Once again, intrepid explorers Aiden and Phil head off into the mysterious, ahem, actually REALLY well charted waters of the Chesapeake Bay alone against immense… Oh heck, we had a great time, so read on!

OkoumeFest 2014

Wye River sailing
Sea Dart sailing upwind in the Wye River

Photo by John Harris

Having really enjoyed our race last year, but hoping for new experiences and having packed MUCH more efficiently, our duo headed down to Matapeake State Park on Kent Island, and camped out overnight for this year's running of the OkoumeFest Watertribe race.

Our race started with a slow launch... getting the rollers under the bow and getting the boat to move the first three inches took several attempts. After that, things went quickly and smoothly. We had a close call with bridge clearance at the Bay Bridge, having not judged heights well, but a tack further out prevented damage.

Tacks up Kent Island were uneventful, but occasionally ungainly. We saw the Sunfish of PhysicsGod at a private dock, venture out again, and then return to shore. Hoped for the best... but he was not able to continue.
Stacks Image 619

Roll Call: Chief and BayRaider addressing the troops. He explained we all needed a reef in our sails given the small craft warning conditions

Crossing the Chester River Eastern Neck we were on a fast reach which powered us past SeaBag, whose efficient Greenland paddle technique was put to good use handling the crosswind.
Puma and COJones
At the Eastern Neck bridge, we slipped past HotCanary as Puma and COJones contemplated their plan for getting under this very low filter... last year we barely slipped under with the upper mast segment supported fore and aft by lower mast and bimini frame, this year we took it all down and used our hands to push our way past.

A summer's cruise down the Chester River brought us to Kent Narrows, which was a quick tidal current sleigh ride. After we set up the mast and headed dead downwind we caught up with kayakrts HeavilyLaden and KonkerOfTheUseless, and we steadily progressed towards the Wye River. 
Sout of Kent Island
Last year we rowed all the way from the tip of Kent Island almost to the Wye River, but this year we enjoyed great winds, so by this point we were four hours ahead of our old time. Lovin' it!

The Wye River last year was technically undemanding: simply row, row, row your boat. This year, constantly shifting winds as it rolled over the trees and down and across the river channel created a busy crew. Weight up, weight down, sails in and out, tack and jybe. Fun, but required constant attention. Didn't get to enjoy the sights as much as last year. The bridge ducking was our best, and kept us in touch with the paddlers... we had picked up CleanSlate as well by this point, and envied his easy transition from sail to peddle power assist. Nevertheless, we reached CP1 just after the trio of smaller boats, and did lazy circles chatting with the other WT'ers until the SPOT told us we could go. 

Strangely, the SPOT signal didn't transmit, and so we were initially awarded a 1hour penalty for not stopping at the checkpoint that would have been costly.

Leaving CP1 was a slow search for wind, but soon enough we were moving along steadily, and we passed the private lighthouse that marks the entrance to the Wye at 6pm: last year we entered the Wye at 5pm, so this was great!
Sea Dart
The fetch across to Tilghman Point was the scariest leg of the trip. I felt overpowered and wished I had a reef in, but felt it best to continue... We paced SwampThing and PrivateHam in their yellow Hobie TI, and neither of us had anything on the other. I respect their skills: that must have been a wild crossing from their perspective. Once we bore away from Tilghman, we had a a fast broad reach to the southern tip of Kent Island as the sun went down. We noted a thick column of smoke in the NW, and we postulated there was a big fire somewhere up Kent Island.