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Thread: 40 miles in a 15' boat

  1. #1
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    Default 40 miles in a 15' boat

    Recently it came to my attention that the last time I went sailing was two months ago. In my defense, I have been super busy with work and the month of humid, blazing hot weather didnít help either. Anyway, after looking at the weather I decided to take my First Mate out on a really long trip from Windmill Point to Gloucester Point on the Chesapeake Bay. In the morning the wind was forecast to be westerly with a falling tide, while the afternoon would be southerly winds and a rising tide. That means I would have a beam reach down to the York River, the wind and tide would change, and Iíd have another beam reach up the river. Easy peasy. It should be a 36 mile trip if all goes well.





    I didnít realize the sprit was outside the brail line until Iíd gotten everything rigged and I was ready to launch. By that point I was getting on for 45 minutes late, so I decided to go with it. Besides, Thames sailing barges brail their sails like this and they seem to know what theyíre doing.





    Heading out of the Windmill Point Marina on a nice beam reach. The waves were just below whitecap stage and I was making 6.5-7 mph.





    I had a nice pink sunrise while I was rigging the boat.





    One last look at Windmill Point. Those houses have a beautiful view, although probably a little too good during hurricanes and noríeasters.



  2. #2
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    Default Re: 40 miles in a 15' boat

    I had a stroke of genius heading across the Rappahannock. Since Iím going to be on starboard tack for 20 miles, why not put all my stuff on the windward side to help with the hiking? I bet fishermen figured this out hundreds of years ago.





    A bit south of Gwynnís Island the wind started to die down, so I figured Iíd head out towards the Wolf Trap lighthouse in hopes of stronger wind. You can just make it out on the horizon.





    Unfortunately the wind seemed to die altogether as I approached the lighthouse. I was staring off at the horizon wondering what I should do when I heard a blast of air and a pod of dolphins swam by! I wish they were closer for a better picture, but whistling and yelling ďhere boy!Ē didnít seem to have much effect.





    About a mile from the lighthouse I resigned myself to rowing. It was interesting to see first hand how it takes the waves a while to settle down once the wind dies. Iíd always assumed if there are waves then there must be wind, but thatís not the case.





    I brailed up the sail and started rowing at 4.5-5 mph, although an unknown amount of that was due to the tide. My plan was to head closer to shore in case I decided to pull out at Winter Harbor Haven, but it was only 11:30 so I still had the whole afternoon to see what happens.



  3. #3
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    Default Re: 40 miles in a 15' boat

    Looks like fun. Thanks for posting.

  4. #4
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    Default Re: 40 miles in a 15' boat

    Nice report and great photos!
    "The enemies of reason have a certain blind look."
    Doctor Jacquin to Lieutenant D'Hubert, in Ridley Scott's first major film _The Duellists_.

  5. #5
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    Default Re: 40 miles in a 15' boat

    After rowing about 1.5 miles I noticed a few catspaws so I quickly lowered the brailed mainsail, raised the jib, and started sailing. The wind had shifted southerly like it was forecast, but I wasnít as far south as Iíd hoped. The tide was still helping a little though. Anyway, thatís New Point Comfort and the entrance to the Mobjack Bay. Iíd been sailing with four catamarans since the Piankatank River but they peeled off and headed there.





    Because of the angle I couldnít quite make it into the York River, so I tacked and headed out into the Chesapeake Bay. Eventually I figured Iíd be able to just slip in so I tacked and headed for the oil refinery. I couldnít point quite that high, but I did the best I could.





    Into the York River! Thereís a lot of low lying marsh that made it a little difficult to determine where to head, but in the end I just snuck through. Maybe in the future a drawing of the land and some sort of device that always points in the same direction would help. Nah, probably a crazy idea.





    To be honest, this trip has been a little boring. Sailing 40 miles in a 15′ boat will be a nice accomplishment, but otherwise Iíve been too far off shore to see much. All day itís been the horizon on the left and green smudges dotted with houses on the right. So I decided to sail through Allenís Island to liven the trip up. The wind was just a whisper while I ghosted along. I stood up to try and spot any shallow parts since Iíve never been here before.





    Looking back after gliding through the marsh grass. It reminded me of videos Iíve seen of those English guys sailing the Mersea duck punts.



  6. #6
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    Default Re: 40 miles in a 15' boat

    Unfortunately Allen’s Island is suffering from rising water and erosion just like everything on the bay. The picture on the left is from 1994.





    The end was in sight but the wind just had to die again. You probably can’t make anything out, but the schooner Alliance is out for its daily sunset cruise and there’s a tall memorial at the Yorktown battlefield marking the end of the Revolutionary War when Cornwallis surrendered.





    A small puff of wind hit and I tried sailing wing and wing. I was going nowhere fast and my folks were coming to pick me up, so I needed to be making progress!





    Time to brail up the sail and row for the third time today. One of the guys on the fishing pier asked me where I’d come from and had a shocked look on his face when I told him.





    Finally tied up at the Gloucester Point boat ramp, 40 miles later! It’s pretty wild how fast the current moves through here, although it makes sense. The river is only 1/3 the width of the mouth so all that water has to speed up. You guys in the north west probably think this is child’s play though.





    So that was my trip. 40.8 miles in just over 10 hours. My maximum speed was 7.9 mph as I was coming across the mouth of the Rappahannock, but the average was 4.1 mph. It definitely would have been slower Without the tide helping me.

  7. #7
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    Default Re: 40 miles in a 15' boat

    Nice! Thanks.
    David G
    Harbor Woodworks
    https://www.facebook.com/HarborWoodworks/

    "It was a Sunday morning and Goddard gave thanks that there were still places where one could worship in temples not made by human hands." -- L. F. Herreshoff (The Compleat Cruiser)

  8. #8
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    Annapolis, MD, USA
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    Default Re: 40 miles in a 15' boat

    Very nice thread. Thank you for documenting this. I was out on Sunday the 30 near Sandy Point.

  9. #9
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    Default Re: 40 miles in a 15' boat

    Thank you, nice thread. What craft?
    Re-naming straits as necessary.

  10. #10
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    Default Re: 40 miles in a 15' boat

    Thanks all for the comments!

    RRaarr, I've never been further up the Bay than the Rappahannock, other than an afternoon in an FJ at St. Mary's College. I had a friend who lived in the area and apparently you could just check their boats out with your driver's license. No experience needed!

    Davebrown, it's a Ross Lillistone designed First Mate which is a stitch and glue version of his Phoenix III which is glued lapstrake.

  11. #11
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    Default Re: 40 miles in a 15' boat

    Hey, thanks for the thread--somehow I missed commenting before, even though I was following along. Looks like a fun trip, good average speed.

    Tom
    You don't have to be prepared as long as you're willing to suffer the consequences.

    www.tompamperin.com

  12. #12
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    Default Re: 40 miles in a 15' boat

    Thanks for the report! I'm glad someone​ is getting out...and that was quite and outing!

  13. #13
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    Default Re: 40 miles in a 15' boat

    I've done about 55K in a small catamaran when I was a late teen. It's more tiring than you expect.

  14. #14
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    Default Re: 40 miles in a 15' boat

    Nice voyage. It made me nostalgic for the Chesapeake.
    - Chris

    Life is short. Go boating now!

  15. #15
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    Default Re: 40 miles in a 15' boat

    Thanks for sharing
    I once thought I was wrong, but I was wrong, I wasn't wrong.

  16. #16
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    Default Re: 40 miles in a 15' boat

    Very enjoyable from the comfort of my office chair.
    ​"Life is under no obligation to give us what we expect." Irrfan Khan. RIP

  17. #17
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    Default Re: 40 miles in a 15' boat

    Tom, the average speed is definitely the number to keep track of... at the time I felt like it was a lot lower. I've been keeping a spreadsheet of every outing so I can get a better idea of realistic cruising adventures. So far the average is 4.13 mph with 97% of the miles sailed and 3% rowed.

    Hugh, I've been lucky that I have plenty of sparsely populated boat ramps around.

    Skuthorp, that sounds like an adventure! In my teens I took a Sunfish 25 miles/40km and tiring was a mild way of putting it.

    Thanks all for the comments!

    I thought I was going to get in another long trip this week but I hit a snafu. I had this problem once before and I chalked it up to poor workmanship when I built the boat. Originally the pins fit very tightly into the holes so I thought I accidentally cracked the wood installing them. But after fixing it I left the holes loose and filled in with epoxy. I've been keeping my eye on them and everything's been fine until the boat was outside and exposed to rain for a few days. So now I'm thinking it has something to do with the wood moving due to moisture and the incompressible pins. So I've got a few ideas for fixes/replacement that I'm mulling over... Hopefully I'll get at least one more trip in this year.

    Last edited by The Jeff; 09-10-2020 at 09:32 AM.

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