Wednesday, June 30, 2010

The Rappahannock River to Washington, D.C.

The morning of Friday, June 25th, the Captain changed the oil in the generator. At 12:30 p.m., we pulled away from the Yankee Point Sailing Marina on Corrotoman Creek, headed down the Rappahannock River and back out in to Chesapeake Bay. We had a nice ride for the most part (best we’ve had in the Bay thus far) with a pleasant northeast breeze and a mid-afternoon temperature of 80 degrees – a 22-degree difference from the previous day! We were anchored by 5:00 p.m. in Cranes Creek on the Great Wicomico River where we enjoyed a beautiful almost-full moon on a calm evening. And we even got a good hold on the anchor!

This is a menhaden boat. Menhaden are small fish that are used as filler in things like cat food and fertilizer. This boat has a smaller boat on its stern that it deploys to retrieve nets full of fish.


Saturday we were off by 9:30 a.m. It was rough in the Bay with rollers on the beam and stern quarter. “Life’s2Short” was bobbing around like a cork in the ocean! We rounded Smith Point and entered the Potomac after a couple of hours and then headed in closer to shore on the port (Virginia) side where we found a much smoother ride. As some of you may know, the Potomac runs between Virginia and Maryland. However, it is interesting to note that the state boundary is not the middle of the river, as it is for many states that have rivers as boundaries. The official boundary is the high-water line on the Virginia shore. Thus, except for the tributaries on the Virginia side, the entire Potomac is in Maryland.

The marker at Smith Point is hard to miss!


Two-and-a-half hours later we were tied up at Olverson’s Lodge Creek Marina in the South Yeocomico River with highs back in the 90’s. Norm & Vicki on “Tide Hiker” arrived short time later and Vicki and I made a quick trip to nearby Callao, Virginia, in one of the marina’s courtesy cars for a few provisions. That evening “C” dock sponsored a barbecue for everyone at the marina. As you can see by the photos, the cookout had a “redneck” theme.

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Fred Olverson, the marina’s owner, with Norm off “Tide Hiker.”


Great to see you again, Norm & Vicki!


Norm & Vicki left Sunday morning and we spent a quiet day on the boat luxuriating in the air conditioning. Fred wanted us to move from “D” dock to the space “Tide Hiker” had vacated on “A” dock, which put us very close to the laundry room, so I managed to get in a couple of loads of laundry and defrost the refrigerator.

We pulled over to pump out the holding tanks late Monday morning and were on our way out of the marina at noon. The wind was predicted to be 5-10 mph but was a good 15-20+ on the bow. A rough four hours later we pulled in to Shymansky’s Marina at Cobb Island, Maryland. It was another hot, muggy, 100-degree day so we signed up for another night of air conditioning.

The Captain fed bread to this assortment of ducks. Neither of us has ever seen a black & white duck before, though.


Tuesday we were back out in the Potomac by 9:00 a.m. with a light chop on the water and a northwest breeze. As we exited Cobb Island we were hailed by one of the Dahlgren range patrol boats which are there to guide you around the boundary of the naval firing range in what is called “Middle Danger Area” on the navigation charts. But before we got to the point where we needed to skirt the firing range, range patrol radioed back and told us that operations had been suspended until noon and to proceed on whatever course we desired.

This is the US Route 301 bridge. The Dahlgren Naval Weapons Station is about three miles south of the bridge. From the head of land on the naval base, naval guns are often (during “hostile” times) test-fired southeast across the Potomac.


The water continued to calm as the day progressed and the temperature climbed back into the low 90’s. About 2:00 p.m. we stopped, dropped the hook at Wades Bay and put the dinghy down to go look for shark teeth along the shore at the bottom of some small cliffs. This endeavor was based on a comment made by another boater who supposedly found some there. All we found for our efforts was some sea glass and a few interesting rocks.

The tree-littered beach on the north side of Wades Bay.


We reloaded the dinghy, enjoyed a quick freshwater rinse on the swim platform to cool down and were underway again by 3:30 p.m. An hour-and-a-half later we were anchored in Mattawoman Creek, having fought against the current the entire day.

Sunset at Mattawoman Creek.


After a cool overnight low in the 60’s, we woke up this morning, on Wednesday, June 30th, to a brisk 20 mph north wind and a rough Potomac. However, by 9:30 the wind had settled down to about 10 mph and the water had calmed, so we left the anchorage to make the final leg of our journey. Four hours later we were tied up in Washington, D.C., at Gangplank Marina.

Along the way we passed Mount Vernon, Virginia, home of George and Martha Washington.


And Fort Washington, Washington’s only Union river defense at the start of the Civil War. The Fort was handed over to The National Park Service after World War II.


Coming in to Washington, D.C., with the Washington Monument in the background.


Over the next several days we will be exploring some of the many sites in our nation’s capital. The weather is supposed to remain in the 80’s through Saturday so we want to take advantage of the cooler temperatures. I will try to update the blog again before we leave for Missouri on Tuesday, July 6th, as I’m sure the Captain will be taking LOTS of photos between now and then!

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Portsmouth to the Rappahannock River

We left the south ferry basin in Portsmouth, Virginia, shortly before 11:00 a.m. on Monday, June 14th, and went to the Hampton River, less than fifteen miles away. Along the way we saw lots of military ships, both in port and on the move.


Before anchoring we stopped in at the Bluewater Yachting Center to pump out the holding tanks, take on water and get ice. We then proceeded above the first bridge and tried anchoring on the east side of the river a couple of times before going to the west side. The bottom on the east side seemed to be oyster beds and the anchor didn’t want to grab. We found much better holding in sticky mud on the west side.

About 4:30 that afternoon we took a dinghy ride and met Jeff & Izzy on the “Izzy R.” They had seen us when we passed the Hampton Yacht Club on our way to anchor and we spoke briefly on the VHF radio. They told us they have been following our blog for quite some time and wanted to say hello. We dinghied over to their boat, introduced ourselves and spent some time talking about cruising plans and the Chesapeake, places to go and things to do and see along the way.

This is a beautiful old building on the grounds of Hampton University.


This boat reminded of us our good friend Everett who we sometimes refer to as “E.”


Not sure what this is, or was, but it is no more!


Following some overnight rain showers, the Captain took off Tuesday morning to do a few loads of laundry. About noon we dinghied over to the Hampton Public Pier where we tied up the dinghy, walked in to town and had lunch at Marker 20.

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We then went to the Hampton History Museum and Visitor Center. The museum’s ten galleries took us through four centuries, from Native American days to the Space Age. Examples of the many exhibits include the beginning of the Virginia Colony, the burning of Hampton during the Civil War and the once-thriving crabbing industry.


Virginia-grown tobacco was packed in these barrels, called hogsheads, and traded to England for manufactured goods.


Ol’ George himself.


Remnants of a burned city.


On the way back to the dinghy we stopped to see the Hampton Carousel, built in 1920 and completely restored. It is housed in an enclosed pavilion on the downtown waterfront and is still operational. According to the literature, “it is one of only 170 antique wooden merry-go-rounds still existing in the U.S.” What a magnificent work of art!



After more showers Wednesday morning, we left the anchorage about 8:30 and took a short detour through the marina at Fort Monroe to return a couple of borrowed fenders to “Knot Tide Down.” We had used them when we were tied up together in the south ferry basin and thought we had better return them since we didn’t know when we might see Bill & Ana again.

Then it was out into Chesapeake Bay for the first time. The waves were a little rough on the beam for the first few hours but gradually improved as we moved north. We motored into Mobjack Bay and up the East River to Put-In-Creek where we were anchored by 1:00 p.m. Rick & Lynnie on “Rickshaw” arrived at the anchorage about three hours later and rafted to us. We last saw Rick & Lynnie in Morehead City and had been planning to get together again somewhere on the Chesapeake. Another fun evening with good friends!

Rafted at Put In Creek


Thursday the four of us dinghied toward the end of Put-In-Creek looking to leave the dinghy somewhere and walk in to the town of Mathews. As we were trying to figure out where to leave the dinghy we saw a gentleman working in his back yard, so we asked him and he said we could tie up to his dock, which worked out great. Thanks for the hospitality, Tom!


We walked about a half-mile to town where we enjoyed a cool (air-conditioned) lunch at The White Dog Inn, recommended by Tom as the best place to eat in Mathews, even though we were tempted to try Chef Todd’s, for obvious reasons!


The White Dog Inn.


This interesting “ship-shaped” chandelier was hanging in the dining room of The White Dog Inn.



A few other sites in downtown Mathews.

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Then it was back to the dinghy and our boats on a sunny, hot (95 degrees) Thursday afternoon.



Todd and I took a dinghy ride on up the East River late afternoon to do a little exploring and to generate a much-needed breeze. As we were taking a break in a spot of shade, we saw several crews of rowers pass by.


We dinghied as far as we could up the East River until we almost grounded the dinghy on an outgoing tide! At that point we decided to head back to “Life’s2Short” where “Rickshaw” hosted us for a wonderful grilled flank steak dinner.

Both boats took off Friday about 10:00 a.m. We were heading to the Piankatank River and “Rickshaw” was going to a marina in Urbanna, up the Rappahannock River. It was a beautiful day with a cooling northeast breeze and we were anchored in Wilton Creek by 4:00 p.m. The holding was very poor in the soft mud but it was a scenic anchorage and, thankfully, we had settled weather.

An abandoned lighthouse at New Point Comfort, coming out of Mobjack Bay.


Our anchorage in Wilton Creek.


We left Wilton Creek about 10:00 a.m. Saturday and were anchored in Carter Creek, on the Rappahannock, by 1:30 p.m. With a south component wind and an outgoing tide, it was pretty rough heading out of the Piankatank, rounding the point and turning up into the Rappahannock. And it was hot, hot, hot again!

We went in to Carter Creek to find a boat named “One September” out of Virginia Beach. Todd has been communicating with Mike, the owner, via e-mail for several weeks and he wanted to meet him. We ran across Mike on our way up the Piankatank the previous day and knew he was going to be at the Tides Inn in Carter Creek. Anyway, we dinghied over to their boat Saturday afternoon and officially met Mike and his wife Judy and spent a couple of hours aboard “One September” talking about some of our experiences as full-time cruisers. Mike is a pediatric dentist and is looking forward to retiring in the next few years and doing the Great Loop.

We returned to “Life’s2Short” about 6:00 p.m. and decided to haul anchor and move a few miles upriver to Urbanna Creek where we anchored across from “Rickshaw” at the Urbanna Town Marina.

Lynnie took this picture as we were anchoring.


Another view of our anchorage in Urbanna Creek.


A Sunday morning shot looking up Urbanna Creek.


Rickshaw” on the face dock (left) at the Urbanna Town Marina.


Sunday we dinghied over to “Rickshaw” around noon and walked in to town for lunch at a local cafe where Todd had his first soft shelled crab sandwich. He said it was good but I couldn’t bring myself to try it! It was another scorcher (mid-90’s with almost no breeze) but we walked a few blocks further to the Urbanna Market for a little shopping and then caught the trolley back to the marina for $0.25 each.

This unusual bloom was on a vine outside the cafe where we had lunch.


A few shots of downtown Urbanna.



Our ride back to the marina.

Urbanna Trolley

That evening we went over to “Rickshaw” for drinks and cold chicken pasta salad for dinner (no one was in the mood for anything hot!).

The Captain’s Sunday evening photos.

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“Rickshaw” pulled away from the marina about 9:00 a.m. Monday to continue the journey north. It was great being able to spend time with them again and we hope to cross paths this fall, maybe in September, on the eastern shore of the Chesapeake. Safe travels, Lynnie & Rick!

We decided to pull over to the marina to pump out and top off with water before continuing another seventeen miles or so up the Rappahannock to Totuskey Creek. It was a nice, calm three-hour trip with just enough breeze to keep it from being miserably hot, even though it was in the mid-90’s again.

We were anchored by 2:30 p.m. and soon missed our “traveling breeze.” About 5:00 p.m. we took a dinghy ride several miles up Totuskey Creek and then followed Little Totuskey Creek until we ran out of water, stopping along the way to enjoy shade whenever possible. After that it was back to “Life’s2Short” for a very tasty dinner of grilled chicken and veggie kabobs. Great idea, Captain!

Tuesday was more of the same with temperatures climbing beyond the mid-90’s and forecast to hit 100 within a few days. We spent most of the day on the boat trying to keep relatively cool and then took another dinghy ride about 4:00 p.m. in search of shade and cooler temperatures. With very little breeze, it was still hot and muggy, though.

That evening we were watching radar and were relieved to see that we escaped one batch of storms when it essentially split around us. By 10:30 p.m. we decided we were safe and went to bed, only to wake up shortly after 1:00 a.m. to thunder and lightning. We finally got radar pulled up (weak Internet signal) and saw that the storm was just skirting us. Again, we were very fortunate because we knew we had virtually no holding in the mucky, soft mud bottom. At that point, we opened the boat up to enjoy the somewhat cooler temperatures and called it a night.

Wednesday we headed back down the Rappahannock at 11:00 a.m. and were anchored in a nice cove in Corrotoman Creek by 3:30 p.m. After our first failed attempt at getting the anchor to hold, we moved in to deeper water toward the center of the cove and found good holding. It was smoking hot again and we were in the dinghy within an hour looking for a breeze and some shade.

As we were cruising the Eastern Branch of Corrotoman Creek, we saw several deer along the banks and in the nearby woods. We have also seen a number of bald eagles in the vicinity and the osprey seem to be nesting everywhere!




When we returned to the boat, we gave in and fired up the generator so we could have air conditioning. Even with the AC going full blast, it was a slow cooling process and we ended up running the generator all night, something we’ve only done a few times in over four years! This heat reminds us of a brutally hot summer on the Cumberland River in 2007.

Today is Thursday, June 24th, and we have taken a slip at Yankee Point Sailing Marina on Corrotoman Creek for the night. The forecast high for today is 101 degrees and we decided to treat ourselves to a full day (and night) of air conditioning after three weeks of being without shore power. Besides, it’s time for the Captain to change the oil in the generator and in this heat, he needs to be in the AC to do that.

Note: At 1:45 p.m. EDT, the temperature had reached 102 degrees with a heat index of 112! The previous record high on this date was 99 degrees in 1960. The average high is 88.

Tomorrow we will leave the Rappahannock, go out into the Chesapeake again and in to the Great Wicomico River to anchor for the evening. Saturday we will enter the Potomac River and plan to meet up with cruising friends Norm & Vicki on “Tide Hiker,” who we haven’t seen since last year in the Exumas. They had originally planned to spend the summer on the Tennessee River but the oil disaster in the Gulf of Mexico put an end to that.

In the meantime, we are going to enjoy our marina day and hope the air conditioner can keep up with the heat! Over the course of the next week, we will make our way up the Potomac River with plans to be in Washington, D.C., by July 1st.