Autumn Becomes Winter on the Chesapeake

October 16 – Annapolis, MD to Herrington Harbor Marina, MD – 22 miles

October 17-April, 2019 – Herrington Harbor Marina

Miles traveled this blog: 22

Total miles traveled:  5217

 

Well, our Fall Chesapeake cruise was cut short as the high temperatures went from the mid- eighties to the unseasonable low sixties, literally overnight.  We hoped to cross to the eastern shore at Annapolis and explore Mitchner’s Chesapeake setting of St. Michaels, Oxford, Cambridge, the Choptank River, and etc. but it wasn’t to be in 2018.  Stay tuned for that adventure in the Spring!

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A candle, warm sweater, hot cup of coffee and Kathy Hall’s book to keep me warm on a cold morning.

When the low temps dipped into the thirties and we learned that there weren’t grocery stores open on the eastern shore, we decided to eat up the food we had onboard and head home.  Another deciding factor was that our intended winter storage marina, Herrington Harbor (see previous posts), was starting to get busy  (1,000+ annual haul outs) and we didn’t wish to live aboard while on a non-predictable waiting list.  Thus, we signed a contract and hustled ourselves and the Namaste southward once again for a safe winter harborage.

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The lovely Herrington Harbor Marina in Tracy’s Landing, MD.  Side note: at 5:45 on Friday afternoon a small army of workers armed with large black garbage bags covered every inch of this huge marina, boat works and storage yard collecting all traces of litter.  The place is immaculate and not something you find in many marinas.  We love this place!  

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A sense of the peacefulness in this lovely spot!

It was a pretty trip out of Annapolis and down the western shore but cold at the helm with a high temp of 62.  I spent time down below out of the wind and enjoying the heat of the engine but Jim and Sammy reported bone chilling cold, reinforcing our homeward bound decision as we pulled into the welcoming slip.

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Chesapeake Bay Bridge in the distance as we exit Annapolis

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The sky on our trek out of Annapolis.  Time to go home!

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Fish nets coming down the shore reminding us of why we never travel at night.

An issue with traveling by boat is always, where was it that we left the car?  This time we had left her at the Deltaville Marina which, although not that far by boat was a 180 mile retrieval trip.  We always look for other options but this time we used our Looper’s discount at Enterprise and rented a car for the six-hour round trip. Upon our arrival back at the marina, the Namaste was sitting pretty on the hard (meaning ground), as they say.

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Rest well Namaste Too

Our final boat puzzle  for the 2018 season was figuring out her winterizing procedure.  After 17 years, Jim had mastered the process for our Namaste sailboat but this was a new animal: adding a generator, two heads, and a heating/air-conditioning system.  Crawling around on hands and knees in small spaces along with several trips to West Marine as well as consultation with Dan were involved.  The Captain worked through each system step-by-step with me taking copious notes turned check-list for years to come – hopefully we didn’t forget anything important.  Always nice to have an engineer-captain!

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Twelve gallons of pink anti-freeze (sometimes erroneously tagged red-pop) was carried up the ladder and poured into the appropriate spots to protect the Namaste’s important systems.

On Saturday, October 20, exactly four weeks after we left Michigan, we turned the car around and headed northwest and home.  Always a bittersweet day.  We look forward to  catching up with family and friends as well as a slower/quieter/colder pace for the next few months until we return to complete our Chesapeake cruise and likely our Loop on Lake Charlevoix in 2019.  Have a great winter!

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As we left, I snapped an early morning vista of the marina and beyond to the Chesapeake Bay.

Good Boat Name:  Tickey Tockey (credit to Ev)

Bad Boat Name:  Troubled Pirates

Quote of the Day:  “This fantastic journey called the Great Loop is a series of day trips.  Each day and each trip have their own story that will be remembered a life time.”  -Mike O’Malley, onboard My Sharona

Get Well Soon:  Delighted to report that Dwain is out of the woods and making good progress after 36 days in intensive care.

Happy Birthday to:  Kathy, Chris

Progress Report:  The young family sailing to the Bahamas that I mentioned two blogs ago is now in Oriental, NC.  After some challenging weather and skinny water they are happy and safe.

Thank You to:  Kenny for his helpful Chamber of Commerce Chesapeake info and to Ev and Clark for their generous invitation to join them on Sunset Delight this winter in Marathon!

Rest in Peace: Helen

 

 

 

Hurricane Michael Finds Us at the Annapolis Boat Show

October 9-16 – Annapolis, MD/Watergate Pointe Marina

Miles traveled this blog: 0

Total miles traveled:  5195

. . . continuing the Annapolis stay, we spent the day on Wednesday, October 10 playing around the Namaste, making small repairs, applying a 5th coat of teak oil to the deck, cleaning up and creating space for our expected guests to arrive the following day.

We had hoped to anchor or “catch a mooring ball” while in Annapolis but hurricane turned tropical storm Michael was screaming his way up from the panhandle toward us and company was coming.  While not anything like what others experienced from this horrific storm, we got gallons of rain (1.5 inches minimum in a few hours) followed by winds in the high 30s with gusts to 55.  We were secure at the dock except that our lines stretched and Jim continually checked and tightened them throughout the night.  The noises were loud, strange and we rolled around hours on end.  Sammy was not a happy puppy!

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The last blue ski we saw before the storm.

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The Namaste  sits in her Annapolis berth.  Note the many lines and bumpers keeping her secure!

  This, Watergate Point Marina, seems to have quite a history, right here on the west bank of Back Creek, Annapolis.  In addition to the 7 docks, along the waterfront, is a huge complex of 60s apartments.  The grounds are beautifully kept and it is clear that renovations are in progress to everything including the marina facilities.  Hence, the 100 or so boats in the marina are currently using a single bathroom/shower attached to an in-progress apartment reno.  It is a lovely bathroom but I cannot imagine the line when it was great boating weather.  At any rate it is a place for long walks and sweet boat envy.

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Back Creek.  Annapolis is on the Severn River.

Our friends Jenny Lynn and Dan, Loopers and previous ,owners of Gypsy Spirit, now Namaste Too, met us for the Boat Show at the Annapolis city docks and stayed three days.  They have been more than helpful as we learned about trawlers – docking, engines, electronics, head systems, and all else powerboats.  It was a pleasure to have them occupy the V-birth and spend hours catching up in the salon of the Namaste Too when we weren’t looking at boats..

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Water taxi ride.  We still scored 10,000 plus steps each day.

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The well used Annapolis Water Taxi. For $5 it takes you anywhere you want to go.  Jim and Dan both thought that would be a great captain’s job!

Speaking of boat envy, as we entered the 69th annual Annapolis Boat Show on a sunny and warm morning we came first upon the Hinkley exhibit where $4M bought a picnic model which isn’t really meant to live aboard.  Nothing in the show was affordable but everything was to envy.  In fact, the new boats confirmed that our choice of a classic old boat made sense to us over and over again.  No sour grapes here!  For fun we studied the interior décor, fabrics, carpets and decorative nautical “chotskies” to gradually upgrade the Namaste.  The following day we perused the brokerage docks (affordable and not so affordable used boats) with a quick trip through the vendor isles in big white tents.  A boat show tee shirt and nautical earrings were all that was purchased – half of what it cost for Show tickets!

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No I didn’t take the picture and yes, we looked at every boat.

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The Dog House – 40′ Hinckley

We enjoyed two lunches at the historic Middleton Tavern (est. 1750) where negotiations were held between the Army and Navy for the land where the naval academy now stands.  In paying our Am Ex bill today, I found that we had been charged for three lunches instead of two over the two days.  Apparently the swipe of a credit card can inadvertently pick up the charge immediately before or after yours and we had been charged $28 dollars for two drinks which they thankfully and easily refunded.  Note to self:  always check statements for double restaurant billings of different amounts on the same day!

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Middleton Tavern.  While for good reason dogs weren’t allowed into the show, the town is dog friendly.  Note the two blue water dishes.

Our final day together we hopped on a 75 minute walking tour of the impressive Naval Academy, about a hundred yards from the Boat Show.  It is almost as classic a campus as MSU and with their acceptance rate of 1:17, their retention rates at the end of the first year of 96% and at graduation of 89%, the academy has an incredible history and fascinating story.    Everyone graduates with a Bachelor of Science degree even though there are a variety of non-science majors available.  The core curriculum is all about math and science preparing these mid-ship men and women for naval or marine careers.  Perhaps most impressive are the physicality requirements for graduation. You don’t have to be fit when you arrive but will be when you leave.  While tuition, housing and spending money are all provided, there is a five year commitment as a commissioned officer after graduation.

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The Protestant and Catholic Chapel you see from almost anywhere in Annapolis

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Naval Academy: Service, Patriotism and Tradition!

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The Cheerleaders ready for the Navy/Temple football game.  This building originally housed basketball games  but is now the Student Center.  Note the flags of every state and US Territory along the walls – in alphabetical order.

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Inside the campus chapel – imagine the weddings!  Ever been to one here?  

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David, our enthusiastic, knowledgeable and high energy guide.  Follow me!

It was sad to see Jenny Lynn and Dan depart early on Sunday morning.  Wishing them well in their 12 hour drive back to West Michigan, we set our plans to buddy boat with Melody in Sea northward in the Spring of 2019.  The remainder of this day we spent recuperating, talking to family and friends while planning our next steps.  Stay tuned. . .

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The Girvans heading home to Michigan until Spring!

Sammy Sayz:  Jenny Lynn and Dan didn’t bring Mac along so I had three long days on the boat by myself while they did whatever they do when they walk down that dock.  Today I had to have a bath but otherwise I am fine and am having a good time with long walks, dinghy boat rides, and equally long naps.  In case you are wondering, my leg is much better thanks!

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Crabs, Courtesy Cars, and Canvass

October 4-6  – St. Mary River to Patuxant River/Solomons/Calvert Marina – 35 miles

October 7-8 – Calvert Marina to Herring Bay, MD/Herrington Harbor Marina & Resort – 39 Miles

October 9-10 – Herington Marina to Annapolis/Watergate Pointe Marina – 21 Miles

Miles traveled this blog: 95

Total miles traveled:  5195

Another beautiful travel day from our anchorage on the St. Mary River to Solomons/Calvert Marina.  (Calvert was the original governor of Maryland).  This marina is built on an old naval base that extends along much of the waterway in this part of rural Maryland where military exercises, both air and sea, are frequent. Additionally, the nation’s first amphibious training base was built here in the early 1940’s.    There are huge off-shore docking stations for unloading petroleum destined for government use – no self-serve available.   It all looks like a city-scape from the water.  Clearly and happily we couldn’t get close enough for great pictures but it was an interesting ride as we had never seen anything like it.

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Naval base stuff

When calling in for a slip at Calvert’s the lady said she had nothing available as the Kady Krogans were hosting a rendezvous and about 40 of the boats had taken all of their floating docks.  When I suggested that we were OK on a stationary dock she was willing to put us “out near the fuel dock,” at least a quarter-mile walk to the office and the laundry, and the pool was closed.  On the up side of things, our dock hosted mostly weekend live-a-boards and was alive with crabbing activity.  We saw and learned more about crabs that ever before:  they release the females :), crabs migrate (not sure when or where), and they are feisty little buggers.

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If we are right, a female.

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An official crab trap/pot at the bottom of a floating marker.

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We do everything we can to miss these babies out on the water.

We dinghied to the Calvert Museum and light house where a large festival was in progress.  We perused the many docks and hundreds of boats before returning to our quiet T slip on L dock but not before finding three boats that we have met along the way – Allison Leigh, Lauryl Anne, and Day Break.

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Solomons Lighthouse

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The Kady Krogans in Rendezvous

It was time to provision so we borrowed the one hour marina courtesy car –  a 31 year old Mercedes Benz!  The seatbelts didn’t work and it was a noisy diesel but it got us there and back in rambling style.  I spent $100 on food and Jim spent an equal amount at the hardware store – a fact of boating life!  Among other things like varnish, he purchased a fire extinguisher for the fly bridge – seems like a good idea since that is where we spend most of our time.  Laundry wasn’t going to be easy here so I decided to wait until the next stop.  Bad idea, see Herrington Harbor marina.

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1987 Mercedes Benz

Saturday night we decided to visit the local dining establishment named Hidden Harbor which they also called The Bistro and that it was – a small and unpretentious place with good food, great service, friendly folks, and a huge map on the wall with the option to pin your home port which, of course, we did.  Also found Vicki and Ron’s pin in Washington State from two years ago and likely hundreds of other Loopers!

The trip from Solomons to Herring Bay/Herrington Harbor Marina was another gorgeous cruise.  Lots of boats out from Naval minesweepers and container ships, to work boats, cruisers, sailboats and run-abouts.  It was a summer Sunday.  Herrington Harbor Marina was not a disappointment.  The flowers are still in full bloom, the dock hands are cute (no pics) and there are huffy bikes to ride to the laundry.  It is a resort area with beautiful pool (again closed on Labor day), work out room, great boaters lounges and even better wifi!  Yea, the pictures all downloaded.

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Ahh, the Begonias

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The seat was a bit wobbly but bikes were complimentary.

Shortly after our arrival a sailboat pulled into the slip next to us.  We assumed they were regulars but not so.  A late 30 something couple and their 2 ½ year old daughter, Hazel, had departed that day from Annapolis heading south to the Bahamas.  Together they own a fitness machine repair business which they plan to maintain while cruising but, they report,  if it doesn’t work, oh well!  They seemed confident in both sailing and life, not something you see every day!  We wished them well, even though we worried a little about the fact that they had no bimini in the cockpit as we are grateful every day for the Namaste’s sun protection.  He reported that he is good at canvass and I’ll bet he is!

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Chris, Caty and Hazel

Another noteworthy event was watching a 100’, custom, pleasure craft splash for the very first time.  The “18 Reeler” took 28 months to build and is reportedly valued at 12M.  A hundred or so folks attended the launch where after taking tide and current into account, they had 3” per side to lower her from the travel lift into the slip using huge foam pads along the hull for protection.  The top half of the boat would be put into place by crane the next day which we didn’t stay to see.  Oh yes, the name “18 Reeler” was selected by the owner who also owns the award-winning family business, Old Dominion Trucking Company.  They really did seem like pretty ordinary folks with two tiny dogs in tow.

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One unusual hull

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Remember the top was yet to be installed

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Heritage Harbor North – likely where we will put the Namaste on the hard when we finish this Chesapeake Cruise.

Heritage Harbor Marina boasted a laundry with three washers and three dryers – all new.  I was excited as I had three large loads of very dirty clothes that needed attention.  When I arrived another boating lady was madly changing loads but stopped to explain that only one dryer was working.  She had three more loads to dry and then it would be my turn.  Needless to say, about five hours later I had completed the task and decided that perhaps my home washer and dryer are what I miss most?

The following morning we woke to clouds that quickly vanished into another perfect day on the Chesapeake as we headed to Annapolis and the famous Power Boat Show.  Coming into Annapolis, besides the lighthouse we could see the Chesapeake Bay Bridge and the Naval Academy.

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Thomas Pointe Shoal and Lighthouse at the entrance to the Severn River and Annapolis

I had luckily secured a slip on Back Creek, but very close to Severn River where downtown Annapolis is located.  We continually comment that we have never seen so many boats anywhere in our lives.  They are everywhere including anchored in the middle of the somewhat narrow river here.  Upon arrival we secured the Namaste at Watergate Point Marina and took the water taxi to downtown Annapolis where we ate ice cream and supervised preparations for the boat show that begins on Thursday along with the Schooner Race Down the Bay and the arrival of Hurricane Michael.  Should be a big day so stay tuned.

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Maybe 1% of the boats on Back Creek.  Note: Namaste is in the picture center with the navy canvass

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Play-time for the five children and two labs on the sailboat anchored just off our stern.  Fun to watch!

Good Boat Name:  Costal Crush

Bad Boat Name:  On the Rocs

Quote of the Day:  “Be as good as your dog thinks you are.”  unknown

Happy Birthday to:  Veta, Diane

Get well soon to:  Dwain Dumas (Looper)

Thoughts going out: all the folks in Hurricane Michael’s path

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Autumn is Summer on the Chesapeake

September 21 – October 3, 2018

September 21 – Detroit River Boat Cruise aboard Diamond Jack’s

September 22 – Bentley High School Class of ’63 Reunion

September 23 – Highland to Somerset PA by car

September 24 – Somerset PA to Deltaville by car

September 25-29 – Outfit the Namaste and Splash

September 30 – Doziers in Deltaville to Urbanna Town Marina/ VA- 17 miles

October 1 – Urbanna to Parks Marina on Tangier Island – 38 miles

October 3 – Tangier Island to St. Mary’s Maryland – 37 miles

Miles traveled this blog – 92

Total miles traveled – 5100

The last post described our home stay which was about as perfect as a summer gets.  We hung out the first three weeks of September to watch competitive hockey, gymnastics, and Taekwondo, get caught up with the camp family, attend a few once in a lifetime events including Mike’s keynote address at Kalamazoo College’s Convocation and my 55th class reunion.  A word about reunions:  lots of people don’t attend and I understand why but having grown up in one community, attending the same school district K-12, and marrying the most handsome, smart, and fun guy from the class of ’62,  I enjoyed reconnecting with and celebrating people I have known literally all of my life.  It was both a grounding and an exhilarating experience.  A big shout-out to Gwen for organizing the fun cruise up the Detroit River and to the Reunion Committee for their hard work in throwing a grand party!  We were up later and danced more than we had in years.

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One of my most favorite places in the Universe.  Not the Chesapeake but leaving this beautiful place overlooking Dunham Lake

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Mike’s keynote speech at K College’s Convocation

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And his two proud parents!

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Reunion Boat Trip down the Detroit River and under the Ambassador Bridge

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The Class of ’63 cruising the Detroit River

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Contemplating our 56 years as a couple since BHS!

The following morning we finished packing, mopped the floor on the way out the door and headed back to the Namaste Too waiting for us in Deltaville, VA.  We were tired so took two days to cover about 600+ miles using back-in-the-day conversations to keep us awake and happy.  Day two of the drive was cool and misty but we pushed ourselves to tour the memorial for Flight 93.  Not sure what I was expecting but suffice it to say it is a National Park and Memorial that is a must-see if ever you are in central Pennsylvania.

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The entrance to the Memorial for Flight 93 and National Park on an misty morning

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The crash site is between the white pillars.  There is a 3 mile circle walk from the visitors center above, past the site and through an awesome park.

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Also, on our way out the door, Jim sliced his finger while trimming some documents to fit into his notebook.  He adds, while waiting for me.  The cut was as bad as the dressing indicates!

We arrived at Stingray Boat Works in sunshine and warmer temperatures.  Warmer turned into very hot as we cleaned, unpacked, and prepared the Namaste Too for our Fall Cruise of the Chesapeake.  We found her in great shape having run a portable dehumidifier in the kitchen sink and set out tubs of moisture eating stuff to fight the mold as well as having plugged the through-hulls with screening and placed bug traps around to discourage the ants and roaches.  It kept getting hotter but until we were in the water there was no air conditioning as both our heat and air function by way of a heat pump utilizing seawater. The four electric fans made life tolerable along with meals in cool local restaurants.

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On the hard!

After launch, we lived for a couple of days on the rickety dock at Stingray, then we moved to Dozier’s, a full resort marina.  This is a favorite place complete with tiled individual bathrooms, an outdoor pool, laundry room and rocking chairs across the porch.  The heat continued so we also swam and enjoyed what may be out last outdoor pool days of 2018, who knows?

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Splash!

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Sitting pretty.

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Can Sammy come out to play?

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Moving to the lovely Doziers Marina

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The only pool open after Labor Day so far.

Before leaving we visited Deltaville’s impressive Maritime Museum which also serves as their community center and wedding venue.  We saw Skip Jacks (sailboats) and Buy Boats (working boats for crabbing, fishing and oystering across the Chesapeake) both as museum models and commercial working boats which visually express the nautical history of more than three centuries of Watermen.

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Deltaville Maritime Museum – a very special place!

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Skip Jack in the foreground and Buy Boats behind.  These are all over the waters of the Chesapeake but we never see them on the Great Lakes.

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Sunset off our bow in Dozier’s Marina – no editing!

Sidebar:  several excruciating days here were spent listening to the Senate Judiciary Committee hearings – hard but important.  All of this is going on less than 100 miles up the river as the Heron flies.

Some McFall history is in order.  During the early 2000s Curt, as a new MTU college graduate, taught sailing at a Boy Scout Camp just across the River from Deltaville on the Kilmarnock River.  For two summers, he weekly captained a 40’ boat taking 5 or 6 boys and their scout master out onto the Chesapeake for a learn-to-sail.  They went to Urbanna and Tangier Island, but mostly anchored out in the many nearby tributaries.  I remember watching the weather daily and calling him from East Lansing with any scary weather reports.  How could he have so quickly grown into this responsible teacher/captain/adult?  These days were undoubtedly the roots for Camps Lookout and Carvela as well as Camp Gig!

In Curt’s path, we cast off for our shake-down cruise to Urbanna, VA, just 17 miles up the Rappahannock River.  The boat ran well as we shared the river with more than 65 sailboats racing in what appeared to be several different directions.  We managed to stay out of their way reaching the Urbanna Town Dock at high tide and also swift current.  Thanks to Carol, the dock-master, we got the Namaste into a slip – crosswise for a little minute but safe and unscathed.  What a quaint little place with lots of marinas and friendly people.  Our 3 pm Sunday breakfast at Something Different may be one of our best breakfasts ever.  I had a crab-cake and Virginia ham omelet.

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Nine of the 65 or more boats we managed to miss going up the Rappahannock River to Urbanna.  They were sure having fun – some days we miss the sailing!

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The Something Different Restaurant in Urbanna.  Perhaps some of the best service and food on the Loop!

The following morning we left for Tangier Island, about 40 miles back down the Rappahannock River and directly east into the middle of the Chesapeake Bay.  I don’t know where to begin, or perhaps more accurately where to end but this place demands description.  Tangier Island’s 400 year history began when John Smith visited and named Tangier in 1608 (he charted much of the Chesapeake Bay) and later was the headquarters of a British Fleet ravaging the Chesapeake in 1814.  Tangier is a crabbing community of a constant 470 inhabitants on 1 X 2.5 miles of quickly eroding/sinking earth.  The SW end of the island consists of a ½ mile pristine sandy beach.  Milton Parks, the 87 year-old dock-master and native of the island, was here greeting boats when Curt visited and still as sharp as a tack, has many stories to tell.

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Milton Parks, owner and dock-master of Park’s Marina on Tangier Island.  What a life legacy.  His two daughters are doctors – one on the island!

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Paying the bill was a challenge as Milton never seemed to want to take our money!

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Pristine Beach in the middle of the Chesapeake

 

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Ooops, tide is up!

The population is mainly a Methodist, Republican group of Watermen (who crab six days a week) and their families.  Much of the history we learned from the only policeman’s wife who works in one of the handful of gift/ice cream stores and as a substitute teacher.  There is an impressive medical center with three doctors but no  dentists.   The school serves 65 students with proud teachers and parents reporting that their students are as well prepared as any in Virginia.  High school seniors are all volunteers on the fire department. There is a grocery store, post office, sewage treatment plant, electric power plant, water tower and junk yard complete with friendly dog.  We rode rental bikes around the island where everyone is either waving from golf carts, bikes or on foot.  The roads are not wide enough for golf carts to pass and while there are cemeteries, some of the houses have family graves in their backyard.  There is sometimes wifi, cable and phone service but our devises required us to be directly across from the Verizon office to get even slow LTE reception.  A mail boat arrives from MD and a tour boat from VA once a day which requires a 45 minute trip in good weather but there are no other options for arrival and departure except private boats or small airplanes.

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The houses of Tangier many sporting Halloween decorations.

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Mr. Goat cooling himself in the “rescue kitty” pen.  The kitties were all outside the pen but chickens kept the goat company.  That may be an egg in the lower right corner.

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Tangier Combined School (not sure combined with what)

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We watched as a helicopter landed ¼ mile from the Namaste to take a patient off-island to either Salisbury, MD or Norfolk VA for treatment.

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One stained glass window in the local Methodist Church.  A cherished building on the island with the second being the medical center.

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Parks Marina showing the fishing community in the background.  Next to each of those white buildings is a Buy Boat that leaves out the channel (left of the picture) each morning between 3 am and daybreak.  Lovely neighbor boat, Peter and Pat!

The last night on Tangier we went to Lorraine’s for soft shell crab with some interesting dock-mates and a real live tug boat captain who hauls petroleum products between Maine and Texas on the open ocean.  Bigger than life interesting guy!

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Sunrise over the Tangier docks the morning we departed for St. Marys

I suspect this is a different place than it was in the early 2000s but it still resembles the life-style and charm of the 1950s.  It is a community where everyone knows and cares for everyone else and where we, to quote an islander, ”make up for what we lack in our own way.”

As much as we loved Tangier Island we decided to move on.  After a long dock meeting and good byes around, we left this morning and headed back across The Bay (Chesapeake) and up the Potomac River to a smaller river off the eastern bank called the St. Mary’s River.  We anchored after a little trouble with the windless (the electric mechanism that releases the anchor) because the high amperage connections had corroded.  A little scraping and some corrosion-be-gone and all was well again.  Thankfully we have a brand new back-up anchor (Jim’s birthday gift from the Pat McFall’s) which held us until we figured out the issue.

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Namaste anchored off St. Mary’s College

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Pre-daybreak view

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Pre-daybreak sounds of the St. Mary’s rowing team.

We then dinghied into shore to St. Mary’s.  Half the town is a walking museum explaining the history of this location as the first Capitol of Maryland until 1695 when the government was moved to Annapolis.  St. Marys continued to be an important port because of its deep water allowing large cargo ships to transport tobacco back to England and bring in necessary goods to the residents.  There are active archeological digs and explanatory placards to explain the rich heritage. Blended into the museum is the picturesque and highly acclaimed St. Mary’s College.  It is a public liberal arts college of about 1600 students where all buildings on campus represent the architecture of early colonial times.  It reminds us of Kalamazoo College.  We anchored here one night and enjoyed the scenery and quiet.

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The college dock just down the hill from St. Marys.  I didn’t get pictures of the campus as my phone was out of juice but trust me, along with Flagler in St. Augustine, St. Mary’s would be great choices if I were 18 again.

It remains hot – we swam off the boat in 83 degrees at 5:30 this afternoon – St. Marys River!

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Also note Jim’s newly refinished swim platform.

Good Boat Name:  A Frayed Knot

Bad Boat Name:  The Chesapeake seems to be a “more refined” boating arena than many we have encountered so far.  No Bad Boat names to report today.

Quote of the Day:  “Sometimes the greatest gift you can give another person is to simply include them.”  unknown

Happy Birthday to:  Bryan, Tom, Nick, and Patty, John, Kim

Congratulations to:  Ashleigh and the Raven’s for winning the West Michigan Hockey Classic last weekend.

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Ashleigh is second row, far right!

and to Lee for obtaining a higher level in Taekwondo.

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Get well soon to:  Dwain Dumas (Looper)

WELCOME TO THE WORLD:  Marlene Iwa Bilker

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The Great American Loop: Season #4 Conclusion and Home Stay

May 20 – Washington DC to Colonial Beach Marina (68 miles)

May 21 – Colonial Beach Marina to Dozier’s Marina, Deltaville VA (73 miles)

May 22-24 Dozier’s Marina

May 25 – Haul out at Stingray Pointe Boat Works, Deltaville VA

May 26 – Deltaville to Highland, MI and home for the summer

Boat miles traveled this blog entry: 141

Total miles traveled:  5,007

Prologue:  When the Looping season ends and we get close to returning home, I find that I am uninterested in blogging and hence the long silence.  However, in less than a month we will return to the Namaste to explore the Chesapeake and thus I add the following for the sake of continuity. . .

As reported in the previous entry, we loved our week in Washington DC even with all of the rain and resulting debris floating in the Potomac River as we worked our way back down to Colonial Beach Marina where we celebrated Kathy’s (onboard Carisma) birthday and ultimately Dozier’s Marina where we crashed the Monk Rendezvous, hung out once again with Jo and Ken onboard Friar Tuck, and readied the Namaste for a hot and steamy haul-out on May 25th.

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Just one of the many huge logs floating after days of rain.  Note Monticello onshore.

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Chugging our way back down the Potomac to Deltaville, VA and home to Michigan

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Our view the evening before haul-out. Always a bittersweet time.

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End of another wonderful season!

 

By May 26th we were home on Dunham Lake enjoying:

GRANDCHILDREN

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Lexi 19 and Ashleigh 16

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Liam 12 and Klava 11

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Nate 6 and Leonie 5

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Cedar 2 and Oscar 1

 

BIRTHDAYS

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A PARTY

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GARDENING

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CAMPS LOOKOUT AND SAKI

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BOYNE AND LAKE CHARLEVOIX

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A NEW PUPPY FRIEND FOR SAMMY – BAUER

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CAMPING AT PUT-IN-BAY WITH FRIENDS

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ART

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FRIENDS – OLD AND NEW

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JULY 4TH PARADE

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SEVEN LAKES CAMPING

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CHICAGO BY TRAIN

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A great summer all around.  Stay tuned for a Fall on the Chesapeake.

 

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.

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See the aircraft on the deck?!

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

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

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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.

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Sweet Cafe in Deltaville!

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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.

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Mt. Vernon from the water

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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.

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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.

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The castle:  Smithsonian Welcome and Information Center

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

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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.

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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

 

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Orchestra Hall

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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!

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

 

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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!

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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.

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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.

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

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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.

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

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

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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)

 

Norfolk (Naw-fuk) – Mile “0” on the ICW

April 24-May 9

April 24 – Stay-over in Oriental, River Dunes Marina (storms)

April 25 – Oriental, River Dunes Marina to Pungo River Anchorage (49 miles)

April 26 – Pungo River Anchorage to Alligator River Marina (44 miles)

April 27 – Alligator River Marina to Virginia Beach, Centerville Marina (69 miles)

April 28 – Centerville Marina to Norfolk (13 miles)

April 29-May7 – Waterside Marina, Norfolk

Miles traveled this blog entry: 175 miles

Total miles traveled:  4651

Review of states explored so far (13):  Michigan, Illinois, Indiana, Missouri, Kentucky, Tennessee, Mississippi, Alabama, Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina, and now Virginia.

When we finally cast off the lines in Oriental, NC the Namaste and Melody in Sea headed for an anchorage in the Pungo River where, after Dan got his anchor to hold, we shared dinner and a quiet evening.

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Where can we go ashore?

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One of many lovely dinners together.

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Namaste enjoying the sunset

Since Melody is faster, we left early the following morning heading up a narrow cut directly into the blinding but beautiful sun.  They eventually passed us in a wide spot but we both ended up waiting for the Alligator River Bridge whose schedule was in disarray due to construction.

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Early am: Melody resting on the Pungo River

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Heading up the cut toward Albemarle Sound.

Somewhere along the river we saw a small, flat bottom fishing boat with four young men frantically working.  We finally surmised that they were cat-fish fishing.  They had stuck long sticks/branches into the mud along the banks and attached string with some form of bait – a most crude fishing pole punched into the bottom of the river.  What we witnessed was these guys racing up and down a long stretch of river checking their lines, unhooking the fish, throwing them into the bottom of the boat and rebating the hook.  A cat-fish version of crabbing?   Another day we saw a turtle straddling a floating log in the middle of the channel.  No pictures of either the fisherman or the turtle but vivid visual memories remain.

Since it was early, our plan had been to cross the Abemarle Sound that afternoon.  However, as we waited for the Alligator River bridge to open, the wind picked up and clouds rolled in giving us pause about the crossing which can be nasty with the easterly winds we were experiencing.  In fact, Ron and Vicki reported that they had the worst seas of their entire Loop in the Abemarle Sound.  Instead we decided to make a sharp left and enter the Alligator River Marina, basically a Shell gas station and convenience store under new management and delighted to have us.  Eventually about 7 mostly “new to us” Looping boats arrived and the party began.

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Alligator River Marina.  Contentment in the background, home-port Frankfort MI – Sammy Sayz, do I really have to stay?

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Sammy and Mac – Let us run, let us run, let us run!

The following morning the weather looked iffy but the wind was light and from the south so perfect for a smooth crossing.  We buddied with Ann, onboard the Nautical Gypsy who is single handing her Albin 36 on the Loop as a traveling nurse & social worker stopping to practice along the way.  Her next job is in Albany, NY.  She is one amazing woman!!!

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Sunrise over the Alligator River marina

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Look, land onthe other side!  A perfect crossing for the Namaste and group.

During the Abemarle Sound crossing each boat must decide whether to take the Dismal Swamp route (neither dismal nor a swamp) or the Virginia Cut.  Both are different experiences but end up just south of Norfolk.  Due to timing of a lock and bridge we decided to take the Cut resulting in even worse timing.  We waited for almost an hour for the North Landing bridge only to find out that we now had to wait two hours for the Centerville Turnpike Bridge (I sure didn’t see any Turnpike).  Anyway, most bridges open on the hour to keep it simple but some don’t open at all between 6:30-8:30 am or 4-6 pm due to rush hour traffic in their locations. Because we waited for almost an hour for bridge #1 we arrived at bridge #2 around 4:05 and no they won’t wait, no there were no anchorages, no we had no marina reservation and yes, everything around was full!  This may represent one of our worst planning days ever!  Captain Jim eventually convinced the Centerville Marina just the other side of the bridge to let us tie up at their face-dock after they had closed up and gone home.  The lady got a pound of Biggby Coffee the next morning for her hospitality and we got tied up for the night.  It turned out to be a 69 mile day that took us almost 12 hours!  We also didn’t nourish or hydrate properly so irritability was a nasty factor.  You can perhaps imagine but all’s well that ends well!

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The Centerville Bridge leading to Virginia Beach.  Jim and I almost moved here for Jim’s job with Volvo in 1974.  So glad in so many ways. . .

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A happy sight, the Centerville face-dock

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Reflections of the Centerville Turnpike Bridge

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A passing barge at dusk.

The following morning with only 13 miles to Norfolk we had yet another bridge and lock to conquer – the Great Bridge bridge and the Great Bridge lock.   Approaching the bridge early we were 6th of 7 in line jockeying for position with docks on either side of the river at the base of the bridge. Just then two go-fast Sabres (read expensive boats) came roaring up as boats #8 and 9.   Within 30 seconds a guy came on the VHF radio to ask that since he and his friend were the fastest boats, could they just go on ahead and be first under the bridge and into the lock.  After a long silence a southern, slow, male drawl came over the airwaves, “Well, we just may not all fit in that lock this lift so ya’ll had best just stay in position.”  The radio went silent and they stayed put until one tried to pass us before exiting the lock. Captain Jim deliberately edged slowly over to the middle of the channel until all 7 of us were safely on our way.  You have to wonder if some people ever went to kindergarten?

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Marking time, waiting for the Great Bridge bridge to open.

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Scary picture but actually a fire rescue training site.

The final 13 miles into Norfolk was full of tall bridges that didn’t need to lift, tugs pushing barges as well as all manner of navy vessels which are huge and intimidating.  The rule is that you cannot come within 100 yards of a docked government ship but then my question is, who would want to?

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Aircraft carrier, up close and personal but see the lines, she is stationary!

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Tugs moving a troop carrier into dry dock just off our marina

We were one of the first of fifty or so boats to arrive at the Waterside Marina on Norfolk’s brand new waterfront near the Sheraton where our Looper Rendezvous would be held.  We excitedly and with great relief celebrated meeting our goal of an April 28th arrival, for which we had made reservations last December.  By Sunday all the boats were shoe-horned into their slips and along the walls with not an inch to spare.  In the end we were all pretty amazed that nobody hit anyone else on their way in or out but with heavy winds and very tight spaces folks came way too close more than once.  We added four more fenders after this picture was taken!

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The Namaste front and Center at Waterside.  Note the sound stage right behind our aft deck!

The bow of the Namaste tucked right up to Phanthom

The AGLCA (America’s Great Loop Cruisers Association, lest anyone forget) Spring Rendezvous is the semi-annual event held for Loopers who have completed, are in progress, or who are planning their Loop.  There were more than 300 people attending from all over the world, Australia being the furthest away.  Workshops, seminars, and informational meetings on everything from routes to engine maintenance to staying in shape; good food and drink; boat crawls and pub crawls; treasure hunts and a Loop trade show were all part of what felt somewhat like a professional conference but in casual clothes with fascinating stories and easy laughter.  My favorite was a presentation on reading the NOAA weather.  In my next life I am going to be a meteorologist!

A word about the Looper crawls.  One particular highlight was that each afternoon some captains opened their boats for the rest of us to “crawl” upon.  Getting to see other boats is always interesting but add snacks and wine = perfection.  We decided to open the Namaste to inspection and had perhaps 100 people onboard, 4-6 at a time.  The Albin 36 is a popular Looper boat and there are very few available so we enjoyed lots of interest and compliments.  No, she is not for sale!

The Namaste all prettied up and ready for the Looper Crawl

Jim and I came in second for the longest married couple in attendance which I translated into we were the youngest married couple in attendance.  A shout out to Kim Russo, director of the AGLCA who did a fabulous job of planning, executing and keeping everyone happy – one can only imagine!  We missed the Joe Wheeler Fall Rendezvous 2015 in Tennessee so are happy that we took-in this full Rendezvous experience.

After the last party ended, we created a complex yet workable plan with Dan and Jenny Lynn to retrieve our cars from Savannah and Brunswick Georgia, about 550 miles south.  We obtained an Enterprise rental car and all four of us drove to Savannah, dropped them off at their car, drove to Brunswick and picked up the Tiguan.   Jim drove the rental car and I my car back to Norfolk the following day.  The day after that we traveled to Deltaville to drop off the cars where we will haul out our boats for the summer and then all came back to Norfolk in the rental car.  A total of about 1250 miles!  Thinking we won’t have a car with us next year.

We also took the public transit ferryboat to Portsmouth one evening to see “Avengers” at the Commodore Theater – a mixed experience.  The theater was built in 1945 and is refurbished in art deco /cabaret style – the highlight of the evening.  We sat at tables with old fashioned office phones to place our food and beverage orders.  The food was OK, the service good and the ambiance spectacular!  I shall not comment on the “Avengers” as a movie!  Today we went to the Chrysler Art Museum and then to the Freemason Abbey for a pre-birthday, birthday dinner with Clark and Ev of Sunset Delight.

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Reminds me of the Penn Theater in Plymouth, MI

 

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What a wonderful way to see a movie!

 

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Rainy Day at the Chrysler Museum of Art

Rain

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Pre-birthday birthday dinner with Ev and Clark

Sammy says:  it was fun to be with Mac but sitting in the car for three days was b-o-r-i-n-g!  I like boat travel better as I can smell the smells, run around on the fly bridge and bark at anything I wish.  They give me lots of treats too!

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We’re so done with this!

Now it is time to move on.  We are provisioned, the laundry is done (a story for another time but due to a comedy of errors I got $10 worth of machine use for free), and the boat maintenance is finished. We plan to leave tomorrow.

Good Boat Name of the Day: Nellie May, named after the Captain Tim’s grandmother (love it)

Bad Boat Name of the Day:  Chaos

Quote of the Day:  “You are the books you read, the movies you watch, the music you listen to, the people you spend time with, the conversations you engage in.  Choose wisely what you feed your mind.”  -unknown

Happy Belated birthday to: Georgie, Beverly, Melissa,

Happy Birthday to: Bastian, Missy, Donna and Theresa

Congrats to: Bastian, Christine, and Lisa!!!!