59. Annapolis Rendezvous
20 October 2012
People had told us that the best time of year for sailing the Chesapeake would be October and November, and the shoreline of the upper reaches certainly looked beautiful in their early autumn colours. What little wind there was, was dead ahead, but the tide helped the engine carry us onwards in company with a small armada of fellow "snowbirds". It was clouding over as we reached the cross-roads with the Baltimore Channel and started to drizzle soon after we dropped the anchor behind Dobbins Island, in the Magothy River. By morning, it was raining heavily: set in for the day. We got underway after lunch and continued southwards, passed under the Bay Bridge - the pylons hidden in the low cloud, rounded Thomas Point Lighthouse and entered the South River. It finally stopped raining as we anchored in Crab Creek in perfect calm, surrounded by private docks and homes We were there to attend an Ocean Cruising Club dinner to be held next evening in a marquee in the garden of Wolfgang and Gemma, the port officers for Annapolis. It was a great success with 45 guests enjoying a very sociable evening.
After morning coffee and boat-made madeleines on "Dos Por" with Mark, Marta and their boys, we got under way and motored to a marina up river to fill the diesel and water tanks and empty the holding tank. We then retraced our route back to Thomas Point, turned up the Severn River and picked up a mooring in Saltworks Creek, where knew that Mike and Marguerite had finally arrived home after their 14 year circumnavigation on board Ithaca. We were delighted to be able to renew their acquaintance, first made in St.Lucia six months before, over drinks in the porch (i.e. veranda) of their home overlooking the Severn River. They have rapidly settled back into local life, including getting involved with tutoring under-privileged local schoolchildren. Mike has even gone back to w-w-w-work, helping out at his son's business - a conspiracy he suspects to get him out of the house! Eye Candy, Innamorata, Yindee Plus and Macushla all turned up in the Creek over the next few days. We had several sundowners and meals together either on boats or in M & M's home, and on Sunday we were all invited to a party ashore where we met several of the neighbours.
The Annapolis Sailboat Show, one of the biggest in the USA, is held in the open, under canvas and afloat, rather like the Southampton show. Like many fellow cruisers, we had timed our return to Annapolis to coincide with the event. We made two visits to look around, meet people and resolve a few technical problems. We also attempted - rather unsuccessfully - to avoid spending huge amounts of much money on new equipment. Perhaps the most impressive exhibit was an old and battered 27ft grp sailing cruiser named St. Brendan, which had recently completed a circumnavigation of the Americas, via the North-West Passage and Cape Horn, sailed non-stop and single-handed by a young local sailor called Matt Rutherford.
The City of Annapolis is home to the US Naval Academy, which dominates the waterfront with a series of magnificent buildings, boating facilities and sports fields. Each morning and evening, a dozen or so rowing eights came past our creek on training sessions. The rest of the city has a lot to offer both for visitors and as a place to live, as well as being the main yachting centre in the region. We took the opportunity to have a good look round, stock up with supplies and spares, have some minor medical check-ups and treatment and generally make ourselves at home - thanks in a big way to Mike's and Marguerite's generous hospitality. The weather was getting noticeably chilly with heavy morning dew and condensation on the cabin windows and deck-hatches, so we were thankful that we had a well insulated Swedish yacht with an efficient heater. Flocks of geese kept passing overhead flying south - reminding us that we should be following them soon; but not yet, as our insurance company required us to stay north of 35 degrees until the 1st December to avoid hurricanes. Ironic really, in the light of subsequent events!
We wanted to see a bit more of the eastern shore of the Chesapeake, so after a week in Saltworks Creek we set off for Oxford, on the Tred Avon River. We enjoyed a boisterous sail down and across the Bay, reaching the Town Creek just as it was getting dark. Next morning we rowed ashore to look round the town of Oxford, a small community with one general store, a small museum, an even smaller library, lots of up-market homes and a branch of the renowned Hinkley Boatyard. The place isn't quite in the same league as our own Oxford though: perhaps we should have sailed to nearby Cambridge instead! Fortunately, Innamorata turned up next morning, and Carol and Steve invited us over for supper. There was a good breeze blowing for the sail back to Annapolis, with the odd spatter of rain which developed into a real downpour by the time we anchored in Weems Creek, another branch off the Severn River. Matador and Yindee Plus were also anchored there - another opportunity for friendly gathering. After a couple of nights, we moved back round the corner to Saltworks Creek, where I planned to remain with the boat for the next fortnight whilst Amanda flew home to the UK to visit her mother, family and friends.