124 Solomons, MD to Jersey City, NJ and NYC

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A short dinghy ride took us to Short Circat a brand new Endeavour Trawlercat 36. John and Bobbie had just brought her up from Florida to her home in Solomons. We toured, marveling at the improvements that have been made and enjoyed their story about taking delivery (they never go as one expects) and the trip up the ICW. Most impressive was Bobbie’s work in making their canvas enclosure. It looks better than some of the professional work we’ve seen and has some innovations we’ll copy when our needs replacing.

Our defective alternator took one last shot at vexing us before getting back to normal. Zahniser’s completed our engine maintenance items in two days except for the alternator. It would be rebuilt in Baltimore and be back on Friday afternoon. For us it’s always fun to spend time in Solomons so we didn’t mind. Friday afternoon, Craig the service manager showed up. Our alternator was a no show. His call to the alternator shop revealed they’d lost track of it. He assured us arrangements had been made to have someone work that evening doing the rebuild and drive it down for a 9AM delivery. By 10AM we were on our way heading for Annapolis with oil leaks eliminated, valves adjusted and both alternators functioning normally.

Tim, Michelle and Cosmo showed up on Shell y T, and we had a terrific reunion party. Only Cosmo (rottweiler) didn’t show the effects of our reunion celebration the next day. We headed into Ego Alley to pick up Bill and Brute for a night aboard out on the mooring. It was fun learning they’d just had an offer at their asking price on their home. Now they looked at Odyssey with a whole new interest since they plan on retiring and buying a trawlercat in the fall. We helped them practice retirement by poking around Annapolis, having an ice cream and a lunch out in Eastport at a Davis Pub, a funky bar and grill.

Weeks earlier one e-mail broke our hearts. Roger, one of the boaters we’d communicated with for years and had met in Philadelphia died of colon cancer aboard Starbaby in Annapolis. His widow Nancy let us know. We learned more about his death and how Annapolis had taken Nancy and Roger into their hearts during the last few months of his life. We pitched in to help in a small way get Starbaby back to normal. A bit of hauling and fitting and we had the main saloon table, removed to make room for Roger’s bed, back in place.

The evening was charming; a small dinner party in one of Annapolis’s intriguing historic homes just up from Ego Alley. Delicious aromas filled the air making us reluctant to leave the kitchen for appetizers on the cozy patio. The patio is also the back yard and serves to separate the back wall of the kitchen from the back of the house on the next block. Our hosts, AC and Jim provided a perfect mix of good food, wine and dinner companions resulting in an enjoyable evening that too quickly drew to a close. We walked back with Nancy across Spa Creek Bridge, and then in what seems so appropriate to Annapolis, climbed into our dinghy to complete the last few hundred yards back to Odyssey.

 May Day Basket in Annapolis

May Day Basket in Annapolis

A dogwood branch in bloom, tulips and greens added a splash of spring color to Odyssey’s cockpit. Our fresh flowers came from the sale the Annapolis Garden Club was holding just prior to Annapolis’s May Day door basket celebration. We spent many hours May Day wandering town enjoying the profusion of baskets hanging on doors or proudly displayed on stair steps.

Saturday morning brought a Spa Creek traffic jam as the bridge started up for it’s 9AM opening. Slowly the sixteen sailboats circling as they waited for the opening sorted themselves out and threaded their way through heading for the first Saturday racing of the season. A half hour later the scene repeated as more boats headed out. For us it was a treat to see a fleet of Cal 25’s heading out to race. Our second sailboat was a Cal 25 and many happy memories came flooding back as we watched them leave.

Eagle watching us at Reed Creek

Eagle watching us at Reed Creek

A misplaced red mark on the chart gave us a bit of concern as we threaded our way into Reed Creek. Except for a few widely scattered houses we had the creek to ourselves. As I walked forward to lower the anchor I looked up and discovered two eagles sitting on a branch in the tree directly in front of our anchorage. They sat patiently watching our maneuvering and probably gossiping about our technique and how the neighborhood was going down hill because of boaters. Once we were secure we headed for the camera, but the eagles flew off before we could get a picture. Evidently they didn’t think we were too bad. One returned later which gave us a chance at a telephoto shot.

We made a quick stop to say hello to Tom and Judee. They had just started to work on getting Cheshire Cat ready for sailing after sitting ashore for two years while they went RVing. Taking advantage of calm weather on Delaware Bay we headed for Cape May with just a short stop at Chesapeake City for breakfast.

“Those are Brants” said our waiter looking at our digital camera image. He then went on to comment about some of the hot birding sites and what he’d seen. Migrating birds concentrate at Cape May resting up before or after their Delaware Bay crossing and it seemed everyone was into birding. Having The World Series of Birding coming to town raised everyone’s interest. Linda and Steve had driven down for the weekend. A bit more advanced than us, they were taking us birding. We quickly learned we were all rank amateurs compared to the serious birders who helped us.

It seemed so innocent. We stopped at the Audubon Center to check out what was available about birds in the area. Linda and Steve started talking with a birder/salesman about spotting scopes they’d been considering. Soon they were the owners of an awesome zoom spotting scope and tripod. Impressed with the salesman’s knowledge and frankness we started comparison viewing quality binoculars and made a purchase.

Yellow Throated Wabler one of our 14 birds

Yellow Throated Wabler one of our 14 birds

With all our new optics it was a bit embarrassing to discover we’d spent almost a half hour identifying a herring gull. Things improved as we wandered marshy woods adding birds we’d never seen before to our life lists. We felt quite proud of compiling a weekend total of 14 different birds. A team with 214 sightings won the 24-hour World Series competition.

Steve and Linda headed home. We took on fuel and headed into the Atlantic with a plan to be anchored in Atlantic City before forecasted nasty afternoon thunderstorms developed. We expected the swell from the south. Swells rolling in from the east were a surprise and made for confused seas and tough steering as competing waves pushed Odyssey in different directions. In an instant the world vanished as fog suddenly formed around us. Visibility closed into a tight circle of maybe 100 feet and then shrank even further. The water in front of the bow disappeared, and we could just barely see the forward lifeline as we continued along. Steering to anticipate waves was impossible so we let the auto helm take over and run our preplanned route as we studied the radar. Sea buoys and boats show up as black blips on radar. Tracking our relative movements to the blips, we altered course as needed to leave at least a quarter mile clearance.

Visibility improved to maybe 50 feet at our turning point for entering the Atlantic City jetty. Edging over the break wall, visible on radar, finally came into view. A few hundred yards further and we broke through the fog with the harbor spread out before us. We tucked into a snug anchorage just off the main harbor to snuggle in, read the Sunday New York Times and waited for the forecasted thunderstorms to arrive. They never came.

A huge radar target in the Ambrose Channel leading into New York City loomed ahead. We’d carefully plotted our route from Atlantic City to run offshore and then along the edge of the channel, but seeing such a large target close ahead was a bit worrisome. Much to our relief the fog thinned to let us visually watch a very large container ship head out to sea. We continued happily along our way heading for a week’s stay at marina in Jersey City, NJ with easy access to New York City.

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