Sunday, May 28, 2017

5/23-5/28 Colonial Beach, St. Mary's City and on to Solomons

5/23 The weather was dreary and less than perfect in Colonial Beach.  We rented a golf cart for 4 hours and toured the area.  It is a quiet beach town.  They had a big storm roll through back in April.  Although the winds had only been classified as straight line winds, there was lots of damage.  The marinas all had dock damage.  At our marina, the roofs were twisted off the covered slips and a 60 foot boat docked near us showed us where the cleat had been pulled right of the dock!!!.  The cleat took two sets of boards with it.  The restaurant on site had $2 hamburgers although John added a tomato and bacon so it was about $3.25.  I had a fried oyster basket for $14.99.  The meals were fantastic and you couldn't beat the prices.  Of course, the town of Colonial Beach has its own oyster packing plant.
I also enjoyed the Duck Crossing Signs.  In the background, you can see the ducks. 
There were at least two family of swans in the marina.  It was cool and rainy and some were snuggled in for a nap.

The Coast Guard was coming in to dock so I offered to catch their line.  It was fun to hear that some had served in Alaska, on Lake Michigan, and taken a big Coast Guard Cutter through the Okeechobee Waterway.

We headed back down the Potomac to the Maryland side and took the St. Mary's River to St. Mary's City.  This is an historical city rather than a modern city.  St. Mary's College is located here.  We dropped anchor in an area called Horseshoe Cove, where the college's sailing center is located and we used their dinghy dock.  Not to say that this area is small but the student dock masters and the lady at the Historic St. Mary's Visitors Center all told us that if we wanted to eat out, we were welcome to eat in the college cafeteria, open 8-1 and 5-6 each day. 
Historic St. Mary's was settled by the Calverts in 1634.  It served as the capital of British Maryland with its State House until the capital was moved to Annapolis.  It was unusual in that they believed in religious freedoms and allowed Catholics to practice their religion as well as the predominant Church of England.  Many sites there have been excavated.  The church was excavated and repaired.
Three coffins were found in the church.  They were examined and re-interred  in the same part of the church and given a glass seal for viewing.
Rather than rebuild many of the buildings, they built ghost frames to show where buildings had stood. 
There were two vessels that brought these colonists to the Maryland shores, the Dove and the Arc.  A replica of the Dove is available to tour.  It runs on twin diesels now.
The Episcopal Church of St. Mary's has a large cemetery on the grounds visible from our boat. 

We were experiencing more weather days at anchor.  It was a good thing we decided to stay put and err to the side of caution.  On the afternoon of our second day, the sky darkened considerably.  The winds picked up and the lightening was visible as the clouds rolled in.  A boat of Gold Loopers  approached the anchorage just before the rain came.  Well, the skies opened up.  Even though it was well before sunset, it was dark.  The lightning lit up the sky.  We put our trust in our Rocna anchor.  The winds were putting it to the test.  Finally, the worst of the storm passed.  The winds were not forecast to die down for another day.  We spent a quiet day on board.  I did inside cleaning, washing the floors, vacuuming the rugs, dusting, etc.  In the afternoon, we dinghied over to the Grand Baron and joined her crew for docktails.  They finished their loop in February of 2016.  Their plan is tour Montreal this year. 

Back on our boat as darkness fell, we heard loud splashing near the boat.  John and I stepped out on the back deck.  We scared the heck out of a co-ed who had on a dare swam out to touch our boat.  She did not know that there was anybody aboard.  She was obviously embarrassed and apologized for bothering us.  We could hear her compadres on shore laughing loudly.  Well, she has a funny story to tell about her college experience now.

5/27 The winds and waves had died down.  We awoke early to take a completely delightful cruise to Solomons, Maryland.  This time when we passed the Point No Point Lighthouse (yes that is the name) there was no fog.  I got a nice clear picture. 
We passed the Patuxent Naval Air Station, which is quite large.  Solomons has more boats than people, for sure.  We pulled in to Calverts Marina where we had stayed last year.  After filling up with 166 gallons of fuel, we headed to our spot on one of their two long face docks.  We rested for a bit and then took their well known courtesy car.  Their courtesy car is well known because it is very old.  It is a Mercedes diesel.  Before you turn it over, you turn the key to the glow plug setting to warm up the diesel.  This vehicle has 222,088 miles on it.  The front window on the drivers side does not go down and the pick up is pretty slow, but it is perfect for going around this small community.  We went to the 4PM Mass, West Marine, the Island Hideaway restaurant and to the grocery store.  The Island Hideaway had been recommended by the owner of Calverts.  He was spot on.  We both had the Mahi and the special Memorial Day cocktail, and shared the best mocha crème brulee. 

5/28  We scrubbed the outside of the boat today.  It really needed it.  After our cleaning was done, we hopped in the dinghy and toured the Solomons waterfront by water.  The number of slips here is amazing.  There are some current loopers that we met this morning.  We gave them touring advice.  I hope they have a great day.  While it is raining this afternoon, tomorrow promises to be a nice travel day to Annapolis.

Monday, May 22, 2017

5/19 - 5/22 Visiting DC with family

We docked at National Harbor for our DC visit.  National Harbor has grown.  It has all sorts of reasons to enjoy yourself there.  In addition to a ferris wheel and permanent art installations, they show family movies and ball games on a huge screen.  They also have scheduled bands and exercise sessions.  It is a fun place.

The laundry is free and it was good to get the sheets done on Friday.  We shopped and had the boat ready for our family visitors.  Friday night, Stephen and Catherine brought the kids over for dinner.  A visit to the Peep store was necessary after supper.

Our daughter, Alicia, came down from Baltimore and arrived first on Saturday morning.  She is a 100 ton captain.  John took full advantage of that and had her down in the engine room to check things out.  Catherine arrived with Madeline, Sarah, and John shortly after noon.  Sarah's team won the soccer game before they came.  Alicia and I packed the sandwiches so after boarding, it wasn't long until we cut the lines to tour up the Potomac.  It was a relaxing no wake trip.  We passed Alexandria and the Chart House where Catherine and Stephen had their first date.  The kids loved taking turns with Grandpa at the helm, sitting out on the bow, and checking out ospreys and the planes landing at Reagan Airport with the binoculars.

It was neat that we could get so close to the Washington Monument.

After the ride on the Hydrophilic, the kids played on the art piece, "The Awakening".  It was not designed as a playground but kids seem to love climbing all over it.  Our grandson, John, was like a ninja warrior and climbed to the top of the knee in no time.  They all had a grand time.

John had lowered the dinghy.  He took off with the three kids and chased the Pirate boat.  Each of them took a turn at driving the dinghy.  There were smiles everywhere.
After dinner, the grandkids were left with us to spend the night on board.  They swept the flybridge and did a few other chores.  With everyone in their pajamas, we told stories of their mom's and their aunts' childhood.  After many good laughs, John got out the whipped cream.  It is a tradition that they get a squirt in their mouth if they promise to go right to sleep.  All three of them looked beat.  They were asleep in no time.

Sunday morning came early.  Pancakes were made.  It was not so long before their cousins called from Houston for a Skype session.  It was fun to have all 5 grandkids on the line.   Catherine picked us up and we went to a church near the marina with the family.  It was a fun visit.  John and I had a quiet Sunday night.

The rain started overnight.  We headed to Colonial Beach in the morning.  We just get the worst weather on the Chesapeake.  Remember that nice picture of Mt. Vernon, the other day?  This is what it looked like in the rain today. 
As we passed the Dalhgren Surface Weapon Area, we were contacted by the Range Boat.  The Range Boat let us know there was live firing going on.  He told us to stay toward the Maryland side and which markers to aim for.  John told the Range Boat that he was happy to stay away from the firing and to let us know if for some reason we got too close.  Whew, we made it.

I had great fried oysters for dinner here at Colonial Beach tonight.  There was this family of swans floating in the marina. 
We plan to stay here another day.

Thursday, May 18, 2017

5/17-5/18 Hello George and on to National Harbor

Wednesday 5/17,  we continued up the Potomac to Mt. Vernon.  We passed the Dahlgren Navy Proving Ground.  We heard booms,  There were Navy boats out in the Potomac making sure we were not in harms way.  We passed a staging area for buoys, it looked like Christmas.

We made our way to Mt. Vernon.  We anchored in front of George and Martha's home.
It is all very pretty and looks like it would have back in George's time.  We dinghied in to check out our plan for Thurday.  The temperatures had gotten up into the 90's for the first time this season.  But as night fell a nice breeze came up and it was good for sleeping.

Thursday 5/18,  we headed into the dock with the dinghy.  We were touring Mt. Vernon with all sorts of 8th graders from around the country.  They were very entertained by this gentlemen who was playing both the fife and drum. 
The grounds were huge.  It was clear that Washington was wealthy but that slavery built that wealth.  As a gentleman farmer, Washington had 7 year plans for rotating the crops in each field.  He owned oxen for plowing, and sheep, chickens, horses, etc.  The menus included fish, crabs and oysters from the Potomac.   The kitchen was very large and had root cellars in the same building. 
The estate was self sufficient.

The mansion was very ornate.  The rooms were painted colonial blue and green.

The attention to detail was evident.  Washington wrote plans for all the work.  One writing included the design of this ceiling. 
This fireplace mantel was so ornate, the inset looked like everything you find on the estate.

The original furniture has been kept in the mansion.  I particularly liked Washington's desk. 
In his will, Washington outlined a plan for the tomb on the estate that became the final resting place of George and Martha.

The back of the house overlooked the Potomac and the Hydrophilic. 
We walked back down the hill to the dock, raised the anchor and headed for National Harbor.  We settled in and while John rested, I went for a mani/pedi. 

After a nice dinner of a shared Caesar salad and a shared pizza, we walked back to the boat.  John commented that he had seen a wifi for a boat call Terraphobic.  I remembered that when we were in Pensacola, FL, there was a boat by that same name.  The dockmaster in Pensacola told me that the liveaboard was a Blue Angel.  I walked over to the next dock and sure enough, the boat name included a Blue Angel plane.
I knocked on the boat and Ryan, the owner came out.  He has completed his tour as a Blue Angel pilot and has been assigned to job on Capitol Hill.  He brought his boat up here.  I thanked him for his service.  Here is Ryan on his boat, the Terraphobic.

Tomorrow is a down day as we prepare for the family joining us on Saturday.

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

5/13-5/16 Living in Deltaville and being published

Saturday 5/13 the rain finally stopped but it was cold and windy for the seafood festival.  I took the Deltaville Shuttle up to the Seafood Festival.  I could not pass up fresh cold oysters and ice cream.  The band was good but I had to keep walking to stay warm.  I bought a crab pot pie and some scones for meals on Sunday.  I learned some Deltaville/Chesapeake History.  Stingray Point just down the road was named by Captain John Smith because he got a stingray barb in him there.  Luckily, he recuperated.

Sunday morning, the winds were down and as forecasted picked up and overnight were back up in the 25-30 range.  We had the scones for breakfast and I had the crab pot pie for lunch.  Yum.

Monday 5/15, the winds finally showed signs of slowing down in the afternoon.  The waves on the Rappahonnack began to recede.  Up and down the docks everyone was making plans for finally traveling on Tuesday.  John and I made one last run into Deltaville.  Deltaville is home to the Waterway Guides and Skipper Bob Publications.   If you are a boater you own at least one, we had many on the loop and still have some.  In January, I got an email from Ted Stehle, saying they were updating the Skipper Bob book for the Trent Severn and asking if he could use my blog picture of the entrance to the Trent Severn Waterway.  I was honored and said yes.  We were in the same plaza as the Waterway Guide and John said let's go in and see if new edition was out and if my picture was in it.  Well, the 17th edition is out and my picture is on page 17 with credits too.

So now I am a published photographer!!!   They were so nice and gave us a copy to keep.

Tuesday 5/16-  It was worth the wait.  We were the last boat off the dock and we left at 6:45.  The winds were under 5 and the Chesapeake was calm.  It was a bright, sunny day.  All last year I could never get a good picture of the iconic lighthouses on the Chesapeake.  Finally, I got these fine picture of the Smith Point Lighthouse.

Our goal was to head up the Potomac.  It was such a fine day we decided to keep going.  On the Maryland side, we passed St. Clements, Maryland has a replica lighthouse and a large cross that was erected to commemorate religious freedom.
We made a planned stop for the night at Captain John's Crab Shack and Marina.  It really is a restaurant with docks in front but it has good wifi and electricity.  The draw here is the crabs.  I did myself proud.  I got a dozen of the smalls.  It took me a long time to pick them but I got every piece of crab meat there was to be had.  They were good.

Tomorrow, we are planning to anchor near Mt. Vernon.  We will tour Mt. Vernon on Thursday.  Sounds like fun.

Saturday, May 13, 2017

5/9-5/13 To Norfolk and then horrible weather on the Chesapeake

On Tuesday 5/9, we left Coinjock and headed North on the ICW.  There was one small lock that was less than a foot and a few bridges that we needed opened.   On the radio, the Navy announced that they would be doing " Warship Exercises".  Although the ships were out on the ocean and we could not see them, we did hear them.  The Navy also treated us to an airshow of sorts as the planes flew by and around overhead.  I have seen these quite a few times and it never gets old.

Eventually, the surroundings became much more industrial.  On the right, there were two ships being worked on.

We passed an empty dry dock.  A dry dock is immense.

The city of Norfolk prides itself on hosting the Navy. 
The city is doing some revitalization of the waterfront.  Throughout the city, they have decorated mermaids too.
We stayed at the Waterside Marina and the grand re-opening of the Waterside was scheduled for Thursday.
Last minute work was being done everywhere.  Only one of the restaurants was open yet.  We asked if we could stay Thursday night but the marina was going to be full.  One event was open early for a special event.  The Luminare was sections of blow ups that were filled with light shows as you go through.  It looked cool but I couldn't get in.

Guess, who we saw there?  Kim Russo.  Kim is the Director of AGLCA and we were honored to have her for docktails on our boat.  Kim was in Norfolk doing future planning.  It was so nice to visit with her.

At night, this family of otters climbed on the dock by the police and fire boats.  The whole otter family just piled on one another.  The picture is grainy but I didn't want to get too close or use too much light that would disturb them.

Wednesday 5/10-  In the morning, we walked to the USS Wisconsin and Nauticus Museum.  During WWII, there were over 2000 sailors on the vessel at once.  One is dwarfed by the magnitude of this boat.  The boat tour was fascinating. 

The museum had many exhibits of Naval history in the United States as well as information about the seas, tsunamis, sharks, etc.  It was  a great take in.  Along the waterfront, there was this statue of a sailor being welcomed home.

Often, I am asked how normal shore chores get done.  I called ahead and had a 2 pm hair appointment.  The stylist is from the upper Chesapeake and her husband is stationed in Norfolk in the Navy.  In the  afternoon, there was a very unusual strong rainbow in the water.

Thursday 5/11- What a miserable day!!  Our plan was to go to Deltaville, VA about 59 miles.  Leaving Norfolk, we passed buoy 36, which is Mile Marker 0 and one end of the ICW.
We headed north up the river towards the Chesapeake which is about 9 miles away.  When we got to the Chesapeake, there was a chop in the water but not too bad.  We decided to forge on.  BIG MISTAKE.  The winds increased out of the east and east north east.  It wasn't good.  Eventually, we had to turn a little more to the west.  Now is was horrible.  The rains came.  The waves themselves were not so high but the chop was miserable.  The wind increased too.  We bounced around like a cork in a washing machine.  To top it off, the Raymarine at the lower helm kept cutting out searching for data master.  John was amazing going up top on the flybridge to fix it.  On the other hand, I was useless.  When the box of wine flew off the counter onto the floor, I was amazed it didn't break and send wine everywhere.

Eventually, we arrived at Doziers in Deltaville.  It was about 2:30 when we docked in the wind and rain.  We were beat up.  We carefully opened every cabinet.  Yes, contents had shifted!  The boat was rocking at the dock too.  We both took naps and showers but that was it for the day.

Friday 5/12- The rain and winds have not subsided.  It was time for chores.  Two loads of laundry and lots of little tasks needed to be done.  I found a screw that had worked its way loose yesterday and fixed that too.  The salt needed to be washed off all the windows.  After lunch, we took the loaner car into Deltaville.  It is a really small town.  They have a hardware store that sells clothing, nautical knick knacks, boat supplies and everything else you would expect in a well stocked hardware store.  I got the stretchy line I needed for the dinghy cover and a package of nautical napkins.  We browsed Nauti Nells.  This is a boat consignment store and nautical gift store, with hand made wooden mermaids.   For a late lunch, we went to The Table.  We had their food last year and loved it.  John has been talking about their meatloaf for a year.  We got a meatloaf we can cook on the boat, some eggplant parm, and some yummy pastries for the boat.  Our last stop was at the grocery store.  As it was still raining and windy, the next activity was a nap.

Saturday 5/13- Deltaville is starting to feel like home.  The winds have shifted but are still high.  Of course, the rain has not stopped yet either.  There are still small craft warnings.  The Deltaville Seafood Festival is today.  I hope the rain will slow down some so they will be able to have some good turn out.   There is a shuttle bus that will take us from the marina. 

Our plan is to go to up the Potomac next when we get a weather window.  We would like to be in National Harbor next weekend.