Sunday, March 25, 2012

Harbor Jaunt


A few days ago, Jeff and I moved Phoenix from the marina in Essex, MD to a marina in Baltimore city called Tidewater Yacht Service Center.

We had tried the day before, but as we were loading the boat with stuff the day before, I noticed that something was quite right. Something about moving around on the boat didn’t feel natural. It was absolutely still water. There was no wind so the boat was lying still. But still in an odd way. Almost too still. And yet when I stood at the edge to take another tool bag on board, she did move, but more like dipped to the side.

I finally figured it out and stood in the middle of the boat and tried to rock her side to side. (Takes a bit of work with a 23,000 pound boat.) She eventually rocked, but in a very stiff way. That confirm it. She was sitting on the muddy bottom of the marina harbor.

We turned on the depth sounder and sure enough, it showed less than our six feet of draft.

We postponed to the next day. The high tide was going to be around 7:30. And the weather forecast was good. We got to the boat around 8:00 and cast off a bit later.

We had no GPS chartplotter. I had bought a chart book a couple days before, but the scale was pretty small. The local West Marine didn’t have a large scale harbor chart for the area.

So, we turned to Steve Jobs as our navigator. Turns out, he was dead. So we used one of his iPads instead. Well, legally, Jennifer’s iPad. I downloaded Navionics, a chart and routing program. Jennifer has a cell-phone chip in her iPad, so we would get GPS-type of location service on our trip.

The iPad predicted a 24 nautical mile trip. About four hours at our cruising speed of six knots.

The day before, we had asked a local sailor for local knowledge – a crucial thing in the capricious Chesapeake Bay.

“Stay to the right,” was his warning.

We cast off and immediately found ourselves surrounded by fog. That was disturbing. The iPad was updating our position, but not as regularly as one is used to with a standard GPS.

At times, we could see only 500 feet or so. (150 meters.)

This was one of the clearer moments.

The slip of land off to starboard is Fort Howard Park. 
A “Securitee” warning on the radio said one canal was closing due to fog. It was too late for us to turn back. We were committed. Eventually the fog lifted becoming a complete cloud cover over the inlets and harbors of Baltimore.

As we approached the Francis Scott Key bridge, a freighter passed us.

Note the Pilot Boat that is accompanying the ship. We got to watch the pilot climb the freighter’s ladder. 
It didn’t look as if the freighter would fit under the bridge. It’s always a delightful distortion with which foreshortening teases sailors. Regardless of how high the bridge is, it seems as if your mast will smack against the trusses.

And now Phoenix sits in the marina.

For the first time, I noticed her previous hailing port was Rockland, ME.  That is where my sailing experience begun in earnest when I worked on the schooner "J & E Riggin" for a summer as a deckhand.
Tidewater is a full-service marina that is going to help us with all kinds of upgrades, additions and repairs. Unfortunately, it will take much longer than the short two weeks we had hoped. So we are settling in for a month-long stay here in Baltimore.

1 comment:

HR said...

Hi guys--we're HC 38 owners in Baltimore, our boat Calcifer is on the hard there at Tidewater too. Please holler if you need anything!