St. Marys River Cruise
May 30-31, 2003

One Oar in the Water
by Brian Forsyth

        After some arm-twisting and promises of great adventure, buried treasure, dragons to slay, damsels in distress, etc, I convinced my sons Matt (16) and Sam (13) that the second annual “Assault on Hog Island” was not to be missed.  We were all part of the party that had made last year’s attempt, only to be put off by weather (and the fact that our Dovekie Little Wing was at that time engineless).  This stirred in all of us the “not to be denied” instinct and they finally assented that this was “worth missing a day of school”.  Something has certainly changed since I was in junior high and high school!
        All of the prospective participants were watching the weather forecasts for the coming weekend and we had some conference calls culminating in a prudent Thursday decision that this would not be the best time to visit Hog Island.  We discussed some alternatives and settled on St. Marys River, which was more than fine with us Forsyths, as it is just one river over from our homeport in Solomons, MD.

We checked out this gorgeous schooner
 just up Carthagena Creek from Dennis Point Marina

        After relaying this change of plans to my crew, they independently realized that since this was just “local” sailing, they could go to school on Friday and have Mom drive them down to meet me Friday evening.  Sometimes you just have to take what you can get.  It wasn’t until I was getting everything sorted for the trip later that evening that I realized I’d be singlehanding Little Wing for the first time.  No biggie. I’d sailed her a few times with my crew.  I had my waterproofed copy of Peter Duff’s wonderful and comprehensive instructions.  I know which end is the pointy one (actually they both are, aren’t they?).  So Friday AM it was off to the launching point at Dennis Point Marina on Carthagena Creek off the St. Marys River for some adventure!

Ken in the Sanity motors toward the St. Marys River

        When I pulled into the marina, Ken Murphy and Sanity were nestled across the creek in a nice cove, out of the mild breeze, the perfect place to sort out and raise sail.  By the time Little Wing was ready for launching, Ken was out of sight and into the river, and Norm Wolfe had arrived (boatless).   Norm was going to sail for the afternoon with John Zohlen and his beautiful restored Peep Hen, Terrapin.  Norm kindly assisted me with the launch and I proceeded under oars to the little cove across the creek to get sorted.  Now Little Wing does have a motor and the reason I was rowing is not that I’m a purist or anything, but after 10 or 15 pulls the iron wind refused to start. The previous weekend I had replaced the impeller and plug and hit the grease points.  She started OK a couple times, on the first or second pull.  I was now having impure thoughts about outboard motors, but wasn’t going to let that spoil what was surely one of the most beautiful days of the year.  In the cove I tried many more pulls and started deviating from the instruction book on choke position, throttle position, cleaned the plug, etc.  No joy.  By this time John and Norm had past me heading out, me giving them the “everything’s under control” sign.  After a bunch more pulls, I realized that I was in a SAILBOAT and the wind was blowing!  I unfurled the main and I was soon into the main body of the river, scanning the horizon for fellow privateers.

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