90 Reedy Island, DE to Chestertown, MD

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With a boost from a rising tide the 45 miles up to Philadelphia went quickly. Huge container ships, bulk carriers and tankers populated the industry-lined shore and the wide well-marked Delaware River channel adding interest to our passage. Along the New Jersey shore its namesake battleship, now a tourist attraction came into view. On the Pennsylvania side a set of peeling paint-faded stacks poked above pier buildings. We passed close by for a better look and found the ocean liner United States floating almost derelict, her future uncertain. We felt sad for the ship. A once proud icon from our youth is fading into history just as we will someday. Penn Landing came into view. Admiral Dewey’s flagship Olympia, a WWI gunboat is a visual reminder that some modern items, especially ships are built better now than in the past. Just beyond, we found the entrance to Pier 3 Marina and ran the narrow opening to tuck into a slip for our Philadelphia visit.

Unique reasons drew us to Philadelphia. The prime one was curiosity to finally meet Tom and Monika Clay. We’d met by e-mail when we first started writing magazine articles. Then Roger and Nancy on Star Baby also at Pier 3 joined our journal distribution list. Adding more pull to visit Philly were Jerry and Susan who we’d met at Fort Edward, NY this summer. Of course to keep things interesting Philadelphia just happens to be the cradle of the start of our country. With all that pull, we could hardly bypass.

Instead of being tourists and seeing all the historic spots, we did the unexpected. Ruth cleaned up Odyssey while I went off and helped Tom for a day get their newly purchased boat ready for its first splash. We spent the day working hard sanding the boat bottom and putting on a barrier coat of epoxy.

Weeks earlier in Whitehall, NY our dinner view overlooked a marina and a couple on a houseboat enjoying the simple fun of relaxing on the foredeck. The next day we helped them dock at Fort Edward, NY and struck up conservation. Enjoying Jerry and Susan’s company we said we’d look them up when we came to Philadelphia. Now our evening hosts took us to a tiny neighborhood Italian BYOB restaurant and we again enjoyed being together. The restaurant with great food and outstanding service was a delight.

A simple room, a few tables, chairs; one seemly misplaced sitting in the center aisle, conveyed an overwhelming sense of history. “This chair was used by Ben Franklin. He suffered from gout and found it more comfortable to sit at the table side.” our park guide explained as part of a fascinating narration about what took place in this historic room. The Declaration of Independence and Constitution were created here. Veterans of many historic site visits we were both surprised at how moved we were standing at the birthplace of our freedom.

The Ben Franklin Bridge puts on a light show every evening. We enjoyed the dancing lights sitting on Star Baby’s ‘patio’ the pier bulkhead for Pier 5 marina next to their sailboat–their home. We were guests of Roger and Nancy long-time e-mail friends who we finally got to meet in person. They admired our adventures, we admired their ability to live aboard while still both having fulltime careers; a trick we had not been able to accomplish. Shortly they will retire, free themselves from dock lock and become explorers like us.

History surrounds Independence Hall. The Liberty Bell was another stop that surprised us as our emotions reacted. Many other sites were just plain interesting. Franklin Court with just a reconstructed frame to show the shape of Franklin’s home and excavated views into the dirt below to give a glimpse of actual foundations of his long demolished home were intriguing. On the outside of the court, a print shop similar to his still operates.

Beyond pure history there was Society Hill a residential area combining both historic and new rowhomes in a pleasing mix to the eye. We took the U.S. Mint tour and watched coins being made. South Street was an interesting walk of unusual shops.

Jerry and Susan raved about Reading Terminal so we met them there for lunch. A wonderful confusion of shops mix together under one roof. Prime meats, fish, cheeses, spices, delis, Amish farmers selling produce, tiny places cooking famed Philly Cheesesteak, Mexican, Chinese and other great food made for a unique market. The mix of eye-catching sights, delicious aromas and noise was fascinating.

Tired from a day’s wandering we’d pick up one last feeling of history as we walked down Elfreths Alley, a one-carriage-wide street of historic rowhouses. For a brief block we walked back in the late 1700’s before reentering the modern world near the Ben Franklin Bridge and our marina home at Pier 3. Hidden from street view and noise by pier buildings, we’d pass through the security door and into a quiet marina surrounded on two sides by luxury condos.

Tom and Monika and their tiny baby Zoe capped off our wonderful visit to Philadelphia with a unique experience. We visited the neighborhood where they’d met and went to dinner in an authentic Ethiopian restaurant. Dining Ethiopian style where pieces of thin bread like pancake serve in the place of forks for picking up food we had a unique and enjoyable dining experience.

Resisting the temptation to stay longer with our new-found friends we headed down the Delaware River early one morning on a favorable outgoing tide. Our timing was perfect as we caught a favorable tide on the C&D Canal and rode its current boost all the way to Chesapeake City. Reedy IS to Philly to Chestertown map The spot on the free dock was tight: real tight, but Ruth managed to fit Odyssey’s 36′ into a spot only 37′ long. Lingering over a great lunch at a restaurant overlooking the canal and with marginal weather in the forecast, we decided to stay another day and explore town.

Early in the year we’d enjoyed Anita and Frank’s e-mails from Snow Goose as they explored Caribbean Islands. Knowing they had hauled out at Georgetown for a refit we headed up the Sassafras River to say hello. Anita had just left to visit her sister while Frank finished up on the bottom paint and other refit chores. We had him bring his charts, and after dinner we had a great evening talking about their trip and reviewing the route. It’s made us itchy to try the Caribbean one of these winters.

Passing a number of boats anchored near the Queenstown Creek entrance, we worked our way north further up the creek. Wooded shores crept closer and soon our view was just trees and water. We set the anchor in our own private sheltered cove and settled in to enjoy the afternoon and evening. Morning brought dew-covered decks and mirror smooth water as the sun struggled to burn off a light morning fog. This was a spot worth staying another day and we did. A dinghy ride took us into the tiny town of Queenstown. Sleepy streets made for great walking and allowed us to get some exercise. Later in the afternoon we exchanged waves with a waterman as he moved slowly by dragging a net behind. The putt-putt of his engine faded as he headed back out, and we were left with just the rustle of leaves in the afternoon breeze and birds chirping in the trees.

On the second morning we pulled the anchor and worked our way back to the narrow creek entrance. Ruth added Queenstown Creek to her list of best anchorages so far, and we headed up the Chester River to Chestertown.

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