We had gotten and early and started heading down the Rappahanock River approaching Stingray point. We have been on a beam reach running with the tide. We were making good time but the tide was going slack and when we rounded the point we would be beating to windward against a strong tide. Sure enough when we rounded the point we found ourselves beating against four to five foot waves though I guessed the waves would lengthen out some as we beat across the bay. The temperature was rising and it was beginning to rain.
“Getting a cold front?” Georgene commented or asked, it was kind of hard to tell which. She has a way of confusing me by making a statement with the inflection of a question. My answer is usually to mumble something and that's what I did.
“ Well arn't you going to answer my Question? She asked while staring at me. Now I had something I could work with now and said. “ Yeah it's on its way, the wind has been picking up and it's blowing toward the North so it's traveling a long the front. If you look up through those holes in the clouds there are clouds up high traveling west to east. See 'em there really moving and they are wispy looking. Up at that hight the front is really close. I'm going back into Deltaville, I'll change tacks pretty soon. I hope we get in before the front gets here. The front from the looks of those high clouds must be moving thirty knots and if there are any twenty knot gust in thunderstorms we could easy get fifty knots in the puffs.
This is a really good spot to complain about the sorry Noah weather report on the Marine FM radio. You used to be able to tune in a get some weather when ever you want. Well they decided it cost to much to just give weather to boat captains. Now they give us the mountains, the valley, Middle state forecast, Washington DC, Richmond and Hampton Norfolk. By the time they get to Stingray Point or where ever else I may be. I have forgotten that I am listening to the weather, become interested in two seagulls courting and forget to listen. Rather than go through it all again I usually turn it off.
I can usually predict the weather about a day in advance and its about 50% right which is about as good as a wild guess. So for that I like a good professional forecast. A six hour forecast by me is usually right. For that I will also take a forecast but if they are predicting something different the me, I use mine. After all I'm where the weather is going to be and they may well be five hundred miles away.
We decided to come about and head for the Hole in the wall at the south end of Gwens Island, I figured that might bring us into the Piankitank River five miles to the north of the Hole. We beat hard that way for a couple hours making little headway. The waves were running a good five feet and many were breaking. The wind was blowing at lest twenty Five knots and sometime gust higher. Woftrap was staggering under two much canvas. She would go through a wave break out of it and drive into the bottom of the next one. The waves would slap her under her bowsprit before she would rise to near the top and crash on through. Our port lights on the lee side were under water so there was nothing left to do but reef. As usual I had waited longer than was prudent. I reefed the foresail first with a double reef, then reefed the main with a single reef and now we were riding a little more comfortably and I got out on the bowsprit and reefed the jib. Even so with on one big wave that come up from underneath me I quickly wrapped my legs around the Sprite and both stays. I hooked my feet into each other and hung on. I realized I was going to get dunked so I lay forward and wrapped my arms around the Sprite and hung on tight. Sure enough I went completely under and I mean way under. When I came up I saw water pouring off the side decks. The sail was wet a foot over my head when I sat up. It wouldn'heeling have made any difference whether I lay down on the Sprite or not the water would have went over me anyway and I might have wound up hanging upside down under the sprit. There is know way I would have let go with my feet. When I got back to the cockpit Georgene was pale as a ghost. She said she thought I was gone.
I went below dried off and changed cloths and was back up in a few minutes. We were riding quite well and was pushing up on Stinray Point again. We had made almost no headway at all. We were sailing toward Cherry point on the north end of Gwens Island but there was now a big difference. The wind was coming off the shallow waters just off the island and the waves were now smaller. I dawned on me that the tide was starting out along the western shore. It was coming across the sandbar on the inshore side of Stingray light and we were now driving through shorter but steep sided waves. Even so we were now making good time.
We changed our course more westerly and we were running pretty much free and headed for the End of Stove Point. In protected waters the waves were about one foot and we were really moving we went past a can buoy like like a horse with a burr under his tail. The sandbar that runs off of stingray point has a place about a third the way out that is a little deeper and we cut through it with somebody yelling on the radio not to cut the buoy short. I think it was someone in one of the shore homes at the end of the point.
We were healing pretty good so we were able to slither over the bar without a bump. We sailed up the river a hundred yards rounded a day marker and headed into Fishing bay. I dropped the foresail and we came in on main and jib.
Then came the front and it blew in with a vengeance. Sand, leaves and shore dabre landed around us. We had eased the sheets and beat somewhat into the wind with a fair amount of sail flapping. When the first blast got through then headed on in not to far from anther boat and dropped both hooks.
Come morning we motored in to Ruark's Marina tide up along the face dock and spent a couple days talking to and eating with old friends we had sailed in company with for twenty years.
Everyone liked our new schooner rig. Cat yawl rigs in that part of the world were looked on with complete mistrust. Everyone always wanted to know why the boat didn't have a jib? Or I bet she'd be faster with a jib. Of course that's true most likely, as it's been my feeling that if you add more sail you go faster.
Of course that's a lot of the reason I like schooners and ketches. You can carry five sails on either one. A sloop sailor when told that, will always say WAAL, sure if you add more sail you'll go faster. Da
That exactly being my point, I never know what to say to that.