Before we left the mouth of the Potomac, we had a lovely dinner with several other boaters - Jim, Valerie, Chris and Dan. We enjoyed a very interesting dinner at a local restaurant with a colorful waiter. The food was all fresh, locally caught fish prepared to your liking. The other two couples were from Mount Vernon Yacht Club and they told us they would call one of their members to let them know we were on our way to Mount Vernon. Maybe someone could take a picture of At Last in front of Mt. Vernon. We finished dinner and enjoyed drinks on At Last. It was all great fun but resulted in a challenge when we needed to get up early the next morning to begin our journey to Washington, DC.
We left Point Lookout Marina at 7:00 am the next morning and motored our way up the Potomac. As it was getting dark, we anchored directly across from Mount Vernon which is perched on top of a hill overlooking the Potomac. We had a quiet and peaceful night at anchor and motored the boat over to Mount Vernon the next morning so we could get a good picture. Suddenly, over the VHF radio, Mount Vernon was hailing us. We soon found out that the dock master, Bob, had been called by Jim and was expecting us. He had reserved a spot on the dock for us so we could tie up and visit Mount Vernon.
We had a great visit to Mount Vernon and were amazed by the new Education Center and Museum which was built in 2006. We certainly learned quite a bit of information we never knew about George Washington. We wish we could have even stayed longer but Washington DC was beckoning. We will be forever grateful to Jim who called Bob to make arrangements for visit to Mount Vernon. And especially to Bob for such a gracious welcome. Mount Vernon is a well maintained and interesting historical site, a very special place that should be on everyone's cruising plans.
From Mount Vernon, we made our way up to the Capital Yacht Club in Washington, DC. We were warmly greeted on the dock by three gentlemen from the yacht club. We were quickly settled and encouraged to join everyone at the yacht club for happy hour. We happily complied. We checked in with the marina office and received a tour of the facilities. Great laundry, kitchen with coffee brewing all day, excellent book exchange, ice (which we took advantage of since our freezer has been acting up), a beautiful bar, and multiple restaurants within walking distance - who could ask for more.
At the bar, we were greeted by Rob the bartender. I was told that a cosmopolitan was one of his signature drinks so I ordered one. Now, for those of you who have had drinks on At Last, you are probably aware that Mark makes a killer cosmopolitan. I was a bit reticent to try Rob's cosmopolitan given my allegiance to Mark's magic recipe. Well, I am afraid to say that Rob makes an unforgettable cosmopolitan. I thought about watching Rob make the cosmopolitan in order to replicate it but instead I just gave in to the magic of it all. The drink even had a darker red color at the bottom of the glass - very nice touch.
We thoroughly enjoyed talking with everyone at the yacht club. We even had the Asian restaurant next door deliver food to the bar which we were able to eat at the bar. After dinner, a man came up to us and asked us if we were Mark and Janet from At Last. We said we were and he replied that he had been following our blog for the past two years. We recognized his name, Dana, in that we had exchanged emails several times in the past. The meeting led to a tour of At Last and a lengthy conversation on the boat about everything involving the World Arc given that Dana planned on following in our footsteps. We were thrilled to share our experiences and to help him achieve what we have achieved.
We had very little time in DC but took a day to do some sightseeing. The National Mall was about a ten minute walk from the marina - so convenient. After receiving some good advice, we decided to take the day and go on a tour of the city on a Segway. We had a great time although Mark will tell you he never quite got the hang of it. Once he actually drove over himself, not quite a hit and run because he kept hold of the Segway as it was trying to get away. Our guide, David, was very enthusiastic and knew all the little tidbits and interesting anecdotes that made the trip fun and interesting. I was thrilled to see all of the memorials, building, and statues. If only we had time to go to all of the museums. We definitely would love to find a way to return to the Capital Yacht Club and spend a proper amount of time visiting our fine Capital.
While in DC we did rent a car to attend several parties. We drove to Annapolis to visit the crew of s/v Brizo who were celebrating their circumnavigation. We then drove to Yonkers, NY to help celebrate my niece Emma's graduation from high school. It was great to see my brother and his family again. I cried like a baby when I saw how much my nieces and nephew have grown. I am so proud of them all!
When we left DC, we passed a US Coast Guard boat and Mark waved to them. You could see the light bulbs go off in their heads and they immediately turned around and approached us asking when the last time our boat was inspected by the Coast Guard. Well, it had been a while so they boarded our boat as we were underway which reminded us of picking up our pilot guides when we went through the Panama Canal. They stayed on our boat for about thirty minutes. One gentleman filled out a rather lengthy form about our boat inspection while another gentleman spent the time with Mark down below. He inspected the boat thoroughly and we passed the inspection! Of note was their inspection of how our holding tank was secured to prevent waste from going overboard, signs posted regarding no oil in the bilge and how to dispose of trash, Coast Guard rules of the road and regulations book, PFDs, US Coast Guard documentation number posted on the boat, inspection of the fire extinguishers, the bilge, etc. The officers who boarded the boat were very polite and respectful. We were happy to go through the inspection and although we have never needed the Coast Guard we are grateful they are out there just in case. The weather for the next several days kept the Coast Guard busy, I'm sure. If Mark could do it all over again, he thinks he would have joined the Coast Guard.
As we proceeded down the Potomac we began to receive gale warnings on the barometer and severe weather warnings on our Sirius weather connected to the chart plotter. We had a conference with another boat (from Australia) that was motoring along with us and we decided to anchor at the next anchorage. We had good holding in sand along a beach and spent the next few hours preparing the boat for a severe storm including tornado warnings. I made dinner and we ate in the cockpit as the storm blew in. It didn't amount to much which, oddly enough, feels somewhat disappointing after you put so much work into preparing the boat. Gratefully, we got a good night sleep and set out the next morning.
We continued on our way up the Chesapeake Bay to the C & D Canal the next day. We did motor through the night which was necessary given the cargo traffic, fishing boats, bridges and many buoys. We had the binoculars out most of the night watching for anything that might get in our way. I think we both gave a sigh of relief when the sun came up. We stopped the next day at Summit North Marina to visit our friend Steve (s/v Southern Cross) who participated in the World Arc with us. We arrived around lunch time so we all went to the restaurant at the marina. One beer led to two and suddenly we decided to spend the night. We had such a fantastic lunch that we returned to the restaurant for dinner after a brief nap late in the afternoon. When we came back in the evening after dinner, our boat had run aground at the dock. We were at low tide and the depth gauge 4.8 feet (we draw 5 feet). We could do little to resolve the issue so we called it a night. The next morning we moved the boat to the other end of the dock we were on and found another foot of water. With our full keel though, we think that at least part of the boat was still sitting in the mud. We again needed to prepare the boat for severe thunder storms predicted for the day with possible tornadoes, hail and winds up to 70 mph. Since returning to the United States we have been amazed with all of the bad weather we encountered from Florida to the Mid Atlantic. Again, the storms didn't amount to much and but we had prepared the boat for the worst.
The weather is still a bit difficult and we are now debating which day to leave. We are so close yet we still feel so far away... It should take us about two days to get home (300 nm) once we leave here. We are anxious to be on our way to get back to New England and get settled. But we still need to be cautious about the weather because the large storms have churned up the waves in the Atlantic and the wind is against us for at least another day. We don't want to take any unnecessary chances pushing the envelope and risk having a problem on the last leg of our journey. Hopefully it will be uneventful!
We are planning on landing in Mystic, Connecticut which we will be calling home for the summer, hopefully even longer. It is one of our favorite places in New England and we are so happy to have found a slip at Mystic Shipyard. We are looking forward to getting settled on the dock, meeting the others around us, and seeing all of our friends and family again!