The Travels of Marco Polo

18 October 2017 | Solomons Island-Chesapeake Bay and Potomac River
13 October 2017 | Annapolis Maryland
09 October 2017 | Baltimore MD and Colorado Springs, CO
26 September 2017 | Staten Island, Atlantic City, Cape May and Bear DE
19 September 2017 | Branford and Stamford CT
17 September 2017 | Mystic, Connecticut
03 September 2017 | Essex Island, CT- Long Island Sound
01 September 2017 | Milford, CT Long Island Sound
31 August 2017 | Port Washington, NY
23 August 2017 | New York City
08 August 2017 | New Jersey
25 July 2017 | Intracoastal Waterway
17 July 2017 | Southport Village Marina, Southport NC
08 July 2017 | Georgetown, South Carolina
25 June 2017 | Charleston, South Carolina
04 June 2017 | Brunswick, GA
26 June 2016 | Houston Texas
14 June 2016 | St. Augustine Florida

Solomons Island and the Potomac River

18 October 2017 | Solomons Island-Chesapeake Bay and Potomac River
Barbara/ great
Solomons Island, Maryland

September 20-21, 2017

Before leaving the Chesapeake Bay area, we sailed over to Solomons Island. We hold fond memories of the island from a previous sailing trip with our friends, Pat and Jim. It is a very picturesque town on the mouth of the Patuxent River. For many decades the island was largely isolated. During WWII this changed dramatically. The area's isolation, long beaches and deep water made it an ideal location for amphibious training. Thousands of troops trained here for the attack on Guadalcanal and the Normandy invasion.

Walking around town after dinner we noticed banners advertising the Solomons Plein Air Festival. Popularized by the French Impressionists, the plein air method advocates painting outdoors working with natural light. Numerous artists were at their easels taking advantage of the evening light and scenic views of the town and beach.

Solomons Island was our final port before traveling up the Potomac River.

September 21-24, 2017

Cruising the Potomac River- Dodging Crab Traps, Debris and Friendly Fire!

Navigating the approximately 140 nautical miles of the Potomac River to Washington, D.C. demands vigilance due to an assortment of hazards: crab traps, floating debris and friendly fire. Crab traps, the bane of boaters but a livelihood for others, are typically attached to colored floats, strung out in a line of a dozen or more. Watermen are legally restricted from placing their traps in the navigation channel. However, traps present a challenge around marina entrances and in broad spaces outside the channels where there are fewer regulations. Snagging a crab line and getting it or heaven forbid the actual basket caught up in your boat's propeller can cause severe damage and ruin your day! Lighting and wave action affect visibility of the floats. When traveling through an area known for crabbing, we planned our day to take advantage of the best conditions. We have enjoyed many delicious crab dishes during our travels but the traps have kept us in a constant state of alertness while on the water. On the other hand, we are respectful of the folks for whom crabbing is their livelihood. We learned the lean years have taken their toll. Tom Horton, a professor and frequent chronicler of the waterman culture, wrote in the Washington Post, that the estimated the number of full-time watermen fell from 10,000 or more in the 1990's to fewer than 3,000 in 2016. He went on to say," The people I know who still make a full-time living off the water are the ones who thank God every day they have a wife who is a nurse at the hospital." (As a salute to all my nursing colleagues, I could not resist quoting this guy!)

Recent storms resulted in high water throughout the Chesapeake Bay, and this caused debris on the beaches to flow into the river. Again, we were on continuous alert and avoided many floating logs and branches as well as a dangerous piling stuck in the channel. We notified the Coast Guard of its perilous location.

About 50 miles up the Potomac is the U.S. Naval Surface Warfare Center. This location on the River was specifically chosen for the development of a long ballistic test range required for the testing of modern, high powered munitions. As we approached this area, the Navy contacted us by radio and gave Captain Pete specific instructions on how to alter our course to safely avoid their target practice exercise going on at that time.

St. Marys, Maryland

The first night we docked in St. Marys, Maryland. Denis Point Marina is nestled inside a peaceful, wooded campground that is 5 miles up the beautiful St. Marys River. When we arrived there were no dockhands available. One of the office staff came out to catch our lines, unfortunately she had no experience in docking and looped the line around the cleat and then let it go...and so did our boat! We were both calling out directions and she grabbed the stern line just in time. To complicate things further, we arrived at high tide and there was additional tide from hurricane Jose that had pushed a lot of water into the dockage. The electrical outlets were close to the water level delaying hook up. It was "one of those days!"

Colonial Beach, Virginia

The next night we stopped at the Boathouse Marina in the friendly little town of Colonial Beach which claims a population of about 3,500 people. Bill, the marina owner, is right out of Central Casting for a genteel Southern gentleman. Not only does he run a first-rate marina, he is very cordial, inviting us to his boat for drinks and loaning us his golf cart to get around town. Surprisingly for such a small town, we found a terrific Thai-French restaurant and enjoyed a wonderful meal. Another highlight of Colonial Beach was listening to The Southern Bred Band at the Tidewater Tiki Bar. They billed themselves as "country boys who just like to play music." Several were local firefighters and E.M.T.'s. They had a great sound and as a former bass player himself, Captain Pete thought their bass player was outstanding.

Occoquan River, Virginia

Our third night on the Potomac was spent at the pleasant if remote Belmont Bay Marina. It is located a distance from the town of Occoquan and we were happy to cook dinner on the boat. We departed early the next morning. As we neared Washington, D.C. it was an extraordinary experience to see President George and Mary Washington's impressive estate, Mt. Vernon, from our boat.

We arrived in early afternoon at our highly anticipated destination- Washington, D.C.

Please check the Photo Album- Solomons Island-Potomac River for a few pictures of the above locations.

Next installment - our Nation's Capital.

Barbara and Captain Pete

Annapolis MD-Sailing Capital of America

13 October 2017 | Annapolis Maryland
Barbara/ good
September 12-19, 2017

Annapolis makes a good case for its self-proclaimed title of "sailing capital" on several fronts. Virtually year-round you will find the numerous waterways filled with boaters of all kinds- racers, cruisers, day sailors, anglers and Navy personnel practicing offshore maneuvers. October attracts huge crowds to the United States Powerboat and United States Sailboat shows which take place on back-to-back weekends. Autumn also brings the "snowbirds" stopping en route as they cruise south for the winter.
We spent our first day, visiting the U.S. Navel Academy. It is inspiring to walk around this beautiful campus and see the bright,young midshipmen as they pursue education and training preparing them to serve our country as leaders in military and civilian life. A visit to The U.S. Naval Academy Museum at Preble Hall is not to be missed. The exhibit "Leadership and Service: The History of the U.S. Navy and USNA" illustrates the numerous contributions Naval Academy graduates have made over the years. For us it was fascinating to be immersed in the history of this venerable institution and learn about the many achievements of the Academy's graduates. There is such a variety of things to see, everyone is sure to find something of interest. One of the most noteworthy collections is the Rogers Ship Model Collection. It is the largest collection of 17th and 18th century ship models on display in North America. The Museum's wide variety of holdings also includes paintings, flags, firearms, photographs and personal memorabilia.

During our week in Annapolis it was our pleasure to spend time with friends, Carroll and Rob (SV Kindred Spirit) whom we first met in Atlantic City in July. It is a real bonus to meet up with fellow cruisers especially in their home port. We appreciated their warm hospitality and look forward to seeing them in 2018. During a fortuitous walk on the way to the marina office, Captain Pete recognized a beautiful British-made sailboat and wondered if it could be the cruising couple from the U.K. that we met in the Abacos, Bahamas last year. Sure enough it was Penny and Chris from SV Karma Daze. We had a nice chat with them, hearing about their travels and discussing future cruising destinations.

Annapolis is home to many great eateries. Having been there before we revisited a few of our favorites and added several new places to our recommended list. One of the most well known we added is Chick and Ruth's Delly, a 2nd generation Annapolis institution known for huge breakfasts! We should have split an entrée especially when we learned the Delly offers over twenty-four flavors of pies! If you are there at 8:30 a.m. weekdays or 9:30 a.m. weekends you can join staff and other patrons in reciting the Pledge of Allegiance. By the way, the day after we ate there, the owners' sold the Delly to a long-time customer who assured them he would not change anything about the restaurant.

Annapolis was one of our favorite stops but after a week we were looking forward to traveling up the Potomac. We kept a close eye on weather created by Hurricanes Jose and Maria with contingency plans for moving to a protective harbor if necessary. Fortunately, we were able to start the five-day cruise up to Washington D.C. as scheduled.

Next post: The Potomac River
Take care,

Barbara and Captain Pete

Baltimore and Land-Locked Colorado Springs

09 October 2017 | Baltimore MD and Colorado Springs, CO
Baltimore, MD
Sept.4-12, 2017

It was exciting sailing into the historic Baltimore Harbor- one of the busiest ports in the country. Particularly moving was passing by Fort McHenry where in 1814 after 25 hours of continuous bombing by the British, Francis Scott Key saw to his relief the American flag was still standing. This inspired him to compose the famous poem -the "Defence of Fort McHenry" which was later set to music and became our national anthem- the Star Spangled Banner.

We docked in a nice marina within easy walking distance to the sights, shops and restaurants of the Inner Harbor. One highlight of our stay was touring the USS Constellation-the U.S. Navy's last all-sail vessel and the USS Torsk. Torpedoes launched from USS Torsk sank the last enemy ships during WWII. Very interesting tours allowing us to get a glimpse of how these brave sailors lived and worked.

Fortunately for our waistlines, Baltimore is a great walking city because restaurant choices are endless. By chance, we mostly chose ethnic establishments since we were getting a little burned out on crab, fish and lobster. A few places we sampled were - Little Havana- outstanding Cuban specialties, Kumari - delicious Indian/ Nepalese dishes and Di Pasquale's - where in Pete's opinion had out-of -this world pizza!

Colorado Springs, CO
Getting to Baltimore by September 4th was a "hard date" we planned into our schedule. The MS Society Tour of Champions bike trip in Colorado Springs was scheduled for September 7th-10th. Pete was riding in it and our flight was out of Baltimore. Then Hurricane Harvey hit! Thanks to the hard work of the Houston MS Society staff the trip went on as planned despite their offices getting flooded thus preventing the bikes being shipped to Colorado. The riders took it in stride and rode rented bikes. Having been on several Tour of Champion trips, we enjoyed connecting with other biking friends. It was a glorious fall day for the ride. The bike ride was as expected, strenuous. The altitude, steep climbs, and Pete's lack of training were factors, but the scenery and meeting up with friends made the ride great. We non- bikers joined them for lunch in the Garden of the Gods. As you can tell from the photo (see Album), a very popular guy was Joe, a charming 92-year -old WWII veteran who achieved Tour of Champions status for the second time but wisely decided not to do the Colorado ride.

On our last day in Baltimore we did a bit more sightseeing. The city's World Trade Center has a striking 911 Memorial comprised of steel from the NY World Trade Center and limestone from the Pentagon to remind us that we were all transformed that day. The third component is polished black granite which reflects the heroism of the passengers and crew of Flight 93.

We enjoyed our stay in Baltimore. The Harbor area was home to many millennials as evidenced by the many young people we saw out jogging, walking their dogs and gathering in the establishments along the beautiful waterfront.

From Baltimore we made the short 27 mile journey to Annapolis- the sailing capital of the world.

Take care,
Barbara and Captain Pete
Photo below: Pike's Peak

Harve de Grace and Rock Hall, Maryland- Chesapeake Bay

05 October 2017 | Chesapeake Bay
Barbara/ Very pleasant
Harve de Grace, MD
August 25- 30, 2017

Nestled at the mouth of the beautiful Susquehanna River and the northern Chesapeake Bay, Harve de Grace cherishes its rich history and small-town charm. This compact town with friendly people, neat shops and restaurants with beautiful views is not to be missed when traveling on the Chesapeake. When we arrived Friday afternoon, our neighbors tipped us off to the next day's Farmers' Market .They encouraged us to get there early before the much in demand homemade breakfast sandwiches were gone. We whiled away a couple of hours buying fresh produce to restock our gallery and listening to the vendors' stories. We felt connected to the community. Later we visited the Harve de Grace Maritime Museum which tells the area's story going back 400 years. It was one of the most comprehensive museums we have seen on this trip. A climb to the top of the Concord Point Lighthouse offered us the view of the Susquehanna River from the same vantage point as the villagers who saw the British invade 200 years ago.

Harve de Grace is the Decoy Capital of the World. Waterfowl carving is a highly respected regional art form. We watched as a 40 year-veteran carver at the Harve de Grace Decoy Museum put the final touches on a very realistic-looking duck.

Pete hiked the trail north of Harve de Grace along the Susquehanna River. An old long abandoned railway wound along the river side. The scenery was spectacular.

Only one of us is into shopping so we did not spend much time in the shops although we both enjoyed "taking a step back in time" and browsing in Baboukas Antique Mall and Beer MuZeum. For those born in the 50's, 60's, and 70's you can re-live your childhood here with the many vintage toys, comic books, and memorabilia from the past. If you are a beer connoisseur you are likely to find your favorites in the extensive beer can collection housed here.

While in HDG, we rented a car and took an overnight road trip to a few of the next destinations we were sailing to and checked out the marina facilities. This was helpful as we altered our schedule based on these "site" visits. Driving enabled us to enjoy quite a bit of the scenic Chesapeake Bay countryside. HDG is also where we were when Hurricane Harvey struck Houston. Typically as with most marinas, we had limited television access and were grateful for information relayed to us from friends and family in Houston regarding our home.

From Harve de Grace, we continued on to Rock Hall, MD.

Rock Hall, Maryland
August 30- Sept.4, 2017

Rock Hall is a quaint Eastern Shore community, home to boaters, crabbers, artists and other small business owners. In an earlier time it was an important tobacco port and later was a major fishing and crabbing center. The marina located on Swan Creek was very picturesque and full of local boaters celebrating Labor Day Weekend. We took the Rock Hall Trolley into town to check out the town and restaurants. We had a delicious meal at the famous Waterman's Crab House Restaurant and Dock Bar ending the meal with a piece of Smith Island Cake- the official dessert of Maryland.- nine thin layers of cake with icing in between the layers. Umm....

Laid-back Rock Island was a welcome break in our hectic schedule. It was a great opportunity for us to relax for a few days before cruising to Baltimore on Labor Day

Take care,
Barbara and Captain Pete

Passage from Long Island Sound to the Chesapeake Bay

26 September 2017 | Staten Island, Atlantic City, Cape May and Bear DE
August 18- 25 Staten Island NY, Atlantic City, Cape May, NJ Bear, DE
Dear Friends and Family,

To reach our next major destination - the Chesapeake Bay- we did day hops to several of the marinas where we had stayed while going north. During this week of transit, bad weather necessitated staying extra time in Port Washington and Cape May. After leaving Port Washington, time and distance factors made Staten Island rather than Brooklyn a more convenient stop. We chose Mansion Marina in Staten Island NY which proved to be the POOREST excuse for a marina that we have encountered. To our boating friends reading this blog we DO NOT recommend this marina and said so in our Active Captain review! There are other marinas far better than Mansion Marina on Staten Island.

On a more positive note, W.O.W (waiting out weather) in Cape May was a pleasant diversion since it is an interesting town. While there we toured the 18-room Physick House, built in 1879 in the Stick Style of architecture which was viewed as somewhat avant garde for Cape May. The house was built for Dr. Emlen Physick, who descended from a well-known Philadelphia family. Although his grandfather was a famous physician, Dr.Physick never practiced medicine. Instead after receiving his medical degree and subsequently a portion of his inheritance he had the Physick House built and lived as a gentleman farmer with his widowed mother and maiden aunt. The house included many features that reflected the rising income and increased leisure time of the Victorian era. Eerie experiences related to us by the docent we met on our tour substantiated the claim that the house was haunted.

From Cape May we entered the C & D Canal, a 14-mile-long, 450-foot wide, 35-foot deep ship canal that connects the Delaware River with the Chesapeake Bay. Initially conceived to aid commerce, today more than 25,000 vessels transit the C&D Canal annually achieving this goal. We had a very easy passage on this scenic waterway as only a few ships were in the canal. We stopped for the night at Summit North Marina in Bear, Delaware. We had a pleasant stay visiting the restaurant and bar which had great food and good country music. Early the next morning we walked over to the restaurant where we discovered breakfast is served on weekends only. Two of the kitchen staff well as the chef happened to be there because the Governor was appearing at an event at the restaurant at noon. When the chef found out we were there he insisted on making us breakfast. Thanks Chef Jim for delicious waffles, bacon and coffee! We have met many wonderful people on this trip. After breakfast we were on our way to Harve de Grace, Maryland.

Take care,
Barbara and Captain Pete

Branford CT and Stamford, CT- Long Island Sound

19 September 2017 | Branford and Stamford CT
Branford Connecticut August 9-11,2017

Dear Family and Friends,

Whenever possible we prefer to limit our travel days to less than 50 miles. This was our rationale for stopping in Branford, CT. It was a stop of convenience toward our next destination -Stamford, CT where we planned to stay for a week while visiting family. The marina, Brewer Bruce and Johnson East, is located in a scenic area outside of the town of Branford which upon arrival we discovered was not safely accessible by foot or bike. Fortunately, there was a good restaurant on site. During the brief time we were docked here, several Beneteau sailboats arrived in route to a weekend Beneteau Rally in Essex. We enjoyed visiting with other Beneteau owners as well as another friendly couple in the marina, George and Bonnie (SV Neshama). It was also interesting to talk with the seven member crew (18-19 year-old men and women) docked next to us in a 40-ft. sail boat. Under the guidance of their captain, they were participating in a college-accredited two-week sailing program in Long Island Sound developing skills in sailing, team building and leadership. The Lone Star State was represented by three of the participants one of whom was from Houston!

After a two-night stay we were eager to be on our way to Stamford, Connecticut which would take us within an hour's drive to the GRANDKIDS, Kaylie (12) and Matthew (9).

Stamford, CT August 10-17, 2017
Brewer Yacht Haven Marina

Stamford was another destination chosen for convenience rather than scenic appeal. The third largest city in Connecticut, it is populated by many millennials enticed by its international companies. Brewer Yacht Marina backed up to a huge office building and parking garage. Despite its rather commercial setting, the staff and other boaters we met there were very hospitable and the facilities were satisfactory.

Pete's older son and his family live in New Rochelle, NY, less than an hour's drive away. After docking the boat, we got a rental car and drove to New Rochelle. Kaylie and Matthew were eager to spend the night on Marco Polo and came back with us Saturday morning. Weather was nice with no wind so we launched the dinghy for a trip around the large harbor. Papa let them take turns driving the dinghy. After a few minutes of instruction they were both pros! They enjoyed their overnight stay on Marco Polo. During our time in Stamford, we were happy to spend several days with them before returning to Port Washington, NY-our final stop in Long Island Sound.

We hope all is well with you and yours,

Barbara and Captain Pete
Vessel Name: Marco Polo
Vessel Make/Model: Beneteau 46
Hailing Port: Kemah, Texas
Crew: Pieter and Barbara
About: Pieter is a retired engineer and very experienced sailor. Barbara, is an advance practice nurse, and looking forward to the new adventure of cruising. Our "furry crew" Cody - a 3-legged miniature poodle- enjoys sailing and making new friends of all kinds in every port.
Extra: Our boat is not named after the water game or the famous explorer but after an industry-award winning deepwater oil production platform designed by Pieter and his engineering company.
Marco Polo's Photos - Main
10 Photos
Created 18 October 2017
10 Photos
Created 12 October 2017
13 Photos
Created 5 October 2017
Photos from our passage leaving Long Island Sound and arriving in the Chesapeake Bay
11 Photos
Created 26 September 2017
Two ports of convenience!
10 Photos
Created 19 September 2017
10 Photos
Created 17 September 2017
10 Photos
Created 3 September 2017
9 Photos
Created 1 September 2017
North Shore of Long Island Sound
7 Photos
Created 31 August 2017
14 Photos
Created 23 August 2017
15 Photos
Created 9 August 2017
8 Photos
Created 1 August 2017
Pictures taken during our 200 mile stretch of the Intracoastal Waterway
12 Photos
Created 25 July 2017
Celebrating the 4th of July in North Carolina
15 Photos
Created 17 July 2017
9 Photos
Created 13 July 2017
Pictures from our many visits into This beautiful city!
18 Photos
Created 25 June 2017
11 Photos
Created 25 June 2017
Beautiful vacation spots!
9 Photos
Created 24 June 2017
Brunswick,GA -first port of call
23 Photos
Created 4 June 2017
"The aspect of St. Augustine is quaint and strange, in harmony with its romantic history...It is as if some little old ...Spanish town, with its fort and gateway and Moorish bell towers, had broken loose, floated over here, and got stranded on a sandbank. --Harriet Beecher Stowe, 1873
22 Photos
Created 8 June 2016
a few photos from this extraordinary peaceful and self-contained little town
19 Photos
Created 25 May 2016
Hope Town and the people we met there captured our hearts.
14 Photos
Created 19 May 2016
The last operating lighthouse of its kind. The lighting source is a 325.000 candlepower "Hood" petroleum vapour burner. A hand pump is used to pressurize the kerosene.Two dedicated keepers share the responsibility of lighting the lantern at dusk and winding the weights (similar to a grandfather clock) every two hours from dusk to day break. They live in two identical houses just a few yards from the lighthouse.
10 Photos
Created 17 May 2016
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Created 15 May 2016
A few photos from our visit on Great Guana Cay and the Wild Pigs of No Name Cay
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Created 11 May 2016
Our first encounter with the gorgeous beaches, and quaint settlements in the Abacos.
20 Photos
Created 2 May 2016
Photos from our crossing to West End Bahamas.
15 Photos
Created 27 April 2016
Marathon Key attracts many cruisers waiting for a good weather window for passage to the Bahamas. We enjoyed delicious food at several restaurants and Cody especially liked Sombero Beach.
25 Photos
Created 12 April 2016
We had a wonderful month in Key West. While there,we made some new friends and enjoyed a great visit with Linda and Jim. Luck and wind were on our side when a huge boat on our dock caught on fire. Fortunately, no one was injured. We especially enjoyed watching the Navy planes train over our Marina.
31 Photos
Created 4 April 2016
We rode our bikes into Key West and explored a different area of town.
14 Photos
Created 5 March 2016
The sail from Marco Island to Key West was beautiful and uneventful! I like that!
5 Photos
Created 4 March 2016
Pete enjoyed his day!
8 Photos
Created 3 March 2016
Two days in Miami at the Boat Show
4 Photos
Created 3 March 2016
A few photos from our home away from home in Southwest Florida.
11 Photos
Created 5 February 2016
Almost 70 miles west of Key West, nestled among spectacular coral reefs, fascinating shipwrecks and sandy beaches lie seven undeveloped coral and sand islands initially named Los Tortugas by Ponce de Leon. Soon noted as Dry Tortugas on charts to show mariners islands had no fresh water.
16 Photos
Created 30 July 2015
Enjoying the local color,food, people of Key West
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Created 30 July 2015
Photos from Stock Island Marina, Lower Keys, Florida
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Created 17 July 2015
some photos from the trip from Marco Island to Key West
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Created 24 June 2015
photos from Key Largo and Key West
7 Photos
Created 27 December 2014
photos related to 12/9/14 blog post
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Created 9 December 2014
clip taken by Connie Lipsey during day sail
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Created 22 November 2014
various photos taken when exploring the Marco Island area
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Created 22 November 2014
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Created 26 July 2014
Extra photos
8 Photos
Created 26 July 2014