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Best cruise of the season?

PostPosted: Tue Oct 08, 2019 10:45 pm
by GreenLake
Looking back over the last 12 months (from the date of your post): What was the best cruise you did? Where "best" is by some metric that you choose. Longest, most fun, most challenging, best company, best remembered. Whatever.

Where did you sail to? Any picture that sums it up? Anything interesting happened? Any challenge? Any special prep? What made it "best" for you?

Try to keep it short and focused. If it inspires you to draft a longer trip report, put a teaser here and start a separate thread.

Hoping to get a variety of responses, perhaps to give the rest of us some ideas. Please limit to one cruise per 12 month, but if you have one from 2 years ago that you feel you'd like to share as well, why not. Let's keep the past open-ended that way.

OK, who's game?

Re: Best cruise of the season?

PostPosted: Wed Jan 01, 2020 1:36 am
by GreenLake
Nearly 850 people have viewed this thread by the end of the year. That's more than the number of views on some of the other threads in this section, even though they have been around much longer.

Not one of these viewers has had a "best cruise"? Perhaps this is a topic that attracts only bots and people directed here by search engines?

I was hoping to find out more about how and where people sail their DS. I had thought it might also be fun to get a link to some trip reports for people on similar boats (size and style) to a DS; suggestions that could be applied by those sailing a DS are always good. So, if you see this and have something to share, please feel welcome.

However, no takers so far, so I'll report on my "best" cruise for the year.

Re: Best cruise of the season?

PostPosted: Wed Jan 01, 2020 1:44 am
by GreenLake
I've not had a lot of "cruises" myself in either 2019, or the 12 months since I first started the thread. A number of planned outings fell through when schedules and weather didn't want to cooperate, leaving me with almost exclusively "race nights" in 2019. In quotes, because not all of them were evening event, and most of them are more fun than "racing".

So, looking back at 2019, I had exactly one "cruise" I remember: a somewhat regular annual outing where I sail across one of the lakes here in the afternoon to a friend's house, join a party with great food and even better friends, and sail back at night - often accompanied by one or the other adventurous soul from the party who likes to join me for some night sailing. About six miles in either direction in early August. Lake winds tend to be weak and fluctuating then, so it's always a challenge to get there before the wind dies around sunset, and back with enough wind to cover most of the open water so that we need to use the batteries for the electric motor only in the channel and some spots along the way that don't ever seem to get wind at night. This year, we had to motor quite a bit into the open lake to get any breeze at all for the return, but then we managed the remainder within the action radius of the battery.

(I'm using an EP Carry, which has a battery that nominally lasts 1hr at a speed ~3kn, so I get more or less 3nm range: the battery is so light, that I take it out of the boat to recharge if I dock for a bit as I did that night).

There are enough lights on shore to make it possible to see the water, and to see wind ripples and gusts. This year, we had a 3/4 moon in addition. In contrast to the daytime, where motorboats tend to churn the waters, we "own" the lake when we sail at night, and rarely see another boat or vessel. I love night sailing like that and it's always one of the highlights of the year.

Reflection.jpg (40.25 KiB) Viewed 2302 times

Re: Best cruise of the season?

PostPosted: Thu Jan 02, 2020 3:17 pm
by tomodda
GL and DS Folk:

Happy Gregorian Calendar New Years! Thank you for the tale of your night cruise, sounds like it was wonderful and I need to try night sailing. Usually I avoid, come running back to the ramp/dock by sunset, I should stop being such a chicken (and get some nav lights). Also, I thought that by "cruise," you meant staying on-boat or in tent overnight. If long daysails are permitted, I'll tell you about my cruise around Gwynn Island, Virginia.

Gwynn Island is right at the mouth of one of my old favorite sailing grounds - the Piankatank River on the Western Shore of the Chesapeake, roughly halfway between the Potomac and Norfolk. Beautiful Tidewater scenery, friendly locals, great food, good winds, and a variety of local waters to play around in. There's everything from a protected harbor behind the island to the open Bay, with just the right amount of other boats to see and soft sandbanks to dodge around. I.e. I ran aground a lot, but it was all just a matter of "Oh, look, the centerboard handle moved, I guess we'd better come about!". I spent a wonderful 4-day weekend there with my adult son right at the end of October, leaves were still turning colors adding to the beauty. Each day was special, but the best was the day we decided to circumnavigate the Island, "just becuz."

If you take a look at a map, you'll see it's about 9 miles around the island, but adding up all the tacks and doglegs, it was nearly 20 miles and a full day's sailing. We started the day by gliding out of Milford Haven and thru the swing bridge - under sail. I was happy that the bridge-tender let us sail through (usually frowned upon), but the truth is that we were probably going faster than my little EP Carry motor would have taken us anyway! Once thru into the mouth of the river, we began a steady beat out to the open Bay - a 3 foot steep chop made things interesting. But the DS behaved beautifully under full sail in 15 knot East winds, steady in strength but backing north. Once my son learned to trust her (and me!) he was hiking out nicely and helping to keep her on her lines. Nevertheless, it was too wet for me to use my smartphone GPS and I didn't have a chart, so I was navigating by sight alone. No problem getting out to the Bay, but I probably took more tacks than I needed to. Basically we hauled across the river until either of us thought that the water looked suspiciously lighter and then tacked, I didn't want to hit the shoals in that chop! The annoying thing is that I used to know those waters by heart, but that was 40 years ago... There's something wonderful in sailing on water that you can navigate like your own front door, I'm slowly getting that way with my local lake.

The reward for all our efforts was a nice broad reach across the Bay side of the island, admiring the million-dollar houses. To my surprise, no chop, that was all caused by the "funnel" effect at the mouth of the river, the Bay was smooth sailing. Relax, break out the beer, try and get our bearings for the tricky turn around the bottom of the island. The south end of Gwyn Island has several miles of sand islets and shoals, the way back thru to Milford Haven is ominously named "The Hole in the Wall." The inlet is an S-curve with no government markers and unknown currents, so was sure to be "fun." For the little it was worth, the chart showed that the beginning and end of the passage WERE marked with a "WC"' and a "WJ"' respectively, whatever those were - WC in particular didn't sound reassuring. But once we got down there, easy sailing and slack water. "WC" was an unlit iron post with a big white "C" on it, we managed to avoid the fish traps, fish "haven," and the finger of 2 foot shoals sticking into the Bay. WC even had a brother, WD, also unlit, but between the two they sort of pointed in the general direction of the first turn in the passage. Tricky, but nowhere near as bad as sailing the Florida Keys (and no bottomless mud). As we threaded along, we noticed a stick....with an upside down bait bucket bucket on it! Now that's mighty convenient.... Gawd bless the local watermen, is there a next one? a few hundred yards off to the south, there it was, we jibed over to it. And now? Nothing... we just pointed ourselves west towards the houses on the mainland-side and hoped not to hit anything. Where's WJ, are we out of this thing yet? Nothing but a big black post with something written on it, so we bore down on it. D-A-N-G-E-R... of what? Where were we? There were no warning markers on the chart when I looked at it earlier.... Then my son spotted it, a 12-inch high letter painted under the Danger sign - "J". This was it?!? The WJ marker that we'd been looking for all afternoon? Seriously? Kind of burying the lede here, no? Anyway, after a good laugh about having to almost hit the danger sign to see that it's really a navigation marker, we headed north. The wind had died down so we had a pleasant evening glide, zig-zagging home thru the well-marked shoals as the sun set.

Crabcakes and beer were waiting for us at the island's only restaurant, co-incidentally named "Hole in the Wall Grill." I asked one of the locals, "What's with the Danger marker at the south end of the Haven?" "Oh, the inlet is dangerous." "Huh, it wasn't too bad, I've just sailed it." "Yuh, you should see when you Summer Folk try to go thru there in a powerboat up on a plane!" OK, point taken, even if it was October. Anyway, nothing that day was really hairy, just enough to keep it interesting. Sailing Gwynn Island was plain good fun and the DS was perfect for it. Looking forward to next season!

Re: Best cruise of the season?

PostPosted: Thu Jan 02, 2020 7:51 pm
by GreenLake
Tom, very nice trip and trip report.

Here's a map for your readers to follow along.
Your "Hole-in-the-wall" appears to be just N of where this map says "Cricket Hill".
Gwynn3.jpg (20.53 KiB) Viewed 2302 times

And here's a chart I found:
Gwynn4.jpg (57.26 KiB) Viewed 2302 times

Re: Best cruise of the season?

PostPosted: Fri Jan 03, 2020 12:49 am
by tomodda
Hi GL:

Glad you've enjoyed my little tale. The "Hole in the Wall" is actually at the other end of the Island, by "Sandy Point" on the chart. What you see on the Street Map is the wonderful pub and grill where we ate, by the swing bridge. They also let us tie up at their docks all weekend, as it was the low season, and invited us for their after-work deck party the night we came in very late (after dark, which you so like!). Very nice people, from the owner to the youngest barback. Overall, was a great temporary homebase, right by the ramp. For what it's worth, here's a link to the google earth view of the inlet, it's the curving dark channel thru the shoals:

Zooming in on the north side of the channel, you can actually see the bait bucket marker, amazing (I'm easily amused):

In other news, here's the video which drew me back to the Piantank area after 40 years:

It's really a lovely area, very simple but good wind and (usually) sheltered sailing. The sandbars and spits keep the rollers from the Bay out - yes, you can get surfable waves on the Bayside in enough wind. I remember blasting around on a Hobie on the tail end of a hurricane in '79 or so, great fun! Anyway, if you live anywhere in the MidAtlantic, it's worth checking out one day.

Re: Best cruise of the season?

PostPosted: Fri Jan 03, 2020 3:57 am
by GreenLake
Tom, having an island to round always makes it a good cruise and tying up for food in the middle makes it perfect!

Re: Best cruise of the season?

PostPosted: Sat Jul 04, 2020 11:00 am
by BlackPirate
Just a newbie. Nice write up and thank you for sharing. It really inspires me and might try night sailing. I'm pleased to watch the video, too :idea:

Re: Best cruise of the season?

PostPosted: Sat Jul 04, 2020 3:06 pm
by GreenLake
@blackpirate why not share something about your "first cruise" - either here or in a new topic? There are quite a number of people who are new to the DS or new to sailing this year, so this may be a good time for this topic. It's not about winning a prize but perhaps inspiration?