Thursday, September 30, 2010

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.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Rock Hall, Baltimore and Annapolis

On Friday, September 10th, we left Queenstown Creek about 2:30 p.m. and were tied to the city bulkhead in Rock Hall Harbor by 4:00 p.m.


A monument to the oystermen of the Eastern Shore.


Along the way, we talked to Gale & Maureen aboard “Blue Heron” on the VHF and learned they were on their way to officially complete the Great Loop by crossing their wake in Delaware City. Since Rock Hall was only about an hour out of their way, they decided to backtrack and join us for the evening. We met Gale & Maureen last fall at Waterfall Cove on the Tennessee River and have kept in contact with them ever since.


After hanging around on the wall chatting and catching up on Gale & Maureen’s travels over the past year, which included a trip through the Panama Canal on a friend’s boat, Bill & Ana invited us all over for Bill’s wonderful homemade spaghetti sauce. What a treat – again!

Gail & Maureen left Saturday about noon to continue their journey to Delaware City. The remaining four of us walked in to downtown Rock Hall and kicked around for while, doing a little shopping and checking out the town’s “best” (and probably only) ice cream shop.

Goodbye Blue Heron, safe journeys until we meet again!




We then gathered on “Knot Tide Down” for happy hour and ended up at the Harbor Shack for Alabama football, dinner, dancing, and live music by a band called Crossing Delmar.



When we returned to our boats about midnight, we found them bucking and bouncing around and, at least in our case, being pummeled against one of the pilings we were tied to. A south-component wind had kicked up while we were away causing the boats to be thrown against the pilings. Bill had already loaned us one of his large fenders but we added a second one and that prevented any further damage, although the Captain still had a restless night.

Boat ding, there goes another few hundred dollars….


We had rain overnight and woke up to a cool, gloomy, drizzly Sunday. We went over to “Knot Tide Down” that afternoon to eat nachos and watch the second half of the Chicago Bears football game. The rest of the day was spent reading, relaxing and watching more pro football on TV.

The Captain rode Bill’s bicycle in to town Monday morning to do a couple of loads of laundry and then we pulled away from Rock Hall about 10:30. We crossed over to the western shore and were anchored in Rock Creek, just outside Baltimore, a couple of hours later. “Knot Tide Down” left shortly before we did and went on in to Baltimore’s Inner Harbor where they anchored.

Ed aboard “Alfie” was staying at a marina in Rock Creek and called to invite us over for happy hour. We met Ed earlier this year as we were coming up the east coast. He had been in e-mail contact with Todd and offered the use of a guest dock near his home north of Boca Raton, FL, which we gratefully accepted for an evening. We dinghied over to visit with Ed around 5:00 p.m. and then returned to “Life’s2Short” for dinner and another quiet evening.

We got underway around 8:30 Tuesday morning, hoping to get to the marina in Baltimore before the wind kicked up. We didn’t make that goal, but we did get in to Henderson’s Wharf Marina without incident and were secure in our slip by 10:30. That afternoon Bill picked Todd up in his dingy and they took a trip to a nearby Safeway to pick up a few things.

Later Tuesday afternoon we dinghied over to “Tide Hiker” to meet up with Norm & Vicki who invited us to join them at the Marine Trawler Owners Association (MTOA) potluck. MTOA was having its 2010 Northern rendezvous in Baltimore while we were there, but since we didn’t sign up for it, we went to the potluck as their guests. Thanks for the invite, Norm & Vicki!


Jim & Pam Shipp off “Silver Boots” (left) and Norm & Vicki Naughton off “Tide Hiker”(right) visiting at the MTOA potluck.



Bill and Active Captain’s owner Jeff Siegel enjoying the festivities.


Tuesday evening we walked around Fell’s Point and hit a few local establishments along the way.





Wednesday we walked back in to Fell’s Point to explore a little more and grab a bite of lunch at Woody’s Rum Bar.










Early evening shots from the marina. You can just see “Knot Tide Down” anchored in the background of the first photo.




Wednesday evening we went to see Crosby, Stills & Nash in concert at the Pier Six Pavilion in Baltimore’s Inner Harbor. In the words of the Captain: “Starting with Woodstock and playing other favorites such as; Guinevere, Almost Cut My Hair, Southern Cross, Marrakesh Express, Deja Vu, Wooden Ships, the show ended with Love the One You're With & Teach Your Children! What a wonderful 3 hour show!! As an added bonus when I looked around I noticed, at the age of 52, that I was one of the younger folks! Truly a nostalgic night of music, memories & laughter!”







Thursday was a mellow day aboard “Life’s2Short,” although we did accomplish a few boat chores. After visiting with dockmates Wayne & Lynn aboard “Skinwalker” that evening, we took a cab to the section of Baltimore known as Little Italy where we had a top notch Italian dinner at Chiapparelli’s.


Wayne, a.k.a., Captain Bones, is the senior captain of the pirate vessel “Fearless” and takes paying guests on booze cruises around the harbor. They even attack other boats with water canons, including the Coast Guard Cutter “Eagle” when she’s in the harbor!



This is the “Eagle” being escorted into the harbor.


Captain Bones poses with the Admiral.


We pulled out of the marina just before noon on Friday and went over to the Baltimore Marine Center where we pumped out and took on some fuel. It was quite breezy in the harbor and we were concerned that the Bay might be rough, but it was a calm cruise down to Annapolis. We entered Spa Creek and were on a mooring ball ($30/night) less than four hours after leaving Baltimore.

This is one of many “trash boats” that scour the harbor picking up floating trash.


A few of the LARGE container ships that move up and down the bay.



Friday afternoon we took a dinghy ride around Spa Creek and the Captain took advantage of the early evening light.





After finishing our Italian leftovers from Chiapparelli’s for dinner, we walked around downtown Annapolis to see what we could find. But we didn’t linger long and were back on board around 10:00 p.m.

Saturday we went in to town again and did some more extensive sightseeing in the light of day.

Our view of downtown Annapolis from the mooring field.





The Maryland State Capitol building.



The Rams Head Saturday special!


Bill & Ana made it to Annapolis late Saturday afternoon and joined us downtown at Mangia’s for the rest of the Alabama football game, followed by another evening of food and fun with good friends!



Sunday afternoon we met Bill & Ana at Mangia’s again to watch the Chicago Bears football game against Dallas. After the game we went back to our boats for a while and met up that evening for ice cream.

Monday morning the four of us met at Chick & Ruth’s Delly, a locally popular, diner-style restaurant that serves breakfast, lunch and dinner. They start each day off by reciting the Pledge of Allegiance with their patrons.

Note the lower left hand corner of their menu, anybody care to take this one on?



After breakfast we worked our way over to the Naval Academy and spent some time walking the grounds. Unfortunately, a service was being conducted at the chapel and we weren’t able to go inside.










The view of the mooring field from the Naval Academy Visitor Center. Can you spot “Life’s2Short?”


We then dinghied over to the other side of Spa Creek to tour the Eastport area but didn’t find much of anything to tour. So it was back to the boat for a few quiet hours, until around 3:30 when we went in to town with Bill to kick around while Ana worked her four-hour shift.

We killed a few hours trying to decipher pictograms on the inside of Natty Boh (National Bohemian) bottle caps.


Bill picked Ana up at 7:00 p.m. and we walked to the Rams Head Tavern for what turned out to be a very disappointing final dinner in Annapolis. We said goodbye to our “Knot Tide Down” friends, at least for now, as we are leaving Annapolis in the morning and they are staying in the area for several more days.

Today is Tuesday, September 21st, and we are now back at Solomons, MD after a calm, but seemingly long, six-and-a-half hour cruise. We will probably spend a few of days here since the wind is supposed to pick up again tomorrow, plus we need to have some zippers replaced on the flybridge canvas, work on the water pump and install a new horn.

After we leave Solomons, we will head to Crisfield and then on to Tangiers Island (both on the eastern shore) before crossing back to the western shore and continuing south to the Norfolk area. After leaving Norfolk, we have plans to meet up with Todd’s mom & dad at the North Carolina Welcome Center in early October, and they are going to join us on the boat for several days as we cruise south to Morehead City.