The West River Sailing Club Autumnal Equinox cruise involved a number of firsts for Red Ranger. It's difficult to count the number of firsts we enjoyed.
The first of the firsts was visiting Harrison Creek and Dun Cove. This is about two miles north of Knapp's Narrows. It's quiet, and secluded. We're grateful for the recommendation as a cruising destination. We'll be back.
Rather than move Red Ranger nearer to town, we took the dinghy down to Knapp's Narrows and the village of Tilghman. Two miles by dinghy in flat conditions was fun. If the wind had picked up, this would have been a long, wet mess.
This was our first visit to Tilghman and it was a delight. Lunch at Marker Five was excellent, and the price for fuel on the other side of the narrows made the dinghy ride even more valuable.
The town is (of course) cute. It's also microscopic. We saw two restaurants — Characters and Marker Five — a small marina, some commercial wharves for the watermen, and a gas station. The buildings seem to be a mixture of newer vacation homes and older, traditional houses. We didn't look very hard, and we're certainly going back to take a more thorough survey.
The Kronsberg Park Tower wasn't our fist mysterious structure. It was, however, our first mystery on Tilghman Island.
We had a number of theories to explain this structure. All were proven wrong when we finally checked WBOC's web site for information on the tower. The mystery is much more exciting than the reality.
Hint. Note the four doors on the side of the tower. They have knobs. And they have hooks so they can be held open.
There are no steps or platforms. Weird, right? What kind of giant can use the top 7' tall door that's almost 21' off the ground?
And no, I won't reveal the mystery here.
One of Red Ranger's sailing firsts was to sail off the anchor. We watched another boat hoist their mains'l while at anchor, haul in the anchor, and sail away. Because the cove is large, and there were few boats, and only 6-8 knots of breeze, we decided to try this, also.
We have a mizzen, which makes it very easy to turn her and sail away from the anchorage. Pushing the mizzen rotates the boat. She's remarkably responsive to the twisting moment of this sail. The gentle drift generated by the mizzen is only about one knot in six knots of wind. I think this is too slow for the rudder to have much impact on direction. The mizzen, however, steers nicely.
CA's personal first was nabbing four mylar balloons in the Bay on the trip back.
We treat balloons in the water as an MOB drill. We have a passionate dislike for balloons released into the wild. Plastics in general cause a great deal of harm, and balloons in particular are dangerous to the Bay. Here's an article from the U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service on balloons and wildlife.
Another important Red Ranger first was raising the main. This does sound a little crazy. It's true that ketches handle well under heads'l and mizzen: we call it the the jib and jigger rig. I'm talking about something else on this trip. For the past eight years, we've used the engine to hold Red Ranger into the wind when raising the main. We've read about using the mizzen for this, but never actually tried it before. With light breezes and plenty of room to maneuver in the Choptank, it turns out that the mizzen does better at steering into the wind than CA does.
We also tried another experiment on Red Ranger. We invented the "shabby traveler." The Whitby was not designed for a conventional square bimini covering the whole cockpit. The main sheet's anchor point requires a semi-circular bimini.
Many boats have travelers, but Whitbys have an aft cabin hatch, and the traveler would block access. A removable traveler is an expensive option.
We have a cleat that's more-or-less under the boom. I think it was intended for handling the running backstays. Our boom vang is a removable four-part block and tackle that can be used to pull the middle of the boom down to the toe rail. Or. It can be used at the end of the boom on the cleat. With a big snap shackle, the main sheet can be removed, eliminating pressure (and chafe) on the bimini when running downwind.
Of course, gybing is complicated. Need I say more? It's a challenge on any big boat.
Sunset on the Dun Cove on the 2017 equinox.