12 May 2016 – Pt. Lookout to Solomons Island, Maryland
We woke up to fog but really wanted to continue making progress north and didn’t want to wait yet another day, so we decided to give it a go.
Visibility was less than 1/2 mile/.8 kilometer and again we were VERY thankful for the radar and AIS to see what boats may be out there. We kept a constant watchful eye through the binoculars as well.
The river was full of commercial fishing boats but it seemed like they were also always tracking us and would move out of the way as we stayed on a specific course.
We also would radio an approaching boat if we weren’t sure they were aware of our presence, just to let them know our location and our intention. This works well if the other boat has its radio on, but unfortunately that is not always the case.
Once we passed Point No Point Lighthouse and turned to head a bit more northerly, leaving the river and reentering the Chesapeake Bay there was another sailboat on our starboard side. We used the radio to try to hail them to tell them what course we intended and the boat that responded was actually on the other said of the Bay! This is a problem when you don’t know a boat’s name, and are trying to hail, blue hull sailboat approaching whatchamacallit.
We received a response and when we told the responding party of our intention they were confused because the boat that had responded was actually located on the other side of the bay and had no idea what we were talking about.
So we tried again, and again to a hail that boat that was getting closer and closer to us. We included the boat brand (Island Packet), and any other identifying features we could see, but the boat that was approaching us didn’t respond at all. Then we noticed through the binoculars that there was no one at the helm! If both boats maintained course we were definitely on a collision course. Yes, per maritime protocol they did have the right of way, but maritime safety protocols dictate they really should be at the helm aware of all the boats around them.
We were not sure what their intention was, and in order to avoid collision we altered our course, allowing the other boat to cross our bow. Just as they approached the skipper came up from below looked around, appeared to make an adjustment to his autopilot and went back down below to the relative warmth and comfort of his cabin totally oblivious to the inconvenience and potential risk he had caused.
We tried to stay away from that boat which meant we were forced to be on a course that took us a bit out of way. It seemed that every time we did a slight adjustment to our course, he would pop back up from below and adjust his course to stay on a parallel course as us. We were both pretty frustrated that here we are, in the middle of a vast expanse of water in the Chesapeake Bay with this inconsiderate and, in our opinion, unsafe sailor effectively blocking our way and making us maintain defensive maneuvers. .
Yes, there are times when a skipper can be safely below deck, while underway, but seriously? …. In the Chesapeake Bay within close proximity to other boats and with low visibility?!?!?! Yeah, it might be a bit uncomfortable in the cockpit with the wind, cold and rain, but if you aren’t going to do it responsibly and safely you really should stay in the marina — okay our rant is over.
In maneuvering around him, we were finally able to read the boat name and after a few more tries we eventually were successful in hailing the skipper on the radio to tell him we would like to cross his bow to get back on course for Solomons Island. He said that is where he was going too and he would just follow us in. We asked if he could slow down just a bit so we could cross and he obliged. The good news there is that we no longer had to worry about where he was going to go for the rest of the day once we got ahead of him.
The rest of the trip to Solomons Island was uneventful.
Due to the weather forecast for cold, rain and wind, we ended up enjoying the hospitality of the marina for two nights….are you seeing a trend here?
Next on to Herrington Harbor South.