Friday, August 5, 2016


Because yesterday was practically perfect start to finish, we had no choice but to try to outdo ourselves today.

Awaking on the screened-in porch of the guesthouse - incidentally, the most exquisite guest room ever conceived - only because my hostess came over to rouse me, I saw we had another day of glorious weather ahead of us.

There was a morning walk down a tiny road that took us to an old oyster shack and accompanying out buildings, tucked around the point with a view of the bridge. Even closer to home but decidedly less charming was a chained, snarling pit bull lunging at us, fortunately from across a yard with a Confederate flag planted firmly in it.

Our big plan had been to take the power boat through the bridge and to Merroir for lunch, but the choppiness of the river ruled that out.

Not a group easily bummed, Plan B had us taking the Mini to the riverside restaurant, but only after we stopped by Kilmarnock to admire the quaint country-style carnival complete with revolving teacups, Ferris wheel, carousel and shooting booths.

You could almost sense that someone would get their heart broken there tonight.

Happily, Merroir wasn't crowded. Situated under an umbrella with a view of six kayakers paddling out and clouds scuttling along the mouth of the Bay, we spent several pleasurable hours scarfing food and drink.

An oyster sampler with Tangiers in the middle position, angels on horseback with Edwards ham, spiced shrimp, crabcake and catfish tacos accompanied by Vinho Verde (me) and multiple Pacificos (them, along with an explanation of where they'd picked up the habit and why it was a superior summer brew) preceded grilled pound cake with strawberries and whipped cream and a Samoa doughnut.

By the time we were ready to leave, everyone who'd arrived after us was long gone. Such is this group's staying power, at least until we reached the car and my hostess announced how "relaxed" she was, foreshadowing that a rest period was in our future.

The trip home wound up being a treat because first we took a more scenic, less-traveled route (new to me, natch), then stopped by a marina in Kilmarnock to ogle pricey boats and finally because we decided to take a chance on the Ottoman Ferry to cross the river after seeing that the sign said it was operational today.

My friends were doubting Thomases despite the sign ("Yea, that's what it says,"), but, sure enough, VDOT surprised us and it was open during normal business hours.

The little ferry was already chugging across its cable when we arrived and in no time, we were on it, behind a truck, out of the car and inhaling watery breezes despite signs suggesting we stay in the car. Personally, I think there are too few ferry rides in life to relegate oneself to a car when enjoying one.

Naps of varying length and satisfaction level ensued, leaving us with the evening hours for our big adventure. Given our limited time, it seemed wisest to go out in the power boat, so the host went out to lower the boat into the water.

My friend and I kvetched about the choppiness of the river and decided that the sailboat was the only way to go tonight. Just then, my genial host returned, looking somewhat abashed. Clearly, he brought bad news.

"Sorry, but I think if we're going to go out, it would have to be in the sail..." he began, before we assured him that we'd already come to the same conclusion. We wanted to go sailing.

He appeared gob-smacked.

"Why are you looking at me like I have no brain?" his lovely wife inquired of him.

"Correction, I'm looking at you like you have two heads," he said, obviously amazed that we were up for a sailing adventure this late in the day So it was already 6:30, why shouldn't the two of us be more than willing to take the boat out, knowing we'd be out past sunset?

In record time, we gathered supplies, motored to the nearby marina and set off, passing Chief sucking on a cig and floating along on his pocket kayak. As we came abreast of him, I stood up and called down to tease him about finding him doing the exact thing he'd been doing yesterday about this time.

The look of pleasure on his face was apparent, although I couldn't say if it was due to seeing familiar faces or just satisfaction with his life.

It turned out to be an exhilarating sail because of the water's roughness, but also a gorgeous sunset cruise given the far-reaching pink and lavender sky that resulted from today's uncharacteristic August weather as well as the storm systems that moved all around us, but gave us only two minutes of mid-afternoon sprinkles before moving on.

Completely different than the marathon six-hour sunshine sail yesterday, tonight's was wetter, wilder and with far more subdued lighting, but no less exciting for the mental and physical work involved.

Luff, keel and lee entered my lexicon today, but only after detailed explanations. Trimming the sails, on the other hand, I grasped without explanation.

And while my position on board is far less valuable than the skipper and helms woman, I've found my niche already doing grunt work.

We arrived back at the marina just as the mosquitoes came out to eat, hastening our departure back to the house. Mid-cruise, the hostess had decided that BLTs with enormous, fat Hanover tomatoes and Cabernet Sauvignon would be the ideal post-sail meal and once home, made it so.

I've learned everything I know - admittedly not much yet - about sailing over the past two days, so I don't even know yet all the things I don't know, but one thing I'm very clear on is the pleasures of rehashing an outing on the water once you're sharing a post-sail meal or drinks.

Showering outside under a clear, starry sky afterwards, I'm considering my friends' invitation to come back sooner rather than later for more adventures in sailing and summer living. At their insistence, I've already stayed longer than I'd planned to.

But unless I have no brain, why would I not rush back for more of this?

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