Solomons, Crisfield and Tangier Island
We spent Wednesday, September 22nd, at Solomons Landing cleaning the boat, getting a couple of zippers replaced on the flybridge canvas (thanks to Rusty at A Stitch Aweigh for such wonderfully expeditious service!), installing a new water pump, purchasing a new horn at West Marine and doing a little shopping at a nearby market.
Late that afternoon Joe Pica off “Carolyn Ann” dinghied over and spent some time chatting with the Captain. We’re pretty sure our paths crossed sometime last summer or fall up in the Midwest river system but we aren’t sure where. Chances are we’ll meet up again this fall as we both head south.
We left Solomons Thursday after pumping out and taking on some fuel at Spring Cove Marina, arriving in Crisfield less than six hours later. That evening we dinghied over to the Tiki Bar at the Olde Crisfield Crab & Steakhouse for some appetizers and a few drinks. There were a few locals there but it was very quiet.
This sign speaks for itself!
“Twister” cruises in to Somers Cove.
Friday was spent doing more cleaning while the Captain installed his new horn. It was a windy day but we finally decided to go explore the town late that afternoon. We stopped in at the Blue Crab Garden Shop for appetizers and then had a very nice dinner at the Watermens Inn.
Crisfield even has a drive-thru liquor store.
It was very windy overnight but we decided to make the twelve-mile run to Tangier Island about 1:00 p.m. Saturday. We had a bumpy ride and fought current the entire way, finally arriving in Tangier two hours later. Tangier Island is in Virginia, about six miles south of the Maryland-Virginia state line and was originally visited by John Smith in 1608.
Gale & Maureen aboard “Blue Heron” made the trip from nearby Smith Island that morning and were there to help us tie up at Parks Marina. Smith Island, originally settled in the 1600’s, is twelve miles west of Crisfield and is Maryland’s only inhabited island in the Chesapeake Bay.
Arriving at Tangier Island.
We then spent a few hours exploring the island, during which we stopped for ice cream at Spanky’s.
A front or backyard cemetery is a common sight in Tangier stemming from an old custom once common in America and Britain.
Isn’t this a colorful house?
This is one of several canals running through the island.
Brenda and Maureen try to determine where we are on the Captain’s 50-cent island map!
This is one of several nice bed & breakfast inns on the island.
This sign is located on the gate as you enter town from the airport landing strip. Wonder what the visiting guests think after reading this??
Restroom facilities at Parks Marina. “Life’s2Short” is docked in the background.
When we returned to the boats, we sat on the bow of “Blue Heron” and visited until the swarming gnats ran us inside. Gale & Maureen brought munchies over to “Life’s2Short” and we passed the evening playing Catch Phrase and another word association game called Think While You Drink, or Drink While You Think (I’m not sure which!).
Around 10:00 a.m. Sunday we had BLT’s on “Blue Heron” featuring some wonderful homegrown tomatoes they had been given. They also generously shared their last piece of the famed Smith Island cake with us. Thanks for a wonderful meal, guys, we really enjoyed it!
This is the famed Smith Island cake. It contains between six and twelve pencil-thin yellow cake layers with rich chocolate fudge icing in between. Maureen told us that all the girls on Smith Island are “required” to learn how to bake the cake as part of their heritage.
Mr. Parks, the owner of the marina all spruced up in his “Sunday Best!”
The “Chesapeake Breeze” cruises in from the mainland.
The weather was iffy but we said our goodbyes to Gale & Maureen, who were heading up the Potomac, and pulled away from the dock at 1:30. Our original plan was to go in to Fleets Bay on the western shore of the Chesapeake but we soon changed course to a more southerly anchorage when the waves started hitting us on the beam.
We arrived at the south branch of Jackson Creek off the Piankatank River near Deltaville, VA about 5:30 p.m. and spent the next hour trying to get the anchor to set. We finally gave up and tied to a public dock used by commercial fishermen. We stayed there overnight but were asked to leave the next day before noon as other commercial fishing vessels were coming in to the dock. According to the crabber Todd talked to, public docking is not allowed, even though there is no posted sign visible from the water indicating this.
At any rate, we pulled off the dock in very windy conditions during a lull in the rain. This time we anchored directly across from the dock and had much better luck with the holding. The rest of the day was spent doing more seemingly endless boat cleaning as the rain resumed.
The rain continued through Tuesday morning as we continued to clean. By afternoon the rain had moved on and we were left with breezy conditions and a beautiful sunset later that evening.
A couple of nice sunset photos before our adventure the following morning.
The Captain had been monitoring the wind and wave predictions for Wednesday and decided that was our one-day weather window to make the 55-mile run to Portsmouth. Winds were supposed to be 10-15 mph out of the northeast, clocking to the north, with one- to two-foot waves. A number of other boaters, both sailboats and trawlers, had the same thought and there were several of us up and underway around 7:00 a.m.
It started getting rough as soon as we left Jackson Creek with two- to three-footers, mostly on the bow. Our hope was that it would be calmer in the Bay once we turned and started heading south. That was not the case. The waves got progressively worse and were tossing us around pretty badly. We could hear things crashing and sliding around all over the boat.
After a five-footer broadsided us on the beam and nearly rolled us over on our side, we decided enough was enough and headed back to Jackson Creek. Less than two hours later we were re-anchored and relieved to be back in calm water. The other trawlers that were attempting the same trip also returned, but the sailboats kept going as they are designed to handle those conditions much better than trawlers.
That is my account; this is the Captain’s: We tried to get into Norfolk yesterday so we could beat the storm but we got our ass kicked when we got out into the bay. NOAA was saying NE winds 10 to 15 and waves of 1 to 2 foot. After rounding the point out into the bay we were greeted with 25+ winds and seas that were 4 to 5 and building fast......on our beam. We heeled over farther than I ever want to do again so we limped back into the anchorage and began the process of cleaning up the boat and our underwear! Nothing major was broken but our nerves were shot and the Admiral & Captain needed a stiff drink!
As always, the Captain is a bit more colorful! Anyway, the rain started shortly after we returned to the anchorage and stayed with us most of the day. Wednesday night we were pounded by massive amounts of rain but thankfully the wind was relatively calm. Until this morning, that is!
Today is Thursday, September 30th, and we woke up to vicious wind gusts and unrelenting rainfall. Even in the protection of our anchorage, we are being blasted by 40-50 mph gusts. I can’t even imagine how bad it must be in the Bay, even though we can hear the waves pounding on the other side of the peninsula from our anchorage.
Isn’t this a lovely scene?!!!
Our original plan was to meet Todd’s parents on the Dismal Swamp on Saturday, October 2nd. But as things stand right now, it looks as though we will be stuck here until sometime early next week. So we will continue to monitor the weather and make a break for Portsmouth as soon as conditions permit, hopefully avoiding a repeat of yesterday’s attempt. Until then, we are trapped in the Chesapeake awaiting the passing of Tropical Storm Nicole.