Manokin River Afternoon

Pete guides Obadiah downwind 


From Teague Creek to Wolftrap Creek is a distance of less than 4 miles, but it’s a fun 4 miles. By the end of lunch break the wind has picked up. Herds of white caps are galloping upriver. The wind and the tide are not yet at odds, so instead of choppy and bucking it’s a smooth gallop.





Paul in the Handy Cat Red Molly

Rounding the point into the open river, turning downwind in the main channel, Obadiah and Red Molly weave back and forth crossing wakes. It’s a quiet, exhilarating rush with the wind at our backs. Tending the tiller requires care to keep the big cats, with their big one-sided sails, from rounding up into the wind and tripping. Straight downwind is the only challenging point of sail for a catboat for this reason. Red Molly has a reef in. Captain Pete is thinking maybe he wishes we did.


 two Marsh Cats, Makani and little t








Wolftrap Creek provides cover in a broad funnel shaped bay. It’s wide and deep. The shores shorten the fetch and damp down the waves, but the wind is clear. We have a great big playground all to ourselves. Obadiah reaches back and forth throwing up foam at the bows, the bit in her teeth. The boats rip past on opposing tacks, hissing with speed, turn and give chase. We’re all smiles – no words needed to say how great this is.

It’s big fun. This is why we come, making 11 months of waiting all worthwhile.


Kevin M. shows what a Marsh Cat likes in little t 








At the narrow end of the bay Pete takes us up the creek that gives the bay its name. It curls in sine waves into the marsh, looping back upon itself, narrowing steadily but still deep all the way up to the banks. We twist and turn up the creek it’s just two boat lengths wide and we’re dead into the wind by a workboat dock. In one smooth motion he spins Obadiah 180 degrees within her boat length, a perfect pirouette, and without missing a beat we are full about heading downstream again. Beautiful.

As the light fades so does the wind. The shrimper is the biggest boat with the biggest anchor, so Doug drops hook a bug-free distance from shore. The other boats circle in and land like a flock of gulls.

Dinner and drinks until a full moon rises.


seafood gumbo 



















Finally, the boats disperse for the evening. There’s enough breeze to keep the mosquitos away, but it’s quiet. Whippoorwills call from shore all night.


The view over coffee the next morning:



Full Gallery:





One Reply to “Manokin River Afternoon”

  1. In my search for a boat to build I discovered the Marsh Cat. I was looking for something that would be relatively easy to build, could accommodate me and my grandchildren, and was trailerable. As a previous Lightning owner (was home built), a day sailer, and a few sunfish I knew what I wanted. I wanted to hear the sound of the water lapping against a wood hull.

    Thank you for your videos and inspiration!!

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