What the Hail! – 5/2/16

First of All –

  • First time at a marina that provides complimentary continental breakfast
  • First time seeing the sun in 5 days
  • First hail experienced on the boat, ever
  • First time rain has filled the dinghy above the level of the inflated floor

Namely Speaking-

  • Poplar Island
  • Bloody Point
  • Wye River
  • St. Michaels

Loop Log:

  • Miles Cruised today: Power: 20; Sail: Motor sailed with main and jib 1 hour
  • Total Miles Cruised to date: 4,500
  • Hours Underway: 3 1/2
  • Fuel: NA
  • Morning House Battery Reading: 13.4 (plugged in)
  • Wind Speed: 8; Wind Direction: E
  • Daily High Temperature: 80
  • Water Temperature: 58

DSCF2972A light fog lays over the Narrows and surrounding waters this morning. We’re not going far today, so we take the time to walk up to the marina lounge and enjoy their complimentary continental breakfast. Dock lines are uncleated by 9am. I have navigation lights on, since fog still limits good visibility to less than a mile. The seas are calm, with just the slightest breeze out of the east. The only boats we see out there are a few working boats. They’re working the bottom for clams, using a siphon tube and a long, angled conveyor belt. I raise the main and unfurl the genoa, and we briefly sail with the engine off, but when our speed drops below 4 mph we add engine power, trying to keep above 5mph. With the help from the sails, the engine only needs to turn at 2000 rpm, and with things so quiet, I’m able to play some CD’s on the stereo. It’s a most pleasant and relaxing way to cruise.

As we enter Miles River and near Tilghman Point the fog begins to lift and our visibility improves. However, the wind completely fails, so the sails come down andDSCF2975 we motor around the corner, toward St. Michaels. The sky continues to brighten as we tie up at St. Michaels Marina. We’re practically the only boat there. We heat up a tasty beef fajita lunch, using leftovers from a recent dinner. Following lunch we head up into town for an afternoon walk, under bright blue skies and cheerful, warm sunshine. This is the first time we’ve even seen the sun since leaving Yorktown. St. Michaels has a rich history, and the residential streets are lined with lovely homes, many of which are from the mid to late DSCF29801800’s. A few go back to the late 1700’s. During the War of 1812, boatyards at St. Michaels actively engaged in the construction of privateers which caused the British, who were based at nearby Tilghman Island, no end of trouble. Admiral Cochrane finally decided to do something about it, and sent a fleet over to destroy the place with a night naval bombardment. The townspeople were ready, however. They doused all lights in the houses, and then hung lit lanterns high up in some nearby trees. The British shot high and did virtually no damage. Ever since, St. Michaels has prided itself as the town that fooled the British. We enjoy strolling past the many quaint downtown shops, and then walk along a residential street toward a trailhead. The walking path is on a former rail line, and it passes through a pleasant mix of woodland and meadow, and it eventually leads us to a salt grass marsh and a small arm of salt water. This is the head of San Domingo Creek, a navigable branch of the Choptank River, and it’s used as a back door access to St. Michaels. We then walk back toward Talbot Street, which is the main street in town. We stop in at the St. Michaels Winery for a bit of wine tasting. Peter selects a bottle of wine he particularly likes. We also visit the brewery next door and sample a flight of their beers. On the way back to the boat we walk through historic St. Marys Square, where DSCF2987some of the oldest homes in St. Michaels are located. The little park features a small museum which is unfortunately only open on weekends. Cannons from the Revolutionary War and the War of 1812 are mounted on concrete stands in the park. Back at the boat Peter and Mary Ann pull the laundry together while I tend to boat chores. I fill the water tank, empty rainwater out of the dinghy, and lay sleeping bag, memory foam mattress topper and foam pad out onto the dock. My efforts to seal the port side foredeck leak have proven less than successful, and we’re still getting water into the boat when we pound heavy seas like we did a few days ago. It’s not too bad, and the late afternoon sun is sufficient to dry things out. Once chores are done we’re free to head for dinner. I’ve noticed that clouds are moving in, and the forecast calls for thunderstorms, so before walking over to the Town Dock Restaurant I set up the cockpit surround. About halfway through dinner we notice raindrops on the windows, and a little later, lightning begins to flash in the darkening sky. We hear thunder boom from inside the restaurant. We hurry back to the boat during a lull in the rain and climb aboard. We’re none too soon,DSCF2986 because the thunder and lightning are soon very close, and the rain is pounding down. We then hear sounds lik gravel being thrown against the cabin roof. Hail! The clatter increases in intensity. I decide to stick my hat outside the cockpit surround and try to catch some, to see how large it is. I climb into the cockpit, and the hail striking the bimini creates a noise so loud its like I’m inside a popcorn pan during the maximum rate of popping. I hold the hat outside for a minute or so, and then beat a hasty retreat to the shelter of the cabin. I’m amazed at the size of the hail stones I’ve caught. The largest ones are about 3/4″ in diameter. After the hail lets up, the wind hits us. We get roughly jerked around at our fixed dock, and it feels like we inside a washing machine during the agitation cycle. As all this is going on, a loud siren goes off, probably at the nearby fire station. This is likely a tornado alert, however, we’re not going anywhere. The storm lasts for another hour or so, before things ease down to a steady rain. Fog, overcast, blue skies and sunshine, thunder, lightning, rain and hail. Today we’ve had it all.

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