The Route South

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

Sunday, July 9, 2006

Life’s Good

Shells sink, dreams float.
Life’s good on our boat.
“Delany Talks to Statues”
Jimmy Buffett

Sunday July 9, 2006
We have intentionally put off going to St. Michaels because of the weekend traffic. That place is unbelievably popular and therefore, crowded. So we decided to get underway this morning, with the theory that most folks will be going home on Sunday afternoon. With that in mind we had the anchor up before 8:30 and were leaving the Tred Avon River, entering the Choptank by 9 AM. 10 AM found us at Knapp’s Narrows, waiting for the bridge-delayed by an ambulance while we maneuvered in tight quarters. Everybody behaved and by 10:30 we were through the bridge and out the other side and on our way to Poplar Island Narrows, the shortcut to Eastern Bay and the Miles River. By noontime we were around Tilghman Point and encountered an unbelievable amount of traffic, going the other way, among them Krogen friends Bob & Gail Higgenbothom on “Friendship”, a KK42. Looks like our plan might just work out.

Chesapeake Bay skipjack

Beautiful old boats
By 1 PM we were entering the harbor at St. Michaels. We were last there over 25 years ago and, as you would expect, it has changed quite a bit. My recollection was that the harbor used to be bigger. It is completely full now, but I’m guessing that there weren’t so many marinas cluttering the place up back then. Our plans for lunch ashore were discarded as we did a loop through the harbor and then anchored outside the entrance, in the river. A bit rolly, but I’m sure that will die down later in the evening. Cindy fixed us a bite of lunch and while we were eating we saw the boat “Sails” (a powerboat). We hailed them on the radio…they are from St. Pete. We have met them several times since they are old friends of Lon and Sondra Seay and Snipe sailors too. After lunch we took the dinghy in to the town dock and wandered around. Tons of tourists! We went in a few shops and wandered to the park at the other end of town (5 or 6 blocks), on the other side of the main street from the harbor. It is a beautiful little park with a dock, on San Domingo Creek, the “back door” into St. Michaels, probably the way we will come the next time. On the way back we found a few things at the grocery store and sampled the wares at one of the ice cream shops. OK, but not as good as the Scotsman’s place in Oxford.

Monday July 10, 2006
Lazy morning. We had coffee and breakfast and then did a little computer work. We are playing tourist today. The Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum is located here, but it doesn’t open until 10 AM. We went ashore shortly before then, taking a harbor tour by dinghy first. Cruised through the creeks and looked at the beautiful homes, most of them older, swung past “Sails” but didn’t see any sign of life, and went over by the Inn at Perry Cabin, a famous and expensive resort located on the edge of St. Michaels. Saw one couple, no doubt paying mucho, mucho dollars to stay there, sitting at the harbor’s edge in Adirondack chairs, with their backs turned to the water, looking like they had absolutely no interest in the view. Why even bother to show up?

We entered the gates at CBMM shortly after opening and wandered around until after noon, taking in all the displays. There is a great boat-building shed where they have a program called “Apprentice for a Day”. You can sign up to help build a wooden skiff-$25 for Saturday or Sunday (you pay them and you do the work) and the skiffs they build there are mighty handsome. The one out in the yard must have been finished yesterday because the varnish hadn’t yet cured. We walked next door to “The Crab Claw” a local institution on the waterfront and had lunch and then went back to the museum for another hour or so. It was great, but by the time we headed back to MORNING STAR it was 3 PM and we were pretty beat. The museum has a great collection of small boats, mostly workboats, with the notable exception of Comet #1, Bluejay #1 and Snipe #1-all small recreational sailing dinghies. I used to sail Snipes a lifetime ago.
The view of some of the boat-building sheds at Chesapeake Bay Maratime Museum.
Restoration in process at CBMM
The old buy boat was restored at CBMM

We started the engine and pulled the anchor up and down the Miles to the Wye River and one of its branches, Wye East River. We fulfilled a promise when we took a left into Dividing Creek and anchored. This was one of Bob Wedan’s favorite anchorages and we promised him and ourselves that we’d visit it one day. We had the place to ourselves. It is some kind of state preserve and its totally wild and undeveloped. After getting the boat straightened up we poured a toddy for ourselves, with an extra tot of rum for Bob. We gave his to the creek, in his memory. We called Elaine in Clearwater then Mom & Chuck & Jane and Sam in Maine.
Wye River East anchorage

Tuesday July 11, 2006
Today we are heading to Annapolis. This will be another first. We’ve been to Annapolis numerous times over the years but never in our own boat. We are stoked. We want to get across the Bay before the wind comes up, which it is forecast to do later. We also want to get there before noon because all the moorings are on a first come-first served basis and we want to get the cream of the crop. Since checkout time is 11 AM, we want to be there shortly after that, so with that in mind we had the anchor up shortly after 6:45. We were back out into the Miles River, back around Tilghman Point and into Eastern Bay before 8:30. We passed Bloody Point Light about 10:20 and an hour later passed #1AH, the first marker for Annapolis Harbor. At 11 AM we entered Annapolis Harbor…right on time. The predicted wind never did fill in and we had a smooth trip all the way. It only took 15 minutes to cruise around and find the mooring we wanted and we had no sooner picked up the mooring pennant than the harbormaster’s assistant was along side in a huge Zodiac to collect the $25/ night fee. Mooring #24 is ours ‘til Thursday morning!

We had a quick bite of lunch and then hopped in the dinghy for a bit of exploring. We cruised under the bridge and up Spa Creek, admiring many of the boats moored or tied up in the various marinas. It was very hot and there was little breeze so on the way back to the boat we detoured up Ego Alley (see the last log) and tied up at the dinghy dock. We strolled around the town and then found the ice cream shop…strictly for medical purposes, mind you, Gotta’ keep the heat stroke at bay!

Fuller races his Laser, a small single-handed sailboat, at the Severn Sailing Assn. on Tuesday nights. Since we were moored directly between the SSA and the Naval Academy, we watched him rig his boat and join the parade of participants heading out to the racecourse. Jane came down a bit later with a bucket of chicken and fixin’s . We picked her and the chicken up in the dinghy, delivered the food back to MORNING STAR, and headed out to the racecourse in the dinghy to shout words of encouragement to Fuller. It didn’t help. We went back in to MORNING STAR and fixed an adult beverage while Fuller put his boat away. I ran in and picked him up and we all had dinner up top under the bimini and were serenaded by the Naval Academy’s Tuesday evening band concert. WOW!

Wednesday July 12, 2006
We are laying over today in Annapolis. When we registered with the Harbormaster he asked if we knew about the Tuesday morning Cruiser’s Breakfast at Chicken Ruth’s. We told him “No” so he filled us in. Before 8 AM we were in the dinghy, up Ego Alley to the dinghy dock and walking up Main Street looking for Chicken Ruth’s. We couldn’t find it but we did find Chick & Ruth’s Deli. Hmmmm, could it be? Sure enough, we went upstairs and there were several tables pushed together so we joined in. Chick & Ruth’s is an institution in town...been there forever. The walls are covered with autographed photos of politicians and celebrities. Cindy had breakfast between Janet Reno and Brooke Shields! The breakfast was OK and the company was interesting, but the highlight of the morning occurred at 8:30. The owner of the restaurant got on the PA system and the restaurant fell quiet. All the regulars immediately stood up, followed by the bewildered newbies, and he led the entire restaurant in the Pledge of Allegiance! He does this every morning of the world! I’m sure that the Naval Academy loves this guy. Oh yeah, his version includes “one nation, under God”, just like its supposed to.

After breakfast we stopped by the boat and then hopped back in the dinghy and went exploring, this time to Back Creek, which is around the corner at Eastport. This creek went on forever, with marinas and mooring balls everywhere. There have got to be thousands and thousands of boats! By the time we had concluded our tour it was lunchtime and really heating up. Cindy fixed us a bite and we hunted shade and a breeze until later in the afternoon when we started the generator and air conditioner. We needed to run the generator to charge the batteries anyway.
Morning Star on a mooring in front of the Naval Academy

At 5:15 we called for the water taxi to come and pick us up. We were meeting Jane and Fuller for a harbor cruise. By way of explanation, Jane, for as long as we have known her, has lusted after a Hinckley Picnic Boat. The Picnic Boat is a low-slung, sexy, distinctively styled 36’ powerboat built by, you guessed it, Hinckley Yachts. Everything Hinckley touches is golden and this boat is no exception. These things are about a half a million a copy, in round numbers. One day we were sitting on the boat and Jane called, all excited. She had been at a charity event for the hospital and bought a $15 raffle ticket. Darn if she didn’t win. The prize was a harbor tour, watching the Wednesday night sailboat races, on a Picnic Boat. The races were cancelled because of thunderstorms but by the time came for the cruise the weather had broken. The water taxi picked us up and I took great pleasure in asking him to drop us off at the Hinckley dock. I don’t know if he was impressed, but I sure was. Hinckley’s captain, a delightful young woman, was aboard with the wine and cheese and we took off. We toured Spa Creek and ogled the boats while they hopefully ogled us back. We asked for a demonstration of what the boat would do - I think the request was “can you open ‘er up??” – so we headed for the Severn River and roared up the river for quite a distance. Our captain was quite a good sport, answering every question we could throw at her and letting each of us drive for as long as we wished. I’d like to believe that she recognized our natural boating talent and innate skills but its probably just part of her job. We finished the evening with a cruise partway up Back creek. We REALLLLLY thought it would be WAY COOL to have our captain drop us off, in our Picnic Boat, at Pusser’s for dinner. She was game until the weather started to close in and she felt discretion was the better part of valor. After all, its not like we were buyers! So instead of the Picnic Boat, we went to Pusser’s by VW. Hey, what the heck, the cruise was outstanding, dinner was great, the company was too, and Fuller does have a nice VW. On top of everything else, the rain cooled things down nicely and then stopped for the night.
Fuller at the helm of the Hinckley  Picnic Boat....COOOOL!

Good friends...Happy times!
 Thursday July 13, 2006
The cadets have been doing P.T. since 6:30 AM. They are all in formation on the athletic field, which is right at the water’s edge. There is a guy on a stage, leading them in calisthenics, booming instructions and encouragement over the stadium loudspeaker system. This went on for almost two hours. I had a flashback to 1966 and the Air Force Academy, however this is obviously the kinder and gentler military. I remember words, but none of them were encouraging!

After breakfast I had to pump the rainwater out of the dinghy. It must have been six inches deep…we had quite a rain last night. I also had to clean the duck crap off the dinghy for the second morning in a row. What a way to start the day! We had to be off the mooring by 11 AM but we didn’t really need anything from town so we slipped the mooring pennant before 9 AM and were under way. We rounded Thomas Point light, at the South River, by 9:30 and were headed up the West River, on the way to Galesville, by 10:00. Galesville is another small community that we had visited years before, by car, and wanted to see from the water. I won’t say we were disappointed, but it was chock-full of boats and were wanting some piece and quiet after the hustle and bustle of Annapolis so we backtracked down the river to the Rhode River. There we found a delightful spot and anchored near Big Island by 11:30. Our closest neighbor was a sailboat and he was fully involved in his trumpet practice when we arrived. He had a good plan…anchor out in the middle of nowhere and blow your lips off! After lunch we took a dinghy trip around the area. The Smithsonian owns all the surrounding land and it is being kept in its natural state. We putted around for quite a while, Ooh’ing and Ahh’ing as we rounded every bend and turn. It is near pristine. Our neighbor, the trumpeter, left sometime while we were gone exploring.

Our next closest neighbor was a 38’ Krogen sailboat named “Inamorata”. The owners stopped by in their dinghy and we invited them back later for Happy Hour and a tour of our boat. We had a very pleasant chat with Jeff and Tessa over cocktails, sitting under the shade of the bimini top in the breeze. When Cindy asked them what they did, they replied that they were entertainers. I assumed they were musicians. Intrigued, she quizzed them further and they told us they were “mentalists”. You remember “The Amazing Kreskin”? Cindy remembered Johnny Carson’s character, “The Amazing Carnak”, but they were good sports about it. They were originally from Toronto, she actually from England and the Caribbean as a little girl. They worked together and used to do shows on cruise ships and in Vegas. Lately they do mostly corporate gigs. Apparently they are good because they have a nice sailboat. I’m only going to say nice things because they might know what I’ve written. Plus, they were really nice folks and we enjoyed our chat with them.

Friday July 14, 2006
Today we are heading back home to Solomon’s. I have a plane to catch on Sunday and we need to do a few chores on Saturday so we are underway by 8:30. Back into the Bay by 9:15 and headed south, rounding Drum Point at 2:00 and back in the slip by 2:30. Its good to be back ”home”. It’s hot and it’s nice to have the air conditioning back on.

Saturday, July 1, 2006

The Passage of Time

The secret of life is enjoying the passage of time.
Any fool can do it, There ain't nothing to it.
Nobody knows how we got to the top of the hill.
But since we're on our way down,
We might as well enjoy the ride.
"Passage of Time"
James Taylor

Wow! We’ve been gone for three weeks. June is already gone. We flew back to Clearwater on the 11th. Cindy drove her car back up to Maryland on Monday and Tuesday, the 26th and 27th and I flew back on Friday the 30th. The laundry was done, the boat provisioned, I did an oil and filters change before I left so we are all ready to go.  Now…where???

Saturday July 1, 2006

We departed our slip at Solomon’s Island about 11 AM. We didn’t have far to go. We are headed for the Potomac River. It is only about 2 miles to Drum Point, where the river meets the Bay and we were there in 15 minutes, turning south. The winds were light – about 5 knots, but out of the south. By shortly after 1 PM we passed Point No Point light and the wind continued out of the south building to 10-12 knots. By the time we reached Point Lookout Light at 2 PM we had to pass beyond the channel about a mile before turning so we wouldn’t be taking the waves directly on our beam, which cause us to roll uncomfortably. Once we turned the corner it smoothed right out and we had a pleasant run up into the Potomac. By 3 PM we turned into St. Mary’s River, a tributary of the Potomac, and by 4 PM we were setting the anchor at Horseshoe Bend, off St. Mary’s College, Old St. Mary’s City, the old State House, cemetery and the “Dove”. “Dove” is a replica ship built similar to the one that Capt. John Smith used to explore the area when he first arrived here. Sure looks small.

Cindy and I visited St. Mary’s City by car a few years ago. We were looking for a place to grab some lunch before we headed up to catch our plane in D.C. We saw St. Mary’s on the map - it was right across the bridge so we figured “why not?” I’ll tell you why not. There is nothing there. It’s an archaeological site …the site of the old colony back in the 1600’s. They have recreated the old State House and of course there is a gift shop but that’s just about it. We were hungry and had to keep an eye on the time so we didn’t stay long before heading out to find lunch, but we were struck by the beauty of the place and the pretty anchorage in the river and we vowed to return by boat.

Sunday July 2, 2006

We decided to stay over today. Last week the entire Northeast and Atlantic seaboards have been inundated with rain and floods. Consequently we have to amend our plans.

Our plan, for almost a year, was to fulfill a dream of mine and anchor out off Washington DC for the fire works on the 4th of July. Jane and Fuller Moore were going to join us there. Well, its about 120 miles up to DC from Solomon’s, two long days of travel, against the current and now we are hearing reports of huge amounts of debris in the river. The Coast Guard has even put out a Notice To Mariners broadcast about this. We certainly don’t want to risk bending the prop or shaft or causing some other kind of damage to the boat so we are going to go to Plan B. Plan B is to meet Jane and Fuller at Solomon’s, enjoy the afternoon, maybe with a little harbor tour, followed by adult beverages of our choice and steaks on the grill. We will cap the evening off by watching the local fireworks. We have been told that our slip is the primo spot to do this.

Since we don’t have to be back to Solomon’s until Tuesday, we might as well loaf around here and enjoy the river. After breakfast we went ashore and wandered around Old St. Mary’s City a bit. Then we walked across the street and strolled around the campus of St. Mary’s College.

It is absolutely beautiful but I’m not sure why a college-aged kid would want to go there. This place is REMOTE. Remember your college day’s…milk shakes at the Sweet Shop, burgers at the Red Garter, a beer at the Pastime, a pizza from Chanello’s, football games on Saturdays in the fall. (If you went to FSU you remember this…maybe) They’ve got none of that here. In fact, they’ve got none of anything here, unless you count the cornfields!

It was after 11:30 AM and we had heard that the food was good at the college cafeteria and that cruiser were welcomed so we thought we would relive some of our misspent youth and have lunch with the rest of the kids. We walked around campus for 45 minutes and never saw another soul. It was kinda’ eerie, like a ghost town! So we went on to our second Plan B of the day-back to the boat for lunch.

It was darn hot in the afternoon. We sat in the shade of the bimini top and read and watched the boats trying to sail in almost no breeze. It would have been a great time for a cooling swim but almost the entire Bay is afflicted with Sea Nettles, we call them jellyfish in Florida. They are thick as thieves. So we content our selves with rinsing down with the hose on the swim platform instead. We did manage to finally get the “waterway smile” cleaned off the hull. There is so much tannin in the water that most boats making this trip get a brown moustache staining the bow. Its tough to get off, especially from in the dinghy. Finally about 5:30 PM we caved in and started the genset and air conditioner. It was 90° outside and not far behind that inside. A light rain started to fall and that helped to cool the air down. It was finished by 10 PM and we were able to turn off the generator and open the boat up before we went to bed.

Monday July 3, 2006

We have decided that the secret to survival is to beat the heat. So in that spirit we were up early and had the anchor aboard before 7 AM. By 7:30 we were down the St. Mary’s and into the Potomac. There was a light wind, less than 10 knots, out of the west. Not bad! Shortly after 8:30 we were rounding Point Lookout Light and heading north up the Bay. Wouldn’t you know it; the wind is out of the north now at 10-12 knots. Understand that that’s not a lot of wind. We have certainly been in much more. But once the wind get much above 15, it starts getting uncomfortable so when we start to see 10-12 and it’s contrary to the forecast we start grumbling. Between the breeze and the current we are only able to make a bit over 6 knots. There is a rain shower to the north with occasional lightning. I am able to “paint” it on the radar. Its moving to the east and we are able to duck behind it with no problem. By 11:45 we are passing Drum Point and are back in our slip by noon. It’s a good afternoon to hide out in the air conditioning.

Tuesday July 4, 2006

Hot! Hot! Hot!
Spent the morning giving the boat a good cleaning. Looks great. Too bad it won’t last. Jane & Fuller came about 2:30. We spent a few hours catching up and then went for a harbor tour about 5:30. Before we got done, the thunderstorms showed up out of the haze and chased us back in. The stories diverge here. Cindy says we got caught…I say nothing got damaged, no one got hurt and we didn’t get wet until after we were safely docked. We were able to grill steaks between the thunderstorms but the fireworks were washed out.

Wednesday July 5, 2006

Bad weather forecast. Stayed put. Fireworks tonight.

Thursday July 6, 2006

Wind is up. Not a good travel day. Dinghied over to Zahniser’s Marina, across the creek to say “Hi” to Bob and Gail Higgenbothom on “Friendship”(KK42), friends from the Krogen Cruisers group. Decided late in the morning to do a road trip to Annapolis for lunch. Ate at Pusser’s (as in Pusser’s rum), which is located at the Marriott. We ate outside on the dock overlooking “Ego Alley” where we could critique all the boats coming and going, their designs and the boat handling and docking skills of the owner. Ego Alley is the common term for the narrow channel that leads to the City Docks and there is always someone coming or going. Great fun!
Local visitor

Friday July 7, 2006
We gotta get out of this place. Time’s a wastin’. We had the engine going by 7:15 and were away from the dock by 7:30. We passed Drum Point just before 8:00 and entered the Bay. Fifty minutes later we had the Cove Point Light abeam and were heading northeast into, you guessed it, a northeast wind of 10-12 knots. That’s manageable but the seas were lumpy. We set up the autopilot to steer the boat and we both flopped down against the beanbag and put up with it until we got into the Choptank River about 10:30. By 12:20 we were in the Tred Avon River and 25 minutes later we were cruising through Town Creek at the beautiful, little town of Oxford. We went across the river and anchored in Plaindealing Creek, which was only a five-minute dinghy ride back to Oxford. The story on Plaindealing Creek is a bit obscure but has something to do with the Indians and a group of Quakers. You can probably figure it out from here.
The Robert Morris Inn in Oxford, MD.
Robert Morris was one of the financiers of the American Revolution.

Saturday July 8, 2006
Its such a pleasant day and Oxford is such a pleasant place that we decided to lay over for the day. We fitted the 15 HP outboard on the dinghy so we’ve got plenty of zoom and can explore easily and breezily. In addition to going back to Oxford, we dinghied to several of the nearby creeks and anchorages and are convinced that we got the best one.

Oxford reminds us a lot of Boca Grande. There is obviously a lot of money in this town, but is really a quiet and sleepy place. A great place to walk. We visited the Hinckley yard, Cutts and Case Shipyard, saw our friend, Al Humphers, boat, DYNA, on the hard, patiently awaiting Al and Linda’s return.

Dyna, on the hard in Oxford, MD

Hinckley Picnic boats at the yard in Oxford.

We also saw SUMMERTIME, a boat we first met in Georgetown, SC. This is homeport for Lenny and Roxanne’s boat but no one was aboard. We strolled through town to the delightful little park on the riverfront, inspected the ferry that runs across to Bellevue (oldest continuously operating ferry in the USA) and had a pleasant and relaxing afternoon.

The Bellevue ferry - Oxford, MD

Cutts & Case is one of the coolest boatyards I've ever been in.
Restoration under way at Cutts and Case
Cutts and Case has a great collection of antiques.
FOTO was famous marine photographer Morris Rosenfeld's camera platform.
Some of his photos are displayed ont he wall behind.
If you ever find yourself in Oxford, stop at Schooners Landing. Go around to the side and fine the Scotsman who makes ice cream. We were told that he has about 500 flavors in his repertoire and usually has a dozen or so at any given time. He makes it by hand daily and it will spoil you for store-bought ice cream. If I lived in Oxford, I’d weigh 400 pounds!

The Eastern Shore, as this side of the Bay is called, is supposed to have bigger crabs the other side. It has something to do with the salinity of the water and the crabs grow faster over here. We believe it. We got a half dozen 6-7 inchers with a hand line last night and we cooked them up today. Crab salad is on the menu later in the week!