Monthly Archives: May 2015

Home for brief stay!

An update from our land home (5/29/15):  As most of you know we had plans to come home for a brief visit, namely to attend our Godson Rob’s High School graduation.  We flew in from Baltimore yesterday and attended the graduation ceremonies last night, amongst family members for over 650 graduates.  The place was a zoo and Denise was really longing to get back to the quiet solitude of boat-life.

Congratulations Rob, who is bound for FSU in the fall (Yeah!).

WPHS Grad 2015

WPHS Grad 2015

As with all our adventures, this one too has a story. But this one is not of our travels, but of what happened before we left Maryland.

The executive summary:  Our neighborhood had a power outage for over an hour one day this week, and the battery restart system was unable to restart our main computer.  Although our neighbor tried to help (thanks Kim), it was clear that our very old computer bit the dust in the process.  Fortunately, we have a pretty good back up system and it looks like we will not lose any (relevant) data. However, it has taken Mark all of today to diagnose the issue and come up with the recovery, and we are still not operational yet.  The goal is to be up and running again before Mark leaves on Sunday, and to get a new computer on order so it can be set up for our next visit.  We do have a backup server and will be moving our files to it, but that leaves us vulnerable and we don’t want that long-term.

Also placing a challenge on us was the saga of Denise’s contact lens prescription.  Long story short, the script was written (and contacts purchased) for the wrong script, which unfortunately was not detected until we were already on the trip. So, squeezed into the graduation, haircuts and family events for the short weekend was an eye doctor appointment to get it corrected and acquire sufficient lenses until more can be ordered and picked up on the next home visit.  Issue now solved!

Lastly, our mail.  The USPS has done a fine job of screwing up the forward to Elaine’s (Mark’s mom), who is doing a terrific job of handling it all for us – when she gets it. For example: we had mail post-marked 4/13 that arrived at her house this week. So, Mark went to our PO this morning and talked with the Supervisor who advised him that our mail goes first to Tampa (where the “forwarding center” is) before it gets delivered to Elaine in Oviedo and that can take 3 -5 days each way.  Talk about inefficiency!  No wonder they are going broke!  So, if you sent us something and we haven’t responded it is not that we are rude; its possible we just haven’t received it yet! (Thanks Uncle Jerry for the card and great letter). Don’t worry, eventually we will get it and then we will respond.

It sure seems like there are lots of obstacles trying to pull us away from our adventures…..but we won’t let it get the better of us. We shall overcome this and be back on the boat soon.

Have a great weekend and stay tuned for more!

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We have seen so much: more to come!

Outside Baltimore, MD Here we sit at the Maryland Yacht Club thinking how lucky we are to have this great adventure.  We have been so in awe of the people we meet, and the sights we have seen.  This really is a beautiful world, especially when you can get away from the places that man has mucked up pretty good. Baltimore is one such place, but I will save that for later.  Here is the latest on our activities since we last posted from St. Michaels. Thursday (5/21/15) – St. Michaels, MD. BRRR – we woke up this morning to cold weather again!  It was 80+ degrees on Wednesday but the cool breeze turned cool with temperatures in the 50’s. To add insult to injury it was starting to sprinkle outside and the wind had picked up. As usual Denise was up when the sun came up and watched a beautiful red sky turn cloudy and grey.  All she wanted was coffee, but since there was no shore power to make the 110 electricity go, and she didn’t want to wake Mark, she did not turn on the generator. Instead she got working on the previous week’s blog post that was taking forever to complete.  The boat had swung overnight and they were now facing east with the back of the boat closer to the Inn. Twenty minutes later she noticed that the boat had gotten closer to the bulkhead by the inn; we were dragging anchor! So Mark was awaken and after several attempts at good holding we managed to get the boat re-anchored for the day. Mark went back to bed and slept for a little while longer while Denise did some work and boat clean-up.  By this time it was sprinkling pretty regularly and we noticed a few boats had left the anchorage, but a new boat was entering and anchored not too far from us. Come to find out it was our new friends from Solomon’s Island Rob & Corinne (“Ariel”). Like us, they were hunkering down to ride out what was forecasted to be a day of nasty rainy weather.

St. Michaels Harbor entrance

St. Michaels Harbor entrance

Ariel

Ariel

Around noon Denise was getting antsy and talked Mark into taking the dinghy into town and getting some lunch at the infamous “Crab Claw” restaurant.  She also wanted to go back to a store she saw a sweatshirt in from yesterday. So, off we went and as luck would have it, the rain started again by the time we got to the dinghy dock; we got a bit wet.  But the individual crab pizza and the seared tuna sandwich were great and we were glad we came.

Crab Pizza @ Crab Claw

Crab Pizza @ Crab Claw

Crab Claw Restaurant

Crab Claw Restaurant

The Crab Claw is an institution in St. Michaels and sits right in the main harbor overlooking the water. They are celebrating their 50th anniversary on Friday night (tomorrow). There are festivities planned and a lobster special, but we probably will not stay as the place is supposed to be quite crowded; all the marinas are booked up with ridiculously expensive rates ($3.85/ft – with no maid service). The Maritime Museum is also celebrating its 50th anniversary so the place will be packed. After lunch we walked back into town and found the shop where Denise bought a cute sweatshirt for a whopping $14; after all it is the end of their cold season even if we Floridians think it is still cold.  Of course on the way back to the dinghy it started to rain again, and by the time we got in it and headed back to the boat it was really coming down.  We were so thankful for the jackets we had (courtesy of WDW Marathon Volunteering) and the Columbia outdoor pants which were waterproof.  As soon as we got back to the boat, we changed and put on dry clothes and did some work.

Bailing water out of dinghy

Bailing water out of dinghy

Today was Mark’s birthday, so Denise made some brownies to celebrate. As with the cc cookies, it was another lesson in boat-oven-baking 101.  However, 1hr+ later they were finally done.  For dinner we ate leftovers, then paired the brownies with the last of the ice cream that we still had in our freezer from Spanky’s (Tangiers Island). It continued to rain into the evening and part of the night.

Birthday Brownies

Birthday Brownies

Friday (5/22/15) – St. Michaels to the Wye River, MD The wind blew a last night and it was a cold. Denise was afraid the anchor was dragging again and didn’t sleep much after about 2:00 am.  Finally, at 5:00 she got up and turned on the generator as it was 49 degrees. No sleeping in-birthday reprieve for Mark.  The sun came up about 5:45 and it was a gorgeous day, even if it was a bit chilly.  After breakfast, we took the dinghy to the fuel dock to get a fill of gasoline. There we saw our friends Mark and Pam (“Sea Bear”) who were next to us in the slip in Deltaville. We talked for a while and discussed future plans in hopes of catching up again after NYC. Our plans were to stay in St. Michaels until Mark was done his 11:00 conference call as we knew it was a place where there was good cell phone coverage.  While we were waiting for the call, the anchorage started to fill up. We watched a few boats come in and anchor well, and another idiot come in and try to anchor in 3 different spots. Once the call was done and we left, he immediately moved to take our spot. There was another boat “circling” the anchorage waiting for an opening. We were glad we were leaving as it was going to get crazy! We made the short run up to the Wye River to find a quiet anchorage for the night. This river splits in two shortly after entering and we took the Northern route first.

House on Wye River

House on Wye River

It was big and open and we loved seeing the homes along the way. However, after a few attempts to scope out an anchorage and try a holding spot for the night, we reversed our plans and went down the Wye East River. Here we found a little cove that we had all to ourselves and offered protection from the North wind. It is expected to blow from the North about 20 kts and we wanted to not rock all night long.

Our Anchorage

Our Anchorage

This area is spectacularly beautiful and quiet. We saw a grey heron, numerous hawks and a bald eagle.  There were several other boats about a mile up the river in another cove (Shaw cove), but this one is nice and secluded; just us!  For people who never anchor out and only stay in marinas, they miss some of the best cruising grounds of the Chesapeake Bay. Here are some of our sights from the Wye River: Lighthouse at entrance to Wye River

Grey Heron in anchorage

Grey Heron in anchorage

AGLCA at sunset

AGLCA at sunset

Saturday (5/23/15) – Kent Island (The Narrows) – The big wind expected overnight never really came (or at least we didn’t feel it) and was now delayed to occur later in the day.

Planning the next stop

Planning the next stop

Last night we had been trying to decide where best to go next; cross the Bay and move up towards Baltimore, or hang out on the Eastern Shore. One of the things weighing on our minds was trying to locate a church for Sat. evening or Sunday morning mass.  The challenge isn’t just finding a Catholic church nearby, but one we can get to by either walking, biking or catching a cab (not as easy as you think), and anchoring out would further complicate the transportation logistics.  Another consideration was that it was Memorial weekend, and marina rates would be high. But most importantly, if the wind was going to be strong, we didn’t want to be crossing the Bay in large seas – which build pretty high in the upper Bay when the wind is out of the South (like it was). So, we opted to stay on the Eastern shore and move into a (relatively speaking) cheap marina for the night at Piney Narrows Yacht Haven on Kent Island (the “Narrows”). It was only a short trip from the Wye River and since it gets light here so early, we were on our way by 9:00 am.   We arrived just after 10:00 am, got a pump out of the holding tank, and were tied up at the dock in time to have an early lunch.

Piney Narrows Yacht Haven

Piney Narrows Yacht Haven

Immediately, Mark made friends with people on the dock.  He met “Suzie” and “Bill” Clark, a divorced couple who still own their boat together (“Clark’s Ark”), but it serves as their “hotel” for weekend getaways. They live in separate residences in Maryland, but come to the marina where their boat is permanently docked; it never leaves. Their adult son Tim is the main reason they stay on “good terms” and share the friends that they have had for many years.  There are a handful of families that all permanently dock their boats here and who for years have gotten together every weekend all summer long. The children have all grown up together and as Tim is an only child he is very close to many of these families.

Suzie Clark

Suzie Clark

Bill Clark

Bill Clark

Clark's Ark -

Clark’s Ark – “Hotel”

But this particular weekend was a big one for the marina. For the last 9 years they have had a Memorial Day fishing tournament, and they have a big cookout and party. They also use it as a way to honor the founder of the gathering who passed away unexpectedly a few years ago and so many of his old friends and his widow come to the celebration.  Of course they invited us, but we declined as we had plans to move on (more on this later). Later in the afternoon, we were considering the options for getting to church – 3 miles away.  Denise had proposed that we borrow a bicycle and ride to mass (we have one bike on the boat).  So she went and asked Suzie if she knew where we could borrow a bike, as it appeared this marina did not have any to rent/lend.  Working with Suzie she secured a bike we could use to hit the 5:00 pm mass. Denise returned to the boat all excited, only to be met with Mark’s reluctance to get sweaty riding a bike to church.  Instead, Suzie insisted we take her car and we eventually took her up on her offer. Now here is a woman who met us less than 4 hours ago offering us her car….it gets better.

St. Christophers - Chester, MD

St. Christopher’s – Chester, MD

We returned from church and were trying to figure out what to do for dinner. We went to return the car keys to Suzie, but Bill reported that she and Tim had taken his boat across the river to get some appetizers and drinks. We inquired about the restaurants in the area and he told us all the good places to eat were about 1 mile away, across the river. He then offered to take us there and we could bum a ride home on their boat if we wanted.  Which is exactly what we did.

The Crab Deck

The Crab Deck

We met up with Suzie, Tim & his fiancée (Rachel) at the “Fisherman’s Crab House” and had some great shrimp & crab nachos, as well as a round of drinks.  This is a very casual open-air restaurant that overlooks the river and has a small marina that you can “boat in” for dining. So after some good eating, a round of drinks, and getting to know each other better, we picked up the tab and rode back to our marina in Tim’s boat.  We had a great time and really consider ourselves lucky to have met such wonderfully warm and hospitable people.

Suzie & Tim

Suzie & Tim

We really wanted to stay another day, and enjoy the party this marina was getting ready to throw. However, the weather forecast for the coming days did not look great for crossing the Chesapeake Bay, so we took the “best day” option (15 – 20 kts), which meant leaving on Sunday morning. Other sights from “the Narrows”:

Waterman's monument

Waterman’s monument

Kent Narrows Bridge

Kent Narrows Bridge

Sunday (5/24/15) – Stony Creek, MD – The morning came with some wind, but not big gusts as was originally thought. We had boat chores to do and wanted to maximize the internet connection and benefits of a marina, so we waited until the last possible moment to leave. Denise managed to get in a run and take a few of the above pictures before we headed out of town. Like hotels, marinas do have a “check out” time and really want you off the dock if you are not staying for another night.  We had already made the decision to anchor out tonight, so we untied our dock lines and headed for our next destination. But first we had to get away from Kent Island and the area known as “the narrows”. There is a reason why it is called this.  The channel to the North that takes you out to the Chesapeake Bay is very narrow; nearly two boat widths apart, and is heavily traveled.  We passed through there and it reminded us of rush hour on I-4 in Orlando. This was harrowing as it is very shallow if you get outside the channel, and with the boats passing and the wind kicking up the waves, it is a bit tedious to stay on course.  Fortunately, it is not long and within 20 minutes we were on the Bay in what was probably the busiest boating day we have seen on the Chesapeake since we started on it in Norfolk.

The Narrows

The Narrows

Sailboats on the bay

Sailboats on the bay

We headed northwest across the Chesapeake Bay to the entrance of the Patapsco River. If we were to continue in this direction we would go into Baltimore Harbor, but we were not ready to go there yet. Instead we turned up Stony Creek, one of three tributaries that dump into the Patapsco at its southern end.

Rocks at Stony Creek Entrance

Rocks at Stony Creek Entrance

Here we found a nice anchorage in Big Burley cove. This is a small cove that is mostly surrounded by homes on one side, and a forested area on low cliffs on the other side. Towards the back of the cove is a point of land that jets out a bit, and on it sits a wedding hall known as “Bleues on the Water”.

Bleues on the Water

Bleues on the Water

We anchored near the center of the cove, not far from the only other boat which eventually left in late afternoon.  Here we settled in to watch as the venue prepared for what was going to be a wedding for which we had front row seats.  It was terrific fun and we were able to hear just enough (thanks to their PA system). Naturally, when the big kiss came, we honked the boat horn in celebration.  There were two other small boats that came in to watch and they honked too…what a hoot! Other sights from here:

Morning in the anchorage

Morning in the anchorage – South side

Morning at Anchorage

Morning at Anchorage – Northwest side

Anchorage at Big Burley Cove

Anchorage at Big Burley Cove

Monday (5/25/15) Baltimore, MD – Memorial Day – We awoke at the crack of dawn to a very calm anchorage. There was not even a ripple on the water and as the wind was scheduled to dramatically pick up during the day, we left to make our way up the Patapsco River and into Baltimore Harbor.

Approaching the FSK Bridge

Approaching the FSK Bridge

One of the coolest things about this cruise today was going under the Francis Scott Key Bridge which signifies the entrance into the Baltimore Harbor.  Of course we all know that Mr. Key wrote the lyrics to the Star Spangled Banner. His inspiration came as he was on a ship in the harbor sent to meet the British and negotiate a prisoner exchange during the War of 1812. The British were hammering Ft. McHenry and Mr. Key watched in horror through the night, awaiting to see the outcome.  In the morning during “dawns early light” he saw the hoisting of the US Flag, indicating that the US held back the British navy and prevented them from taking over Baltimore.  Today, during the summer months, there is a buoy that is placed just west of the bridge in the harbor and in the location where Francis Scott Key’s boat had been.  It is about 2 miles from Ft. McHenry and was amazing to be on the water as he was looking at the fort.

Ft. McHenry from our boat

Ft. McHenry from our boat

Since it was still pretty early (9:00 am) and very calm waters, we decided to take our boat all the way up the to the Inner Harbor before things got really busy with boat traffic.  It was a good move and we got to see this area before the crazy boaters, water taxis, tourist boats, container ships and barges churned up the water and created chaos.  We shot some beautiful pictures of the Baltimore skyline and got to see it in its quiet state.  However, we were also able to witness how very trashy the harbor waters are, as there is lots of debris everywhere.

Old lighthouse on Patapsco

Old lighthouse on Patapsco

Big Navy ships in port

Big Navy ships in port

Harbor East Marina

Harbor East Marina

Riverwalk Condos

Riverwalk Condos

Inner Harbour Skyline

Inner Harbour Skyline

Inner Harbor in the morning

Inner Harbor in the morning

Leaving Inner Harbour

Leaving Inner Harbour

Leaving the Inner Harbour

Leaving the Inner Harbour

trash in the water

trash in the water

We had been “marina shopping” to see what would be the best and most affordable place to stay, but still be close enough to easily get to the things in the harbor.  We settled on “Crescent Marina”, which is really not a marina, but docks that belong to a condominium that are sitting vacant and thus are for rent.  The nice cheap rate ($1.50 per foot +$10 for electricity) entitled us to nothing but a tie-up and water; no showers, captains’ lounge, etc.  But, it was a lot cheaper than the $2.75/ft all the other marina’s wanted. Pat the dock master was very friendly, courteous and informative.

Crescent Marina - Fells Point

Crescent Marina – Fells Point

The nice thing about our marina was the location; an area known as Fells Point. It was not directly in the Inner Harbor, but a short walk from the water taxi stop that could take you to any of the venues in the Inner Harbor and the surrounding neighborhoods.

Fells Point neighborhood

Fells Point neighborhood

Fells Point neighborhood

Fells Point neighborhood

After getting the boat settled we grabbed a water taxi out to Ft. McHenry.  Now grateful for the annual National Park Pass we got at Yorktown as we now have recouped our initial investment and all future park visits will be free.  The fort is massive and quite impressive, especially considering how old it is.  In a lot of ways it reminds us of the fort in St. Augustine, and they have staff dressed in period costumes walking the grounds. They perform various re-enactments throughout the day, including raising the flag (s) for which there are actually 4 different sizes that get flown over the fort.  The biggest one that is the same size of the actual one Mr. Key saw is huge (20’ x 40’) and is only flown in the calmest of winds.  While we were there they were removing the second largest and putting up a smaller one as the winds had increased dramatically.

WHAT!!! Water Taxi

WHAT – Where are we? Company owns water taxi’s for both harbors.

We took the water taxi back to the Fells Point terminal, switched to another water taxi and went into the Inner Harbor.  The place was very crowded with street performers and lots of people all around.  It being a holiday and beautiful weather, everyone was out on the streets and walkways – locals as well as tourists. The restaurants were crowded, but not full up, and there were a lot of touristy water craft available for rent. While there is much to see here, we felt 100% of it is very touristy and overpriced.  The science center was on the other side of the harbor, and we really didn’t have time to do it justice, and for us (being from FL) we did not think the Aquarium was worth the time and $$.  Everything else revolves around shopping or eating. We grabbed a quick appetizer for a late lunch at Cheesecake factory, and then took the water taxi back to Fells Point and walked the neighborhood a bit; scoping out a possible location for dinner. We were in need of milk for breakfast and there is a Safeway grocery store in the Canton neighborhood a short distance from our boat. So we decided to find a restaurant near there for dinner, then go to the grocery store afterwards.  We dined on pizza and salad at a great “locals” place (“Verde”) that was delicious, then walked to the store and then back to our boat for the night.

Verde Restaurant - Canton

Verde Restaurant – Canton

All-in-all it was a very fun day, with a lot of walking and great experiences, but we both agreed we did not want to stay another day in Baltimore. We are glad we came, but we felt the west side of town (near Camden Yards & the ball field) was off limits due to the recent disturbances, and the “up and coming” neighborhoods of Fells Point and Camden weren’t that great. That evening the wind was really howling and we were rocking in the boat quite a bit, so we knew we were leaving as soon as possible in the morning; which we did. Tuesday (5/26/15) – Maryland Yacht Club (MYC)– Rock Creek- We had made prior arrangements to have the boat in this marina while we fly home for Rob’s graduation.  The AGLCA member (Greg) who is the Baltimore Harbor Host is a member of this yacht club and keeps his boat here.  He had given us a drastically reduced rate and promised to keep an eye on it for us.  However, we had originally planned to be there on Wednesday, not Tuesday.  Mark called ahead and they were willing to let us come in early anyway, which is what we did. The sail from Fells Point to MYC was short, and we pulled up to the fuel dock within 90 minutes.  We filled the boat up with fuel, then Mark backed the boat into the marina slip and we tied her up for the week.  After showers and checking in, we settled into work and conference calls that had been previously scheduled. The good thing about marinas is that they usually don’t complain if you want to ‘check-in’ early (unlike hotels).  It is especially helpful if you drop a few hundred dollars buying diesel fuel from them.

Coming into MYC

Coming into MYC

In the afternoon we needed to decide what to do about dinner. The area that MYC is in is very residential with few restaurants, none within walking distance. A bike ride was considered but there was no one to bum a second bike from, and the “delivery” options from local places was limited to Chinese.  The club has a restaurant, but it is only open for dinner certain nights of the week and Tuesday is not one of them. So, we broke into our “emergency dinner” provisions; pasta and home-made marinara sauce.  This was the second meal from our jar and so we now have to get more from our stock when we are home.  Knowing we are leaving, we have not been stocking the fridge and so our choices for dinner are now nonexistent. This marina is extremely quiet and there are little to no cruisers around right now; it is too early in the season. There are several people who live aboard, but most have kept to themselves.  Later in the day we met Scott (sorry no picture) who pulled his sailboat (“Irish Memories”) into the slip next to ours.  He is a widower with 4 adult kids and is from Ohio. He is keeping his boat in Maryland for the summer and will be doing some major repairs in the boatyard further up the creek. Wednesday 5/27/15) – MYC – The day began with what looked like storming clouds. Rain and thunderstorms had been predicted, but they seemed to have disappeared by 6:30. So Denise went for a run and to check out the surrounding area. After photographing some Canadian geese pooping all over the grass, and rescuing a turtle trying to cross the road, she ran past a house being torn down making way for a new mc-mansion on the waterfront.  She also confirmed that the decision to eat on board last night was a good one as a 3-mile bike ride would have been on a busy street with no shoulder in which to ride.

Canadian Geese all over the place

Canadian Geese all over the place

Turtle Rescue!

Turtle Rescue!

House coming down....

House coming down….

..for new house!

..for new house!

Afternoon storm building

Storm building over the Bay

We spent most of the day working and setting up for activities when we are home.  We also began packing and arranging for the cab ride to the (BWI) airport.  At the end of the day we went up to the MYC for dinner and had a good meal at a reasonable price (Denise had Salmon and Mark had the burger in case you were interested). The marina is preparing for its grand opening weekend next weekend (6/5 and 6/6), so there is lots of maintenance activity going on.  The funniest one for us to watch is the filling of their swimming pool.  Being from FL, we all know that if you pool needs water you put your garden hose in the pool and turn it on. Here, they cannot do that; they have to have trucks deliver the water in tankers.  They started this early in the morning and by 7:30 at night they were still trying to fill the club pool.  What a sight!

Pool Fill

Pool Fill – still going at 7:30 pm

Other pictures from this area:

On dock at MYC

On dock at MYC

Our boat at MYC

Our boat at MYC

Wedding venue at MYC

Wedding venue at MYC

As if dogs could read....

As if dogs could read….

Bird on neighboring boat

Bird on neighboring boat

MYC

MYC

Sunset at MYC

Sunset at MYC

Sunset at MYC

Sunset at MYC

Tomorrow morning we will be up early to catch our flight home, and therefore there will be no more posting until we are back on the boat on 6/3. Stay tuned for more!

It is the people you meet……..

Every time we meet someone who is or has been on the Great Loop the one thing they all seem to say is that it is all about the people you meet.  Even though we are only 6 weeks into this adventure, we agree. As you will see from this post, not a day goes by that we have not met someone who has fascinated, amused, impressed, intrigued,  or informed us.  It is all about the people and we have spent so much time with people that we have neglected this blog post. It is a long one, so sit back and enjoy!

Annapolis, MD & St. Michaels, MD

Several years ago when Mark and I visited Annapolis we talked of one day taking our own boat here. Well, that day came and we could not have picked a better time to be there.  It is Commissioning Week (Graduation) for the Naval Academy Midshipmen and there is so much going on. Of course it is crowded and the marina fees are astronomical, but we decided to splurge.  Our plan was to get there and get out by Memorial Weekend when all things get really crazy, as if they are not already.

However, before we report on all the fun stuff in Annapolis, there is all the adventures leading up to getting here. We have been trying to strike a balance between moving the boat to the next port, meeting people, enjoying the sites, and working like crazy. Denise had another prospect contact her for more work and Mark is trying to get some projects closed and invoices paid.  Hopefully, our future weeks won’t be quite so busy and we can spend more of time enjoying the journey.

Here is a rundown of our activities over the last week or so.

Wednesday (5/13/15) – Wasting away in Deltaville:  We were planning to leave after Denise’s webinar yesterday, but we had a change of plans. Although it was a sunny day, the wind was still blowing quite a bit so we decided to sit tight and enjoy all that Deltaville had to offer.

Hurd's Hardware - Deltaville

Hurd’s Hardware – Deltaville

After a short morning run by Denise, and calls with clients for Mark, we used the courtesy car to go into the town of Deltaville to pick up a few things at the grocery store. We also stopped at the local ACE hardware store that sells EVERYTHING – kind of like Miller’s in Winter Park.  It is now Denise’s favorite type of store to visit whenever we enter a new town.

In the afternoon we visited with some of the other Loopers in the marina to discuss plans for moving on.  We spoke with John (“Endeavour”) who attempted to leave that morning, but turned around at the entrance to the Chesapeake as he was getting beat up pretty badly.  Our new friends Paula and Jim (“Palmetto Paradise”) left because they are trying to get up to New York as soon as possible and have done parts of the Chesapeake already. We later caught up with them in Solomon’s Island and they told us we were smart to have stayed in port as it was very rough on the bay.

We decided to cook on the boat tonight and Denise made her famous enchiladas which we love when we are home. However, the corn tortillas were not the same as the one’s used at home, and it was quite a challenge. The food was still good, but we learned a valuable lesson: not all products are alike (lesson #1 of the day).

We also made some Nestlé’s toll house (chocolate chip) cookies. Those of you that know Mark, know that this is his favorite cookie to make and he is a whiz at it in our home oven.  However, without a mixer and all our “tools” we opted for the prepackaged cookie dough found in the dairy section of the grocery store.  Since we have a microwave-convection oven on the boat, and we know the roasting works great, but we thought the same rules applied for using the convection- bake feature as our home oven (mistake #2).  After 30 minutes and several thermostat adjustments we finally had a half-decent batch, but not enough to share with the other cruisers as was our original intent.  Some of these were ok and went into the fridge for future nights; others made it into the trash.  After that we called it a day and looked forward to tomorrow’s adventures.

Thursday (5/14): We knew the wind was still blowing, but it was considerably calmer and was supposed to die down even more as the day wore one. Finally, at 12:30 we untied the lines in Deltaville and bid Dozier’s and the other remaining cruisers a farewell. John (“Endeavour”) had already left, and Pam & Mark (“Sea Bear”) were heading out after they got a pump-out.

Pam & Mark - Sea Bear

Pam & Mark – Sea Bear

We cruised the 24.1 n miles to Tangier’s Island without much fan-fare in a light chop. We encountered one slow moving tug pushing a barge (“Capt. Ted”) that we could see for miles, but other than that and a few pleasure boats, the bay crossing was uneventful.

We arrived at Tangier’s Island around 2:30 and we were greeted by the infamous Milton Parks (aka “Mr. Parks”).

Mark & Mr. Parks

Mark & Mr. Parks

He is a long-time marina owner and a native of the island with a reputation for telling you EXACTLY how to bring your boat in to the marina. There is a swift current so he will guide you and help you tie up without incident.  Mark did as he said and put us comfortably in a slip right near the restroom/showers.

Dock Fees

Dock Fees

While the marina is nothing to shake a stick at and is quite rustic, it is very clean, convenient, cheap ($35/night), and has good electricity. Unfortunately, as some of you may have experienced, we had little cell phone coverage or internet. Fortunately, we were only staying overnight, so it was not a big deal.

Mr. Parks is a very gracious host and took us on a tour of downtown Tangier – in his golf cart. It is the only real method of transportation on the island, and everyone drives them.  The Maritime museum and two of the restaurants were closed as it is not yet “tourist season”, and the ferry had already left for the day. But, he still gave us a grand tour and explained that on the island he calls all the guys “George” and all the women “Love”.

Mr Park's & Cats

Mr Park’s & Cats

Mr. Park’s is a widower and lives right at the marina in a nice brick home. He takes care of 15 cats that hang out on his front porch or around his house. They have all been “fixed”, but they still seem to be growing in numbers. When he pulls up in his golf cart they come out to greet him and jump in if you have vacated the seat.  It is a hoot to watch.

Cats on Mr. Park's Front Porch

Cats on Mr. Park’s Front Porch

After a quick tour of the island and a few boat chores, we walked to “Lorraine’s” for the requisite crab cake dinner (after all we are in the Chesapeake Bay).

Lorraines

Lorraine’s

There were a couple of guys on a sailboat who came in behind us at Park’s Marina, and a few locals, but less than 10 people in the restaurant. Also present however, were a couple of women who are an advanced research team (and photojournalists) for a company called Blackfin Productions. They are doing research and initial footage on a series about eroding shorelines and the impact on the people who live there. They are looking to sell this idea to one of the Nat Geo companies (Animal Planet, NatGeo, Discovery, etc.) as they have most recently for other series. We had a great conversation about other projects they have worked on, Ireland (where one was from), and other places they may consider visiting. It was very cool talking to these women and hearing of their adventures.

After dinner we walked down to “Spanky’s Place” for some ice cream and got to experience the locals at play.

Mark at Spanky's Place

Mark at Spanky’s Place

Around the back of the (Methodist) church is a playground where you could hear the kids swinging, laughing and experiencing life as it once was for many of us.

Going to Tangier Island may very well be one of the highlights of the Chesapeake Bay. It is like stepping back in time and experiencing a lifestyle that is simple and pure. The people are very friendly and happy, and they are very self-reliant. Less than 650 people now live on the island; most of them are “watermen”; working to make a living off of the Bay in the crab or fishing industry. It is a dying profession and the island is shrinking and displacing many families. Therefore, the interest by the woman from Blackfin.  There are so many other crazy things about this place (like how people have graves in their front yards – but now have to go off-Island to be buried because there is no more space). This is a fascinating place and we thank Chris Campbell for encouraging us to cross the Bay to come here.  For more information on this beautiful place, check out Tangiers Island.

Here are some of the other sights on Tangier’s:

Tangier's Garbage Can

Tangier’s Garbage Can

Speed sign Tangiers Island

Speed sign
Tangiers Island

Funeral Notice Posting

Funeral Notice Posting

Spanky's Ice Cream Place

Spanky’s Ice Cream Place

Home Graveyard on Tangiers

Home Graveyard on Tangiers

Our boat at Park's Marina

Our boat at Park’s Marina

Sunset Tangiers Harbor

Sunset Tangiers Harbor

Friday (5/15) – It was a beautiful morning and we woke up to chirping birds and a gorgeous sky. Since we were both awake early, we left Tangier Island at 7:30 and headed out back to the western shore bound for Solomon’s Island.  Sometime around an hour later we entered the state of Maryland – but it is not like you come across a Welcome Center in the middle of the Chesapeake –it is all based on your Latitude & Longitude and we were not really keeping track at this point.  In this part of the Bay, the eastern and western shorelines come closer together and so crossing the bay is nowhere near as long as it is further south (like around Norfolk).  And yes, Jeanne, we can still see land…..that is unless there is fog!

There were two interesting sightings during this passage across the bay.

Liberty ship target

Liberty ship target

The first is an old navy Liberty Ship that is “sunk” in the water, You have to pay attention to the Securite’ that may be issued by the Coast Guard, as the Navy will use it frequently for target practice during training events. As the “Notice to Mariners” advises, you have to stay at least a quarter mile away from it as there are several other sunken vessels that did not pay attention and ran aground on the shoal in which it sits.

Buzzed by Jet from NAS PAX

Buzzed by Jet from NAS PAX

The second event was being buzzed by an FA-18 jet that was doing “touch & go’s” at the NAS PAX (Patuxent Naval Air Station). NAS PAX is located on the southern point as you enter the Patuxent River (aka PAX River) off of the Chesapeake. Solomon’s Island is located up the river about 5 miles and is a tourist spot with lots of history.

It took us just under 3 hours to pull into Calvert’s Marina. We chose them as they are a BoatUS partner and offer an excellent rate for members.  Its location is up the Back Creek River and not on the side of the river where the spit of land forms the peninsula into the Patuxent River.  This was actually a good thing as we avoided a lot of the touristy areas. When Denise pulled the boat into the marina, we were on a long dock right in front of our friends Jim and Paula (“Palmetto Paradise”) and later John (“Endeavour”) whom we met in Deltaville.  Of course she did a great job of docking the boat and it was nice to have friendly faces to hand dock lines to.

Tied up near friends Solomon Island

Tied up near friends
Solomon Island

After checking into the marina and getting the lay of the land, Mark washed the boat while Denise vacuumed and straightened up the inside.  We had been invited to a looper Pot Luck by Paula & Jim so Denise made a salad with the remaining spinach from the Yorktown Farmer’s Market that was still fresh.  We all gathered together at the picnic tables near our dock at around 6 pm. It was Paul & Jim, as well as John, and we got to meet a new couple – Rob & Corrine (“Ariel”) whose boat we had passed a few times in the Carolina’s.

Jim & Paula Stephens "Palmetto Paradise"

Jim & Paula Stephens
“Palmetto Paradise”

Robert & Corrine "Ariel"

Robert & Corrine
“Ariel”

We had a great time getting to know each other a little better, telling boating stories and sharing our plans until the no-see-ums started to get at us; at which time we headed back to our respective boats for the evening.

Saturday (5/16) – Solomon’s Island: Denise was up at the crack of dawn and took off for a short run from the marina in one of the hottest days we have yet to have on the trip. It felt like a Florida summer day. Although the road had no sidewalk most of the way and she was forced to run on the shoulder, there was no traffic except for a few fisherman headed to their boats for a day on the water.  Solomon’s was the initial amphibious training grounds for the Navy and there is a signpost attesting to it at the entrance to the marina from the main road. This was one of the many things that was discovered during the run, along with the new home developments going in all over. It is too bad because right now it is still pretty much an old boat repair and marina-oriented part of the Island, away from the touristy area facing the Patuxent River.

We started the day borrowing the marina courtesy car to go get a spare oil filter for the boat.  While we were not 100% sure that we needed it, Mark had noticed the oil pressure had increased slightly, albeit still within appropriate operating range. One suggestion for resolving this is to replace the oil filter; which would also mean an oil change.  Since we had a complete engine maintenance done on the boat before we left (with the requisite oil change), we did not feel this was an urgent issue, but still wanted a back-up just in case.  And of course, we did not get this item (as well as a few other spare parts) purchased before leaving for our adventure, and now we felt like it would be prudent to make sure we had one on board.  The problem is that you just can’t walk into a Wal-Mart and buy an oil filter for a Cummins 600 hp diesel engine.

So, Mark went internet-shopping and determined we could buy one (equivalent substitute) at the NAPA Auto Parts store by the PAX Air base. However, the air base is on the other side of the PAX River and the marina does not allow their loaner car to go there.  We went anyway (sometimes it is better to ask forgiveness then permission).

The car ride itself was an adventure. First of all the car was a definite “beater” albeit a Mercedes Benz – (circa late-1980s) and had over 250,000 miles on the odometer which has stopped working.  All of the seat adjustment buttons were missing completely and the AC only blew hot air. But the scariest part was that you had to hold the ignition for about 10 seconds while the car turned over and finally started. Needless to say Denise was nervous that the car would not start again once we got it going and refused to turn it off. So when we got to the store, Mark had to run in and buy the filter (and oil) while Denise was waiting in the running car with the not-working ac blowing hot air – which was better than nothing.  We were taking no chances that the car would die when we were on the “wrong side of the river” and have to call the marina for a tow.  Fortunately, we got back over the river and stopped twice (grocery & liquor store), turning the car off and having it start successfully when we were done.

Calvert Loaner Car

Calvert Loaner Car

Once back at the marina, we went for a ride in the dinghy. First we cruised around the lower part of Back Creek, scoping out the other boats and marinas, as well as the eating & drinking establishments along the water.

Dinghy Ride on Back Creek

Dinghy Ride on Back Creek

Back Creek Solomon's Island

Back Creek
Solomon’s Island

While these face out over the water, they are really on the very narrow part of the peninsula with their front doors on the main street running along the PAX Riverwalk. We tied up at the city dinghy dock and walked along the PAX Riverwalk until finding a lunch location.

Afterwards, we went through some of the shops along the main street. We discovered one art studio that had some really great photography digitally transferred to canvas and other medium. While we were considering the purchase of an (astronomically expensive) pillow, the owner/artist came in.

Terry Quinn - artist Solomon's Gallery

Terry Quinn – artist
Solomon’s Gallery

We had a chance to talk with him for a bit and he told us he had only been doing photography for 4 years. He quit his corporate sales job to pursue this and had no knowledge of his talent until he got into it.  He is very good and is a Ducks Unlimited Artist for his shooting of crabs on the beach. His website is here, but does not reflect all of his work, nor how good it really is. We did not buy the pillow, but will consider it and his other works when we redo our home in a beach motif next year. When we were done here we walked to the other end of the River walk, took some pictures, and then headed back to the dinghy.

Once back on the water we cruised along other parts of Back Creek and through several other marina’s. It was in one such location that we met loopers Joel Davis & Sarah Shed (“Snow Goose”) who were from Maine. They were flying their “AGLCA” burgee and so we stopped and talked to them to share stories and our respective looping plans.  They are a retired couple (as most are) and they are taking their time on their adventure and plan to spend lots of time in Solomon’s, so it is unlikely we will see them in our travels. We bid them farewell and continued to explore other parts of Back Creek before heading back to our marina.

Later that afternoon we borrowed the loaner car again and attended 4:00 pm mass at “Our Lady Star of the Sea”.

Our Lady Star of the Sea

Our Lady Star of the Sea

As the marina normally doesn’t loan it out once the office closes at 5:00, we were granted a reprieve since we were going to church. We were told to just drop the keys in the office mail slot when we return, which we did. Life in these parts is so refreshingly different! We think they liked the fact that we had actually put fuel in it earlier in the day when we didn’t have to.  Fortunately, the car started and got us to and from church without incident.

When we got back to the boat, we had drinks with John (“Endeavour”) before bidding him goodbye. He was staying in Solomon’s another day before heading to Annapolis where his boat will be put up for sale. He will be returning to his home in Atlanta to spend time doing other things with his wife. He is a very funny guy and we really enjoyed getting to know him over the last week or so.

Other pictures from Solomon’s:

Solomon's Island

Solomon’s Island

Pax Riverwalk

Pax Riverwalk

Mark at Pax Riverwalk

Mark at Pax Riverwalk

Sunday (5/17) – On to Annapolis: Our friends Paula and Jim left at the crack of dawn as they wanted to get up to Annapolis early. They were really hoping to get a mooring ball in the Annapolis Harbor, which are available on a first-come, first serve basis.  We left Solomon’s about two hours later, but first we had to make a stop at the fuel dock for a complete fill-up. One thing is for sure; the further north we go, the more expensive diesel fuel and marinas are becoming. We will definitely be spending more nights on a mooring ball or at anchorage and we wanted to top off our tank before heading into higher prices in MD, NJ & NY.

Motoring on the Chesapeake today was different than any day we have had so far. First of all, there was a slight drizzle when we started out, but it quickly stopped, even before leaving the PAX River. But the sky remained cloudy & overcast and the Bay was as flat as a pancake. There was no wind and it was a bit foggy in parts.

One of the first things we encountered was the liquid natural gas platform off the coast of Cove Point. This is a huge superstructure platform that sits close to shore, but is not connected to it – giving the appearance that it is in the middle of the bay.  It is a quite large and is visible for miles.

LNG Structure in Bay

LNG Structure in Bay

Shortly after this, we came through what was obviously a large fishing tournament. There must have been 100 boats all with lines in the water and in the very middle of the main shipping channel. At first it appeared that all the boats were trailing a net of sorts, but we later figured out that it was a type of indicator for where their lines were in the water.  It was a bit of a challenge to make sure we did not cut across the lines on a few boats that were very close together.

Fishing boat in Tournament

Fishing boat in Tournament

Add to that the fact that we were dancing down the shipping channel with a large ship (“Empire State”) that was going just slightly slower than our boat, but on a similar course.  With all the course changes on our part in order to dodge the fishing boats, it made for some interesting times. That is until the ship completely changed its course for another destination. Shortly thereafter we passed a Maersk ship (the “Kalamata”); the same shipping line hijacked as shown in the movie “Captain Phillips” (but that one was the “Alabama”).

But perhaps the most interesting and exciting part of the trip was passing by the “Thomas Point Shoal Lighthouse”.

Thomas Point Shoal Lighthouse

Thomas Point Shoal Lighthouse

This is a very famous lighthouse, and the one most people associate with the Chesapeake Bay. It was a thrill to go past it and see it in real life.  Susan G., here is another one you will want to add to your collection.

At the same time we came close to our friends Kathy & Kenny Walker (“No Zip Code”) who we last saw in Deltaville. We shot some pictures of their boat under way and will send them to their email when we get a chance.

Shortly thereafter we came upon the mouth of the Severn River, which is the home of the Naval Academy and the town of Annapolis. Coming into Annapolis on our own boat was such a treat and we were met with a plethora of boats out for what turned out to be a beautiful day on the water.  There was a sailboat race right at the entrance, and it included the little Optimist International Prams; a boat Mark first learned to sail in many years ago.

Racing Optimist Prams

Racing Optimist Prams

We had reserved a slip in the Yacht Basin marina a few days before, and once we negotiated the anchorage and mooring field, we pulled into our slip.  The marina is on Spa Creek which is right in the heart of Annapolis and backed up to the Annapolis Yacht Club (AYC).

At Yacht Basin Marina Annapolis

At Yacht Basin Marina
Annapolis

It was a nice place in a good location to both shopping and dining.  Our primary reason for choosing to be in a marina was that we needed to do laundry and knew we would want to have easy access to the dining and shopping.  Of course this came with a hefty price tag ($2.75 per foot/day, + $18/day electricity) and we originally committed to two nights, but ended up staying through Wednesday (more on this later).

Once settled in and got our showers, we went for an early dinner as we had skipped lunch.  We got a recommendation by the dock master and it was later reinforced by Claire (sister) who had also dined there before. “The Boatyard” was located in Eastport, a neighborhood just over the bridge from downtown Annapolis. Most of the restaurants on the Eastport side of the harbor overlook all the boats and marinas, but The Boatyard does not. Instead it is known for its excellent seafood and crab cakes, not the view.  Even though it was crowded, we got seated right away and had the best crab cake sandwiches we have ever had. They were baked not fried, and they were 99% crab meat – no filler. If you ever get to Annapolis, this is the place to eat!

The Boatyard

The Boatyard

After dinner we walked back over the bridge and all around the downtown Annapolis waterfront. There were a lot of people out and about as it was a nice night, including all the Midshipmen. Classes and exams are over at the Academy so all the Midshipmen get to go out at night and many have family in town. They all stick around until the graduation, and for the whole week of celebration.

Monday (5/18): Denise decided to go for a run and explore Eastport a little further. We were not familiar with this area as past visits had us explore the streets around the Academy and the town circle.  It ended up being a very fun run through a mostly tree-lined residential area. The exception were all the marinas that are on the opposite side of this peninsula from the Annapolis harbor side.  This body of water is Back Creek (also – yes, it seems like every town has a Back Creek).

Cheapeake Bay Bridge - from Eastport

Chesapeake Bay Bridge – from Eastport

In the morning, we introduced ourselves to Gold Loopers Mark & Pat Chamberlain (“Catrina”) who were several slips away from our boat in the same marina.  As of last Friday they closed on their house in Illinois and now live aboard their boat; that is when they are not RVing or traveling to see their kids in FL or IL.  It was then that we learned their son (Ryan) was the #6 pilot for the Blue Angels. They were awaiting his arrival in town as the team would be performing on Wednesday for the Academy Graduation. They had plans to take him and some friends out on the boat for a few hours later in the evening.  They follow him around to various air shows when they can as it is a special treat to watch him fly.

Denise spent the rest of the morning preparing for and then delivering a web-based sales presentation to a prospect, along with one of our associates who lives in Michigan. Things went well but we won’t know anything for a few more weeks.  Then, Mark had to make some work-related phone calls, and Denise wanted to seize the opportunity to find a gift for Mark’s upcoming birthday.  So, off to the shops of Annapolis while Mark worked. She also explored the campus of St. Mary’s Elementary and High schools that were right near the marina.

Davis Pub

Davis Pub

We decided to go out to dinner to a place in Eastport called Dave’s Pub. It’s a small “locals joint” that had been featured on the TV show “Diners, Drive-ins & Dives” because of their fresh seafood.  It was delicious and we found the prices to be quite reasonable.  While we were there we sat near and had the chance to talk to four Midshipmen; one of whom was lucky enough to be chosen from the enlisted ranks to attend the Academy.  His sport of choice (they are required to have one) is sailing and he has the sunburn nose to prove it.  They were friendly, courteous, and impressive gentlemen and we were thrilled to talk to them.

After dinner Denise took Mark around several of the areas she had run earlier that day so he could see the cute houses as well as other interesting points.  When we arrived back in the marina, Ryan was leaving his parents boat with his friends, all of whom are part of the Blue Angels team.  We had a chance to talk with them for a few minutes, including #1 Pilot and the only female of the team (Corrie) who is the “event coordinator”.  It was very cool and they were super nice about sharing information with us. The one thing they did emphasize was that we needed to stay and at least watch their rehearsal performance scheduled for the next day.

Tuesday (5/19): We were undecided if we should leave the marina today, or stay one more night and watch the rehearsal performance of the Blue Angels scheduled for 2:00. If we left we could go anchor out up the Severn River, but would have to be there before 10:00 when the 1 mile stretch is closed in preparation for the airshow. The mooring balls in the main harbor were now all filled and so that was no longer an option for us. Although we both had seen the Blue Angels numerous times, now that we had met several of the pilots we knew we had to stay in Annapolis at least for the rehearsal show.  So that is exactly what we did.

Full mooring field

Full mooring field

Denise decided to use the time before the show to work on this blog posting and got all the pictures downloaded and captioned. That is until she got interrupted. Around 11:00 we could hear the jets in the air as the first group began their practice fly-bys.  There was little stunts at this point and only 3 of the jets were flying; we later learned that 4 usually go up, but there was a mechanical issue so it was not part of this practice. They continued with the exercises for about an hour and half and then took a break before the 2:00 show.

We grabbed a quick lunch and then went back out to the first dock in the marina for nearly front row seats to all the action. Never have we been so close or been so deafened by the noise of afterburners. For 45 minutes we watched the spectacular airshow and were thrilled.  It was a big rush and we were glad we stayed, even if it was just the rehearsal.

Here are some of the sights from our front-row seats:

#6

#6

#5 upside down with #6

#5 upside down with #6

Pilot #1

Pilot #1

There are 6 there

There are 6 there

Near miss

Near miss

Blue Angels

Blue Angels

We hung out around the marina most of the afternoon talking to other boaters. We talked with Sandy & Chuck (“Holiday”) on their 65’Marlow. Denise had met Sandy earlier when she was walking their beautiful dog (a Welsh springer spaniel).  Although they are from Aspen, CO, they now live aboard their boat 8 months out of the year. Sandy told Denise that ever since they legalized marijuana in Colorado, Aspen now has 4 growers and the whole town smells like marijuana. They can no longer stand to live there most of the time, so they are headed north to New England for the rest of the summer.

Late in the afternoon Mark & Pat (“Catrina”) stopped by on their way back from the airshow. As parents of a Blue Angel, they had VIP seating and were invited to several special events.  They stopped and talked with us for over an hour and they shared more information about the Blue Angels; how they operate, tenure for the pilots, etc. We shared our respective family information and discussed our looping plans. They were the most wonderful people and we feel like we have met new lifelong friends already.

Mark & Pat Chamberlain - Catrina

Mark & Pat Chamberlain – Catrina

By then it was getting late so Mark and I walked down to the center of town and ate dinner at the Federal House, followed by an ice cream at Storm Brothers; a locally owned ice cream shop right near the Academy visitors entrance gate.  We walked around the grounds up to the visitor’s center and encountered a Midshipmen who stopped and talked to us for a bit. He was graduating this week and was headed to Quantico as he was being commissioned into the US Marines. OORAH!

Here are some other sights from our time in Annapolis:

Team Paddleboarding

Team Paddle-boarding

Eastport bunny Seen on Denise's run

Eastport bunny
Seen on Denise’s run

Annapolis Sign

Annapolis Sign

Typical Eastport House

Typical Eastport House

Eastport home

Eastport home

Wednesday (5/20) to St. Michaels: This morning we bid goodbye to Annapolis and motored our way East back across the Bay (again) to St. Michaels where we intend to anchor out for a few days.

We had been watching the weather and knew that the wind was going to pick up overnight, which it did. It was still blowing a bit when we left Annapolis and there was a good chop on the Bay, but it only took us two hours to make our voyage and it wasn’t too bad. The boat and crew handled it well.  Of course the boat is now covered in salt and, since we are not in a marina we will have to wait to wash it all off, or until it rains (which it is supposed to do tomorrow all day).

The town of St. Michaels has a lot of restaurants, interesting shops and a few art galleries. In a way it reminds us a lot like Boca Grande.  It also has a maritime museum which we are going to try and go to tomorrow. There are several Bed & Breakfast places with beautiful gardens as well.

Harbor at St. Michaels

Harbor at St. Michaels

Outside of the town is a resort called the “Inn at Perry Cabin” that sits on a piece of land that was an original land grant from the English Crown to the new world. The resort was used to film the wedding reception scene in the movie “Wedding Crashers”. For us, it is the view out of our boat window as the anchorage is right off of its point.

Inn at Perry Cabin

Inn at Perry Cabin

This afternoon we used the dinghy to go ashore and explore as well as pick up a few things at the grocery store. Before we left, we were visited by the owner of a sailboat (“Freebird”) anchored near us. “Dave” stopped by to introduce himself as he saw our AGLCA burgee and wanted to talk about the loop. He and his wife (Karen) completed it in 3 years and now cruise the Chesapeake Bay all summer. He invited us for drinks later aboard their boat and to meet his wife. So at 5:30 we joined them to hear their stories and some great suggestions, particularly about Canada. They were warm and gracious hosts and we have now made new friends.

We got back to our boat and whipped up a quick dinner of chicken shish kabobs and rice, topped off with a small batch of Nestlé’s Toll House cookies.

Chicken shish kabobs on BBQ

Chicken shish kabobs on BBQ

We are happy to report that this batch came out much better than the one last week, and we now have a handle on the convection baking part of our oven.

Cookie Success

Cookie success!!!

Other sights from St. Michael’s include:

B&B Alley

B&B Alley

Honeymoon bridge over harbor

Honeymoon bridge over harbor

Island Office at anchor Inn at Perry Cabin

Island Office at anchor
Inn at Perry Cabin

Tomorrow we plan on going into town and having lunch at the Crab Claw restaurant. However, it is supposed to rain and that may keep us boat-bound.  We’ll just have to see….and you will read all about it very soon.

It is now time to get this very long blog posted and go meet some more interesting, fun, kind and friendly people.

 

This is the Chesapeake Bay!

Deltaville, VA

If you look at a map of Virginia, find where the Potomac River enters the Chesapeake Bay. Then move your finger south to just past where the Rappahannock River enters the Chesapeake Bay and you will see a spit of land that jets out known as Smith Point.  That is where Deltaville is, and NO we do not get Delta Skymiles points for staying here! (Darn).  We arrived here on Sunday after a beautiful day on the Chesapeake Bay, motoring up from Yorktown.  We are in a marina (Dozier’s Regatta Point) and it is one of the best we have stayed in yet.  Great Wi-Fi, showers, laundry and a Captains lounge open 24-hours a day.  Deltaville has a population of about 500 residents, but houses over 5000+ boats amongst all the marinas in the area. It is home to many “Waterman” – a term used in the Chesapeake to reflect anyone who makes their living off of the bay (e.g. crabbers and fisherman).

Dozier's Regatta Point Marina

Dozier’s Regatta Point Marina

Dozier's marina from porch

Dozier’s marina from porch

Madison & Jimmy -  Dozier's Dock masters

Madison & Jimmy –
Dozier’s Dock masters

Here is a rundown of our activities over the last few days:

Wednesday & Thursday (5/6 & 5/7):  We continued attending the lectures for the AGLCA Rendezvous and enjoyed meeting and getting to know more cruisers.  Already we are forming friendships and learning so much from those who have done this trip, or parts of it.  Wednesday evening we had cocktails with fellow loopers Chuck & Vicky Stapleton aboard their boat (“Patriot”). They have both served in the FBI (now retired) and Vicky grew up in Alabama – very familiar with Heflin and the surrounding areas. Like us, they are quite vocal about not being able to take their guns into Canada (no surprise there) or NY and other states.  They were very interesting and shared many stories of their work in service of our nation.

Chuck & Victoria "Patriot"

Chuck & Vicky
“Patriot”

Thursday night was the final dinner as a group and several awards and door prizes were given out. We came away with a free t-shirt from one of the sponsor’s; now 2 new ones for Denise and 1 for Mark.

Friday (5/8): We left Norfolk early in the morning hoping to avoid heavy winds and seas on the Chesapeake Bay.  Locals will tell you that the wind builds during the day, and it can get ugly very fast if the wind and current are in opposition. We sailed north to Yorktown, VA on a pretty nice day to be on the water.

Denise driving the Island Office

Denise driving the
Island Office

The seas were pretty flat (yes, being in the southern part of the Chesapeake is like being on the ocean because it is 30 miles wide at this point) and the wind was not too bad.  The most intimidating factor was the US Navy Destroyer coming into Norfolk harbor as we were leaving.  It was escorted by a large Coast Guard ship that buzzed by our boat and sent it rocking with its large wake.  This is the second time we have seen the USCG have no respect for pleasure boaters – we think they think it is a game for them.

Yorktown Monument from the York River

Yorktown Monument – York River

Yorktown City Marina

Yorktown City Marina

We made our way up the western shore of the Chesapeake until we came to the York River. It is quite wide, and about 10 miles up the river is Yorktown.

Yorktown Victory Monument

Yorktown Victory Monument

Mark on Tobacco Road Yorktown Battlefield

Mark on Tobacco Road
Yorktown Battlefield

This location was made famous by the victorious battle which resulted in the defeat of the Brits during the American Revolution.  Because we arrived early enough in the day, we had time to walk up to the visitor’s center, obtain a National Park Annual Pass, see a short movie about the battle, visit the monument and some of the battlegrounds before walking back through the old town to the marina.  It is quite a beautiful place and to be able to see this historical site was fun.  You can see the monument from afar and it is a great navigational aid when trying to get up the river.

Yorktown Victory Monument Overlooking York River

Yorktown Victory Monument
Overlooking York River

Our boat sat on the inside of the East pier of the city marina near two large tourist sailing ships that take people out for daily cruises on the York River.  As the day wore on the wind, and therefore the chop in the river started to build. By the time we got back to the boat, we were rocking quite a bit.We went to dinner hoping things would settle down but they did not. Before sunset were able to work with Sue the dock master to move our boat to the western pier behind a sailboat.  We were so glad we did as it was much calmer there and were able to sleep well.

Dockmaster Sue

Dock Master Sue

Saturday (5/9): In the morning we woke up to the harbor so foggy we could not see across the dock.  This is the stuff they talk about when they say “Pea Soup thick” fog!  It took until almost lunch time before it had burned off enough for most boats to go out on the water. In the meantime, we had talked with nieces Christen and Shannon and agreed to a time to connect.  After working through a last-minute family issue, we were able to visit the farmers market Yorktown was holding in the square.

Market Days

Farmers Market in Yorktown

Mexican Dinner with nieces and their families.

Mexican Dinner with nieces and their families.

Then via the Shannon-shuttle we went to the grocery store and back to the boat before going over to Christen’s for the rest of the day.  There we played with the grand-nieces and nephews, got our laundry done (thanks Christen & Chris), ate at a Mexican restaurant and topped it all off with a Fro-Yo. It was a treat to tell bed-time stories to the boys, and spend time with all the kids teaching them how to fly a kite.

It was late before we got back to the boat and we are so grateful to Christen and Shannon (and their families) for an entertaining & hospitable day.  We loved seeing you all and hope it won’t be long before we get together again.

Sunday (5/10): Obviously we had been watching the weather and woke up to find that Ana had become a tropical storm with expectations of landing in Myrtle Beach, SC.  We knew things were going to get bad for us weather-wise and since Denise has a webinar to give on Wednesday, we knew a good internet connection was important. So we decided to go to Deltaville and made reservations accordingly.  The marina there was offering a special for all AGLCA loopers who attended the rendezvous and it would provide a safe harbor for the inevitable storm coming our way.

The problem was that when we woke up, again the fog was thick as can be.  Denise was sitting there enjoying her morning coffee and all of a sudden heard a strange noise. It sounded like a big boat, but when she checked, none could be seen.  After a second time hearing the noise she got up from the table in time to see a huge cruise ship pulling into the outside pier, directly across the dock.  It was like something out of a movie – the ship emerged from the fog at the very last minute.

Independence appears out of fog

Independence appears out of fog

The ship was the “Independence” and is part of the American Cruise Line fleet.  Their itinerary was a 6-night trip that included Yorktown and had come down from Baltimore during the night in all that fog!

We waited until just before 10:00 am when the fog seemed to be lifting a bit and decided to leave Yorktown. We have radar aboard so we were not too terribly worried, but it was nice that by the time Denise pulled the boat out of the slip, and we got under way that the visibility was at least a mile and we could safely navigate without much trouble.

It ended up being a really spectacular day on the water.  The sun came out and the seas were pretty calm.  We did have a period of time when we had to run where the waves were rolling us and crashing on the bow, but we had a pretty smooth ride with it.

Wolf Trap Light

Wolf Trap Light

The highlight of the trip was passing very close to Wolf Trap Lighthouse and getting some great pictures. Sister Susan, I thought of your love of lighthouses when we went by.  If anyone is interested in owning a lighthouse, this one is for sale!

It was a short 3 hour run to Deltaville and we entered the harbor just as the winds started to kick up a bit. As we pulled in we were greeted by fellow loopers Kenny & Kathy Walker (“No Zip Code”) who were two slips away from us in Norfolk.

Kathy & Kenny Walker

Kathy & Kenny Walker

They helped us with dock lines and getting tied up, along with Madison (one of the dockhands).

Once we got settled into the dock, we cleaned the outside of the boat from stem to stern. It was so dirty from days of exposure to salt and air, and the whole thing needed a complete scrub down. By the way, this is a lot of work and had Denise (who fears heights) climbing up on the top of the boat to make sure the cabin top got cleaned. It is a bit of a workout to say the least.

During the afternoon a boat came into the dock next to ours and we met Pam & Mark (“Sea Bear”) who are from Sonoma, CA.  Yes, we had a lot to talk about, especially when Mark saw his “Newport to Ensenada” sailing t-shirt; a race he has done several times.  After spending years in Southern California they had moved up to Sonoma.  They have a Nordic Tug 32 and have cruised the Northwest Passage as well as the San Francisco Bay area.  They had their boat shipped to Mobile, AL and are now doing the Great American Loop.

Once the boat and we were all cleaned up, we joined other loopers from the marina for dinner at a local restaurant called CocoMo’s. We already knew one couple Jack & Jane Conway (“Spirit”) and were introduced to another couple, Jim & Paula Stephens (“Palmetto Paradise”) who were from North Myrtle Beach, SC.  Together with Kenny & Kathy, the restaurant (which is located 3 miles away) came to the marina to pick us all up. This was a great service, but it took two trips to get us all there, and another two trips to get us all back when we were done. It’s a colorful place with a plastic palm tree, and food that was average but reasonably priced.  As it was Mother’s Day, the place was busy, but not crowded and we had a plenty of time getting to know each other and share boating stories. We learned that Jim & Paula are huge USC fans and we had much discussion about Southern College Football.

Dinner at CocoMo's

Dinner at CocoMo’s

Monday (5/11): As was predicted, the bad weather came, but not before Denise was able to go out and get in a 3+ mile run.  A welcome adventure since it had been since Norfolk since she had been able to run at all.  By 8:00 am it was raining and the wind was blowing.  Denise & Mark both had lots of work to do, so it was a good excuse to hunker down and get it all done, including finally connecting with yet another prospective client for Denise. Work is definitely interfering with our social life!

By about 4:30 the rain started to clear up and everyone started to congregate on the docks. By 6:00 we had a full blown marina happy hour going in the Captains Lounge with all the loopers.  We had invited Pam and Mark to join us, and there was another looper there we had not met, John Pylant (“Endeavour“) who has already completed the loop once single-handed, and is taking his boat up to the Annapolis area and putting it up for sale.  You meet all types! It was well past 7:00 before we got back to the boat and had a quick dinner of left-overs and spinach salad (thanks to the Yorktown farmer’s market).

Tuesday (5/12): It was a bit cloudy and windy this morning, but it actually turned into a sunny day.  The marina is very quiet at 6:00am; Denise is one of the few up with the birds. By the time Mark woke she had made coffee, showered, emailed and was raring to go.  Once Mark was ready, we used the marina courtesy car to drive to the local Wal-Mart for a few items. In this part of Virginia it is mostly farm country and rural, except for a few marinas and a few small towns. The Wal-Mart is the biggest retail outfit going besides West Marine, but it is not next door. It took us 40 minutes to get there and another 40 minutes to get back to the boat. By then the morning was shot. So much for getting this blog post out by noon.

Rappahannock River

Rappahannock River

However, during our trip we were able to take the bridge across the Rappahannock River and see what it is like. This was great as it is very likely we will not get to cruise here this trip and miss such a great River.

Mark spent the afternoon working on interior boat chores, and making future arrangements at marinas, first in Baltimore at the Maryland Yacht Club. There is a (AGLCA) “Harbor Host” in Maryland that is a member and he is getting us a greatly reduced rate to keep the boat there for the week when we go home.  He will keep an eye on the boat and give us a ride to BWI airport as he works there.  Now that is a Harbor Host!  It is not far from the Baltimore Inner Harbor and gives us piece of mind knowing that the boat will not be right in the middle of downtown Baltimore; especially in light of the recent events there.  He also made arrangements at Tangier’s Island where we are going to go on Thursday if the weather continues to cooperate.

Tonight we had a very impromptu pizza party on the porch at Dozier’s.  Several of us began congregating around 5:00- we have found this is a usual custom with the loopers – and were discussing our original plans to watch a dvd on the Trent Severn waterway. That was quickly shelved and replaced with a Happy Hour of wine and Popcorn Kathy had already made. Shortly thereafter it evolved into a decision to order pizzas and eat them on the porch.  That is precisely where we found ourselves enjoying a great sunset over the marina, until the no-se-ums came out. We all quickly scattered back to our boats for safe coverage.

Tomorrow, after Denise’s webinar (1:00 – 2:00) we intend to leave here and anchor out north of the Rappahannock River (Painter Pointe). Then from there we will head towards Tangier’s Island for Thursday.

Looking forward, our plans are to be in and out of Annapolis before Memorial Weekend, then on to Baltimore area for 5/27 and fly home on 5/28.  Mark will return to the boat on 5/31 and Denise will follow after her client engagement in Atlanta.

Longer range plans are to be in New York in mid-June, but our dates are really in a state of flux. Denise has some work commitments for the entire week of 6/8 and for 6/17 & 6/18 which is messing up our plans. Our hope is that something in our works schedule changes and we can be enjoying time with nephew Jacob on the Hudson River.

We hope you all are doing well and that all the Mother’s had a great Mother’s day.  We will post again in a few more days.

Sites from our trip over the last few days:

Sunset over Norfolk Harbor

Sunset over Norfolk Harbor

RC Cruise ship in port for the day

RC Cruise ship in port for the day

"Just Married" Yorktown, VA

“Just Married” – at Duke of York Inn Yorktown, VA

Yorktown Beach

Yorktown Beach

Chesapeake Bay from Dozier's Marina

Chesapeake Bay from Dozier’s Marina

Typical VA farm Seen on Denise's run

Typical VA farm
Seen on Denise’s run

All walks of life!

Warning: this is a very long post!

Norfolk, VA

Safely we sit at the Waterside Marina in Norfolk, VA and we are enjoying the absolutely beautiful weather here (at least for now).  It is 80 degrees, no clouds in the sky, and a breeze constantly blowing; what a refreshing change from NC.

Saturday (5/2/15):  We stayed in Coinjock, NC for another day as the wind continued to blow like crazy and it was cold (45 degrees). We both had lots of work to do, so it proved to be a good opportunity to sit tight and take advantage of a great internet connection.  And what a very fun day it became, especially when the weather started to clear and it warmed up into the 70’s.

In the morning, several boats left the marina to make the trip north and since most of the other boats had cleared out the previous day it was pretty vacant.  Left tied up to the 1200’ dock was our boat at the very northern end, and a Canadian-registered sailboat named (Papa Jovial) was near the very southern end. There was no one else in between.

Coinjock Marina - empty

Coinjock Marina – empty

Landmark Sign - Coinjock Marina

Landmark Sign – Coinjock Marina

Coinjock Marina & Restaurant

Coinjock Marina & Restaurant

Around mid-morning we took a break to walk the dock and get some exercise, as well as take a few pictures of the Veterans Park south and across the canal from our marina.  We stopped at Papa Jovial to talk to the woman in the cockpit and Mark was saying that their boat looked familiar. Mind you by this time have repeatedly passed several boats and we recognize them, but can’t remember where we know them from (which passage).  Some are “loopers”, some are not.  As we were talking to the woman, the man pokes his head out of the cabin and Mark recognizes him as the “Frenchman” from our marina in Merritt Island (Harbor town).  What a small world and what a wonderful surprise.  We listened to his stories about traveling all around the world in this particular boat, clocking over 70,000 miles over 6 years, including traveling from Australia to Cape Town, South Africa. He lost all his electronics in a lightening hit off the coast of Martinique and navigated through the Bahamas without a depth-sounder (can you imagine?), GPS, or any of them working. He was quite a character as you can probably imagine.

Big boats come in - Coinjock

Big boats come in – Coinjock

Around lunch time, boats started to come in one by one and before 5 pm the dock was full.  None of these boats were small, in fact we were probably the smallest boat. Also, as we were at the top of the dock and were blocked by the next (big) boat and could not see all of them that had come in.  It was only when we took a break and started talking to the people in the next boat that we saw all the boats that had come into the dock. These boats included several sport fishing boats (Viking, Hatteras, Carver), a large catamaran motor vessel, two Flemings (a boat we considered several years back) and another 75 foot Hatteras (not a sport fishing configuration) – as well as others.  But the most amazing boat was a 125 foot custom yacht named “Aspen Alternative”. It had a full crew of at least 4 and more than one guest aboard. It looked like an otherwise typical day in Ft. Lauderdale, but we were in Coinjock, NC.

So there we were minding our own business and enjoying a cocktail and the nice weather (finally) in the stern of our boat when 3 guys who were walking the dock came by. They had obviously been drinking a bit and were in ‘good spirits’. They asked about our boat and we started chatting it up and eventually invited them to come aboard.  Come to find out one of them (Brian) owns a marina in New York along the Hudson River and invited us to come stay in it when we are there.  Brian has the 75’ Hatteras motor yacht and it is parked at the extreme southern end of the dock behind Papa Jovial.  We have a fun time talking to them for about an hour and then they left to go to dinner.

As Mark and I had eaten at the restaurant the night before (great seafood and homemade potato chips!) we decided to cook on the boat.  While we are eating dinner we watch a helicopter come in and land in this tiny little spot behind the restaurant; 3 people got out and head to dinner.  This is obviously the place to be on a Saturday spring night in this part of NC. It is prom season and the restaurant was hosting many couples as well as all the cruisers that had just come in. In addition they had a guitarist playing on the patio which would have attracted more crowds had it been warmer. While the winds and rain had dissipated, it was still only in the 50’s.

Helio to dinner - Coinjock Marina

Helio to dinner – Coinjock Marina

Aspen Alternative in Coinjock

Aspen Alternative in Coinjock

After we had eaten, we decide to go check out all the big boats (including Brian’s) and see what else was going on in the marina.  We walk past “Aspen Alternative” and two of the fishing boats (one from Key West) and down to Brian’s boat (“Corporate Approved”).  They are still there and invite us aboard for the tour.  What a boat!  His “main salon” is bigger than our living room at home and he has 3 levels; 4 bathrooms (including one with a Jacuzzi tub).  He was the most gracious host and was really down a down-to-earth, likable guy. His two buddies were also just as fun and warming. Who would have known that one was a NYC attorney and one was a former entertainment host (think MTV/VH1).  Come to find out Brian’s Marina is one of the vendor-sponsors of the AGLCA event we are attending in Norfolk, so we knew we would see him there.

Corporate Approved leaves Coinjock

Corporate Approved leaves Coinjock

Sunday (5/3/15):

On Sunday morning we watched almost all the boats pull out, one-by-one. Finally at 7:00 am we untied the dock lines and made our way north. It was a beautiful day to be on the water with temperatures cool at first and then warming so as not too hot to require the air conditioner yet.

On our journey north, we have two bridges and a lock to pass that will require opening for us to get through. All of these have restrictions as to their opening times. The second bridge opening is coordinated with the lock opening and occurs only on the hour; it is a short ¼ mile between the two.  The first (swing) bridge opens on the half-hour and the hour. We knew if we timed it right we could get through all three in a row and watched are speed and time carefully.  That is until some (self-centered) motor boater barged in front of us at the bridge, took his time getting through, and delayed our passage. This caused us to miss the 2nd bridge opening….by < 5 minutes.  Despite our pleadings, the bridge tender would not hold the opening for us.  So we tied up to the docks they provide for such occurrences and waited the 55 minutes for the next opening.  Did I mention that this same motor-boater followed us the entire way from Coinjock and was right on our stern (dangerous) and in our wake (for his smoother ride)?  We gave him plenty of opportunity to pass before the bridge, which he did not take.

"Princess" buds ahead Centerville Turnpike Bridge

“Princess” buds ahead
Centerville Turnpike Bridge

Princess takes his time (see boats in queue for 2nd bridge in distance)

Taking time – see boats in queue for 2nd bridge in distance

But this very small setback proved to be an adventure (aren’t they always?).  When we tied up to the dock waiting on the opening of the second bridge, we met fellow “loopers” (Sno Daz) who were from Englewood, FL. They were very friendly and offered suggestions on the route north as they had traversed the bridge/locks heading southbound in the fall.

Met Sno Daz Waiting at Great Bridge

Met Sno Daz
Waiting at Great Bridge

We also met a guy by the name of Jim who lives on his boat in the marina where the tie-up docks are. He has a lobster-type boat and he has been boating all his life. He was from upstate Maine and was familiar with the Back Cove boats (made in Rockland, ME), complementing us on our choice of a “good boat”.  He was so interesting to talk to and we loved that he helped us off the dock when it came time to go through the bridge/locks.

Jim at Great Bridge, VA

Jim at Great Bridge, VA

As the wind had mostly died down the lock was a relatively non-event. They take you up only 2 -3 feet, so the water pouring in is pretty mild (kind of like the locks at Port Canaveral) and it was easy to hold the boat steady. The lock master and tenders were so friendly and helpful.  You can tell we are still in the South.

Here are some pictures of the approach and us in the locks:

Looking West - In queue for lock

Looking West – In queue for lock

Boy Fishing - North Shore

Boy Fishing – North Shore

Crabbing - North Shore

Crabbing – North Shore

First boats entering lock

First boats entering lock

Lock tender

Lock tender

Great Bridge Lock

Great Bridge Lock

On our way into Norfolk we stopped to get fuel at a marina called Top Rack and paid the cheapest rate yet at $2.38 per gallon. What a nice surprise. Cheap fuel means more nights in a marinaJ.

Coming into Norfolk is quite an experience on the water.

Ships at NNSY

Ships at NNSY

In addition to being a huge military (mostly Navy) shipyard, it is also a large commercial seaport. Military & police vessels, container ships, freighters, car carriers and tugs pulling/pushing barges is a constant.  Throw in the tourist clipper ships, water taxis and day-sailors and you have what looks like 1-4 traffic at rush hour on the water….all the time. Navigating the channel and motoring through all the traffic was a bit nerve wracking for Denise, but she handled it well. Coming into the very crowded marina right off all of this and docking the boat (stern in) was a job professional, and Mark handled it perfectly.  Thank goodness for bow and stern thrusters for making those 360 degree turns.

Aircraft Carriers Norfolk Naval Shipyard

Aircraft Carriers
Norfolk Naval Shipyard

Every picture or movie you have seen about military ships, especially air craft carriers just does not tell the story about how large they really are.  We are not a small boat, but next to these things we are like flies on an elephant.  There were destroyers, air craft carriers, and even a sub in the shipyards being worked on, and they are massive. It easy to be intimidated by them and this is why our military just needs to patrol the waters off the coast of Africa to keep our ships registry vessels safe from pirates.

The marina we are staying at in Norfolk is very different than any we have stayed at on this trip so far. First of all, it is located right on the major waterways, and is in the heart of downtown Norfolk. It is noisy and the boat moves with each passing ship or barge.  It has a river-walk area and park nearby, and it is adjacent to what used to be a major shopping & dining complex (sort of like Jacksonville Landing).  However, all the shops and restaurants are closed as the whole place is undergoing renovation.  The marina bathrooms are located in a small part of this complex as is the laundry facility.  None of these is in great shape and really is way overdue for a renovation.  There is no cable TV, and the internet is not great, making streaming even the news or weather a bit of a challenge; certainly no video. On the other hand, the dockhands are terrific and very professional. They know what they are doing and will bend over backwards to help you.  There is one guy with red-orange hair that reminds us of the comedian Carrot Top.

'Carrot Top' Chad Dockhand at Waterside

‘Carrot Top’ Chad
Dockhand at Waterside

Full marina

Full marina

 

After getting the boat docked and situated we got showers and met a few of the other “loopers” who were walking around the docks.  We found a local microbrewery a few blocks from the marina where we went for dinner before turning in for the night. Come to find out we had just missed a wine festival they were having in the park next door, and it was Virginia-only wines they were serving. Too bad we missed it as it would have been fun to attend.

Monday (5/4/15):

Denise started the day with a 3.5 mile run around the river walk area, which was really needed as she hadn’t run in over a week. The path to the west took her past a memorial, a museum, the tourist boats area, and into a residential condominium section that has a community park. This was not your typical community park; it was all Japanese themed and had the most beautiful flowering trees and shrubs. There was a pagoda in the middle that is a café of sorts (it wasn’t open) and a beautiful fountain and pond.  You find the nicest surprises on a run!

Japanese Garden - Norfolk Discovered on Run

Japanese Garden – Norfolk
Discovered on Run

Mermaids are everywhere Norfolk, VA

Mermaids are everywhere
Norfolk, VA

As the AGLCA Rendezvous did not start until the afternoon, we had the morning to get some work done.  While Denise had a client conference call, Mark met with a canvas person to get an estimate for a dinghy cover.  We then did a little work on the boat and then after lunch headed to the opening sessions at the event. The first was an overall high-level presentation about the most popular loop route that included some very spectacular pictures and reaffirmed our decision to do this.

There are over 200 participants and about 50% are people who have already completed one or more “loops”, or are in the process of “looping” today (that includes us).  The other 50% are people who are interested or are planning to do it.  While most of the people we meet are retired and “older”, we had the chance to meet several couples who are our age (or younger) and are close to retiring or trying to figure out a way to do the loop while still working. We have met one other couple (so far) who are actually working while looping like us, and we met a couple from Anchorage Alaska that flew down from this event as they are considering looping in 2 years.  During the “In Process Loopers” introduction there was a guy who got up and talked about his first loop. He did it in a speedboat and it took him 7 weeks. He rushed everything just to get it done, and is now doing it again, albeit slower. He was hilarious and was the hit of the afternoon events.

The people we meet are from all walks of life and some have never even driven a boat. The hardest part will be trying to remember everyone’s names, even though we have their boat cards.

The next few days are packed with all-day session and events, including a Boat Crawl each afternoon which we have signed up for. It allows people to come on your boat and show off your set up, as each looper is different and people do it in all kinds of boats. Very fun and very educational at the same time.

Tuesday, 5/5/15:

The day started with our first boat issue – we ran out of water…or so we thought.  As the showers facilities at this marina are few and are pretty gross, we opted to use our boat shower. It is really fine for me, but kind of small for Mark.  However, we had not put any water on the boat since Morehead City and we were not really paying attention to it. Well, when Mark was showering we could hear the water pump laboring and so he ended his shower quickly. When he got out he began putting water on the boat, but it took only a few minutes before the fill up was overflowing.  Since he was using hot water from the hot water tank, we now think that maybe it was not that the tanks were empty, but that the outflow of water from the tanks could not keep up with the feed to the shower.  Or it is possible that pump just lost the prime and couldn’t feed water through the system. After the fill, Denise took her shower and there were no problems.

Then we had internet connectivity issues.  The Wi-Fi antennae for this marina is inside the marina office and not very high. They keep moving it to give the strongest signal (probably to the boater who complains the most) which knocks people off the connection all the time.  All the boaters are complaining about it.  So we could not get on the internet to do email (or send out this blog post as originally planned).  Finally we gave up as we had to go to the Rendezvous.

Our events start at 8:30 with the morning briefing and then move right into the first session. After two sessions in the morning, we break for lunch in the ballroom, then back into two sessions in the afternoon.  Then today began the boat crawl, then there is the pre-dinner cash bar cocktail hour, and then the dinner. During the dinner they have different presenters and they give away door prizes from the Rendezvous sponsors.  It makes for a very long day and we didn’t get back to our boat on Monday until 9:00.  So, today we attended the morning sessions (The Chesapeake & the Delaware Bay to the Eerie Canal), had lunch and then attended the afternoon session (NY Canals). At the afternoon break Denise made the decision to go back to the boat while Mark attended one of the vendor presentations (The Waterway Guide) and then joined her.

We worked on the internet connection and got it going again, then attended the Boat Crawl to see how a few other boats.  In addition to seeing a nicely outfitted Grand Banks (“Patriot”) we also saw a sailboat (“Heron”) that had rebuilt the entire inside and put a secret fort under the main salon settee for when the grandkids were aboard.

Elizabeth on Heron (Grandkids fort)

Elizabeth on Heron
(Grandkids fort)

Elizabeth made all the pink flamingo curtains for her boat and although it is old, it is really cute.  We also toured a big boxy 36’ motor-cruiser (“Zendo”) owned by a couple from Ponte Vedra Beach – who are relocating back to Miami. We have a good friendship brewing with this couple and hope to see them along the way in this adventure.  It is fun to see how other people are living aboard their boats and what they have on it. We definitely have a minimalist approach compared to most, but it is not our permanent home.  We still like our boat best! Tomorrow it will be in the crab crawl and they get to see how we live.

Brian Donovan Corporate Approved

Brian Donovan
Corporate Approved

AJ  Corporate Approved

AJ
Corporate Approved

After the crawl it was time for the cocktail hour and dinner.  We had been invited back to our friend Brian’s boat (“Corporate Approved” – 75 foot Hatteras from Coinjock) as they were having a Cinco de Mayo celebration for the loopers, so we went there instead.  They were handing out t-shirts for the marina in NY and we got to meet Brian’s daughter (Laura) who just ended her first year at University of South Carolina and was joining him for the boat ride home. We (again) had a lot of fun but had to leave for dinner and bid them good-bye. They are leaving tomorrow to start the journey home and we promised to come to their marina when in Albany.

By the way: the Rendezvous is great! The presentations are fantastic with lots of great pictures and highlights. We are shown how to enter certain harbors, points of interests, places to avoid and why, and things to do.  It is so well done and we are really impressed with the quality of the presentations and the information that is shared. It just gets us all excited about the upcoming adventures.

We will be very busy with the Rendezvous and leaving on Friday, so we probably will not make a posting again until Saturday or Sunday. Our next stop is probably going to be Yorktown so we can try to connect with nieces Christen and Shannon and their families.  No matter what, we will be somewhere on the Chesapeake in Virginia.

Other Pictures of interest from the last few days:

Kayakers in the VA ICW

Kayakers in the VA ICW

Manhole Cover at Coinjock Marina

Manhole Cover at Coinjock Marina

Lunch

Lunch Buffet AGLCA Rendezvous

 

Windblown!

Coinjock, NC

Thursday morning we left Morehead City Marina with an overcast sky and a slight wind blowing. We traveled the Adams Creek canal where we saw lots more homes along the ICW like we have through the rest of NC. But according to the guide book we have, these are more middle-class homes then those seen near Wrightsville Beach, or Myrtle Beach.

Middle-class homes

Middle-class homes

It was in this canal that we watched a hawk circle around several times to look for “breakfast”. He skirted the tree line looking for fish hiding out, but was not successful. Eventually he left to the land, probably looking for a field mouse.  Too bad we could not get a picture as it was a beautiful bird with about a 3 ½ foot wing span.

The weather forecast was not bad for the day, but as it progressed we realized that it was going to deteriorate. We successfully navigated through the Neuse River and the Pamlico Sound with the wind on our nose and 2 foot chop for about 2 hours, and it was not fun.

Chart Plotter navigating Neuse River

Chart Plotter navigating Neuse River

We love Autopilot

The boat driving itself! We love our Autopilot!

But our experience as sailors helped us to tolerate the discomfort, knowing we were doing 15 knots and would not have to endure it long.

So our original intent was to go to Belhaven, NC, spend the night, and then today go on to Coinjock, taking the “Virginia Cut” route up the ICW instead of the “Dismal Swamp” (more on this below).   But the wind was forecasted to go from 8-10 to 25 knots on the Albemarle Sound (much more open than the Pamlico Sound) by mid-morning. There is also a swing bridge at the end of the Alligator River and just before crossing the sound that closes down if the winds go above 30 knots. So, we made the decision to get through the bridge and stay at an anchorage (South Lake) tucked in from the wind last night, then get up at first light (6:00 am)  this morning and make is across the sound early. And that is exactly what we did.

Last night’s anchorage was about a 1-hour slow drive off the ICW, but it was well worth it. It was protected from the wind out of the North and it was completely desolate. We were the only boat there and did not even have a single boat pass us all night long.  The cruising guide said that on a clear night you can see millions of stars as there is no light pollution, but it was so cloudy all we could see were military helicopters and planes going by.

Entering the anchorage - stormy skies

Entering the anchorage – stormy skies

Check out that shallow water

Route into anchorage

 The most interesting thing in the anchorage is the wooden structure located off our port (left) side. Mark believes it to be a “duck blind” used for hunting waterfowl.  Although there are a lot of birds in the area, we did not see any ducks.

Duck Blind

Duck Blind

We did however encounter numerous crab pots to get in and out of the anchorage area; it was literally like a mine field.  Come to find out, in NC they are allowed to put these pots anywhere as long as they run in a line either North to South, or East to West.  So the trick is to find your way in one of the “lanes” and stay put as long as possible. However, in the ICW it is more important to stay in the channel or you run the risk of running aground. This is not a sport for the faint of heart!

Last night we also had to have the generator run most of the night in order to run the heater. Yes, us Floridians were freezing, despite long pj’s and blankets on the bed.  It was cold!

Temp at Anchorage

Temp at Anchorage

This morning when we crossed the Albemarle Sound, it was only blowing about 10 – 15 knots and we had 2’ of chop. By the time we got to Coinjock (at 9:30 am) it was blowing a good 20kts with gusts to 30. Now as we sit here, it has rained horizontally and we are being bounced around, despite being tied to a dock.  We spoke with a boater who came in around 13:00 hrs (1:00 pm) who clocked 40 knots in the Sound. We DEFINITELY made the right call!

Because of the wind, we will most likely sit here for today and probably tomorrow, then make the last 45 miles to Norfolk on Sunday.

Dismal Swamp vs. Virginia Cut:

There are two routes to take when transiting North Carolina to Virginia on the ICW. Both routes have their pros & cons and we had to decide which way to go.  We chose the Virginia Cut for several reasons. The main reason is that the Dismal Swamp was supposed to host a kayaking event on Saturday and over 200 kayakers are supposed to be in the canal. Since it is already known to be narrow and taking this route requires slow speed (5 knots), timing of several bridge/lock openings, and 6’ depth, we decided it would not be fun.

The Virginia Cut is a little more open and you have to cross Carrituck Sound, but after Pamlico and Albemarle, this should be a non-event.  This part of the ICW also has much more commercial and tug/barge traffic, but they generally run in the evening hours so we should be ok.

Both routes require our first encounter with a lock and we are going to have to time it perfectly as they have restricted openings and have to be coordinated with the bascule bridge opening just after the lock.

To say we are anxious to leave the terrible weather of NC is an understatement. It is cold, rainy and the wind is howling.  We miss the warmth of SC, but not the heat of FL. Now we are anxious to see the predicted improved VA weather.

Posting updates:

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ICW sites yesterday & today:

"Leslie will you marry me"

“Leslie will you marry me”

Just the slip? How much for the house?

Just the slip? How much for the house?

Typical ICW barge traffic

Typical ICW barge traffic

Hobucken Coast Guard Station

Hobucken Coast Guard Station

ICW foliage - a different look

ICW foliage – a different look

South Lake Anchorage

South Lake Anchorage

Fresh shrimp dinner

Fresh shrimp dinner

Cleanup after dinner

Corelle – break resistant not proof! Cleanup after dinner!