I know, I know, you all want to hear about the storm and the dock goat... well, here's a photo of the damn dock goat...
and this is a photo of the little bastard about to eat my furling line... welcome to Reedsville, VA!
Ok, now about the storm - there are no photos. It was dark, and I was too busy saving my life to take video. Ok, maybe that's a bit of an exaggeration, but it WAS dark. Honest. Ok, it's a lot of an exaggeration, as in an Olympic gold medal whopper. However, just at sunset, about 20 miles outside of Annapolis, NOAA weather came on the radio with their 'Armaggedon' message. Basically, it's this - the weather is about to take a nasty poop, you had best bend over and kiss your butt goodbye because it's going to get nastier than you'll enjoy out there and why are you so stupid anyway?
So I looked up and yup - sure enough - there's a roll cloud coming out of the west. Picture a rolled carpet, with evil looking clouds behind it, lightning crackling every which way coming out of it, and moving towards you FAST.
Everything in front of it - i.e. the weather I HAD been enjoying, was a light grey. Everything behind it - the weather I was about to experience - was dark, broody, ugly, mean looking grey. You know, kind of like the look your ex-wife gives you when you suggest -well, when you suggest almost anything other than increasing her support.
The NOAA guy on the radio was telling those of us idiotic enough to be out on Chesapeake Bay at this time that 'winds of 20 to 30 miles per hour can be expected, with gusts to 40 mph'. He went on to describe 'cloud to ground lightning', thunderstorms ("winds and waves may be higher in thunderstorms"), gee, thanks for that bit of cheery news...and on and on. About the only thing that wasn't mentioned was fist sized hailstones. One must be grateful for whatever mercies the weather gods may choose, in their mercy, wisdom and kindness, to bestow. Do I sound cynical or what? Especially when they say 'Mariners should seek shelter'....right, and just where will I find shelter when I'm 10 or 20 miles from shore? According to Employment Stats, there are 80,000 comedians out of work. Where did they find this guy?
Ok - the truth? I wouldn't have even been there had I not gone to Reedsville (home of the damn dock goat), instead of carrying on to Solomon's Island, as was the plan. However, the dockside bar, Leadbelly's, has the world's best crab bisque ($7 for a big bowl) and it had been a couple of years since I'd feasted on it. The locals are friendly, if a bit - (HA!) - redneck and always good to chat with. (They must be redneck, they like goats...)
So, like a fool, I abandoned the 15 - 20 knot south winds that were blowing me cheerfully and quickly up the bay from Deltaville to head in to Reedsville, VA. Loved the soup, as good as ever. Tanya, the owner, told me she puts two pounds - yes, that's pounds - of crab in every pot to make this soup. You ever priced blue crab? Do you have any idea how much two pounds of picked crab meat costs? But it was oh so good. I didn't quite have the nerve to lick the bowl, but I'll admit to thinking about it.
Later, on my way back to the boat, I walked behind the restaurant, following Aduana on one of her wanders along the dock. Found a bunch of aquariums and probably three to four hundred blue crab in them. No wonder the soup tastes so good. They pick the crab meat right there. Anywhere else, this bowl of soup - were it even possible to get it like this - would cost closer to $20 and would be worth it at the price.
Next morning, got up at 6 am - yea yea, I know, those of you who know me don't believe that, but there are times I actually LIKE getting up that early, given a good enough reason - rowed Aduana to shore for a walk (not a good enough reason!), and headed out. Winds had abated from the 15 knots the day before, so with 80 miles to go, I fired up the diesel to help the emergency white things - you know, the sails. Most sailors only use them when their motors quit, hence the 'emergency white things' nickname...
Ok, NOW can we talk about Annapolis? Sheesh, the things I do to keep you guys happy!
Sailed into Annapolis at 12:30 am, 17 hours after leaving Reedsville - had it not been for the storm, I would have made it by 11, dry and comfortable, instead of wet and miserable. Had I gone with the winds of the day before, it would have been even sooner and I would have missed the storm entirely.
Put down the anchor, made sure it was backed down well, given how strong the winds were - and then rowed to shore to walk the pup. In the rain. Do I know how to have fun or what? Meredith, one of my editors at SAIL, is now laughing at this - aren't you? Busted!
I love this place. Annapolis is my second home, the place I should have been born. I left Canada with people I knew thinking I was out of my mind, going to travel on a boat, explore the world, when I could stay home and shovel snow for six months of the year...(and just who is out of their minds here?). Basically, most people thought I wasn't normal. Most people still think that, come to think of it.
Got to Annapolis, and discovered....I was just another damn sailor. Walked the docks, met all kinds of people doing what I was doing, some in fancy boats, some in better boats, lots in similar boats and some in really rough boats, old, young and not so young, healthy and not so healthy, sober and - well, not so sober but by and large, all happy about being there - there being out there, doing it. Felt at home here ever since, and always feel like I'm coming home when I return. Only my liver shudders in fear....this town started the t-shirt that says 'A sailing town with a drinking problem'. Oh yes, indeed.
Ok, that's it for tonight. Oh, the storm? About ten minutes of strong winds, rained for a half hour, ruined the sailing and slowed me down a bunch, but that was about it. So much for NOAA and their ability to predict weather.
Time to walk the dog. It's still raining. Meredith, STOP laughing.