Wednesday, October 18, 2006

October 16, 2006 Back home in Morehead City, NC

We spent the last 3 days after leaving Solomons MD making a bee-line for home. As a friend of ours said, we are like a horse heading back to the barn. A big front from Canada headed south so it was very cold and windy. Of course, we didn’t pack for real cold weather so we’ve been wearing multiple layers of sweats for the last few days.

On our way south, just off of the Great Wicomico River in Virginia, we apparently got too close to the live firing range in the middle of the bay. A range boat called us on VHF 16 and asked us to move closer to the western shore, as they were going to be practicing on the eastern side of the range ... no problem complying. We heard the planes above us but we didn't actually see any firing, but were glad to get out of the way anyway.

We had a visit from a purple wren that stopped on the boat for about a half hour. We were out in the middle of nowhere so we thought he just needed a rest. He hopped all around the boat and ate the flowers on the basil plant. The funny thing was that when a much larger yacht went by he left us for it. I guess he figured the accommodations would be better there!

The ride from Hampton, VA through Norfolk, VA was pretty exciting. We had a huge container ship in front of us and another container ship then a Disney Cruise ship coming at us. At the same time, tugs were moving Navy ships around so we just slowed it down to watch the excitement.

We wondered why the containers on the ship below didn't fall off. It didn't look like there was anything holding them in place.

The Navy ship above was being moved by the tug boat on the left.

This is the Disney cruise ship coming at us. It was just huge!

LT at the wheel.

This mark is the start, mile "0", for the Intercoastal Waterway. It starts here in Norfolk and goes all the way to Florida.

There are several bridges that need to open and one lock to traverse as you go south on the ICW in Virginia. Several of the bridges only open on the hour so there are usually a parade of boats waiting for the opening. In this picture both an automobile bridge and a train bridge have to open so that the boats can go through.

This is the one lock that we went through. I think the water rose all of 1-2 feet!

Now, we are back in our slip in NC. We will take the next several months getting the boat in top shape to make our way south next year. We certainly enjoyed our Chesapeake trip putting 1535 miles on the boat. Neither of us can believe how quickly the time went. We learned that a boat is a mixture of exhilaration and frustration, but mostly just fun. Rick became very proficient in handling the boat - you'd think he has been doing this for a long time! We both learned a lot about how the boat operates and what needs to be done to keep it in good running order.

We had great weather almost the whole time and saw lots of interesting places. We were able to catch up with family and friends and meet new friends along the way. We got to eat a lot of crab cakes and other wonderful food from the Chesapeake. We also learned that much of the history of the birth of our Nation took place around these waters. It was great to visit many of the historic places such as Jamestown, Ft. McHenry, and Baltimore.

We've spent the last several days getting some work done and getting more work scheduled for the next several weeks. We've also been cleaning the boat. One can always tell when a boat has been on the ICW. Because of the tannan in the water, there is a light brown 'smile' on the bow of the boat!

Thanks for all the nice comments on the blog. We're glad that you enjoyed it. It is a great way to keep in contact with you all. We'll be putting together another one for next year's trip. Many thanks, Rick and Lynnie

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

October 4-10, 2006 Solomons/Crisfield/Solomons The last week has been interesting; a mix of excitement and lots of frustration. Because it was a half-way point, we stopped in Solomons, MD on our way to Crisfield, MD which was the last on our list of ‘have to see’ towns. It has been the crab capital of MD as long as I can remember. While in Solomons we discovered that we have a holding tank problem. For those of you who don’t know the significance of that, it could mean that we can’t use the heads on the boat…big bummer. We left Solomons Wednesday morning, 10/4, to go to Crisfield thinking we could get it fixed there. But Crisfield is a town that may be bustling in the summertime but I was the only one walking down Main Street! Rick called several marine mechanics but no one was interested in helping us solve the problem.

Below seagulls hitching a ride on a passing barge!

The next morning the forecast was for a nor’easter. That means lots of rain and high winds coming down from Canada (which means COLD!). We could stay in Crisfield for at least 3 days waiting out the weather or go somewhere where we might get some help. We looked south on the charts trying to find such a place but Norfolk was the closest and was, at best, two days away. We couldn’t imagine staying in Crisfield for one more day, so it was back to Solomons.

Returning to Solomons was quite a ride! It took us a little over 5 hours and during that time it was freezing with up to 35 knot winds and seas of 2-5 feet. For some of you sailors that may be no big shakes, but for us it was rocking and rolling. We had water on the flybridge which is 13 feet or so above the water!

We finally got some help with our boat problem on Friday. Rick worked with the mechanic and spent most of the day outside in the freezing rain. Joy! Since there was more work to be done on Monday, our friends, Stacey and Geof drove all the way to Solomons to pick us up and take us to their home for the weekend. We had such a good time with them. We came back on Sunday and all went to the ‘Patuxent River Appreciation Days’ festival. The sun finally came out and it was actually, HOT. Ya-hoo.

So, boat problems (well, those we know about) are fixed for the moment so we are getting ready to leave this morning to start our last leg home. We think it will take about a week to get back to Morehead City, so we hope to be there on 10/17th or 18th then back to Cary some time after that. The greatest thing about Solomons was that Rick found a barber and got his hair cut. He says he feels like he lost 2 lbs!
The Patuxent River Naval Air Station is across the river from Solomons. It was interesting to see all the military aircraft overhead as well as watching the helicopter pilots practice take-offs and landings. Here are some of the many antennas they have on the base.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

September 26-October 2, 2006 Oxford, Md Part II

We took some pictures of the houses and other miscellaneous things around Oxford and thought we would share them. Below a view of the calm water from the back of the boat and dogs going fishing.

Sunset in Oxford, MD
Yard Art!

Several of the homes on the water.

September 26-October 2, 2006 Oxford, MD Part I (Can't believe it is October!)

We arrived in Oxford on Wednesday, Sept 27. Oxford was described as the ‘perfect little town’ so we were anxious to see it. It has a famous B&B/restaurant, the Robert Morris Inn, that people from all over the north east drive to for the weekend. Author, James Michener, believes that they have the best crab cakes ever. Robert Morris, Jr. is credited as the ‘Financier of the American Revolution’. He spent his personal savings to finance the continental army and, a close friend of Washington, became the first Finance Minister of the United States. Both the restaurant and the B&B are beautiful and we were glad that we went there for lunch. However, as much as we wanted to have the best crab cakes ever, we have had too many crabs and had sandwiches instead!

We are anchored in what is called Town Creek which is actually much larger than a creek and runs through the main part of Oxford. We can see marinas across the water and new mansions behind us. I don’t think you can buy a house in Oxford for less than $1 million. My dad tells me that there are more millionaires per capita here than anywhere in the US! We took the dingy in to find a place to have lunch. It is sad that many of these ‘water’ towns have lots of marinas but no dingy docks for transient boaters like us. We have had trouble finding places to land the dingy to go ashore to help their economies. Guess they just haven’t thought of it from that point of view. We found a restaurant about ¾ of a mile from where we finally put the dingy in so we got some much needed exercise. Lynnie had her second blue crab fix and Rick had a Chesapeake Club, which consisted of rockfish, topped with crab and melted cheese. Of course eating crabs have to be chased with a beer or two. Below, two makeshift dingy docks.

We could see the wind whipping up the water and came back to Rickshaw to see that she had dragged anchor so that we were part way in the channel – which is a no-no and we could wind up with a fine if the local water police stopped by, I guess sort of like parking half way on the highway! Anyway, since a storm was coming we closed up the flybridge “smiles” (…which are the zippered clear vinyl windows…), put the dingy back on the boat, picked up the anchor and moved.

Now, to steal from Snoopy’s writings … “It was a dark and stormy night”... it was a doozie of a storm and our anchor dragged again. We were getting close to a private dock but since it was raining so hard and the wind was about 20 knots, and it was dark, we were afraid that moving the anchor would do more harm than good. So, we kept an eye on where we were vs. the dock, with everything ready to start the engines, if needed, to keep her stationary and into the wind. First time we have had to stay up all night on watch! But we made it through and moved it in the morning after the wind died down. We can't complain because we have had such fabulous weather most of the 2 1/2 months we have been in the Chesapeake.

We took the dingy into town for a second day and rented bikes. We tooled around the town which only took about 2 hours since it is a really small town! Following are some miscellaneous shots of the town. You can see the ferry terminal behind Rick's right shoulder.

We left Oxford on Monday morning, 10/3. After being here 6 nights, it was time to move on. We had a very relaxing time with each of us doing some chores around the boat. We are heading back to Solomons, MD which is half way to our next stop, Crisfield, MD, back over on the Eastern Shore of the Chesapeake.

Friday, September 29, 2006

September 21-27, 2006 St. Michaels, MD

We have spent the last few days in St. Michaels. It is on the eastern shore of the bay, south of Annapolis, and the first of three towns we hope to visit on this side of the bay. Boy, do we like St. Michaels. It dates back to the early 1600’s . It became famous as a shipbuilding center; they built the ‘Baltimore Clippers’, the fastest sailing vessel of their time (we went to the Maritime Museum and listened!! – more on that later). Now tourism is #1 here but they have kept it quaint and not tickey-tackey. It is a great walking town with everything you need close by (read that grocery store and restaurants!). Below is the famous Crab Claw restaurant at sunset.

We anchored right outside of the town for the first 3 nights then went to the St. Michaels Marina for the last 2 nights. Our preference now is to anchor out. We are both a bit surprised by that as docking in a marina is easier in that we have shore power and unlimited water and we can just jump off the boat and walk wherever we want! Most importantly, we don’t have to worry about where the anchor is NOW, we still have anchor-itis but we are getting better. But anchoring out is quiet and the anchorages have been beautiful. We can see the Milky Way almost every night. We drop the dingy to go exploring the water then usually go into town. It is a truly wonderful way to live.

Above are some pictures of St. Michaels. Below is the Maritime Museum across the water from where we anchored.

We took the dingy over to town to go to the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum. We had heard this was a great museum – and we agree. They have nine separate buildings on the museum campus, one of them is the Hooper Strait light house which was moved here when it became obsolete. It was another screw-pile light house and we learned what that mean. It turns out that the steel pilings were manually screwed into the bottom of the bay by a team of up to 40 men turning a giant auger. The lighthouse was cut in half horizontally and moved here in two pieces. It has a fourth order Fresnel lens. These were invented by Monsieur Fresnel who never lived to see his invention become the standard of the majority of lighthouses in the world.

We spent most of the morning with a docent explaining everything to us and a couple from Britain. It was funny hearing the docent try to not insult the British couple when he talked about the history during the Revolutionary War. I kept thinking I knew this guy and it turns out that he was my 4th line manager at IBM back when I worked at K Street in Washington, DC in the early 1980’s! Small world.

The Hooper Lighthouse is sitting behind a vintage Chesapeake 'Buy' boat. These boats went out to get the oysters and fish from the bigger fishing boats so that the fishing boats didn't have to waste any time coming into the docks to unload their catches. Below are pictures taken from the top of the lighthouse.

Not only is it a museum, but they also restore historic Chesapeake boats as well as make new wooden boats

On the second night at the anchorage we were sitting out on the back deck enjoying the evening when we noticed an awful odor wafting our way. We thought that some other boat was having some kind of problem but it didn’t go away and when Rick went down to the engine room he came back saying, incredulously, that it was our boat that was so stinky! It lasted for about 2 hours then went away. When we talked with our sailing neighbors at the anchorage, they thought that we had sucked one of the zillion jelly fish that are in the bay into one of the engine raw water strainers and it just had to make its way out of the system. Boy, hope we don’t get that again.

We received about 3 weeks of mail at the marina. We are having our mail forwarded to my dad’s secretary who forwards it on to us when we know where we are going to be. Nora is great and throws away all the junk mail for us. So, we had to come back to reality for a bit. Rick did the mail and I went to the post office, the library and bought 8 used paperbacks for $2.25 then went to the grocery story. We also did fun things like wash the boat (4 hours), laundry and Rick spent the entire day washing all the water strainers and changing fuel filters. Not every day is a day in paradise, but close enough!

We are leaving to continue south on the Eastern Shore with two more places that we want to go to. One is Oxford, MD and the other is Crisfield, MD, crab capital of Maryland. We are planning on being back in Morehead City, NC on or about 10/20. We have lots to do to get ready for our next trip. We’ll be heading south this time!

Friday, September 22, 2006

September 17-20, 2006 South River and Church Creek

We anchored in a small creek off of the South River which is ... surprise ... south of Annapolis. We will be here for 4 nights. Talk about peaceful. This actually is a ‘hurricane hole’. There are a number of these creeks identified on the bay for boaters to come to when there is a hurricane threat. The creeks are narrow with high banks and trees to help protect from wind and high waters. Hope we never have to use one for that purpose. For grins, we took the dingy off the boat and tooled around. We have been using the grill for dinners, and during the days we have been catching up on reading, blogging and boat logging, while worrying if the anchor is still holding!!

No one around!

Breakfast at anchor and below the leaves in the water. I can't believe that summer is coming to an end.

Next, on to St. Michaels.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

September 13-17, 2006 Magothy River to Annapolis

We left Baltimore and decided to anchor out in the Magothy River which is halfway between Baltimore and Annapolis, our next ‘city’ stop. Because of its proximity to both cities and to Washington, the river was packed with boaters. But since we were heading into the river on Sunday afternoon as most people were leaving, we had it all to ourselves by dinner time. We anchored behind a private island on the north shore of the river called Gibson Island. It was peaceful and pretty. We looked out onto a house that appears to have been built around the same time as Mount Vernon, George Washington’s house. It has a long, green lawn in front of the house where horses grazed. We certainly enjoyed the view and stayed there 3 days.

We arrived in Annapolis on Wednesday, Sept. 10. It was humbling docking at the marina. There were at least a dozen 100+ ft yachts in this marina. Usually a dockhand helps boats get in their slip. As the kid tied our lines around the cleats, we heard him say on his radio “I’m helping a little 44 DeFever, I’ll be right there to help with the big one”. Perspective is everything!

It was also a bit of a challenge getting Rickshaw into her slip at the Annapolis Yacht Basin. The entry way was narrow, just off the bow of one of those mega yachts; then had to make a 90 degree turn to the left into a narrow slip area, then pivot the boat back 90 degrees and back in. The space to pivot in was just about the length of Rickshaw, so the pucker factor was a bit high that afternoon. (Rick wrote the above paragraph and I just want to add that he did a great job of getting the boat into the slip!)

It has turned cooler and rainy. My girlfriend, Stacey, picked me up on Thursday morning and I spent two days at her house doing ‘girl’ things like hair cuts and shopping. We had a blast. Rick stayed on the boat and got a few repairs done. Our water pressure system had gone caput so he had that replaced. He tried to find a barber to get his hair cut within walking distance from the marina, but no luck. Pretty soon he will be sporting a pony tail if we don’t find one soon! We had some great meals in Annapolis. We found the best ribs ever at Griffin’s on the Annapolis waterfront. What a great town.

My youngest brother and his family came for a visit on Saturday and we had a great time catching up with all of them. We wandered around Annapolis, as the weather wasn’t cooperating for a boat ride, and enjoyed the afternoon together. We went back to Griffin’s and begged for more ribs for dinner. Following are some random shots of Annapolis as we were leaving (of course, that was a great weather day!!).

Above, Maryland State House.

Annapolis water side and below the Naval Academy.

We have become used to dodging crab pots this whole trip but leaving Annapolis on a sunny Sunday afternoon, Sept. 18, gave us a different perspective of what we needed to dodge! We’ve never been in the midst of so many boats going in all directions.

This is the Thomas Point Lighthouse. It is the only screw pile lighthouse remaining in its original position (remember we like lighthouses!). It was a pretty sight. There were 8 or 9 tankers lined up to get into Baltimore Harbor.