June 10, 2011 Mattawoman Creek to Bushwood Wharf, Wicomico River
We got up in the middle of the night to open the hatches and run the fan. (We had cooled the boat down right before going to bed and it stayed cool for quite awhile.) We got up early with the sunrise and checked the weather. Nothing, to worry about, so we made preparations after breakfast to leave. One of the local fishing clubs was having a bass tournament nearby, so we also heard them zoom by and felt the wakes they left behind at 6 AM.
We made a quick trip to shore with Auggie to the state park pier and saw more boats leaving. We went back to the boat and then tried to pull up the anchor. I say “tried” because the chain had collected so many weeds that it was hard to lift it with the windlass. The ball of weeds was about 2 1/2 feet across, so I had to reach down with a pole and take them off. When the anchor finally came up, it was covered in thick, grey clay. It didn’t come off with a few dunkings, so again I had to use a pole to knock it off. Finally, it was clean and able to be stowed. We were on our way at 9:00. It was warm, but there was a nice breeze at the start. We were going with the current again for the first part of the morning, so that helped our speed and fuel economy. Later in the morning, the tide switched and the wind dropped off. The water was like glass….nary a ripple on the surface. We arrived at our chosen anchorage around noon, but decided to go about 18 miles further on to another anchorage in the Wicomico River. That would cut off some of the time from our trip tomorrow and it was really too early to stop for the day. We passed a sailboat from MI going the other direction. It caught our eye because, from a distance, we could see things flapping in the breeze, but couldn’t tell what they were. As we got closer, we could finally see that they had clothes and sheets hung out to dry. We’ve never seen the likes of that before!
As we made the bend in the Potomac River to head south again, we passed an old screwpile light right on the “elbow” of the river.
We passed a lot of familiar places and landmarks, but tonight we would be going to someplace new. As we motored south, the breeze picked up and it was a very pleasant ride. We entered the Wicomico River…(one of 4 of the same name on Chesapeake Bay) at 2:00 and made our way towards Cobb Island. We wanted to check out the anchoragae in Neale Sound between the island and the mainland. The channel entrance was very narrow—room for one boat at a time. We entered and looked around. It was a little tight and shallow around the edges, so we thought better of it and moved on. It was a couple of miles to our next choice (always good to have another option ready) at Bushwood Wharf where there is a state pier, launch ramp, and park.
We dropped anchor at 2:40 after 51.8 miles today.
After cooling off a bit, we dinghied to shore with Auggie to check out the Quade’s Store.
It was mainly a restaurant and bar, with a little bit of store. Auggie got a nice walk and we dinghied back to the boat to relax. We had dinner and waited for the sun to start going down. That’s the only way we can get any heat relief it seems. Around 8:00, we took Auggie to shore for the last time and watched a DVD before going to bed.
July 11, 2011 Bushwood Wharf, Wicomico River to White Point Marina, Yeocomico River
What a night!!!! Or should I say nightmare!!!! We chose the completely wrong anchorage for the forecast. We were at the end of a bay where the wind picked up and blew the 2′ waves right in at us. We rolled and bounced violently all night long. By the time we decided we needed to move, it was getting too dark and we knew there were crab traps and fish stakes all around us. We had a three quarter moon with some visibility and Bob had a plan for where to go, but we were worried about hitting something on the way. So we decided it was safer to stay where we were and ride it out. We tried sleeping on the bed and that lasted for about 10 minutes, so we moved to the settee. That worked well for Bob and he fell right asleep. I couldn’t fall asleep, so I moved outside to the passenger’s seat….and there I sat for the whole night. I think I laid there and maybe slept for an hour or two and that was all. Bob woke up when the boat was tossing about wildly to check on our position and make sure I was alright. We had set the anchor alarm and it never went off. Bob felt confident that the anchor alarm would do it’s job and wake him up if our position changed. That meant that, for once, when we needed our anchor to hold….it did. Thank goodness!!!! I am glad Bob was able to get some sleep. He’s the one that needs to be alert to drive the boat. I waited and counted the hours until daylight arrived, so we could see where to go. It started to get light around 5:00 and by 6:00 we could really see what we had gotten ourselves into. I tried to sleep a little once the sun came up, knowing that if the anchor broke free, we could at least see where we were going. We decided to get the heck out of there and get on our way. We pulled up the anchor and it came up clean. We had been holding in sand and gravel and the anchor was definitely buried. We pulled out about 7:30 and after listening to the forecast, we had heard that there was a small craft advisory warning out for late this afternoon on the Potomac. With any luck, we’d be tied up at a marina by then. There were already 2-3′ waves on the Potomac with wind out of the SW, so if we traveled along the southern shore the land would block some of the wind. The waves would be smaller, creating a smoother ride. So that’s what we did! It was less windy further south in the Potomac River, but still there were white caps on the water. The Potomac River today, was far different than the Potomac River that we traveled on yesterday. We were heading for White Point Marina on the Yeocomico River (southern shore of the Potomac), Shannon Branch of the river.
We found our way into the channel at 11:00, with the help of Bob, the owner. We fueled up first and then took a slip in the marina.
After tying up, Auggie got his first walk of the day (it was too rough to take him by dinghy this morning), and we settled in. Today and tomorrow we’re supposed to have strong winds in the Bay with temps in the mid 90s, then a cold front moves through on Wednesday night and temps should improve along with the wind conditions after Thursday. White Point Marina is very well-kept, has a pool (that I had every intention of using) tennis and basketball courts, and a courtesy car for stocking up on groceries in the nearby town of Kinsale. After getting all set up and the AC on, the only thing I had on my mind was a nap…..Bob and Auggie too. I made us some lunch and we all took a nap. After our nap, Bob and I changed into our swimsuits and went for a dip in the pool.
There is also a yacht club here. One local lady and a couple from SC who were also transients had come down to the pool for a swim as well. We visited with them while we had a nice refreshing swim. We had an early dinner and relaxed, enjoying the view from the back of the boat and the solitude. Bob, the owner, came by to check on us and see how we were doing. You don’t find that very often. The marina has been in his family for 44 years and you can see the pride of ownership throughout the property. I would highly recommend this marina to any boater traveling on the Potomac. After last night’s fiasco, this was a welcome relief. It was beautiful to watch the sun go down, creating an orange glow on the opposite shoreline. This is my favorite time of the day. Bob, Auggie, and I took an evening walk before it got dark. It was still steamy out, but was beginning to cool off a little. We all turned in early to catch up on some lost sleep.
July 12, 2011 White Point Marina, Yeocomico River (day 2)
Another day in paradise at White Point Marina!
What a restful night! (I can’t believe I bounced back as quickly as I did from losing all that sleep 2 nights ago.) We had a leisurely breakfast and read the newspaper which is delivered to every boat each morning. What a treat! We asked to borrow the courtesy car to do some grocery shopping. Their courtesy car has no AC so Bob, the owner, gave us his personal Cadillac to use instead. He even turned on the AC ahead of time so that the car would be cool for us. How nice! We took the 10 mile drive to Callao, the nearest town with a supermarket.
The ride took us through rolling woodlands and farmlands,
crossing the Yeocomico River twice,
and through a “blink of a town” called Kinsale to Callao.
We stopped at the liquor store first and then headed to the grocery store.
We were back at the boat in 90 minutes and putting things away. We did some trip planning and weather checking. The cold front is moving through on Wednesday, so with it comes some wind, but much cooler temps. Ahhhh! The wind will keep us in the marina for a couple of days. It is about 100 miles from here to Norfolk (the end of Chesapeake Bay), so depending on the conditions, we might make the whole trip in one day (at cruise speed) or take shorter legs and duck into places along the way if the conditions warrant it. It all depends on the weather. I did a thorough cleaning of the inside of the boat and later in the afternoon we went for a swim. Dave and Alston were there again and we gathered some more knowledge about the intricacies of boating on the Potomac. We came back to the boat to cook dinner and took Auggie for his evening walk.
We waited until the sun went down behind the trees to spend some time out in the back of the boat, enjoying the evening calm. It was another steamy day!
July 13, 2011 White Point Marina, Yeocomico River (day 3)
When we opened the door this morning it was steamy outside. We took our time with breakfast, reading the paper, and getting ready for our day. We borrowed the Suburban (without AC) to drive to Reedville. It was going to be a stop on our way south in the boat, but we thought that under the weather circumstances, we could drive the 30 miles there instead. We left about 10:00 and took the drive through a few small towns to get to Reedville. Reedville was built upon the menhaden fishing industry and is the second largest fishing port in the U.S. in terms of fish landed. Menhaden are made into a range of products that appear in everything from fertilizer to vitamin pills. They are also used as bait for the crab fishermen. Our first stop in town was the Reedville Fisherman’s Museum.
We watched a short movie about the menhaden industry, took a tour of the museum which chronicles the town’s fishing legacy from the time Native Americans taught colonists to use menhaden as fertilizer to modern-day processing o the fish into soaps, stains, linoleum, high-protein feeds and other products,
and toured the grounds.
On display were several locally built boats, one of which was the Claude W. Somers, a restored skipjack.
After spending about an hour there, we drove down to the end of Main St. to check out the Reedville Marina, where we would have been staying.
The two local restaurants, Tommy’s and The Crazy Crab were closed until supper time, so we couldn’t stop to have lunch. We walked around the marina grounds and from there we could see Omega Protein factory, the fish rendering plant at the tip of Cockrell Creek.
The menhaden fleet of 9 ships continues to work purse seine nets in the waters off Smith Point south of here. They return to Reedville to unload at the seafood products’ dock in the early morning. Once the menhaden is off-loaded, the boats round the point and and sell off the “eating” fish they’ve pulled up in their nets. Across the creek was a beautiful home in the architecture of the 19th century.
We drove slowly down Main St. which is on the National Register of Historic Places. Several of the Victorian examples have been converted into B and B’s. This stretch of Main St. is known as Millionaire’s Row.
The town’s most stunning example is the celebrated house, The Gables, built by a menhaden captain and laid out on the cardinal points of the compass. The bricks were brought here as ballast in ships and stacked where the house was to be built. The mast from one of the ships was built into the house and extends from the third floor to the ceiling of the fourth floor.
Leaving town we saw the Reed and Rice Store now home of Sea Products, Inc. which was opened in 1912 as a mercantile store.
We drove the 30 miles back to the marina, stopping at the Food Lion in Burgess for a few items we couldn’t find at the grocery store in Callao yesterday. We arrived back at the marina in time to go for a swim in the pool. Our dockmates were there as well and we enjoyed sharing boating stories.
We went back to the boat to make dinner and shortly after, it started to rain. There was a chance of rain today, but it didn’t look promising until later in the afternoon. We’re hoping the rain and the impending cold front brings cooler temps tomorrow. We relaxed with a DVD until the skies turned dark. Auggie got his final walk of the evening and we all turned in.
July 14, 2011 White Point Marina, Yeocomico R. (day 4) National Nude Day (Really, it’s on the calendar)
Opening the door this morning gave us a feeling of cool relief! The cold front had moved through last night with the thunderstorm, bringing stronger winds, and cooler temps just like they promised. Now, if it could last for awhile that would be great. We decided to wash the boat and get ready to pull out of here tomorrow. Bob had an engine room check to do along with setting up some routes in the GPS. We also needed to fill up the water tank in case we anchor out. Since we got up a little later today, it was already 2:00 before we were done with our chores and then we were off to the pool for a swim.
From the pool deck, we could see the oyster processing plant just across the water. It is one of the few plants left in the area. They have tried to reseed the oyster beds to increase the oyster population after it was depleted over many years of over fishing.
We hung out at the pool for awhile, visiting with Dave and Alton and then went back to the boat to have dinner. It was so pleasant outside today compared to earlier this week. The temp was in the mid 80’s and there was no humidity. The wind calmed off later in the afternoon and the day turned out to be perfect. We sat out back in the cockpit enjoying the evening and then watched a DVD before calling it a night. We would get an early start in the morning after checking the weather report.
July 15, 2011 White Point Marina, Yeocomico R. to Norfolk, VA
As always, before a “moving” day, I don’t sleep well in anticipation of things to come. We did our weather and chart homework and were confident the conditions were in our favor to make the run down to Norfolk. The sun was shining, the breeze was light, and the temp was 71. Perfect! We said our “thank yous” and “goodbyes” to Bob, as he dropped off the morning newspaper and then we made preparations to leave. We pulled away from the dock at 7:30 with the sun shimmering on the water and the wind at our back. The 18 mile run down the Potomac was easy with small ripples on the water. Crossing the mouth of the Potomac River was not an issue. Other than a change in the water color, there was no distinctive turbulance on where the river ended and the Bay began. Entering the Bay, we found conditions to be about the same…..a very pleasant ride. Rounding Smith Point on the southern side of the Potomac, we crossed from Maryland waters into Virginia waters. (We were told that watermen pay close attention to this line when crabbing and oystering. They don’t dare go over the state line.) Out on the Bay, the wind was out of the SE creating 1′ waves. We were taking them on quartering on the bow, making the ride a little bouncy. Once the tide became slack, the water calmed off again. As we neared the Great Wicomico River mouth and the town of Reedville, we saw a Menhaden ship heading out to sea.
Bob had charted a course and we stuck to it, even if it took us very close to a tug pulling a barge stacked with containers.
As we passed the mouth openings of the larger rivers to the south–the Rappahannock, Piankatank, Mobjack, York, and James Rivers, we could see the waves become more confused and larger as the water from the rivers pushed its way into the Bay. As we neared Hampton Roads, we caught a glimpse of a few battleships leaving Norfolk, VA. Here at the southern end of the Bay, the waters became a little more “swelly” and the waves were now 1-2′ with an occasional white cap. Hampton Roads is open to the Atlantic Ocean and the wind was coming from that direction. We crossed Hampton Roads and entered the Norfolk Harbor Channel around 12:30.
We had been traveling at cruise speed, averaging 19 mph, for most of the 5 hours to Norfolk. We raced Battleship 52 into the channel, as the water calmed off the closer we got to the inner harbor.
Forts Monroe and Wool still stood guarding the entrance to Norfolk.
As we motored down the Norfolk channel we heard a loud thud against the hull. Bob immediately pulled the throttles back, put the shifters in neutral, and we both looked behind us. All we could see was something that looked like a big pool of blood…..and then it was gone. The boat ran fine after that, so who knows what we hit. We continued into the harbor passing the line of Navy ships at the docks.
We noticed that some were still flying the Stars and Stripes. Later, we learned on the news that the ship we saw entering the harbor was one of four ships that came into Norfolk today from 6 months at sea. There was a huge homecoming for the USS Enterprise-a nuclear aircraft carrier, and the destroyers that traveled with her.
We turned the corner and pulled up to the Ocean Marine Yacht Harbor in Portsmouth, waiting for our slip assignment. After taking our slip, we were all tied up at 1:30 after a long 5 hour day of 102.4 miles. We had definately chosen the right day to transit the Bay. It continued to be cooler and partly cloudy, which made for a very comfortable ride. Once we had settled in, we had time to relax and do some laundry. I noticed that the sea nettles had started to invade the marina area. They are a real nuisance at this time of the year and can give you a nasty sting. These two were hanging out next to our boat.
Later, I took Auggie for a walk along the waterfront and he enjoyed his run. Bob checked fuel prices in the area on the Internet and then put some steaks on the grill for dinner. Sadly, this would mark the end of our 2 months on Chesapeake Bay. I will always have fond memories of our time spent there.
July 16, 2011 Norfolk, VA (day 2)
After a good night’s sleep, we had a leisurely morning. Bob wanted to wash all the salt off of the boat after our run down the Chesapeake yesterday. He also defrosted the refrigerator and we did some trip planning for the next few days. Tomorrow we enter the AICW again and have to make a fuel stop to top off the tanks. We have to co-ordinate 4 timed bridge openings and 1 lock. Some planning was needed. About noon, we walked the two blocks over to High Street Landing to catch the ferry over to Norfolk.
The 10 minute ride across the Elizabeth River was short, but nice. We were able to see down the river and across the harbor to the shipyard.
We passed close to a ship completely out of the water in dry dock being worked on.
We pulled up close to the Waterside Marina at the Waterside Festival Marketplace and disembarked.
We walked over to the Nauticus, the maritime-themed museum on the waterfront. We chose not to go inside, but instead went to look at the Battleship Wisconsin that is docked there.
The Wisconsin last served in the Gulf War by helping to co-ordinate the first Cruise missle launching of the war against Iraq. It is one of the largest non-carrier warships and last battleships built by the Navy.
It was quite impressive standing below and looking up at the massive structure.
From there, we walked down Granby Street where there were lots of restaurants mixed in among the large city buildings.
We stopped in AJ’s Sports Bar and Grill for some wings and a beer. From there, we walked a few blocks to the MacArthur Memorial, passing one of the mermaids that are displayed around town. This one was especially nice.
We noticed the street car wires and tracks around town, but one of the locals told us that they are just in the driver training stage and won’t have them running for awhile yet. They will run out to Virginia Beach once they get running.
The MacArthur Memorial was an awesome building with a theater and a display depicting his life.
We went inside to take a self-guided tour.
In the Rotunda, Douglas MacArthur’s and his wife were laying in crypts, side by side.
The dome area displayed a list of his commands over the years of his military service. It was impressive!
We spent about an hour there and then walked back to the ferry landing to catch the ferry back to Portsmouth. Back at the boat, we cleaned up and had a cocktail before we went to dinner. We walked down High St. about 4 blocks to a German restaurant called The Bier Garten. I had seen it up when we were in Portsmouth a couple of months ago and had wanted to try the food there. Bob had a German beer and we both had sausages, German potato salad, and sweet/sour red cabbage. I had knackwurst and Bob had bierwurst. It was very good….and very German. I brought some leftovers home in a doggie bag. We walked Auggie once we got back and called it a night. Our tummies were full!