15 Annapolis, MD to Solomon, MD

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We took the water taxi from the marina to the boat show. As we came into the Annapolis harbor we went through hundreds of sailboats anchored out. The Navy provided it’s own form of welcome. Overhead a two-rotor helicopter circled. Dangling from the end of a 200-foot line was a string 8 navy men on a rope ladder waving to the people below. Looked like a great ride to me. Ruth had a different opinion.

The show was great. Hundreds of sailboats you could go aboard and all kinds of support gear. The first day was supposed to be VIP day. You pay twice as much to get in. This was supposed to keep the crowds down. It didn’t. The place was packed. Decided to do our shopping first. Took all day and we never did go on any boats. We however found a number of items that were on our shopping list and many that weren’t, but we felt we couldn’t live without. Had a great time. As it turned out we did the show twice. Went again on Monday with Jim and Rita. Weren’t many people there and we went on a lot of boats. Didn’t see anything that we liked better than Tranquility.

During the water taxi ride back to the marina, we went past Walter Cronkite’s sailboat Wyntje. There were a number of people on board and we couldn’t tell if Walter was there or not. For us, it was fun to see it in person, having read many stories about Walter sailing it over the years.

All summer, we had been working toward dual commitments. We wanted to do the sailboat show, and we wanted to be at our nephew Peter’s wedding, both of which were on the same weekend. The boat show on Thursday let us satisfy the first desire. Then we picked up a rental car, ran all over town doing other chores and left for South Bend, IN at 4 AM on Friday.

Dawn in the Pennsylvania mountains let us get our fall color review we thought we would miss. At first light it was raining, but brilliant yellows, oranges and reds painted the trees. As we drove, the sun burned off the clouds and the colors got even brighter. To our dismay, we went through the last tunnel on the expressway and came out to green trees. They were with us for the rest of the trip. We thought we’d get a late afternoon color review when we returned on Sunday, but all the colors were gone from the mountains on our return trip.

When we got to Columbus, OH we decided to go cross-country rather than expressways. I got out the handheld GPS, hooked it up to the computer, and used a mapping program to find a route through the small towns. Then it was easy to see our position move on the map, and tell Ruth the distance to the next intersection and what to expect in term of road curves. We had a fun time, but the trip was long. Going back “home” to Annapolis, we did the turnpikes all the way and saved 3 hours.

The wedding and reception were fun. We had a great time and saw a number of relatives we hadn’t seen in years. As in prior entries, family stories would fill too many pages, so we leave them as oral tales that like fine wine improve with age.

Sunday evening our friends Rita and Jim arrived at Tranquility just as we did. They stayed until Wednesday. We did the boat show a second time, explored Annapolis, had some lunches out and had a good time.

Rita and Jim and headed home and we headed down the bay to St. Michaels. Fall was here big time. Heavy winds, and rain. The weather forecast is now talking about a week of rain and high winds. The north segment of the trip to St. Michaels had white water coming over the deck and on the big waves, over the dodger. A couple of the leaks I thought were sealed opened up and we had drips. It had been such a long time that we’d been out in heavy weather that we’d forgotten to physically check all ports. One port wasn’t completely secured and we spent a day drying out using shore power and the small electric heater we carry. The dock was less than ideal, at low tide we bumped bottom and the boat motion wasn’t comfortable as we jerked against the docking lines in the wind.

St. Michaels has many old interesting houses. Main Street has the standard issue of gift and antique shops one finds in a town that tourist love. It also has a great marine museum. We spent an afternoon wandering around the museum learning about skipjack sailing oyster dredges and log canoes that are sailed with people acting as live ballast climbing out on planks rigged from the sides.

We did lunch at The Crab House Restaurant, a traditional place for enjoying crab. As we were seated, the place mat described the 6 steps necessary to dig the meat out of the crab. Other tables had butcher paper covers and stacks of crab shells over a foot high. Every one was using mallets to break the claws. We opted for crab soup and a crab puff and skipped wrestling our food.

The weather report sounded worse. We headed out and poked our way up Hunting Creek. Found a great place to anchor out with trees 20 yards off our starboard side. 300-yards across the creek was a house, a rather large and unique house. We learned how unique that evening as the lights came on and we realized the wall on the creek side was floor to ceiling glass. One corner had a glass to glass corner without a supporting column.

We spent 3 days at anchor riding out the gloomy, windy, rainy weather. It was wonderful, except for the cold. Only 50 outside and not much warmer inside. For us it was a chance to catch up and kick back into relaxed mode. Boat chores like tightening the alternator belt, cleaning the cabin and getting excess water out of the bilge got taken care of first. Then we got our finances up to date by getting the check book balanced, making sure our charge card was accurate and posting stock savings accounts to the computer. Then we sat back and really began to study the Chesapeake and plan our passage. Each day was very full and we completely enjoyed ourselves.

There was some outside entertainment. Flocks of 500 or more of Canada geese flew over on a regular basis. Their honking was haunting. Morning and evening, we heard their calls in the distance. Great blue herons waded the shore. One evening we listened to the hoot of an owl for over an hour.

The storm along the coast got worse. The weather report changed to gale warnings and seas were reported at 11 to 14 feet. We decided to stay put until the weather improved. We broke out a blanket and the goose down comforter and watched the boat swing at anchor as the wind got stronger. The swing covered a 60-degree arc at times and you could feel the acceleration especially at night falling off to sleep. However we were comfortable knowing the anchor was set well so there were no worries about dragging and going aground.

We found out how well the anchor was set when the weather finally improved and we tried to get it out. I couldn’t manually break it free. I cleated off the rode and Ruth tried using engine power to break it free. The bow started going down, and then the anchor finally broke free. We could have ridded out a hurricane with that anchor set.

It was tempting to stay and explore the next creek, go a few miles and explore the Wye River, or do 20 miles and poke into Dun’s Cove. All had been in our plans before the weather got bad and we elected to stay in one place. The forecast said sunny with north winds at 20 knots. We decided to take advantage and head much further (relative term on a sailboat) south.

We were up at first light and had the anchor up before sunrise. There was a short segment where we had to motor north to get out of the creek and around a headland. The wind was strong enough to kick spray over the deck continually. I used foul weather gear to keep warm and dry as I got the sail cover off and lines rigged for sailing. Once we were heading down wind it was back to tee shirts in the warmth of the enclosed cockpit.

Sailed all the way to Solomon, which is about 40 miles further south. It looked like everyone was taking advantage of the nice day and moving. At any given time there were twenty or more sails visible. With the good wind we got in early and found a place to anchor. Then we sat back, relaxed and watched the other boats come in and sort out anchoring.

Sailing the Chesapeake is different than sailing the Great Lakes. There you could follow the shore, or put in a GPS waypoint such as “GHAVEN” for Grand Haven and sail toward it. The waypoint names had meaning and navigation was straightforward. On the Chesapeake it’s more complicated. To get from one place to another, you are heading from one buoy to the next to get around shallow water. The GPS waypoints become a series of buoy numbers such as RRW8, GRW7 and other buoy numbers. Our route from Hunting Creek to Solomon had 10 waypoints in the GPS to help assist us in finding our way. It become challenging, especially when you are continually dodging crab trap floats.

Tomorrow we’ll explore Solomon, find a way to get trash ashore, do e-mail and other land based activities.

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