Monthly Archives: June 2017

Learning about Long Island!

Port Washington – Long Island, NY (Wednesday, 6/14)
The plans to go for a morning run were scratched as it was pouring raining when Denise woke up.  Instead she put her time into completing the last blog post and getting a few work-related items completed. The rain finally stopped mid-morning, and in the early afternoon Claire arrived. We were off for our adventures together.

Our first outing was a “planned-in-advance” pedicure at a local nail salon.  It was a ¾ mile walk from the marina and it was great as it gave us plenty of talk time while being pampered a bit.

Getting a pedicure

We schemed our dinner plans for the evening, which involved eating on the boat and mapping out activities for the rest of her visit.  After the pedicures we walked to “Stop and Shop” (the large grocery store chain) which was in the next shopping plaza from the nail salon.  As it was getting close to dinner, we picked up a rotisserie chicken and some salad fixings and headed back to the boat.

We considered our options for the next day and decided to go to bed early and get a good night’s rest. This worked great for Claire, but not Denise who could not sleep and was up late re-downloading about 75 pictures from the cameras that she had accidently deleted from her computer. Of course this was after they were all catalogued and now this too had to be redone! UGH!

Port Washington – Long Island, NY (Thursday, 6/15)
As usual, the sun was up early and both Denise & Claire were awake with it. Because we were up and about, we chose to attend the 8:00 am mass at Our Lady of Fatima – the small Catholic Church we passed along our walking route in the village of Manorhaven.

Our Lady of Fatima Church

Inside Our Lady of Fatima

Inside Our Lady of Fatima

Garden at Our Lady of Fatima

Sculpture outside Our Lady of Fatima

On the way home, we stopped at “Bagel Time” for a coffee and ended up eating breakfast there. The food was very good and affordable – less than half of what it would be had we stopped at a Starbucks or Dunkin Donuts.  This was definitely a local’s place and the people were very friendly.  We learned they make all their bagels, breads, muffins and sweets on the premises every day.

Bagel Time – Great Breakfast Spot

From there we went back to the boat to grab our backpacks, water, the bicycles, and then headed out for exploring the town of Port Washington.  We took mostly the same route Denise had run earlier in the week, but deviated slightly to stay closer to the water.  We passed the Town Dock and Louie’s Oyster Bar & Grill, and biked to where the road turned mostly residential.  From there we zig-zagged through the neighborhoods to stay off the busy Main Street, but eventually cut over as that is where the potential shopping was.

The road was so busy with traffic we didn’t feel safe riding on the shoulder, and the sidewalks were narrow and getting crowded with nearing the lunch hour.  So we got off our bikes and walked them instead.  We passed numerous restaurants, nail salons, hair salons, shoe repair shops, a single sporting-goods store and eventually the train station.  However, there were not many places for us to do “retail therapy”, so we got back on the bikes and rode up to Port Washington Blvd before turning back towards the waterfront and the small number of shops near Louie’s.

It was here that we went into Atlantic Outfitters to ask if they knew anything about getting a harbor boat tour.  We spoke with the owner who told us to pick up the tours where you get the water taxi at the Town Dock, and then gave us a phone number to call.

While talking to him we noticed near the register there were a pair of model sailboat made out of milk/juice ½ gallon cartons. He mentioned they were his kids models used in the annual home-made sailboat regatta – open to all 3rd graders and happens the first week of June every year.  Wouldn’t you know it, we just missed this event.  He told us that it is a huge deal that everyone in town looks forward to, and even if there is no wind, they still hold it; they just bring in big fans if they have to.

3rd Grade Sailboat project

From there we rode to the Town Dock for a water taxi “tour” and parked our bikes.

At Town Dock

We called and were told where to meet, and waited for the boat to arrive. Shortly thereafter, the water taxi showed up and Carolyn, the water taxi captain said she would give us a tour. However, we had to deliver a few passengers to their boats in the mooring fields and then we proceeded with the tour.

First, we learned that many of the homes across the Bay from our marina (in Kings Point and Great Neck) are owned mostly by “Persians”.  She took us by one house that is owned by a guy who came to the USA with $50 and started a pillow company, and by another home that was still under construction; cost: $70 million dollars!

Persian homes on Southern shore of Manhasset Bay

Home of Pillow Manufacturer

We went by the Manhasset Bay Yacht Club and learned they hold sailboat races on Thursday evenings in the bay, and we talked about the Sands Point Preserve area where we are planning to go tomorrow.  Carolyn told us that she is in college at Sacred Heart University and has been working the water taxi for 4 years.  She is very capable at driving the water taxi and we enjoyed the information she shared with us.

Then we got back on the bikes and headed towards the boat, but got sidetracked to check out the area around Tom’s Point and the Manhasset Bay Marina.  Here we discovered Sheets Creek (and we were without a paddle), and a rabbit enjoying his day.

Sheets Creek sign & rabbit

We also went by the restaurant La Motta’s as we were considering it for dinner.  But we were pretty tired from riding and since we still had not eaten lunch, we headed directly back to the boat for food and relaxation.

For the rest of the afternoon we hung out by the pool at the marina, and around the boat until dinner which we had at the Clam Shack at the marina. After dinner we worked on planning our adventure for the next day.

Enjoying time by the pool

Sisters enjoying the Clam Shack

Port Washington – Long Island, NY (Friday, 6/16)
The weather forecast for the day called for rain, but not until mid-morning.  We were trying to plan our transportation mode and decided we would walk to everything close by, but would take Uber for the 2.5 mile ride out to Sands Point Preserve.

So we started out going back to “Bagel Time” for breakfast, and then walked back to the Stop & Shop to pick up a few things we needed for the weekend.  We made it back to the boat just in time as it started to sprinkle. After putting everything away and grabbing our backpacks and umbrella, we met our Uber driver and off we went.

Sands Point Preserve is a 216-acre park, on the original Guggenheim Estate, now owned by Nassau County, NY, but is maintained and operated by the Sands Point Preserve Conservancy.  It includes several historic mansions (owned by the Gould and Guggenheim families, circa early 20th century) and numerous walking paths, not to mention a spectacular view of Long Island Sound. Sands Point was the famed town of “East Egg” in F. Scott Fitzgerald’s “The Great Gatsby” and the estate reflects the opulence of that era. It was also home to orphan refugees during WWII and at one point was a US Naval Training Center (before it got moved to Florida).  You can learn more about the entire park here.

We arrived at the gate and paid for the tour of the “Falaise” mansion, and then walked up to Castle Gould to meet our bus that would take us to that part of the estate.  The Castle Gould is undergoing some renovations, so tours of it were not available, but we were able to get some exterior pictures.

Castle Gould

Sign by Castle

The other estate home “Hempstead House” is open for tours, but limited to Saturdays and Sundays only, so we were not able to tour it.  It is this house that has been used in numerous movies (“Scent of a Woman”) and small screen shows (“The Americans”, “Boardwalk Empire”) to name a few.

We took the tour bus to Falaise where we were met by a docent who told us of this specific mansion’s rich history, as well as the biography of Harry F. Guggenheim (nephew to the founder of the Guggenheim museum). The house itself has been left intact with all its furnishings as he stipulated in his will when he died in 1971. It is a 13th Century manor style home and has numerous artifacts, collectables and tapestries, not to mention collections of trophies; the result of his horse racing endeavors.  The terrace on the back of the house overlooks Long Island Sound and there is a simple, but elegant dining room that was used in the movie “The Godfather”.

Our Tour Bus

Entrance to Falaise

Long Island Sound from terrace at Falaise

Harry Guggenheim was an impressive business man (in mining operations), naval aviator, Ambassador to Cuba, founder of a newspaper (“Newsday”), and an avid horseracing fan. Additionally, he was good friends with Charles Lindbergh, who stayed at Falaise many times, and he was instrumental in securing funding for rocket pioneer Robert Goddard.  He truly had the golden touch with everything he did, except in his 3 marriages.

Our bus took us back to Castle Gould, and then we walked back to the gate where we got a cab to go back to the marina.  Despite the drizzle we found this to be a truly a fascinating place, and we really enjoyed this adventure.

Once we got back to the boat, it was really raining and we didn’t feel like venturing out too far for dinner. Usually when we get together we like to cook – really cook.  But the small galley on the boat was too much of a challenge, so we opted for the next best thing: TAKE OUT!  During our travels yesterday we found a bar-b-que place that delivered and we decided to give them a try, ordering a pair of hamburgers and sides.  Our order came 10 minutes earlier than expected, was hot and was super delicious!  Too bad for Mark who was flying back from a client site, as he missed the best meal.

Harbor Q

Hamburger from Harbor Q

Once Mark arrived and got settled in we looked at the weather and confirmed that we would still leave tomorrow and head to Port Jefferson.  Denise had made reservations for a mooring ball there, and then on Sunday we would press on to Greenport; weather permitting.

Greenport – Long Island, NY (Saturday, 6/17)
We had all agreed that we would leave at 8:00 a.m., but we woke up to very heavy fog, so it looked questionable that we would leave on time.

Marina fogged in

However, with radar and just enough clearing we were able to pull away from the dock at 8:15 and head out on to Long Island Sound.

Leaving Port Washington in fog

The water was flat with almost no waves or wind, so it was really easy to cruise at 20 kts.  Periodically throughout the trip we would encounter really dense fog and could only see about 500 yards in front of us.  At other times it was clear and we could see the Long Island shoreline, but at no time were we able to see the coast of Northern New York or Connecticut.  Here are some things we did get to see along the way:

Eatons Neck Lighthouse & GC Station

Homes on shore near Orient

As we were approaching the entrance to Port Jefferson Harbor, we started to question if we shouldn’t go further north, taking advantage of the calm seas. The weather forecast for Sunday through Tuesday did not look favorable so going further north to Greenport would give us some protection in an area that had a lot more to offer than a mooring at Port Jefferson. This meant going another 40+ miles, (we had already done about 35 miles) and it would take another 2.5 hours. But first we had to identify a location to stay for several nights. We used Active Captain and the Waterway Guide as our resources, called our preferred location at Mitchell Park Marina (municipal) and secured a favorable rate and dockage.  So we pressed on to Greenport with Claire helping Captain Mark and Denise getting to relax a bit.

Underway with Claire & Mark

A big concern to get to Greenport was that we would have to navigate through Plum Gut at an incoming tide.  This is an area where the Long Island Sound meets with Block Island Sound, and Gardiners Bay.  The water rushes between Orient Point on the North Fork, and the land to its north, called Plum Island.  It creates a vicious current and can have some choppy waves. Ideally you want to hit it at slack tide.  We would be going through there at about 1.5 hours after the slack; it was going to be a little bumpy.

As we approached Plum Gut we noticed the Cross Sound Ferries were also coming through the narrow passage, so Mark slowed the boat to let them get ahead of us.  Meanwhile Denise was able to take a few pictures of the Orient Point Lighthouse, called “Old Coffee Pot” and the Plum Island Lighthouse.

Cross Sound Ferry (to CT)

Orient Point Lighthouse – “Old Coffee Pot”

Plum Island, NY Lighthouse

Tide, Current and wind – effects at Plum Gut

Tide, Current and wind – effects at Plum Gut

We made it through safely and were amazed at how calm the waters were once we were on Gardiners Bay.  We did notice the wind had picked up a bit, but not near as much as was forecasted.  We cruised past the Long Island Lighthouse, which is locally known as the “Bug Light” because of its appearance; when it was first built, it looked like a bug.

Long Beach Light – called “Bug Light”

This marks the entrance into the Peconic River which runs completely around Shelter Island.

Homes on Shelter Island

We cruised about 2 more miles with Shelter Island to our port side and pulled into the Mitchell Park Marina in Greenport. While there were several boats in the marina at the time, it was not full to capacity and we were given a favorable slip.  We settled the boat, checked in with the marina office, and went for a quick walk around the area to locate a possible wine tour for tomorrow.  Despite gathering information from a wine shop in town, we were not able to book anything that was affordable on such short notice.  We went back to the boat, got showers and made it to the 5:00 pm mass at St. Agnes Catholic Church.

St. Agnes Catholic Church

Inside St. Agnes

Afterwards we had time to go back to the boat and have a drink before going to dinner at Noah’s; a local place that offered small plate meals as well as full entrees. Some of the food was excellent (peel & eat jumbo shrimp, roasted beet salad, lobster bisque), but other items were less than stellar (crab cake, spicy prawns). When we were done we walked around Front Street and the shops that line it, doing mostly reconnaissance for tomorrow’s outing.

Dinner at Noah’s

Dinner at Noah’s – With Claire

When we went back to the boat, we evaluated all the options for getting Claire back to JFK on Monday. Since our plans had changed from Port Jefferson, we had different options this far north, and we had to get this figured this out.  The train is way too early (leaves at 5:30 am) and doable, but a last resort.  There were not rental car options available as they all are closed until Monday mid-morning, and are at least 25 miles away. It is not yet the summer season and the options were slim.  Fortunately, there is something called the Hampton Jitney and they have a bus that leaves Greenport at 7:00 am and can take Claire to the station in Queens, and then she can get a cab to JFK. The cost ($19) and the schedule meant it would work, so Claire booked a ticket.

It had been a big day full of fun and adventure and we had more on top for tomorrow.

Greenport – Long Island, NY (Sunday, 6/18)
Since we had gone to church last night, we were free to pursue other things in the morning. Denise went for a run out to a winery not far from town to check it out for a visit later in the day, and Claire went for a walk along the same route.  They met upon Denise’s return and walked back together around other parts of town, then made a rendezvous with Mark at the Dockside Deli for breakfast.

Here are some pictures of sites we saw on the morning run/walk:

Fallen Hero war memorial

Mermaid Sculpture

War memorials

Plaque about George Washington’s visit

House where George Washington visited

“Slip N’ Stay” marina

“Slip N’ Stay” marina

Poor Boys Yacht Club

We then went back to the boat to get cleaned up and then headed out for the day’s activities.

First up was the free tour at the Fireboat “Fire Fighter” located on the opposite side of the Ferry Dock, next door to the marina. It is a big red hulled boat that has been restored. It was in service for over seven decades protecting New York Harbor, and has the hard-earned distinction of being the most award-decorated fireboat in the world. At the time of her 2010 decommissioning she was the second oldest fireboat in front line service worldwide and as a National Historic Landmark is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.  You can learn more about this cool boat here.

Fireboat “Fire Fighter”

However, the fireboat wasn’t yet open for tours; it didn’t open until noon and we were too early. So we walked over to the East End Seaport Museum as their doors were opened.  This is located between the fireboat and the Greenport Train station and proved to be a very interesting place.

Ferry Terminal

East End Seaport Museum

It was here that we first learned about the oyster industry and the impact hurricane Sandy had on this community.  Then our host, Brandon, told us all about the Long Beach Bar Light (“Bug Light”). Originally built in 1870, the structure was on screw piles and open underneath, which lead to its nickname “Bug Light” because at high tide it looked like a giant water bug. In 1926 a concrete foundation was added, and it stayed as such until it was burned on July 4, 1963 in a fire started by feuding young men from Shelter Island. In 1990 it was reconstructed and continues to be renovated now as a result of damage sustained by hurricane Sandy in 2012.  You can learn more about Bug Light and the East End Seaport Museum here.

“Brandon” at East End Seaport Museum

Finally it was time to go tour the fireboat “Fire Fighter”.  We walked throughout all the decks except the engine room (the previous tour was still in process) and the upper deck; only Mark went as Denise’s fear of heights kept her and Claire on the lower level.  We went through it all quickly and then moved on to our next adventure.

Prepped for a rainy day

Fireboat “Fire Fighter”

“Fire Fighter” plaque

Denise & Claire on “Fire Fighter”

Still full from our breakfast, we opted to skip lunch and headed out to walk to the Kontokosta Winery, a little over a mile away. Since we have never been to a winery in New York, we were not familiar with their wines and were excited to learn more. Here we shared two tastings between the three of us and ended up buying some of their Merlot as it was quite flavorful and not too expensive.  We also learned about how the building that houses the tasting room was made from 100% recycled/repurposed materials.  The bar was made from old wine barrels that had been opened and re-stained black for the dramatic color. It was a very beautiful building and we enjoyed hearing about their wines, which produce less than 4000 cases per year and is only sold at the winery. You can learn more about Kontokosta Wines here.

Kontokosta Winery sign

Kontokosta vineyard and tasting room

Wine tasting at Kontokosta

Kontokosta tasting room

After the tastings we went outside and walked to the back of the property that goes all the way to the Long Island Sound.  It was still overcast and hazy, but it still was really pretty.

Kontokosta tasting room from back

At Kontokosta Winery

At Kontokosta Winery

From there we headed back to the boat, promising Mark that we would not deviate any further.  However, once we reached town we agree to let Mark go ahead while Claire and Denise did a little window shopping. We arrived back to Island Office in time to have happy hour and enjoy watching the ferry from Shelter Island carry all the weekenders back to the mainland.

Ferry boat leaving terminal

Soon it was time to go to dinner and we all decided that we should try Claudio’s, even though it was a bit of a tourist trap.  This restaurant is located on the waterfront, just steps from the marina. It is famous as it is the oldest same-family owned restaurant in the United States. It was founded in 1870, and the restaurant still houses the original (now antique) bar as well as photographs and artifacts from America’s cup defenders; including the great “J” boat racing ships. Since Mark is a former J-boat racer and Claire loves the sailing life, this was of particular interest to us all.  It helped that we had very good food, even though the YELP reviews were only mediocre: we must have hit it on a good night.

Claudio’s Restaurant

Plaque at Claudio’s

Claudio’s famous bar

After dinner we walked around some more of the downtown area, but not much was open as it was the weekend and things were quieting down.  We ended up going back to the boat to watch some TV and do some reading before calling it a day.  When all was said and done, we had walked over 18,000 steps and 9 miles today.

Here are some other pictures of things in town we saw while walking:

Historic Home in Greenport

Library Main Entrance

Old Kindergarten Schoolhouse

Greenport – Long Island, NY (Monday, 6/19)
We started the day by seeing Claire off on her traveling adventure that involved (no lie) bus, taxi, planes, & automobile until she finally got home to Tallahassee.  She picked up the Hampton Jitney right near the train station and ferry terminal which was very convenient.  We had a great time together and we hated to see her leave.

Hampton Jitney

For the rest of the day we stayed on the boat and did work for clients, cataloged pictures and worked on this blog post. The wind picked up dramatically and there were big waves and whitecaps in the bay between us and Shelter Island.

Whitecaps in Peconic River

We had been watching the weather and decided that it would be too tricky to stop at Block Island on our way to Cape Cod as there was only going to be one really good weather day (Thursday) and the rest would be high winds and seas. So we made plans to go directly to Cuttyhunk (tip of Cape Cod) on Thursday. Then we would be in more protected waters to move up through the Cape from there for the rest of the weekend.

Our reservations here at Mitchell Park Marina were only through Tuesday, so we had to find a place to stay on Wednesday night.  We wanted to stay in the Shelter Island area, just move to a different spot.  Our choice was Dehring Harbor, located immediately across the Peconic Bay from us.   We had heard about this place from Bruce (“Shenanigans”); a guy who was in a sailboat across the dock from us in Solomons, MD. He keeps his boat on a mooring there and he told us to look him up when we got to this area.  Mark gave him a call and he helped us secure a mooring. He told us to let him know when we arrive as he will give us a driving tour of Shelter Island. This we are really looking forward to!

Sometime in mid-morning we noticed a guy delivering a bunch of boxes on a dolly to the sport fishing boat at the end of our pier.  The boxes had the logo “stidd” on them and we had a pretty good idea that the boat was getting some new Captain’s chairs.  We have stidd chairs on Island Office and love them. They are incredibly comfortable as they adjust every way possible and are built to last.  Later we learned that “stidd” is actually headquartered here in Greenport only half a mile away. Go Figure!

Stidd’s main office

As the afternoon wore on, the threat of severe weather approaching meant we needed to plan our dinner accordingly.  Mark had been craving pizza so we walked to a place called “1943 Pizza Bar”; known for their really good brick oven pies.  They only make one size, (14”), and only have a few other items on the menu like salads and appetizers, but all the ingredients are super fresh and delicious. It’s a very small place and they turn tables fast, but many locals call ahead and come pick up their orders.  But they are never not busy, and they told us last Saturday they made 1500 pizzas in their small brick oven. The food was great and we took back plenty of leftovers back to the boat.  We will miss this place when we leave.

1943 Pizza Bar

We made it back to the boat in time to beat the rain.  It started around 7:30 p.m. and by 8:30 p.m. it was pouring!  We finished the day watching the movie “Masterminds” – a true B-movie comedy based on the 1997 Loomis Fargo Robbery in North Carolina. It was good for a chuckle, but we could not believe that anyone would have really been that stupid. However, there is still $2 million not yet recovered, so maybe they did!

Greenport – Long Island, NY (Tuesday, 6/20)
The day started as the previous day ended; pouring rain which nixed Denise’s morning run.  Eventually, it cleared up and we were able to (finally) enjoy some nice weather.

We spent the morning working on updating this blog, and doing a few boat chores. Then we spent a huge part of the day planning out our stops for the next 2 weeks. We had already secured reservations in the Portsmouth, NH/Kittery, ME area for the July 4th weekend, and for the upcoming few days. But we needed to schedule the remainder time.  Further complicating things, Mark was getting a request from the North Carolina client to visit the week of 6/26.

So, we redid our routing, deciding to bypass most of Cape Cod and consider it on the return trip in the fall (and hopefully better weather) and instead go into Boston. Not originally on our plan, but fits the schedule nicely and allows Mark to fly out of Logan airport. Denise will now have a fun place to safely stay, and maybe even see some old friends.

After this was planned and reservations secured, we went on a few errands including picking up milk and bread at the IGA.

IGA Market

We returned to the boat for some more work and (of course) happy hour before heading out to dinner at Front Street Station. Here we had mediocre hamburgers which left Denise longing for the juicy one from Harbor Q in Port Washington she had with Claire.

Tonight we were thinking about our time at Greenport, and we were very glad we made the decision to bypass Port Jefferson and come here. We may go there on the way back home, but without a doubt, coming here proved to be a good choice. The Mitchell Park Marina amenities are good with floating docks, good Wi-Fi and cable tv connections, and nice bathrooms. It was a bonus that the marina had a “book 3 days get the 4th free” offer.  The only thing they do not have is a laundromat, but we are not quite in need of one right now so that is ok.

In addition to being a good marina to wait out the bad weather, the location was terrific. Everything we could possibly want is in walking distance, including a supermarket (IGA), drug stores, restaurants, tourist shops and a winery. The train station, ferry terminal and Hampton Jitney stop is within 500 yards, and the Post Office is across the green. They also had a cleaners that Mark was able to use to have his “work” clothes cleaned so they would be ready for his next client trip.

In the park there is a carousel as well as greenspace where people can come with their dogs, but also where they hold concerts in the park in the summer months.  In so many ways this marina reminded us of the city marina in Charlevoix, Michigan. However, the lack of information about town activities by the “summer help” in the office was quite different. Here, they are clueless and need a lesson in “Disneyesque” customer service. But all-in-all it was a great place to stop for 4 days and enjoy some classic boating grounds that many people will never experience.

Here are some other pictures we took of the area around the marina, and in Greenport:

Carousel at Mitchell Park Marina

National Scrabble Assn

Alice’s Fish Market

Mitchell Park Marina

Mitchell Park Marina Office

Mitchell Park and Carousel

Front St from Mitchell Park

Claudios and docks near marina

Greenport’s Old Jail

Front Street

Greenport Firehouse

Greenport School – all levels

Mitchell Park Marina from Fireboat

Tomorrow we will move the boat to a mooring in Dering Harbor and will have more adventures there.

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Manasquan, New Jersey (Thursday, 6/8)
It was a cool morning when we left Atlantic City, and fortunately there was only a slight breeze. So we moved forward with plans to go north up the New Jersey ICW, and left the docks as the tide was coming in. We wanted as much water in the narrow and shallow parts of ICW so we would have every advantage and prevent a mishap.

We had been coached on the route by Looper friends Evelyn & Clark Woodworth (“Sea Moss”/”Sunset Delight”) who live in New Jersey and knew the waters well.  Their helpful hints allowed us to cruise without incident, and for that we are grateful.  We found a lot of the way to be similar to parts of the Indian River in Florida where there is lots of open water, but only a small portion is navigable as the rest is too shallow for most boats.

Here are some pictures from the early part of the trip:

Leaving Atlantic City

Rutgers University Marine Field Station

The natural beauty of the ICW was soon replaced by numerous houses that line the eastern shore as the ICW turns close to the barrier islands.  For several miles we traversed “no wake” zones and the communities of Beach Haven and Long Beach that had houses on the ICW and boardwalks or beaches on the Atlantic Ocean side. However, other than those areas, we were able to go full speed ahead at 20 knots.

Houses at Long Beach Township

Soon we came to Barnegat Bay, a very large body of shallow water that was full of fishing boats and other cruisers – far less than we were led to believe would be there, but we attributed that to it being a weekday.  It really is a beautiful body of water and it was enjoyable to experience this much-talked about cruising area.

Barnegat LIght and Oyster Creek Channel

Homes in Barnegat Bay

Eventually we came through Bay Head Harbor and the Point Pleasant Canal, which is a two-mile long man-made canal that empties into the Manasquan River.  In this canal you have to go under two bridges, but we could clear them without requesting an opening.  The current was now running in our favor, so even though we were at “no wake”, we were picking up an additional 2 knots of speed through this narrow area.

Approaching Lovelandtown Bridge

Point Pleasant Canal

Home in Manasquan River

Within no time we arrived at Hoffman’s Marina (west) where we assigned to an end-tie.  Normally, we would have liked this setup, but the swift current and the numerous boats passing by (ignoring a no-wake rule), made this an uncomfortable situation.  More importantly, the fixed docks were not conducive to our exiting the boat as there is a 4 foot tide and our boat was way too low to get off easily. Another contributing factor was the railway bridge about 100 yards away that would blow a loud whistle when it was ready to close or open (which happens about 2x per hour). When we checked in at the marina office, they were more than happy to accommodate us and found us a slip (with lower finger piers).  At slack tide we moved the boat and were much happier to spend the night in the new location.

Here are some pictures from the marina:

Hoffman’s Marina

Ducks in pool – Hoffman’s Marina

Pool at Hoffman’s Marina

IO at Hoffman’s Marina

We were trying to decide what to do for dinner as there are several choices in the area, and we spent some time using YELP and Open Table to determine which option was the best.  We opted for one of the restaurants (“Waypoint 622”), located at the marina, which allowed us to do a quick load of laundry while we ate; taking advantage of the free laundry offered by the marina.

Waypoint 622 Restaurant – Facing Marina

Front entry Waypoint 622

Waypoint 622 has outdoor dining and a bar area, but the weather was too windy and uncomfortable so we chose inside instead.  When we walked into the place we felt like we stepped into a scene out of “Good Fellows” or “Sopranos”.  The décor and atmosphere was stereotypical New Jersey restaurant, and they had a young guy singing Frank Sinatra and Dean Martin songs.  The place is not that big and it filled up quickly shortly after we arrived.  Our food was delicious and we couldn’t stop laughing at how art really does imitate life.

Zachary Alexander performs

Denise at Waypoint 622

Fried Calamari

After dinner we walked back to the boat, picking up our laundry along the way.  We confirmed our plans to leave in the morning, cruising up the Atlantic Ocean and onward to Staten Island. The weather looked favorable and we were hopeful it would hold true.

Staten Island, NY (Friday, 6/9)
Again we woke up to a cool morning requiring long sleeves, and long pants for Denise.  We left Hoffman’s marina at 8:00 and made it easily through the railway bridge and out into the harbor.  There were lots of boaters heading out offshore; mostly fishermen who were anxious to finally have a good weather window.

Here are a couple pictures from the beach area around Manasquan as we left the inlet:

Manasquan Beach Lifeguard Station

Manasquan Inlet – South side

We entered the Atlantic Ocean and found very favorable conditions.  There was a 1 -2 foot swell from the east, and there was little wind, making it acceptable to cruise the 20 miles up to Sandy Hook before we would face a west wind.  We cruised about 3 miles offshore at our usual 20 knots, passing along beach clubs, casinos, condominiums and even Asbury Park’s convention center.

Asbury Park Convention Center

It was a pretty clear day, and very soon after leaving we could see the New York City skyline. It really is amazing to be 20 miles away and still be able to make out this very distinctive landmark.  Even if you are not a fan of NYC, it does evoke emotion as being as “American” as apple pie and baseball.

NYC from 20 miles away

Before long we approached Sandy Hook and came up to Highlands Beach and Gateway National Recreational Area .  These beaches are really pretty with white sand and no development to interfere with nature.  This is just one part of the Gateway National Recreational Area which also includes parts of New Jersey and New York.  You can learn more about this great National Park here.

Highlands Beach – Gateway National Rec Area

Sandy Hook Lighthouse

From there it was a short 6 miles cruise across Raritan Bay and into Great Kills Harbor on the eastern shore of Staten Island.  We pulled into a slip right near where we were nearly two years ago, and we were greeted with hugs by AGLCA Harbor Host John Calascibetta.  He had been awaiting our arrival and patiently rearranged things when we got delayed out of Cape May.

John Calascibetta & Mark

Also in the crowd of greeters were (now) Gold Loopers on “Conductance”, whom we had followed and eventually passed along the way in our run up to Manasquan two days prior.  After we got settled in we made plans to go to dinner with John & his wife Julie.  We both had work to do for clients, and Denise had two back-to-back conference calls that lasted until it was time to leave for dinner.

We traveled with John and Julie up the street to “Coles Dock Side” where we enjoyed great food and even better company.  The owner (Larry) came by and said hello to Julie & John as they are regulars.  He was noticeably excited as he was heading out to his house in the FL Keys for the week to do some fishing.

Coles Dock Side

After dinner we returned to GKYC where there was a bi-monthly club meeting (men only) and the women (auxiliary) were hanging out waiting on the men to return.  Mark brought our dinner leftovers back to the boat, then headed to the bar at the club.  Meanwhile, Denise hung out with Julie and met some of the friendly woman at GKYC.  There she ran into Lars & Erja Odmark (“Ambikaart”) a Swedish couple who are doing the loop in a Mainship.  We talked for a while and agreed to try and get together before the weekend was out. Denise then headed to the bar to join Mark.

Bar at GKYC

About that time the club meeting let out and the bar filled up.  Drinks are known to be cheap, and the volunteer bartender was quite busy, so it took Mark a long time to get his bill. While waiting for the bill, we noticed John Scarcella (not to be confused with John Calascibetta) was at the bar and we went over to talk with him.  Mark had met John when we were here in 2015 when he and his family were planning on leaving for the Loop in the coming weeks.  Although we had followed their progress and we seemed to leapfrog around each other during our adventure, it wasn’t until we were in Miami Beach (and nearly home) in April 2016 that we finally connected again.  They too have completed their Loop and are now Gold Loopers as well.  We hung out with him until his wife and son made it clear it was time to go. As we were preparing to leave, he offered us his car for use the next day so we could run some errands and we made plans to connect in the morning.

Mark and John Scarcella

Staten Island, NY (Saturday, 6/10)
It was a beautiful morning, although the temperature had risen in the last 24 hours, and a heat wave was headed our way.

Sunrise over natural area – GKYC

Denise went for a run, intending to go out to a park that forms the eastern shore of Great Kills harbor. However, the walking path was overgrown and a sign indicating the trails were under rehabilitation discouraged her further progress.  Instead she ran up and down Hylan Blvd, with a few side street distractions, including one along the water that made for a great shot of Raritan Bay.

Raritan Bay – morning run

After breakfast and showers were done, we were able to connect with John S. and use his car to run several errands.  We did a major provisioning of groceries, liquor and even got to hit a credit union ATM for some cash. Mark was also able to get a badly needed haircut while Denise worked on cataloging pictures.

We hung out on the boat the rest of the afternoon, constantly stopping to talk with the nicest people at GKYC.  We were visited by Santiago, the guy who helped Mark with our “boat issue” in 2015, and others who remembered us from our 11-day visit here.  John C. had come by and gave us some freshly caught striped bass he received from another member, and John S. came by as we compared stories of our Loop and learned more about him and his service in New York City, eventually retiring with FDNY.

Later in the afternoon, we used John’s car to attend the 5:00 mass at St. Clare’s Catholic Church.  It was only about 1.5 miles away, but with the hills and having to cross Hylan Blvd, we chose to drive.  It was a beautiful church located in a middle class neighborhood, and was very warm and friendly.

Church of St. Clare

Our Lady of Fatima at St. Clare’s

Inside St. Clare’s

Although there were many dining opportunities and John S. had again offered us use of his car to go anywhere on Staten Island, we opted for eating the fresh fish John C. had shared with us instead.

Fish dinner

Tomorrow we would leave for Long Island and we still had some planning to do.

Here are some pics from of the GKYC area:

GKYC

Arch at end of dock

Great Kills Mooring field

Port Washington – Long Island, NY (Sunday, 6/11)
As much as we hated to leave the family-oriented GKYC, we had places to go and left for Long Island just after 8:00 am.

Great Kills Inlet

Knowing we needed to get fuel eventually, and not wanting to pay New York prices, we headed south across Raritan Bay to Brown’s Boat Yard up the Cheesequake Creek Inlet.  It is a much protected inlet with lots of nature around, but the fit into the slip to get the fuel was a bit tight.

Brown’s Boatyard – Diesel Stop

Tight fit for diesel slip

After filling the tanks and getting a free (with fill-up) pump out, we headed back out onto Raritan Bay and chose to take the longer (and less scenic) west side run up Staten Island to New York Harbor.

“W” Light in Raritan Bay just before Arthur Kill Channel

The channel in this area is known as “Arthur Kill” and is heavily traveled by industrial barges and tows.  Initially the coasts on both Staten Island and the New Jersey side are mostly residential, but quickly turn commercial.  On the New Jersey side are numerous docks and fuel depots, and on the Staten Island side there is a power plant (or two) other industrial areas.

Looking towards Perth Amboy – West side of channel

Western shore of Staten Island

Perth Amboy – NJ Eastern Shore

Eventually, we came up to the former landfill on Staten Island that is now being converted into a park.  Because it is so large in height, you can see it for miles coming up the Arthur Kill channel.

Landfill on western shore

Landfill on Staten Island – future park site

At the foot of the landfill is a refuse off-loading plant where household trash is collected and put on barges to be shipped to “who-knows-where”.

Refuse Center on Staten Island

John C. (at GKYC) had given us all the information about this area as well as the stories about two of the bridges that are under construction along this route. One such bridge is the Bayonne Bridge, which is being raised from 150 feet to 215 feet. They are literally building the new bridge above old one and this marks the transition into the Kill Van Kull channel that eventually dumped us into New York Harbor.

Goethals Bridge (I-278) Building the new over the old.

And then we entered New York Harbor.  The last time we passed by here it was windy and cool, but not much boat traffic.  Today was the complete opposite; it was hot, no wind and there were so many pleasure boats, ferries, sightseeing vessels, container ships and tugs churning up the waters. Mark was able to slow the boat down for a few classic pictures of the NYC Skyline and Lady Liberty, before turning into the East River.

Bayonne Golf Club, New Jersey side of harbor

Lady Liberty

NYC Skyline

We passed along Governor’s Island and headed up the East River going under the BMW bridges (Brooklyn, Manhattan, and Williamsburg). This was new territory and we have never been here before on our boat. We then cruised the route that took us west of Roosevelt Island and gave us ample opportunity to take some very cool pictures of the area:

Governor’s Island

Through the Brooklyn & Manhattan Bridges

Funny Building on East River

UN Building

And as we were cruising along who should pass us in the opposite direction was the motor yacht “Magic Days”, whom we last saw in Atlantic City.

“Magic Days”

About the time that we approached the Hell’s Gate area and Riker’s Island, we were infested with millions of tiny bugs  that attached to the ceiling inside the boat.  We had been running with the back door open which was fine when we had open water, but now that we were in the confines of the East River, it got hot…and now we had bugs.  The Captain ordered the door closed, and the generator and air conditioners on. For the next 15 minutes Denise vacuumed until all the bugs were eliminated and everything was put back to normal.  Then it was time to make lunch and there was little time for pictures.

Eventually, we passed LaGuardia airport where the planes were landing overhead and there were lots of recreational boats on the water.

LaGuardia Airport

Although the waterway opens up and is quite wide, there is still a channel and many of the power boaters go full throttle, creating a huge wake. It is the equivalent to a 4’ wave in the ocean and really rocks our boat.

Power boater kicking up huge waves

Shortly thereafter went under the Throgs Neck Bridge (I-275), passing the State University of New York Maritime College on our port side, and the US Merchant Marine Academy at Great Neck on our starboard side.  This is the dividing line where the East River officially becomes the famous Long Island Sound; a new body of water for our Island Office to experience.

Throgs Neck Bridge & SUNY Maritime College

We cruised past City Island and made a right hand turn into the Manhasset Bay where we were instantly aware of the very large mansions lining the edges of the bay.  These houses are the largest we have seen on this trip, and are reminiscent of those on Lake Skaneateles that Denise experienced on the Loop adventure.  We are in “Great Gatsby” country and these homes look the part.

Home on Manhasset Bay

Home on Manhasset Bay

Home on Manhasset Bay

As we approached the Brewer Capri Marina West where we had reservations, we attempted to contact them regarding our slip assignment.  However, after numerous attempts via phone and VHF radio, we were unsuccessful and this became frustrating.  Instead of motoring in the harbor we pulled up to the fuel dock and got the attention of the dockhand, who contacted the marina manager via VHF and he directed us to our slip. Of course all of this after he told us his VHF radio did not work.  Go figure!

We pulled into the slip and looked around to find we were the smallest boat in the “yacht” section of this marina.  The next smallest boat was the Hinckley Sedan next to us and was at least 45’ (and probably worth $2.5 million).  We were definitely playing with the “fat cats” now.  We chose a marina, and specifically this place, as Mark has to leave to go see a client and we needed to be able to get off the boat and into shore easily.   A mooring ball for the week was just not going to cut it.

IO at Brewers Capri Marina West

Once we got the boat settled we were able to discover more about the marina and were really happy we chose this place. The floating docks are wide (they drive golf carts on it) and the finger piers are long and in great shape.  There is a pool, laundry, restrooms and showers all just a short walk away, and an on-site casual restaurant (Butler’s Flat Clam Shack).

Butler’s Flat Clam House – at Marina

Tables at Butler’s Flat and Marina office

Not long afterwards,  the manager rode by in a golf cart and welcomed us. When we told him of our attempts to make contact earlier, he apologized for the lack of response. He also advised that a package for us had arrived and he would have one of the dockhands bring it by.

We then went to work cleaning the salt off the boat.  Usually Mark likes to do this by himself, but today he allowed Denise to come behind him and squeegee the windows and dry the stainless.  He was definitely hot and a bit tired.

Later over cocktails, we contemplated what to do about dinner. In addition to the on-site restaurant there are a few restaurants in walking distance (1/2 mile away), and we could always take the water taxi across the bay where there were more options.  By this time fatigue (or alcohol) had set in and we opted to eat leftovers on board.  A few other yachts pulled into the marina, and a dockhand brought our package down to us.

We did manage to get in a walk around the docks before calling it a night, and captured a great sunset on which to end the day.

Sunset over Sands Point

Port Washington – Long Island, NY (Monday, 6/12)
Sunrise continues to get earlier and earlier, so Denise expected to be wide awake the minute the sky started to turn daylight (around 4:45).  However, since no alarm was set she actually slept in until 5:30, and then headed out for a run.  As we are docked on the northern part of Manhasset Bay and the town of Port Washington is on the southern end, she thought it would be a good to run the 2 miles there and then back, and it was.

Initially the route was a residential area, but quickly changed to the main street in the village of Manorhaven where there is park that runs along the water.  The park has tennis courts, a swimming pool, baseball fields and an outdoor hockey rink (open in winter).  Here you can also rent paddle boards and kayaks, when the park is open – which will not officially begin the summer season until this coming weekend.

Manorhaven Beach park pool & tennis courts

Hockey Rink

Just past the park, the road intersects with Shore Road where she picked up the “Bay Walk” – a paver-laid pathway that runs most of the shoreline around into the town of Port Washington. Along the path there are plaques describing the local birds, fish, and flowers, as well as some art depicting the history of this area. 

“Bay Walk” along harbor

Mosaic art on Bay Walk trail

Sculpture along Bay Walk

There is also sculptured art and a nautical bench the result of a 5th grade art project from the local school – Sousa Elementary.

Sousa Nautical Bench

About Sousa Nautical Bench

Village Clock

Bay Walk Park

Continuing into town there is a baseball field, amphitheater and “town dock” where you can pick up a water taxi to take you out to your boat on any of the numerous moorings. 

Baseball Field Building

Port Washington Baseball field

Here there is also Louie’s Grill; a popular restaurant that overlooks the bay and has a large dock you can dinghy to or take a water taxi to for dinner.  It has been around since 1905 and is known for being a great venue to see spectacular sunsets, but more recently was made famous as it was used in the movie “Meet the Parents”.

Louie’s Restaurant

Dock at Louie’s

Realizing she had gotten distracted by the sights and that it was getting late, Denise had to quickly run back to the boat as she didn’t want to miss Mark’s departure. He had arranged for a cab to pick him up at 7:30 and take him to LaGuardia airport – at least a 90 minute drive at this hour, even though it was only 17 miles away.  She did made it in time to say goodbye and see him off, and he successfully arrived at his client.

For the rest of the day Denise stayed close to the boat, doing work for clients and working on cataloging pictures. Occasionally, she would step outside and talk with the crews who worked the yachts in the nearby slips, but for the most part stayed on the boat. Part of the reason was the desire for some quiet personal time, but also because it was really hot outside, with temperatures in the mid 90’s.  Before long it was time for bed and the end of another day.

Port Washington – Long Island, NY (Tuesday, 6/13)
Today was household chore day.  First was a trip to the dockmaster to buy quarters, then the laundry, and finally the boat cleaning.  The guest quarters needed to be prepared for Claire’s visit (Denise’s sister), which included finding a place for all the stuff currently stored on the bed. Then the bed had to be made up, and the rest of the boat got a good vacuuming and some much-needed TLC.

Add to this was the fact that it was another blistering hot day, with the high temperature reaching 95°. Denise put up the canvas on the back of the boat to try and keep it a little cooler inside and keep the AC’s from having to work so hard.  It was HOT!

Canvas up – Sun protection

Also during the day, Denise did some research about places to stay in Maine, connected with friends who have a house in Gloucester, Mass, and another business associate who spends summers on Penobscot Bay in Castine, Maine.  All of which adds to the excitement to finally reach our planned destinations for the months of July and August.

Later in the evening the 3-masted sailing vessel “Sound Waters” pulled into the marina and tied up across the dock from our boat. Apparently they are a charter boat from Connecticut and had just the working crew aboard.  It is a beautiful vessel and in mint condition, but did look a little funny parked next to a big yacht.

“Sound Waters”

It had been a physically exhausting day, and Denise had all she could do to stay awake until 9:30 pm – not long after the sun went down.  Tomorrow Claire was coming and who knows what kind of adventures that would bring.  One thing was for sure; the weather was going to change and thunderstorms were predicted during the night.  The skyline at sunset gave a hint of what was to come.

Bad weather approaching

 

Alternate Plans!

Atlantic City, (Tuesday, 6/6)
We ended Monday with the intent to get up early and head to Staten Island, NY via an off-shore passage in the Atlantic Ocean.  So at 5:30 am we untied the lines and headed out of Cape May inlet to fairly calm seas. It was very overcast and even though sunrise had occurred, the sky was dark and very ominous with rain certainly ahead of us. Despite passing several fishing boats who were coming back into the harbor, we pressed on because radar showing the rain substantially ahead of us, and the seas still pretty flat as expected.  As intended we cruised close to the shore and in the shortest most direct line north.

Within 45 minutes things started to get a little uncomfortable. First we hit fog, and for this we were grateful we had radar. But it didn’t last long because the wind kicked up, and with the wind brought the increase in waves. They were primarily on our bow and the interval frequency increased. Then things got a little choppy and we decided to head into safe harbor at the first opportunity we could – this was supposed to be the calm part of the trip and it was only supposed to get worse as we moved north.

Although there are numerous inlets along the New Jersey coastline, there are really only a few that are to be entered, especially under rough sea conditions.  The inlet near Atlantic City (Absecon Inlet) was the next acceptable one, and this was 20 miles away.  So we braced ourselves for a rough 60+ minutes until we could enter a protected harbor.

With every passing mile, Denise got calmer knowing we were heading into a safe harbor.  But when we crossed the other (non-transiting) inlets of Townsend and Little Egg Harbor the currents and an outgoing tide made things very rough.  And somewhere along the way, it started to rain. Atlantic City could not come soon enough.

Eventually we came to the Absecon Inlet and as if we were not sufficiently challenged, there was an incoming tug towing a dredge, and a second tug behind it.  At the same time, there was another dredge heading out of the inlet, making passing the slower tow a bit gnarly. As usual, Captain Mark did an awesome job of negotiating around them, while staying far enough off the jetty at the southern end of the entrance.

Negotiating around dredges at Absecon Inlet (Atlantic City)

Outbound dredge at Absecon Inlet (AC)

Entering the breakwater

Finally in the harbor we attempted to contact the Farley State Marina (marina at the Golden Nugget Hotel & Casino) our targeted spot for the night.  However, the marina was not yet open – it was only 7:55 in the morning and they get in at 8:00 am.  We slowly came through the narrow entry into Clam Creek and remained in the harbor until we were able to contact the marina and secure a transient slip for the night.  Happily they had so much availability we could choose our slip and preferred side to tie to on E dock.  By 8:20 we were in our slip, secured the boat, and turned on the heat to dry out the boat and get warm.

Farley State Marina – Golden Nugget

All day it was rainy, windy and miserable and we watched several boats come into the marina, most of which had come up from Cape May via the Atlantic Ocean. All of these boats were bigger than ours and all were covered in salt and had also been surprised by how fast things deteriorated today.

Eventually the rain stopped, but the wind and overcast skies kept us in the boat the rest of the day.  We used this opportunity to get some work done for clients, and to re-plan our trip to get to Staten Island.  We decided to leave tomorrow and go up the ICW to Manasquan, and then we will be forced to go out into the Atlantic Ocean for the remaining voyage up to Staten Island (about 30 miles). This is not Mark’s preferred way as the ICW is longer in miles due to the endless winding – not unlike the ICW in Georgia – and because it is really shallow in parts. It will require constant attention to prevent running aground.  However, if we can take it up to Manasquan, then Friday when the weather is supposed to be better, we can make the journey from Manasquan to Great Kills Yacht Club on Staten Island, and then on to Port Washington on Long Island by Sunday.

The Golden Nugget Hotel & Casino has several restaurants, including a Chart House that overlooks the marina. Tuesdays through Fridays in their bar area (only) they have a happy hour special on drinks and appetizers. So we decided to try it out and make it our “dinner”. It worked out great as we shared four separate appetizers, a couple of house drinks, and a great view of the marina and Atlantic City skyline.

Hotel from marina

After dinner we walked over to the hotel and casino to see the place, and maybe try our luck at a little slots.  As soon as we walked into the non-smoking section of the casino we were hit with the awful smell of cigarette smoke.  It was so bad that we immediately turned around and went back out to the lobby area, and eventually back to the boat. We settled in for the night and watched another few episodes of “House of Cards” on Netflix until we could no longer stay awake.

Here are some pictures from the hotel and casino:

Cross walk to casino

Golden Nugget Casino Lobby

Golden Nugget Casino

Street Entrance to Golden Nugget

Atlantic City, (Wednesday, 6/7)
When we woke up this morning it was a cold 53° and very windy.  Denise attempted a run, but after 2 miles and 3 loops around the Golden Nugget and the surrounding properties, she quit.  There were just nowhere to run that was not on a highway or in an area she felt safe.

Before breakfast we had talked to our dock neighbors about the weather and plans to move north, and like them, we decided that we too would sit tight another day. It would be a big risk to travel the narrow ICW in with the high winds where we could easily be blown out of the channel and run aground. Plus, it was better to stay here one more day, then move to Manasquan and sit there for two days; this marina had more to offer. So, Mark got on the phone and rescheduled our reservations for the upcoming days and extended one more day here in Atlantic City.

During our two days here, we also made plans for Denise’s sister Claire to come visit us while on Long Island.  Mark has to go to NC next week to see a client and this will give Denise some company. Then she can cruise with us to a few spots on Long Island, not unlike when we were on the Michigan coast during our Great Loop adventure.

We also spent the better part of the day formulating our trip itinerary for the days after Port Washington on Long Island.  Our primary concern was getting to Portland where we can leave the boat for the week we will be at the family reunion. Secondarily, we wanted to make sure we have time to get to Rockland, Maine (birthplace of our Island Office).  Even allowing for weather days, we do have time to do this and will also be able to spend some time in the Portsmouth – Kittery, Maine area and visit with Denise’s Aunt Judy. We cannot wait as we have visited this area many times and will be thrilled to now see it from the water.

Our biggest concern cruising this part of the east coast (in addition to weather, fog and rocks) is the exorbitant amount of money they charge for overnight accommodations. Marinas are anywhere from $3 per foot + $15-$30 per day for electricity (highway robbery) and mooring balls can be as much as $60 per night.  Normally we would just plan on anchoring out, but in many areas of Long Island this option is very limited, and it is 100% dependent on good weather.  Boy do we miss some of the marinas on the Western Rivers where they only charged 50 cents per foot and no charge for electricity!

As weather would have it, by mid-afternoon the winds had died down and the sun came out. It ended up being a very pretty day.  We got to talk with some of the boats that were still in the marina, including the crew and eventually the owners on “Magic Days”.  This was a boat Denise saw in Solomons, MD, then we saw it again in Cape May. Now they were on side-tied on the dock behind our boat.

“Magic Days”

It was not the only large yacht on the transient docks: there were two large Viking sport-fishers who were heading down to NC for the marlin tournament; a Hatteras cruiser from Ocean Reef; and a few other cruisers, including “Pegasus” who was at Zahniser’s in Solomon’s.  Here are some of the boats:

“Gypsea”  – in slip next to ours

“Pneuma” – in front of “Magic Days” – dock behind us

“Pegasus”

 

Soon it was time for dinner and we opted to eat on board the boat.  Together we cooked some delicious fajitas and finalized our plans for moving to Staten Island on Friday, including stopping along the way to top off our fuel tanks before entering New York.  We watched another few episodes of “House of Cards” and wrote this blog before calling it a night.

Tomorrow we will move the boat from Atlantic City to Manasquan and then Friday cruise the 30+ miles to Great Kills Yacht Club on Staten Island.

Here are some more pictures of the area around the marina and the Golden Nugget:

Coast Guard Station

IO at Farley State Marina (Golden Nugget)

AC Boardwalk hotels from marina

Sunset at marina

Golden Nugget lit up at night

Cape May!

Delaware City, (Sunday 6/4)
We left the Delaware City Marina early in morning, wanting to get to Cape May before the winds picked up and the weather got bad.  So, we left early but not quite as early as many of the sailboats in our marina who had a long day ahead. Ah the benefits of cruising at 18 knots versus 8 knots!

We pulled the boat away from the dock, cruising through the harbor entrance, and out into the Delaware River. We left Fort Delaware to our port (left) side and headed south into the shipping channel without incident or any traffic for miles.  It was a very calm day and the sun was shining bright and we were happy that conditions were about as perfect as they can get on the Delaware River.

It is easy to navigate this area as the channel is very wide to accommodate the large containers and tows that take this route up to Philadelphia, and because you can use the Hope Creek Nuclear Power Plant as a reference point;  you can see it for miles.

Hope Creek Nuclear Power Facility

It was a pretty easy day, passing several communities on the southern banks of the river (in Delaware), and lots of low lying areas on the New Jersey side. There were quite a few boats on the water, mostly recreational fishing boats and sailboats, several were ones that had left Delaware City hours before us.  We passed by the Ship John Shoal Lighthouse which stands 50 feet above the water, but seems much larger as it is visible for many miles.

Ship John Shoal Lighthouse

Sailboats and others on the Delaware Bay

The closer we got to the Cape May Canal entrance, the more boat traffic picked up, and so did the waves. The area where the Delaware Bay empties into the Atlantic Ocean frequently has higher waves than anywhere else along the river, and today it was as expected. Fortunately, it was not nearly as bad as the rough seas we encountered 2 years when we had our “unfortunate” incident.  Denise breathed a sigh of relief when we had less than 8 miles to go, and was delighted as we approached the entrance with the only challenge was the ferry ahead of us.

Beach north of Cape May Canal

Entering Cape May Canal

We entered the Cape May Canal and were greeted by the pair of dolphins that usually hang out there, and the “welcome” station on the northern banks at the David Douglass Sr Memorial Park.

Welcoming signs

As we moved further up the canal towards the ferry terminal we could hear some cheering crowds and an announcer. We realized there was a road race in progress and the finish line was right along the waterway. This was the third athletic sporting event in the last week, and with no races scheduled until November, Denise was feeling like there was a message here.

Another race

As we cruised past the ferry’s and moved further into the canal we encountered a whale –watching boat that was hogging the center, and right behind him was a Coast Guard patrol boat. It was a busy Sunday morning in Cape May.

Whale watching boat

Coast Guard patrol on canal

House on Cape May Canal

Knowing we would need fuel eventually, and not wanting to pay New York prices if we didn’t have to, we decided to stop and get fuel before getting to the South Jersey Marina. We located Miss Chris Marina up a side creek, and navigated the very calm waters into their fuel dock. It was very shallow and we kicked up some sand in the process. However, we were able to pull into the dock and fill up the tank which didn’t take very long because we were only half empty.

Miss Chris Marina – fuel stop

Within 20 minutes we were back out into the Cape May Canal and moved through the harbor, negotiating around a marked shoal area and some very confusing red & green markers (which switch sides at this point).  Then we came down the fairway to the marina that is bordered on both sides by commercial fishing boats; this was very unnerving, but Mark was able to manage quite well while Denise prepped the boat for docking.  We were greeted by a very competent dockhand who was most helpful in assisting us get tied up and then let us be to settle in.

Cape May Harbor & CG Station

Approaching So Jersey Marina

Entering South Jersey Marina

Safely in port, we grabbed some lunch on board, then Mark washed the boat while Denise cataloged pictures and posted the last blog.  Ah, the feeling of being caught up!

Mark washing IO

Before long it was time to head to 6:00 pm mass at Our Lady Star of the Sea. We had attended here two years ago and really liked the church that sits right in the heart of Cape May.  The marina has a shuttle service now (they didn’t two years ago) and took us the 1 mile to the church and came and picked us up.  It was quite windy and a little chilly after mass, so we were grateful for not having to walk back to the marina.

Our Lady Star of the Sea

Inside Our Lady Star of the Sea

We had a quick dinner on board the boat, watched another episode of “House of Cards” and called it a day!

Cape May, (Monday, 6/5)
We started the day off with a big breakfast at the Saltwater Café – the restaurant located at the marina that gives you a 10% discount if you are staying at the marina.  They are only open for breakfast and lunch, so we decided to give them a try and we were glad we did; the food was really good.

Today was a work day… a real work day!  We both had work to do for our clients as well as lots of administrative items to do for the business .  But before we got down to it, we had laundry to do. Unlike other marina’s laundry facilities, this one is first class!  It has very several very efficient washers and several dryers that actually dry the clothes in a single 45 minute cycle. This means it takes a lot less time to do the laundry.  It also has a large flat panel TV that you can watch while waiting on the clothes to be done.  Two years ago we crammed about 10 of us in here to watch American Pharaoh win the Belmont Stakes and the Triple Crown of horse racing.  Today, sadly Denise watched the news conference telling of the horrific workplace shooting near her home in the Orlando area.

Laundry Room at So Jersey Marina

And then the rain came. It started raining around noon and continued off and on all day and into the night.  Not wanting to venture out, we opted for a dinner of leftovers and worked into the evening.

Once again we cannot say enough good things about this marina. We were so impressed with it during our stay last time, and they did not disappoint this time either. Everything here is first class and it is a standard others should all seek to replicate.  Of course, it helps when the boats they let in the marina are of high caliber as well.

Comfort for the cruisers

Yachts in marina

Tomorrow we will head north to Staten Island, NY via an off-shore passage into the Atlantic Ocean.  The rain is supposed to stop during the night and the wind is supposed to be calm in Cape May, but a bit breezy by the time we get to Sandy Hook at the tip of New Jersey. For this reason we are leaving very early in the morning and hope to be there before the big waves and winds kick in. We have a contingency to pull in if it gets too rough, but there are limited acceptable entrances back into protected waters along the New Jersey coastline. For this reason many cruisers only make this passage in the fairest of conditions.  But we have to leave the marina as they have a huge fishing tournament this coming weekend, and our slip is already rented.

So, we will be up at 5:00 am to leave as early as we can see in front of us, and hopefully have an uneventful passage up the New Jersey coast.

Rocking Rock Hall and Delightful Delaware City!

Rock Hall, MD (Friday, 6/2)
Unfortunately, today is the day we had to leave Solomons and head north.  It is easy to see why people come back here, and most likely we will too on our way home.  It’s a wonderful community and it has a lot to offer those who like to spend time on the water.

Rounding James Point

Leaving Zahniser’s

Regrettably, we left Zahniser’s Yachting Center around 8:00 and moved to the city dock for a free pump out. This took about 20 minutes and then we got under way, heading out of the harbor and onto the Pax River.  From there we turned north and headed up the Chesapeake Bay under spectacular conditions.  These are the days that make us fall in love with boating.  Calm seas, lots of sunshine and plenty of scenery.

Cliffs North of Drum Point

We passed the Cove Point Lighthouse and the Dominion Cove Point LNG platform.  We remembered this structure from our prior trip up the Bay two years ago, and still find it fascinating that such a place stands out in the middle of this body of water.  Of course it has a security zone around it that is heavily patrolled, so we didn’t get too close.

Cove Point Lighthouse

Dominion Cove Point LNG NG

We continued cruising north right through the middle of the usual fishing boats, and eventually passing Annapolis to our west. Naturally, there were plenty of sailboats there enjoying the day, and probably in a race (there always seems to be one there).  We cruised under the right section of the Chesapeake Bay Bridge, not wanting to travel (and burn unnecessary fuel) by going under the center spans which were too far west from our direct course routing into Rock Hall.

Fishing boats on the Chesapeake

Sailing near Annapolis

Chesapeake Bay Bridge

Entering the Rock Hall harbor is a bit tedious as there is a big shoal area to its west, so you must head east of the shoal and ride the coast into the well-marked but narrow channel.  Once behind the breakwater we could see these huge triangle floats in the water that were to mark the swimming race course for the triathlon taking place tomorrow morning.

Channel entrance to Rock Hall

According to the charts we could take the channel around to the north, making a semi-circle to get to our marina, or go straight up the middle; a shorter route. However, the shorter route had Active Captain reports of being shallow so we opted for the longer, but deeper channel around to the north.  As luck would have it, the boat in front of us chose the direct route and ran aground.  We were grateful we had already taken the more prudent path and easily navigated through the harbor and into our slip at Rock Hall Landing Marina.

Rock Hall Landing Marina from entrance

After we had settled the boat and checked in at the marina office, we settled into an afternoon of things to do: work and getting the last blog completed and posted.  Mark did manage to get a nap and Denise did manage to get a few work things accomplished.

Also during the afternoon Mark looked at the weather forecast for the next few days and from that we decided to re-plan our itinerary.  We had a few good days of travel, but the winds are forecasted to pick up to 25 kts and we didn’t want to be on the Delaware River heading to Cape May, NJ in those conditions. So we decided to forego our trip to Havre de Grace and head straight for Delaware City, DE on Saturday, and then early on Sunday make our way to Cape May before the winds really take off.  Having decided this, Mark called the marinas and adjusted our reservations accordingly.  After Sunday, all bets are off, but with a little luck we will get a good window to move from Cape May to Staten Island by the early part of next week.

Once our work was accomplished we took showers and made our way to the Waterman’s Crab House, a pretty famous restaurant in these parts. This is located adjacent to the marina and overlooks the harbor, with indoor and outdoor seating available.  The place was busy, but not so crowded that we could not get a table right away in the covered area outside, affording us a view of the Chesapeake Bay Bridge.

Waterman’s Crab House and Restaurant

Bay Bridge over breakwater

The people in the boat next to ours recommended the blue cheese and crab topped hamburger, which Mark ordered, while Denise got a crab cake sandwich. Both were delicious and we were happy to give the locals some business.  We also noticed a sailboat was in the very middle of the harbor, and we later learned they had run aground trying to transit the middle of the harbor as well.

Rock Hall is a town with a population of 1,200 people and they very much depend on fishing and tourism to drive their economy. So, tomorrow’s triathlon is a big deal as there are 1,000 participants for the event, and other spectators and support personnel who will also be here.  Unfortunately, because the swimming will take place in the harbor and starts at 8:00 a.m., we will not be able to leave until they are done this part of the event.

Here are some pictures of our marina and the surrounding area:

Rock Hall Landing Marina Office

Pergola at Rock Hall Landing Marina

Looking back at marina

Swimming Pool at marina

IO at Rock Hall Landing Marina

We ended our beautiful and fun-filled day with a spectacular sunset over the harbor!

Sunset in Rock Hall

Delaware City, (Saturday 6/3)
The day started out a little cool, but the sun was shining bright. Denise headed out for a run and to explore the downtown area that we did not get to see yesterday.  It is only a half a mile from the marina, and is quite small, but adorable.  From there she ran down the main road to the marinas north of us, and where there are many homes and a few condos right along the water. There is a wetlands area, a Waterman’s Museum, and a few other interesting sights. She came into an area that was known as “Gratitude” and still houses a working marina, shipyard and yacht sales. Turning south she passed Ferry Park, a beach area that overlooked the Chesapeake Bay, and from which you could see the Chesapeake Bay Bridge.  Here are some pictures of the Rock Hall area from her run:

Downtown Rock Hall

Side of Bayside Foods

Rock Hall Village

Waterman Sculpture at house

Waterman’s Museum

Blue Heron Park and Wetland

Gratitude Marina

About Gratitude Village

Ferry Park overlooking Chesapeake

Cool vegetable garden

In the meantime, the skies turned overcast and a very slight breeze picked up. Denise was happy for the cool air while running, but felt for the athletes who were about to jump in the 70° (so they said) water. Once back at the boat, we ate breakfast and then walked down to see the start of the race.  We were able to capture some of the athletes in the water, and also getting out and then running to the transition point.  We also noticed the sailboat that ran aground yesterday was no longer there, and had been told they had to be pulled off as they were in the very middle of the course.

Here are some pictures from the Triathlon events we were able to witness:

Tri athletes in water

Leader out of the water

Tri athletes in transition

Running route near marina

While waiting for the harbor to re-open to boating, Mark changed the fuel filters on the boat. Something we knew was necessary so he went ahead and took advantage of our “wait time”.

Finally around 9:15 the last swimmers were completely out of the water and the CG Auxiliary opened the harbor for all boats.  Along with many other boaters we left immediately, cruised around the north channel of the harbor, and exited to the Chesapeake in a direction to avoid the shoal area.

We were thankful that it was overcast as it would have been really hot if the sun was out as there was no real wind to speak of. The Bay was pretty calm and we were grateful for an easy passage. The only thing we had to worry about was a freighter that we wanted to pass before we got up to the C&D Canal, and we managed to do that.

Eastern shore farm

Western shore

Passing container on Chesapeake

However, by the time we got up to the area where the Sassafras and the Susquehanna Rivers simultaneously dump into the Bay, not far from the Aberdeen Proving Grounds (military base), the northwest wind  had picked up and we encountered a bit of a chop.

Entrance to the Sassafras River

Entrance to Susquehanna River

Fortunately, we only had to deal with this for a short time.  Soon we encountered the high cliffs of Turkey Point Lighthouse Park and the Elk Neck State Park to our west, and we entered into the Elk River.  The Chesapeake Bay was over; well at least until we return in the fall.

Turkey Point Lighthouse

Not long afterwards we came up on a cruising yacht that looked very familiar to us.  We encountered “Lady Catherine” when we anchored at Pine Island, just north of St. Augustine; our first night on this adventure.  This time we talked with them on the radio and learned they were headed to Connecticut and Cape Cod for the summer where they will have several charters, then return south in the fall. They told us of their delay in Beaufort, NC as they were hit by a steel boat and it took 4 weeks to get them repaired and back under way. We wished them better luck and hope to see them again on the water.  We are always grateful for our “uneventful” adventures!

Lady Catherine

Continuing on, we entered the C&D canal and cruised its 12 miles peacefully. We passed by Chesapeake City, crossed into Delaware, sped under a handful of bridges, and encountered only a few other boaters along the way. One of the cool things about the Canal is that there is a bike path (called the Michael N. Castle Trail) that runs along the northern part of it.  Since the weather was so bad the last time we went by here, we did not know this. However, today there were many cyclists out enjoying the now sunny, but cool weather.

Approaching Chesapeake City on C&D Canal

Uneventful C&D Canal

Cyclists on Castle Trail

As we approached the Delaware River, we came up on a tow pushing a barge.  After communication with him we were able to sneak past on his port side and run up river outside the shipping channel to Delaware City; his destination as well. However, were going into the Branch Channel and he was going to the terminal dock actually on the Delaware River, so we were able to zoom past him and get in before we even were close.

Passing the tow at Delaware River entrance

We passed by Fort Delaware on Pea Patch Island to our East, and started to enter the Branch Channel just as a ferry boat was leaving. This is a very narrow entrance, so we chose to stay outside, let the ferry boat pass, and then cruise up to the Delaware City Marina.  Here we were met by two dock hands who did a fantastic job of helping us pull into a side tie, then turn our boat completely around for easy exit, all while fighting an incoming current that can run as much as 3 kts.  We were grateful for their help and expertise.

Once we had tied everything securely and settled the boat, we did a quick cleaning; Mark on the outside and Denise on the inside.  We then walked up to the Marina office and met Seth and Tim. Seth is young man who is learning how to work the marina office and has Tim (the marina owner) as his coach. We discovered he is going to do a study-abroad program at Oxford, and is an Eagle Scout. Together the two were so nice and friendly and told us everything about the area.

Entrance to Delaware City Branch

Seth

Tim (owner of marina)

During the afternoon Denise worked on cataloging pictures and writing this blog, while Mark reviewed weather, planned the departure for tomorrow and took a nap.  In late afternoon we went exploring the town and seeing some of the sights.

Here are some pictures from the marina and the town:

Marina office and ships store

Picnic area at marina

Marina gate to our dock

Wall mural onway to rest rooms

Courtyard at marina

Pedestrian path along waterway

DC Hotel and Crabby Dicks

Battery Park

Clinton St. – Delaware City

Although we were planning to eat dinner on the boat, we got intrigued with “Lewinsky’s on Clinton” and had to stop in for at least a drink.  Well, one drink led to dinner and then our plans were changed in a blink.  The place is like an old time bar, with some references to Bill Clinton – although the name comes from the street which it is on.  And yes, they do sell cigars.

Lewinsky’s on Clinton

Inside Lewinsky’s on Clinton

Delaware City is an interesting place. In addition to being surrounded by state parks and having some great cycling trails all around, there are a few other things that we learned about from the locals. First, it is home to the American Birding Association (www.aba.org) and has the largest species of variant birds in the US.  In fact, outside of Florida it has the largest heron and egret population.

Another thing we learned is that the area is full of haunted places, including Fort Delaware, which has been featured on the show “Ghost Hunters” numerous times. The fort dates back to 1815 and was used in the Civil War and Spanish-American War (1898), with over 2000 souls buried there. You can learn more about this historical park here.

Fort Delaware at Pea Patch Island

There is also a hotel/restaurant in town that has a former chamber maid that haunts the place, and recently showed herself during a Chamber of Commerce event. Needless to say, this place doesn’t seem to be able to stay in business, despite numerous attempts.

(Haunted) Central Hotel and waterfront

After dinner we walked back to the boat and started into the latest season of “House of Cards”, racking up three episodes before we had to go to sleep.  Tomorrow (Sunday) we will  leave early to cruise down the Delaware Bay to Cape May, NJ before the winds start to really blow, and hope not to repeat what happened the last time we were there.

IO at Delaware City Marina

 

Familiar Places and Friendly Faces!

Coinjock, NC (Friday, 5/19)
Each morning the sun is coming up earlier and earlier, and today was no exception. Denise used it to her advantage to get in a run along a two-lane highway. Since there were no sidewalks and the shoulder of the roadway had mostly high grass, she did not feel safe venturing too far in either direction. Once she got in 3 miles she called it quits and was still back before most of the other boaters were up.

As soon as Mark was up, we began calling the North Landing Bridge to get a status on the repairs; now scheduled to begin at 8:00 am when the workers were due to show up. We were hopeful, but also concerned that we might be stuck here another night. Eventually, the bridge must have taken their phone off the hook as all the boaters trying to transit this waterway (north-bound and south-bound) kept calling.  Mark even called the Coast Guard to see if they could get us an update on the repairs, and they did call him back later when it did finally open.  Also, the owner of Coinjock (Louis) had promised an update at 11:30 am, and they were still reporting that it could be as late as 7:00 pm before it was opened.  We had made a decision that if we did not get notice by early afternoon, it would be too late to get through the bridges, the lock, and then on to Hampton in one day.

In the meantime, we worked (blog, catalog pictures, emails, client work) and watched the boats who had Friday night reservations pour in.  Several boats did leave in anticipation of the bridge being fixed, and so they took the risk and cruised the 30 miles north.  Finally, around 2:30 we got notice that the bridge was fixed and was back open.  But by the time we could make it up there and get through the Great Bridge and Lock it would be after 6 pm, and we still had to stop and get fuel just outside of Norfolk. That would put us into Hampton sometime around 8:30 pm and near dark, and we did not want to do that. So we agreed to stay put one more night in Coinjock and once again there were boats rafted up to each other, and others who were turned away.

Because of these close quarters, we got to socialize with the people from Miami in the boat behind us, and also with the new Looper boat that was rafted to them.  We ended up having cocktails together, and eventually we all went to dinner at the restaurant as a group (11 in total).  This was a challenge for the restaurant, but the people who run and work in Coinjock are so great and they worked quickly to makeshift an area for us in the bar that enabled us all to sit together (or nearby).  It was fun and we enjoyed sharing our mutual boating stories.  We also talked about the impending rain storms that had alluded us so far.  The clouds were building and we feared we were going to get wet.  Even the local band that had set up on the patio (near the docks) had set up a tent to play under in case it rained.  But the weather held off – moving all around us and never affecting our fun.

We knew the next morning there would be a mass exodus of all the boats heading north, so we schemed with our dock mates about how best to leave. We agreed to a 7:00 am departure and the order of boats to be untied and then called it a night.

Hampton, VA (Saturday, 5/20)
As was predicted, boats began leaving Coinjock as early as 5:30 with the sailboats being the earliest to depart.  We were up early and by 6:15 several of the bigger power boats were leaving and our dock neighbors behind us were up and readying their boats for departure.  By 6:30 looper friends Dick & Sandi Averitt (“Amazing Grace”) pulled away first as our dinghies were too close together for us to leave.  But we followed immediately thereafter and then “Salty Lady” who was on the inside of “Amazing Grace”.  As a reminder, here is what it looked like from our boat:

Rafted behind us

From there it was a madhouse as boats were departing off the dock and others were trying to navigate the narrow channel to head north. At the same time the boats from Midway Marina were doing the same, although there were far fewer boats there.  It was a bit nerve racking, but eventually it got sorted out and we made our way to the Currituck Sound.  Here we were able to pass many of the slower boats and all the sailboats.

In no time at all we came up to the North Landing Bridge; the one that was the cause of our delay in Coinjock.  Once again, there were a parade of boats that were waiting the half-hour opening, but we all got through without issue.

The North Landing Bridge

Shortly thereafter we cruised up to the Great Bridge and the Great Bridge Lock.  The bridge only opens on the hour, and coordinates the opening with the Great Bridge Lock.  Unfortunately, due to the traffic between the North Bridge and the Great Bridge we just missed the hour opening and had to “motor in place” for 50 minutes. This had us reminiscing of the 4-hr waits along the Illinois and Mississippi Rivers locks from our Loop adventure.

Waiting on the Great Bridge Opening

Norma Jean – Handmade boat – waiting on The Great Bridge bridge

Eventually, we got into and out of the Great Bridge Lock, and made our way north.

The Great Bridge Lock

Leaving the Great Bridge Lock

We stopped at Top Rack Marina to fill up with diesel fuel as they are the cheapest around.  From there we cruised through Norfolk and passed the navy yard and the numerous ports where maintenance takes place on many of the ships used by the US forces.  The weather was not great, but it was a little windy and Denise was worried about going out onto the Chesapeake Bay to get to Hampton.  However, we were able to cruise the choppy waters without issue.  The scariest part was coming so close to a container ship when we needed to make a left turn into the channel to take us to downtown Hampton.

Passing container ship near Norfolk

We chose this marina as it is close to both our (twin) nieces Christen and Shannon, and their families.  We were looking forward to spending time with them over the weekend.

Once in the channel we negotiated our way around an inbound sail boat, and motored our way to the Hampton Public Piers were we had slip reservations. We tied up our boat, checked in with the Dockmaster and grabbed showers.

IO at Hampton Public Piers

Shortly thereafter, Christen arrived with her two adorable sons (Colten & Cooper) who got the biggest kick out of our boat.  They enjoyed playing “Captain and Navigator” and were thrilled that we had a big bed to sleep on.

Captain Colton and First Mate Cooper

Christen, Cooper & Colton

Colton & Cooper on IO

Then we went with Christen and the boys to a family event; Shannon’s sister-in-law Courtney, was celebrating her 40th birthday and there was a bar-b-que party in her honor.   The venue was at the Whitehouse Cove Marina where Shannon’s husband (Shawn)’s dad plays with his band.  They are really great and we were looking forward to having fun with the extended family.  When we arrived the bar-b-que was going, the food plentiful and the band was already in full gear.  We got to see Shannon, Shawn and their girls Harper & Macie as well.  The kids danced and played corn row, while the adults talked, drank wine, and even danced a little.  Even though it was cold and blustery, it didn’t stop us all from having a good time.

Mr. Edward’s Band

Harper, Macie, Cooper & Friends

Shortly after we arrived, we noticed a boat that was very familiar to us; “YOLO” was a Looper and we had met them in 2015 when we were all at Baie Fine (Ontario) anchorage together. Their boat was the one whose guest was the concert cellist and serenaded the entire anchorage that night. We later had dinner with them when in Meldrum Bay, just before returning to the USA.  So, of course when we saw there was activity on their boat, we had to go over and say hello.  They were totally surprised and we had a wonderful, but short visit aboard their boat.  We talked of our respective cruising plans and agreed to stay in touch.

When we returned to the party it was time to leave, so Christen took us back to the boat and we agreed to connect sometime on Sunday. It was late and we were beat; it had been a very long day packed with lots of adventure.

 Hampton, VA (Sunday 5/21) – Mark’s Birthday
Today we started the day a little later than usual, and took an Uber cab to Immaculate Conception Catholic Church for mass.  We believe this was the same church we visited when we attended Christen and Chris’s wedding here in 2009.

Immaculate Conception Catholic Church

After church, Shannon, Harper and Macie met us back at the boat and took us to a local donut shop (“Glazed Donuts”) for some breakfast.

Morning with the girls

Shannon & Denise

Glazed Doughnuts

She then took us to Wal-Mart to pick up a few items and groceries and back to the boat.  We made plans for a family dinner later that night at their house in Poquoson, only 15 minutes away.  We were in communication with Christen and she and the boys would be joining us, but unfortunately, Chris was not back from his guys fishing trip and we would miss him this trip.

After we returned from our time with Shannon and the girls, Mark washed the boat while Denise worked on cataloging pictures and began the makings of this latest blog posting.  During that time we were entertained by the young sailors from the Hampton Yacht Club who were out practicing on their Optimist sailboats. We never tire of watching these young children learn the art of sail trim and moving their lightweight vessels through the water.

Optimist Sailors

Shannon came and picked us up and took us to her house (which we had never seen), and we were shortly joined by Christen & the boys. The guys grilled up some steaks and we had roasted potatoes, salad, bread and some wine.  Since it was Mark’s birthday, we also celebrated with some ice cream (no cake) and birthday wishes!

Christen & Denise

Shawn & Mark

Mark’s Birthday Celebration

But the best part of this weekend was watching the four cousins all play together, and spending great conversation and time with these very wonderful people.  We miss them so much and cannot wait to see them in July at the family reunion…..and hopefully again in October when we come back down the Chesapeake. Christen and the boys took us back to our boat since it was on their way home, and we hugged goodbye. NEVER is there enough time with the ones you love!

Here are some more pictures from the Hampton area:

Hampton Public PIers- Veggie Garden

Crown Plaza adjacent to Public Piers – Stayed here for both twins weddings

Colonial Beach, VA (Monday, 5/22)
Today was going to be our longest day yet on the Chesapeake and Denise (who gets seasick easily) was a little concerned. But even though we woke to cloudy skies, the wind was not bad and it was mostly behind us as we headed north. Therefore, we had a pretty smooth cruise out of Hampton and for the majority of the time on the Bay.

Leaving Hampton Public Piers

We passed the Wolf Trap Lighthouse (abandoned – and still for sale), and saw a few fishing boats and pleasure craft, but nothing that exciting.

Wolf Trap Light (abandoned)

The wind eventually died down almost completely and the Bay was pretty calm.  It was then that we experienced the most thrilling sight we have ever seen on the water.  Heading south, we were approached by an entire school of bottlenose dolphin, swimming in a line and jumping out of the water.  There must have been hundreds of them and it all happened so fast, that we barely had time to grab a camera and snap a few pictures.  These did not come out well, but we were so excited we never thought to slow the boat down to get some great shots. It truly was an amazing experience and one neither of us has ever seen in all our years of boating. Even more amazing is that it is not common to see these beautiful creatures on the Chesapeake Bay.  It truly was a “once in a lifetime” experience.

Dolphins on the Chesapeake

After that, passing the Smith Lighthouse and turning to head up the Potomac was anti-climactic.

Smith Point Lighthouse

We settled into the calmest waters we have ever seen on such a large body of water. It was pancake flat and as a result we were making great time.  Originally planning to go to St. Mary’s anchorage for the night, we decided to continue further up the Potomac. We passed St. Clements Island State Park (Maryland side) that is known for being the site of the first Catholic Mass. They have a cross and small chapel to mark the spot, and while it does have limited dockage for daytime tie up, there is no power and not an option for us to spend the night.

It is 90 miles from the Chesapeake Bay to Washington DC, therefore any improvement on time would make for a shorter cruising day tomorrow.  We had identified a few places to stop (which there are not a lot), and decided if we could make it to Colonial Beach, we could always anchor there. However, we got lucky.  We called the Boathouse Marina while in route, and there was some uncertainty that they would be able to take us. However, we called again once entering the harbor and they had moved another boat to enable us to tie to the end dock.

Entering Colonial Beach Harbor

Assisting with the lines was a Looper couple Derek & Lori Gamradt (“Donna Mae”), who was the boat that was moved into another slip to allow us to come in for the night.

Once we settled the boat we learned about the situation at the marina.  We checked in with the owner Bob Bowman, and he told us how the marina had been hit by a tornado about 4 weeks previously, and they were still doing cleanup and repairs.  They were putting in all new floating docks on the south side, and they had already repaired the fixed docks where we were tied up.  However, the warehouse/dry storage windows were still blown out, and a dock that had its roof torn off was still in disrepair.  Plus there was a mess of debris still on the shoreline up to the marina office.  As a result of the construction, there was limited transient slips, but we got in.  The other thing we got lucky about is that the marina is usually closed on Monday, but since Bob lives on his boat in the marina, he was willing to let us dock there for one night.

IO at The Boathouse Marina

The marina office is an interesting place.  It is filled with the usual marine supplies necessary for emergencies, but it is also an eclectic collection of things representing Bob’s interests. In addition to several pictures and models of his wooden boats, an old GULF sign, and other such paraphernalia, there are several old Evinrude boat engines.

Evinrude Engines

Bob Bowman -Owner

When we returned to the boat, we invited Derek & Lori over for happy hour.  We discussed the marina situation and our mutual plans to go to Washington DC.  They told us of a great restaurant to eat at in town, and that should use the marina golf cart to go there.  However, Bob informed us that on Monday, nearly everything in town in closed, but we were still welcome to use the golf cart and explore the town.

Derek & Lori Gamradt (“Donna Mae”)

We decided to eat dinner on the boat as we had some leftovers that needed to be eaten and we didn’t want to waste time going out.  After dinner, we took the golf cart and explored the waterfront along the Potomac, as well as some of the houses in the area.  Here are some pictures from our adventure:

Potomac River from Colonial Beach

Boathouse Marina Golf Cart

House along the River

Colonial Beach on the Potomac

Beach house on the Potomac

Riverboat Casino on the Potomac

Colonial Beach Municipal Pier

Mural on condos in town

Renovations on Riverview Inn

St. Elizabeth of Hungary Catholic Church

The Boathouse Marina

Boat damaged by storm

There is not much to this town, which definitely caters to the weekenders and summer crowds who love the water.  Apparently during the weekends there are so many people on boats, paddle boards, and Jet Skis that it makes the marina a bit uncomfortable until sunset.  However, we were there during the week, and it isn’t quite summer yet so there was no one on the water and it was very calm.

We had traveled over 120 miles today – making it one of the longest days on the water this trip.  By the time we returned from our outing we were really tired and it was dark. That meant it was time for pajamas and some much needed rest.

Beautiful sky over harbor

 Alexandria, VA (Tuesday 5/23)
Because we made such great progress yesterday, we knew that today would be shorter, and it was.  We left Colonial Beach and it was still pretty calm, allowing us to cruise in comfort up the Potomac.

Colonial Beach from Potomac

We passed the Dahlgren Naval Weapons Station where they do target practice right in the Potomac. You actually have to listen for warnings so you stay out of their range when they are doing their “exercises”.  They have a patrol boat that keeps guard of the area and naturally, we were of interest to them.  But once we got past the security zone and under the Harry Nice Bridge we were no longer of concern and they turned away from us.  There were so few boats on the water they must have been bored and we added some excitement to their day.

Patrol Boat near Dahlgren NWS

Harry W. Nice Bridge

It’s a long way up the Potomac but there is some very lovely scenery.  There are really big homes on the Eastern shore, and lots of forest and parks on the Maryland side. Technically, the entire Potomac is in Maryland up until the mainland shoreline, and then (at low tide) you cross into Virginia.

House on Potomac

We cruised north past Mt Vernon (home of George Washington) on the VA side, and then National Harbor on the Maryland side.  National Harbor is a very popular marina and shopping/entertainment complex that many Loopers and cruisers stay at because there is much to do and see.  However, it is still far from downtown Washington DC, and we wanted to also go to Alexandria.  So we bypassed this attraction and went under the Woodrow Wilson Memorial Bridge to Alexandria.

Mt. Vernon

National harbor

Woodrow Wilson Memorial Bridge

We had reservations for the night at Old Dominion Boat Club (ODBC), right in the heart of old town, and next door to the city docks.  We considered staying at the city docks, but they are not secured and with reciprocity through our MTOA membership we were able to get into Old Dominion which is very secure.  The only downside was that we were on an end-tie right on the Potomac River and would periodically get a little wave action, despite it being a no-wake zone.  However, we also were in the flight path of the planes landing at Washington Reagan National Airport, but they were still high enough that it didn’t bother us.

IO at ODBC

Flightpath of Washington Reagan Natl Airport

After securing the boat and checking in with the yacht club, we went back to the boat for happy hour.  Here we were entertained by a group of rowers on the river while we plotted where to go for dinner.

Afternoon rowers

Setting out on foot we explored some of the areas in downtown Alexandria as it threatened to rain.

Old Town Alexandria

We settled in on an Italian place called Il Porto Ristorante on Kings Street and had a pretty good meal.  The place filled up fast and we were lucky to get in, especially without reservations.

Il Porto Ristorante

Escargot at Il Porto Ristorante

After dinner we wanted to walk around town more, but it had started to drizzle and it was yucky weather. Fortunately for us, we stumbled on the free trolley that runs all through old town.  This was great as we were able to ride it and see some of the area that we would have missed as it would have been too far for us to walk in the rain.  After the trolley ride we found an expensive ice cream shop near the boat, indulged in a single scoop each, and went back ODBC for the night.  This is a very neat community near DC and should not be missed if your travels take you there.

Washington, D.C. (Wednesday, 5/24)
All night it rained off and on, and the weather service had issued a flood advisory for the areas near us.  When Denise got up to go for a morning walk, she was unable to go very far. Most of ODBC was under water, including the finger piers off our dock and the entire patio area near the club.  It was high tide and our boat sat almost 3 feet above the dock making it difficult to get off.

High Tide at ODBC

HIgh floods at Old Dominion

ODBC Clubhouse

Eventually the tide began to recede and by the time Mark was up we were able to walk up to the club and check out.  We enjoyed our stay here, but wanted to get into Washington DC and see some sights before it was too late.

We left ODBC at 9:30 a.m. and headed north up the Potomac.

Washington Ntl – R. Reagan Airport

National War College at Ft. McNair

Approaching Marina

Approaching Capital Yacht Club

It was a short 5-mile cruise up to Capital Yacht Club where we pulled into a slip that overlooked the new pier being constructed, and the massive redevelopment effort known as The Wharf on the waterfront.  Due to the redevelopment, a new yacht club was also being built but is not yet completed.  So they relocated to an old motel that also serves as the construction offices for the redevelopment office.  It was a big of a walk through the construction zone to get to the office, restrooms and laundry facilities, as well as the exit to go sightseeing. But we didn’t care as it was incredibly convenient to what we wanted to see and they were offering a special discount rate (by DC standards) on dockage during the construction project.

IO at Capital Yacht Club

New City Pier at The Wharf

The Wharf Construction Project

After checking in with the marina office and getting the lay of the land, we headed out on our adventure.  The first order of business was to grab some lunch before playing tourist in our nation’s capital.  We met a couple of guys who were working the Wharf project and they suggested a place on the water that was just south of our marina (Cantina Marina Cafe). Since they were headed there we decided to join them and we were glad we did. The food was good and the service was fast, which is what we wanted.

Lunch at Cantina Marina Club

After lunch we walked to the Metro station at L’Enfant Plaza and took it to the Capital stop so we could go explore parts of DC that we have not yet visited.  Having been here numerous times before we have already seen all the monuments, the White House, the Capitol, the National Archives, the Spy Museum, the Arboretum, the Spy Museum and most of the Smithsonian Museums. But we have never seen the Supreme Court and the Library of Congress, both of which are located east of the Capital.

We arrived at the Supreme Court in time to hear the 1:00 lecture in the only courtroom – exactly where arguments are heard in front of this court.  We learned of the history of the Supreme Court and its building, and found it to be a spectacularly beautiful place.  The beautiful marble and the largeness of the ceilings and hallways really do reflect the greatness of this governmental body.  We could not imagine working in a place that was so grand and beautiful

US Supreme Court

Ceiling inside US Supreme Court

From there we went to visit The Florida House; a state embassy and the only one of its kind in DC. Although they were preparing for an evening event with the Florida Farm Bureau (i.e. Lobby), they were very gracious and gave us a tour of the facility that includes many pieces of beautiful artwork by Floridians. The house is open to all (those from Florida and those “wanna-be” Floridians) and they greet you with a cup of FL orange juice.  We didn’t stay long as we didn’t want to interfere with their planned event, but we were able to learn a little bit about the place.  If you would like to learn more about the Florida House click here.

The Florida House

Florida House Signage

We then walked to the (main) Library of Congress Building and discovered that the SC was nothing compared to this place.  This is truly one of the most beautiful buildings in all of DC.  The paintings on the ceilings and walls are masterpieces and rich with color and meaning.  We were fortunate in that they had just opened the viewing area into the main library where people were actually doing research (you need permission to do this) and we got to see only a small portion of the vast resources in the LOC.  Several of the other rooms in the library are now filled with museum exhibits and took some time to look through them, but we were still most interested in the architecture and painting in this beautiful place.  There are several other adjoining buildings that make up the LOC, but as we were running out time (and energy) we opted to save them for another visit.  It was time to be thinking of where and what to eat for dinner.

Library of Congress

Library of Congress

Hall Ceiling in Library of Congress

We got back on the Metro and took it to the Federal Triangle stop and headed towards Pennsylvania Ave.  We had decided to go see how Trump had transformed the old Post Office building into Trump International Hotel and see if we could get a before-dinner drink at the hotel lobby bar. It took us awhile to figure out where the main entrance was (not on Pennsylvania Ave), and in the process got someone to take our picture.

Trump International Hotel – Old Post Office

At Trump International Hotel

Once we found the main entrance (at 11th St) we went inside to look around and get a drink at the lobby bar.  We were immediately welcomed and saw that this truly is a first-class place.  The lobby is very open and aesthetically pretty; full of glass and mirrors. There is a very attentive staff waiting to make your visit exceptional and we were escorted to a table in the lounge area. Our waiter appeared right away and brought us water and bar menus that contained drinks and appetizers that ranged in price from the very affordable to astronomically ludicrous. However, prices for the normal drinks were actually in the same price range as our local bars in Winter Park.  We ordered drinks and when they came they were accompanied by a complementary nut tray that was delicious and refilled without asking.  We socialized for a while with the couple from California who sat at the table next to us, then we finished our drinks and left.  We were impressed and glad we stopped in.  Now we looked for an affordable place to have dinner as the nut tray was just a teaser.  If you get to DC it is worth stopping in to see how they have transformed this historical building.

Inside Trump Hotel

Inside Trump Hotel

Inside Trump Hotel

Wine and Nut Tray – Tump Hotel

A short walk away and across the street was “Elephant & Castle” – a place we had been to during our last DC visit, so we decided to go there for dinner.  From there we walked across the Mall and took in some of the sights, and then all the way back to the marina – easily making our 10,000 steps today.

Washington, D.C. (Thursday, 5/25)
We had a limited amount of time to play tourist today as we had to be back to the boat for Denise to have a conference call at 3:00 pm.  Since it has been at least 20 years since we had been, we opted for the Smithsonian Air & Space museum.

Air & Space Museum

Air & Space Museum

It had expanded considerably since our last visit, and many of the things that used to be in this museum had been moved out to the Udvar-Hazy Center at the National Air and Space Museum near Dulles.  Even so, there is much to see here and we spent about 3.5 hours here.  Unfortunately, the IMAX movie we wanted to see was not playing and the timing on the others would not work in our schedule.  The other unfortunate thing was that the place was packed with high school kids on field trips coming from all over the USA. While we saw many of the same during yesterday’s touring, having so many all in one place was a bit too much.  At 2:15 we had had enough and headed back to the boat.

In the meantime we were in communication with our friend Teresea Stiner, who is the twin sister to one of Denise’s running buddies.  Although she works in DC and lives in Arlington, she has run with the group during her visits to the Orlando as well as met a bunch of us runners who came to DC a few years ago for the Cherry Blossom 10-miler: she is no stranger.

So we made plans for an after-dinner rendezvous at her home in Arlington, VA.  This gave us time to get some work done and eat a quick dinner on board the boat.  Afterwards, we took an UBER cab to Teresa’s where we had some wine and cheese and great conversation. We learned about her job at the Department of Energy and her role in the organization, and we got to meet her dog Scout – who Denise fell in love with right away.  Time seem to fly and before long we needed to leave. Teresa took us back to our boat and we gave her a grand tour of our “tiny house” on the water, before saying good bye. Of course we forgot to take any pictures with her….ugh!

Here are some other pictures from our stay in DC:

Popcorn vendors everywhere – What’s up with this?

Countdown clock

Morning on The Wharf

Solomons, MD (Friday, 5/26)
We knew it was going to be a long day to go all the way down the Potomac, into the Chesapeake Bay and then on to Solomons Island, MD.  So we got up early and left the dock by 7:00 a.m., heading south down the Potomac.

Leaving Capital Yacht Club

Leaving DC – skyline

About 45 minutes after we got under way we turned up into Occoquan River and stopped at Belmont Bay Harbor marina to take on some fuel. As all fuel is expensive in this area we only took on 50 gallons, which was just enough to get us to Solomons Island where it would be a lot cheaper and we will fill up the tank again.  It only took about 15 minutes to put the fuel on, then we were back under way. However, this community intrigued us and we said that it might be a nice stopping point should we come back up the Potomac in the future.

Belmont Bay – Fuel stop

Although it was windier then when we cruised up the River, it was still a beautiful day and we got to really enjoy the sights along the way. We passed Fort Washington and Mount Vernon early in day, and then we passed Ft Belvoir and onward to Quantico; home of the FBI training facility and a marine base.

VA House on Potomac

Fort Washington

Mount Vernon

We cruised under the Henry Rice Bridge again and passed Dahlgren Naval Weapons Station, but this time there was no patrol boat to be found. By 11:00 am we were cruising past Colonial Beach and eventually passing St. Clements Island and St. Mary’s Inlet.

Church on St. Clements Island State Park

Shortly thereafter we entered onto the Chesapeake Bay and made our way North.  The wind had picked up and was out of the West, so we hugged the coast in order to minimize the wave action on the boat.  Things were a big choppy, but it only took a little more than an hour before we entered the Patuxent River.  We cruised up river and through the Back Creek Inlet and then made our way over to Calvert Marina for fuel where we filled our tank. Once that was done we only had to motor about 500 yards over to Zahniser’s Marina where we pulled into our assigned slip.  It was just before 3:00 p.m. and we had cruised 120 nm.  We were happy to be in a place as nice as Zahniser’s and Solomon’s Island.

Zahniser’s Yachting Center

Mark does such a good job backing Island Office into tight quarters, and today was no exception. The owner of a Sabre (“About Time”) two slips away from where we docked was in awe of his talents and couldn’t wait to come over and talk with him as soon as we had settled the boat. “Per” (pronounced “pair”) is from Denmark and was struggling with a few things about the performance of his boat.  Mark spent a little time talking to him and then came back to the boat so we could have a well-deserved happy hour drink before getting showers and dinner.

Here in Solomons there are many restaurants and all have pretty good food. However, we were too tired to venture far so we chose to eat at the restaurant on the property, called the “Dry Dock”. Afterwards we went back to the boat to relax and watch a little bit of TV (via internet streaming) before exhaustion took hold and we crashed for the night.

The Dry Dock Restaurant – Showers & Laundry below

Solomons, MD (Saturday, 5/27)
Despite a good night’s sleep, Denise woke up and went for a run, but struggled to get in only 3. 5 miles. This was due to the fact that there is not a lot of area to run unless you go to the main highway, and she wasn’t up for that. Instead she headed out to the eastern end of town where the University of Maryland has their Center for Environmental Science and houses the Chesapeake Biological Laboratory. This is the oldest publicly supported marine laboratory on the East Coast and overlooks a spectacular inlet directly across from the Pax Naval Air Station.  You can learn more about the CBL here.

Here are some pictures from her run:

Waterfront

Pax River from Waterfront

Chesapeake Biological Laboratory dock

Chesapeake Biological Labs

On her return run back through town, Denise learned of a 5k/10k race that was to be held that day, and was tempted to join in for the fun of it.  However, there was not enough time to get back to marina, grab money and get back to the start before the gun went off.

Today was boat maintenance and chore day, so as soon as Mark was up and Denise was back from running, the work began. Denise washed, dried and folded 5 loads of laundry, including sheets and towels.  This required remaking the bed and constantly walking back and forth to the laundry facility in the middle of the marina complex.  When that was done, she cleaned the entire inside of the boat.  In the meantime, Mark scrubbed the salt off the outside of the boat and dealt with a few boat maintenance and repair issues.  During this time Per (“About Time”) came by with more questions for Mark, so he went to his boat and assisted him with orientation of how the Garmin electronics all worked.

Mark also made friends with Bruce Buckheit, owner of a sailboat (“Shenanigans”) who was tied up to the dock adjacent to the stern of our boat.  Although Bruce lives in Maryland now, he is originally from Sag Harbor, NY was getting the boat ready to take it there for the summer.  He assisted Mark with one of the repairs (rocker switch on the electric head) and offered us great information on where to stay once we got to the Sag Harbor area of Long Island.

Eventually, we finished our chores but not before realizing that the entire day was almost done and we were tired. It was time to quit and have our requisite happy hour. It was also during that time that Denise wanted to go walk the docks in search of some (soon to be) new friends who were supposed to be in our marina.

While in DC, Denise had been in touch (via Facebook) with an old high school classmate (Jim Paul) who lives in Orlando, but just so happened to be in Annapolis at the same time.  He had been on a boat owned by his brother and sister-in-law, and it just so happened to be a Fleming 55’.  Jim had already left the boat, but he told Denise that they were in Solomons and they were at the same marina.  So Denise wanted to see if we could find them and make a connection, not knowing if they would even be on the boat if we did.  As luck would have it they were, so we knocked on the boat and made our introductions. Mark and Jenay Paul (“Ravello”) were as friendly as can be, and Jim had already told them to expect us. Come to find out, Mark Paul graduated in the same high school class as Claire (Denise’s sister) and knew the last (maiden) name.  We talked until it was almost dark, when finally the bugs were getting to us and we needed to think about dinner and showers. We agreed to get together sometime the next day and share more information.

We had already decided on pizza for dinner and had already solicited input from the marina office about a local joint, only to discover that Papa Johns was the best place for delivery.  So we put in the order and it took no time for it to show up, making us the envy of others on the dock.

Solomons, MD (Sunday, 5/28)
Since we were busy with chores we were unable to attend mass on Saturday night. So we got up and attended Our Lady Star of the Sea Catholic Church for 8:30 am mass.  We like this church and remembered it from our visit 2 years ago, only this time we could walk the .5 miles to it, not needing a beater loaner car to get there.

After mass we were able to get the marina shuttle (van) to Weir’s grocery store and pick up a few things Mark would need for the week.  There was another couple whom we had met in Hampton when their boat was two slips over from ours, but we cannot remember their names and they had no boat card to share with us.

We returned to the boat in time for a quick lunch, and then we were visited by Jenay & Mark Paul who wanted to learn more about our cruising, and to share more information about each other.  Mark’s (and Jim’s) mom had died only within the last two years, and they had to close the Winter Park house he grew up in. Up until then, they had visited there frequently, and loved the area as well. Today, they live in Dallas and spend 2 weeks a month during this time of year cruising the Chesapeake on their boat, then fly back to Dallas and work for 2 weeks. It’s a great life and you can do this when you are self-employed (he is) and “empty-nesters” like they are.  Because of this, they were able to give us a lot of suggestions that were “must see” places on the Bay, and we have made a note to try and see some of them on the way back home in the fall. Of course we talked about boats and other things non-nautical, and before long they had to leave; they were leaving to go to another community up the Pax River. They were supposed to be off the docks by noon, but had stretched it to well past that because of our conversations. We agreed to stay in touch and try to reconnect with them when we come back down the Chesapeake in the fall.

Mark & Jenay Paul (“Ravello”)

The rest of the afternoon Denise cataloged pictures and wrote some of the blog, albeit she was way behind by now.  For dinner we made chicken parmesan sliders and a Caesar salad, all of which was washed down with our happy hour cocktails, naturally!

Solomons, MD (Monday, 5/29) – Memorial Day
Today was a day in tribute to those who lost their lives in defense of freedom everywhere.  Denise started the day with another run, but managed to get in 4.5 miles this time as she learned of a few new routes to increase the mileage.

Here are some more pictures of Solomon’s from her run:

Solomons Visitor Center

Foggy morning on Chesapeake

House facing the Pax River

Running path looking towards town

Mark got to sleep in and then did a few more boat chores while Denise worked on the blog.

Polishing the davitts

Shortly after lunch we were visited by old friends from Jacksonville, who now live in Maryland and with the magic of Facebook were able to reconnect.  We knew Dave Kyser from our sailing days with North Florida Cruising Club (NFCC) where he was the commodore, and a yacht broker. He sold his yacht brokerage business and had re-enlisted in the Navy (reserves) after 911 and subsequently went to work for a contractor at Jax Naval Air Station. When that contract expired he got a job with another contractor and moved to Maryland.  In the meantime he met and married his wife Ana, and they are raising a teenage boy who is soon to graduate high school. Eventually, they hope to be able to relocate back to Florida as they miss it terribly.

Dave & Ana Kyser

We literally spent all afternoon getting caught up on each other’s lives, and sharing boating stories.  They had some really great ones to tell, especially about the weather; they lost two boats due to hurricanes and know of people in their community who were killed by a sudden freaky windstorm on the Potomac. When we hear this, you can only be grateful for the many miles of safe passage we have have had so far.

Memorial Day

After they left we got right to work on dinner; hamburgers on the grill. Since we cannot grill on the docks at this marina, we took our portable gas grill to where the marina charcoal ones are, and Mark cooked up a great burger.  After dinner and cleanup we prepared for the week ahead; Denise was going to leave for a few days to work, and Mark had stuff to do for his clients, albeit remotely.

Here are some other pictures of Zahniser’s:

Marina Shuttle

Marina Office

Solomons, MD (Tuesday, 5/30 – Thursday 6/1)
Denise had to fly to Ohio to visit her client there, and while gone Mark did a few boat chores, and took advantage of the rental car (both days) to run some errands. He found a Chick-fil-a and had lunch there, and then ate some bar-b-que from Boomerangs, a local place near the marina. You can tell he was “batcheloring” it. And then of course two of the days he spent 3 hours (each) in the car driving to and from Washington Ronald Reagan airport to ferry Denise.

On Thursday’s pick up, we chose to stay in the area (Alexandria) and have dinner near the Airport to let some of the traffic die down before trying to head back to the boat. We went to Myron Dixon’s Pitmaster Bar-b-que; a place that we had heard about before and was featured on FoxNews Saturday show this past weekend.  It was delicious and filling so we brought home some of it for leftovers.  Finally, we arrived back in time to unpack the suitcase and prepare the boat for tomorrow’s departure from Solomons.