Chesapeake Bay Fall 2012


Left Lynchburg about 10:30 a.m. heading to Seaford, VA, to put SunShower in the water at Mills Marina on Back Creek. The trip was uneventful and the marina has a good ramp so launching was a snap. Other than the ramp, there is nothing good to be said about Mills Marina; it is on its last legs. I saw in the Chesapeake Guidebook that Hampton has a nice waterfront to visit so I drove over there this evening. But guess what, it is not readily accessible from the streets. I was amazed. There were no public lots and no discernible access points. Oh well, maybe by water sometime!


The weather forecast is for small craft warnings tomorrow so I decided to spend another night (reluctantly) at Mills Marina so I would have a car in case I could not sail in the morning. Since it was Saturday, I decided to go to a restaurant for breakfast. The choice was easy because at the intersection with Rt. 17 was Pop's Drive-in, filled with cars. When you enter, you just find a seat. I sat at a table for six with four other men. My end found me with an Air Force contractor who works at Langley and a guy who owns a landscaping business. Breakfast was so good I plan to go back Friday Morning before I head back to Lynchburg!

I sailed for five hours today around the entrances to Back Creek and the Poquoson River. It was delightful once I got a reef in with steady 15+ mph winds and two foot seas. Good start to the week! On Back Creek there is a scallop processing plant with a large fleet of ocean going vessels.

Later in the afternoon, I drove to Yorktown and walked around....need to get steps on my Fitbit!


Small Craft warnings were revised to expire by 1:00 p.m. so I went to Yorktown again to see how the wind and waves were on the York River and to walk, of course.

Yorktown Victory Monument
My conclusion was that I could sail up the York with no problem if the wind and waves out on the Bay around the south point of the river were not too bad. I left Back Creek after lunch and found that to be the case, motoring north to the mouth of the York. I then hoisted sail and had a delightful trip with the tide up the York to Sarah's Creek. I am most happy to say I am no longer in the marina ghetto. I am docked at the York River Yacht Haven, just had a wonderful dinner at their restaurant (crab cake on a fried green tomato with a brown sugar sauce, mashed potatoes and fresh green beans) and I'm writing this in the Captain's lounge!


Heading down the York River at 5-6 mph on a close reach with a reef in the sail and steady 15+ mph wind. Where to go? Cape Charles or south to Virginia Beach? Gee, I really like Cape Charles and with this wind I can make it across the Bay by 4:00 p.m. Hour later and wind is fluky, I really need to reconsider. How about Mobjack Bay...well, it would be a real hassle beating into these waves. But I can reach back up the York to that nice marina. Done! And a good decision it was because the wind shifted to the east and I finished the sail on a run! I didn't get to the destinations I had planned but it was a great day of sailing!


Leaving York River Yacht Haven with the Coleman Bridge in the distance.
SunShower reaching easily down the York once again, waves sloshing by her hull, blue sky with white puffy clouds, cool breeze on my cheek and I'm headed to Mobjack Bay. Not sure about racing sailors but days like this are what cruising sailors call heaven! Past the shoal beacon at the north entrance to the river beginning a wide arc into Mobjack Bay. I still have a reef in the sail from yesterday and I could take it out....but this is so nice and I'm making good progress. I remember the small marina Gretchen and I saw in Mobjack that we thought was a private club. However, the cruising guide says it is a public marina and they have transient slips. I call Compass Marina and Keith Jones ( not my cousin ) says he has a slip for two nights and gives me directions to follow into the marina channel. The channel even with directions keeps one guessing until the last minute when the entrance to the basin reveals itself, but I knew I would not have a problem because I could see the masts of very large sailboats at the docks. The marina is on a point at the entrance to the East River. It is a great facility in a beautiful setting in the village that gave the bay it's name...or was it the reverse? Walking around Mobjack this evening, the queue of mailboxes reveals 14 boxes with numbers so I assume there are 14 houses with full-time residents. The rest of the houses are vacation homes and the entire town is picturesque! If you visit, however, bring what you need on the boat because there are no stores or restaurants! Looking forward to sailing around Mojack Bay tomorrow!


A small craft advisory was posted for last night expiring by noon today but this morning the forecast was revised to 15 mph winds with 2-3 foot waves. Leaving the marina about 10 a.m., I found the wind blowing right up the river and the wave forecast was correct! When I hoisted the sail (still reefed) I soon discovered I did not have enough power for steerage. So I took the reef out and SunShower sprang to life! Two and a half hours of "power" beating south across the bay and then west to the Ware River where I was sheltered enough to eat lunch. I saw one other sailboat this morning and it was a Compac Suncat! Really, it was! Heading back out of the river I was on a "power" reach down the south side of the bay. About 2:30 p.m., the wind dialed back a bit and I had an easy run back across the bay to the East River. It was simply a grand day of sailing on Mobjack Bay!

SunShower in her slip at Compass Marina.
For some reason when I changed into my shorts this afternoon, I checked the steps on my Fitbit. Now, my walking today thus far was a few trips to the bathroom, a couple of hundred yards. But my Fitbit reading was 4,868 steps! I love this...I get lots of steps for a day of "power" sailing!


A glassy sheen is on the water as I motor out of the East River and head back to my car and trailer. Ripples fill in from the south so I raise the sail and test my progress; it's less than two miles per hour with the motor in idle. It has been a marvelous week with strong steady winds every other day of my trip, so I can't complain. However, I can motor the 12-14 miles to my destination at 5 mph arriving early afternoon. This gives me the option of getting SunShower out of the water ( will be low tide ) and heading for home, meaning I can avoid another night at the ghetto marina. It is not even a decision. SunShower came out of the water with ease and I was on my way home by 3:00 p.m. But, but, I will not be able to go back to Pop's tomorrow for breakfast! Oh we'll, it is a small sacrifice to make for my own bed at home.

I love the Chesapeake Bay, it is such a wonderful place. Today I sailed with a pod of at least 25 porpoises as I left Mobjack Bay! Last night I sat on the porch at the marina rental house watching the boats gliding by on the river as the sun painted a golden glow on the salt grasses. I'm sure I'll return spring and fall for years to come. Maybe I was a migratory creature in a previous life? ;-)



Thai Cooking Class

Thursday, heading north up Route 29 to attend a class at the Charlottesville Cooking School; Flavors of Thailand with Chef Ashley Clarke Brooks. The class is a Christmas present from my sister. Seven students arrive at 5:30 p.m. and Ashley begins by going over the menus showing us each ingredient and explaining its role in Thai cooking. Then she divides us into two groups based on how hot we like our food, shows us where the utensils are in the kitchen and turns us loose to cook.

Sarah and Wei
My group, Dan and his daughter Sarah and Wei, begin chopping, measuring, and pounding with a mortar and pestle to make red curry paste from scratch for the main dish, Chiang Mai Noodle Curry with Chicken Khao Soi Gai. We smell the fish and oyster sauce, the shrimp paste, and wonder how it is possible to blend these ingredients into a delicious dish? We are amazed how sweet palm sugar is, and how thick the coconut milk is. The curry is in the pot simmering and we are on to the spring rolls and salad. Dan is grilling the beef, Sarah and Wei are making the filling and I am preparing the dipping sauce. Time is passing...7:30 p.m. and we are getting hungry but we still need to make the coconut fried bananas for dessert!

Dan samples the curry.
Eight fifteen and the wait was worth it! The ingredients blended superbly and the red curry is wonderful! The dipping sauce for the spring rolls is unique and a group favorite. The spicy beef salad is a hit, a recipe everyone vows to make at home. A bite of dessert and it is nine o'clock and time to head back down the road to Lynchburg. What a fun night this has been. I learned a lot and look forward to making a red curry and the beef salad at home. Great gift Sally, thank you so much!

The way home is imprinted in me like a duckling to its mother from my years commuting to the University. But approaching Lovingston, I begin to smile remembering the many times my dad and I traveled this route on our way home from football games. I recall one night in particular when we realized in Madison Heights that we had not stopped at a red light since leaving the stadium. Could we make it home without stopping? Downtown Lynchburg is a go, Randolph College and all is green, Link Road and the tension is mounting with just one light to go. As we pass Krogers, the last light is green, will it stay that way? Yes, a cheer is yelled, we came all the way home without stopping at a light! It's a small victory but a fitting one on this night, the first time ever that UVA beat Florida State in a football game!
P.S. I really would like a gas cooking stove! Maybe we could put a second propane tank by the cellar door?




Seems to me like little football fans are more cute than ever!



Rolling along a mountain plateau

Lunch Spot on the Maury River
How would you like a bike route with an eight mile level roll on a mountain plateau followed by a seven mile downhill through a beautiful pass? That's the description of the middle section of the TOF Brother's 44 mile ride this week. We knew the ride along the Maury River through Goshen Pass was downhill and beautiful but we were all completely surprised by the level section between Interstate 64 and the town of Goshen. We averaged 18-20 mph on that stretch through a valley named "Little California"! Who named it that and why? I'm sure there is a story.

Of course, in Virginia, sections like the one described above always come with a price; in this case the 2000 foot climb west of Lexington during the first 15 miles of the ride to get up to the plateau! It was a great ride and one that we all think would be spectacular when the leaves change color in the fall.