Tag Archives: Annapolis

Another Long Day!

Annapolis to Norfolk

Thursday (9/16) – Norfolk, VA

Denise started the day with a quick run through downtown Annapolis and then through the neighborhood around the marina in Eastport.  It was near dark when she started, but captured a few pictures of downtown Annapolis at dawn.

We left Spa Creek just before 8:00 am when the tide was low enough for us to once again squeak under the Spa Creek Bridge without requiring it to open.

Approaching Spa Creek Bridge

We cruised out of Annapolis Harbor and into the Severn River, finally turning right at the buoy and headed south on the Chesapeake Bay.  Less than 30 minutes later we were passing the Thomas Point Shoal Light. This is one of the most photographed lighthouses on the Chesapeake, and we are always thrilled when we pass by it.

Thomas Point Shoal Light

It was a nice calm day on the Chesapeake, although overcast. We made as straight a course heading as possible for Cape Charles on the Southeastern shore for the first few hours. However, it was not long into the journey that Captain Mark suggested a change in plan.  The window for a comfortable passage from Cape Charles to Wormley Creek on Friday afternoon had shut, and now we were rethinking our overall plans. After much discussion, we changed our plans for Cape Charles and Wormley Creek in order to get into safe harbor for the evening. Friday through Monday was going to be really rough on the Chesapeake and the best option for us was to go all the way into Norfolk tonight. However, we needed to see Denise’s brother as he had several packages for us, including the main salon window shade we had repaired. We had discussed going to Norfolk, renting a car and driving up to see him, but after several scenarios we chose to just take the boat up the York River to Wormley Creek for a quick stop over on the way to Norfolk.

With this in mind, we altered our course to hug the western shore and ran close to the LNG facility at Cove Point, near Solomons.  For the first time here we actually saw a ship docked at the pipeline.  And right after that we passed the Cove Point Lighthouse.

Ship at Dominion Cove Point LNG facility near Solomons
Cove Point Lighthouse

As we continued south, the water continued to get calmer and we made pretty good time.  We ate lunch along the way and around 12:30 we passed the Smith Point Lighthouse.

Smith Point Lighthouse

It remained calm as we continued cruising; at one point we could see the eastern shore of the Chesapeake near where we would have gone in if we were going to Cape Charles.

Calm Chesapeake near Deltaville
Looking towards Cape Charles

Just after 2:00 pm we passed by the New Point Comfort Light house and shortly thereafter we turned right to go up the York River.

New Point Comfort Light

The wind had picked up a small bit, but it was at our back and we were fine. We were a little concerned with what we may face on our way to Norfolk, but so far it all still looked good.  Meanwhile, we had been in constant communication with John (Denise’s brother) who agreed that a meet-up at Wormley Creek Marina was the best alternative all around.  So we made our way back to the place we stayed in the spring, and he met us for a quick hello and package exchange.

Wormley Creek Marina
Denise & John

In less than an hour, we left Wormley Creek and headed back out on the York River.  It was a little bumpy as we were now facing the wind from the east, and the current was also against us.  But it was certainly tolerable and we knew that we only had 1.5 hours left to go before arriving in Norfolk.  Along the way down the Bay today we had cancelled our reservations at Cape Charles and Wormley Creek (all without penalty), and made a reservation at Waterside in Norfolk.

We entered the Chesapeake and immediately were faced with increasing chop.  It was not very comfortable for the first 30 minutes or so, until we rounded the Poquoson Flats.  But, as we neared Ft. Monroe we were able to change to a more southern (less easterly) course and that made it a little better. 

We then crossed over to the eastern shore of the main channel heading into Norfolk where the land blocked the wind and things finally settled down. As usual, there was lots of boat and barge traffic that required Captain Mark to keep a sharp eye and steady hand on the wheel. It was here that we passed the USCG sailing vessel “Eagle”. It was a thrill to see this beautiful ship up close.

USCG “Eagle”

We entered Norfolk harbor and the US Naval Shipyard where we were amazed at how many boats were in port at the same time. Wasn’t this not supposed to ever happen again after Pearl Harbor? 

As we moved up the channel to the “no wake” zone, we approached a large yacht (“Serendipity II”) trying to pass a barge and attempting to raise him on the VHF. After several miscommunications between the two vessels, the yacht made their way around the barge without issue, as we did too.  We then both approached the Waterside Marina about the same time, but we were requested to hold outside until the yacht was docked.  Once it was tied-up and settled at the outermost dock, we were instructed to come into our assigned slip in the marina’s basin. As we entered, Captain Mark had to make a tight left turn near this large vessel, and our stern turned towards the yacht.  The Captain was on the deck of the boat looking down and gave Denise (standing in the stern) an awful scowl. What he couldn’t see from his vantage point was that we cleared the hull of his boat by at least 10 feet.  He had nothing to worry about and just minutes later Mark successfully docked our boat around another yacht in even tighter quarters.

Finally, we arrived in our slip and secured our boat for the night.  It was 5:15 pm and we had traveled a total of 156 miles, including a side trip up and back down a part of the York River.  We checked in with the marina to get the usual information, and poured ourselves a celebratory cocktail.   We were disappointed that we would once again miss Cape Charles, but we were glad that we would now be able to head south before the NS #7 railroad bridge was locked down.

When we arrived at Waterside there were several other yachts in the marina, including a Berger Yacht we saw in Portland, ME (“Wrigley”).  Then we watched another handful of boats pull into the marina, including a 60 foot “Downeast” boat from Key West called “Indigo”.  We did not have a chance to talk with them, but we did like the lines of this older but beautiful boat. Unlike in the spring when the marina if full of “Loopers”, the majority of the boats here were larger yachts who were like us, trying to get south.

“Serendipity II”
“Wrigley”

Before it got too late, Mark hosed the salt off the boat and Denise prepared a dinner on board.  We took a short walk around the marina, then retired for the night. Like in the spring, the handful of restaurants remaining at Waterside were blaring music quite loudly and it barely faded us. It had been another long day!

Waterside in Norfolk

Enamored with Eastport – and Annapolis!

Wednesday (9/15) – Southern Annapolis Yacht Center (SAYC) – Eastport, MD

After yesterday’s long day, sleeping in was what we had in mind. However, Denise woke up at the usual time and so she decided to go to the early mass at St. Mary’s Catholic Church in downtown Annapolis. Since our boat is actually in the town of Eastport, this meant a one-mile walk first to, then across the Spa Creek Bridge, then a quick left turn up a side street to the church. It is a beautiful church with a K-12 school also on the grounds, located right in the heart of the city.

After mass and on her walk back to the boat, she encountered several groups of students on their way to school. A few were willing to stop and chat with her about the school, and they were all very engaging and personable.  Once back on the Eastport side of the bridge, she discovered the older kids would park their cars along the residential section of Eastport and then walk over the bridge to class.  This is smart, and if you ever drive to here by car, this is the thing to do as there is almost no place to park in downtown Annapolis.

Once back on the boat, we settled into a day of work, boat chores, cataloging pictures and blog writing. Throughout the day we got to witness all sorts of usual and unusual watercraft that made their way up into Spa Creek.

In the afternoon, we sat down and planned out the next few days of travel, taking us down the Chesapeake to Cape Charles on the eastern shore, then back to Wormley Creek on the York River for a quick visit with Denise’s brother, John and his wife Cathy. One of the things we were having to consider in this scheduling is the planned closure of the Norfolk-Southern railroad bridge (#7) south of Norfolk on the ICW. It was scheduled to be locked down for 25 hours early next week, when we would otherwise cruise through there and need it opened.  Without losing days for this, we were trying to get through it on Saturday or Sunday if at all possible. That of course had to be coordinated with a stop where we can attend mass on Saturday evening or Sunday morning.  This is why it took us nearly 2 hours to come up with our eventual plan.

When we were with them in Maine, our friends Mark & Jenay (“Ravello”) had recommended we visit “Lewnes”, an old established steakhouse in the Annapolis area.  We were able to get last minute reservations for the evening, but only an early seating (5:45 pm) was available. That was ok with us as we generally don’t like to eat too late anyway.  Since it is located in Eastport we did not have far to walk for the dinner, and enjoyed seeing all the locals out walking during this time of day. It really is a lovely community with some small and some gorgeously large homes.  We had a fabulous meal (probably the best steak ever) and we were glad we chose to eat here.  We had hoped to make it back to the Davis Pub this trip, but we will have to put that on the agenda for our next visit.

Lewnes Steakhouse
Dinner at Lewnes

After dinner we walked along the northern shore of Eastport, overlooking the harbor towards the Naval Academy.  Then we meandered back to SAYC and walked all around the docks, and the new townhomes being constructed adjacent to the marina. We have been very happy with our choice of this marina, both from a location and amenities standpoint. It is so convenient to everything, but quiet and away from the crazy touristy areas in Annapolis. We would highly recommend it to other cruisers, however in so doing we risk the fact that it will become so popular that we might never be able to get a slip in the future.

Before retiring for the evening, we checked the latest marine forecasts for the Chesapeake Bay. It still looked good for us to head south tomorrow, but we may have to limit our stay in Cape Charles to one night; Saturday and Sunday were not going to be good days to be in the lower Chesapeake, let alone crossing it.

A Long, Long Day!

Atlantic City, NJ to Annapolis, MD

Tuesday (9/14) – Annapolis, M

Before heading out this morning, Denise had managed to get a speed run in around the casino and park grounds, including a few loops around the parking lot at the adjacent park. And when she returned to the boat we noticed that fog had appeared. 

Morning fog in AC

Just yesterday we had been talking about how the weather conditions would be conducive to it, and that we had not had to deal with this since leaving Maine.  We spoke too soon. But fortunately, it dissipated rapidly and by the time we wanted to leave, it was all but gone.

Our intention was to get from Atlantic City, through Cape May and up the Delaware Bay as conditions there looked good as well.  We had identified several stopping points for the night, including possible anchorages if necessary.  Our hope was to be able to make it to Annapolis, but we were not going to make any overnight arrangements until we were sure we could make it that far.

With fingers crossed for a forecast to hold, we left Farley State Marina at The Golden Nugget in Atlantic City just before 8:00 am. Although there was a lingering haze, it did look to be a nice day and the Atlantic Ocean had certainly calmed down.

Leaving Farley State Marina
Leaving Atlantic City – USCG Station
Entering Absecon Inlet
Harrah’s Casino

We found the Atlantic Ocean to be quiet calm with less than 1’ swells and no wind or chop on the water. It was a pleasant change from yesterday and we have never seen it so calm.  Denise prays for days like this here.

Calm on Atlantic Ocean

Just after 9:00 am we passed a trawler that looked familiar; it was “Grump Stump” whom we met at Somes Sound in Maine in July.  Unfortunately, he was too far away to get a good picture.  Just like yesterday, we hugged the coastline and shortly after seeing “Grump Stump” we passed by the numerous amusement parks at Wildwood.

With the calm seas we were able to cruise at 20 kts and make good time.  At 9:45 we entered the Cape May Inlet and headed through the very familiar harbor, passing the USCG Station and turning right, then left to enter the Cape May Canal.

But first we had to make a fuel stop. We turned up the Cape Island Creek and stopped at Miss Chris Fishing Center for a fill-up. Forty minutes later we left and headed back through the Cape May Canal on our way to the Delaware Bay.

Soon we passed by the ferry terminal and at 11:00 am we entered the Delaware Bay, greeted by an entire school of frolicking bottlenose dolphins.

Ferry Terminal
Entering Delaware Bay
Dolphins at Cape May Canal

We were also pleased to see the marine forecast had held and we had calm seas in this body of water as well.  Additionally, we had the current in our favor as we made our way up the Delaware and we were able to make good time.  By 12:30 we had passed the “Ship Jack” (aka Ship John) Light and we were looking good to make it to the Chesapeake Bay today.

Calm on the Delaware Bay
Fishing boat on the Delaware Bay
Ship John Shoal Light

Before long we rounded the point where the Salem Nuclear Power Plant is located, and made our way across the channel to position for entry into the C&D Canal. We were now out of New Jersey and entered the state of Delaware. Here Captain Mark negotiated around a fuel ship and took a left turn into the Canal Entrance.  It had taken us 2 hours instead of the usual 2.5 hours to get up the Delaware Bay.

We cruised the C&D Canal with relative ease, although now we faced a 2 kt current against us. Along the way we left Delaware (it really is a small state) and entered into the state of Maryland. We passed by Chesapeake City (a possible stop for the night), and continued under the Chesapeake City Bridge into Back Creek (one of many in these parts). It was 2:00 and although we had already traveled a long way, we were pretty sure we would make it to Annapolis, another 2.5 hours away.

We exited Back Creek and entered the Elk River to very calm and flat water. Here the western coastline is hilly with nice houses, then the Elk Neck State Park, then more houses, until the park that leads to the Turkey Point Lighthouse.  On the eastern shore we pass the Buttonwood RV Park, a landmark we use and think it has to be the most expensive RV Park in the country, with its spectacular view.  You can learn more about this place here.

Near Elk Neck State Park – Homes on Elk River
Buttonwood Beach R.V. Resort
Turkey Point Light

About this time we heard the boom, boom, boom, over the boats engine and remembered we were not far from the Maryland Proving Ground, a U.S. Army facility on the western shore of the Chesapeake Bay. We were finally on the Chesapeake Bay!

We were now pretty sure that we could make it to Annapolis and Mark called the Southern Annapolis Yachting Center (SAYC) and secured a two-night reservation. We had been told of this place by several of our cruising friends. It is located on Spa Creek, but on the Eastport side of the creek, and past the downtown moorings.  We had to go under the Spa Creek Bridge with its limited opening schedule, but if our timing was good we would be able to sneak under at a lower tide and not require it to be opened.

But first we must get there. We still had 2 hours of cruising on the Chesapeake Bay and it was very calm.  We did pass by several tugs pushing barges, but it was the USCG Cutter that we passed that was the most exciting.  We always play the “guess that boat type” game when in these situations, and Captain Mark scored 100% when he suggested that it was a buoy tender.

USCG Buoy Tender

Eventually we passed the intersection with the Patapsco River (to Baltimore) to our west, and Rock Hall on the eastern shore, where we have stayed many times. Here the wave action kicked up a bit as it is known to do. The windy breeze was a welcome relief in some ways as it had been hot all day and we were really missing the tinting on our old (but leaky) windows in the main salon. However, we knew that we did not have long to go so we endured and pressed on. Finally, we passed under the Chesapeake Bay Bridge and we could see the numerous container ships at anchor just south of it.

Leaving the Chesapeake Bay Bridge
Ships at anchor Chesapeake Bay

We took a right turn through the channel to the Severn River and saw several groups of sailboats in racing or evening sailing classes near the US Naval Academy.

We cruised through the harbor and made our way under the Spa Creek Bridge and into Spa Creek.  We pulled into the slip at the Southern Annapolis Yachting Center and was greeted by live-aboard resident Dave, who helped us with the tie up.  It was just after 5:00 pm and we had cruised 117 miles in 9 hours.  We were tired, but so very happy with the progress we made today.

IO at SAYC
Dave – at SAYC

After getting settled, taking showers, and having a cocktail, we walked the half mile to Boatyard Bar and Grill in Eastport for dinner. Not wanting to wait the 45 minutes for a table, we chose to immediately sit at the bar and ate a terrific meal. We had been here before, as have several family members, and it did not disappoint this time either.

Boatyard Bar & Grill
At Boatyard Bar & Grill

After dinner we walked back to the marina and settled in for the night. We were both totally exhausted and could not stay awake. Finally, at 8:30 pm, like a couple of old folks, we went to bed – it had been a long, long, day!