Volume 14, Issue 27 ~ July 6 - July 12, 2006

Gunk Holin'

Hurricane Hideouts, Part I

Quarter Cove is lovely anchorage in fair weather or foul

It’s a good gunkhole adventure when your chosen anchorage is also a cozy place to ride out a hurricane. Yes, it’s early in the season, but it’s never too soon to consider options for refuge should you be out and about when one of these tropical beasties roars up the coast to our beloved Bay.

Worth Every Bit of a Quarter

Quarter Cove on the Wye East River could be classed as a multi-purpose gunkhole. It’s an easily accessible location, relatively scenic and secluded, and a handy base from which to explore upper reaches of the Wye East or West. It’s also a good place to drop anchor during a hurricane. But first, how to find your way.

Entering Eastern Bay from the southern end of Kent Island, with the Green No. 1 to port, travel on a course of about 75 degrees toward the Red 2A bell. Change course to 61 degrees and continue for 3.2 nautical miles to Red No. 4. Turn to starboard taking Red Nun No. 6 to starboard; then continue on a course of 168 toward Red Nun No. 8. At the marker, swing east on a course of 101 degrees for about a mile to Green Can No. 3 to miss the shoal off Bennett Point.

Proceed northeast into the mouth of the Wye River, keeping more to east, until you spot the flashing Red No. 4 marker. Stay to the center of the channel and travel past the northern point of Bruff’s Island, which will be to starboard. Enter the Wye East River by turning to starboard around this point, but keep at least 50 yards from shore and beware also of shoaling off Bordley Point. Favor Bordley Point to port to avoid shoaling to starboard at the northeast corner of Shaw Bay.

Continue upriver, in the center of the channel, watching for shoals. Soon you’ll see the mouth of Lloyd’s Creek to starboard. Here the river makes a sharp turn to the north. Following along, the first body of water to port will be Dividing Creek, a very popular (and generally very crowded) anchorage. If you turn to starboard, you will see the wide mouth of Quarter Cove, your destination.

This is a roomy cove surrounded by woods that narrow rapidly to a very protected gunkhole. Because of a few houses around, it is not as secluded as some other Wye anchorages, but there’s a small beach on the eastern shore where you can land your dinghy, relax and swim. From here you can travel to other creeks and coves on the river, and several of them are beautiful, dotted with elegant estates or woods and fields with various types of birds and wildlife. In spring and fall, migrating Canada geese feed in the fields on Wye Island and others nearby. Quarter Cove is a convenient return spot for overnight anchoring after a day of exploring.

A Little Cove in the Cyclone

Now for the really fun part, which is also more serious. We intentionally chose Quarter Cove to ride out Hurricane Isabel because of its protective wooded shores, especially to the east, south and southwest, for its depth, holding properties and space. Dividing Creek would have been more secluded, but it also didn’t afford much space in case of anchor drag or for maneuverability in changeable conditions. Surging water would be coming upstream toward an anchored vessel, whereas the location of the cove mitigated that potential problem. These are things to consider not just when a hurricane approaches but in any stormy situation when you’re on the Bay or its tributaries.

We dropped two anchors and remained secure, though storm tossed, while Isabel had her way with the Bay. It was a wild night, but it was also exciting to experience the storm, and to, well, study the situation. Every such encounter is an opportunity to learn more about your own boat, about boating and how to anticipate and respond to adverse conditions. I’m not recommending you take your boat out to anchor during the next hurricane. Certainly having a sailboat with a six-foot draft made our experience much different, and probably less fearsome, than if we had been in a power boat with a shallow draft.

Quarter Cove really is a lovely anchorage and one I recommend in fair weather or foul.

P.S. If you want pictures in these conditions, get a waterproof camera. My lesson learned.

Tips for Storm-Tossed Sailors

Before we leave this adventure, a few reminders may be in order. If you are chancing foul weather, it is even more important that your radio, GPS, radar, satellite and other electronics are properly working. Keep your charts up to date and have water-proof ones if possible. Your depth finder is critical since water depths may change rapidly and unpredictably with high winds and crazy currents caused by storm surges.

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