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Rock Hall, MD to Wye River, MD
October 6, 2003

Whew … destination Bahamas … finally!

We finally left the slip at 1022 hrs. Dockmates, Tom and Carol, stood by on their boat, Hymn, to salute us and to photograph our departure. Clearing the breakwater, we headed toward the Kent Island Narrows. We planned to spend a couple of days in the Miles River to decompress before getting serious about heading south toward Norfolk to enter the northern terminus of the Intracoastal Waterway (ICW), our gateway south.

Ready to depart Sailing Emporium, Rock Hall, MD
Ready to depart Sailing Emporium, Rock Hall, MD

Do you believe in omens? I just hope a few ominous “losing our way” omens doesn’t portend badness happening to us!

Ourfirst departure goal had been “mid” September. That slipped to the 20th, recognizing that we simply weren’t going to complete all the little projects in time. Then, Hurricane Isabel happened. No, there wasn’t any damage to the boat. And, damage to the marina, though significant, didn’t slow us down. It was the three feet of water inside Sandy’s Uncle Joe’s house that stopped us cold. Almost two weeks and hundreds of hours of work by family and friends restored Joe’s place to near normal. We felt, then, that we could leave.

So, back home from the boat; load up the car; ferry another load down to the boat; repeat. Document the bills to be paid and instructions for maintaining the house and brief Sandy’s sisters, Pam and Jackie, on taking care of the place. Jackie and Tom drove us to Rock Hall with the final load, leaving us without a car and even more committed … we’d burned our first bridge!

Monday, shortly after clearing the breakwater, the second “omen” happened. A bracket for our faithful autopilot cracked, dropping the control unit to the cockpit floor and, figuratively, leaving us directionless! Not to worry … a piece of aluminum duct tape solved the problem … hopefully for the next eight months.

We caught up with Osprey as we passed through the Narrows. Bill & Susan Hurt coincidentally left the marina the same day as we did, headed to Cape Canaveral for the winter with Bahamas to follow. We’d planned to meet in Dividing Creek on the Wye River that night and then proceed to St. Michael’s the following day.

Dividing Creek was beautiful, as ever. The Bills went off for a dinghy ride, returning to convince the girls to walk two of the nature trails on the wildlife conservation area that is Wye Island. It was there that we lost our way for the third time on the trip. After exclaiming how large and beautiful the 250 year-old Wye Holly Tree was, we started to follow the ill-marked trail. We did a stint through some of Maryland’s only remaining old-growth forest but got lost again and had to slog through a mixture of soy bean fields and muddy marsh. Yeah, we made it back with only muddy sneakers and slightly bruised egos.

Walking Wye Island
Walking Wye Island

The bruises were quickly healed, however, by a wonderful, shared meal of grilled London Broil, fresh basil tomatoes and brown rice accompanied with a nice bottle of Shiraz.

That “losing your way” stuff makes this cruising life tough to bear!


Wye River, MD to St. Michaels, MD
October 7, 2003

A crisp morning brought a few clouds but the air remained crystal clear. We lazed around the boats for a couple of hours before getting underway. Since there was almost no wind, we motored the seven-plus miles to St. Michael’s, anchoring and rafting together in the cove between the St. Michael’s Maritime Museum and The Inn at Perry Cabin.

Dinghying in to the museum, everything appeared to be in good shape in spite of the fact that every building on the grounds except for the Steam Exhibit and the lighthouse got water inside. There must have been lots of busy people to get it cleaned up so quickly!

We made a tour of town, the girls doing their walk and the two Bills finding a cup of coffee and meeting the girls at Carpenter St. Saloon. While Sandy spent the afternoon exploring the shops in town, the rest of us returned to the boats for a relaxing afternoon aboard.

That evening was a shared meal of turkey burgers ala Sandy, salad and succotash. We viewed our 2003 xc-ski slide show and called it a night.


St. Michaels, MD to Solomons, MD
October 8, 2003

Heavy dew greeted us at 6:30 am as we prepared to depart for Solomons, leaving Osprey to spend a few days in the Oxford area. We left Osprey and headed north, towards Eastern Bay. And then it hit us … FOG.

Fog
Fog on the Way to Solomons

We passed Rich’s Neck … didn’t see a thing.

Passed through Poplar Island Narrows … didn’t see a thing.

Passed Sharps Island Light and the Little Choptank and never saw a thing except the buoys we were navigating past.

Damn, these GPS chart-plotters are nice!

The fog finally cleared when we were across the Bay from the LNG pier. So, we crossed toward the Patuxent, getting to see the newly reopened LNG pier offloading a ship. Then it was into the anchorage next to Zahnizers.

A dinghy ride showed that there wasn’t much hurricane damage here. While they had lots of wind, it was short lived and the tidal surge was only about four feet. One casualty, a sailboat, lay with its innards exposed to the elements. Too, too bad!

We looked up friends, Mike and Sheryl Washburn aboard Bright Pleiades, but found the boat for sale and without occupants. A call to their cell phone found them near Detroit where they plan to move later this month. They will return Friday so we’ll extend our Solomons stay a day to see them one last time.


Solomons Island, MD
October 9-10

We spent Thursday hitting the local West Marine, just messing around the boat and taking luxurious long, hot showers at Zahnizers Marina.

The Washburns arrived a bit before noon and we visited with them and got the skinny on their decision to become CLODS (cruisers living on dirt). Mike found a better job near Detroit and they’ll be near their daughter and new granddaughter. They already had moved most of their gear off the boat and it will be taken to a yard in Annapolis to sale.

We discovered that Osprey had arrived late Thursday so we stopped by. They’d navigated to Dunn’s Cove via Blackwalnut Point in the same fog that plagued us. Passing up Oxford, they decided to head for Solomons Thursday.

That afternoon we hit the grocery store and set the boat up for an early departure the next morning.


Solomons Is., MD to Reedville, VA
October 11, 2003

The weather report the previous evening forecast 10-15 kn northerlies with the chance of showers. Instead, it was blowing about 20 kn but with no rain in sight and heavy overcast skies. We decided to make a jump south, heading for Jackson Creek in Deltaville with an option for Reedville.

Reedville won. We enjoy this little village in spite of its occasional malodorous fumes from the menhaden rendering plants on its south side. Besides, it was chilly and bouncy on the water and we were ready for a short day.

Light showers greeted us as we made the north turn to head for Cockerel Creek … good decision. But, we allowed the rain to deter us from walking the town that evening … maybe tomorrow.


Reedville, VA to Poquoson River, VA
October 12, 2003

Sunday morning dawned surprisingly clear considering the dreary morning that was forecast by the weather service. We hoisted the anchor about 8:00 and made our way out Cockerel Creek and the Great Wicomico River. Destination … well south. Probably not as far as Norfolk but probably farther than the Piankatank.

The northwest breeze came and went. Accordingly, so did our engine. We did have a minor mishap. We hit a floating piling (probably hurricane flotsam) that bumped along the boat seemingly without harm. That is, until we looked at the knotmeter. I pulled the transducer and, sure enough, we lost a paddle on the wheel, rendering it unbalanced enough that it would no longer spin and measure our speed or distance. Fortunately, the GPS can also perform that function, so we’ll be fine until we can get a replacement.

All in all, we had a fine sailing day and also got the batteries pretty well charged. Our destination? The Poquoson River is just south of the York River or about fifteen or twenty miles north of Norfolk. We’ve never been here before (our first new anchorage so far this trip), but it’s pretty, fairly quiet for a Sunday afternoon and good holding. Also, it’s just a short way off our track to Norfolk and the beginning of the ICW.