Saturday, July 30, 2016

Where Have We Been for the Past Almost Two Weeks?

That is what I asked myself this afternoon as I have found it more difficult to remember just where we go each day.  Life on the Chesapeake has been more of a meander than a direct travel adventure.  The bay has so many interesting historic towns with countless rivers and creeks to explore so we just seem to take one short side trip after another.  We left Tangier Island and crossed the Chesapeake in a northerly direction to make our way to Solomons Island to find an inexpensive Marina with a pool for some cooling off time.
We passed this ghost of a ship, aground in fairly shallow water and used for target practice by the 
Navy.  We couldn't get close for a better picture because it is a restricted area.  But with binoculars we could see through the holes in the hull!  Kinda creepy!  After passing this ship, we crossed the boundary of Maryland, our 9th state.  We arrived to find our buddies on Greek's Folly at Calvert Marina, Solomons and later we were joined by our buddies on Short Vacation.  We gathered for a fun docktails time, inviting all the other transient boaters around us so had a very interesting  evening meeting new friends.
Storms moving through the area brought on a beautiful sunset our second night at Calverts.
After two decadent days enjoying the pool, we moved one creek over to anchor in Mill Creek and were treated to another beautiful calm night, glorious sunset with high heat.  A shout out to my Captain Al who thought ahead many months ago and had a new extraordinary battery bank installed with two new inverters so we can turn battery power into electricity to run our air conditioner in our stateroom all night long without having to turn on the noisy generator.  So even with high heat, we sleep peacefully with the windows shut and the air con flowing!
On July 20 we crossed the Chesapeake to the east side to explore the area around the Little Choptank River and found this lovely anchorage at Mckeil Point, where we could take the dingy ashore on Church Creek to find Old Trinity Church. The church was built around 1690 and has been an active Anglican Church for over 300 years. 
The first afternoon we went ashore and found the church locked so just explored the grave yard and then walked to a crab processing factory where we could buy fresh picked and steamed crabmeat. 

We returned the next morning on July 21 (Al's birthday) and found the preacher in his office and were treated to a wonderful personal tour and history lesson about the church. It has been restored to it's 1690's layout with boxes around the pews and windows with wooden crosses imbedded.

This grave is marked with mill stones hundreds of years old.

This grave is honored with a flag and marker signifying that the deceased fought in the War of 1812.  This was an awesome peek into the history that formed our nation.  After our tour, we traveled on to an anchorage near the town of Oxford called Flatty Cove on the Tred Avon River where we spent Al's birthday eating freshly made (by me) crab cakes.  Passing by Oxford, we had to negotiate around a bunch of kids practicing their sailing skills near the Yacht Club.
We were very happy to join our long lost travel buddies on Sandrobber when we moved over to Brewer Oxford Marina on Friday July 22. The Marina had a wonderful pool that again gave us the comfort of a cooling swim. We had Al's birthday dinner one night and docktails the second night with Sandy and Rob giving us time to catch up on the past 4 months of not boating together.  Our plan is to meet up again a bit further north in the Bay. 
Al and I explored the quaint town during our walks and enjoyed more crab cakes and crab soup at the Robert Morris Inn (location where Mitchner began writing his book "Chesapeake").  But much to my chagrin, I could not find any place for a simple hair cut and have not had a cut since Charleston!! So our next place to visit has to be Cambridge where I could find a salon.  But since they all close on Sunday and Monday, we found an anchorage for those two nights on La Trappe Creek.
The sunset was lovely but the gathering clouds meant a summer storm was on its way.  While I slept blissfully, Al awoke to find we had dragged the anchor in the high winds and were dangerously close to shore.  He upanchored, moved the boat, dropped the anchor again and waited hours watching his Garmin as the storm cells passed through. I appreciate his attention to details!! 

If you haven't figured it out, this is the Garmin weather radar view that let the Captain know what was coming our way!  Despite the storms, the high heat persisted but we also persisted with our daily walks, so while in La Trappe Creek, we took the dingy to shore to explore a boat yard known for it work on Grand Banks.  We had an interesting visit with the owner who is well known in the world of Grand Banks owners as someone who knows the boats well. Then after a second night with storm and anchor issues we headed into Cambridge on Tuesday July 26.  And yes, I got another wonderful, inexpensive hair cut in a town that has free dockage along the town wall.  We soo enjoyed the County building that had great wifi and air conditioning with very nice public bathrooms!  I used their lobby to make a few phone calls and catch up on Internet stuff. 
Cleaned up with neat hair, ready for a dinner at a nearby restaurant, doesn't take much to make a girl happy!!

Our view of another crab processing facility where we bought more fresh crabmeat to enjoy! 
We left Cambridge after walking the waterfront area, finding homes we noted we could live in and enjoy, to head to another Marina with a pool for some more cooling off time.  This time we picked the place based on its offer of 3 nights for the cost of two!  That is the way we make some decisions!! 
So here I am in this beautiful pool with a 270 degree view of the Choptank River at Tilghman on Chesapeake Marina which is on Tilghman Island. And I am meeting another new friend while staying cool!  We enjoyed walking to the main road each morning to eat a wonderful breakfast at "Two If By Sea" where Al treated himself to Crabbie Eggs Benedict.  They put crab on everything around here! We had an added treat, of a visit from Bill Kane, brother of my college roommate, Mo. He lives in near by St. Michaels so came with his wife, daughter and 2 grandkids to enjoy an  afternoon with us in the pool.

The watermen on this island use varied boats for their fishing trade but historic skipjacks are still in use that are pushed by a small motor dingy in the stern.  This skipjack offers sunset cruises to make some extra cash. So today, July 30, after our walk, we left our peaceful and comfortable Marina on Tilghman and headed to an anchorage just outside of St. Michaels.  Will start the next blog with that adventure.  

Monday, July 18, 2016

Finding Unique Places Along the Way!

We left our nice marina and pool on July 12th to scout out peaceful anchorages and tried to find areas where the nettles were scarce.  Our first stop was less than 10 miles away further up the Rappahannock River in Yopp's Cove (another great name for a location!). No pictures because it was actually just a quiet neighborhood of homes.  And once more we were surrounded by nettles.  So on Wednesday we cruised out of the Rappahannock and turned to port to go further north to the Indian River and found another peaceful neighborhood cove where we dropped anchor and actually pulled up a nettle on the anchor chain, YUCK.
Pretty nice homes all around this comfy cove.  We used our time to dingy to a Marina and hike 2 miles to Kilmarnock to find lunch, then hiked another mile to find a CVS for eye drops, produce stand for fresh veges and a quick run to the grocery where I could not resist buying a heavy bag of cherries because of the great sale price.  Needless to say, the 3 mile walk back to the dingy was an unpleasant hot walk!  But boat magic, a car passed us going the opposite direction, stopped and the Marina owner offered us a ride so she turned around to take us back to the Marina.  We got our 4 miles in at least!!
We moved on to this lovely creek off the Great Wicomico River to find yet more nettles and endured a very hot afternoon enjoying moments of pretend swimming by spraying off with the anchor wash down hose!  If we could have been swimming, this would have been the perfect anchorage. 
So we decided to cross the Chesapeake Bay and see how bad the nettles were on the east side and anchored in the Onancoke River and took a dingy ride to check out the "historic town of Onancoke".   Well it was old but not at all an interesting place except for the bakery with cinnamon rolls for 80 cents! But we got our walk in and did our pretend swimming thing because we just couldn't swim.
We had a lovely storm come in to clean our decks and cool things off. 

Then enjoyed a beautiful sunset with the plan to head a short distance to Tangier Island, a unique place.  Let the pictures explain!! 

This very isolated island relies on the success of crab watermen. Each waterman has a shack where he sifts through the crabs, organizes them by size and type and stores some that are losing their shells to become the more valuable soft shelled crabs. The island is slowly eroding away as much as 35 feet per year now! The residents tell their compelling story in a lovely little museum on the island and are open to talking to us tourists about their lives with minimal cell or internet service, one tiny grocery, minimal contact with the mainland and constant worry about flooding.
This is Park's Marina where we tied up along those white washed pilings parallel to the waterway and enjoyed talking with the harbor master, 85 year old Melvin Parks. This was a unique place to stop for a whopping $35 for the tie up and electricity and the opportunity to learn about a real fishing community. 
Tourist ferries arrive daily so some income to the island is made by the few restaurants, gift shops, and ice cream places in this small area.

This is a common sight with family graves in the yards of the homes so the dead can be watched over and cared for and the shallow, often flooded graves can be monitored for water damage.
We never figured out why there were dozens of soda machines like this scattered around the island, all plugged in and making soda available every so often. Note, when we took our usual hour walk, we easily walked completely around the island and added a side trip to another small island next door.

Just chillin on the bridge doing a Sudoku on this incredibly peaceful waterway where the best crab in the Chesapeake is caught and processed.  Appreciate the price of a good crab cake and realize folks are depending on that income to live and save their island! A very unique place to visit! 

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

The Nettle Got Me!!

Yup I have been stung by a Chesapeake Bay Sea Nettle that snuck up on me while swimming the night before my birthday!  How not nice is that?  So I will digress and bring you up to date on our travels and explain further about my attack!! (Just kidding)
We left our boat buddies on Thurday July 7th to go in search of an anchorage that promised a beach for walking.  This light house marks the point where Mobjack Bay enters the wide open Chesapeake Bay.  Once again, the wind was not too strong so the waves were tolerable but the breeze was enough to keep us cool.  All is well in our world.  

We passed Wolf Trap Light and I would love to say what it marks, but I just don't know!
We went into the Piankatank River (I love trying to say the names of all the rivers around here and the town names too!!  Spelling them is a bear!) which then took us through this cool swing bridge that they say is the busiest bridge in Virginia.  It opens 24/7 on demand and supposedly that little house in the middle is where the bridge tender lives.  He was a mite gruff answering our hail to please open.  Just past the bridge was where we ended in Edwards Creek to anchor.  

 This is the end part of Gwynn Island which separates the Chesapeake from the Piankatank River.  As the tide came in, some of the beach area was water covered and was a fun place to take a splash walk and sit in the sand to cool off free of nettles! We do enjoy unique walking areas! 
This is what that water covered beach looks like from a distance with an island on each side and there is a small opening for a shallow channel back to the Chesapeake.
We stayed on anchor near this cool little beach two nights and left on Saturday, July 9th for two reasons; the weather was promising very high temps and humidity, and our lovely nettle free anchorage had been invaded by  at least one nettle!!   After enjoying several swims around the boat on both days at this anchorage, at 6pm, a nettle snuck under the swim platform and stung my ankle and then my wrist as I swiftly went up the ladder steps to get out of the water! I had read about them and somewhere in my head, I remembered that vinegar can help so I grabbed the spray bottle of vinegar and made the stinging worse.  Al pulled up a more informative website and after applying shaving cream, scraping it off to remove any imbedded stingers, then spraying copious amounts of saltwater on the areas, they calmed to just light sting and itch which was easily treated with cortisone cream.  So I survived but now am sure I can not swim anywhere but in a pool.   So on my birthday, off we go to take refuge in a nice Marina with a pool!! 

On our way up the Chesapeake to Regatta Point Marina in Deltaville, VA we had to negotiate through a beautiful array of sailboats racing for a charity.  Since the sailboats were under full sail, they have the right of way, and we had to slow and scoot around them so as not to interfere in their travel plans. This is a typical sight on the Chesapeake where sailboats are very happy with wide open water and plenty of wind. 
Our Marina home for 3 nights has been in this lovely setting.  The pool has been enjoyed, the rocking chairs on the porch have been rocked during docktails and the little town of Deltaville provided excellent crab cakes and some fun little shops for birthday shopping.  Plus the Marina loaned us a car to drive to a wonderful German restaurant for my birthday dinner.  How cool is that?  AND to add to the fun, our boat buddies on Short Vacation were in the Marina with us for docktails! Now on to more anchorages in hopes of finding areas that are nettle free! 

Thursday, July 7, 2016

Starting Our Summer on the Chesapeake Bay

The last blog was our visit through the Dismal Swamp and that brought us to the Elizabeth River past Norfolk, home to a very expansive naval base.  Many of our looper friends have reported being escorted to the edge of the channel by patrol boats to keep cruisers away from varied naval ships going to and coming from naval yards.  Our trip through was uneventful (darn!)

The white hospital ship was particularly inspiring knowing it has been around the world helping when natural disasters have occurred such as the hurricane that leveled Haiti.  We stayed our first night off the Hampton Roads area at the Hampton Public Pier which was just an average marina and a town that didn't draw our attention. So we moved on to the York River to Yorktown and stayed 8 nights to allow time for Al to fly back to Miami for his third eye check up.  He got all good news; retina is smooth and healing well, vision is slightly improved and he returns in 6 weeks to hopefully find out when the oil bubble can be removed from his eye.  So for now, he continues with drops and no time lying on his back (he misses those recliner naps!!) to keep the bubble in place.
Wormley Marina was very pleasant and quiet with great people around.  Al's college roommate, Dana and his wife Marion were great hosts to us as they live a short distance away in historic Williamsburg  While Al traveled to Miami, I stayed on land at their house and enjoyed a wonderful bed, great shower and homey hospitality!  I did some sight seeing in Williamsburg and we had a car tour of Jamestown, the first colonial settlement, and Yorktown the sight for the winning battle of the Revolutionary War.  But silly me took no pictures of any of those places! And the promise for a great display of fireworks off the York River was cancelled due to lots of rain!  So we watched fireworks on TV! But we had an added treat because when we returned to the boat on Friday, July 1st, we were greeted by 2 looper boats, Greek's Folly who we traveled with in the swamp and their travel friends on Short Vacation.  So we enjoyed a July 4th Mexican restaurant lunch with Dana and Marion and then a cookout later with our boat friends.  
July 5th we made a big crossing of the York River going a total of 4 miles to the other side to anchor in Sarah Creek with our new buddy boats. 

The weather was hot and humid and we couldn't go swimming because these pale white jelly fish known as sea nettles are stingers and surrounded our boats. 
On July 6th (was that just yesterday?) we moved on, passing this Osprey family with twins! 

The good news is that the seas were calm in the wide open Chesapeake and the bad news was that that meant no wind to keep us cool.  The tiny speck ahead is Greek's Folly leading us through a shallow area. We traveled about 30 miles into Mobjack Bay and the Ware River off the bay to our anchorage in Windmill Cove.  And the great news is.... NOOOOO nettles so we could swim and cool off! 
Here we are anchored close enough to gather for"docktails" before dinner last evening. 

Our buddy boaters enjoying a dingy exploration cruise of the Ware River, blocking the intense sun! 

The thunder boomers gathered late in the afternoon giving us much needed cloud cover for docktails and then an intense lightening show with heavy rain during the night.  Today we are moving on by ourselves to try out another anchorage that promises a beach.  More later...