Tartan Sailboats Cruise the Southern Bay

Seventeen-Day Southern Bay Tartan Sailboat Cruise

After a beautiful sail down the Chesapeake Bay over the previous two days the Chesapeake Bay Tartan Sailing Club (CBTSC) Southern Bay Cruise fleet, consisting of eight sailboats (AltaBird, Scot Free, Maeve, Rendezvous, Something Special, White Bird, Puts’n Calls, and Endurance), left Solomons early July 3 and sailed to Smith Creek near Point Lookout. The fleet’s exodus from the Pax River was impressive with the wind on the Potomac blowing 20 plus knots with gusts to 30 knots, which gave the boats a spirited sail.

The following day the Tartan fleet sailed to Cockrell Creek near Reedville where Walter Keith and Mary Frazer hosted a marvelous dinner for all. Walter and Mary’s back porch are part of CBTSC history! On June 5, it was a windy departure from Cockrell Creek, although not far to go the fleet motored across the Great Wicomico River to Cranes Creek for the next feast at the home of Steve and Sally Robertson, where Jim and Katie Walker joined the clan. 

Chesapeake Bay Tartan Sailing Club sailboats
AltaBird and Scot Free at Yankee Point Marina during the 2019 CBTSC Southern Bay cruise.

Next the Tartans sailed south on a north east wind to Antipoison Creek and Little Bay, anchored and dinghied into the beach to swim in the cool water, rescue a couple of turtle horseshoe crabs, and chill on the beach. One point of interest is how much cleaner the water is in the Southern Bay! On the following day the fleet split with six boats heading home (north) and Scot Free and AltaBird heading to Urbanna. Having been blessed with favorable winds all week this was the first day the boats had to motor all day. A sunrise departure was planned for Smithfield on the James River, but the poor forecast changed those plans; getting back north would be painful. A better strategy was to sleep in and have a late morning and then head over to the Corrotoman River, which is only about three miles from Urbanna.

Sailors from Scot Free and AltaBird spent a half day in Urbanna and took in the local farmers’ market and shopped at the very nice specialty shops. After a sweet afternoon sail down the Rappahannock we headed back into the Corrotoman River with the intention to sit out the bad weather. Well, that lasted a day as the forecast intensified, so they moved to the safety of the nearby Yankee Point Marina.

On the following day everyone voted to pamper themselves a little and move to Carter Creek and stay at the Tides Inn. On June 13, the boats made it to Mill Creek on the Patuxent River ahead of the forecasted storms and for hot showers and provisions. The next day it was on up the Pax River to St. Leonard Creek. The goal was to continue up the Pax River, but the winds were blowing so hard from the northwest (right down the river) that they decided to anchor and wait for more favorable winds.

The forecast for the next couple of days was windy, so Scot Free decided to catch the southwest 10-15 knot breeze and overnight north to the Rhode River. AltaBird decided with such great sailing weather to head for the Choptank River, before heading for home June 17 on a calm windless day. All in all, another fantastic Southern Bay cruise for CBTSC.

By Greg Shields