Autumn on Forked River

Categories Sailing Log

The sailing weeks are winding down, but we’re still out there.

We wanted to do something a little different, so we sailed down to BB and hung a right into the oddly polysyllabic Forked [FORK-id] River, hoping to see a little fall foliage.

ICW Marker "BB"

Of course, there is very little fall foliage here. While Pineys and Bayfolk may distinguish themselves from each other, the fact is that the pines go all the way to the shore, and most of the trees are evergreen. Of the few deciduous trees, some were still hanging on to green and some were already past prime, with none of the uniformity that one would expect if their knowledge of autumn was based on jigsaw puzzles of Vermont. I tried to select the photos with the most variation for visual interest, but the reality is that they were the exception.

Autumn foliage along the shoreline (kind of)

More autumn (ish) foliage

I probably spent more time looking at boats. Forked River is lined with marinas and homes with private slips. In some ways, it’s like sailing through a parking lot.

Boats in slips along the shore of Forked River

The powerboat on the left in the photo above is curiously named.

Zoom in on the boat's name, Breaking Wind

On a sailboat, it’s a tired pun, but on a powerboat, unless your name is Fartz “Wind” Windington and this vessel is breaking you financially, this is a single entendre. I do appreciate the illustration though, just in case the subtlety was lost on anyone.

We went up to the Route 9 bridge at State Marina, which is as far as you can go with an air draft over 5ft, and turned around to head out of the river and do a little sailing.

The cool wind was brisk, and we set one reef in the main and partially furled the jib to head upwind. We initially continued south since there were boats down there for me to chase. We overtook one boat fairly easily, but in the process, were led toward the corner of the bay near the sedge islands where we ran aground last year. They were off of our starboard quarter by the time I realized where we were, and to avoid tacking toward them, we jibed away and headed back toward deeper water.

Chasing a boat on a tilted horizon

The wind was closer to being on the beam as we headed north on starboard tack, and I let out the rest of the jib. Fortuitous hunched down into the water, and I could tell from just the sound of our bow wave that we were getting all of it. A large boat crossed our path well ahead of us. In the time it took me to think, “Well they’re over-canvassed,” their sails started flogging wildly and they appeared to lose the plot of whatever they were trying to do.

A boat drifting among whitecaps with their sails flogging

At first, I thought maybe they had tried to ease their (unreefed) main in a gust and that it had gotten away from them, which has happened to me, but as time continued to uncomfortably elapse without any visible correction, I thought that something might have been actually wrong. As is my custom, I put Jenn on alert with some stilted statement like “Standby to intercept,” as if I was commanding a fighter squadron. Jenn loves being on alert. We did a quick jibe—not a crash jibe, but the kind where I just grab the working section of the main sheet and manually cajole it to the other side without letting it bang—and went over to see if they were in trouble. Their sails continued to flog interminably, to the point where I could almost see cartoon dollar signs falling out of them, but they eventually furled their jib (mostly) and got going on a course that would allow their main to settle down.

The boat, sailing upright with their jib furled

We weren’t as close as this photo implies. This is just the magic of the zoom lens on a modern telephone.

With that out of the way, we sailed back to port and contemplated how much sailing might be left in the season.

"Prepare to fend off the bridge abutment."