Side Trip: The Potomac and a Week in DC

May 9-19

May 9 – Norfolk to Deltaville/Doziers Marina (58 miles)

May 11 – Deltaville to Lower Machodoc Creek/Ragged Point Anchorage (61 miles)

May 12 – Rugged Point Anchorage to Belmont Bay Harbor (66 miles)

May 13 – Belmont Bay Harbor to Washington, DC (30 miles)

May 14-19 Gangplank Marina in downtown Washington DC

Miles Traveled this Blog Entry: 215

Total Miles Traveled:  4,866

Add Maryland as the 14th State.  The VA/MD State line runs along the Virginia Shore of the Potomac

Happily pulling out of Norfolk – it is time to go – we passed one huge naval ship after another – aircraft carriers to Red Cross Hospital ships being thankful that they were tied up and wouldn’t get in our way.  However, as we entered the Hampton Crossing (where the ICW, the inlet from the Atlantic and the Chesapeake Bay meet) we noted a huge carrier on the horizon.  Over time we realized that we were headed for one another in the channel but it seemed we would pass without incident.  Just then a calm but stern voice came over the VHF radio on channel 16, “calling the white trawler near G19.”  Quickly looking up our location, we realized that she was talking to us and discovered that we were almost within the ship’s 500 yard (it is 100 yards when docked) safety zone as indicated by two patrol boats moving at top speed up and down the ships length. As requested we made an immediate left turn out of the channel for a quick get-away changing course up the Chesapeake closer to shore than the Captain’s charted route but enjoying a smooth and uneventful voyage up to Dozier’s Marina in Deltaville, VA where we spent two beautiful days.



See the aircraft on the deck?!


Was this is the ship we sent to Puerto Rico following the last hurricane?


Immediate left turn to let this big guy pass keeping his 500 yard safety zone.


Dozier Marina.  The pool is just out back. 

Some words about Deltaville:  First, this is where we moved the car, the area where Curt taught sailing at Chase, a Boy Scout Camp, back in 2003 & 4 and where we once visited him – could have fooled me!  Second, you know you are in a boating town when the hardware store is bigger and better stocked than the grocery and a complete set of Waterway Guides is available in the local cafe.


Sweet Cafe in Deltaville!


Sending our Love!

I enjoyed a relaxed birthday celebration here exploring the town in the morning and sitting by the pool in the afternoon.  Diane, onboard the Boatel, gave me a lovely, handmade sea glass necklace.  It is amazing how new friends make your birthday special when you are away from home.  A severe storm kept us from visiting the surrounding area that evening but it eventually abated and we got away to savor a tasty dinner and unique ambiance at the White Dog Bistro in Matthews.  Thanks everyone for the birthday and mothers day well wishes.  We will return to Deltaville in two weeks to put the Namaste to bed for the summer but more on that later, first on to DC.

Memorably quiet birthday with the love of my life!  We never run out of things to talk about.

The mouth of the Potomac (off the Chesapeake) is wide and one of those places where an opposing wind and current can make for a rough ride through the entrance.  We had no such thing.  Our two and a half-day run up the Potomac was absolutely spectacular for weather and scenery.  We anchored out the first night in the Little Machodoc River off Ragged Pointe.  The weather was perfect, even though I couldn’t get the various weather resources to agree on a remotely similar forecast.  The second night we stopped at the Belmont Bay Harbor Marina on the Occoquan River.  Not much here and it was 90 degrees so we just turned on the a/c and collapsed.


Sunset at anchor on the Potomac

On our final leg into DC we hoped to stop at Mt. Vernon where a free dock allows boaters to tie up while you enjoy the historic venue.  Unfortunately for us a barge was already there, two tour boats were unloading passengers and the weather was turning cloudy/rainy so we opted to save the stop for our way back down the Potomac.  From here the sights of the National Harbor, Alexandria and finally Washington were welcoming.


Mt. Vernon from the water


Old Town Alexandria from the water

As we entered the Washington Channel, a mile-long dredged cut along the newly renovated DC waterfront, we called the Gangplank Marina for directions and assistance.  As the most expensive marina of the season thus far ($3/ft/night), we were expecting amenities which were not to be.  The dockhand attempted to help both us and another boat arriving at the same time.  Although Eric is a really nice kid, he gave us incorrect and then incomplete directions followed by no clue as to how to manage lines in a cross wind.  Both the Namaste and Ole Girl were eventually secured to what are new floating docks but there is no WiFi, no laundry, two showers located in a movable trailer, and a very long walk to anything resembling dirt/grass for Sammy.  The offset is that we are a short walk to the monuments, the Mall, and the Metro.


Revitalized DC waterfront.  Gangplank marina is just to the left of the picture.  Yellow boats are the water taxis that buzz the harbor day and night!

We have been here seven days and have walked a total of 85,000 steps or about 35 miles, and minus the foot blisters, have loved every minute.  The DC Warf waterfront is far from complete but workers are everywhere trying to get things ready for summer.  Currently there are many nice restaurants, shops, a theater, and even a CVS where you catch the free SW neighborhood shuttle to the Mall.  From there the metro is available to go anywhere in the city.  However, we found that the 1 mile walk to the Mall was often easier at least until the rain began.

Day one: We decided to take Sammy and walked the length of the Mall.  Highlights included coming upon a national Police Drum and Bugle Core competition and, along with thousands of our fellow citizens, soaking in the ambiance of our nation’s capital on a business day. While Sammy really needed the walk, we were unable to take her inside any buildings and the afternoon turned blistering hot so we all hiked back to the Namaste and the a/c just before one heck of a storm!  One thing I wish to comment upon is the more than pleasant nature of all security and guide people around the city.  Everyone was more than happy to chat.


The castle:  Smithsonian Welcome and Information Center



Look – whose skate???  Exhibits in the Castle are selected from popular exhibits throughout the entire Smithsonian. 


Several evenings in a row we experienced these sever storms.  We are the blue dot, just waiting for things to begin!

Day two:  The weather continued to be beautiful so we decided on another day of walking, this time to the monuments but sans Sammy.  The Jefferson Monument surrounded by famous cherry trees was less than a mile from the boat. I truly cannot imagine the beauty when in bloom the end of April.  Moving on we saw the Lincoln, MLK, and FDR (my personal fav) memorials –  which I have seen before but remain awe inspiring!

Ultimately, we landed at the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts which is a living memorial to JFK.  This was surely a highlight of our visit to DC.  Nancy, a volunteer friend of the center, took just the two of us on a free 1.5 hour tour including all but one of the theaters, the presidential boxes, the lounges and an explanation of the gifts of 60 different countries who honored his memory.  There are State and a National Halls with flags flying!  Jim’s sister Erin performed here for two years before moving to California.



Main lobby of the JFK Center for the Performing Arts.  Entrances to the Opera and Orchestra Halls are off this lobby along with the two millennial stages at either end where a wide variety of free performances are held each evening at 6 pm, seven days a week!  There are three additional theater venues within the building



Orchestra Hall


One of the many lounges (sponsored by Russia I believe) used for a variety of purposes including available for rental to the public.  I can just imagine hosting a field instructor training here!


Presidential box of the Opera Theater, rally quite simple.  (Not frequented by our current president I was told in response to my question.)  



Me standing under the skirt of a fashion designer as part of the Cuban Exhibit.  The black strips are actually long plastic ties.

Day Three:  We woke to cloudy skies and drizzle.  What to do?  Well, we hiked back to the Mall to take in some of the venues we had not seen in past visits.  This included the Capital Building where we ended up spending our entire day.  After a rather perfunctory but still impressive and efficient mass tour we passed a desk labeled Senate Tours.  Since we hadn’t contacted ahead for tickets we were directed across the street to the Hart Building and Debbie Stabenow’s, (LMSW and grad of MSU) office.  Debbie was there but “in a meeting”.  Otherwise I am certain she would have greeted us.  The impressive suite of offices and friendly receptionist sufficed and we got our tickets to the Senate gallery and passed through three security stations just in time to view the net neutrality debate and vote.  No kidding, we saw all 100 senators (except of course John McCain) including Bernie who was first to vote and Elizabeth Warren who stood just a few feet away.  The resolution passed which is supported by 86% of the population.  Now on to the House where it is apparently less popular.  Keep your fingers crossed!





One of the many pictures hanging in Debbie’s Office – yes, 16 out of 100 and no women of color!  Other photos included Holland Tulips and the Mackinaw Bridge.

Day Four:  Raining again and our toes were squealing so we decided to take the day off.  Sammy was happy for our company and we enjoyed a quiet day on the boat – reading, writing, and napping! There are a few other Looper boats here but today we met Low Profile, shared happy hour and found we had much in common.  Great, fun people!

Day Five:  RAINING again!  Had a long lunch with our new friends Debbie and Tim and then went back to their boat for more conversation.  We had tickets for “Capitol Steps” at a theater in the Ronald Reagan Bldg. that evening. This group has been performing political satire for more than 30 years and was mostly funny, if at moments I found it hard to laugh.

Day Six:  RAINING AGAIN!  We had hoped to take the water taxi to Georgetown today but because of the quantity of rain (someone said 15”) the river level was high and the taxi/boat couldn’t get under the bridges.  Thus, we headed back to the Mall and toured the Hirshorn Museum of Modern Art.


Sculpture garden behind the Hirshorn Museum – see the rain?

and the Museum of the American Indian, neither of which we had seen before and neither disappointed.  We rounded out the day saying good-by to folks and planning our exit from DC, heading back down the Potomac to Deltaville.



Museum of the American Indian.  A beautifully done educational tribute!  Patty, thanks for your professional devotion.


DC Fish Market next door to our marina and something unchanged for decades on the waterfront.

Sammy Sayz:  Hi everyone, having a great time here.  I specially like the calm days when I can wander the boat and help Captain Jim on the helm.


Hey, what’s to eat down here.  Got treats???


Hey, I need a good book?  Any recommendations?  Jo Ann is reading Mitchner’s Chesapeake and won’t share!


I’m good at watching for crab pots!!

Even though we have each been to DC more than a dozen times and it is a side-trip on the Loop, we are so glad that we made the effort and took the time!  Imagine, two kids from Livonia sailing their own boat into Washington DC!

Good Boat Name of the Day:  Living Water

Bad Boat Name of the Day:  Wasted Sea-Men (really?)

Quote of the Day:  “Everything will be OK in the end.  If it is not OK, then it is not the end.” – unknown

Happy Belated birthday to: Donna and Theresa

Happy Birthday to: Kathy (on Carisma with whom we are celebrating with dinner tonight in Colonial Beach)


One thought on “Side Trip: The Potomac and a Week in DC

  1. Just love your updates. Thanks for sharing. Worst boat name I ever saw ( pulled on a trailer in rural Missouri) was Master Baiter. As for a good book- we both just finished Stranger in the Woods. A new book about a hermit who stayed in woods for 27 years. It’s a true story and quite interesting. We got it through Our Libby app to our Kindles from library. Happy Sailing. Hope to see you around the ‘hood late July. We are basically traveling until then. Emily gets married July 13 in the Grand Tetons. Exciting times.


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