October 17, 2009
We ventured out again onto Chesapeake Bay, even though the weather wasn’t great, as we had a very important rendezvous in Norfolk VA, my dad was flying in for a visit. Here is Dickie at the helm:
The trip down the bay was cold and windy and we were happy when it was over. Eventually we turned into the Elizabeth River, past the naval dockyards and finally into the Waterside Marina where we tied up for 4 days of shore power:
October 12, 2009
The weather was forecast to deteriorate over the next few days (and heaven forbid we get stuck for a week on a dry island), so we headed back out onto the Chesapeake to Deltaville VA about 30 miles away on the western shore of the bay. We had stopped there on our last trip north, so we knew it was a good sheltered spot to drop anchor.
After a few hours sail, we fired up the engine about 3 miles away from our destination to navigate into Jackson Creek (another skinny channel). A few minutes later strange revving sounds emanated from the engine, followed by a horribly familiar spluttering, and then silence… no engine at all. %##*! A few panicked minutes later, Dickie decided that air had got into the engine, and it needed bleeding, so he set out to do that while I sailed Harmony up and down outside the harbor. After an hour of dickie being up to his armpits in the engine compartment, and just as we were getting ready to call towboat US, Harmony’s 30 year old tractor engine roared back to life… HOORAY Dickie saved the day and greatly relieved, we motored the last 2 miles into the creek and dropped anchor before sunset.
Deltaville has to be one of the friendliest places we have been to yet: One day we decided to dinghy in and walk the mile or two to the nearest restaurant, it was drizzling but not too much, and on the way there we were offered a ride as soon as we got out on the main road; we refused wanting to stretch our legs, but then another kind soul stopped minutes later and offered again, so we felt bad refusing. On the way back, as soon as we had left the restaurant, another good samaritan stopped and took us all the way back to the marina.
We ended up being stuck in Deltaville for 5 days by the weather, windy, rainy and cold. We had a couple of good excursions on land as the Deltaville marina on the creek allowed you to use their facilities for a small fee including laundry and showers. The best thing is they have a courtesy car that you can book for an hour to do shopping, which we did. It felt very strange being in a car after all this boat time, but the downside was it was a very expensive hour: we managed to spend $250 on food, boat supplies and beer. oh well. After 2 days of rain it was getting very damp down below, condensation covered the portholes, and there is nothing like lying in the v berth and being dripped on while trying to get some sleep. We got some chores done, changed the oil and the coolant and laundry etc so in spite of the rain we had a good time, our australian friends were there too, and we had a few beers with them which was fun.
October 11, 2009
The next day the wind and waves had calmed down, and it was sunny and perfect to cross the Potomac so we headed south once more for Tangier Island VA, passing lighthouses and car carriers along the way. As we got closer we could make out a teeny speck of land on the horizon, more of a sandhill than an island, with shallow waters all around and loads of crab pots to avoid. The entrance channel was well marked but narrow and the waters were very skinny on either side so it was another nailbiter. On getting into the harbor we spotted the Parks marina on the starboard side and as we couldn’t get an answer on the VHF radio we just pulled into one of the slips and tied up. Mr Parks arrived, a lovely old gentleman with a leathery face and blue blue eyes, and he hurried us onto his golf cart to take us to the only restaurant still open for dinner, it was 5.30! We had a crab cake sandwich and a soda, as Tangier is a dry island, ie no booze!
It is a very intriguing place, remote and windswept, settled originally by fishermen from Cornwall in the 1600s. Crabbing and some tourism sustain the community, just about, and they ship softshell crabs to restaurants across the country. The main street is not paved, and there are drifts of weather bleached oyster shells around the buildings, oysters being the main catch before crabbing took over. Along the channel through the middle of the island, where we docked there are crab shacks up on stilts over the water and there are cats everywhere.
After supper we walked up the street as the sun was setting and passed a frail old lady sitting on a bench. She asked us if we would help her to church for the evening hymn service and took my arm as we walked slowly up the street, and she told us everything about her life on the island and her husband who had passed away. Always up for a sing song we decided to stay for the service and it began with the first hymn, something about seeking the kingdom of god, after which a large chap with a tattoo on his forearm stood to address the congregation, it turns out the music was off. He had the most peculiar accent, country virginian with a cornish twang, and he became quite animated, fire and brimstone rained down upon us, as he railed against satan who was actually on the island. The little old lady apologised after for the lack of hymns but it was quite an experience, and one we were glad not to have missed.
The next day a boat arrived at the dock that we had crossed paths with in Marion MA back in July, with a nice Australian family on board. The weather had turned colder and blustery and so we all found the only breakfast spot on the island, where they serve food family style at big communal tables, with heaping plates of eggs, bacon, fried bread and fried potatoes. YUM.
What a great visit.
October 10, 2009
We left Dun Cove bright and early after being penned in by strong winds for a few days. It was calm and beautiful, and we were hoping to make it across the often rough mouth of the Potomac and further south to Tangier Island VA by the end of the day, but that wasn’t to be. The wind picked up and large swells rolled down the bay behind us, and knowing how unpleasant the potomac can be in bad weather, after last year’s crossing, we decided to call it a day and head for a sheltered anchorage. Just like last year we were very relieved to reach Solomons MD and dropped anchor in a very protected spot in Back Creek.
We remembered that there was a dinghy dock we could use behind the holiday inn, within a short walk to a laundry and a chinese restaurant, what a great combination! Unfortunately after lugging a big bag of laundry there, we discovered the laundromat had closed down, but the chinese was still open so we had a delicious meal and picked up a few groceries and headed back to the boat for an early night.
October 06, 2009
We had a great sail across the bay, warm, sunny and the perfect amount of wind from the right direction, it is what it is all about.
The only tricky moment was when we reached Knapps Narrows, a VERY narrow channel with strong currents and a bridge in the middle, that we had to cross to enter a protected bay where we ended up anchoring for the next few days. It was a real nailbiter, as there was lots of crab boats and other sailboats to avoid and no room to maneveur, as on each side of the channel the water was only 2 feet deep; still, Dickie managed to steer us through and on the other side we headed north for a couple of miles, passed Bald Eagle Point and entered Dun Cove, a beautiful spot overlooked by a few large houses.
Immediately after dropping the anchor 3 huge birds flew over us, with white heads, which turned out to be bald eagles. It was like something out of a nature documentary as 2 of them locked talons in mid air and spirralled downwards in a very dramatic fashion, I was so amazed I didn’t have time to grab my camera unfortunately, but one landed on a tree afterwards, which is the white speck you can see at the top of a tree in the photo below!
Windy weather kept us in Dun Cove for 4 days and with no internet connection, it was really out in the boonies, we read a lot and did some chores like polishing the stainless steel rigging.
October 02, 2009
We anchored in Back creek, a little further from down town annapolis than our previous mooring (and free), but more convenient to supermarkets and the hardware store where they have propane. We dinghied in and out over the next few days, walking 3 miles round trip with back packs to restock the ships stores, water supplies, more boat gear and fill the propane tank. With the annapolis boat show pending, the anchorage began to fill up, so we visited Davis’ pub, a local spot right next to a town dinghy dock, for a farewell dinner and beers and headed off the next day.
Condtions were perfect for a beautiful sail across to the east side of the bay:
September 28, 2009
After a successful stay in annapolis we decided to head up the severn river and find a quiet creek to shelter from the forecasted 30 mph winds. We would also be out of reach of all the spending opportunities that the city presented us. The short trip up the river past the naval academy was blustery enough and we were happy to enter clements creek with high treed banks and a few naval moorings that you can use for free unless there is a hurricane coming when they will be used to store their many boats. It is a beautiful spot, very peaceful and quiet with only a few large houses overlooking us, and we sat out the wind and rain fpr the next 2 days in comfort. There were 3 great blue herons in residence and we saw and heard them often, their cry being a weird and distinctive mix of squawking, croaking and grumbling.
Dickie jumped in the creek for a swim the third morning, ( I was too chicken), so I was suprised to come up from below later on, to find him tearing his clothes off and looking very worried, saying “I have to go for a swim”. It turns out that someone had not secured the dinghy to the boat and it was drifting down the creek so he dived in and rescued Little Harmony before she dissappeared. After 3 days on the boat we decided we needed to stretch our legs, there were no public landings in our creek so we took the dinghy to the next creek up, where google map showed there was a dock just off a community called sherwood forest. There we had a good walk and found a store and all the houses painted the same shade of robin hood green; it was a little strange with the streets named maid marian and friar tuck etc.
We decided to head back down the river to annapolis when our propane tank for cooking started making “I am nearly empty” sounds.
September 23, 2009
We spent several days on the mooring in Annapolis, and made the most of the all the facilities (especially showers) the city offered, which were just a short dinghy row away; we were as fresh as daisies. We walked the city’s historic district and past the red brick inns around the state house and then wandered around the naval academy set on the city waterfront. It felt very much like any university campus with grassy quadrangles, big old trees and imposing buildings, except that when classes let out waves of midshipmen in pristine black and khaki uniforms emerged from the various buildings in very determined fashion, no chit chatting, sauntering or dilly dallying at all: military discipline was very evident. We toured the naval museum which was very interesting, there was a whole floor of amazingly detailed ship models made in the 1600 and 1700s, and we learnt that the rations for your average crew member included 1 gallon of beer a day, that sounds about right!
Annapolis was a bustling port back in the 1700s, with tall ships arriving from around the world bringing exotic goods to the new world. But on the same docks where we strolled every day african slaves were also brought and auctioned off to the highest bidder, it is hard to imagine. The Roots TV saga chronicled author alex haley’s family history, beginning here in Annapolis and the city has erected a memorial to this sad part of its history.
September 22, 2009
Annapolis would be our next stop. It is the capital of Maryland and is only about 30 miles south of worton creek and under the humongous william p lane memorial bridge. We had a lovely sail down the bay and were looking forward to some city time.
It is a beautiful old city that caters really well to boaters, they have moorings for $30/night right off the downtown city docks, water taxis, showers, laundry and pump out boats, and most nights there is live music on the dockside so we get front row seats. Here is the view from Harmony:
We arrived mid afternoon and once tied up to the mooring we went ashore to use the showers (ahh hot plentiful water, what a treat) and do laundry as it was slim pickings in the clean clothes dept. We managed to squeeze in a couple of beers and hot dogs on the dock (they even had a veggie one for me) before rowing back to Harmony for sunset.
September 21, 2009
We stayed in Chesapeake City till monday and then set off for the Bay, there were light winds and calm seas and very little traffic, it was lovely. Once we left the C&D canal behind us we had to keep a look out for the buoys attached to crab pots: they are everywhere and can get tangled in your propeller if you run over them and cause all sorts of problems. We passed a tug and a car carrier, they are HUGE, especially when you are looking up at them from sea level, but thankfully you can spot them from miles away.
We found a beautiful anchorage in the mouth of worton creek, shared it with 2 other boats, incredibly peaceful, and settled in for some fishing and sunset and an early night. Here is the anchorage: