Thursday, May 17, 2018

Thursday May 17, 2018 - Layover at Bowleys, Middle River

Is it good to be home?  You bet it is.  It wasn't a great homecoming - it rained for the last 8 hours I motored from Solomons to my marina.  But, it's good to be at my destination. I have some boat work to do and Joan will drive down to pick me up this evening.  It's raining lightly all day today so it's kinda hard to do much on the outside of the boat. 

In the next week, I'll try to give some kind of trip summary, some statistics, some highlights, and some lessons learned.

I have appreciated the dedicated followers who have endured my bad grammar, bad spelling, and lack of proof reading.  Thank you for your patience. 

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Wednesday May 16, 2018 - Solomons to Middle River (home)

With rain in the forecast (for the next 3 days), my plan was to go about 40 miles to Annapolis and anchor out until tomorrow.  I figured I would be able to time my return home to miss most of any storms/rain.  The wind was south at about 15 going out of the Patuxent River but died to about 10 once I got into the Bay.  That was good because there is lots of fetch with a south wind and the seas can get pretty big and rolley.  I really don't like sailing downwind so I had decided to leave the cover on the main and sail with the genoa only.  That way, if I did get any bad weather, I only had one sail to deal with.  I ran the engine the entire day.  I made fairly good time until about 11am when it started raining.  I furled the genoa and then it was motoring the remainder of the day. 

I've come to realize that when you are going from the mouth to the head of a river or tributary like the Chesapeake Bay, the tides and current are delayed as you progress.  So, if you stayed in one place and maximum ebb was at noon, you would expect maximum flood to be about 6 hours later.  But as you move up the bay, maximum ebb moves back in time so that maximum ebb might be at 2pm further north.  Well, for the 11 hours I was heading north, the current was in some state of ebb the entire time.  That meant I had between .2 and 2 knots against me all day.  I was off Poplar Island at about 2pm and considered going into the Rhode River for the night since the current would be favorable in the morning.  But, as I've said before, when you get close to home, home is like a magnet - it's pull keeps getting stronger the closer you get.  I want through the Bay Bridge at around 3pm and at that point, I was committed to getting back to the marina before dark.  There had been very little wind all day but at about 4pm, it began building from the East and made the last 10 miles one of the roughest parts of my entire trip.  And, of course, it was still raining.  I came through the cut below Hart Miller Island and was in my slip just before 7pm. 

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Tuesday May 15, 2018 - Reedville to Solomons

Last night was exiting.  A thunderstorm came through and True Blue was rocking, rolling, and heeling.  But it only lasted 20 minutes and then it was just a nice steady rain for part of the night.  About an hour after I had anchored last night, a 35' sailboat came into the anchorage.  But, unlike me (close to shore and as much protection as possible), he stayed out in the middle of the fairly large bay.  In the morning, they were gone.  I suspect they drug their anchor in the storm and decided to move to another location (or left before 5am in the morning).

I left the anchorage at 6am and raised the main.  They were calling for SW 10-15 in the morning, increasing in the afternoon.  I didn't have that far to go to Solomons so I figured I'd be in ahead of the wind.  With that in mind, no reefs in the sails.  I had a nice sail out the Great Wicomoco and into the Bay.  I was about half way across the mouth of the Potomac and the wind died.  I ran the engine for about 2 hours and then it started back up - same direction.  I was near my favorite lighthouse - Point No Point.  I love the name but I'm not sure if there is a story on how it got that name.  As I approached the Patuxent River, the wind increased.  When I turned to go west into Solomons, I was reaching with 20 to 25 knot winds (no reefs).  I dropped the main half way up Mill Creek and anchored at my favorite location - just east of Pancake Point.

At about 10pm, I was texting with my new friend Doug. He said he had been reading on Facebook about lots of bad storms up my way.  It was dead calm but I checked the radar and saw weather very close by.  Before I turned on my inside chart plotter to set a track and anchor alarm, the wind went from zero to 30 (direction unknown, at that moment).  As soon as the chart plotter came up, it showed True Blue tracking straight from where I had been anchored to the shore about 300 feet away.   I ran up the steps, got my bearings (in the dark), started the engine, and was able to get the boat to move out of the mud and into the wind.   Then I began the exercise of running back and forth from the bow to the wheel, trying to bring in the anchor.  The wind would give me about 20 seconds before blowing the bow back off toward the shore.  Several times, I had to turn back into the wind with full throttle before locking the wheel.  Finally, after about 10 minutes, I had the anchor up and I was in deeper water.  I was VERY lucky I had grounded before hitting another boat or a dock.  It was pretty scary with a couple gusts easily over 40 or 50.  I decided to relocate to a spot further up Mill Creek where there is more protection from the (then) east winds.  By the time I got there (took 5 minutes), the wind was down to 10 to 15.  Fortunately, through all this, there was no rain at all.  But once I was anchored again, it began raining and rained for some time. 

Monday, May 14, 2018

Monday May 14, 2018 - Hampton to Reedille

I guess I'm a bit of a pessimist when it comes to planning for my next day's progress. I usually have a destination A and a destination B (the latter being a little stretch).  I almost always make destination and sometimes go on to destination C.  That's what happened today. I left Hampton at 6am.  I was sure I'd make it to Fishing Bay on the Piankatank River. But I was hoping to make it to Dymer Creek (above the Rappahannock). But I was happy to make it another 10 miles to Reedville on the Great Wicomico River. Not only that, I was at my anchorage (Sandy Point) and all settled by 4pm.  My plan was to be in Solomons tomorrow so I'll have to re-think that.  After tomorrow, we are supposed to have 3 days of rainy weather.

I left early this morning because I knew the current would be flooding for several hours. That made it hard getting out of the James River but that only takes an hour or so.  But then it was 6 to 7 knots going north for the next 7 hours.  I had both sails out all the way for the NE to E, 5 to 10 knot wind that helped with my speed.  Unfortunately, at around 7am, a big and thick fog bank rolled into the Bay and made the visibility between 200 300 yards until about noon. When it finally started lifting, it was kind of an odd feeling because I was not able to see land in any direction.  I almost felt more secure when I was encased in my little fog cocoon. 

As I approached the Great Wicomoco, it became sunny and turned into a really nice afternoon.  I anchored in Sandy Point Bay.  Ed and Joan had been there before. 

Sunday, May 13, 2018

Sunday May 13, 2018 - Portsmouth to Hampton

I've been to Hampton before and I really like the town and waterfront but every time I go, I sail past Fort Monroe on New Point Comfort and have always wanted to check it out (if possible).  What I didn't know was that until 2011, it was an Army base and not a place civilians like me could visit.  In 2011, it was closed down as a federal installation and was turned over to the State of Virginia.  Shortly after that, the National Parks Service took on a role.  There is a lot of very large and nice military housing that is owned by members of the public.  There is a very large hospital looking building at the south end that is a fairly high end (and popular) retirement home.  There is a light house near the south end, and, of course there is the Fort.  There is also a fairly large white sand beach on the East side (facing the Chesapeake) that is open to the public. 

Fort Monroe is the largest fort of it's kind in the US. It is HUGE!  It is in the shape of a pentagon and has a very large moat around the perimeter.  It too has a lot of very well built, brick buildings and also has some beautiful housing.  A very nice museum has been created in one of the buildings on the SW side of the grounds that tells the story of the fort.  I would highly encourage anyone who has not been there to go and spend an entire day. 

I stayed at the Old Point Comfort Marina.  It was built for use by military personnel but is now run by some municipal authority. It is a little run down but I really liked it and the wifi worked great.  The bath house was a little odd but very clean and functional.  I docked on a T head and the owner of a Watkins 33 had driven up from Atlanta to take his boat "Finally" to a yard where he was going to re-do the bottom.  His name was Paul and he had lots of very interesting stories about his time in the Air Force.

Saturday, May 12, 2018

Saturday May 12, 2018 - Layover in Portsmouth

I think today has been one of the most fun days of my entire trip. I was tied up to the free (south) dock at the High Street Landing in Portsmouth.  It is a really nice park type setting.  I did some boat work early and then went to the really nice Visitor's center about 2 blocks to the north (at the north free docking area).  Then I walked over to the only place to get basic groceries in a 2 mile radius - Dollar General.  It's about 3 blocks up High Street from the boat.  I got most of what I needed (lots of snacks and milk).  I took that back to the boat and then set out to the Skipjack nautical store.  It's is about 8 blocks west on High Street.  As I told the husband and wife owners, it was 10 times better than the next best store of it's kind - and I've been looking for many years.  I'm usually lucky if I can find a good size antique store with one brass lamp.  They must have had 200 to 300.  I was like a kid in a candy store.  I'll have to return.
Then I paid the senior rate of $2.25 to take the ferry from Portsmouth to Norfolk.  The ferry landing is about 200' from where I had True Blue tied up.  For some reason, I never thought I'd like Norfolk - but I really liked it.  They have a real nice waterfront with lots of open parks.  Then I walked north to the huge facility where they have the battleship USS Wisconsin on display.  It is a pretty big deal but I passed on touring the battleship - I just have to go back here. One of the dosents suggested that I go to a little hole in the wall a couple blocks away for Pizza (Benny's).  It was fantastic and inexpensive.  Then I rode the "light rail" for about an hour - over the entire route.  I got to see the town and was getting free wifi to boot.  Did I mention that the train was included in my $2.25 (all day) fare.  I walked to the huge indoor shopping mall they have right in the center of the downtown district.  It was ALL very cool.

As a side note, it's now 8pm and the Navy (somewhere around here) plays some song like Taps (on a bugle or trumpet) every night at 8pm.  And they also play a recording of the Star Spangle Banner every morning at 8am.  I felt compelled to stand at attention this morning (but didn't).

So, I walked back to the waterfront, and caught the ferry just as it was leaving (it runs every half hour).  I left the dock and stopped at Tidewater Marina for my last refueling of the trip. It is only about 1/4 mile north.  I had planned on anchoring in Hampton tonight but decided to anchor next to Tidewater instead and it was a good choice. 

Friday, May 11, 2018

Friday May 11, 2018 -  Dismal Swamp Welcome Center to Portsmouth free dock

There was just the other sailboat (a C&C 35) and me at the Welcome Center overnight. The C&C left somewhat early and I waited till about 10am to depart. I wanted to make the 1:30pm opening of the north, Deep Creek, lock.  I was only going to Portsmouth for the night and that was only another 2 hours away.  I left the Dismal Swamp around 2:30pm and made the easiest pass through the Glimerton Bridge that I've ever made.  After that, it was an easy motor to Portsmouth.  When I arrived in the small (south) docking area, there were no other boats there. And there was a sign at the entrance stating "No docking from midnight till 6am".  I radioed the captain of the ferry that was tied up at the entrance and he told me that rule is not enforced and the have  signs on several of the pilings stating rules for overnight docking.  After I docked, two other boats came in and docked also. 

I walked to the south side of the "High Street Landing" and found a craft beer restaurant - Legends.  I went in and had one of their Porters while I looked out the wind at True Blue (which I had left unlocked).