Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Destination: Still Pond

Our friends Tom and Barbara keep their boat on the Virginia side of the Potomac River, and each year we try to meet up on the Bay for a visit. This year, we decided to meet at Still Pond, one of our favorite anchorages on the Chesapeake. Still Pond has a very special place in our hearts -- it was the first anchorage Bill and I shared, was where we spent our first anniversary, was our dog Radar's favorite beach to explore, and is a nice day sail from our home on Rock Creek.

Phoenix's roller headsail is a newer luxury for us since we're both accustomed to hank on sails and changing headsails with the weather conditions, so we decided to use this trip as an opportunity to play around with the roller. We had decent downwind air for most of the run, and found that despite her size, it really doesn't take much wind to get Phoenix moving! With about 1/3 of our 140 genoa unfurled on a downwind run we were consistently moving at 6.5 knots with a neutral helm. But a summer squall was moving up the Bay so we decided to duck into Worton Creek for the night to sit out the storm.

Worton is a fairly protected creek (though open to the west) just south of Still Pond, and we dropped anchor on the south side of the opening, though there were several boats anchored on the northern side of the creek. By the time we dropped our 60 lb CQR, snubbed the anchor chain, secured the deck pipe cover, closed all of the hatches and ports, and settled in, we had about 10 minutes to spare before the winds really piped up and peaked around 30 knots. Nearly all of the rain went around us, but the wind and chop continued for about an hour. Our anchor held well and we had a little chop since we were well protected by the point to the south. The boats across the creek, however, were getting pounded and some were laid over by the wind. It surely did not look like they were having much fun!

Calming down after the storm passed
After it was all said and done we were treated to a wonderful rainbow and sunset, and it was time to relax for the evening.

Should have put the dinghy in to go get that pot of gold!
Sailors' delight
The next day we moved on to Still Pond to relax for a few days and eventually meet up with Tom and Barbara. Still Pond was once a well-kept secret on the Bay, and there were many times that Bill and I would anchor out here and be the only boat on the water. Unfortunately, a few years back it was written up as one of the best anchorages on the Chesapeake, so now you can expect large crowds of powerboaters on the weekends. Mid-week you'll still find a quiet anchorage filled with lots of soaring bald eagles, breathtaking sunsets,  and excellent swimming.

Shortly after dropping the hook, the winds piped up and once again we were sitting through 30+ knot winds, though this time, the winds were accompanied by rain. Still Pond offers great protection from the south and west, but today the winds shifted to the north-east, so we were taking the brunt of the storm on the nose. But we were very impressed with the holding power the CQR -- it definitely holds well in a muddy bottom!

Watching the rain line approaching

Near white out conditions

We decided to test out the flow through characteristics of our cockpit cushions so we left them out during the storm. They were soaked, but when we turned them on their sides,  the water poured out of the Phifertex backs as planned. They were too wet to sit on for dinner, but they were dry by morning. A nice experiment, but we decided to take them down below from now on -- at least until we make the cockpit enclosure! We also took the opportunity to test out the aft cabin hatch dodger. It worked like a champ and we were able to keep the hatch open through the whole storm!

The next morning, after a leisurely breakfast, we decided we wanted some exercise. So we packed our water shoes and bug spray in a dry bag, put on our swim fins and swam ashore. This was our first time walking the beach here without Radar, but we fondly reminisced about all of his favorite sniff spots while combing the beach for sea glass. On a previous trip he took us up a hill near the point that is covered in wild raspberries. We climbed back up the hill, picked a few quart bags full of raspberries, eventually swam back to the boat, and made raspberry jam with our bounty.

That afternoon we inflated our Sea Eagle inflatable kayak and explored more of the creek.

Bill paddling around in the Sea Eagle kayak
On shore, looking for sea glass
Later that day, Tom and Barbara arrived and joined us for cocktails.

Bill and Tom hanging out in the cockpit, his Tartan -- Tortuga's Lie -- in the background
We were blasted by another storm that night with rain all night long, but Phoenix proved to be extremely comfortable at anchor. We thought our Rutland 913 was going be nothing more than a trickle charge for our batteries, but it was spinning like crazy the whole trip, and we had more than enough power. It was consistently providing more than 10 amps at 30v, and we were charging the cell phones, laptop, ipod, etc. just to use up some of the extra power we were generating!

Tom and Barbara left the next day, just as the weather calmed down. There were only a few boats in the anchorage the whole trip, including Ata Marie, a Nordhavn 56 motorsailer. We swam over to chat with the captain and first mate, who were on their way up north. Like us they were planning to leave the next morning.

Ata Marie at anchor
Our new neighbors and we were treated to another breathtaking sunset. The water and air were so still we almost needed to break out the wind scoop.

The next morning we pulled up anchor, waved goodbye to our new friends and made our way home. Still Pond remains one of our favorite anchorages on the Bay. It's (mid-week) serenity and beauty never disappoint and the raspberry jam was pretty awesome too!


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