Sailing up the Chesapeake Bay to Annapolis – End of Our Voyage
11 July 2009 | Kikuyu in Annapolis Harbor, Looking toward the City
We had pondered taking Kikuyu up the Potomac River but after careful consideration we decided to take her up the Chesapeake, making our destination our favorite port on the Bay: Annapolis! Annapolis' harbor, with its constant winds and deep waters, is said to be "the sailing capital of the world". Annapolis is the place that inspired us to start sailing. We fell in love with its breezy harbor and the myriad sailboats plying its waters. We learned to sail in Annapolis and have visited there many times over the years. Our first sailing trip there was in 1997 in our first boat, Isabela. We had very little experience on the water and Daniel was not even 1 year old. Annapolis is also home to our engine guy and other marine services and we enjoy attending the annual boat show in October and just being tourists in this wonderful historic city, the capital of Maryland and onetime capital of the United States.
We found Kikuyu in the South River near Annapolis in 2006 and sailed it "South" (a few miles to Herring Bay) one crisp, clear day in December. Annapolis saw our sailing lives grow from the Bay to the big Atlantic and the Caribbean Seas and what a better place to choose but this city to culminate our 2-year odyssey? We had to end our trip in Annapolis and celebrate our voyage in which we accomplished all we wanted to accomplish and more.
We decided to sail up the Bay slowly, stopping in the late afternoon to anchor in a river or creek so that we could sleep, enjoy the beautiful anchorages, and enjoy our sail up the Bay more. With over 150 rivers and streams, the Chesapeake is the largest estuary in the United States. Many of these rivers and streams are deep enough for keeled vessels to go into and anchor. On Tuesday, we moved Kikuyu from Hampton Pier Marina to Hampton Flats and anchored there the first night to ready ourselves for the 5 day trip.
The second day we encountered a strong head wind out of the North and a countercurrent which made our progress very slow. We decided to call it a day early in the afternoon and sailed up the York River, anchoring in a pristine anchorage in Sarah Creek. Anchorages like this, where we were the only boat surrounded by lush vegetation filled with wildlife and a variety of bird concerts, are one of the reasons we have loved sailing on the Chesapeake over the years. We have never tired of these gorgeous anchorages.
On the third day we sailed 50 miles to Reedville and anchored in Cockrell Creek off the Greater Wicomico River. Reedville is a fishing town and when their processing plant is cooking the day's catch of menhaden, the smell can knock you off your feet. They were cooking as we came up the Cockrell. However, once we got upwind of the plant the air was fresh and we enjoyed a nice evening in another beautiful anchorage.
The fourth day we sailed Kikuyu to Solomons Island in the Patuxent River, a place that has become a boaters' destination. The Patuxent River leading northwest is wide and interesting. Upon passing under an over 100-foot tall bridge we saw depths of over 100 feet as we rounded a white sand bar that comes very close to the channel. It's amazing to see such depths anywhere in the Chesapeake, especially so close to land, except only along the main ship channel leading up the Bay. We anchored Kikuyu in a wide cove in Mill Creek (the second creek in the Patuxent named Mill) just beyond bridge. Again we were surrounded by lush vegetation and could hear a lot of wildlife, especially the Ospreys (also called Sea Hawks) as parents and chicks chirp very loudly. Ospreys are diurnal fish-eating birds of prey and are abundant in the Bay. They build amazingly tall nests made of sticks, driftwood and seaweed, which they have planted on many of the markers leading up channels in the Bay. These birds usually mate for life with both parents raising their chicks for a 5-month period of partnership. It is fascinating to watch both parents come and go from the nest, and stand on its edge as boats go by very near them. We have come to love watching and hearing these birds that we feel are one of the Chesapeake Bay's trademarks.
After anchoring, our good friends and old neighbors Tip and Marsha who have a home in the Solomons Island area motored over to our boat to greet us. It was great to see them and realize that we were getting very close to home.
Finally, on Saturday July 11 at 2PM we arrived to Annapolis. As we expected the wind picked up as we approached the Severn River which was filled with all kinds of sail boats smooth-sailing up and down. We entered the harbor under full sails and Kikuyu, looking more beautiful than ever and majestically stout, sailed into the harbor very proud of delivering its crew of three alive and well. We dropped Kikuyu's sails, approached the mooring field and took a ball as we had done many times in the past. After securing Kikuyu we fell silent and gazed at the Inner Harbor, the buildings and all the people looking out as if they were there to greet us or perhaps dreaming of their own voyage. Words could not express what we felt.
We sat in Kikuyu's cockpit and were immensely thankful for many things -- for our family and friends who supported and followed our travels, encouraging us and worrying about us; for Kikuyu, our partner and friend, who gave us shelter and sailed us safely and swiftly to the many enchanting places we have visited; for the many people we met along the way: the natives such as the Kuna, the many places we stopped , and the sailors many of whom are now dear friends; for having achieved more than we had ever dreamed; and, lastly, for the unending beauty of the Atlantic Ocean and Caribbean Sea and all of those beautiful islands and countries that gave us so much enjoyment, amazement, wonder and hospitality.