102 Solomons, MD to Washington, D.C.

by

Conversation with Rita and Jim drifted away as a sailboat coming down the adjoining fairway captured our attention. Docking in the high winds was going to be difficult. Jim and I started over to help as the boat turned to enter its slip. Wind overruled the captain’s steering decisions and its anchor wiped out a stanchion on the upwind boat before tangling in the lifeline. Jim and I arrived on a dead run and worked silently and quickly to get the unlucky sailors free and secured in their slip. We quickly left the scene as ‘thank you’ caught up with us from the embarrassed couple aboard the sailboat. The brief event made for yet another memorable meeting with Rita and Jim as we again enjoyed meeting up at a unique location. This year they traveled first class in their newly acquired RV. We all tucked in and rode out the storm with just the sound of rain on the roof as the front moved through.

Our third Trawler Fest became a reunion of friends. Linda and Dean; soon to have a new Trawlercat, showed up. During the show they decided to move up to the new 44 Trawlercat. We said hello to the Endeavour crew, Bob, Alice, Rob, and John. It was fun to see Kristin and Bob off Sea Change, but we were frustrated because time was too short too much spend time together.

Seminars filled morning hours. We tried Clairborne Young’s seminar talking about going down the ICW. Now experienced ICW runners it was fun to see if he talked about the right things. He did and we chuckled as we surveyed the packed room watching note takers trying to keep up with his rapid delivery. In some cases he was a bit too dramatic, perhaps his way to encourage book sales. Technology evolution showed up at the seminars. Last year presenters used overhead projectors. Now most had switched to digital projectors connected to their laptops to show their images.

We opened Odyssey up in the afternoon during Trawler Crawl for interested people to come aboard and look around. Our ever-expanding circle of friends got even bigger as readers of our web site showed up and introduced themselves. It was flattering to know our journal is influencing some readers to take that extra step and realize their dream. Our open boat evolved into a party that carried over into the evening as many participants gathered in the huge dinning tent. The food prepared in an adjoining tent was good and wine and beer flowed freely making for a fun, but noisy party each evening.

Trawler Fest ended on Saturday. NOAA predicted high winds and rain until Tuesday. The gloomy weather forecast made it tempting to stay at the dock for a few more days. However, a week of partying and people interaction strained our limits, and we longed to be off by ourselves. We slipped our lines and headed up the Patuxent River to St Leonard Creek. It wasn’t difficult to spot anchorages described in our cruising guide. In each one there were one or more boats. There was still plenty of room to anchor, but we were looking for something secluded and snug in which to wait out the weather.

A tiny-unnamed cove shows on our chart but was not listed in our cruising guide. We were curious. Running at dead slow we probed its narrow entrance watching the indicated depth under our bottom thin to about a foot. A punch of the reset button shut off the annoying shallow water alarm, and we continued forward into the tiny opening. Depth climbed to three feet and we were inside. A small dock and ramshackle boat shed were the only hints that a house might be hidden somewhere in the trees. The remainder of the cove, just wide enough to let us swing at anchor, was an undisturbed natural mix of marsh and trees-we’d found our spot.

The anchor line pull against my hand didn’t increase; a warning we were trying to catch a hold in a soft silt- covered bottom. We tried a number of times, but on each attempt the anchor pulled through the silt. Such a picturesque place and being able to anchor was disappointing. It was time to consider a potentially risky alternative. Out on Chesapeake Bay the wind was blowing 25kt. Here in the cove, occasional breezes rippled the water and as we sat and watched, it was evident that just the weight of the chain held us in place. When we did see a gust the anchor chain began to straighten out but put minimal strain on the anchor. The soft shoreline would give us a gentle landing if we dragged. It was barely 8AM so we had the entire day to see what happened. We decided to stay. For two days we enjoyed the solitude of our anchorage listening to the wind blowing over the treetops while we swung quietly on the anchor.

We were catching a sister ship as we approached the Potomac River. A VHF call confirmed it was Ray and Linda on Heaven on Earth. They had remained anchored at Solomons while waiting for the front to pass and were now heading south. We headed up the Potomac River anchoring in one of the arms of Herring Bay. The warm sunny day prompted us to try our latest acquisition. We set up our barbershop on the rear deck, and Ruth gave me my requested buzz cut with our new clippers. Now I no longer have to carry a comb.

We spent an afternoon trying to get into Occoquan. There wasn’t anyplace to anchor near town. After some difficulty we found a slip at a marina 3 miles away. The marina office didn’t recommend walking. We tried and turned back when we found we’d walk a multilane highway with no sidewalks. A try by dinghy was greeted with high fenced off embankments. There was one dock with a large sign indicating we could tie up for $7.00/hour. However a locked dock gate and no one around again kept us out of town. With that we gave up. Our cruising guide devotes a page talking about Occoquan’s charms. We’ve sent the editors a letter describing our experience and recommend they reconsider talking about this as a place for cruising boats to visit.

At first we thought the large Coast Guard cutter was anchored, but as we drew closer we realized they were using thrusters to hold station just outside Washington, D.C. They hailed us on the VHF, and we answered their questions about boat name and hailing port, people on board, and our destination. They wished us well and told us we could proceed past their security checkpoint. A few minutes later we were tied up at Gangplank Marina for a planned month’s stay to again enjoy Washington, D.C.

Curious about tourist crowds, we headed for the Mall and Smithsonian Castle to gauge for ourselves the impact of the terror attacks on tourism. During our visit a year earlier people jammed the wide sidewalks. Not this day. So few people were on the sidewalks that we had the feeling that everything was closed. However, it was early afternoon on a perfect fall day and everything was open. Our emotions were mixed. We were saddened to see the short-term success of the terrorist attacks on people’s comfort for being a tourist but at the same time we realized it would be easier to visit the museums and other attractions with so few people around.

Each morning the Newseum staff pins up the current day’s front pages from 70 newspapers. Each is enlarged 30% for easy reading. Walking the exhibit comparing how papers from around the world handled the breaking story of the bombing of Afghanistan was fascinating. The remainder of the Newseum holds changing exhibits covering the complete spectrum of news reporting. Many of the exhibits covered significant stories from our youth, and it was interesting to see them again with now a historical perspective.

Washington is an easy place to live without a car. We’ve figured out the Metro system and take full advantage of its quick, quiet service to explore well beyond the capitol area. A morning ride to Alexandria put us within walking distance of West Marine and needed boat supplies. Then one of those fun impulse moments happened, and we ended up carrying not only boat parts back on the Metro but a new oriental rug for the main saloon.

The combination of a weekend car rental deal and forecast for prefect fall days was too good to pass. Friday found us driving through Pennsylvania enjoying peak fall colors on a clear sunny day. Debbie, Jeff and Danielle made us feel very comfortable as we settled in for the evening. Cindy and Mike were totally surprised as we pulled in to see the progress on their new house on Saturday. The building inspector showed while we were there and gave them occupancy approval once the well water test was complete. Late Sunday we were again back in Washington after our whirlwind visit.

Teddy Roosevelt looks out over his quiet reflecting pool and interesting fountains tucked deep in the woods of Roosevelt Island. Difficult to reach by car, and then a bit of a walk over a foot bridge and into the woods keeps this jewel hidden from most visitors. We walked the woodland paths, feet shuffling in fallen leaves enjoying our quiet escape from the confines of the city.

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