Friday, January 30, 2009

Exploring the Sassafras

Last post, we were hunkering down to ride out the gale that John nicknamed "Gail" at a dock in the Sassafras River in the Chesapeake Bay. Piece of cake!! It's truly amazing how our attitudes have changed over this past month - after riding out Tropical Storm Hanna in Newport and regularly seeing small craft advisories and 20-25 knot winds, Gail was mostly a non-event for us. Sure we had big winds (gale force warnings are issued when winds up to 47 knots, to you landlubbers that is 54 mph, are expected) and lots of rain, but we had chosen our hidey hole well and were protected from the brunt of the storm by the surrounding terrain. In fact, except for the boat rooster's occasional calls, we all slept through the worst of it.

Tammy here by the way...

Having already seen all of what Georgetown and Galena had to offer on our enforced beer march the day before (which believe me wasn't much - the wild turkeys were the highlight!), we set out to explore the Sassafras. Leaving Georgetown, Gypsies was followed by a flock of seagulls who kept drafting off our stern. 'seagulls-following.jpg' They seemed to think we might be a crabbing boat which are so plentiful in the Bay and that they would be receiving fish treats - boy were they disappointed. Despite valiant efforts by Colleen and John, we have yet to catch a keeper - lots of fishing, just no catching!! But we remain hopeful - as our friend Stevie O always says, even a blind squirrel finds a nut sooner or later... we like to think that we are just saving ourselves for the big fish once we get further south!

The Sassafras River is very picturesque with numerous shallow creeks (or cricks as Doug's southern cousins call them) and small islands making kayaking and dinghy exploration the way to go. We dropped anchor about mid-river at the mouth of Back Creek behind a headland to block the wind. You'd think we knew what we were doing! A little ways away from us is a pretty desolate looking sailboat - what once may have been a liveaboard, John thinks now is a die-aboard. No one wants to check for the body... the Black Pearl has nothing on this boat!

While John was fishing, Colleen and I took the kayaks to explore some of those cricks - we must not be far enough south since we didn't hear any banjo music. What we did see was spectacular - huge blue herons, hawks circling overhead, deer at the edge of the water, egrets, ducks and yes, even fish. One even jumped across the bow of my kayak - I swear he stuck out his tongue at me as he passed. We followed one crick all the way to the end through a chute of tall marsh grass - no alligators yet! In fact, the Sassafras is so far north in the Chesapeake that it is actually fresh water and not salty - maybe that's why the fish aren't biting (yup bet that's it!). Out into another crick we found a massive field of lily pads - no frogs, so it was very strange looking! Without realizing the passing of time, it had crept up on happy hour, so back to the boat we went for cocktails!

We are staying an extra day at Back Creek so we can do some more exploring - by dinghy this time. Even though its overcast and cool, I'm sure we'll have a go at it. There are many cricks and islands that still await us....and nowhere else we really need to be!!

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