We continue South and exit the Chesapeake, we are about to enter the ICW and will need to make a decision on which route to take next week: the Dismal Swamp, or the Virginia Cut.
October 14 to October 21
Saturday morning we did a quick 30 minute motor from our anchorage in Pancake Point over to Solomon’s Safe Harbour Marina, where we would stay for two nights during the forecasted high winds. We were greeted by the dockmaster and had an easy smooth docking for a change – on brand new floating docks (a treat!). It was raining quite hard when we arrived, so we got to work scrubbing Foggy’s salty deck and hosing the mud off the anchor and chain. We were cold and wet when we finished up, but the marina’s showers were hot and had excellent pressure, so we didn’t suffer long. Actually – those were the best showers yet. We met a lovely couple from the UK (Jon and Juliet), when we checked out the members’ lounge. John and Juliet were in the US for a bit of a tour of the Chesapeake on their troller and plan to return in April 2024 to do the Great Loop. They sail back home. It was fun to chat and share sailing stories; they had some funny ones including a 24 hour sailing race, during which dinner was dropped to them from a bridge, and a comical dialogue about their two approaches to racing. We’re hoping we may see them again when they do the Loop next year; regardless, we recommended a side trip to the Thousand Islands.
Shane had also been talking to owners of another CS34 who live close to Annapolis, Craig and his wife Sue. We made plans to get together and visit the Calvert Marine exhibit, then grab supper. The museum was lovely and had an interesting mix of exhibits from boating history to paleontology exhibits to live marine biology exhibits. We splurged and had a seafood dinner at the Lighthouse Restaurant – great food, excellent atmosphere and top-notch company. Conversation with other boaters always involve boating, of course, but also family, home, work and reasons for traveling – topics are endless really, and we said goodbye to Sue and Craig feeling like we had known them much longer than a few hours. Same goes for Jon and Juliet.
We felt very pampered at the Harbour Safe Marina and took full advantage of the complementary laundry, shuttle and member’s lounge . We spent Sunday provisioning and playing crib while we did laundry (one close game, but I won, then skunked Shane on the second). We were ready for bed at 19:45h. Apparently adopting a toddler’s bedtime when sailing is normal.
We left Safe Harbour around 10h on Monday after a quick goodbye to Jon and Juliet, hot showers and a water tank top up. We hoisted both sails and quickly realized what was wrong with the main; we had reversed our jiffy reef lines at the leech of the sail – way back at Hop-O-Nose – embarrassing. We fixed it quickly. We had planned to stop at St. Mary’s River for the night, but it was sunny and crisp and the wind was in our favour. We reefed the main and foresail. We put some music on. Foggy, the waves, Shane and I bopped to the the Band, and we had a wicked run topping out at 7.5 knots and travelling 43.4 NM. We anchored in Clay Creek close to Reedville, Virginia off the Great Wicomico River (east branch) after a twisty entrance around navigational markers, fish spears and crab pots. Foggy stretched her wings fully that day since getting her mast back on. Shane and I took two Advil’s each and hit the sack.
We left Clay Creek around 10:40h Tuesday, hoping to make it to an anchorage at the mouth of Mobjack Bay, which doesn’t offer much protection but would be good, we thought, in the forecasted winds. It was another long stretch of about 40 NM, but the anchorage we picked promised a beach walk and maybe some shark and dolphin sightings. I was able to haul the anchor myself that day, so it was a good start. We got away late and did motor some of the way to avoid anchoring in the dark. I saw my first pelican of the trip, and what I think was a Peregrine falcon hanging out on a piling we passed. We were sailing again as we approached Mobjack Bay and the wind picked up. We hadn’t reefed our sails so turned into the bay quite overpowered. The engine was of course fickle, but started up after a few nail-biting moments and we were able to lower our sails. Nightfall was coming, but unfortunately, the anchorage we picked out was too rough so we continued on and put our hook down about an hour later at Bryant Bay, a little offshoot of Mobjack, near nightfall. Once settled, we noticed a crab pot with a dark float uncomfortably close. Because we were at risk of damaging someone’s fishing gear and fouling our prop/anchor, we started to try to re-anchor. However the engine wouldn’t start, we ran out of daylight, so had to stay put for the night.
In the morning, the boat was positioned far from the crab pot (thanks to changing winds and currents). We decided this anchorage would be a two night stay, and Shane took advantage of the time to install a new bilge pump. We also took out the dinghy looking for a beach we thought we saw on the way in. We kept motoring along the shoreline, saying – “let’s just see what’s around the next point,” then the next point, then the next, until we decided we better return home. We then ran out of gas and got our “steps in” rowing back to anchor. We had hoped to see some wildlife but only saw something skitter away from us in the water. Dave and Regina, who had finished their work at the Annapolis Boat Show, arrived around 17:30. Shane flew the drone and got some good footage of them coming into anchor. We had a fun catch-up on Vitae and all decided to head to Hampton the next day to find a protected anchorage before the winds picked up again. We rowed back to our boat at the end of our evening, after our outboard again sputtered to a stop, despite a gas top-up, enjoying the beautiful night sky, unbridled by city lights.
Thursday morning, I managed to pull the anchor all by my lonesome again; it was another great start to the day! Maybe I’m getting stronger, or the sea floor is changing – likely the latter. Then, the engine started without any tinkering – what the the heck!? Life was good. We motor-sailed out of the bay all smiles. It was a beautiful easy sunny day, that allowed us to eat breakfast while underway. We kept our eye out for sharks and dolphins, but saw none. (However, we did later see three US Navy motor boats all armed to the hilt.) As we approached Hampton, we started seeing sandy shores and beach communities and more evidence of Norfolk’s military presence. We anchored in Phoebus, NC (part of Hampton) around 14h. The anchorage was quite a contrast to last night’s, with a view of a busy noisy bridge and several cranes; however, its pluses were a free dinghy dock, fuel and water close by. Shane, Dave and Regina went for a run, and I went for a walk along the beach. We got groceries, then ended the night on our boat for drinks, nachos and Azul. (Regina was the victor).
On Friday, we all loaded onto to Dave and Regina’s dingy and went to visit the Virginia Air and Space Center. We ended up buying an Association of Science and Technology Centers membership ($90/couple), as this would give us access to over 300 museums for a year, and we planned on visiting more. We viewed several aircraft and NASA spacecraft models and learned about the history of aviation and space exploration. We tried our hand at several simulators; Shane was a natural and I was not. We also watched Ancient Caves at the IMAX, about the work of Dr. Gina Moseley, a paleoclimatologist. The videography was breathtaking and showed us a world that we, most definitely, would never see in person. And Gina – well she lives an extraordinary life! It was a great way to spend a few hours and was followed by a quick visit to the Sly Clyde Ciderworks. The evening ended on Vitae for supper and a rather contentious game of euchre. (I didn’t make a note of who won, but it was likely Regina and I, wink.)
- Bruises: 10+, but I think they are from banging on the back stay when getting into the dinghy. Time to stop counting I think.
- New animals seen this week: pelicans, Peregrine falcon
Fun fact: Hampton was home to NASA’s predecessor, the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics (acronym NACA, I suppose).