The Route South

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!