Reunion in Annapolis!

Annapolis/Eastport, MD (Saturday, 5/18):
We left Olverson’s Marina as planned and headed out onto the Potomac River in absolutely ideal conditions. It was very flat and all the fishing boats were out.  It was going to be a beautiful day on the water and all sorts of boaters were out, including the solar-powered trimaran we saw in Daytona Beach on 4/8.

We had the current running in our favor, so in now time we entered the Chesapeake Bay and turned north.  It was flat and calm, but we were now fighting a small, current.  We were also now going to be in the state of Maryland, our 5th state on this wonderful adventure.

Wolf Trap Lighthouse

Wolf Trap Lighthouse on the Chesapeake

We cruised past the beaches and coastline of the western shore, and soon past the mouth of the Patuxent River.  Normally we would turn in here to spend time in Solomons, but we were bypassing this location on this trip.

Pax River Entrance

Pax River Entrance

Cove Point Lighthouse & Calvert Cliffs

Cove Point Lighthouse & Calvert Cliffs

We continued north running close to the Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) terminal at Cove Point, and near Calvert Cliffs State Park; a 30 mile-long stretch of fossil-laden clay strata and beach.

LNG Facility

LNG Facility

Just north of this area is a place called Herring Bay.  At the south end of the bay is a resort area called Herrington Harbor South, where we headed as an intermediary stop to get some fuel. Mark had been shopping prices and this was the best offer around, even though it meant a short diversion from the straight shot up the coast.  As we entered the channel there were numerous sailboats out to enjoy the beautiful day, even though there was very light wind.  We pulled into the fuel dock, filled our tanks, got a pump out and were on our way in no time.  We did notice the marina here was a very nice place and have put it on our list of “places to visit” again.

We cruised back out into the Bay and made our way north. There were many fishing boats out now and dodging them with their lines in tow was challenging. Captain Mark did a great job, as usual. We passed the Thomas Point Lighthouse; one of the most famous of all those on the Chesapeake.

Thomas Point LIghthouse

Thomas Point LIghthouse

We then approached the Severn River and Annapolis area. Here the boating traffic is so crazy and there are so many different type of boats going in every direction.  The wakes from all the boats kick up the waves and so we bounced our way from the Severn River, through the breakwater and into Back Creek where it was finally calm again.

Back Creek has numerous marinas and a few yacht clubs that line the perimeter. On the north side is the neighborhood of Eastport, which acts as a buffer from the craziness of Spa Creek (Annapolis Harbor). We pulled into a slip at the Watergate Marina which is part of a large apartment complex (Watergate Point Apartments) that leases out its marina slips. We were met by Chuck the dockmaster whom we had been in contact with and he helped to tie our lines.  Since there is no real marina office, he is the source of all the information for transient slip space, including giving us keys to the facilities.  This includes access to restrooms, showers, and lounge area with kitchen, internet café, pool and gym.  However, we had to go to the leasing office in order to get the Wi-Fi password as he did not know it.

Once we settled the boat we walked up the hill to the leasing office and met the women who worked there. They were very welcoming and told us they don’t know the password, but we could get it from the management company on Monday.  We thanked them and walked around the newly renovated facility as the office is in the same building as the facilities mentioned above. Denise really liked the decorating done here so she took a few pictures:

During our trip up the Chesapeake today, the temperature sensor started acting up again.  It would fluctuate more than 100 degrees (not supposed to do that), indicating there was a problem.  At one point Mark went into the engine room to check the temperature with his heat monitor and it was running at the expected temperature. We knew the engine was fine, but the something was still wrong with the electronic sensor. So, Mark sent an email to Mac, the yard manager at Zimmerman Marine.  We knew not to expect any reply until Monday, but we wanted to let them know we still had an issue.

In the late afternoon, we met up with Chuck and Victoria (“Argento”) whom we first met at Constitution Marina in Boston in 2017. They have since gotten married and took their Back Cove 37 down to Florida this past winter. We had hoped to connect with them while they were there, but were never able to do so. They were also planning to meet up with an old roommate of Victoria’s for dinner, so we agreed to just get together for drinks. Well, we soon learned we all had plans to eat at the same place and decided to just meet there together.  Davis Pub in Eastport is a very small local place we discovered in 2015, and wanted to go back.  Unfortunately it has also been discovered by the likes of Guy Fieri (Food Network’s -DDD) and now the whole world wants to eat there. They have great food that is reasonably priced and delicious.

Davis Pub

Davis Pub

We ended up getting a big table outside which gave us a chance to catch up and meet their friend Molly, and her daughter Anna.  They were planning to leave tomorrow and go to Chesapeake City, setting up for a Delaware Bay crossing on Monday. However, once we showed them the weather forecast they began rethinking their plans too.  We had a nice time and then bid farewell and walked back to the boat for the night.

IO at Watergate

IO at Watergate

Annapolis/Eastport, MD (Sunday, 5/19):
The morning began with a short walk across the bridge to Annapolis and to St. Mary’s Catholic Church for 8:30 am mass. It was a beautiful church and it reminded Denise of the Basilica at the University of Notre Dame.  We had wanted to go to the Naval Academy chapel where we went once before, but with it being graduation week, they had a special Baccalaureate mass scheduled.

St Mary's and Spa Creek Moorings

St Mary’s and Spa Creek Moorings

Just as we were leaving the church, we ran into Jim & Jackie (“Dona Pacem”) whom we met in Beaufort, NC. They were going to attend a later mass and they had their boat at the Annapolis Yacht Basin (AYB) where we stayed in 2015.  We wanted to see what other (Looper) boats were at AYB and to see the crowded mooring field.  The Blue Angels would be flying right over this area on Tuesday and Wednesday and moorings are on a first-come, first-serve basis and therefore fill up fast.

Annapolis Yacht Basin and Moorings

Annapolis Yacht Basin and Moorings

We then walked back to the boat where Denise did some cooking/food prep for the week, and Mark did some troubleshooting on the engine sensor issue.  The wind was picking up and we were happy to stay put on the boat.

In the afternoon Chuck and Victoria came by to see what improvements we had made on our boat, and to compare notes on things they had on theirs.  We also discussed places to stay along our routes north and what other fun places to cruise to.  We bid them farewell and agreed to stay in touch until the fall, when hopefully we will see them in Boston.

Once they left, we walked the half mile up the road to the Eastport shopping Center to eat dinner at a bar-b-que place “Adams East Taphouse & Grille” (aka Adams East). It is a local chain with several other locations, but our waitress told us Eastport was the best. It certainly was the closest for us.  The food was good and Mark was delightful to get some barbeque.  We also did reconnaissance on what else was in the shopping plaza and discovered a Rite-Aid, a nail salon, and two other restaurants.  We then walked back to the boat in time for Mark to catch the final episode of Game of Thrones.

Adams Ribs Eats

Adams Ribs Eats

Annapolis/Eastport, MD (Monday, 5/20):
In the morning Denise went for a run through Eastport, but is still being plagued with pain in her right leg/butt that seems to act up around 2.5 miles.  Here was a place where she could have run many miles through the streets of Eastport and Annapolis, but her body just will not let her. But she did snap a few pictures along the run:

Once back on the boat, Denise got her shower while Mark went and got a rental car from Avis; cashing in some rewards points so we could have a day on land.  We used the car to do many errands throughout the day including stops at Wal-Mart, Home Depot, West Marine and a Giant grocery store.  Along the way we encountered a Panera Bread and stopped there for lunch as it was in the neighborhood where we were.  We came back to the boat to work on the last blog and to catalog the pictures. When we have many things to do, and there are many interruptions, it is easy to get behind with this activity, and it takes a long time to catch up.

Because it was to be our last night in Annapolis and Mark’s birthday is on Tuesday we wanted to go to a nice restaurant for dinner.  As it was his choice of location, we used the rental car to drive the 1 mile to Ruth’s Chris’ Steakhouse in Eastport.  We were slightly dressed up and didn’t want to get caught in the forthcoming rain, and it was too far for Denise to walk in heeled shoes.  We arrived a little early and enjoyed a fine meal of soups, steaks, vegetables and even a dessert.  While we were eating it did rain, but it was short-lived and stopped by the time we were finished.  The wind was clocking around to the Northwest and with it came some cooler air.  It was time to turn off the air conditioner and put the heat back on.

Mark's Birthday Ribeye dinner

Mark’s Birthday Ribeye dinner

After dinner we drove around Eastport to look at all the quaint houses, but as it is a small community, it didn’t take long. We arrived back at the boat to watch a little TV, re-check the weather and call it a day.

Here are a few more pictures of the area around the Watergate apartments and marina:

Clouds over Back Creek and Watergate Marina

Clouds over Back Creek and Watergate Marina

Rock Hall, MD (Tuesday, 5/21):
Today we would be leaving the Annapolis area, but first we had a few things to do. The wind was supposed to die down later in the morning and we wanted to wait as long as possible before we left.  First, however, we needed to return the rental car, and we wanted to publish an update on our blog – and we did.

Once back from returning the rental car, we readied the boat for leaving. This includes taking down the water softening/filtration system, putting up the hailing port sign on the dinghy (since the dinghy covers the one on the transom), disconnecting the shore power electricity as well as other items.  It doesn’t take long, but all are steps in the process. In the meantime the dockmaster came by to help us off the docks and to retrieve the facilities keys.  During all this prep, the harbor in Back Creek was getting quite congested with boats. It is a prime viewing location for seeing the Blue Angels, and today was their practice day.  Since the wind was still blowing a bit and the Annapolis Harbor was more exposed and really crowded, this was a great location for private and party boats alike.

It was just after 11:00 am and about the time we pulled out of our slip and negotiated around all the boats, the Blue Angels started to fly. It was thrilling to see them as they roared overhead.  Denise tried to take some pictures, but was also trying to clean up the deck lines and fenders before we got on the Severn River.

Eventually, we made our way out into the river, while being tossed around by the wakes of the numerous boats rushing into Annapolis to catch the show.  It was amazing to see so many boats at the anchorages around town; and it was only the practice day.

Boats at outer anchorage to watch Blue Angels

Boats at outer anchorage to watch Blue Angels

It didn’t take long to make our way out of the Severn River and head into the Chesapeake Bay. Here we faced a north wind and outgoing current; both working to slow our pace.  There were also several large container or freight vessels in the shipping channel trying to make their way north into Baltimore.  It was a bumpy and unpleasant ride, but knowing we were only going up the river 12 miles made it tolerable. Still we slowed the boat when the sensor alarm would go off, and Mark would check the engine temperature with the heat gun just to make sure it was not overheating.

Finally we cruised through the breakwater and into the harbor at Rock Hall.  We circled past a marina and restaurant, then made our way to the Rock Hall Landing Marina where we had a one-night’s reservation.

Approaching Rock Hall Harbor

Approaching Rock Hall Harbor

Our slip was a side-tie making it easy for us to get in and out and we were helped by the dockmaster, Joe. It took no time to set the boat up for our short stay, and then we walked up to the marina office to check in.  This is one of our favorite stops on this part of the Chesapeake and we were happy to be back.

Shortly after lunch we were visited by our friend Bob (“New Horizon”), whom we met at Alligator River Marina and helped us when we were also together at Coinjock. He lives in Rock Hall and is the primary reason to stop here on this trip.  We made plans for him to come pick us up later for dinner.

We spent the rest of the afternoon doing work and trying to plan the next few weeks of our adventure. Mark has a client that needs him in Palm Springs, CA for a week and we have a trip home planned for late June.  We also want to be in New Baltimore, NY for a pig roast at Shady Harbor Marina (See Wednesday, 6/24/15 entry from our 2015 Loop trip here for back story) on 6/9, which will situate us perfectly for entering the Lake Champlain area and the openings of the locks.

Of course the unknown in all of this is the weather.  When we are in the ICW we don’t worry too much about the wind, except for crossing a handful of sounds (Albemarle, Pamlico, etc.). But now we have several long days on large bodies of water and we have to make sure we can be out on them without getting ourselves into uncomfortable situations. We have been there and wish not to repeat these times.  We adjusted our plans for tomorrow to not stop in Delaware City and decided to make a straight shot to Cape May, NJ as the weather looked great for a calm passage. We modified our reservations at South Jersey Marina (one of our favorites), and decided to wait until tomorrow to cancel Delaware City; just in case.

Then Bob came to collect us and take us out for dinner. We drove about 15 miles inland to the outskirts of Chestertown, MD to a place that used to be an old mill (Radcliffe Mill).  Café Sado is an Asian-inspired new restaurant and Bob recommended it highly.

Denise ordered the sushi special, while Mark got the nightly pork belly and bacon-wrapped scallops.  It was delicious and we liked having something besides pub or marina food for a change. The service could have been better, but we didn’t care as we got to know Bob a little better. We were sorry his wife Laurie was unable to join us as she was away caring for her ill mother in PA.

After dinner, we were given a guided tour of the town of Chestertown and the surrounding area.  We had considered taking our boat the 38 miles up this river to see the town, but opted for moving ahead to Rock Hall instead. So it was a real treat to have him drive us here, and we were so glad that he did. It is really a great little town and has a brand new marina that has just opened.  It is also the home of Washington College, a liberal arts college founded in 1783.  There are numerous restaurants and shops, as well as parks and ongoing events.  The town is not really a touristy place, but offers a lot for those who want to visit.  It is somewhere that we would like to come back to; maybe in the fall on the way home.

Bob returned us back to our boat in time to prep it for an early morning departure. We could see the wind would be very favorable most of the day, and we wanted all the assurance of a calm passage to NJ.

Stay tuned for more of our adventures on Island Office.

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