Testing the waters

Testing the waters

It’s been another busy few weeks. We got a few more projects accomplished on the boat, made it to the Maryland DNR to get our registration and title. Next on the list is a towing membership, U.S Coast Guard Safety checked and Coast Guard documented.

Although none of these are mandatory, we’ve decided, don’t leave home (port) without one of these in particular. Towing protection. At the rate we run aground, it will save thousands of dollars if we need towed a time, or ten. This is one of those “It is better to have it and not need it, than need it and not have it” things in life.  The U.S Coast Guard provides the vessel safety check for free. If our boat meets federal safety standards, and we have all required equipment, we will get Coast Guard approval and a safety sticker. Why not? We want the comfort of knowing our boat is safe and know if an emergency arises we will have all necessary equipment to save us or, request help if needed. 

Having the boat Coast Guard documented is very important as we will need this once we leave the United States. It isn’t a need, but will give clearance with foreign governments and give us the status and protection of a U.S flag vessel.  It was time to start “testing the waters” with our current setup.

After studying the charts and countless sailing books, we were on a mission to try making “the cut” through Pleasure Island to Hart-Miller Island again. We borrowed an anchor from our friend, Debbie (since I lost ours in the bay) and sailed on out.

This time with both paper and electronic nautical charts in hand (and a better understanding of them) we  can successfully maneuver through the channel. We realized (and after reviewing the charts with Robin and John before leaving port) when we attempted this channel before, we were too far to the starboard side of the island, which caused us to run aground. User error. We are learning from our mistakes and can hopefully manage to not run aground again.   Red. Right. Return. It is the rule to getting through ANY channel. Noted.

Once we made it through the cut we found a quiet place to anchor near the beach and spent the night with peaceful light winds and waves while we studied up on sailing some more.  After spending the night at Hart-Miller Island we decided to sail over to the Magothy River to find Dobbins Island. It was a highly recommended anchorage by John (who knows almost anything and everything about sailing). Plus, we needed more practice and had some good winds out.  While the racers would consider this not enough winds for sailing, 4 knots is ok with us. It’s just enough to get us moving without overpowering us while we’re figuring out what we are doing. After our experience with our “accidental storm“, I am perfectly happy with sailing in 4-6 knot winds for now.

It took us several hours to get there. We successfully made it through the channel with no issues. We grabbed our first mooring ball and spent the evening enjoying dinner with an amazing view of the little beach. We only had a few other sailboats anchored nearby and a few power boat tied together, playing some music. Some of them did have some great singing skills. I was quite impressed. Once the party crowd left, we found it to be a very peaceful night while reading through the sailing “bibles”. 

Of all the books we now have, I’ve found my favorite one is Nigel Calder’s Cruising Handbook (given by another John at Phil’s boat-yard). It has a world of information, tips and resources for sailing. I highly recommend this book to anyone interesting in sailing. 

Our next destination, Rock Hall. The winds were moderately light this day, taking up most of the day to get the 10 nautical miles to the eastern shore. We anchored to the city dock and took the local Tram into town to do some provisioning. We ended up tieing up here for the night and enjoying some great scenery of the quaint peaceful town.  Being out and away from port in the sailboat allowed us to test out our battery systems and prepare her for longer voyages. So far, we have been able to stay out three days without losing power, or running out of water. Luckily our engine (when motor sailing) also provides a power supply back to our house bank, as well as a few small solar panels we have.  With our current setup we are able to keep all of our electronics charged, use our cabin and running lights at night, have water, and our bilge pump is ready. We do plan to change our lights over to LED soon, which will consume far less power and add another larger solar panel to make sure we don’t find ourselves with no means of communication.  Mainly, we need be able to work remotely. Being able to keep a clear cellular signal most times is our main concern at this point. I’ve grown quite fond of our electronic charts as well and don’t see a future without having them in hands at all times, if possible. If Christopher Columbus had electronics, I’m certain he would’ve used them too! He would’ve texted everyone back home saying “Hey, I didn’t drop off the earth lol”. 

This has been a learning experience for us both. A wise man once said… There are three types of sailors.. Those who have run aground, those who haven’t run aground yet, and liars. We are making progress learning the charts, navigation, nautical terminology and managing to not run aground again yet, so far.


“Experience without theory is blind, but theory without experience is mere intellectual play”.  ~Immanuel Kant