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Chesapeake

By Anne Clement

On one of the last nights we were at Rebel Marine, it was cold and windy but we had several additional lines to the dock. It is rare for Peace IV to be tied to any dock, but David had generously offered it for free out of friendship. I was sleeping light because boats tied to docks just feel so different from boats at anchor and sailors do not sleep deeply if there is something different about the way their boats move at night. I got out of bed to go pee and something told me to poke my head out of the hatch and the wind blew down with instant chill, but what I saw with my eyes chilled me even more.

We were untied and just then slipping away from the dock and two shadowy people were running away up the dock into the darkness while Peace IV drifted away towards some nearby abandoned docks. What a breathtakingly helpless situation! There was so little time to do anything before we crashed!

I was naked, Nev was sleeping, and the wind was behind us at 25 knots. So I yelled my rage.

Nev jumped up, we both threw on outer wear, and I got hold of our fog horn to blow a danger signal and hope somebody would catch the two running figures, but nobody heard due to the strong winds and nobody saw anything at that hour either. It was 1 in the morning. Then I used the mobile phone to see if I could reach David who was on his boat at the head of the dock. Only the answering machine was on, but luckily I left a message and even luckier David still had the phone in his pocket and was just dozing.

Nev and I had left tools and materials for making the wind shield all over the deck, the windshield still had its protective paper on it so we were blinded from seeing through it, the forestay had not been repaired yet so Nev had the inner forestay tensioned using the anchor windlass and that made anchoring problematic, and all our lines had been cut short so I had to get out other ones. The engines were up, keys out of the ignition, flashlights under tools tossed into the pod for the night... it was total chaos because there had been no intention to leave the dock for several more days! I watched the stern hit the abandoned dock and feared for the wind steering gear back there.

Somehow Nev had gotten an anchor down using, I guess, brute force lifting the 66 pounder and letting out the chain by hand. David heard the phone message, woke his brother out of sound sleep on the nearby Norfolk Rebel tug, and they both came with a work boat and tied alongside. Being both tug captains, they knew exactly what needed to be done, but it was dark, we could not hear their instructions in the wind, we were still in shock, and we were busy trying to tear the paper off the wind shield, get lines, etc, etc. Frantic and frightened, we somehow managed to work with them and husky Steve lifted the anchor by hand while Peace was manoeuvred back so we could tie her to the dock again. David and Steve kept calm and never lost patience which seemed remarkable at the d back so we could tie her to the dock again. David and Steve kept calm and never lost patience which seemed remarkable at the y rope too and nobody could remember that kind of thing ever happening at Rebel before. Only one line had been untied rather than cut and it was an extra long one. It was all a mystery. We hoped it was only kids full of mischief. Luckily, Peace only had a scratch.

Remember that forestay attachment that failed when we were doing 9 knots to windward? Well, our friend Robbie was visiting Rebel from Green Turtle Cay in the Bahamas and he climbed the mast to re-attach our forestay using the extremely robust forestay attachment strop we had made up just perfect for the job. Massive stainless wire rope, a wrap around grab on the mast, commercial swaged eyes with thimbles, and a super strong Wichard shackle to prevent any further problems up there. We got the roller furling gear up, the sail up, Nev tensioned the rig, and we were ready to go. When we get back to RI, we will lift the mast and make further repairs but the total cost of these repairs will be about 70 bucks, so no insurance claim was needed. What could have been an extremely expensive accident will cost us less than $100 to repair. It is time to lift and inspect that mast anyway and we will lift the boat for bottom paint at the same time.

May 3

Repairs still needed to be made to the mast case, so we decided not to use the foremain and to sail up the Chesapeake rather than go outside because it would be easier on the boat. Our binoculars were busy because at this time of year, nesting is in full swing. Ospreys have taken over almost every day mark, leading light, even buoys! I remember only 15 years ago when they were so scarce people drove for miles just to see one of these birds which were then quite rare. Seeing long legged ibis stalking in the shallows with perfect reflections in the golden evening light, or a family of Canada geese glide past all in a row could keep me occupied for hours and the Chesapeake is birder paradise.

We got to Annapolis the same day as the Volvo Around the World race boats were leaving for their next leg. There were 8 of them under huge spinnakers racing south along the Annapolis side and we thought we would be well enough clear going the other way along the other side of the Bay. We expected them to go past the line of anchored boats just outside Annapolis. We could just see them with binoculars and were happy not to be interfering at all.

Suddenly all 8 tacked down wind with those balloon spinnakers, and the whole line of spectator boats broke ranks and about a hundred came along with the race boats going full tilt right at us. The race boats came nearer and nearer so we angled away more and more but still they came and the water turned white with the wakes of the spectator boats. We turned Peace right away so we were going the same direction and throttled way back and they passed to the left and right of us. It was terrifying! We were about 20 feet away as they whooshed past with coffee grinder winches at full speed and started breathing again somewhat later. I have no idea what happened that afternoon when they had to race through the 600 or so tournament fish boats in the Bay. Each boat had two out riggers so that made 1800 objects to pass. We had passed through with some difficulty that morning and now the racers had them plus spectator boats to contend with. Our anchorage that night was quiet and we were grateful for it.

Ann and Nev

Peace Four

© Anne and Neville Clement, 2006