135 Crisfield, MD to Newark, NY

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A very slow fuel pump made for a long encounter with the chatty dockmaster. The combination provided us with quite a bit of information about Crisfield. She went on at great length about rising house prices and high-end condos being built in areas she described as flooding with each major storm. As we poked around town we could see the rapid transformation from a waterman’s town to a more complex mix as people move in to enjoy a charm that will disappear just because they are moving in.

Tucked into a remote corner of Chesapeake’s eastern shore is the Nanticoke River, described as one of the only wild rivers feeding Chesapeake Bay. Wild river seems like a bit of a stretch since it’s buoyed for almost its entire length. The low-lying shore, however, is mainly uninhabited. We loved having the river to ourselves as we headed upstream, enjoying marshy shoreline alternating with woody areas. A small sign in the water announced we’d crossed the state line between Maryland and Delaware. We continued upstream until we ran out of water at Seaford, DL and tied to the town’s free dock to explore a bit.

The biker stood admiring Odyssey. We’d seen him cruising Seaford a bit earlier as we poked around town. As we approached he introduced himself as Dan Short, Mayor of Seaford. We chatted, learning a bit of town history from the congenial mayor. He helped us find all of Seaford’s critical (to us) assets–a place to buy ice cream and a Sunday newspaper.

 Main Street in Bethel

Main Street in Bethel

Broad Creek’s diminishing width began to look like we’d barely be able to turn Odyssey when we finally decided we better stop. Careful throttle and gear shift work turned Odyssey in its own length with scant feet to spare. We glided downstream and felt our way into Bethel’s town dock, a tiny affair with a high railing. We scrambled over and walked into a small Victorian village. It had shady quiet streets with comfortable, well- maintained homes. Main St. had a small, old time, full service market complete with a gas pump. That was the only retail business. The owner recognized we were new in town and welcomed us as he custom cut ham slices for us at the deli counter.

A wide spot in Broad Creek gave us room to anchor and enjoy our Sunday paper while watching a few fishermen drift by. A few checks during the night confirmed we were holding as thunderstorms rolled through and winds across the deck reached 25 knots. Rain and gray skies convinced us to stay and have a leisurely breakfast. Ruth was just bringing up pancakes and warm maple syrup when we noticed we seemed a bit close to the lily pads, something to check out after those great smelling pancakes.

 Odyssey aground

Odyssey aground

We would have been too late even if we’d reacted before eating the pancakes. We were aground in the mud on a very rapidly falling tide. Pushing with the dinghy did nothing, and when we tried to winch ourselves off with the anchor we found it dragged easily. By the time we had reset the anchor Odyssey’s stern was sitting on the exposed mud. We sat back, relaxed and checked tide tables. It would be 3PM before we pulled ourselves clear, checked for mud in the engine intakes, and headed for our next anchorage on Marshyhope Creek.

We dropped a freshly printed owner’s manual off at the post office and inquired about someplace to find breakfast in the tiny town of Vienna. Even before we got to Millie’s Roadhouse Bar and Grill we knew it had to be a townie place. It was off on a very local side street. Inside we could hear conversation coming from the bar as someone ordered another morning beer. Our heavyweight waiter complete with ball cap and a two day growth of beard turned out to also be our cook, which was confusing since there already seemed to be another very large guy cooking in the exposed kitchen. It turned out the other cook was a volunteer who stops in on a regular basis to make soup or chili. It was an outstanding breakfast.

Segway riding

Segway riding

Just as we exited the Annapolis post office a man came cruising up on a Segway. We watched fascinated as he stepped off his two-wheeled wonder and went inside. He too discovered the main post office was closed on Saturday and returned quickly. We struck up conversation about his unique transportation mode. That led to a very short ride and a suggestion to come to the shop where we could learn to ride a Segway. A few days later we visited the shop and had a ball experiencing a ride where the electronics and gyros did the work of keeping you upright on two wheels. Lessons included going up and down curbs, grass, bumps and just getting comfortable with a machine that goes forward as you lean forward and stops when you lean back. We loved it and had a ball touring Annapolis with our instructor. Now that we are certified, we will rent again and go off exploring on our own. Ruth felt it would be the perfect land transportation for the boat. However, the $4,000 price tag and knowing we would never walk again convinced us it would be a bad idea.

Wind against the tide made for a very bumpy ride and almost convinced us to divert as we headed down Delaware Bay, but we stuck it out and tucked in at Cape May. The next day we anchored well inside Sandy Hook at Atlantic Highlands for the night so we could get an early start in the morning. Fog was forming as we headed up the bay for the Verrazano Bridge and New York harbor. Visibility dropped to less than a mile, which is a little unnerving in a busy port. By the time we reached the Statue of Liberty the fog lifted, and we threaded our way through the morning rush hour of commuter ferries with only choppy water from all their wakes. We pushed on to Norrie State Park well up the Hudson.

A rental car gave us access to Franklin Roosevelt’s home and presidential library. We spent the morning poking around in the fascinating museum that is part of the library. That afternoon we returned and toured the house and grounds. For lunch we went to the CIA (Culinary Institute of America) for our second visit. Great meals are like sunsets, impossible to describe, you have to be there and experience all the sensations. This time we sampled French cuisine and loved it.

Lock 7 on the Erie Canal has been our stopping point a number of times. We love the rural setting and enjoy walking the wooded canal trail between sessions of watching boats go by as we regroup from river and ICW running to canal drifting.

The walk had seemed like it had been uphill forever. The park was lovely, but provided not a hint as to where the waterfall mentioned in town might be. We decided to follow the gorge rim trail downhill since we were tired, and it was hot. Finally the sound began to give it away, and we finally found the waterfall at Canajoharie. A bit further on we found the potholes along the river edge the small sign in town had also mentioned and had been the cause for our expedition. Draft root beer at Perruzi’s Market was a welcome treat after our long hike. The market and the unique library/art gallery with it’s enjoyable collection of art seem to be sparking the town back to life.

As we watched from dockside the spring flotilla of PDQ power cats went by. PDQ builds boats all winter at Whitby on Lake Ontario and then moves boats heading south as a sea trial-cruise combination down the Erie Canal and Hudson River. The next day at Sylvan Beach we met we Gene on Folly a PDQ 34 that had traveled part way with the flotilla before starting his trip back toward Kingston, ONT. We spent an evening enjoying each other’s company and touring our respective boats. We shared a late lunch so about 9 PM a light dinner snack sounded good. We’d forgotten that Sylvan Beach is a classic old time summer town. In mid May most everything had closed for the evening on a Saturday night. The town wouldn’t come alive until Memorial Day.

Over dinner in Baldwinsville we shared Jim and Rita’s enthusiasm over Jim being in the final count down to retirement. They started serious counting just as we retired. Now they are down to months to go and are excited about being able to travel.

Rain had been persistent as we moved along the canal. We crept by docks almost awash at dead slow and kept our eye out for the deadly New York alligators the high waters had released. They’d show up on occasion drifting along cleverly disguised as logs or in some cases large sections of trees toppled by the high water into the canal. Occasionally along the shore tangled piles of tree branches collected by the canal crew had been dumped waiting disposal. Just as we reach Newark heavy rains hit, and the lockmaster informed us that the river sections of the canal behind us had been closed. For us it didn’t matter as we were where we wanted to be.

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