145 Macedon, NY to Washington, DC

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An hour after starting south a loud clunk confirmed a prop had found the deadhead we never saw. For the rest of the day we played: Is there more vibration? Finally we stopped, and I dove to check the props. A tiny nick on the prop didn’t seem like it could be the vibration source, but to be sure, we felt we should have them look at. The next day Odyssey was out of the water and both props were off to be brought back to specification and a new cutlass bearing was on order.

A lemon event became lemonade when we added a rental car to the mix. For the first time in years we did a double feature seeing ‘An Inconvenient Truth’ and ‘Word Play’ back to back. A day at the New York State Fair enjoying the unique mix of exhibits was a ball. Odyssey went back into the water and was vibration free as we headed across Oneida Lake from Brewerton.

A tilted flagpole, a building pushed off its foundation, and large patches of newly seeded ground provided just a hint of the summer flood. In minutes floodwaters rushed by eight feet above the lock top and wiped out the adjacent dam. This was the lock where the badly damaged trawler we had seen at the marina had sunk. The owners escaped by being rescued by firemen on jet skies. Their trawler, sporting a huge rubber mat patch over the hole to permit refloating had been declared a total loss.

A flood of memories rushed in as we caught a brief look at the Day Peckinpaugh resting in a Canal Authority work harbor. Our prior meetings were always happy times in Oswego. We’d be tied up on the canal wall after sailing from Sodus. The old canal cement carrier would show up out of the canal, and we’d drink a toast to her as we relaxed aboard Tranquility and watch as she’d tie up to take on cement for delivery to canal towns. Now she rests quietly waiting conversion to a museum ship.

We fell back into our old comfortable cruising feeling in Waterford as we waited with other boaters for a few rainy days to pass. Among the many boats was Winnie the Pooh who we last saw when we rafted off her a few years earlier at the Shrimp Box. Soon we were in that comfortable boater mode of exchanging stories of experiences and making new friends as conversations ebbed and flowed with boater movement along the docks.

Waterford is the junction point where Erie and Champlain Canals meet the Hudson River. For a few enjoyable hours it was also a junction point with Texas RVers. We’d first met Bert and Grace Rving in Texas and have met a number of times at Fort Davis State Park—their winter RV home. This time they drove down from their house in Fort Edward, and we spent a pleasant evening together.

The outgoing tide stayed with us all the way down the Hudson River giving us a speed boost. NOAA’s forecast indicated our weather window was closing, and we might have a lumpy ride in the Atlantic along the NJ coast. NYC marinas we wanted to stop at were full so we decided to poke out and see what the Atlantic looked like. NOAA’s timing was off and the wind hadn’t come up yet so we had a smooth ride to Manasquan. Just at dusk, the wind switched on and rapidly rose to 20-30 mph. By then; however, we were anchored along the NJ ICW south of Manasquan.

We had picked well for our anchorage. The anchor grabbed in what felt like clay and had tenacious hold. Marshland close by cut wind speed just above the water so only a light chop lapped around the hull. We slept comfortably through the night rocking gently, listening to wind and water singing around the hull. Barn swallows chatting on our lifelines greeted us in the morning.

Atlantic City again surprised us. On our first inside transit in 2000 the ICW threaded its way through modest backyards where houses ignore the waterway. Six years later things had changed. Now balconies jutting from new condos and homes crowd the water’s edge. The ICW is going upscale in Atlantic City.

The anchorage we found just short of Cape May changed character just after dark on a moonless night. We’d anchored just before high tide at dusk with 6 feet of water under the hull—a comfortable cushion for the 3 foot tide. Now in the dark an hour later still on a rising tide we only had 3 feet under the hull. The current had swung us over a shoal we hadn’t discovered when we circled checking the area. Instead of rushing to relocate we took some time to enjoy our evening glass of wine and discuss an alternate plan of action, which was to do nothing. Our reasoning proved correct. We shifted direction as the tide changed and were back in deep water. In the middle of the night when the tide again swung us toward the shoal area the incoming water ran faster in the deeper water and held us away from the shoal. Early in the morning we were again floating in 6 feet.

The view forward changed from visual to electronic (radar, GPS and electronic charts) as nature quickly changed the light fog we’d had just before exiting the C&D Canal into a thick gray soup. Debris in the water we’d been dodging disappeared from all eyes. The anchor went down, and we enjoyed our morning coffee and tea in the quiet of the fog waiting for it to lift.

Ego Alley, a narrow spit of water, juts into the heart of downtown Annapolis. The alley draws a unique mix of mega yachts and more ordinary boats who work their way into Ego Alley to tie up and be admired by downtown strollers. We picked up a mooring just outside the alley, kicked back and watched boats go by, a favorite pastime of cruisers. A few moorings away on Seagull, Dean and Linda were as busy as we were watching the passing scene. A short dinghy ride made for easy commuting, and we got together frequently to swap notes about our adventures.

Shifting and rising winds made for a bumpy night. Early the next morning we ducked under the Spa Creek Bridge and picked up a mooring out of the wind and waves. The view wasn’t as great and the dinghy commute was a bit longer but it was considerably more comfortable.

Days later we relocated to yet another mooring in Back Creek. Now a short dinghy ride to a park with convenient car parking made it easy to meet up with Ralph and Stef . We spent the day swapping RV and boat stories, and meeting their friend Tony who had provided his newly built driveway RV pad for them to enjoy.

An approaching front prompted us to leave a day early to ride building following seas down the Chesapeake. The north end of Solomons harbor was already filled with cruisers hunkering down to wait out the front. We worked our way into a snug spot between the anchored boats and shore and set our anchor. For the next few days cruisers arriving and leaving and poking around in their dingies provided entertainment. Ashore we walked town for exercise after visiting restaurants that have become favorites over the years.

Jim Franklin worked his magic on Odyssey’s engines while we exchanged notes on our mutual experiences since our last meeting. His skills brought our engines back in top-notch shape.

Just after rounding Point Lookout sparkles of sun-brightened spray turned our windshield view into a bright impressionistic rendering of a whitecap-covered Potomac River under a cloud flecked blue sky. Hands tighten on the wheel, not for steering control, but for support as Odyssey began bumping her way into confused seas. Feet wedged against the bulkhead helped hold us into the pilot seats as we braced for a rough ride. From below, odd clatters mixed in with the sounds of the hull-hitting waves provided an audible clue that we were paying a price for not having prepared for rough weather. We passed taking immediate refuge in Smith Creek just to starboard and continued on up the Potomac considering alternatives.

Many times we’d discussed exploring Cobb Island and then passed by because the timing never seemed right and the island didn’t sound that interesting. Now as we bumped along getting our bones rattled Cobb Island sounded like a great place to visit. Ashore the quiet of the island chased the wind up into the treetops where it protested by rustling leaves. A pleasant variety of homes lined the shady street ringing the island. Walking provided ample time to enjoy each home before the next one grabbed our attention. We quickly realized we’d found a spot special to us because it was so tranquil and peaceful. There were no sidewalks and nonexistent traffic made it easy to use the road as our sidewalk as we walked along having a great time seeing views all new to us.

A combination grocery store/ice cream shop/pizza shop/dock office stands at the end of the dock and met our needs with all of the boater essentials. We chatted with the staff and learned we could stay for about $25/day, $100/wk or $200/mo because the store was just getting the dock going.

The island pulled at us and we stayed a second day to enjoy its quiet charm a bit longer. It’s a place we’ll visit again.

Going under the new Woodrow Wilson Bascule Bridge the rural wooded pastoral shoreline of the Potomac changes to the metropolitan suburb of the Washington, DC area. We were back in the city well before we reach the dock.

Just to the north a bridge carries US 1 while to the south a second bridge carries I395 literally over the Washington Marina transit dock. The two bridges bathe the marina in constant traffic noise. Fortunately the marina had a slip for us away from the transit dock where the noise was a bit less. It helped that Brave Heart, a 90 foot mega yacht, was tied off across our bow and acted as a bit of a sound barrier. We quickly got accustomed to the road noise and didn’t really notice it. At 60 slips Washington Marina is considerably smaller than the 330 slip Gangplank Marina, our normal Washington stopping spot, which was full.
Odyssey

Activity picked up on Brave Heart. The crew turned her around stern-to making it very convenient to step aboard her teak waterside deck. A caterer and florist showed up. A reception table manned by a very professional looking lady equipped with cell phone, guest list, and guest book to sign acted as the final security checker before providing a fancy name tag and allowing the guest to board. A photographer discretely circulated. Brave Heart’s engines and generators had been quietly running since before guests began arriving. Now with all the key players aboard Brave Heart ghosted out of her slip to cruise Washington Channel. The next day we learned from Brave Heart’s crew that a congressman had been aboard and now with their Washington social obligations complete Brave Heart was heading south.

It was a kick witnessing power entertainment up close. Brave Heart told us their slip would not be empty for long since a 130’ Feadship yacht was coming in. We wondered what type of entertainment they’d arrange for us to watch.

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