust the fish caught there.

Baltimore Light (yes, looks a bit like the first one).

We turned out of the bay and made our way up the Patapsco river, past Fort Carroll, under the Francis Scott Key bridge (near where the man wrote the Star Spangled Banner), past Fort McHenry, and into the rather industrial surroundings of  Port Covington in Baltimore. There were a lot of high horsepower boats heading out to enjoy a day on the water and this part of the trip was the roughest ride we've had since...well...the onslaught of power boats at the inlet to Morehead City.  My wife once pontificated that weathermen were wrong and waves aren't caused by the wind but by all the power boats in the world...and I'm starting to believe her.

Ft Carroll, near Francis Scott Key Bridge in Baltimore.

We find our way to the marina and yard where Rover will be getting a new bottom paint job and some other work done.  I think this is as close as I've ever been docked to military boats (there are a couple of some sort of military transport vessels at the end of the pier here).  They make our boat feel rather small.  A couple days of prep and we will be leaving our boat for the first time in over a year of living aboard.

Rover at the marina dock.  Big, but quiet, neighbors.
Keep your fingers crossed with us that this boatyard will prove better than those we have dealt with in the past.


  1. Staying around for the 4th of July? Great fireworks display that night! You'll have a front row seat moored there!

    1. No, we aren't staying around for the 4th. Half of our crew don't really like exploding things so much, so it is probably better if we aren't around for big booms.

  2. Hey Mike just wondering what size Mantus anchor you have as our boats are identical. I have a Mantus 45# so far it has been great, but wonder if I might not sleep better next winter in the Bahamas with a step up in size?

    1. Hey Tom, we have a 65# Mantus. At the time I think it was the next size up from the 45. Looks like they may have a 55 now, so that might be worth consideration. I can tell you that I do sleep pretty well with my current hook.

  3. Oh my goodness - that's a bit of an anchoring nightmare! Good thing you had a call of nature in the middle of the night and checked on things.

    1. Definitely good we found them when we did. I still can't believe it has happened twice in just a couple months.