We are supposed to be in downtown Annapolis, on the dock for a few days, doing chores and having a few technicians visit. But then we were uncomfortable after a phone dialogue with the marina dock master – he was a shade too casual about handling our lines in a very tight space with a building breeze – and we decided to anchor.
Our Simrad nav system has been having a brain fade and a new central processing unit is waiting on shore. We arranged to have it delivered to a nearby dock, and now launch the dinghy to pick it up. Cochise is sitting calmly, but the dinghy is not nearly as composed in what is much larger chop from the RIB’s perspective. In the 30 minutes it takes to make our rendezvous and return, the breeze and sea have picked up and the sky has taken on a look that holds a clear message. The Annapolis anchorage is wide open to the south and southeast, and we’d best be finding a protected location.
The breeze is up to 30 knots now in the gusts, and the waves in the three foot range. There are just the two of us aboard, and you would think bringing the 16’ RIB alongside and getting it secured on deck might be difficult. This is precisely why we have been so obsessed with getting the handling system just right over the past year.
Linda is standing forward at the corner of Cochise’s house, holding the end of the dinghy painter leash. This has a Wichard snap shackle at the end which can be operated with one hand. Linda handing it to me saves a few precious seconds compared to the usual method of grabbing it from dinghy level, giving me time to connect the leash to the dinghy’s painter before the dinghy bow blows off. While I drift aft along Cochise’s topsides Linda makes her way aft.
She is on the swim step now, ready to take the stern line as the RIB settles back in line with the lifting halyard. I toss her the stern line and she drops the loop in the end over the forward gate stanchion. With the dinghy now alongside, I hook up the lifting bridle to the halyard snap shackle – it is always attached – and using the stern line pull the dink close and cross over to Cochise’s swim step. Keep in mind the wind and sea state. So far everything has gone smoothly.
As I climb the stairs to the main deck Linda is already tightening the lifting halyard, raising the dinghy enough to keep it just out of the waves. The precisely measured bow and stern lines control the dink as it lifts, limiting its ability to swing.
Hoisting automatically stops at a pre-determined height, sufficient to clear the lifelines, after which the boom control traveler is hauled in, moving the dinghy inboard.
A traveler track control system is positioned so the boom will stop slightly inboard where we want the dinghy to end up.
As the dinghy is lowered, both bow and stern are in contact with vertical pipes as a result of the boom position. Against the aluminum pipes it cannot rotate, and drops docilely onto the waiting supports. Two preset tackles hold the dinghy in place.
Time from coming alongside to getting underway: five minutes.
The sun is setting as we move a few miles to the protection of Whitehall Creek. It has a tight, twisting, shallow entry. We arrive in the dark. But we have been in before and have a track to follow. We find a protected spot between markers seven and eight…
…with room to swing 360 degrees, and we settle down for the night. It blows 55 knots, with intermittent rain squalls.
Sunrise is exquisite, calm, with a hint of fog on the water’s surface.
There are lovely homes surrounding us.
And leaves are beginning to change color.
Noisy honking of departing water fowl sends a clear message – fall is on the way.
The weather remains calm, warm during the day, and clear at night.
There are all manner of creatures to watch and photograph.
From majestic bald eagles…
…to high flying vultures.
And too many ducks and geese to count.
We are visited by friends from a bygone era, back when we cruised together so our respective progeny could entertain themselves while we earnestly discussed the important topics of those days: wind vanes, refrigeration, and the next radio schedule. Can it really be true that those same young children now have children of their own, who are in college?
It has now been four days. The Simrad CPU is installed (a one hour job that took us all day – but that is another story), the engine room has been checked, and we have even done a few projects. But mostly we have been sitting, watching, enjoying. We have not yet bothered to launch a dinghy.
The surroundings are lovely to be sure, but there could be something interesting down the bay…