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July 12, 2019

Restored LighthouseRestored lighthouse in Solomons

Did we linger in Norfolk to explore? Nope! After being pounded against the dock pilings by wakes from tugs and ferry boats all night we left in the rain before the sun came up.

It was quiet in the waterway at that hour, just one tug with a load of barges, a few fishing boats and a 1100’ container ship being helped out of the channel by two massive tugs. We cruised by the warships and aircraft carriers parked along the southern shoreline, took the photos and headed into the Chesapeake. The rain had stopped, the wind had died down and the sun had come out. Perfect cruising weather!

Then we hit a crab pot. It sounded like the engine was trying to escape from the engine compartment. We stopped, reversed, back into forward, reverse, then forward again. That miserable float and all its line bobbed out behind the boat. We had been attempting to stay closer to shore instead of using the shipping channel but decided maybe the shipping channel was a better idea. When safely in the channel, we set our waypoint for Deltaville, home of Dozier’s Waterway Guides. All was good until the wind piped up from the north, another “noserly”, and we pounded into the waves for three hours.

On charts, the Chesapeake looks like any other bay with loads of islands to explore, but reality is a massive stretch of open water and you cannot see the eastern shore where all those islands are. Without better charts and local knowledge, we were not interested in exploring that area with a 5’ draft. We’ll save that for a car trip.

Storm Brewing
Storm brewing in the Chesapeake



The rain had started up again and once we reached Deltaville we crept through a mine field of crab pots, entered the harbour and found a sheltered place to drop the anchor. The next day we were underway before 6, tagged by a young couple in a 45’ center-cockpit sailboat we had met the day before. We navigated the mine field and made it to the turning mark. There we were met with zero visibility because of rain, and 3’ waves with a 5 second interval. For those who aren’t sure of this term, it is another way of saying the waves were so close together we would dip into the next wave before we recovered from the first….in other words, miserable, nasty, uncomfortable! After a few choice words from me about continuing in that mess, the captain decided it might be best to return to the anchorage. We were followed closely by the 45’ boat! The nice thing about leaving that early is when you return, you can still go back to bed!

Fantasy SculptureThe next day was sunny, calm and cruise worthy. We left early and once at the turning mark we set our course to cross the Potomac River and head into Solomon’s. We had stayed there in 2010 on our first Loop and loved this town. Once inside the harbour, we picked up a mooring ball, borrowed the marina bikes and went exploring. We visited the marine museum which has morphed into a beautiful aquarium of tropical fish and eels. The next stop was the Annmarie Sculpture Garden. The garden features a ¼ mile walking path that winds through the woods past permanent and loaned sculptures, including 30 sculptures on loan from the Smithsonian and the National Art Gallery. We enjoyed our down day and ate lunch at a patio restaurant, a nice break from the boat and the drone of the engine.

 

 

 



Capital BuildingGlimpse of capital building thru a walkway in Annapolis

Then it was off to Annapolis. We stayed there four days on our first Loop, took all the tours, explored on our own and fell in love with the city. The highlight of any stay in Annapolis should be the tour of the Naval Academy, the most impressive series of buildings I have ever been in. This year we were met in the outer harbour by four naval training vessels, each about 80’ long. We did our best to weave through them when suddenly one of them let go the klaxon and called out man overboard! That scared the wits out of us as he was only about 50’ away. They had thrown a huge red life ring overboard that they were going to retrieve. Problem was we were about 30’ from that life ring and we only do 6 knots in front of a big ship looking to pick it up. Once we cleared that area and our heartrates had returned to normal, we headed into the inner harbour and picked up a mooring ball beside Free Rider, one of the boats we had met weeks before.

The forecast was for three days of clear, calm weather so we left for the C&D Canal the next morning. The Chesapeake closes in at the north end, so this area was picturesque and very quiet. Late in the morning we encountered a few bits of debris which turned into quite a few bits within an hour. We followed a notice to mariners on the VHF and found out that due to the recent heavy rains (no kidding!) the reservoir was overflowing so they had to open the dam to let some water out. They also let out tons of logs, trees, sections of docks, tires, etc! I spent four hours on deck directing Pat through the mess.

We spent one night in the C&D Canal and scooted out into Delaware Bay. The tide was against us for the first three hours, but when it reversed, we had a great sail all the way to Cape May where we spent three days there, waiting out high winds and biding our time until our Swedish friends arrived. They wanted to buddy boat with us on the long stretch to New York.

Hand SculptureWhen the Atlantic Ocean settled down we headed out and pointed the bow north, New York City 117 miles ahead of us. Our escape plan if things got rough was to head into Atlantic City, but with flat calm seas, we didn’t need that plan. The highlight of that otherwise boring trip was hearing from a boat a short distance ahead of us that he was beside a whale that was longer than his 40’ boat and seemed to be in distress. I would love to see a whale up close, but not one bigger than Adamant and in distress to boot. We stayed away and watched with binoculars. Eventually the Coast Guard and Fisheries boats came barrelling out to the rescue and we kept going.

Sculpture

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It was 10 pm when the lights of New York City began growing on the horizon ahead of us. The closer we got, the more lights we could see. What an amazing sight, New York City at night from the ocean. We didn’t encounter any shipping traffic and found the entrance channel without any problems.

It isn’t easy to single out the flashing red and green lights of the markers against the New York City skyline, but we did it. The ambient light was so bright, it made it seem like dusk when in fact it was midnight when we cleared Sandy Hook and headed into our anchorage for the night. Technically we were off of the Atlantic Ocean but we wouldn’t be out of salt water for another couple of days. New York here we come. But that’s another story.

Until next time……

Lynn Lortie- Longtime CY staffer Lynn Lortie and her husband Pat left Midland the summer of 2016 to make their way into the Great Loop and head out on a three year sailing odyssey. Follow their progress right here in CYOB.