Still Pond and Artillery

The Guide to Cruising Chesapeake Bay says about this part of the upper bay, "warm sunny days and comfortable nights for sleeping, with only the occasional shower and thunderstorm" . It also says that after said 'occasional thunderstorm' : "The best part of these experiences is the grand finale-a scarlet blaze of sunset and cool air that promises a pleasant nights sleep". I think these writers also write romance novels, gag. Anyway, so far, we've had daily thunderstorms that end early enough for the sun to come back out and steam it up again and then the wind dies so it stays nice and steamy when we go to bed.
We anchored last night at Still Pond, a beautiful cove off the main channel, just before the daily storm. We had just enough time to run up to the beach, in the picture above and collect a few shells and rocks. It then rained off and on until after dark. We awoke to the sound of machine guns and grenades, courtesy of the Aberdeen Proving Ground, across the Bay. This is where the Army tests EVERYTHING. Of course it's all restricted, so we can't go over and accidentally blow our selves up.
Tonight we're in Chesapeake City, just inside of the canal that goes between the north ends of the Chesapeake and Delaware Bays. The canal is 13 miles long and was built in 1829. We'll go from there down the Delaware and on to Cape May, NJ. Lots of ducks here, they came out to say Hi to Adjima. She wasn't sure what to think of them, she just stared for a long time. Maybe remembering some long ago meal of pate.


Just Some Stuff

Annapolis has been great. Our friends, Alison and Mike, came for dinner, they drove all the way from Alexandria, VA, on a weeknight! If you've ever driven in DC, you know how amazing that is. It was wonderful to see them again and catch up and eat a lot and drink some wine.

We also made it to the weekly SSCA breakfast where we had a chance to meet some other cruisers. A BIG THANK YOU to Al and Marianne for their help in getting our propane tank filled.

This photo is just for Hannah. We saw Les Miserables on Broadway for my 40th birthday and have been singing the songs ever since.
This has nothing to do with Annapolis, but we came by this no longer used lighthouse on the way up the Chesapeake. I just was really impressed by anyone brave enough to use the bathroom, the little precariously balanced port-a-potty 20 feet above the water.

This also has nothing to do with where we are now, but we got waked by a sub on our way out of Norfolk. It was VERY cool.

We left downtown Annapolis and anchored in Weems Creek, just on the west side of town, off the Severn River. It's only a 15 minute dinghy ride to the city center, but a world away. There are huge homes up on the riverbanks, with big yards, docks. It's pretty, with lots of Osprey and ducks. Today we hiked to Bacons, a legendary marine store. Some of their stuff is new, some used, some consigned. We spent a lot of time browsing and discussing. It was a good walk combined with boat stuff, it doesn't get any better.


Annapolis by Water

Lynn and I had visited Annapolis many times and every time we had we walked along the waterfront and wondered just what it would be like....someday...to sail into here. Well, today is the day and here is the view of that same downtown waterfront from the mooring field.

Indicative of our late trust in the weather/wind forecasts of the Chesapeake, we went to bed last night expecting the forecast to change. We left the dinghy in the water and the rest of Celebration pretty unprepared for sailing out with the easterlies forecast. Getting up this morning to find easterlies, we hoisted the dink and the anchor, preparing the rest as we motored out of Solomons sipping the first coffee. Turned into an excellent morning sail up the bay, 5 1/2 knots against a 9/10ths knot current. Like all things, it couldn't last and the last few hours turned into a gentle motor-sail as the breeze laid down, then turned slightly enough from the north to make a straight sail untenable. At that point the current was well with us so an idle of Nanni was all it took to pick up a mooring before 1730 and sit back to evening cocktails.

N 38 deg 58.424 min
W 76 deg 28.833 min


Small World, Big SSCA

We arrived Solomons MD late on Thursday 16 July, checked the mail and saw that our cruising friends and fellow SSCA members John and Roberta, S/V Freedom, had just been here....looked up in the morning from our coffee to see the image posted here...yes the stern of their beautiful boat. Unfortunately we learned they are away for a few days and we'll miss them... this time.

Next was a dingy visit from Frank and Joanne, S/V Fantasy Island, SSCA members who on noticing our SSCA burgee stopped by to say hi. For us new-bees it was a welcome visit. They provided a couple tips and local knowledge from their experience cruising that have proven very helpful in our short stay here. Tomorrow, we'll hit the Tiki Bar, one of our all time favorite people watching spots. Then if the weather actually develops into something sailable, we'll head north toward Annapolis. Meanwhile we are enjoying the festivities of the Screwpile Lighthouse Regatta as we relax.

N 38 deg 20.309 min
W 76 deg 27.578 min


Like the Neighborhood

A week plus in Norfolk. I'd love to say we were "waiting for a weather window" but it's just not true. Like cruisers everywhere, we must do some boat repairs in exotic ports. In this case a little less than exotic, but pretty cool sitting next to the aircraft carriers and all the other USN vessels. While the photo here is from the outside, the little Naval marina we are in is right behind the ships births. Having come through the Great Dismal Swamp with a non-functioning depth sounder, leaky head, and a tear in the mainsail, we wanted to get a couple things fixed. So we ordered parts while enjoying the Independence weekend, had them sent to the marina at Norfolk, moseyed in for a great deal on a transient slip and went to work. Here is the end of week score: We took the main down, patched her and got it back up; disassembled cleaned and lubed one of the reefing winches; built a bracket and moved our Fortress anchor to the bow relegating the small CQR somewhere else yet to be determined; got in the head parts but decided to put them in the spares and sent the second head directly to the dumpster...it's all about the weight and the space; installed a new shoot through the hull transducer that is IN FRONT of the keel (neat concept in my view, and it WORKS!); replaced a broken LP solenoid; finally split the settee bases which we've planned for years and installed a piano hinge so we can get to the food (another good quality of life issue); installed a deck pump-out fitting for the forward holding tank since we've now eliminated the aft head; Repaired a small leak and recharged the engine driven refrigeration; installed new navigation software as my old is very outdated and the new (almost) free stuff is getting pretty good; and finally, I made some neat facings (photo here) and installed the LED galley lighting we've been carrying around for months, BTW the old lights haven't worked for much longer that that. All in all a good week, met many new friends and now time to head north. Weather...once we're actually looking...will probably keep us in the Chesapeake. Tomorrow will tell. We'll update again soon!

N 36 deg 57.311
W 76 deg 18.610


Welcome To The Jungle

We got into Norfolk just ahead of the crowd. This was Harbourfest weekend here. Three days of fun in the sun. A new Waterfront Park to dedicate, a Tall Ship show and Parade Of Sail, tug boat salutes and muster, an Anything That Floats But A Boat Race, music and food of all kinds, ship tours and fireworks every night.
We anchored in what was an empty anchorage across from the waterfront. By dark on the 4th there were more than 200 boats in less that 1 square mile. Every kind of boat and every size, from kayaks to cruisers. The fireworks on Fri were spectacular. A barge down the middle of the harbour close enough that there was no lag between the boom and the light. We thought they were great, until last night. TWO barges, launching simultaneously, fireworks wider than my field of vision. The concussions rocked the boat. It lasted for 40 minutes. We've seen some amazing fireworks, but these were the best. The cat slept through it all.
N 36 50.635
W 76 17.968


The Canal Less Traveled

Two roads diverged in a wood and I - I took the one less traveled by, and that has made all the difference. Robert Frost.

That's one of my favorite quotes and one that we've tried to follow for the last 25 years as we've traveled around.
We left Oriental, meandered around, watched some beautiful sunsets, spent 2 nights at the free dock in Elizabeth City, (where the city not only hosts a wine and cheese party for the boaters, but the grocery store will pick you up and deliver you back to the harbour) and made our way to the Great Dismal Swamp. We boaters were few and far between here, very nice. The canal through the GDS was originally surveyed by George Washington in the late 1700's and the canal was finished in 1803. It's little used these days, except by pleasure boaters, so it's a little overgrown and a little wild looking. It's so narrow in spots that we actually had to look up to avoid the trees, instead of just looking ahead to avoid the floating logs. The canal is maintained at 6' of depth and that's what we draw, so Steve still has a sore neck and back from being tense for so long. He just can't accept the fact that the bottom paint will get scratched at some point. We only hit bottom once.