4 November 2021: Oysterfest!
4 November 2021
Reedville, VA, USA
Urbanna, VA, USA
Cumulative Mileage (NM)
Crew on Board
Skipper, first mate, chef, entertainment and more; I guess that is solo sailing for you!
GENERAL WEATHER OBSERVATIONS
18 knots mostly downwind.
Not a cloud in sight!
COLD! Why did I not stock up on firewood for my wood stove?
Dry, thank goodness!
Immediately upon arriving in Urbanna, I could tell we had made the right decision to come to Oysterfest and that the sail up the Rappahannock River was worthwhile.
It was an uneventful sail with Ellen and Arjuna getting ahead of me due to their willingness to cut through shallower areas. I was still not confident with all the symbols on the charts so I tended to just steer away from any shallow areas (even if they were deeper than my draft) as that is where I most often would see an unfamiliar symbol.
Not to mention that even when I knew what a symbol was marking, I assumed the worst. Like a rock marked in 30 ft of water, I am thinking “I wonder if these charts are trying to warn ships with a deep draft or is this rock like grazing the surface unseen”. The solution was to just avoid.
I had a productive trip in some sporty conditions but the autohelm was misbehaving so it was a lot of hand steering. Nevertheless, I did manage to tick off a few to do’s on my list including a call with an Australian reporting who wanted to hear about my big trip back to Australia and finalising my cruising permit. The notification had just come through that my registration was finalised (I did not have the luxury of waiting to depart Connecticut until the paperwork was done; but Australia had given me a real ‘do what you gotta do’ attitude towards these things) so I immediately set out to making things legit and filled out my cruising permit application on the CBP Roam app.
I have a real mind for numbers so I did not even have to go and get my paperwork for things like boat registration and passport numbers.
I was not sure what to do as there was no option to say that I had bought the boat in USA so I just selected the ‘from Canada’ option. Within minutes of pushing submit I had a phone call come in from Customs and Border Patrol wanting to clarify, as covid rules did not allow Canadian vessels to enter from Canada at the moment. But I knew the rules and as soon as I explained that I bought the vessel in the USA, foreign flagged it and was cruising the coast to depart US waters, I was granted my free cruising permit.
Much better than my experience last time where we made a lot of mistakes on the Customs and Border Patrol/Immigration front. But that’s a story for another day!
By the time I pulled into the Urbanna harbour, Ellen and Arjuna already had Tucker out on the beach for a walk and that waved me on in. The anchorage was packed as expected because not only was this a well known Oysterfest but also was nearing the end of the season so many were having a last ‘hurrah’. Plus, word on the street was another popular Oyster Festival in the Chesapeake had been cancelled.
But I found a spot I liked and though it took me two attempts to anchor (the first attempt I did not like how I close I was to my neighbor as I was falling back), I was happy in the end. Though it was nervewracking as I felt there was 1 million eyes on me as I did it.
It as bloody cold and I had been running the engine so my first move was to have a hot shower. Then I threw on all my warmest layers to head to town with Ellen and Arjuna and suss out this event we found ourselves at. Initially just an evening scout, but you could see the place was ready to be bustling with Oyster fiends. I was excited!
I talked to Arjuna a bit about their fireplace setup and was determined to give mine a go. I hate the idea of fires and boats, but the weather was forcing me to reconsider. We decided a trip to the hardware store would be in order to get me some firewood while we were in town.
The next morning we braved the crowds to get our oyster fix. Though it was an experience and I was glad I came, the oysters were unusual. Way too large and meaty, like the size of your entire palm in some cases. And they did not have that delicious briny flavour which made you wonder if they were fresh water or from a more brackish region. And then to top it off, the locals tended to eat the oysters fried (and I was a die hard raw gal) and so the options for toppings for the raw were very limited. Oh how I craved a mignonette. I would have brought my own had I known!
But it was a great day with fresh squeeze lemonade and mini-donuts. All the indulgences of being a tourist that I had not really gotten to enjoy much thus far in the winter dash south. There was a front coming through so the plan was to sit tight for a few days – I was not opposed – and then carry on!
Not the worst place to spend some time!
Not to mention that
“Two roads diverged in a wood and I – I took the one less traveled by, and that has made all the difference.”
– Robert Frost