109 Chesapeake Cruising


Our trail of stirred up mud confirmed Dee and Roger’s caution about unusually low water because of wind. We oozed alongside their dock and handed off our lines to our welcoming hosts. From their porch spring-fresh leaves added a thin veil of green and sun-splashed shadows to the view of the creek below. We snuggled in, catching up on our mutual trips north since meeting in Palatka, FL. A morning walk in the quiet surroundings was wonderful. Driving around the rolling rural Northern Neck area of Virginia with everything blooming in its springtime finest added to our enjoyment of this unique area. Reluctantly we started down Mill Creek just before the falling tide would have held us in place.

Mill Creek opens into the Yeocomico River, which flows into the Potomac River. We continued on across and into Smith Creek a total run of only 15 miles. There for the first time in over a month we anchored. In the calm quiet of the anchorage our sunshade project got started. Ruth sewed material Linda and Dean had delivered during their visit in Jacksonville. I installed track we found in Deale during a road trip with Judy and Laurent from Washington. Now when needed it the shade slips into its track and hangs neatly blocking the sun. We celebrated with a dinghy ride to shore and a wonderful dinner at Spinnakers, a unique restaurant we’d found on earlier trips.

One hundred yards short of the fuel dock both engines stopped. We were out of diesel. Laughing about my calculations I launched the dinghy and pushed Odyssey the last few yards to the dock. I’d figured we’d have 25 gallons of fuel in the tank when we reached the dock. Sticking the tank indicated 30 gallons remained inaccessible because the fuel pickups are above the tank bottom. We’d taken advantage of perfect conditions to run the test knowing we might run out. Now we accurately know our actual tank capacity. Much to our pleasure, Odyssey restarted immediately without needing to bleed air from fuel lines.

We learned the Tiki Bar in Solomons was having their annual spring reopening party. For a tiny bar with room for maybe 50 people, 8-10,000 show up and downtown Solomons turns into a giant block party as the surrounding bars and restaurants join in on the fun. We found a railing spot on a second floor bar deck and settled in for serious people watching. It was a fun scene, but being prudent, we started back early. We kept being sidetracked and got really slowed down as we talked with a group of Hispanic and then black men who bought us drinks. Ended up taking almost three hours to make the 15-minute walk back to Odyssey.

The mooring field north of Spa Creek Bridge in Annapolis was empty as we arrived early for the Volvo Ocean Race festivities. Preparation for the eight racing boats and accompanying flotilla started at the beginning of the week. Pile driving and installation of floating docks provided entertainment as we dinghied ashore. Tents were going up. Small display tents were typical for a festival. We stopped to watch one huge tent slowly being raised and marveled at the transformation of open space into a huge carpeted room. The tent became a Volvo showroom displaying a fleet of cars accompanying the around-the-world race.

Volvo Ocean Race leader heading for Annapolis

Volvo Ocean Race leader heading for Annapolis

With each spring high tide, the Annapolis harbormaster sets a “High Water” sign in a corner of the Ego Alley parking lot. The rising tide as if attracted to the sign floods the corner, and everyone diverts around the puddle in this water-oriented town. Hours later the tide recedes and the harbormaster stores the sign until the next spring tide.

The race flotilla came down from Baltimore. We motored out by dinghy and became part of the welcoming fleet. It was a kick watching each 60-foot racing machine glide by. Unfortunately there was no wind, and everyone was motoring. The specially built floating docks for the fleet were off limits for the spectators, but the view of the dock area from the dinghy was suburb. We sat in as Gary Jobson, ESPN’s sailing commentator and a local Annapolis resident hosted the welcoming ceremony and a skipper’s meeting the next morning. It was a kick to be part of an event we’d only read about in previous years. Race fleet in Annapolis

As we wandered around the festival a woman worked her way through the crowd riding a Segway. She’d stop and casually talk with people, never dismounting, just moving a bit, like shuffling feet, or turning herself and machine to talk with the next person. It will be interesting to see the impact of this two-wheeled piece of technology when the general public starts riding them.

The racers restarted on Sunday. Late Monday morning as we headed out the floating docks were already gone and crews were at work pulling pilings. 20-knot winds prevailed for a short hop up to Deep Creek on the Magothy River.

E-mail correspondence finally led to a meeting. Now after a leisurely lunch we headed over to see Barry’s just relocated sailboat. It was easier to ride the tailgate than attempt to squeeze into Barry’s stuff-filled pickup truck. We were surprised and Barry was shocked to see Bluebird hard aground and leaning against her mooring lines. He’d been told he might touch at low tide, but this was hard aground. Using our dinghy Barry and I sounded the marina to see if there were deeper alternative locations. As we left, he was working out details for being a high tide sailor.

The chart showed a tiny cove, but no depths way inside Worton Creek. We sounded by dinghy and figured we’d have just enough depth to stay afloat at low tide. Seeking better protection from forecasted storms and high winds, we up anchored and slowly worked our way into the cove and the shelter of the trees. Brisk wind swayed treetops and created a dull background roar as the storm arrived. By the time the wind reached us in our snug anchorage it barely rippled the water.

Morning brought barn swallows chirping on the lifelines. One pair moved to the grill platform. The female kept looking at the grill cover opening. Suddenly, much to our surprise, she hopped up and inside. She was checking out our grill cover as a potential nest site. She came out and the male hopped in to look around. Both birds chattered a bit on the lifelines and then took off probably to look for nesting material. Ruth figured they were heading for Lowes. We’ll never know because it was time for us to move also.

Musical groups scattered around Harve de Grace’s business district entertained for the town’s Musical Mile festival. We wandered from group to group enjoying the variety and uniqueness of the presentation and setting.

Early Sunday morning we made the short run to Chesapeake City and found a spot on their free dock for the day and evening. The local café proved to still serve outstanding crab omelets. Once back, we carefully attached lines and warped Odyssey around 180 degrees so we could watch traffic on the C&D Canal. Barge traffic on the canal and a steady stream of boats in and out of the waterfront restaurant next door provided our afternoon’s entertainment on a perfect spring day.


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