19/11/2009/2:50 pm, Mobjack Bay
We left Solomon's around 1100 on Wednesday under sunny skies and ENE wind. It wasn't long before we saw our first brown pelican of the season. I can still remember how excited we were to see our first wild pelicans ever on the last trip. It doesn't have quite the same punch this time but it is still fun.
We motor sailed for the first few hours because we had such a late start but the wind picked up to 15 knots on our beam and the current was with us so off went the engine and we had a real true sail for several hours. Oh boy - did it feel gooooood!
It was dark by the time we picked our way into an anchorage in the Great Wicomico River. We hadn't been in there before and it was a little tricky finding the unlit entrance buoys even though the Great Wicomico Light was clear. Jim cast our big spotlight around where we thought they should be and picked them out. (By the way, we consider a powerful hand held spotlight to be essential equipment.) Most of the other markers in the channel were lit and we worked our way buoy by buoy to a spot just above Cockrell Neck and dropped anchor in about 15 feet of water. I must say, it was a bit of a relief to get anchored. There is nothing like navigating and anchoring after dark in a new place to keep the adrenaline up - especially when there are shoals on each side of the channel so if we missed, we were in trouble!
Our plan was to leave at first light, but we woke up to dense fog and decided to wait a bit. We watched the menhaden (herring) fleet leave from Reedville as the fog was lifting around 0830, and by 0930 we were on our way too. We had thought we might stop in that part of the river but decided against it because it seemed narrower and harder to pick a safe spot. I'm glad we made that decision because I'd have hated to be sticking out in the channel when those 100 ft boats came through.
The Thursday trip took us to Mobjack Bay where we anchored - get this - on the West side of the East River on the North side of the Bay. How is that for convoluted directions? We ended up coming in just at dusk because we sailed as long as we possibly could before we turned on the engine. We started out under overcast skies - then mist, then drizzle and then the clouds lifted and we had sun for awhile. The wind didn't get much over 10 knots and unfortunately the current was against us until about 1500 hours. We debated stopping in the Piankatank River - Jackson Creek - where we've been before but it would have made for a very long day on Friday. We are not competing for space at least - we have not seen a single other cruising boat in these past two days.
Dinner on both nights was pork tenderloin, baked with sweet potatoes and onions. I had it in the oven while we travelled so we could have hot food quickly on Wednesday, and we ate leftovers on Thursday - with cole slaw added for variety. (Peggy - your mustard relish is delicious!!)
We are thrilled that the KISS wind generator is back to being its quiet self again. Jim and Richard checked the balance of the blades. They tightened up all the support struts and Jim added a few rubber washers where anything seemed loose and it worked. No more noise!
18/11/2009/6:24 am, Solomons, MD
Dave (our water tank man) tried his best but all the things that needed doing just couldn't get done by end of day Tuesday. So... a Wednesday late morning departure looks to be the plan. I'm writing this on Tuesday night, hoping I can post it on Wednesday morning and it will be true!
We have filled the tanks and flushed them 3 times. Along with a primary filter, we also use a seagull water purifier for drinking water, and what we sampled tasted good so I think we are set on that score. Once we get the whole area closed in again, we can put our mattress back on top and voila! a proper berth!
We'll try to make the Great Wicomico River for an anchorage on Wednesday, but it all depends on what time we get away. It would be nice to make a 2 day trip to Norfolk but that looks doubtful right now so we'll just have to see where we get and let you know when we can.
I went back to edit an earlier posting because I forgot to tell you about the Chili Cookoff. As for what we did the last couple of days... hmmm... tidied up the stackpack that lies along the boom and collects the mainsail. There had always been that little block (pully) at the stern end and it took Richard's common sense to show me that by tying a line through it to the topping lift (the line that lifts or lowers the end of the boom), it would hold the stack pack up very neatly. Geesh - how could I have not figured that out before?
We looked at charts and anchorages with Richard to figure out some options, and as always wish there was more time to check out several of them. Then there was laundry... and more grocery shopping (chocolate, cheese, ginger beer - Goslings has its own brand now and we like it a lot)... and purchasing a couple new pillows because our down ones are so old the fabric keeps tearing - with the result that every time Jim fluffs his pillow, feathers go flying all over the place. I thought at first he was moulting, but that is not the case. The lovely mute swan in the picture came for food and didn't lose any of his downy feathers either!
Here's hoping that the next time I post something, we'll be down the Bay!
17/11/2009/8:34 am, Solomon's Island, MD
We may actually leave the dock today!
The water tanks are in; all the connections are happening as I write; the lid goes back on so our mattress doesn't fall into the hole.
We've been cleaning starling droppings off the decks regularly and will be very glad to be rid of that. Funny that there was no problem for the first 10 days and now they are dropping bombs on an hourly basis. We have sails on and flags flying so, other than an interior that still looks trashed, we are ready to go.
Weatherwise - we are experiencing a whole gamut of conditions. Big shivery winds, rain and high water (over our dock on Friday) from Wednesday to Saturday, then summer-like warmth and sunshine on Sunday and Monday - and I mean summer-like - T-shirts and shorts!!
On Sunday, Jim and I took a drive to St. Mary's City which we were surprised to discover has no downtown at all. We weren't expecting a city, but we thought there would be a village. Instead, it is composed of a recreated historic site (Historic St. Mary's City), a pretty residential area, and is home to St. Mary's College - an attractive brick campus in the middle of nowhere. Folks say it is a well regarded school, has a free outdoor concert series in the summer, and welcomes visitors to its dining room.
I spent several hours on Monday visiting the Calvert Marine Museum - just up the road from the boatyard. What a treat that was. It's a fine museum with lots of hands on areas and friendly people. In fact, I spent a good part of my visit chatting with Bud at the ticket desk, Lucy and Rose at the sandbox and the "OK to touch" tank, and Karl at the sting ray and skate tank. I never fail to be inspired by spending time with people who love what they do and are positively excited about sharing their expertise with visitors. I picked out a fossilized piece of stingray tooth (from about 24 million years ago!!!), learned a whole lot about horseshoe crabs (that don't look at all like I thought they did and are extensively used in research because of their blue blood), found out more about skates and stingrays (camouflage abilities, egg cases) and compared modern day teeth and barbs to fossilized ones. I laughed out loud at the antics of the river otters in their big tank as they swam by and then wrestled and played on their log before rolling off into the water again. Fish tanks, boat and motor displays, "Solomon's Island then and now" exhibits, and of course the well restored screwpile style Drum Point Lighthouse were also on my path through the museum.
Because of fumes from the fiberglassing yesterday, we had to call on Hackett hospitality again. We had invited them over for happy hour Monday evening, but had to call back and ask if we could go there for happy hour and stay all night! We had another rip-roaring good time with Carole, Richard and Joe - swapping stories and laughs and munching on shrimp and sausage and cheese and veggies and shrimp dip and crackers and nuts and olives and.... - a happy hour/dinner in the best of cruising traditions.