Sassafras River, Maryland

September 17, 2020
We left Cape May on the 17th to transit the C&D canal.  We had the best sail up the Delaware Bay.  We put the sails up as soon as we exited the canal, and the tide was with us.  We sailed along at 7-8 knots, occasionally touching 9 knots, and were moving so fast, we didn’t even get close to any of the big cargo ships that start to scare me several miles away.  You have to motor for the 14 miles of the Chesapeake and Delawar canal, so we reluctantly put the sails away.  I made Jeff take the helm in the first mile, bc it felt so narrow after the bay, and the edges are lined with angry looking boulders.  By the end, I got used to it, and in the last couple miles, I gave Jeff a break and he went below.  Almost immediately, the engine sounded strange.  I did what I do whenever I hear or smell anything strange on the boat – I yelled for Jeff.  Because we are potentially in a “little boy who cried wolf” zone after 3 months aboard, he yelled back “It’s fine!”.  After a few repetitions of this pattern, I proved right this once, as the engine died and I lost steerage way.  I stayed (for me) remarkably calm while Jeff trouble shot (trouble-shooted?, you know what I mean).  It only took him maybe 2 minutes to realize that he forgotten to open a valve he had closed to pump fuel from one tank to another the night before we left.  May I say they were an incredibly long 2 minutes.  I had time to think about rolling out a sail, and to conclude there was no wind in the canal.  Anyway, all’s well that ends well.  As soon as the fuel was flowing again, an 800 foot long tanker that took up most of the width of the canal came around the corner.  I guess this was my first near death experience cruising on Renegade.  It was no big deal, and Jeff was calm the whole time, but if that tanker had appeared when we had no steerage way, I definitely would have died of a heart attack!

Because life is a circle and everything balances out, our anchorage in the Sassafrass River that night was uniquely calm, beautiful and isolated.  No stress at all.  I think we only left because although the sun was brilliant, the wind was chilly and it reminded us we had to get south.  It was also time to leave because the swallows found us.  I woke up one morning to hundreds of them, lining the lifelines and rigging.  It would have been awesome if they weren’t all relieving themselves on the deck! 

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