Monday, May 11, 2015

Mill Creek Anchorage - at anchor

We are the only boat in the anchorage this time
We knew the remnants of Ana were headed up the Chesapeake but it was down by Hampton when we left Fishing Bay YC at 7:00 am, we were trying to get ahead of it. So the sun was out when we left but it gradually clouded over.  We were able to stay ahead of the rain until we reached the mouth of the Potomac. At that point the rains grew heavier and the winds became steady at 17 to 20 kts with occasional higher gusts. Adding to the uncomfortable ride was the direction of the waves, off the aft quarter which gave the boat a sideways slew as the waves passed underneath. Also, the Potomac had an ebb tide underway and the waves would have been directly against the outflow of water, not a good scenario, wind against tide. .

Ann continues to take photos for inspiration in pastel painting
So we asked ourselves, do we want to put up with this for the next six hours? We all voted No and ducked into Mill Creek just south of the Potomac River. We had been here once before and the anchorage is protected 360 degrees with high trees on elevated banks along both sides of the anchorage. That may sound ideal (and it is) but it plays tricks with your mind. The first time we were here in 2010, there was a small craft warning out with winds of 20 to 25 kts and higher gusts. However, in the harbor the max wind gust was only 5 kts. There were a dozen boats here then and one by one half of them (including us!) felt the calm conditions and ventured out thinking NOAA had gotten the forecast wrong. As we left the harbor and approached the bay, the wind started to increase in direct proportion to the distance to the bay. 5kt, 10kt, 15kt, and then 20 to 25 kts with 3 to 4 ft waves on the  bow when you reached the bay, about 4 miles from the harbor. Without exception, every boat turned around and came back to the harbor, including us!

Typical home in the area
So now we know better.When we arrived in the harbor at 10:00, it was dead calm and yet we had just come from 20 kts winds on the bay. We won't be suckered this time! Unfortunately, Tuesday through Thursday does not look good. NOAA predicts 20 kt winds with gusts to 30 kts the first two days with the winds only gradually decreasing on Thursday. So we may make a dash for Solomons Thursday afternoon but the more likely bet is for Friday. Too bad, we were making very good time and had caught up with our advance as of last year even though we spent an extra month in Key West. We still hope to get home before the end of May.