Sunday, October 31, 2010

Almost Made it as a Candidate for the Darwin Award

It was a blustery day on the Bay today (Friday). Thierry and I came aboard Curlew on Wednesday and took her out on Thursday, figuring this will be our last sail of the season. The temperature was still a balmy 70, and we had a good wind enabling us to sail down the Patapsco River and the Bay, We anchored in a quiet spot on the Rhode River just south of Annapolis and were able to enjoy a beautiful sunset.
We left the anchorage around noon this morning and headed east to the Wye River. Tomorrow we go on to St. Michaels where we will meet some friends who are driving down for the weekend.

Today the winds averaged 25 knots, with gusts over 30. The skies were an incredible blue, laced with puffy white clouds. The winds were from the NE, and the waves were pushing 4 ft and steep; high for the Bay. As we were crossing the Bay, we noticed a very large sailboat heading north. Thierry thought that she was a racer and wondered if there was a race going on. Before too long, the boat got closer – and closer. She looked to be about 60’ or so; black hulled with white stripes angled on either side of her bow. She flew huge Mylar, high-tech sails and had a crew of about 15, most of which were hanging over her port side as she made her way north.

We were on broad reach with the wind on our starboard quarter. The approaching boat was on a port tack – all this meaning we had the right of way. The racer was making incredible headway, and seemed to come up to our starboard side in a matter of minutes. Thierry seemed to think she was going to pass behind us – but from where I was sitting, this boat looked like she was going to hit us.

So, what did we do, I grabbed my cell phone to take pictures and Thierry went below to get the camera. Here we both are, cameras in hand watching this boat gain on Curlew – Thierry saying, well we have right of way and there really is nothing we can do! The racer was flying, literally- Thierry said she was planning, meaning her bow was out of the water, spray flying everywhere. We were so close I could see the expression on all of their faces – none of which looked panicked, annoyed (that we were in their way), or in any way interested in the two idiots standing on deck trying to take pictures.

Several thoughts ran through my head – the main one was: So when they recover our bodies, will someone comment on the fact that we were standing there taking pictures when we went down? Would they find the cameras which would show the point of impact? I really didn’t see how they could miss our stern. Oddly enough, I wasn’t afraid, but I sure felt like a bit of a dope. It made me think of those people who take pictures of natural disasters like tornados. Can you imagine standing there being pelted with 100 mph winds, hail and debris, taking videos of a tornado so you can get it shown on the local news? My next thought was – so I guess this is how one becomes qualified to win the Darwin award; too stupid to avert danger!

Obviously, since I am writing this, we came out of the incident unscathed. But if you could have seen how close this boat was and how fast they were moving – I don’t think they passed more than a few feet behind Curlew. You could hear the loud roar of their sails and feel the spray from their boat. It was amazing. As it goes, I never did get a decent picture because I had sunglasses on and couldn’t see to shoot. Thierry got a few as she approached and after she passed us. I have since learned where the video buttons are – so I’ll be ready next time!

It is now Sunday evening, and since I hadn’t posted yet, decided to finish out the weekend.

We spent Friday night in Dividing Creek off the Wye River. This is a very secluded and scenic anchorage. On Saturday morning we left for St. Michaels where we arrived about 11:30 a.m. We ate lunch aboard and headed into town around 1:00. Our timing was perfect, as our friends from Philly, Barbara and Barry, arrived around the same time, having driven down that morning. We met them later in the evening for dinner. Today they came aboard and we had a nice motor down the Miles River and a great sail back to St. Michaels. The winds were 25 knots gusting to 30 from the NW, so we plowed through on the northern leg of the trip. Fortunately the sun was blazing, so it kept the temperatures at a very comfortable 60+ degrees.

When we got back to the anchorage, we left for town and had a fun time at Ava’s Wine Bar where we had drinks and dinner and great conversation with a variety of bar partrons. Now, back on board, we are hoping that the winds die down enough tomorrow to make our 45-mile trip back to Baltimore bearable.

It has been an incredible  and very fun couple of days!
PS: I got a call this week from the pharmacy company who will be sending me my drugs. All I have to do is call each time I need a refill – and there is no co-pay! Now I just have to figure out how to overcome all the side effects But, as Christopher Hitchins just said in a recent interview on NPR: because the drugs are so toxic, they must be killing something – hopefully it is the cancer and not the rest of me.


Lisa Ruff said...

I haven't particularly missed sailing this year. Except for talking to you Friday and reading this blog. I LOVE this time of the year on the Bay. I'm so glad you had such a wonderful time, 'cause I was definitely living vicariously on this one.

Marybeth said...

Exact same ditto for me. I loved reading this blog and knowing that you and Thierry made it out sailing once again. My heart sank a little to realize that Jack and I never made it out this summer. A tuff summer indeed. I am still trying to deal with what happened. But so happy for you - good luck with the new medicine. Plus, watch out next summer - we now have roller furling!!!!!