Just back from our first cruise unaccompanied by local experts, so obviously we made the trip safely! The Chester River is one of the many rivers that flow into the Chesapeake, and it provides a fairly easy sail/ motor journey to Chester Town. For the first day I plotted our course to the mouth of the Corsica River, a tributary of the Chester, where we thought we would probably stay over night. It was a very simple course between easily located markers, and a 10 knot westerly wind meant that we could do most of the miles under sail. We anchored just a little way inside the Corsica, quite near a luxury mansion and grounds built and once owned by John Jakob Raskob (General Motors president who built the Empire State Building) and now the property of the Russian Embassy. I was just a little disappointed that we had no James Bond-style encounters with KGB frogmen, just a pleasant lunch and an afternoon slacking off with PG Wodehouse on my Kindle. The new anchor performed exceptionally well, gripping first go and holding effectively despite swings in wind and current throughout the night. When we pulled it up, it came accompanied by about forty pounds of best Bay mud.
Next day we motored up the river, following a well-marked, deep channel to Chester Town where we anchored off the channel, between the town marina and bridge. Three other yachts were at anchor there, so we figured we were well clear of the underwater cable that is a bit of an anchoring hazard here. Dinghied in and tied up to a floating dock, then took a stroll around this beautiful little town. 'Charming' is the only word for Chester Town: most of the homes and buildings are 18th century, lovingly preserved; huge old trees and interesting little shops line the streets. We had an icecream at Stam's, an old-style drugstore and soda fountain, then coffee at 'Play it Again Sam', a quirky little cafe full of interesting artworks and gourmet snacks. After further exploration we had an early seafood dinner at the 'Fish Whistle', a riverside restaurant where we could watch both Common Sense and our dinghy, along with all the local fishing traffic and the townsfolk enjoying an evening walk around the waterfront. The only downside was continuing difficulty starting our 20 hp Honda outboard motor. It's a beast of a thing to wrangle with, but Terry assures me that there will come a time when we will appreciate the extra power.
The night was marked by some rain and rising winds, which increased further as we motored back downriver next morning. When the westerlies started gusting up to 35 knots, we decided to put in to the Corsica once again until things settled down. This was a good move: by about 2pm the wind dropped to 10 -15 knots and we were able to sail most of the 10 nautical miles back to Kent Narrows. The channel back in to the marina is challenging as it is dredged through very shallow water and requires careful alignment of the channel markers. We were glad it was close to high tide, as Common Sense draws 5 ft 2 and there were a couple of spots where we were pretty close to the bottom. Getting stuck in the mud is a very common Chesapeake experience! Vastly improved docking techniques by Team Hogan ensured a happy finish to our first independent cruise.