Jekyll Island, GA to Smith Creek, MD

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The mirror smooth surface of the Chesapeake undulated slightly but was unblemished by wind ripples as it stretched out ahead and disappeared into the haze miles ahead.  For many hours not a ship was in sight and VHF 16 was silent. We loved it, but at the same time it felt a bit spooky.  We had never before experienced the bay like this.  Coming up the ICW we knew we wouldn’t see many boats since March is a bit early for most cruisers, but on the Chesapeake we expect to see watermen, fishermen, an occasional cruiser and many freighters and chatter on the VHF.  Not this time; we had Chesapeake Bay to ourselves for most of the trip.  Even on the ICW few cruisers were moving.  For the first time ever we saw more tows than cruisers on the ICW.

A check of NOAA weather prompted a rethink of our plans.   Our short day’s run day and anchoring at just north of Windmill Point off the bay in Indian Creek was scrapped because high winds on the nose the next couple of days would make a bumpy ride to the Potomac River.  A few minutes work had the autopilot steering for Smith Point and then six miles up the Potomac to Smith Creek on the MD side.  With our navigation complete we went back to our routine of one person maintaining watch while the off watch mate reads aloud; “Guns, Germs, and Steel” has our attention at the moment.

On the second try the anchor held and we settled in to enjoy late afternoon and evening.  As evening fell we stayed in the cockpit enjoying the moon and stars watching Odyssey drift a bit on still mirror smooth waters.  Under throws to hold back the evening cool we reminisced about the fun we had on our just completed ICW and lower Chesapeake trip north.  We’d covered 723 miles, in 25 days, spent 10 days at anchor and found many new places to visit and anchor.  We even collected a new Bar Story when we tested our skills to their limits.

Here are some of the little things that made our trip north unique and enjoyable:

  • Our first anchorage after being tied to a dock for so long.  We were in Red Bird Creek and sat and enjoyed the views out over the marsh as it disappeared as the tide went out and muddy creek banks appeared.
  • Tying up at Factors Wharf in the heart of Savannah, exploring town and watching all the ship traffic on the Savannah River.
  • Anchoring off of Beaufort, SC and using the dinghy to go ashore.  We stayed a couple of days, rode our bikes to Port Royal sound, over the bridge and back over the Lady’s Island Bridge an elevem mile effort  Evening at anchor was magical watching dark creep in revealing the lights of town sparkling out over the water.
  • Trying a Skipper Bob listed anchorage on  Brickhill River finding it a bomb and finding a much better unlisted anchorage just a bit further north.
  • A side trip down to Edisto Beach and having the island almost to ourselves.  Walking an empty beach, Biking to check out the campground and great food at Seacow and Whaley’s Restaurant.
  • Exploring Charleston, finding a couple of great non tourist places to eat and getting Ruth’s bike repaired.
  • Threading our way into the Cow House anchorage on the Waccamaw and enjoying the change from marsh vistas to being tucked into a Cyprus forest surrounded anchorage.
  • Meeting up with Frank and Diane on Kama Cat and swapping stories about our trips out the St Lawrence.
  • Discovering a unique street with an impressive collection of architecturally distinct homes a short distance from the Bridge Tender Marina near the Wrightsville Beach Bridge.
  • Riding out two days of bad weather at a marina at Surf City and exploring town a bit between showers and finding it to our liking.  Watching the fish market proprietor carve a filet off a Red Drum and provide a pound of fresh caught shrimp.  Both were outstanding eating
  • Watching three tugs help a huge Marine transport ship leave from its wharf directly behind us at Morehead City as we rocked and rolled in the tugs prop wash.
  • Meeting Rick and Betsy and exchanging boat tours and information.  They have just purchased a sister ship to Odyssey.
  • Testing all our skills in recovering from dragging in the middle of the night.  See Dragged a Mile.
  • Stopping at Hampton, once one of our regular stopping spots, and trying to figure out why we no longer found it interesting.

We talked on about the feeling of adventure we’d felt and agreed we’d go south on Odyssey in the fall.

We stayed at Smith Creek the next day, checking out Point Lookout Marina by dinghy and staying for dinner at Spinnakers Restaurant.  By bundling up a bit we could comfortably stay in the cockpit watching the full moon rise.  Morning brought favorable wind from the south and we headed up the Potomac for a month stay in Washington DC.

See:  Another View:  Jekyll Island, GA to Smith Creek, MD to see some of the images that inspired the words for this post.

Our blog Noticed Along the Path has our shore experiences.  The first Washington, DC entry is A Bit of Snow in DC.

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