It’s been a long time since we’ve posted anything to the blog, partly due to not having internet at a few locations, partly due to working on trying to defeat government run healthcare and partly due to plain ole’ laziness. But, with all of these issues temporarily resolved, it’s time to catch everyone up on our escapades.
We left Washington, DC early in the morning, on my birthday. The sun was shining, the sky was clear and the sail down the Potomac was absolutely gorgeous. The day was so perfect that we made a whopping 62 miles and reached the town of Newberg, MD right about sunset. We anchored out just south of US Highway 301 and the “Harry W. Nice Memorial Bridge,” which connects Maryland and Virginia, and went to bed with a gentle breeze rocking us to sleep. Early the next morning, however, the weather turned to crap!
We were awakened around 5:00 AM by the boat bouncing, waves slapping its sides and the wind howling through the rigging. The weather had changed and a cold front had moved in on top of us (NOAA lied and said it wouldn’t come in for another 24 hours.) We hauled anchor as soon as it was light and beat a hasty retreat on down the Potomac, towards the Chesapeake. Unfortunately, we could only make about 3.5 knots into the wind, so we made little headway at all. After being beaten for the next ten hours, we finally turned into the town of Ridge, Maryland and the Point Lookout Marina. It was very protected, secure and we spent the next two days there.
We had a small weather window on the 28th, so once more we headed out into the Chesapeake and turned south towards Norfolk. After about four hours, the wind blew up again and beat us on our nose. Once again, we were moving no faster than 3.5 knots and getting hammered by waves crashing over the bow every few seconds. So, once again, we turned into the nearest port (Deltaville, VA) and laid up for an additional two days. The only consolation was that Deltaville is geared to boaters, so we were able to resupply at the local market and do some service work on the boat while we waited for the weather to break.
On the 30th of September, the weather finally cleared and we went non-stop to Norfolk, VA, where we stayed at the Waterside Marina. We only intended to stay for one night, but learned that the 16th Annual Norfolk Harbor Party and Seafood Feast was being held on October 1st. We just had to stay and check it out.
The festival began around 4:00 pm at the city park, adjacent to the marina. For $40.00 per person, one could enjoy all you could eat of crab cakes, fish, clams, raw oysters, steamed oysters, scallops and the famous Harbor Party Clam Chowder. Additionally, there were strategically located, self serve Budweiser “Tap Trucks” and wine tents where you could drink your fill. Frankly, our bill in a restaurant would have been well over a hundred dollars each for what we ate and drank at the festival. An added bonus was, we were able to meet and speak with Bob McDonnell, who was later elected to the governorship of Virginia. From our impression of Mr. McDonnell, Virginia made a wise choice in electing him governor.
On Friday, the 2nd, we mounted out and headed for the town of Chesapeake, VA and the Atlantic Yacht Basin. There, we had the boat hauled for its annual maintenance routine and some additional enhancements that are hard to do properly when the boat’s in the water. While the boat was “on the hard,” we got a car and went shopping for supplies and Christmas goodies for our granddaughters. We met some new fellow cruisers, who were at AYB for the same reason as us, and share some food, drinks and stories of each other’s adventures on the water.
While the boat was out of the water, we’d been researching the Dismal Swamp Canal, which is the old waterway created by George Washington (that’s right, the first president of the United States) and is still in use today. We were told that our boat had a shallow enough draft (5’) to safely transit the canal and that we’d come out at Elizabeth City, NC and escape a lot of the desolate waterway between Norfolk and Morehead City, NC. So, on the morning of October 14th, with all of our repairs complete, we took off foor the Dismal Swamp Canal. And that's when our luck changed.