09/24/2007, Great Wicomico River Virginia
I spent the weekend in Solomons Maryland and really enjoyed myself. I had a great spot up the creek with plenty of comings and goings of people and boats. I was so taken with the Solomons that I almost changed plans in mid-stream and investigated hauling Christa in a local boat yard. However I wasn't able to establish cost on the weekend and assume that due to the Solomons being a "Yachting Center" that prices would be higher than down south. But I did some skulking around the local West Marine. I replaced the jib furling line and am in the process of replacing all my running rigging. I also figured out a place to hang my spare propane bottle which has befuddled me for weeks. I also did much measuring and sketching and I think I have my battery situation squared away or at least I have a solid plan to "up the amps." For all you armchair sailors, replenishment of electricity is everything on a boat. It really makes the difference between a feeling of camping versus living in a semblance of comfort. Plus I gotta have my Sirius Sat Radio!
Ok, so the Gretchen Wilson show was absolutely worth hanging out for an extra day. Just the people watching was priceless. Couples wearing his and her "Gitter Done" shirts and girls all in red neck women ensembles. Beautiful. Gretchen Wilson truly has a set of pipes. She is a country singer but really can belt out some rock and roll. She sang some ZZ Top and brought down the house with Hearts Barracuda. I haven't been to a show in quiet sometime and really loved it. I also am grateful that I am even in a position to stumble upon such an opportunity. My experience thus far since leaving Newport RI has been wonderful and to think that I will be doing this sailing thing full time gets me totally jazzed. I do wish to have a first mate to share it with though, Gretchen's on tour though or I'm sure she'd be game.
I was up this morning way before the dawn. I was hauling up the anchor chain under a star filled sky and had a good head start on the day as the sun peaked above the horizon. Had a light NE breeze and was able to deploy Big Bob and move along at 4.5 knots for 3 hours before wind abated. I brought the Yanmar online and motored to my current spot on the planet near Reedville VA on the Great Wicomico River. Reedville is home to a great Menhaden fishing fleet and their attendant onshore processing plants. It was another near perfect weather day, not a cloud in the sky, although out of no where a fleet of biting flies showed up aboard Christa. What is my deal with insects?
09/22/2007, Solomons Maryland
I trotted on over to the Maritime Museum this morning and bumped into Veronica. She just so happened to be the event coordinator for the Gretchen Wilson show. In fact in her office she had all kinds of photo's of her with different country celebrities, even Willy Nelson.
I'm jazzed to report that I got a premium seat, right up front to see my new semi-girlfriend Gretchen. The venue has 5,000 seats outdoors. Veronica tells me that I should show up early for the famous 10 dollar crab cake sandwhich. I'm looking forward to that. With a tone of caution I asked her if I should be concerned with all the "red neck" women that may appear given my status. She said I should.
One admin item regarding the blog. Not sure if you all know but you can click on the map link to the right and it will bring up may trail down the east coast. You can click on each individual "x" and up pops up the relevant blog entry. I'm also almost done loading all my photo's. Check it out!
09/21/2007, Solomon's Island Maryland
Well I left ole toothless and company astern this morning, after raising anchor on a calm cloudy day. Just as I rounded the first red and green marker into the dreaded Slaughter Creek channel, a place requiring a high degree of concentration a horse fly the size of a sparrow starting buzzing around my head. Now many of you may not know but I have quite the history with flying insects. There was an incident years ago while hauling down the main sail on the Sacramento River aboard Christa. "The bees the bees I cried." That's a story for another day.
This horse fly was huge and it would no doubt have left a permanent welt. I was held at bay for a good two minutes while I went toe to toe with the beast and navigated down the channel. He eventually was out muscled, but lived to tell the tale and flew toward Captain Muse's boat where I'm sure he felt more welcome.
Just after this dreadful incident and after I made it unscathed into deeper water I noticed in the water what looked like huge oak leaves. However the oak leaves were moving ever so gracefully. I believe I motored through a school of some kind of Bat Ray. They were really really cool.
I now am in the Soloman Islands in southern Maryland. I hope I'm saying or spelling said Islands correctly. But as you can tell from the Google photo it's a couple of large creeks that branch off from the Paxuent River. It is very well protected and surrounded by multiple marina facilities.
I went for a stroll into the little town. Just as I got out onto the main road a sign strung across the street reads "Gretchen Wilson in Concert Sunday" at the Maritime Museum. Now I know that our good friends Michael & Cheryl from A-dock in Newport are going to be quite jazzed when they read this! So I will work on getting a ticket tomorrow for Sunday's show. If I can't get a ticket, I'll sit in the dink as the stage in near the shore. Should be cool.
All is well in my world!
09/20/2007, Taylors Island, Eastern Shore, Chesapeake Bay
Today was a smooth 8 hours of motoring south on the Chesapeake Bay. Not much traffic out on the Bay these days. The further south I go the wider the Chesapeake Bay becomes, so apparently boats are starting to spread out as the number of anchorages increase. I have chosen again an anchorage on the eastern shore in the state of Maryland.
I was sweating pretty good coming into Slaughter Creek as it is very very shallow. As I came down the channel I was in five feet of water when I realized to stay in good water according to the chart I had to go outside the daymarkers. So I kind of split the difference and watched the depth sounder carefully. I'm happy to report that I made it and am safely anchored in 6 feet of water right off Taylors Island.
Taylors Island Marina is within sight so I jumped into the dink to investigate. I immediately began to understand that I had entered a quasi hillbilly type situation. I met the toothless charter boat Captain named Chad Muse as I pulled up. We didn't chat about his upper bicuspid issues, but he did give me great info on the channel coming into Slaughter Creek. I scoped out the marina, it had old farm tractors rusting away and a general hometown disheveled appearance. I admit I loved it. The marina had a bar and grill sitting atop a small barge with a sign on the front door that said " Gun Bash Auction next Friday." I walked in and the place was shockingly packed and they all swiveled in there chairs to look at me. One old fisherman with a hat on that said "Born to Fish Forced to Work" raised his glass to me and all hands swiveled back around and refocused on CMT videos on the TV. I was in even with my Dave Matthews Band shirt that I had on. It was a real interface of farming and fishing, just good country people. I had a really good soft shell crab sandwich and a coke and departed scene.
Tomorrow I hope to make the 20 mile or so sail to the Solomons on the western shore and spend Friday and Saturday at a marina or a nearby anchorage. Word around the campfire is the wind may swing around to the NW on Sunday with the passage of a cold front. I hope this occurs because I would love to make the 60 mile sail to the Rappahannock via wind power.
09/19/2007, Rock Hall, Eastern Shore, Chesapeake Bay
Yesterday morning I raised the anchor around 10 am hell bent on sailing. Thus far I have covered nearly 400 miles and ran the Yanmar 58 hours. I love my Yanmar but much prefer the peace and quite of sailing. So in light NE breeze I broke out Big Bob and let fly along with the main sail. Just about at the same time another double ender pulled chocks and started to sail in my wake. I immediately determined this to be an America's Cup type situation and the race was on. I'm usually not disposed to such a competitive streak but I was plagued this day. So with some Metallica for inspiration I cracked on as much sail as possible. Sounds very exciting and all but truthfully with 7 to 10 knots of wind not a whole lot was happening. Although with all my activity on the foredeck I was making my own wind with all the huffin and puffin.
My competitor was running wing on wing with a jib poled out. With my spinnaker flying and the main up I am unable to sail directly down wind as the main tends to blanket the spinnaker. So I zig zagged my way down the Chesapeake. Each time I had to jibe, I had to snuff Bob with the ATN spinnaker sock, flick it around the head stay and we re- set. This is what I mean by all the huffin and puffin. But over the next couple of hours I firmly left that boat behind. After awhile I realized that if I didn't speed up I wouldn't arrive to my next destination until the next century. So I smugly fired up the Yanmar and was on my way!
I arrived in Swan Creek with little fanfare but much delight. I'm surrounded by marsh land, blue herons and all kind of marsh critters. After a very sound sleeping night, I awoke, swilled some coffee, strummed my guitar, pumped up the dingy and headed into Harbor Haven Marina. I was immediately assessed a $15 dingy landing fee. To be fair it did include the use of showers and the pool. But I did run out of time, I had every intention of remaining pool side through out the day but other projects got in the way. What kind of projects you may ask?
Well as mentioned before I will be hauling the boat out of the water for nearly two weeks starting on the 26th. I've been getting my worklist together and trying to figure what projects I will do, which one's will be hired out and which one's can be pushed aside. This worklist business is a never ended progression. But then again I did manage to take the kayak out for a spin and do some fishing and I also managed to shave today. I was really looking like a dude.
Tomorrow I will be continuing south toward the Rappahannock, not sure where I will pitch my tent tomorrow, but it will all work out. It normally does.
On a final note, thank you all for the comments that you leave on the blog and thanks for all the kind emails I have received. I can only read the comments when I have an internet connection, but it's great fun to log on after a few days and see the comments. It really is the only way I know folks are following me! Thanks again.