The Route South

Monday, October 30, 2006

Down In Mary’s Land

Thursday evening found us back in Solomon’s. The breeze was warm and pleasant. This time of year that isn’t necessarily a good thing. The wind from the south means a cold front is approaching. Three or four weeks ago we made a date with Spring Cove Marina to haul the boat out of the water to pressure wash the growth off the bottom and replace the zincs in preparation for the winter. It was almost one year ago that we hauled out and painted the bottom so I wanted to get a good look. We arrived at the Travelift at 8:15 and were out of the water by 8:30. The bottom was in great shape – moss and slime, only a few barnacles, the running gear (prop and rudder) are still in good condition. Although they were still in pretty good shape we replaced all the zincs anyway and were back in the water before 10:30. It started sprinkling rain as we were tying the boat back up at our dock. Impeccable timing!

Morning Star at Spring Cove Marina.
We took advantage of the day to knock off as many chores as we could as well as catching on the local gossip with those few cruisers who hadn’t left already. The wind continued to build and we delayed our departure for one more day. Understand, hanging out in Solomon’s is barely a hardship for us, but we were anxious to move on south. We wanted to get out of the Bay in good weather and Albemarle and Pamlico Sounds both have nasty reputations and must be crossed in favorable weather. Potentially we could have to wait for several days for a weather window. We don’t like to squander our layover days at the beginning of a trip.

Monday October 30, 2006
Today we are leaving. It is bittersweet for we have enjoyed Solomon’s immensely. On the other hand, we are excited to be on the move again, joining the southerly migration. We are not alone in leaving today. Several boats are going to make a break for it today since the forecast is only just perfect.

The engine and the coffee are warmed up early and we are away from our dock by 6:40. By 7:30 we are past Cedar Point and out in the Bay. There is a light breeze from behind and the sun is shining brightly in a clear sky. Shortly after 9:00 Point No Point slipped past our beam and Smith Point followed suit an hour and a half later. We saw Billy the Eagle (KK 58) pass us to the east and had a chat with them on the VHF radio. Abeam Windmill Point Light at 1:30 and Stingray Point by 2:45 and into the Piankatank. Just four month ago these were all new and exciting landmarks to us. They are places I’ve heard and read about all my life. Now they are familiar but still exciting. We threaded our way up the tortuous channel into the lovely Jackson Creek. A large sailboat was hard aground, a reminder to mind our navigation. Anchor down by 3:00.

We were invited for drinks and dinner aboard Two Can (KK42 widebody) and Billy the Eagle. It was kind of a potluck affair with Two Can hosting happy hour and dinner aboard Billy. Everybody brought something…Billy made meatloaf and southwest beans, Two Can a salad and Morning Star provided an appetizer and chocolate-peanut butter brownies for desert. We first met Al & Susan from Two Can at the rendezvous in Solomon’s and it was nice to get to know them better. Charlie and Marsha from Billy are old Krogen hands and we met them a number of years ago. Marsha’s cousin, Norman, is their partner in Billy but we had never met him or his wife, Madeline. Madeline still speaks with a very thick French accent even though she has lived here for forty years. It was delightful just listening to her talk.

The name Billy the Eagle comes from an uncle of Marsha’s (and Norman’s too?) who use to make up stories for them when they were small kids. Billy the Eagle fell from the nest when he was but a young bird and he went on all sorts of exciting adventures. Knowing some of the trips that Billy the Eagle has been on, I’d say the name is a good one!

Dinner didn’t break up until 8:45 (late for cruisers). When we returned to Morning Star we lifter the dinghy back up the davits and made her ready for an early start.

Tuesday October 31, 2006
The engine was being warmed up at 6:30 as Billy and Two Can were leaving. Morning Star’s anchor was up by 6:45 and we had wound our way back out of Jackson Creek, out the Piankatank River and into the Bay before 7:30. The wind is forecast to rise in the afternoon and we want to get off the Bay before it gets too heavy. Wolftrap Light slid by to the west, as did Mobjack Bay. Shortly after passing the York River entrance channel we altered course to pass west of Thimble Shoals, leaving Old Point Comfort Light to starboard and entering Hampton Roads and then the Elizabeth River. Right on queue, the wind is starting to pick up!

Imagine the Chesapeake as a funnel. The ICW begins at Norfolk and Portsmouth, which are located at the neck of the funnel. From here we would begin our journey south on the ICW. But for today, we are done. By 2:15 we were tied into our slip at Ocean Marine in Portsmouth. Portsmouth is on the western side of the Elizabeth River…Norfolk in on the eastern. It felt good to stretch our legs and walk around downtown Portsmouth. Like so many industrial waterfront cities, they are doing a good job of downtown redevelopment on both sides of the river. There is an old movie theater that has been recently refurbished and now serves drinks and dinner as well as first run movie. Billy the Eagle invited us to tag along but we declined since we didn’t care for the film they were offering. There is a $1 ferry that runs across the river between the two towns. Had we not lost two days at the beginning of the trip, I’d have liked to lay over a day and see some of Norfolk. There is a large Navy museum there, complete with the old battleship, the Wisconsin. Next time!

Wednesday November 1, 2006
Today is a lazy day. There is a lock at Deep Creek, at the north end of the Dismal Swamp Canal. The lock opens only four times a day…8:30AM, 11:30AM, 1:30PM and 3:30PM. We can’t make the early one and aren’t going to push all the way through the canal in one day so we don’t leave the dock until 9:25. Diesel is only $1.95 per gallon with a BoatUS discount… the cheapest we have seen on the whole trip. We can only cram 100 gallons in before the tank is full.
Elizabeth River - Norfolk, VA
Ship salvage - Norfolk, VA
By 10:00 we are away from the marina, making our way up the river. The river is quite a sight. We passed most of the military installations yesterday. Today it is container ships, shipyards, tug boats, oil tank farms and one or two ship wreckers thrown in for good measure. We had to wait for the Jordan Street Bridge to be repaired before it could open – fortunately not long. Lunchtime found us tied off to a dolphin (a bundle of pilings wired together for boats or barges to lay along side), waiting for the next opening of the Deep Creek Lock. The lock-tender opened up for us at 1:15…fifteen minutes early! He packed about ten of us into the lock after hollering at one of the other boats for not following his instructions. Since he didn’t holler at us, we thought Lockmaster George was a nice guy. We were locked through and on our way by 2:00.

The run to the North Carolina Visitor’s Center was less than three hours. The foliage was bright reds, yellows and oranges…simply beautiful. There is a single 150’ dock there and when it is full you raft alongside the boats that arrive first. Before nightfall, we had three rafts totaling 14 boats. The Canal was all but obstructed! As we made our approach to raft alongside, Cindy tossed a line to the Morgan Out Island 41 who was to be our “host” in the raft. He immediately ran the line to his bow instead of using it as a spring line, which really messed up our docking. Then, his wife kept letting the line out and pulling it in. I was afraid she was going to get her fingers caught in the cleat and crushed so I didn’t power ahead on the rope like I prefer. Long story short…we looked like a couple of rookies today. It was really my fault for not specifying where I how and where I wanted the spring line tied off. Oh Well!
26.5/26.5 (statute miles)
Fall colors on the Dismal Swamp Canal.
Canal maintenance barge - Great Dismal Swamp
The old Canal Superintendent's house.
Rafting up at the North Carolina Visitor's station.

Thursday November 2, 2006
The nice thing about being among the last boats to join the raft is that you don’t have a bunch of boats hanging off of you and you don’t have a bunch of people walking back and forth across your decks to get ashore. The bad thing is that you have to be one of the first boats to leave the raft. When we tied up last night the first things our neighbor said was that he wanted to leave early. I told him that we wanted to make the 8:30AM lock opening at South Mills, which is only a couple of miles away. Well, at 7:15, he was raring to go! So we went. We arrived at the South Mills Bridge at 7:50, forty minutes ahead of schedule so we had to jockey around and wait. The lockmaster also operated the bridge so we had to wait for him to show up to work, punch in, open the lock, find the keys to the truck and drive up to the bridge, open the bridge, close the bridge, drive back to the lock and close the gates before lowering the water in the lock. Understandably, it was 9:20 before we had locked through, into the Pasquotank River.
Waiting for the South Mills lock.
South Mills lock.

The Pasquotank is perhaps the most beautiful part of the entire ICW. It winds back and forth, wild and very narrow at the north and gradually widening out as it approaches Elizabeth City. Continuing down stream the weather started to deteriorate. The sun disappeared and the wind started to pick up out of the north. As we passed through the bridge at Elizabeth City it was getting colder by the minute and we were glad that we were taking a slip at Pelican Marina instead of one of the free slips at the town dock. There they have no electricity and therefore no heat, unless we run the generator. It’s going to be COLD for the next two nights as a front blows by. We are secured in our slip by 12:05.

Friday November 3, 2006
Boy are we glad to be tied in our slip. The wind laid down yesterday afternoon a bit but it is cold outside now. It was just a short walk across the bridge to town and we waited until it warmed up a bit. It just isn’t in our makeup to walk past a marina and today was no different. We had to stop and see who was there, who was staying over. There were several boats from Canada…most of whom were French-Canadians from Quebec. We chatted briefly with a few folks before heading across the street to visit the museum. This museum is a new project and we were interested to see how it had changed since our visit in the spring. Of course, we then had to stop for lunch at our old favorite, the Colonial Restaurant. I call it our favorite…we have only eaten at three restaurants in ‘Liz City, but this place is just good ol’ country cookin’…comfort food. Its fun to go there because all the locals eat there and everybody looks around when they walk in to see who is there so they can say “Hi”. I had the best ever lima beans with my lunch. Best. Ever.

Cindy just can’t walk past a shoe store and today was no different. There were shoes in the window so we walked in. I took about two steps and knew we were in the wrong place. Gold Lame’ sport coats, pink dress shirts and purple ties. Fur pimp fedoras, leopardskin print stiletto heel shoes. Tee shirts with pictures of Malcom X and the Reverend Dr. King. It was the local Afro-American clothing store! Didn’t stay long! I felt like an Oreo cookie!

We fared better in the local bookstore. It was considerably more multi-cultural. The lady who rang up our purchase asked if we were boaters passing through. I guess we have “the look”! The Deli and Bakery were one the way back to the marina so we stocked up on sourdough and whole wheat bread. And a couple of cookies as a reward for getting so much exercise today. I’m glad we brought the backpack along.

Saturday, November 4, 2006
The weather looks like its going to give us a break…kinda’. Its 34º outside and there is frost on the upper deck. But the breeze is favorable and we need to get across Albemarle Sound today. So the engine is on at 7:00 and we are away from the dock by 7:15. By 9:15 we pass PR#1 and enter the Albemarle. It’s a really great ride. The wind is out of the north at 10-15 knots. Everybody has the same idea - this is the break in the weather that we have all been waiting for. There are at least 10 or 15 boats in front of us and 15 or more behind.

By 10:45 the drama was over. We were across the Sound. It was a walk in the park. We entered the Alligator River between AR#1 and #3. Marker #3 has been relocated due to shoaling. We noted this in the spring when we went through on the way north. Several boats aren’t paying attention though and we have witnessed them going aground. Fortunately it is soft sand or mud and they are able to get off easily. No blood, no foul.

We pass through the Alligator River Swing Bridge at 11:20. This is our last obstacle of the day…we hope. This bridge can be a problem because they don’t open it if the wind is strong out of the north. Imagine that its blowing hard out of the north and you have just spent four hours in crappy conditions crossing the Sound only to find that the bridge won’t be opening! Fortunately, there is a marina close by when that happens.

By 1:45 we have traveled the length of the Alligator River and are abeam the anchorage on the north side of the ICW, off Deep Point. Nobody is there! We pick out the prime spot, right in the middle. Although it’s early, there really isn’t a good anchorage between here and Belhaven, another 35 miles and four hours away. This was apparently a popular idea because another boat followed us into the anchorage and within and hour there were four or five more. By sundown there were about 20 boats.

Sunday November 5, 2006
Its 39º outside and 54º inside.
The engine got a 15-minute warm-up this morning and the anchor came up at 7:15. Twenty minutes later we were entering the Alligator River-Pungo River Canal. It's a three-hour stretch of monotonous land-cut. We didn’t see any alligators. I don’t’ know what a “pungo” is, but I’m pretty sure we didn’t see any of them either. By 10:25 we were entering the Pungo River and an hour and a half later we were tied up in a slip at the River Forest Marina in Belhaven.
Passing commercial traffic on the Alligator-Pungo Canal.

We had lunch aboard and relaxed a bit before taking a walk to explore the town. It’s a pretty, little town full of friendly folks. Belhaven is a comparatively new town, being founded in the 1800’s as a railroad town. The population is less than 2,000. There is a nice looking anchorage and a town dock where you can tie your dinghy. There is a hardware store and a few shops and restaurants close at hand. Cindy saw somebody walking with a bag full of groceries so there must be a Food Lion nearby.

We stopped to chat with some folks who were just getting out of their car. We thought they were staying at the B&B. Well, they sort of were…they owned it. We asked about a curious bit of construction we had seen going on around town. Turns out that Belhaven is only about 3’ above sea level and when they have a hurricane, predictably, the town floods. We saw several houses being jacked up in the air about 4 feet and then new foundations being built under them. Many had already been done and were really quite attractive. If you didn’t see it in progress you probably wouldn’t realize what happened. The local Methodist Church had steel I-beams crisscrossed under it and was precariously jacked up awaiting it new masonry work. The B&B owners told us that FEMA was paying for all of this. They would foot the bill for jacking the house up and building the new foundation but the owners were responsible for any interior repairs necessary afterwards. I’ll bet there is a lot of cracked plaster being redone in this town! I guess the theory is that its cheaper to do that than wrestle with the cost of rebuilding and entire town.

We had dinner at the River Forest Manor, which is on the site of the marina. It is a huge old house built as a residence in 1908. There was a buffet that was OK.

Monday November 6, 2006
Things are looking up! Its 40º outside this morning! The engine was awakened before 7:00 and we were out of the slip and heading down the Pungo River toward Pamlico Sound by 7:15. So was everyone else. We’d like to get to Oriental today, which will make tomorrow a short run up the Neuse River into New Bern. By 10:30 we had negotiated Goose Creek and entered the Bay River. By lunchtime we had passed Maw Point Shoal and Gum Thicket Shoal and entered the Neuse River. The weather has been glorious. Although it has been cold first thing in the morning, it has been very pleasant traveling as our wheelhouse is like a greenhouse when the sun shines. Jackets and sweatshirts or off and we are in shirtsleeves before lunch. Unfortunately, its not going to last. Another front is predicted for tomorrow so at 1:00, as we passed Oriental, we decided to continue up the Neuse to New Bern. Our reservation started on November 1 so our slip will be waiting. The only hitch is the opening bridge across the Trent River. It is restricted in opening. Between the hours of 4:00 PM and 6:00 PM it only opens once…at 5:00 PM. We got there at 4:05! So we have to wait. It opened at 5:00 and we were secured in slip A51 at 5:15.

And suddenly, our trip was over.

Just like that!

Really though, we have a bunch to do. We rented a car and drove back to Solomon’s to get Cindy’s car. We stopped in Tappahannock, VA for the night and then visited Urbana, VA and Edenton, NC on the way back to New Bern. We have heard good things about both places and decided that we will visit the both in the spring of ’07. When we got back to New Bern, we had a ton of chores to do to prepare Morning Star for the winter. Oil and filter changes, close all the seacocks and a million small odd jobs needing to be done and then the 13-hour drive back to Clearwater.

It has been a great trip. We traveled 2413 statute miles and put 336 hours on the engine, averaging 7.2 miles per hour.

But certainly, for Cindy and I, this trip wasn’t about statistics. It was the fulfillment of a dream. We have been talking about doing this for as long as either one of us can recall. It’s been about the challenge of moving our boat up and down the eastern seaboard. It’s been about seeing new cities and towns. It’s been about juggling a nomadic lifestyle against the pull of family and friends and home. It’s been about calling a small rural town like Solomon’s home for a few months. And it’s been about meeting new people. It has been everything that we dreamed it would be and even more.

Maryland was a surprise. We’ve been there before but it caught us off guard. It seemed to fit us like a favorite pair of shoes. It was,….well, just plain comfortable. Solomon’s Island, Oxford, Cambridge, Annapolis and the creeks and rivers and coves too numerous to count. We aren’t done yet!

In June I wrote up the first log of our trip. I borrowed a line from Jimmy Buffett when I promised “reflections, not just replays” and I’ve tried to do just that. In that spirit I’d like to leave you with some words by Mary Chapin Carpenter.

Down In Mary’s Land

East of Virginia where the Bay meets a river
Down in Mary's land.
The wind pulls your sleeve like a long lost lover
Whose heart can't understand

How you ever could leave the view you behold.
Ain't it fine and ain't life grand
When you don't need nothing but some beer and a bushel
Down in Mary's land.

I’m gonna’ sleep with the stars and a slice of the moon
Hanging right above my bed.
I’m gonna’ dream, not of things that I've left behind,
But those I've found instead

Down in Mary's land.
“Down in Mary’s Land”
Mary Chapin Carpenter

Friday, September 22, 2006

… Messing about in boats…

“Believe me, my young friend”, said the water rat solemnly, “there is nothing…absolutely nothing…half so much worth doing as simply messing about in boats. Simply messing…nothing seems really to matter, that’s the charm of it. Whether you get away or whether you don’t; whether you arrive at your destination or whether you reach somewhere else, or whether you never get anywhere at all, you’re always busy, and you never do anything in particular…”
The Wind in the Willows
Kenneth Grahame, 1908

Friday September 22, 2006
We got back from Maine dog-tired. The thirteen-hour drive really took a lot out of us. We had to return the rental car, go to the grocery store, the hardware store, and the gas station and refill one of the propane tanks. I’ve been away for three weeks and the boat is filthy. Soooo, I guess its time to do a bit of work. We haven’t made a firm plan to haul the boat for the winter yet and time is getting away from us. We stopped off at Spring Cove Marina and talked to Allen, the yard manager, and made arrangements for hauling, winterizing and storing the boat for the winter and painting the bottom in the spring. Not our first choice but things don’t look promising for a slip down south. We have been on the waiting list at the Sheraton in New Bern but they don’t sound optimistic so we need to make some firm plans.

Sunday is the Calvert County Waterman’s Festival. They have set up tents out on the point at the Maryland Marine Research facility. The Crab Soup cook-off was wonderful! So many different tastes for crab soup and everybody got to taste each one. Yummmm! The best part of the day was the boat-docking contest. Bleachers were set up along the waterfront at the edge of the docks. The contest went like this; the contestants would back into a slip and stand by. When a pistol was fired a stopwatch was started. They had to pull out of the slip and back into a slip about 100 ft away and put two dock lines on the pilings. The fleet was divided into three groups…charter boats, old wooden workboats and commercial boats (crabbers). All these boats are single engine and are single-handed, meaning that the captain is alone. When the gun fires, the throttle is jammed ahead full and the boat shoots out of the slip. Just as suddenly, the boat is in reverse and the throttle is wide open. The boat is backing into the slip at full speed, pushing a wake from the transom and belching a cloud of black diesel smoke. The boat is stopped at the last possible moment by going ahead full throttle briefly while the captain jumps around attempting to place the dock lines on the pilings. The watch is stopped when the last line is on the last piling. Through the smoke and noise the crowd is cheering and hollering. Very exciting. In the early going, the times were about 45 seconds to accomplish all this. In the end, the two best boats had a shootout. The winning boat posted a time of an incredible 16.5 seconds. It was truly a sight to behold!

Backing in at full throttle!
Look at the stern wake!  Hit the brakes!
How's the view from up there?
Oops!  Honey, I broke the boat!
Some beautiful boats make their way through Solomon's harbor.

There are a lot of cruising boats passing through Solomon’s now. Most of these have been further north - Maine, Canada, the canals of New York – and are heading south for the winter. We are feeling weird because we aren’t joining the migration. The itch to travel has us feeling conflicted. Staying makes sense but we’d sure like to be on the move again. Some of these are folks we met in the spring and some are new friends. Some are internet acquaintances and it’s nice to finally put a face with a name. Many are anchored up for a few days for TrawlerFest, an event sponsored by Passagemaker Magazine and West Marine. It is part boat show; part rendezvous of friends and a great excuse for a party and it is located at Calvert Marina, 100 ft. from our dock. The dealers and boat brokers came in on Wednesday and the doors opened on Thursday. Miles and Ginny Curry, friends from Clearwater Yacht Club, were visiting family in Baltimore and came down to look at boats. They stayed overnight aboard Morning Star and went back to their family on Friday. We bumped into Courtney Ross who was there showing Suzanne (ex-Glacier Star). On Friday we visited a number of the boats and chatted with lots of great folks. Cruising sailor and songwriter Eileen Quinn was there and played for an hour on Friday afternoon, to the delight of many. I had a nice chat with cruising guide author Claiborne Young. He has visited CYC several times and I have corresponded with him from time to time over the years. Saturday brought even more boat visits and a concert by “Them Eastport Oyster Boys”, maybe our all-time favorites. We saw them at a Krogen Rendezvous several years ago and always enjoy listening to their CD’s.

"When I was a mermaid"
Cruiser-singer-songwritter Eileen Quinn
Them Eastport Oysterboys entertain at Trawler Fest

Randy & Kevin Brooks of EOB discussing the finer points of the four-string banjo.

The view of the TrawlerFest fleet from the bow of Morning Star

Eileen Quinn jams with EOB

I received an email from an acquaintance that is leaving Maine and heading to New Bern, NC. I emailed back asking how he got a slip. He replied that he was going to Bridge Point Marina. We were told that the marina was being torn down so we never considered calling them. A quick call told the story. The hotel was being torn down to make way for condo’s…sounds like Florida! But they weren’t going to do anything to the marina until the first 100 units were built. They have room for us! We are in! We are going to migrate! Whoopee!!

TrawlerFest is over and the departure show begins. Just about fifty boats were in the show and they all started leaving early on Sunday morning. It was quite a parade! After the hullabaloo of the TrawlerFest we decided we needed some peace and quiet. It was only a quick nine-mile trip from our dock, up the Patuxent River and into St. Leonard Creek. Nine miles can be a world away. We had a pleasant afternoon exploring in the dinghy to the head of the creek and doing a few boat chores. There was another boat in the anchorage, a Tartan 37 sailboat named Isle of Skye. We invited them over for a sundowner and a long chat. Pennsylvania folks. The next morning we reversed our route back to Solomon’s and our dock. Cindy has some laundry to do and I want to get Morning Star clean and shinny. The Krogen Rendezvous will be starting Thursday and we want our girl to be presentable.

Forty-five to fifty boats are expected for the Rendezvous. We will have to pack them in like cordwood but we did it last year so I’m sure that we will make it again. I’m the deputy-junior-assistant dock master. Denny Maud is the boss. We have a loose plan. There a couple of KK58’s which need to get situated first and then we will stack the rest in as they arrive. Piece of cake….right? Boats started arriving on Tuesday afternoon. We started moving boats into place first thing on Wednesday morning. By 5 PM about half of the fleet had arrived and was in position. Thursday morning the rest of the boats started showing up and we had them all docked by the time the cocktail party started. A number of us had dinner at “Vincenzo’s”, the Italian restaurant located at the marina and after-dinner drinks aboard various boats.

It’s a good thing that we have a huge tent because we woke to rain and wind on Friday morning. The temperature never reached 60°, it rained all day and the wind blew 30 knots at times. But we had a great day. There were talks by Larry Polster, from Krogen, Bob Smith from American Diesel and others. The afternoon was given over to the Krogen Crawl, which is when half the fleet opens their boat, and the other half goes “visiting”. Its fun to see what improvements and modifications people have made to their boats. Thankfully, the rain let up and the wind started to lay down. After a BYOB cocktail party in the tent there was a great potluck dinner with beautiful marinated tenderloins grilled over the charcoal grill. The food was delicious because everybody fixes their best dishes. Cindy won a prize for the best vegetable dish (eggplant).

Pam (Compass Rose) & Betsy (Molly Blossom) comparing notes.
John Loving (Compass Rose) giving everybody the bad news.
The Bad News.
Lots of rain

Denny (Joy-Den) and Bert (Sea Bear) turning the tenderloins.  Joe (Snow Goose) supervising.

Cindy(Morning Star)  & Pam (Compass Rose) in the dinner line.
Martin & Betsy (Molly Blossom) enjoying the evening.
Rain outside.  No damp spirits inside the tent.
Jack and Patsy of the KK42 "Honga" are FSU grads too.
John Hollum (Solveig) demonstrates the fly swatter dart gun.
Rainy day for the Krogen Crawl.
Crocs are popular with cruisers.

Saturday dawned cool but the wind was down and there was almost no rain. More trawler talk through the day and another session of the Krogen Crawl. Drinks and dinner at the tent again, this time catered by “Adam’s Ribs”. And then, before we knew it, it was Sunday morning and people were casting off. So were we. We had a plane to catch in Baltimore. Cindy and I are heading back to Florida one last time before we take Morning Star south.

p.s. Cindy called the Sheraton in New Bern to cancel our reservation and found out that we have moved up to the top of the wait list and they now have a slip for us. We cancelled at Bridge Point because we feel that the Sheraton is a better location. Its walking distance to town and New Bern was one of our favorite stops last spring.

Friday, September 15, 2006

The Maine Event

Even busy travelers need a vacation! When I returned to Baltimore on September 15, Cindy picked me up at BWI and instead of going south back to Solomon’s we headed north toward Philadelphia. Actually, we were going to Sister Jane and Sam’s house near Allentown. After a good dinner and some catching up, it was early to bed. Four AM came early on Saturday but the cars were loaded and we were off. We’re going to MacFarland Cove at South Bristol, Maine! Jane and Sam bought a summer cottage this year and we have been dying to get up there to see it. It was an easy drive of about 8 hours. We had to take two cars because Jane & Sam were heading back on Monday morning while Cindy and I were staying on for a few days. Before they left we took the opportunity to work on a couple of small cottage projects (moving stuff in, fixing the screen door) as well as sampling the wares at the Pemaquid lobster pound, Shaws Wharf, Round Top Ice Cream Shop and Schooner’s Landing, in Damariscotta.

Sundowners on the deck.  Cheers!
Tuesday found us on the road again, this time heading to Camden. It’s another place we have visited before but it is such a beautiful spot and the boat watching is simply great. After a wonderful lunch in Camden at Cappy’s Chowder House, we were back on the road, stopping briefly in Rockland to talk to the harbormaster about the availability of moorings. Hmmm, maybe next year. It was cool at night and we were grateful that we had test-fired the potbelly wood stove before Jane and Sam left. It is amazing how quickly that thing takes the chill off the little cabin. Can we find a spot for one on Morning Star?
Red's Eats in Wiscassett.

On Wednesday we went to Wiscasset for lunch at Red’s Eats, a local institution. Red’s is not much more than a roadside stand, but they have made a big name for themselves selling, among other things, lobster rolls. When we drove by two years ago, people were lined up around the corner and down the block…in the rain! That was all the recommendation we needed. In the end, we preferred the lobstah rolls at Schooners, in Damariscotta, where we had lunch again on Monday after our hosts left. On our way back to the cottage we took a side trip to visit Boothbay Harbor, one of the many scenic Maine harbors. We’ve been there before but it is such a delightful place that it was worth a return trip. We were surprised to find the ship The HMS Bounty hauled out of the water, undergoing a refit. We have a passing familiarity with the Bounty since it frequently calls St. Petersburg home. The ship was built as a replica of Captain Bligh’s famous ship for the Marlon Brando movie, The Mutiny on the Bounty. (Surely you remember Captain Bligh, Fletcher Christian, Tahiti and Pitcairn Island) More recently, it played the part of Captain Jack Sparrow’s ship in the last two Pirates of the Caribbean films.

Jane and Sam’s neighbors at the end of the road, the Clarks, invited us for cocktails to meet friends of theirs, Jim & Sue Chambers, who are also boaters. The Clarks were wonderful hosts and we had a great time getting to know both couples. Jim and Sue were boaters indeed, with several Trans-Atlantic crossings and a circumnavigation under sail under their belts. As they say, these folks have wrung a lot of salt water out of their socks! Jim gave us instructions to say high to his old pal, Milt Baker, on his Nordhavn 47 Bluewater. Milt and Bluewater would be in Solomon’s next week for TrawlerFest. I know Milt from the Internet, as we are both participants on a trawler-related site. It’s a small world, and I made good on my promise a week later.

Thursday morning we were under way by 4:30 AM. We had a 13-hour drive back to the Bay and wanted to get it over with. Our route took us around Boston by quite a distance (but we got caught in traffic anyway), through Hartford (niece Sarah was out of town…we tried to call), through the traffic of New York City, past the industrial bustle of Camden, New Jersey (not nearly as pretty as the Camden of two days ago), down the New Jersey Turnpike (tolls!!), briefly passing through a corner of Delaware and back into Maryland. Thirty minutes after we “closed the loop”, passing BWI, we got stuck in a whopper of a traffic jam outside of Annapolis. Patience prevailed and we got our numb butts back on Morning Star about 6 PM. Great week!

Friday, August 18, 2006

Trying to Reason with Hurricane Season

The wind is blowing harder now,
Fifty knots or thereabouts.
Whitecaps on the ocean
And I’m watching for waterspouts.
“Trying to Reason With Hurricane Season”
Jimmy Buffett

We returned to the Bay on Friday night, August 18. Dr. Jane and Fuller had graciously offered us a parking space at their house and a round trip to BWI. Jane was at a baseball game with her brother so Fuller picked us up. We had a quick bite of dinner with Fuller and then headed for the boat. We were relieved to find MORNING STAR patiently waiting for us to return. The power was still on, the food in the freezer was OK and the water was on the outside.

Saturday was spent doing errands, making a run to the grocery store and doing small boat chores. We still haven’t made a decision about what to do regarding MORNING STAR for the winter. Our options are to haul the boat out of the water and winterize it, leave it in the water in Solomon’s Is. and winterize it or take it to a warmer place that doesn’t require us to winterize. This winterizing thing is foreign to us since we have never had our boat north before. The water tanks have to be drained, the water hoses have to be filled with anti-freeze, the engine’s raw water-cooling system has to be filled with anti-freeze. The generator needs the same treatment as the main engine. The head and holding tank have to be filled with anti-freeze and the Lectra-San (sewage treatment equipment) has to be completely drained. The sinks and shower drains have to be treated with anti-freeze. The anchor wash-down and the shower in the cockpit all need attention. I’m sure that there is more…something might be left out. And that is exactly the problem. If anything is left untended it is subject to freeze damage. The local boatyards charge about $1000 to do this so there is incentive to take the boat south to North Carolina where we don’t have to winterize. Cindy called the marina in New Bern where we spent much of May. They have a waiting list…we are #30 so it looks doubtful.

We decided to take a drive down to Urbanna, VA on Sunday. We missed that stop on the way north and it sounds like a nice spot. It might be a good wintertime hidey-hole so a road trip was in order. It was an ill-fated trip. When we got to the Potomac River, on US 301, we thought the motor on Cindy’s car blew up. It’s a long story but the highlights are 55 minutes on the cell phone with AAA (No Joy!), a 50-mile ride in the front of the tow truck with Gene, the biker, another tow to a mechanic on Monday. In the end, we were able to repair the car for less than $1000, which makes it cheaper than boat repairs!

Tuesday, August 22, 2006
Finally, it time to go for a cruise! We were up and had breakfast early and were away from the dock by 8:30. After a quick stop at the fuel dock we were out into the Bay and headed up to the Eastern Shore. The weather has changed since we were here a few weeks ago. While its still hot -highs of 90°- there is no haze and the humidity isn’t bad. The Bay was reasonably smooth and we had a pleasant trip, entering the Choptank River by 1 PM. The anchor was down in LaTrappe Creek by 2:30, in a cove behind Martin Point. We put the 15 HP motor on the dinghy and went exploring up the creek.

Exploring LaTrappe Creek
LaTrappe Creek is the location of some of the oldest homes on the eastern shore. “Hampden” was built in the 17th Century and across the creek, the beautiful, brick “Compton” was built in 1760. That these beautiful homes are still lived in today are an indication of what special places they are and what a special location this is.
Chesapeake plantation house

We traveled as far up the creek as we could. The headwaters were a bit farther upstream but there were dead trees across the creek. We turned the motor off and just sat and listened. There was no sound but the birds chirping. It was a beautiful, wild spot. As we traveled up and down the creek we passed Dickerson boatyard, the former home of the builders of beautiful sailboats of the same name. The boat builder has been closed for some time now but the yard is still doing a great business doing repairs, maintenance and storage. They are located on the site of the old Trappe Landing, which was a steamboat landing. It is hard to imagine that they could bring steamboats this far up the creek to load and unload goods and people – the creek is so small!

Wednesday August 23, 2006
It was a quiet and peaceful morning. We made good use of it by doing chores, catching up on email and reading. It was a fitting way to spend time in an idyllic spot. Shortly after 11 AM the anchor came up and we were under way for the short trip to the town of Cambridge. Cambridge has a bulkhead at which we could tie for free but there is no electricity and we want air conditioning so we called Cambridge Municipal Marina and they found a slip for us. We took the dinghy for a cruise up Cambridge Creek, all the way to the end. It’s a pretty little town with a mix of commercial and residential buildings along the waterfront. The restaurant for tonight’s dinner is on the water so we can dinghy back for dinner.
Interesting building - Entrance to Cambridge, MD

Thursday August 24, 2006
Cambridge appears to be a bicycle-friendly town so the folding bikes came down off the top deck, the tires were pumped up and into town we went to find Cambridge Grill, the local recommendation for breakfast. Yummm! After breakfast we biked the local walking tour, enjoying the beautifully restored homes and buildings, many dating back to pre-Revolutionary War days. MORNING STAR was away from the dock shortly after 10:30. We were meeting a group of other Krogen owners for a mini-rendezvous. Two hours later we were anchoring in Plaindealing Creek. Our friends Chuck & Barb Shipley arrived shortly before us in their KK48 “Tusen Taak II”. Before the afternoon was over, we were joined by John & Pam on “Compass Rose”, Mike & Kay on “Lowe Key”, Bob & Gail on “Friendship”, and Joe and Trina on “Snow Goose”. All except “Morning Star” & “Tusen Taak II” are Krogen 42’s. A BYOB cocktail party broke out aboard “Tusen Taak II” within an hour, each boat contributing appetizers. At 6 PM we all hopped into our dinghies and zoomed over to Oxford for dinner at Schooners Landings. Shortly after sunset we went back across the river and over to “Compass Rose” for dessert.
Cocktails aboard "Tusen Taak" - Pam, Chuck and Gail.  RWP obscured

Krogens anchored in Plaindealing Creek near Oxford, MD
You had to arrive by dinghy
Krogen friends at dinner - Schooners' Landing - Oxford, MD
Quiet morning at Plaindealing Creek
Mini-Rendezvous - Plaindealing Creek

Friday August 25, 2006
Most of the Krogen folks spent the morning in lazy pursuits, dinghying or kayaking around the anchorage and visiting with the neighbors. A few of us had places to be so one by one everyone but “Tusen Taak II” and “Friendship” left the anchorage. We hung out until lunchtime when we pulled up the anchor and headed across the river and put “Morning Star” in a slip at Mears Yacht Haven We are expecting Sister Jane for the weekend (Sam has to work this weekend). We were only tied up for an hour when she arrived. The balance of the afternoon went by quickly as we chatted, took a dinghy tour of Oxford and Plaindealing Creek and swam in the pool. We hopped in the dinghy and putted over to Schooners Landing for dinner, followed by ice cream at the Scotsman’s.

Saturday August 26, 2006
After breakfast we took the bikes down and pedaled around Oxford for an hour. We stopped at the Hinckley yard briefly. As Cindy and I ogled the Hinckley’s and Grand Banks’, Jane, ever the horsewoman and closet farm-girl, admired the “cute” green John Deere tractor! After the bike tour we put Jane’s car on the ferryboat across the river to Bellevue and then on to St. Michaels for lunch and touristing.

On the Bellevue ferry from Oxford.
We escaped, purchasing only one hat and one tee shirt. After we returned to Oxford, the plan was to dinghy out to the river and watch the log canoes race but there was little wind and they were winding things up by the time we got back.

Log canoes of Oxford, MD
Chuck and Barb stopped by and had a Margarita by the pool with us. Someone recommended “Latitude 38”, a restaurant just outside of town, so we tried it for dinner. It got high marks for atmosphere and eating but the service was abysmal. Just as I was getting ready to give the bartender my business card so they could mail me the bill when they had time, the hostess showed up with the check, 45 minutes after we were done eating! We had to console ourselves over the lousy service by stopping for ice cream on the way home. Too bad Sam had to work!

Sunday August 27, 2006
Jane left right after breakfast. The forecast was calling for rain to the north and she wanted to hit the road before it got too heavy. It was fun to see her and we are going to reciprocate in three weeks when we are planning a trip to their cottage in Maine. We read and did computer chores until 11:30. We had to check out of the marina before 12 noon so we got our money’s worth. We didn’t go far though, only out into the Tred-Avon River, opposite the beach area called The Strand. We anchored for the balance of the afternoon. We were still hoping to see the log canoes sail but, unlike yesterday, the wind was blowing pretty hard and they didn’t sail after lunch. Oh well! About 4 PM we pulled the anchor up and moved four miles to Trippe Creek, a beautiful and protected anchorage. We tried, unsuccessfully, to get our Delta anchor to set. It would bite but not set solidly. Following the “three strikes, you’re out” policy, we switched over to the Bruce anchor, which held on the first try. The south wind is 15-20 kts. and forecast to blow harder, we are happy to have a good lee…no waves, nice breeze.

Monday August 28, 2006
After a lazy morning (do you see a pattern developing here?) we decided to explore the Broad Creek area for a day or two before heading back over to the western shore and back home. The anchor was up before 10:30 and Morning Star was headed back down the Tred-Avon and into the Choptank. As we entered Broad Creek I turned on the NOAA forecast. They revised the forecast and we would have excellent weather for crossing back over today and then not so good for the next few days. We decided to amend our plans and head over to Annapolis and before we knew it we were heading through Tilghman Island’s Knapp’s Narrows and across the Bay. By 3:30 we were abeam of Thomas Point Light and 25 minutes later heading past #1AH, the entrance mark at Annapolis and a half hour after that we picked up a mooring between the Naval Academy and the Severn Sailing Association. We noticed the trawler “Diligence” tied up to mooring #1. We have been trying to catch up with Fred and Nancy Hamilton for months now. They are from Tampa and we first met them when we had dinner together at Clearwater Yacht Club, to compare our mutual plans to head to the Bay. They are berthed in Herrington Harbor and we stopped by one afternoon to try and find them. They weren’t aboard so we left a card. They, in turn, tried to find us one day when they were in Solomon’s. They are members of Tampa Yacht Club and friends of Chip and Betty Hardy, although Fred and I met via a trawler cruising site on the Internet. After chatting them up on the VHF radio, we stopped by for a drink aboard their boat before going ashore to meet Fuller for dinner at “Pusser’s”.
Fred & Nancy on a mooring is Spa Creek, Annapolis

Tuesday August 29, 2006
We took the dinghy in to the dock and walked up the hill to “Chicken Ruth’s” (remember Chick and Ruth’s?) for breakfast. We made it in time for the pledge although there weren’t any other cruisers there. After a stop in to talk to the harbormaster, we headed back to Morning Star to move to a different mooring. The wind is supposed to blow up later in the afternoon and then shift to the north, which will make our present location very uncomfortable. Fred and Nancy have already moved to a vacancy on the wall at “Ego Alley”. Their son is a Second Class cadet at the Naval Academy and Nancy is fixing a home-cooked dinner for him and his roommate tonight. We headed through the Spa Creek Bridge and up the creek to the moorings off Truxtent Park, a beautiful location with pleasant homes on one shore and a wooded park on the other. It was a hot afternoon (90°) and no breeze so we ran the generator and air conditioner for several hours. After dinner, we dinghied back to town for ice cream. We saw Bert and Marlene Jones aboard their KK54, “Sea Bear”. We last saw them in Clewiston so we stopped by for a brief chat but didn’t linger since ice cream at Storm Brothers was calling.

Wednesday August 30, 2006
It looks like today will be the best weather for the next several days, to head back to Solomon’s. The long awaited cold front has finally sagged south of us, giving some relief from the high temps. This morning the wind is N at 5 kts. and forecast to build through the day. Tomorrow it should go higher and Friday we should be seeing weather from Hurricane Ernesto. Our neighbors, Mike and Melissa, on the Defever 40 trawler “Full Step” decided that they were in a great place to ride out the storm and paid for a week on the mooring. Since I have a plane to catch on Monday, we better get under way. The Spa Creek Bridge does not open between 7:30 and 9:00 AM so we made sure we dropped our mooring by 7:20 to be there for the 7:30 opening. There was a light rain falling so we had the radar going as we reversed our course out of Annapolis, passing #1AH and then Thomas Point Light before heading south down the Bay. The radar allows us to keep an eye out for other traffic as well as being able to spot and evaluate rainstorms. Wouldn’t you know it - its raining and the wind is up to 10-15kts and we have seen more ship traffic today than any other day we have been on the Bay. I had a chat on the VHF with a tug towing a coal barge. We altered course to allow plenty of separation, changing course back after he passed well to our port side. The wind began to lie down again and by 2 PM we were abeam Cove Point Light and before we knew it we passed Drum Point and were headed home to Solomon’s.

Thursday August 31, 2006
It’s chore day. The wind is up, blowing in toward Ernesto, now downgraded to a Tropical Storm. We rescued Cindy’s car from the mechanic. It seems OK, thankfully. We dropped her bike off at the bicycle repair to fix a problem shifter ($8). It seems that the anchor of choice around here is the Bruce and after the difficulties at Trippe Creek, we decided to swap anchor locations on the anchor platform, switching the Delta to 30 ‘ of chain and nylon rode and the Bruce to the all-chain rode. This means that we will be handling the heavier anchor with the windlass, which is fine by me! We added some additional dock lines and fenders, folded up the bimini top and zipped it into the boot. We are as ready as we can be.

Friday September 1, 2006
Ernesto is upon us!
The storm is passing to the west of us, putting us in the strongest (Northeast) quadrant of the storm. Fortunately, we are situated in the lee of a large shed so we have very little hard wind. It blows over the top of us. However, in the harbor it’s a different story. We watch the wind shadows on the water as the gusts blow across the harbor and see the boats heel on their moorings as they sail back and forth in the puffs. One large sailboat dragged its mooring across the harbor and went aground without hitting anyone else. Lucky! The tide is up quite high. Our dock, which is usually about two or three feet above the water went about 6” or 8” under water just before dark. I didn’t say sunset because we haven’t seen the sun for three days! Our batteries are fully charged so if they have to turn the power off we are in good shape.
High tide at the dock
Tow boat to the rescue

Before it was over it blew about 60 kts! They reported 8” of rain up the road in Leonardtown and our dinghy has about 6” of water in it. We heard stories about trees down and 5 deaths are reported in Virginia. It sounds like we got hit worse here than Florida. I’m glad we decided to come up here for hurricane season!

Sunday, July 30, 2006


I’m hot, you’re hot, he’s hot, she’s hot.
I’m hot, you’re hot, he’s hot, she’s hot
“Hot, Hot, Hot!”
Buster Poindexter

Unless you live in Seattle or San Francisco or maybe Alaska you know what Buster was talking about. I returned to my “Cindy by the Bay” (apologies to Tony Bennett) just in time for a heat wave. The forecast was for record-breaking heat for most of the country, from the Rockies to the Atlantic coast. The Chesapeake in the summer is famous for the three H’s, Hot, Hazy and Humid, so we decided to do a road trip

Sunday July 30, 2006
Today we went across the Patuxent to visit Sotterley Plantation, a pre-American Revolution site. This place, which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, receives very little play in the cruising guides but friends told us about it and we decided to have a look. The old plantation house has been restored and is opened, with a guided tour. The plantation is managed by a foundation and most of the work, including the tour guides, is done with volunteers. We had an enjoyable and informative trip through the house as well as visiting the old slave cabin, icehouse, smokehouse, Customs house and gardens. The site is high on a long bluff, overlooking the Patuxent, with a trail down to the wharf. As we sat on the long porch overlooking the river, the breeze cooled us off and I could see myself whiling away the afternoon, swinging in my hammock while my serving wench brought me cold drinks. Cindy was less enthusiastic.

Tobacco was the cash crop that put the New World on the map and Sotterley was just one of many plantations that prospered. The plantation has had only three families as owners in its three hundred year history. Without a doubt, when most of the others fell by the wayside, what saved it is that the last owner, a Mr. Satterley (note the difference in spelling), was a wealthy New York lawyer and the son-in-law of J.P. Morgan. Obviously, he had plenty of money to restore and preserve the plantation. It was a working farm until sometime in the 1960’s when the last surviving family member formed the foundation to manage the property upon her death. It is a beautiful location and gives insight into what it was like “back in the day”. Cindy kept pointing to things that reminded her of her family home, a pre-Civil War plantation in Ghent, Kentucky.
Patuxent River view from Greenwell State Park.
Barn and equestrian facility at Greenwell State Park.
Rolling fields - Sotterley Plantation.
Plantation house - Sotterley Plantation
Riverside view of Sotterley
Slave cabin - Sotterley Plantation
Garden - Sotterley Plantation

Monday July 31, 2006
We headed out in earnest for our road trip. First stop was to be Mount Vernon, of George Washington fame. It is sited on the Potomac River, just south of Alexandria and Washington DC so back across the Patuxent we went. We traveled north to US-301, over the bridge across the Potomac and into Virginia. We were amazed at how much better the roads seemed to be in Maryland. As we got closer to DC the road traffic increased and became much more hectic. Finally we found the turnoff of US-1, to take us to Mt. Vernon. Having spent the previous day at quiet Sotterly Plantation, we were taken aback at the crowds when we arrived at Mt. Vernon. The parking area was huge and the entrance, gates and Visitor’s Center were built to accommodate masses of tourists. It reminded us of Disney World, in Orlando, a place we have been fairly successful at avoiding. But we paid our $14 each and followed the herd in. The grounds are open for wandering around and there are several areas where there are docents in period costumes explaining various aspects of the plantation life and describing what it was like there for George and Martha. Actually, it was mostly Martha’s house. George was busy beating the British and being the father of our country. Remember your high school social studies…the capitol was originally in Philadelphia. Since Air Force One was a horse carriage back then, poor George didn’t get to see much of his beloved home and when he retired to Mt. Vernon after his years as President, he only lived for a few years. The waiting line to take the guided tour of the house was about 15-20 minutes but we found some shade to make it tolerable. Unfortunately, much of the exterior of the house was under renovation, with scaffolding and tarps spread out. Certainly, a big old place like this has got to be under constant renovation but it was disappointing that it was unsightly. I didn’t take a single picture. Once inside though, the tour was pleasant, informative and air-conditioned. The furnishings were mostly Washington’s own. Truly, George Washington slept here!

Perhaps the big surprise of the day was to find out that Mt. Vernon doesn’t belong to us! We assumed that, as a national treasure, it was owned and operated by the National Park Service, but somehow, this place has either slipped through their fingers or they didn’t want another money pit. Another foundation is hard at work managing yet another pre-Revolutionary War plantation. That’s got to be a tough job. By lunchtime we were hot, hungry and ready to get on the road. We had a couple of Martha-burgers (Yuck!) at the food court in the Visitor’s Center before heading to the mountains. Although the history of the place was great, I preferred Sotterly.

Back out on the highway, we picked up the Beltway around DC and headed west on I-66, past Dulles Airport on the way to Skyline Drive and the Shenandoah National Park. It was 103° on the car thermometer. We missed the worst of the traffic by waiting until after morning rush hour to head to DC and Mt. Vernon and now we were out of DC before the afternoon rush. The drive wasn’t unpleasant and it wasn’t long before we were off the Interstate at the town of Front Royal, the northern entrance to Skyline Drive. (No, its not Fort Royal…look it up) As the car climbed into the mountains we happily watched the temperature drop lower. By the time we got to the first Visitor’s Center, it was pleasant; the temperature was fully 10 or 12 degrees lower. We had an enjoyable drive along Skyline Drive, stopping at several times but it was so hazy that the scenic overlooks weren’t.

We stopped at the night at one of the NPS lodges, Skyland. If the term “National Park Lodge” conjures up visions of the great lodges of Yosemite or Yellowstone you would be sadly disappointed. However, this place was very nice and I’m sure that at a different time the view would have been spectacular. When we checked into our room, we found that the plate glass windows faced west, directly into the sun. The cross ventilation was provided by a one foot square opening window in the bathroom and a small opening window in the front door so the room was quite hot. Since this place was built without air-conditioning, we were beginning to think we had made a big mistake. However, we asked the young lady at the front desk and she moved us to a different room, one with a ceiling fan and it made all the difference in the world. After dinner at the lodge we took a drive further down Skyline Drive. I was hoping to get some dramatic sunset photos but the sun just kinda’ disappeared into a muddy, hazy sky. No color and no view. We did see lots of whitetail deer though.

Tuesday August 1, 2006
After breakfast, we put our stuff in the car and headed out. It got down into the low 70’s overnight and we rolled the windows down for the first two hours of the drive. Unfortunately the temperature climbed as we traveled down to the lower elevations and as we approached the end of Skyline Drive the windows were up and the air-conditioning was back on.

We headed east on I-64, skirting Charlottesville, until we got to the exit at the town of Keswick. A word of explanation; there are two Jane’s in our life. In order to keep them straight we call them “Doctor Jane”, a doctor friend or “Sister Jane”, not a nun but a lawyer and my sibling. Since Sister Jane and her husband Sam used to live in Keswick, we thought it would be fun to find their old homestead. Unfortunately, too much time has passed and we couldn’t identify the turnoff onto the small road that led to their house. Keswick has changed quite a bit, but it is still horse country.

We traveled up Route 231 to Gordonsville, which we remembered from an earlier visit, and on up Route15 to the town of Orange, where we stopped for lunch at Jean’s Dinner. We are really in Small Town America. Jean’s is just like thousands of other diners around the country, linoleum floors and Formica tables - a place for working folks grab a bite and take a break from the workday. We were the only strangers there…everybody knew everybody else. I think we ate for about $10 total. Route 20 led us to Route 3, past the Wilderness and Chancellorsville National Military Parks, the sites of famous Civil War battles. (I know… some of you still call it the War of Northern Aggression) It was over 103° again so we didn’t stop, a mistake we will remedy the next time we are that way. Route 3 took us through Fredericksburg, the site of yet another famous Civil War battlefield and on to US-301, the bridge into Maryland and back across the Patuxent and home to MORNING STAR. All told, our road trip was over 500 miles.

Wednesday August 2 & Thursday August 3, 2006
Man it’s HOT! 103°± in the afternoon. We do chores or run errands in the morning and then confine ourselves to air-conditioned quarters after lunch. There’s a movie theater in Lexington Park, on the other side of the river, near the Patuxent Naval Air Station and in mid-afternoon we abandon ship in favor of the dark, frigid climate of the movies. One day we saw “Miami Vice” and the next we saw “Monster House”. “Miami Vice” was based on the TV show of the same name. Fast cars, fast boats, fast women. What’s not to like? Well, there was a lot of violent gunplay and what little dialogue there was, was hard to understand. “Monster House” was aimed toward kids and the story line was fairly predictable - mean neighbor man living in an evil, haunted house, terrorizing the neighborhood kids. However, the entire film was computer animated and it was fascinating. They have come a long way since Walt Disney did “Fantasia” one sheet of paper at a time! We enjoyed it but I imagine that the seven year olds in the audience had some bad dreams that night.

Every evening we take a harbor cruise in the dinghy in order to check out any new boats and to see who has left. I’ve noticed that the dinghy has been going slower. Since the boat has been in the water for at least six weeks it must be time to clean the bottom. One morning we removed the outboard motor and emptied the boat so we could flip it over. I figured that I’d be able to scrub it off with a brush in no time flat. Wrong! There was a solid carpet of slime and growth almost ½” thick covering the bottom, both on the fiberglass bottom as well as the air tubes. Well, four hours and two trips to the hardware store and three scrapers later, the bottom of the dinghy was clean again. We decided that when I leave every two weeks, we would raise the dinghy up on the davits to discourage this in the future. Interestingly, there were only one or two barnacles.
Cindy kept two crab traps off the back of the boat.
They had to be checked, emptied and rebaited daily.
Harvest time!
UMMM!  The fruits of her labors.

Friday August 4, 2006
The heat is finally starting to break. This morning there wasn’t the oppressive, breathtaking blanket of heat when we walked out of the cabin. It’s only going to be in the mid-90’s today with rain forecast for the afternoon and evening hours. We decided to drive up to Annapolis since we enjoy visiting that town. There is a great marine supply store, Fawcett’s, located on “Ego Alley”. Our plan was to drive to Annapolis, visit Fawcett’s, have lunch at Middleton’s Tavern (circa 1750), wander around a bit, stop by the ice cream shop and then head back south, stopping at Herrington Harbor along the way. We are starting to interview marinas and yards for a winter home for MORNING STAR.

As we approached the bridge over Spa Creek in Annapolis, Cindy pointed ahead at a couple walking along the sidewalk and said, “that looks like Chuck and Barb Shipley”. We pulled over and gave them a ride. Their boat, a Krogen 48 named “Tusen Takk 2”, was tied up in Eastport, on the south side of Spa Creek. They were walking to Fawcett’s so they hopped aboard. We had lunch together after shopping and then parted ways as they had more shopping to do.

Herrington Harbor is huge! They have dry storage for probably 3000 boats. We talked about the price and the process with their very knowledgeable staff. We have a lot of studying to do since we don’t have to winterize our boats against freezing in Florida and don’t have a clue what we need to do.

Saturday August 5, 2006
Although it didn’t rain last night as promised, it is definitely cooler this morning. We started the engine and headed out across the Bay, destination, the Little Choptank River. As we crossed to the Easter Shore, we both commented that the haze was gone, we could see both shores clearly. Without a doubt, this is the clearest day we have seen since we got here.

When we got to the Little Choptank we decided to head up Fishing Creek. The water was pretty thin and we didn’t much care for what we saw so we did an about-face and headed back down the river to Hudson Creek. We heard about this creek from Krogen friends and decided to check it out. There was one boat anchored near the moth of the creek. We ran up the creek for about two miles. The water was pretty shallow and the creek was pretty narrow so we went back to the mouth to anchor. Fortunately there is plenty of room so we didn’t crowd the sailboat that was there first. In fact, another powerboat came in and anchored before sundown and there was room for everybody. By late afternoon it was getting pretty warm so we fired up the genset and air-conditioner and ran it until well after sunset.

Sunday August 6, 2006
We originally thought we would stay out two nights but frankly, we didn’t care much for the Little Choptank so we decided to head back to Solomon’s. It was a beautiful day with very little breeze, perfect for running a trawler down the Bay.

We were back at the mouth of the Patuxent around lunchtime so we headed up the river to see Sotterly Plantation and Greenwell State Park from the water. We have heard about St. Leonard’s Creek and it sounds like a great anchorage. The run up the river was pleasant, the State Park and Sotterly were interesting and St. Leonard’s creek looks very pretty. However, we decided to head back down the river and tie up in our slip for the night. We are both flying back to Clearwater on Tuesday and since Cindy won’t be staying on the boat, we have chores to do to get the boat ready for our absence. A refreshing swim in the marina’s pool chased the heat away for a couple of hours. Dinner and a good night’s sleep prepared us for our day of chores on Monday and a Tuesday departure