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Goodbye Chespeake 11.4.2017


I feel like I am always playing catch up when typing a blog entry and this is no exception. We are about to enter the Intercoastal Waterway (ICW) but so much has happened during the past week.

Our first day in Solomons Island we explored the “town” (a few restaurants and a few galleries) and then walked to the local maritime museum with a couple we met from Boston, Joanne and Ken Pilczak (also going south).

Leaving Solomons Island - thank you Megan for the picture.

Every small town on the bay has had a maritime museum and although this one was worth the visit, I am now maritime museumed out. They had a screwpile light house with the living quarters decked out as they would have been in the time of occupancy, a small marsh walk that had plaques describing the sea life, live otters, and lots of fossils that had been collected in the area.

Bob inside Solomons museum lighthouse.

Light house at Solomons

A comment on Solomons – It is really an Island although the water running between it and the main land is covered by a bridge of only about 25 feet – this is called a tidal cut. Solomons Island was originally called Bourne’s Island – established in 1680. After the Civil War, the island was renamed for Baltimore businessman Isaac Solomon (MOT?) who established an oyster cannery on the Island.

Later in the day, with the wind now whipping from the south, Karen and Hugh arrived and we had a good long hug. They had a rough trip from Cambridge where they had left Trekker during their trip home for a wedding. We had dinner at The Lighthouse Restaurant, got caught up on each other’s lives and then took the shuttle (large electric golf cart) back to the marina. We played some euchre on trekker as a storm came through. The sound of the wind in the rigging was so loud. When it came time to go back to our boat it was still pouring and the wind had pushed their boat away from the dock so that I needed help getting off the boat. Our rain gauge showed 2.5 inches of rain overnight. We were nice and dry but because it was cold outside we had our first experience of condensation on the metal frames of the ports.

The next day was still blowing so we stayed at Zahnisers and did some boat projects, one of which was to make PVC pipe fender boards which we can use against rough pilings at fixed (non-floating) docks. Later we walked in a light but persistent drizzle up to the Ruddy Duck for appetizers and a beer. Although Ubers have been great, we would have had a 15 minute wait for a car – which is why we decided to walk in the rain.

Our last day at Zahnisers we took the marina shuttle to the grocery and walked from there to a beautiful sculpture garden where many of the pieces were on loan or donated by Hershorn – I had visited the Hershorn Museum that is part of the Smithsonian in Washington DC.

Sculpture in garden

High five - can you see what he is holding? Its a bird.

Colorful sheep

This trip is about the boating, exploring and the people. While at Solomons I was blessed to meet Megan and Sam Collins from the Annapolis area who were on a two week trip aboard their 26 foot Nordic Tug. This is a very cute boat that Bob gets excited about every time he sees one – regardless of the size. The Collins were gracious enough to give us a tour of their home on the water. Megan was an RN and when she saw my face (still scabbed over from my fall) immediately asked about what happened. I told her my story of woe and she promptly gave me a tube of Aquaphor Cream and told me to apply it 4-5 times a day with a q-tip; boy what a G-d send. The Aquaphor made the black scabs soft so that I could move my face again and they quickly started to fall off with healthy skin underneath. Before a week was over, I felt like myself again. I can’t thank her enough!

The next morning we left for Fleets bay and anchored in Antipoison Creek – a fitting place to be for Halloween. It was considerably farther up the river than we had anticipated, near a fish processing facility, but with beautiful homes surrounding us. Karen and Hough are used to anchoring and are great at selecting the right spot with protection from the wind. They are pushing us a bit out of our comfort zone with anchoring and that is a good thing. We are getting good at it and the marriage savers (blue tooth walkie talkie headsets) we bought at the Annapolis boat show allow us to do it without yelling. We anchored and had a quiet night.

The next morning it was our intention to sail to Cape Charles – but – after we tried to exit the bay we realized that the weather was going to dictate otherwise (15 knots of wind on the nose with gust over 25) and we turned around and went back to our snug anchorage. Trying to make lemonade from lemons – I invited them over to our boat for matza ball soup for lunch. Karen brought freshly backed muffins and we spent the afternoon drinking vodka and lemonade and playing euchre. We have had a euchre tournament going ever since they taught us the game in Little Falls (on the Erie Canal) – boys against girls. The boys won the first set 8 to 6 and we are now tied one all. We had a great afternoon laughing and listening to the wind howling.

Next morning – sunny and wind dead calm (another Antipoison line???) we motored to Cape Charles, which is on the east side of the bay and about 30 miles from Norfolk. Along the way we saw pelicans and dolphins playing in the water. I don’t think I will ever tire of seeing either. The pelicans sure do put on a show as they fly close to the water and then dive straight down for a fish.

Pelicans on the marker

Cape Charles is a charming town with many little shops and good restaurants. The main street has stores only on one side of the road and faces the railroad tracks. We stopped in a small brew pub for a beer but opted for dinner at the marina restaurant – a good decision as they had a much better menu. Note the picture of the L O V E sculpture which was suggested as a great spot to see the sun set. There was a beach and I got a chance to walk in the water and look for sea shells - one of my favorite past times.

LOVE at Cape Charles on the beach.

Dinner at the marina restaurant. - my face already looking better.

Unfortunately, just when we thought our engine problems were over the engine panel started sounding an intermittent warning chirp on our way to Cape Charles. Chirping means that there is an issue that is causing the warning sensor to give an audible alarm - but when it chirps (rather than sounding a full blast), it doesn’t last long enough to light up one of the “idiot lights” on the engine panel- so we don’t know what it was warning us about (oil pressure, engine temperature or loss of charging voltage). It turns out we also have a leaking raw water outlet elbow on the heat exchanger which is the source of water that has been accumulating in the engine compartment. We have a mechanic lined up to look at the engine in Portsmouth and we now think we know the source of the chirping – a loose wire from the oil pressure sender. The mechanic should be able to address both issues – But not till Monday afternoon or Tuesday morning, so we have the weekend to do projects and explore.

Which brings me to Portsmouth. We arrived at Tidewater Marina yesterday 11.3.2017. We motored from Cape Charles, passing by many large freighters that were anchored in the bay. It appeared that they were in a quarantine area - awaiting approval to proceed. They were huge – even larger than the lakers (great lakes freighters) we are used to seeing on Lake Erie.

Loughboroughs looking at the setting sun at Cape Charles.

We crossed the bay, again seeing a few dolphins frolicking, and entered Hampton Roads. According to the cruising guides, this is supposed to be the busiest harbor in the world with naval vessels, commercial freighters and pleasure boats of all sorts, many gathering to enter the ICW. I can’t say there were that many ships that we had to deal with, but some of them were the biggest I have ever seen. At least a dozen navy vessels were docked in the river including an aircraft carrier.

One of many navy ships on Elizabeth River.

We traveled up the Elizabeth River against the current so we could only go about 3 knots – which doubled the time necessary for the trip as we usually travel under power at 5-6 knots.

Tidewater Marina promised lots and so far has delivered less. As we were approaching I called the marina and explained that we wanted a port (left) side tie up, Trekker wanted a starboard tie up and that we wanted to be docked next to or close to each other. As we approached the dock we realized they had put us in a starboard tie up and Trekker was on the other side of the Marina. I had to quickly switch the dock lines to prepare for docking. Oh well – we got in without incident!

Today was cool and overcast and the four of us went into to Portsmouth to explore the historic town.

Beautiful house in historic Portsmouth

Note the duck is swimming ON the dock - King tide at Portsmouth and a non-floating dock

Bob's newest project - we will show you the "after" when he is done.

Portsmouth at night with rising full moon

Portsmouth memorial

Sheila is garden of my favorite store in Portsmouth. The owner created t his garden and the adjacent garden house. It was amazing.

There was a farmers market with fresh produce and cute nautical shops where we bought an old brass lantern that Bob is going to turn into a hanging electrical lamp for the salon. Tomorrow we are going into Norfolk and the Nauticus Museum which has The Battleship Wisconsin museum-. Enough for now – we are all caught up.

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