I had a traumatic experience in early June when a large panel of my UV-degraded reefed mainsail split from leech to luff while homeward-bound. The sail had to come off for a quickie temporary repair that I learned would cost some $300, a replacement panel for about $600 or a new sail for $1,000-plus. I visited a few sail lofts, even Bacon’s Used Sails, in desperation for almost anything that would fit and not interrupt my summer pleasures on the water.
My first cruise of the season was like many others before it in one respect, the destination, but totally different in another because there was wind — and plenty of it. I set off May 25 from Annapolis under sail, bound for Oxford once again.
Matt Rutherford was already a tested trans-Atlantic single-hander before he became the first solo sailor to circumnavigate North America and South America non-stop via the Northwest Passage.
Free at last, free at last! After four months of winter imprisonment in a DIY boatyard, my classic sailboat was unchained from a work bed of dirt and stone April 10 and returned to its natural element. As we motored away from Casa Rio Marina in Mayo, Md., I released a loud “Yee-hah!” and waved farewell to any who might be listening and watching.
I must confess that I am one of those boaters who do not thoroughly read the operational manual that comes with a new outboard. I have paid a price through the decades for this negligence, even though I usually blame any malfunction on the engine, not on myself.
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Jack has been cruising Chesapeake Bay and writing about the region for more than 25 years. His critically acclaimed book, "Maryland's Vanishing Lives," was published by Baltimore's Johns Hopkins University Press and is now in its second printing. Before joining Soundings, Jack was a feature writer at the Washington (D.C.) Star for nearly 20 years and a senior editor at Chesapeake Bay magazine from 1995 to 1998. His monthly Bay Tripper column focuses on the Chesapeake.