The West River Sailing Club Labor Day cruise involved a parade of rain showers on Saturday, leaving a lot boats on the dock. We ventured out Friday and learned a new word: "dog-stopping."
The cruise had two destinations. We'd been told about La Trappe creek. "Lovely," "Quiet." Those sorts of things. But we'd never been there before. This was our plan, lead a cruise to a place we've never seen.
We lived aboard Red Ranger for two years. We visited a lot of spots with no more preparation than a recommendation in an out-of-date ICW guide book. We ran aground in a few places. I blame the tides in North Florida for most — but not all — of my groundings.
As with many places on the Chesapeake, the understatements on the charts are hilarious. Our favorite understatement is the Reedville stack. The chart says "Stack." It should say "STACK!!!" The Reedville stack is an immense, hard-to-believe thing.
The entrance to La Trappe creek has a prosaic little 'Fl G 4s 21ft 4M "1"' As of it's just a simple red day board. The only hint of the insanity is the little "21 ft".
This turned into one of those "No you give me the binocular" situations.
There's a bend in the Choptank around a shoal that's charted at 15 feet; irrelevant for our boat. But. Of course, you never really know. Other boats are cutting inside red "18" and red "18A". When we spotted the La Trappe green "1", the concern about the exact depth inside the reds evaporated into a fight over what we're really seeing there.
There are two huge boilers standing on rock piles with day boards to mark the entrance. The cartographers really need something other than a little magenta splash or a little circle with a dot.
We have detailed bathymetric views on our chart plotter, so we could find the 10' deep channel without any difficulty. It's surprisingly close to the red, but otherwise easy to follow.
Saturday was knitting day. CA and Diane had brought their knitting. We had Cokie Roberts' Ladies of Liberty on the audio book reader, and plenty of coffee. The creek is beautiful. But it was cold and rainy. And someone forgot their wooly socks.
Sunday, the weather was a delight. The wind was out of the NW falling from 10-ish to 5-ish through the afternoon. We moved Red Ranger to Plaindealing creek, across the Tred Avon from Oxford. This is quiet and secure. We've been here before, and we like anchoring close to the mouth of the creek.
We launched the dinghy and darted across the river to visit Oxford. This was our first visit, and we oohed and aahed over everything.
In the afternoon, Hot Chocolate checked in when they started across the bay. Later we heard they were dog-stopping in Oxford. When we met Dupree — wearing his collar of shame — it became clear what Dog Stopping meant: tie Hot Chocolate off at the T-head by the ferry terminal, take Dupree around the park for his stop, and then back out to anchor.
Monday, the winds started at a pleasant 10 knots, blowing from the west. Since we had guests to meet, we left Plaindealing creek at 8:00 AM. With wind on the nose, we motored down the Choptank. Out in the Bay, the wind had backed into the SW, and was fair for sailing back to Herring Bay. Since the wind was dropping and we had a schedule, we motored.
We learned a number of useful lessons. First, we need to watch out for double-booking our weekends. We missed sailing Monday morning because we had a schedule. Second, we need to be sure our hors d'oeuvres are scalable from one boat to many boats. Cindy Ann has an idea for multi-part hors d'oeuvres. I'm hoping for some test-flights. Third, I realized that while it's still technically summer, the nights can be chilly and my fleece socks need to be kept on the boat.
Finally, we learned what "dog stopping" is. We enjoyed Oxford, and we'll need to do more dog stopping there on future cruises.