The faint beginnings of a double rainbow can be seen here off the Chesapeake entrance. The main rainbow was an entirely unbroken arc spanning the horizon.
There’s just something about arriving in a port you intend to spend quite a long time in that gives a sense of tremendous satisfaction and accomplishment.
Unfortunately arriving in Ocean City, MD was almost the opposite.
After departing Beaufort I’d intended to anchor in Mobjack Bay, off the southern Chesapeake Bay. I departed in light winds which were forecast to strengthen, and after a long night tacking in gentle puffs to windward I was able to clear Cape Lookout Shoals and head northeast again. After a hard storm, in which I saw the wind do a complete 360 degree circle, the sky cleared and a beautiful, vivid full rainbow appeared. Just as it reached maximum brightness the faint beginnings of a second rainbow began to form at both ends of the horizon - I’d heard of but never seen a double rainbow before, so this was quite special.
Unfortunately just as I neared the entrance to the Chesapeake the wind dropped to zero with shifty puffs of not more than 3 knots coming from all directions. Even more unfortunately, it stayed that way for almost three days. With the heavy shipping in the area and the wind coming from the west, I did not want to risk the commercially congested entrance and the massive Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel with its strong currents between the trestles, so I did my best to stay offshore and keep making progress northeast. The next port of call which presented good opportunity was Ocean City, and it appeared that some of my online acquaintances from the Junk Rig Association would be able to visit if I called there, so I planned to stay over for a short while and see if they could show up.
The wind finally picked up again and I was able to make port in a stiff 25 knot onshore breeze, but even that wasn’t quite enough to make it in the channel against an incredible outflow current. I should note that this was about half an hour AFTER low tide, so the current should definitely have been slack or inbound. Not here - apparently it’s nearly always outbound. A little motor sailing in, though, and we made a good knot or two over ground, enough to solidly put us inside by midafternoon. Ocean City is unremarkable in general and the anchorage and facilities are not fantastic. I don’t recommend it.
Sad to say, my friends were unable to meet and I spent nearly a week wasting good wind, only to depart as the wind decided to ignore the forecast, shift horribly, and again die, coming back full force right on the nose as I neared Nantucket. The forecast wasn’t good at this point and so instead of spend the effort to go into some port (and likely arrive right as the wind got better) I decided to stay outside and wait it out. This proved to be a good choice as the wind remained frustratingly difficult for the next week, and it took quite a bit of effort to make any progress at all against the shifts and massive current rips off Cape Cod. After I was well clear of the cape the wind returned.
At this point I had a serious decision to make. Do I stick with my plan and head into Maine for some coastal cruising or do I continue north and visit Nova Scotia? Well, the wind made that decision easy and at about the point where I had to choose it shifted west and increased in speed, meaning I either had a nasty beat to Maine or a fairly easy reach to Nova Scotia. Boom, decision made.
Naturally, that wasn’t the end of the story. After committing to the new course and spending 18 hours on a perfect 6+ knot romp, the wind again died. I had a lovely opportunity to drift in thick fog for three days off the coast of Nova Scotia as fishing boats and commercial ships plied the coastline. One of the things I noticed about Canadian coastal traffic as opposed to US and Caribbean/Gulf operations is the near-total use of AIS. Perhaps the fog and other hazards make it more necessary, but I was tremendously relieved to find not a single fishing vessel in my area without it. Also, everyone was without exception friendly and courteous on the radio and the fishing boats paid attention to me and worked with me to coordinate safe passage, both in the fog and at night. I’m very impressed.
The wind remained light but began to build gradually and I picked up speed towards Lunenburg, my intended port of entry. As usual, though, once I closed the coast and began navigating near the outlying islands the wind began to slack off. As I entered Lunenburg bay, it went northwest and dropped to 5kt. This was directly on the nose, and so light that my tacking angles were not favorable. I chose to motor-sail the last 5 miles in, going about 1kt to save battery power and increase my motoring range (remember, I have an electric motor onboard and so am range limited to the charge in the batteries). I silently glided into Lunenburg harbor after a full night spent hand-steering up the bay ghosting along. What a beautiful town to see as the mist cleared and the sun rose! I cleared customs at a local dock and then dropped anchor in the middle of the harbor to take a well-earned nap.
At long last I felt that sense of accomplishment.
I should make a few notes about the junk rig, as these two passages comprised quite a lot of light air and windward work together. I’m still a complete neophyte at this rig and am learning each time I sail how to get more out of it. My experience was that I need to work on speed to windward - I was easily able to get a good pointing angle, but my speed was not great, and this comes down to tweaking the sheeting angles and managing twist and reefing balance. I also noticed that my wind vane needed some serious tuning - a screw had come loose which caused the vane and the rudder to get “sloppy” and so the vane was not doing a good job of holding course. Unfortunately I didn’t realize this until I arrived in Lunenburg, but it would have helped significantly in my quest for windward speed. Also, I did not have any telltales on the sails to help with visualizing the airflow. I’ve added them now, and hope that they will help on subsequent passages.
Nevertheless, I was able to make slow but steady progress to windward when I was not fighting significant adverse currents, and thus even in light airs over several day I did end up working my way around Cape Cod in adverse winds. As a result, and since I wasn’t able to get the ketch rig to do this well in the Gulf of Mexico, I still see the Junk Rig as being superior for my sailing style and needs than the old rig. So everything I said about my new rig in the previous post holds true - it is really an improvement for the boat. I should also note that by now I have over 1000 NM on the new rig and would definitely rate it as suitable for long passages without question, so that helps me feel more confident in the work I put into ALETHEIA as well as my understanding of the junk rig itself. Are there a few tweaks I’d make? Sure. But overall, it’s definitely a useable rig.
I ended up spending a very wonderful week in Lunenburg, including a meetup with other junk rig cruisers where I learned many new tricks and made some great new friends. I’ll cover this lovely town in the next post.