Deale to Oxford '04

Sparkle Plenty - 1980 Mariner 36 (New Hampshire)

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Up GOB Regatta '03 Deale to Oxford '04 MYOG Rendezvous '04 GOB Regatta '04

(Approximately 26 miles)

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Chart: Choptank RiverOn Saturday and Sunday (August 7-8, 2004), we had a terrific cruise to Trippe Creek near Oxford, MD. The forecast was exceptional for August and it seemed that it would be a sin not to go cruising on such a magnificent weekend. So Chris Schatte and I tossed off the dock lines about 11 a.m. with the reefer filled with provisions and cold beer. With winds blowing steadily at 10 to 15 knots out of the West, Southwest, we reached across the Bay to Sharps Island light and the entrance to the Choptank River.

Once in the river, the Choptank lived up to its reputation as the wind piped up to 20 knots plus. By 4 p.m. we were approaching the Tred Avon River where we furled sail and motored up past the strand. Trippe Creek 1Our destination was Trippe Creek, about 2 miles up the TA past Oxford. We had the best depth sounder available—a Valiant 40 in front of us heading to the same destination. Once we zigzagged past the day marks into the creek we were rewarded with a large body of water capable of holding 100 boats at anchor. Luckily for us, just about everyone else must have headed for St. Michaels because we encountered less than twenty vessels spread out across the creek.

We selected a spot and dropped the Bruce with its new chain and nylon road. Lying in about 10 feet of water, we let out the 60 feet of chain and another 15 feet of nylon then backed SP down to set the hook. The holding ground was excellent. Our plan was to take the RIB into Oxford for dinner, but once underway, the engine would only operate a little over idle. With over 2 miles to Town Creek and darkness descending, we decided to settle for sandwiches aboard and hoisted the RIB back up on the davits. (My mechanic reports the problem was a bad carburetor flap now fixed.)

Trippe Creek 2Trippe creek is encircled by several high-end homes. It’s a very private and quiet place with a tranquil silence broken only by the sounds of wildlife and the occasional murmur from an anchored boat. With darkness came the stars, the milky way and the big dipper hanging in the northwest sky: Mother Nature’s planetarium. The evening was cool with no bugs. Do you believe, a fleece in August for sitting in the cockpit? The night was perfect for sleeping under a blanket with the hatches open. This was my first night on the hook aboard SP—an inaugural event I've been anticipating for the past three years. I wasn’t disappointed.

Trippe Creek 3Dawn broke clear with some color in the East. The creek was calm and the air had a slight chill. I turned on the propane and cooked up scrambled eggs and ham on the stove along with a pot of tea. A long, relaxing breakfast in the cockpit followed. We lounged away the rest of the morning contemplating a stop in Town Creek for a brief visit to Oxford town. But with the wind continuing to blow out of the West, we decided to head directly home. Our depth sounder obliged—the Valiant 40 picked up the hook just before us at about 11:30 a.m.—and we followed her out the channel into the Tred Avon. We motor sailed past the Oxford strand into 20 knots then rolled out the 150 Genoa to about 130 for a long southwest tack into the wind across the Choptank. Two more long tacks later we were nearing the mouth of the river but the wonderful Choptank breeze refused to follow us.

Choptank RiverWe drifted South in 5 knots coming close to a shoal but when a puff came up, we were able to tack to the northwest into deeper water. However, the puffs didn’t last and the wind died off to 3 knots forcing us to fire up the diesel. We motored past Sharps Island light and set a course for Herring Bay. We arrived back at the slip about 5:30 p.m. It had been a most satisfying two days, despite the lack of wind to bring us home.


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