Lara and I dropped the kids off at the grandparents and completed our first overnight trip.
We sailed to Tangier Island, the only inhabited island in the Virginia portion of the Chesapeake Bay. We drove over the Bay Bridge Tunnel and launched from the Harborton public boat ramp on the Eastern Shore (shown in the two pictures below). This is an excellent boat ramp; low traffic and well maintained with a huge parking area that was mostly deserted.
The southeast wind was perfect and we were able to sail down the channel and out into the Chesapeake Bay. Here is a short video taken as we sailed past some small islands/sandbars as we entered the bay:
As we sailed out into the bay we could barely make out a small speck on the horizon which ended up being the water tower on the island. When I planned the trip I wasn't sure if we would be able see the island; when the GPS showed me that the speck was indeed our destination I felt better as this was our first time on the bay and we are inexperienced at sailing and navigating.
The wind was blowing from the southeast at about 10mph and the island was exactly downwind; so we sailed wing on wing. Thinking back I should have let the mizzen sail go to the side it wanted to and moved the mailsail over manually; instead I moved the mizzen over. There is a good discussion about this here: https://messing-about.com/forums/topic/9955-sailing-by-the-lee/?tab=comments#comment-91787
After about 2 hours of relaxing sailing the wind gradually died down to nothing and we drifting. At this point we were pretty far from land; and this is when the flies attacked. We were surprised to find biting flies this far out in the bay. But luckily we packed insect repellent and it kept them from biting us.
After about 30 minutes of drifting I started the motor. At about 1/4 throttle the boat moves approximately 4 knots. We kept the sails up in hopes of wind. Just as we were ready to lower the sails for good the wind piped up and we turned the motor off. The wind steadily increased, and we approached the island and turned to go around it we had a nice reach.
We dropped sails at the channel entrance and motored in due to the boat traffic. The channel going that goes into the interior of the island is really unique; it is lined with crab houses on stilts.
We tied up at Parks Marina. It was really difficult (at least for me) to get the boat in the slip due to the strong wind. The wind really wants to move the boat when it is sideways to the wind. I had to throttle up the outboard in order to maintain steerage so we could make in between the pilings, and we would have hit the dock pretty hard if some people standing there hadn't helped fend us off. I definitely need more practice at this (but at least we didn't hit any pilings or boats!).
The marina owner, Mr. Parks (87 years old), is a real character and is descended from a long line of islanders; he is worth seeking out and talking to even if you aren't staying at his marina.
The CS 20.3 looked like a miniature toy boat next to the deadrises moored on both sides of us.
The island is a real working island (a crabbing community) and it didn't look touristy at all. The shops and restaurants were located in what looked like old houses. The last ferry had already left taking most of the tourists with it and we stood out like sore thumbs among the locals. Everyone was extremely friendly however; literally everyone we walked past said hi. The houses were close together. A local mentioned at high tide some people have water in their yard. There aren't many cars on the island; everyone walks or uses golf carts or scooters. There were absolutely no bugs on the island (unlike the middle of the bay!).
We watched the crabs scuttle about under our dock:
We slept overnight on the boat for our first time and cooked breakfast in the cockpit:
Sailing back the wind was blowing the same direction as the previous day; this meant upwind sailing all day. We sailed on a long port tack that took us way out into the bay. Soon all we could see just a smudge on the horizon which was was the eastern shore. As the wind increased, the chop increased as well and we put the water ballast in which dampened the motion.
Right on cue the wind stopped completely at lunchtime just as it had the previous day. This time we knew it would come back and instead of starting the motor we went swimming. As we were almost exactly in the middle of the bay we tied a long line with float on the end for safety, and one of us stayed on the boat while the other swam.
After about an hour of dead calm the wind picked up and we were sailing close hauled again. The wind steadily increased to about 20mph. The boat performed well close hauled and soon we could see land again. The GPS was invaluable as it is really difficult (even with binoculars) to pick out the channel entrance on the shoreline. Soon we were back at the ramp.
The boat performed very well and even in steep chop upwind it was a comfortable ride.