A Chance Meeting on the Chesapeake Bay

Author:
Publish date:
Updated on
A calm day on Chesapeake Bay

A calm day on Chesapeake Bay

It was a typical late August afternoon on the Chesapeake Bay, where the winds were light and my mood anything but. NOAA radio had predicted 10 knot winds out of the west, but (surprise, surprise) the winds turned out to be light and out of the southeast. I was my usual grumpy self when reality fails to meet expectations, and Peg, my first mate, was her usual grumpy self when I’m my grumpy self.

“Don’t you think we ought to tack away?” Peg suggested, as we continued on what she felt was a “collision course” with a sloop that was barely visible on the horizon (well, maybe a little closer than that, but not much). “They’re on the starboard tack, you know!”

“Relax, honey! We’ll cross his bow with room to spare. And besides, we’re only doing 2 knots, for Pete’s sake. We could have lunch and take a nap before we get anywhere close to him!”

Admittedly, it did seem a little odd, given all the open water available to him, that he’d chosen to head directly for us. “Whatever,” I thought. “He’s probably just riding the tide and chasing the ripples like we are.”

We were “sailing” that day in our Capri 25, which we’d purchased in a private sale some 10 years earlier. She was fast, wet and fun when the wind was up, and faster than most when it wasn’t, although that was little consolation in the current conditions. When you’re out for a day sail you want to sail, damn it, not flail!

Peg and I had talked a lot over the years about moving up to a boat that we could cruise on, one that we could sail down the bay for a week or two, exploring the gunkholes of the Eastern Shore. We started talking about it again that afternoon. Interesting, I thought, how the topic of buying a cruising sailboat only seems to come up when the wind is down.

The author and his wife out for a sail

The author and his wife out for a sail

Crossing the sloop’s bow with more than a football field to spare, I looked back at her, prepared to offer a friendly wave. What I saw was a man, the captain I assumed, standing amidships, waving his hands over his head and yelling something. At first I thought he needed help, but it didn’t seem like that kind of wave. Peg thought she heard him yell something about “my boat.”
All of a sudden it hit me. Could that be the guy who sold us the Capri?

“Tom Talling, is that you?” I shouted back, totally amazed that the same old brain that can’t remember where I parked the car can dredge up a name from over a decade ago. “Tom, is that you?”

After an affirmative and a “come on over” wave, we came about and eased alongside while Tom snapped picture after picture. With the initial pleasantries out of the way, Tom told us he was now sailing the Catalina 320 that floated there beside us: a beautiful boat that looked much like what Peg and I have imagined owning while bobbing around on so many of those windless August afternoons.

It was clear, though, that Tom didn’t want to talk about his Catalina. It was the Capri that captured his attention. He looked at her like a man who had just bumped into his old high school sweetheart…the one he always regretted breaking up with. The emotion was palpable. In fact, I started to feel a little jealous. After all, he had known her longer than I had.

After Peg and I gushed about how our boat sails and the fun we’ve had with her over the years, I shared with Tom the fact that sometimes, especially on these painfully windless days, we’ve talked about moving up to a cruising boat like his.

“How’s your Catalina sail?” I asked.

“Oh, fine. She sails fine,” he answered, then quickly returned the focus. “Do you fly the spinnaker?”

“Not as much as we used to,” I responded. “The last time we had it up, we got caught in a building breeze down at the mouth of the Sassafrass and she got up on plane! It was a wild ride for two old people! Thought I’d never get the sail down.” Tom’s smile told me he knew the feeling well.

After exchanging email addresses and saying our goodbyes, we tacked away into the windless afternoon.

“Wasn’t it great to see Tom?” I asked Peg, as we floated off to the east. “And how about that gorgeous Catalina of his? What a beauty! Wouldn’t it be great if we…” But before I could finish, the boom swung, the sails filled, and off we charged on a beam reach. End of conversation.

Alan Keene, a retired mental health care professional turned writer, sails his Oxford Dinghy and his Capri 25 on Chesapeake Bay

Photos courtesy of Adam Cort (top); L. Alan Keene

August 2015

Related

Pestilence

Sailor-Punk and the State of Cruising

Back when I was a young man, sailing back and forth across the North Atlantic in an old fiberglass sailboat, it seemed fairly obvious to me how all that was wrong in the world might be set right. Everyone should be issued a boat at birth! Or so I declared to any who would listen ...read more

promoOnTheHorizon600x

Cats On The Horizon

Dragonfly 32 Evolution Denmark’s Quorning Boats has been systematically upgrading its line of folding, performance-cruiser trimarans in recent years as part of a long-term effort to incorporate the latest developments in yacht design, with the latest to receive this treatment ...read more

TOTW_PromoSite

SAIL's Tip of the Week

Presented by Vetus-Maxwell. Got a tip? Send it to sailmail@sailmagazine.com The double range  Every skipper knows about ranging two objects in line to keep the boat on track in a cross-current. What’s less obvious is monitoring both sides of a gap such as a harbor entrance. ...read more

FamilyCruise

Bareboating on Puget Sound

Depending on where you are, Puget Sound can look no bigger than a mountainous version of the Intracoastal Waterway. That’s what I thought when I first laid eyes on it from the lighthouse at Mukilteo Park on a sunny day last July. Then I went to the top of the iconic Space Needle ...read more

Bali4point1

Boat Review: Bali 4.1

Coming fast on the heels of its predecessor, the Bali 4.0, the Bali 4.1 adds a number of improvements, many of them inspired by feedback from owners and charterers. She’s an evolution of a concept that has already proven popular and very many benefits from its builder’s ...read more

Headsail

Ask Sail: Silencing A Rattling Headsail

Q: Our Pearson 26 has a 110-percent jib that tends to rattle very noisily at the top hank. We only bought the old boat recently, but it must have been happening for a long time, since there’s a deep groove worn inside that bronze hank. The jib has an unusually large and wide ...read more

Alerion2048x

Alerion Yachts 33, the 90 Minute Get Away

Easy to sail, luxurious, and swift; the Alerion 33 is the solution to your busy life. The intuitive, simple rig design, easy set-up, and put-away mean there’s no need to wait for crew to enjoy a weekend, a day, or an hour out sailing. Her beauty and comfort are evident in the ...read more