Into the Chesapeake
26 May 2019 | St Mary's, MD
We left Belhaven after a front passed through and move just a couple of hours up the ICW to the anchorage in the headwaters of the Pungo River and at the entrance to the Alligator Pungo Canal. We have been fortunate to be in the right place at the right time as far as thunderstorms. We dodged a big one at Belhaven and then another when we were at the Pungo anchorage that crossed right over where we were anchored in Belhaven. We need to keep recharging the Karma Bank.
After a pleasant night, we got an early start through the canal and down the Alligator River. The canal is always fun for spotting wildlife and we saw deer and turkeys grazing along the way. We sailed across the Albemarle Sound and then to anchor just south of Buck Island. Another early start saw us up the North River and across the Currituck Sound and into the North Landing River. There was bridge work going on at the North Landing bridge that we thought was going to hold us up but they finished just as we were approaching and through we went and then followed a Corp of Engineers Tug through the next two bridges without any wait. The good Karma continues.
We tied up for the night at the free wall in Great Bridge and did laundry and grocery shopping and had a burger out. The next morning we passed through the lock and into the Elizabeth River and down passed all the navy shipyards and came to anchor at the Navy Hospital in Norfolk. We stopped for fuel at the Top Rack Marina on the way, taking advantage of the cheapest fuel prices on the ICW.
We are calling this our Smell the Roses cruise because we are stopping at places along the way that we usually blow by. Norfolk is one of those. We have usually been in a rush to get further north and so we have not gotten off the boat here. There are a couple of free walls on the Portsmouth side of the river if not full and the anchorage at Hospital Point, where we were, is a good one. We spent a couple of days sightseeing. In Portsmouth there are good restaurants and the Commodore Theater. The Commodore is a restored Art Deco masterpiece. You can sit at a table and have dinner while you watch a movie. We had a blast watching the Avengers End Game. On the Norfolk side there is the Nauticus Museum and the Battleship Wisconsin, both highly recommended and also downtown a few blocks away is the MacArthur Museum, a must see. For those interested, if you on a boat, there is a dingy dock free for those going to Nauticus at their marina. There was a cruise ship in when we were there so we couldn’t use that but found a bulkhead to tie the dinghy to on the other side of the battleship, also free.
From Norfolk we went over to Hampton for a couple of nights. Molly had gotten a coupon for a free night at the city marina last year at the Annapolis Boat Show, so we took advantage of that. While there we visited the Air and Space Museum and took a boat tour of the harbor and Naval Base, as well as a visit to the Hampton Museum. All are available at a large discount with a Sea to Stars card available at the Visitors Center.
We sailed out of Hampton, and up the bay in company with a Boreal 55. We had a nice chat on the radio with the German owners and got a taste of what our new boat will be like. We pulled in to our usual anchorage at Deltaville and then an early start saw us heading north again and into the Potomac River. We sailed up the river a ways and into the St Mary’s River and up to St. Mary’s City, the site of St. Mary’s College and the 4th oldest English community in North America. It was established in the 1630’s and was an early experiment in religious freedom. All could worship how they chose and not worry about persecution. There was separation of church and state and also opportunity for free men to prosper and hold office no matter color or race. Unfortunately, eventually slavery was introduced and religious discrimination returned.
The city was the capital of Maryland, but the capital was moved to Annapolis and the town fell into oblivion and eventually was lost in time. Only with an extensive archeological exploration has the town been rediscovered and now a reproduction of many of the buildings are available to tour with townspeople dressed in period costume to explain what you see. We saw proprietors of an Ordinary(Bar, Hotel) and an early general store. We also met a printer and saw a reproduction of a local church, as well as the oldest barn in Maryland, formerly used as a tobacco drying house.
We plan to spend a couple of days here and then move on up the Potomac to Washington, DC. Check the gallery for some pictures.
Don’t forget Allegria is for sale and if anyone is interested, we’d be happy to show her if we are in your area.