Sunday, September 1, 2013

Attrition: from 15 to 5

Yes it was hot earlier today. And yes, some boaters had prior commitments. But five boats enjoyed a second happy hour on MicMac tonight out on the hook on the eastern branch of Carter's Creek. More yummy appetizers and sailing tales including the one about polyester mites that attack gel coat. 

Heading back to the slip tomorrow. Lawn calls. 

Good morning sunshine

The "fleet" looked so calm this morning after a still night. 

Saturday, August 31, 2013

Anchor out cruise to the Corrotoman

After a perfect day of sailing up the Rappahannock  (meaning steady winds of 10-15 knots), fifteen sailboats from Stingray Harbor Yacht Club rafted up or anchored for happy hour. Actually happy two hours and lots of sailing stories to share. Plus the last day of his Navy career for one relaxed yacht club member. Thanks for your 28 years of service, Chris!

A few folks had never seen the lovely Corrotoman River or its unique cable ferry at Merry Point. One lucky couple experienced their first night "on the hook." Luckily no feisty winds are supposed to kick up tonight, so Karen and Rick won't lose sleep, worrying about dragging anchor. 

Sunday, August 18, 2013

A dozen crabs for me

Woohoo! Quite a few of our fellow sailors were not into picking crabs at our annual Stingray Harbor Yacht Club crab and shrimp feast last night. So they kept passing their crabs down the table to me. I devoured a dozen in the course of the evening and never got to the other foods. 

Then Jumbo Lumpdaddy and the Backfin Boys fired up their band and the dancing began. Quite a repertoire of oldies and goodies. If you are looking for a great party band in the Deltaville/Richmond area, I give them a big thumbs up!

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Knups onboard for the day

We took Mindy and Tom out for a fun daysail to Carter Creek. Anchored by my favorite house behind Tides Inn for a yummy lunch by Mindy.

Winds were great and from the right direction on the west leg of the trip up the Rappahannock and on the nose returning. So we motored more than I like. Docktails and dinner at Cocomo's wrapped up an enjoyable day. 

Friday, August 2, 2013

Back in our slip

Pulled into our slip at Stingray Harbor around noon. Lots of laundry after 12 days. Quite a few books read too.

The Captain is already planning our next cruise!

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Hunkered down in Mill Creek

Battened down the hatches at oh dark thirty when the expected rain arrived and we'll stay where we are 'til tomorrow morning. No sense heading into 20+ knot wind, rain and big waves if we don't have to. I am now calling that the Maytag Effect. We have not experienced the spin cycle yet. 

We used the day for much needed onboard housekeeping duties and organizing.  Maybe more of Seasons one and two of Seinfeld on our new TV. And reading too.

Hoped to host happy hour with Lynn and Peter who live nearby, but their dinghy motor is in for repairs and Pete just deflated ours and put it away. Neither couple wanted to swim! And it's raining again  So we'll wave to each other at five o'clock. Cheers!

Wednesday, July 31, 2013


Point No Point Lighthouse has always baffled me as we always sail well inside it, between it and land. Why was it needed out there?

No prudent sailor, for example, would sail inside Thomas Point Lighthouse near Annapolis or the shoals would soon greet the hull of your boat. 

So, thanks to Google, I discovered that the Point No Point light was needed because otherwise big ships had a thirty mile span between Cove Point and Smith Point lights.  But it had a tough birth. The first version fell apart as it was hauled there. The second pier was torn apart by ice floes in 1904 when global warming was not taking place. The third one was installed successfully but has needed lots of dollars to keep it operating since 1905. The Coast Guard tried to auction it off but then discovered that the light marked the end of the Navy firing range. A nice thing to know!

Heading past the Potomac

Those big winds are still forecast for tomorrow, so we are heading past the Potomac River before its water gets that news. 

Crossing the mouth of the Potomac is one of our least favorite things about sailing because the tide and current are frequently not in agreement. Add 20-30 knot wind and you can find you and your boat in a frightening washing machine of churning water. It has happened to us more than once when NOAA has been wrong.

A Coast Guard boat was among the 1800 ships that met their demise on the Chesapeake. In 1978, their cutter Cuyahoga (later resume as an artificial reef) was near the mouth of the Potomac when a coal freighter slammed into it. She quickly sank and 11 lost their lives.

Probably not a good thing to post as we near the site. And Captain Pete is reading Shomette's "Shipwrcks on the Chesapeake" at the moment. But then I read "The Perfect Storm" on our first cruise in 1999. 

After nine long hours and seas that got livelier as the day progressed, we just anchored in Mill Creek, the one near Reedville. It seems that most mills in early America were on creeks!

Patuxent's top guns

I know, I know. It's the "sound of freedom." But six fighter pilots have blasted my eardrums so far this morning as we sailed past their huge naval air station at the mouth of the Patuxent River. 

Looks like they have great TV reception too. :-)

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Back to Solomons Island

Winds of 15-20 knots are forecast in a few days, so we headed across the Bay while the winds are still light and cool from the north. There is no need to be in choppy washing machine waters or on a wild rocking horse on a boat if you can choose otherwise. 

One of my favorite lighthouses at Cove Point tells me that Solomons is only about an hour away. This lighthouse has been restored and now includes 6 bedrooms that can be rented out. Some brides are reserving it as a unique wedding spot.

These sparkly clean tugs always catch my eye as we head to our Mill Creek anchorage. 

Cambridge in a day

Cambridge MD is a colonial era town on the Choptank River with a quaint feel. We had driven through it once but arriving by boat gave us the opportunity to really experience the small historic downtown yesterday. 

We enjoyed lunch at Jimmy and Sook's, then found the local General Grocery to buy a loaf of bread. One non-white loaf remained on their shelves but pigs feet or pig knuckles fans would be thrilled to find the economy size. 

The temps were great for walking around town. Who expects an 80 degree high in July? But the doors of another historic church were locked. Thwarted again. 

We had made dinner reservations at Bistro Poplar and were glad we did as this top restaurant filled up quickly. West Windsor NJ folks at the next table! What a small world at times. Chef Ian Campell learned a lot from CIA and later Tom Keller. Great dining in small town America!

Sunday, July 28, 2013

The back door to St. Michael's

We have always sailed to St. Michael's MD the long way via Eastern Bay and the Miles River. This time we arrived through "the back door" up Broad Creek to San Domingo Creek. This route off the Choptank River not only saved us a few travel hours, but made me look like a mouth-breather as I gaped at the impressive homes. Most are barely visible from their streets, but I felt like a Peeping Tom as we motored up San Domingo Creek. Didn't spot Dick Cheney and his house below appeared quiet. 

Rummy lives on a nearby creek too. Neither had invited us for dinner so we dinghied into town for dinner.

Oops. A thunderstorm motivated us to eat SLOW food at Ava's Winebar & Pizza. Glad Pete brought the baler along. 

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Disappearing islands in the Chesapeake

These two islands are portions of the remains of Maryland's James Island at the mouth of the Little Choptank River. Quite a few families lived here in the 1800s, then hundreds of sica deer. We saw these victims of erosion again today as we sailed up the Little Choptank to Fishing Creek. The tide was higher than five years ago so we were able to get through the shallow section and anchor way up on Church Creek. 

All was quiet until the jet skiers arrived. These noisy creations are just below 
mosquitos on my bothersome scale. 

We dinghied up the creek to Old Trinity Church that was built in the 1780s. Lots of the Carroll family so important in Maryland history were buried here. 

Still hoping for a cool night in this remote anchorage. 

Friday, July 26, 2013

Wind on the nose again?

That is a common sailors' lament when the wind is coming from exactly where you want to go. 

Today we headed NE to the Little Choptank River, and the NE wind was a cool one. Anchored in Slaughter Creek in spite of its name. Not slaughtering any insects yet!

We dinghied in to the Slaughter Creek Marina for dinner at Palm Beach Willie's. 

Cute logo and shirts, but greasy food. 


This acronym means Bigger Boats Go First. Captain Pete and I follow that rule ALL the time, especially with behemoths like these.

Some skippers play chicken with these fast moving ships and frequently get a radio call such as "East traveling sailboat, alter your course."

We hailed m/v Rhapsody that appeared to be on autopilot a few days ago when we saw no one at the bridge after he came very close to a tug and container ship, seemed aimed OUR way, and then at nearby Smith Point Light. Never saw a boat make such a sharp turn so quickly! 

If the gas industry gets its way, more megaship tankers will be in this section of the Chesapeake by Calvert Cliffs soon when this liquified natural gas terminal becomes a major east coast LNG export terminal. Rhapsody, do not doze off again. 

Just north of this LNG terminal are the two reactors of the Calvert Cliffs Nuclear Power Plant and its discharged cooling waters. Steamed crabs anyone?

Thursday, July 25, 2013

St. Leonard Creek beckoned

We enjoyed this pretty creek five years ago, so it called to us again as 20+ knot north winds remain on the Bay. 

High wooded banks greet and well hidden homes greeted us for the majority of this creek as we looked for a sheltered anchorage. 

Then voila, the tiki tacky Vera's White Sand Restaurant and annual bikini contest appear. Vera in her diaphanous gown and martini greeted many a visitor for 60 years. We were sad to hear that she had passed to the tiki bar in the heavens just before our last visit here. But the new owners keep her spirit alive, according to Tripadvisor reviews. Just had to take a few photos of this legendary Calvert County spot with plastic palm trees. 

Sweatshirts today on Solomons

Who'd a thunk it? But that wonderful cold front brought 60s today. What a welcome relief.

We have now stopped in Solomons MD at least ten times on various cruises up and down the Bay over the last ten years.    And we always find it charming and conveniently located. My Dad was here in 1943 for amphibious landing practices before the troops landing in North Africa. 

Returned to the Calvert Marine Museum for another visit because we can't remember all the cool facts they present. This now extinct shark awed us. 

Cool lighthouse here too. 

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Bombs away!

Most folks don't know that bombing exercises occur in the Chesapeake Bay on a regular basis. Quite a few "bomb area" captions appear on nautical charts and chart plotter screens. 

Yesterday we could not have sailed this close to the target ship below since pilots were testing their aims  It seems such an inglorious end for a mighty ship. 

I am perfecting my aim today as well. Those mean horseflies with the big teeth are testing my patience as we head to Solomons MD. The fly swatter got a workout until the wind picked up and the bay got very lumpy. It was kinda like riding a rocking horse. For 8 hours!

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

More about crabs

We are surrounded by watermen boats and crab sheds here on Smith Island so I must remark on the current price of Chesapeake crabs--from $40-$100/dozen for medium and $50-$165 for large ones. 

Watermen get up at 3 am and quickly head out on their boats, not knowing what that day's harvest will be. For softshells, crabs must be checked three times a day, seven days a week, removing those that have shed their shells. One bushel of crabs yields about four pounds of crabmeat. Experienced crab pickers can extract about four pounds of crabmeat per hour. 

So relish those crab cakes!

And those Smith Island Cakes are tasty too. $50+ for 10 layers of various kinds!