60 Hampton, VA to Oneida Lake, NY

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We expanded our knowledge of the Chesapeake by exploring new anchorages on the Piankatank, Choptank, and Sassafras Rivers. All were unique, but do share similar characteristics; well protected, pleasant views, but we were never completely alone. Each anchorage had homes somewhere in view.

Our favorite anchorage this trip was Dun Cove off the Choptank–a deep cove protected on one side by thick woods. The other side afforded a view off across open fields. The homes in view were well away from our anchorage so we didn’t intrude on their space or they on ours. Early the second morning of our stay a waterman disturbed the calm of the anchorage. He worked the cove playing out baited crab lines as the morning mist rose slowly from the water. Over our morning orange juice we enjoyed watching him retrieve the baited line. Landing net in hand he stood ready to catch any crab tenaciously clinging to the bait even while being pulled from the water. It was essence of the Chesapeake.

We got in line and sat down on our newly purchased folding chairs at 5 PM. Gates to the Willie Nelson concert opened at 6:00 p.m. The opening act started at 7:30 and as we found out, Willie Nelson didn’t come out until 9. We had purchased two of the last 10 tickets for ‘gravel seating’ to the concert at the Calvert Maritime Museum in Solomons, MD. Seating was limited to 4,000, and we’d stayed an extra day to catch the concert. Having staked out our seating we went off to sample the wares of the local vendors. Very rapidly we learned that we could buy a beer and consume it faster than we could stand in line to relieve it. We settled down to watch people and the concert and had a grand time. The concert was great-people- watching fun. However, by 11 PM we were freezing in the cool 60-degree night air so we folded up our chairs and headed for Tranquility. It had been a fun night and we’ll add a new Willie Nelson CD to our collection.

We made an unplanned stop in Annapolis to have our fuel filtered. Fuel filter changes every 20 hours forced the decision. We pulled into Back Creek on the fringes of Annapolis and found a whole new character of the city. Here was a major marina specializing in sailboats. We had a ball poking around looking at one of the largest collection of sailboats we’ve seen. The fuel filtering turned out to be a bust. I’m still changing filters every 20 hours and I’ve written asking for our money back. It will be interesting to see their reply.

Wind was not kind to us on the Chesapeake. It blew continually from the north. We motored–always into the wind. Even NOAA began talking about: “an unusually persistent low off the Carolinas causing north winds.” We began to worry about getting around New Jersey. However, as we hit Delaware Bay, the wind worked in our favor. Up went the whisker pole and out went the genoa. We motorsailed down the bay riding 25 knot winds and making 8 knots all the way to Cape May. It was a wild, fun ride.

The weather broke, and we took advantage of the window to head for New York City. Our never-ending fuel problem forced a diversion to Atlantic City for a filter change. We were off again an hour later arriving at the main shipping channels into NYC at 3 AM. It was tempting to continue and see the city at night; however, we were tired and tucked in behind Sandy Hook and got some sleep.

Everyone should experience a ride up the Hudson River close to the Manhattan shore in a small boat. The Staten Island ferry crossed in front of us, blocking for a short time our view of the Statue of Liberty. Skyscrapers stood out boldly in the unusually clear morning air. As we left Manhattan behind, the Palisades, trimmed in spring colors provided visual enjoyment. It was a great ride up to Tarrytown.

Lousy weather helped us sort out something that was gnawing at us. We were uncomfortable with our decision to blow off visiting Manhattan. Because of the lousy weather we rode the train from Tarrytown back into Manhattan and had a ball. We walked from Grand Central Station to the Natural History Museum in a thunderstorm and enjoyed the sights, sounds and supurb food of the city. The museum was great, but we think we’d had as much fun just exploring the city streets on foot.

The Stripped Bass bar/restaurant was strategically placed halfway between train station and Tranquility. We ducked in to avoid a deluge (we think we felt one raindrop) and learn the meaning of the sign outside stating ‘happy hour half price drinks.’ Inside we found the role models for Cliff and Carla on Cheers. He sat at the end of the bar and was quietly getting smashed. We learned he lived with his mother and had never left the area. She was the short, thin, feisty waitress with 18, 9 and 2 year olds at home. The rain made for a slow night and we had a grand time talking with everyone.

Our mast supports, last used in 9/97 when we came out the Erie Canal, were still stored at Hop-O-Nose marina in Catskill, NY. Down came the mast and we converted from being 36 feet long and 55 feet high to being 55 feet long and 12 feet high at our radar mast on the stern.

Linda and Steve joined us at Catskill. In town we’d noticed the local theater was showing Star Wars Episode 1. We all debated about risking standing in line to see it and decided to take a chance. Ten minutes before the showing we walked into a classic old time theater with seating for at least 300 people. We were 4 of maybe 20 people. As the curtain opened, we discovered we were looking at one of the smallest screens we’d ever seen in a theater. We all moved to the front row and enjoyed the show. On our way out we asked the theater owner about attendance. He indicated that he didn’t even sell out on opening night. So much for hype.

We began a leisurely trip up the Hudson River and Erie Canal. Three days later we stopped at Little Falls to explore the town and Moss Island, which is part of the lock at Little Falls. Moss Island has unique potholes on one side.

Steve, Linda, Ruth, Don at pothole on Moss Island

They are circular vertical cavities worn into the rock on the falls side of the island. Some of them were 50 feet deep. We spent the morning climbing around the rocks enjoying the uniqueness of the formations. On the canal side of the island we stopped to watch people learning rock climbing. We stood and watched six different groups of people engaged in working up the rock face or belaying back down when they ran our of strength, a route up, or courage.

Steve and Linda headed for home. We continued westward on the canal. It was Memorial Day, and we were going to stop just short of Sylvan Beach so we wouldn’t get caught in the boat traffic at this classic tourist summer town at the edge of Onieda Lake. However, the weather forecast for Tuesday indicated higher winds and waves so we decided to put up with the boat traffic and boat wakes to make the 20-mile crossing late in the afternoon.

Sylvan Beach was crowded with boats, but everyone in the canal was moving slowly and wakes were not a problem. Onieda Lake was windless but the water was confused from all the powerboat chop. Once clear of the harbor entrance things settled down and we headed down the center of the lake.

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