November 9, 2011.
We decided that this morning would be a good day to try a new inlet. We wanted to head offshore and the Little River Inlet looked to be the place since we anchored directly across from it last night. We were up and underway along with the Alibi II's at dawn. The mainsail was up as we wove our way down towards the inlet and then the phone rang.....
It was our friend Dawn from Annapolis who had received an email from weather guru Chris Parker. After midnight he had sent out an addendum to his regular daily weather advice. He never does that. She knew we were headed out and the forecast had once again changed dramatically. We were expecting 3 to 4 footers from the southeast with 10 to 15 knots of breeze from the east northeast. The wind was the same but due to tropical low Sean building in strength we could expect seas at 10 feet growing to 15 by late afternoon. 10 to 15 footers rolling under our beam with marginal winds directly behind us sounds like a miserable experience. We've actually already have that experience so we turned around and headed back towards the ICW and that's when it happened.....
We almost killed our first health nut. We were the first southbound boat as we sliced through the dead flat waters of the ICW. Our health nut was in a one man rowing scull heading northbound. Since he was rowing his back was towards us. He was smack in the middle of the channel so I adjusted Rover a few degrees to put us hugging the starboard side of the channel to pass him port to port.
I've seen these rowing fanatics before and a lot of them wear a tiny rear view mirror on a headband so they can see whats going on behind them....but this guy, no. As far as I could tell he hadn't heard us approaching, he hadn't turned around, he was just lost in the moment rowing to his approaching doom. We were going to pass well clear of him but as 300 yards became 200, then 100 he finally sensed our approach. He looked over his shoulder, saw us, spazed and turned directly across our bow in an effort to get out of the way.
He took 2 quick strokes, realized he went the wrong way and froze.....Shit. If I went even further to starboard we were definitely going to run aground. He was already pointing in that direction, if he took one more stroke we'd run aground and kill him anyway. Holy f@#k me. It happened so quickly I didn't even have time to disconnect the autopilot....so I hit the port tack button. The boat immediately turned 90 degrees to port. We cleared him by a boat length at best. I threw off the autopilot and spun the wheel hard to starboard before we shot out the other side of the channel. I don't know what his heart rate was but I’m pretty sure mine was higher.
Shortly after that we had another first. We encountered a northbound tug pushing a loaded fuel barge in the “rockpile”. The rockpile is a section of the ICW that was blasted through bedrock. At low tide you can see ledge after jagged ledge of unforgiving bedrock that lies just below the surface at high tide...The common dogma is that you do NOT leave the center of the channel. Somebody wants to overtake you, fine but you don't move over to help him, he's on his own. Period.
I hadn't heard any security calls so when I heard the tug coming through the bridge at the lower end of the rockpile I was quite saddened. F@#k us. I contacted the tug on the radio and told him we were a mile away and headed at him. We arranged a port to port pass, he gave me as much room as he could spare and we slipped down his side as close as we could without trading paint.
After that the day leveled out and we made good time down to Minum Creek where we are hiding out down below because of the mosquito swarms.