Start Planning Now to Maximize Your Season
Sailing season on the Chesapeake will be sunny this year, right? To make sure you maximize your on-the-water time, it’s best to make a plan now. Here are 10 tips for making that happen.
- Send an e-vite. Most of us sail with a group of family, friends, slip mates, or club members. Invite them to your house for an official comfort food feast and summer boating planning session.
- Cook for your crew. Head to the kitchen and make some yummy comfort food for your crew, such as spaghetti, lasagna, chili, oyster stew, seafood gumbo—whatever it takes to bring friends together. Putting some summery music on in the background will set the tone as you cook.
- Use visuals. Although you could always pull a chart up on your computer, there’s something about laying out a paper chart of a favorite sailing area on a table that sparks excitement. If you have a chart on which you can make marks with a highlighter of creeks, anchorages, and destinations you’ve been to and perhaps places you’d like to go to, that will get the conversation going.
- Bring your calendar. Whether it’s a smart phone or paper planner, bring your organizational tool of choice. When a dream of going to a particular place gets penned onto (or plugged into) a calendar, it’s more likely to happen. Before you show up at dinner with your calendar, check with your family about 2019 graduations, family and school reunions, and weddings to make sure you get them on the schedule before you start adding in boating fun. Your schedule is more open now than it will be in June!
- List destinations. List creeks, towns, or anchorages on the Chesapeake where you’d like to visit by boat. They don’t have to all be new to you; it’s okay to love a place so much that you go back again and again. This is a planning session after all, so jot down any place that would make for a happy summer journey… and that may include a nearby creek.
- Note festival, game, and concert schedules. Classic boats, maritime heritage, music, oysters, craft beer, and pirates—there are festivals on the Chesapeake for all of them. Find festivals of interest to regional boaters at spinsheet.com/calendar. Sometimes the dates do not yet reflect the 2019 dates, but the larger festivals have set their schedules, so check the event websites, too. Baltimore Orioles fans who like to travel by boat may find the 2019 schedule online.
- Set realistic distances. While perusing a nautical chart on a coffee table (especially after a big meal and dark ’n stormy or two), it’s easy to think you can conquer the entire Chesapeake in a weekend. Remember, the Bay measures 200 miles long. How fast does your sailboat travel? When gauging your distances for 2019 travels, be realistic. You don’t want to find yourself 100 miles from home on a choppy Bay on a Sunday night when you have to get to work by Monday morning. If you know a trip is a stretch for your boat and/or your crew experience level, plan it as a weeklong vacation or extended weekend. Ask more experienced sailors what they think of your plans. Be prepared to scale them back to a more realistic, and perhaps more enjoyable trip.
- Block off three or four weekends. You’re probably not going to plan your entire summer in one sitting, but if you pen three or four weekend escapes on the calendar, you’ll be happy you did. Having something to look forward to in spring and summer makes the winter more bearable. Also, when the weekend is blocked off, household chores, lawn care, or work won’t seep into the weekend calendar gap.
- Reserve your slips. Big marinas such as Herrington Harbour North and South and other resort marinas are accepting transient slip reservations now. If your plans involve docking at a marina, why not make your slip reservations? Somebody gets the good slips on the Memorial Day, the Fourth of July, and other busy weekends; it might as well be you.
- Work on your winter to-do list. Now that you have definite plans to get under way with good friends on your boat and something to daydream about, get to work varnishing that woodwork, recovering those tattered cushions, or any other boat project you’ve saved for these quiet winter months. Then, when the perfect spring sailing day arrives, when your slipmates are still prepping their boats, you can go sailing!