The wind was at a broad reach blowing a steady 15 knots. We were making good time, better than we had anticipated. As the wind started to die and the sun went below the horizon, we contemplated our over night stop. We settled on Solomon's at the mouth of the Patuxent River, an arm of the Chesapeake. But we did not want to waste precious time going in and out of an anchorage, so we just dropped the hook around the corner and went to bed. We were awoken by the fishing boat wakes at an early hour. I'm not even sure that the sun was up yet. We peered out the window and saw a parade of sailboats headed to the Chesapeake. We hoisted the sails and joined the parade with hot coffee in hand and wind on our beam.
Once we got to the mouth of the Potomac River, we had to change course and head Northwest. Unfortunately, that was the same direction as the wind. Darn it! We tried sailing close hauled, but eventually had to lower the sails and turn the engine on. No folks, that is not a typo....I meant to say engine, as in singular. Yes, we have two engines, but one is out of commission at the moment (more on that later). One engine doesn't allow one to move as fast as one would prefer - like 3/4 knots instead of 6 knots. We still had 110 miles to go, more or less. We were trying to get to DC before nightfall on Thursday (it's Wednesday morning by this point). Hmmmm, how are we going to do that? Let me just say, it was a long day of motoring. The kids went to bed and then there were two.
The wind started to pick up ever so slightly at about 8pm. When it reached 8-9 knots, we raised the sails and picked up speed as the wind increased to a steady 13 knots on a beam reach. Yeah! After approximately an hour, without warning as if the dimmer had been turned up, the wind increased to 19 knots. Just as we were at the ready to put in a single reef, it was blowing 25 knots. Before we could think about the second reef, it was howling 30 knots. The wind clocked back around and was on our nose. We took the sails down as quickly as we could at that point. We weren't sure if this was a gust or if it was a permanent change. It didn't take long to figure out it was going to stick around for a while, as the waves on the Potomac River increased in size. We tried to find a place to duck out of the wind and waves for the night, but we were in the one area by the James Madison Bridge that didn't offer a protected harbor of refuge. And it was dark!
We continued up the river until it turned 90 degrees and the wind and waves settled back down. Unfortunately, there wasn't a suitable place to drop the anchor. Everywhere we tried, there were dumb crab pots (same set up as the lobster pot buoy's). We talked about pulling an all nighter but didn't want to face the rough waves when the river turned again. We tried making it across the river to a protected anchorage but the waves were tossing us around like a cork. We turned around and literally dropped the hook 100 feet off the channel in a random (but calm) area of the river. It was 2 am and we didn't care at that point. The following morning, we woke up with the sun and were amazed that we didn't snag a crab pot buoy. They were everywhere, we were anchored in a sea of them!
The remainder of the Potomac trip was spent under power, with our one engine, in calm waters and sunny skies. We made excellent time, thanks to the current working with us most of the day. We dropped the hook at 4:30 pm outside the Capital Yacht Club.
Bow pointed up the Potomac
Sun is low in the sky
Lighthouse along the way
Flat calm as the sun sets before the winds whipped up to 30 knots!
Going under Woodrow Wilson Memorial Bridge
Washington Monument and Capitol Yacht Club just ahead