Living on SV Island Time

Adventures of Life on a Boat

Tag: Life Aboard

Exploring the Chesapeake Bay

On September 1, SV Island Time left the Intracoastal Waterway in Norfolk, Virginia and crossed Hampton Roads to begin six weeks of exploring the Chesapeake Bay.

Map

Regional Map, courtesy of Waterway Guide

Norfolk is home to the Norfolk Naval Station, the largest in the world. You can imagine the restricted zones in the waterway because of the naval fleet here. Battleships, other Navy vessels,  cargo ships, tugs and barges, tour boats and a variety of personal craft share this narrow waterway that features the James River, the Hampton River, the mouth of Chesapeake Bay and open water to the Atlantic Ocean. As a rule, naval vessels have a 500 yard clearance and naval police are on hand to enforce it. It was exciting to weave our way through the chaos and avoid all the no-go zones.

US Navy warship underway at Hampton Roads.

US Navy warship underway at Hampton Roads.

Navy patrol boat at Hampton Roads.

Navy patrol boat at Hampton Roads.

Our first stop was across Hampton Roads at Hampton, Virginia. We spent a few days visiting the shops, watching football (our first TV in a while), eating pizza and drinking beer.

From there, we gunk-holed our way into the Chesapeake Bay to the Potomac River, which would take us 90 miles upstream to Washington, DC. We stopped halfway up the river at Colonial Beach, a lovely town with a cute waterfront boardwalk and fishing pier. The folks at the Boathouse Marina were friendly and generous with the free golf cart for exploring the town. From here, we watched Hurricane Irma hit the British Virgin Islands, the US Virgin Islands and the Florida Keys. <sad face>

Farther up the Potomac, we passed Mount Vernon, the home of George Washington.

View of Mount Vernon from the Potomac River.

View of Mount Vernon from the Potomac River.

In Washington, DC, we stayed at the Gangplank Marina on the waterfront. We visited museums, memorials and monuments for three full days.

It was Scott’s first visit to the Library of Congress, a beautiful building with a terrific exhibit on World War I.

The Library of Congress

The Library of Congress

While we weren’t able to get tickets to the National Museum of African American History and Culture, we were touched significantly by the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. Both the Franklin D. Roosevelt Memorial and Martin Luther King, Jr Memorial were terrific tributes to the lives and legacies of two men who have helped shaped this country. We recommend that you take the time to see these museums and memorials when you visit Washington, D.C.

One panel of the MLK Jr Memorial.

One panel of the MLK Jr Memorial.

After traveling 90 miles back down the Potomac, we visited Solomons Island, Maryland. The Zahniser’s Marina was fabulous and provided loaner bikes for exploring. We hit the Tiki Bar (right!?!) and rode all over town. As luck would have it, we were there for their Arts Fest, where 300 local artists were selling their arts and crafts. It was a lot of fun.

From there, we headed to Annapolis to secure a mooring ball before the Boat Show. We were three weeks early but we were concerned about how fast the mooring field would fill up. Our idea was to continuing exploring the region by boat. The dockmaster said to simply leave our dinghy on the ball and that would “save it.” We were not comfortable with that for overnight trips so we took advantage of the opportunity to explore Annapolis while we waited for our friends to arrive for the Annapolis Boat Show.

Annapolis is the capital of Maryland so we visited the statehouse. As it turns out, this is where General Washington resigned his commission as a general before becoming our nation’s first president. This established the precedent that the president would be a civilian and not a military man.

Statue of George Washington at the Maryland Capital.

Statue of George Washington at the Maryland Capital.

From here, we watched Hurricane Maria hit the BVIs, USVIs and Puerto Rico. <another sad face>

From our boat, we experienced the daily parade of boats. In Annapolis, high school students sail every afternoon on 420s. On weekends, the little guys and girls sail prams. While we were there, the Eastport Yacht Club hosted the 505 World Championships with boats and sailors from many countries. The US Naval Academy midshipmen race Lasers with other universities. Add to that the many sailboats and powerboats going by at all hours. It was a lovely sight being in such a busy harbor.

High school students heading out to race for the afternoon.

High school students heading out to race for the afternoon.

Boat in the Annapolis harbor with its own helicopter.

Boat in the Annapolis harbor with its own helicopter.

On October 5, friends started arriving for the Annapolis Boat Show. Mike and Angel Ganey came aboard and stayed with us for eight days. Jimmy and Sondra Lee stayed in a local B&B. Also attending were Ivor and Lynn Groves and Steve and Mary VanSciver. We had a great time at the show, looking at boats, talking to vendors, meeting bloggers we know from the internet and drinking gin at the Hendrix Gin tent. We also sampled rum at the Papa’s Pilar tent. (right!?!)

On our last day in town, we toured the US Naval Academy. It was a treat to tour this college campus, called a yard, and to learn about the academic lives of these midshipmen and future naval officers.

One building on the yard at the US Naval Academy.

One building on the yard at the US Naval Academy.

Each step of the way, we were missing our friends Philip and Jackie Werndli. Scott and I have attended four boat shows in nine years and they were with us for the first three. We raised our glasses several times to toast Phil.

After the show, we headed with the Ganeys to St. Michaels on the eastern shore of Maryland. We were disappointed that we didn’t have time to explore (this was our fault) but we went to dinner and had a great time walking around their waterfront area.

From there, we headed back across the bay to Solomons Island. West Marine generously delivered two batteries for installation in SV Island Time. Think BOAT buck plus. For our non-boater friends, BOAT is an acronym for Break Out Another Thousand. <ouch!>

While there, we walked over to the Calvert Marine Museum and spent several hours checking it out. They have an otter exhibit with three otters that is adorable. You can watch them on the Otter Cam 24 hours a day. Over all, this museum is very well organized and features a lot of information in an entertaining way.

Scott caught some upper respiratory crud so he spent two days sleeping. Mike and Angel rented a car and headed to the airport. <sad face>

When Scott felt better and the weather was good, we headed south, gunk-holing back to Hampton Roads and the start of the ICW in Norfolk. From here, we’ll make our way back to Florida and then the Exumas, Bahamas this winter.

For now, we are taking a little detour to the Outer Banks of North Carolina. Side story: everyone loves to display those little oval stickers on the back of their cars, proclaiming their favorite vacation destinations. In Tallahassee, you frequently see SGI for St. George Island. However, someone I know (who shall remain nameless), has this sticker.

OBX sticker.

OBX sticker.

OBX is for Outer Banks, North Carolina. Now I have a sticker too.  <happy face>.

Cruising the ICW

Yesterday, Sept. 1 at 10 a.m, we passed the last red buoy on the Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway, marking our entry into the Chesapeake. Last night and tonight, we are at the Hampton, Va. docks, waiting for rain and wind to pass, remnants of Harvey.

Over the last 66 days, we’ve traveled 1,018 nautical miles up the east coast of the United States, from Riveria Beach (Palm Beach County, FL) to Norfolk, Va.

Along the way, we visited 19 cities/towns, hailed 36 tenders for opening of one lock and 35 draw bridges and taken photos of 10 lighthouses. We took advantage of each opportunity to catch up with friends that live nearby or make friends with other boaters.

 

View from the top of Cape Lookout lighthouse.

Each city/town offered excellent boating facilities, good food, nice walkable downtowns and lots of visitor centers, shopping, museums, tours and historic homes. In fact, I think we’ve been on the magical history tour. We now know A LOT about each city’s role in the Revolutionary War, the War of 1812 and the Civil War. Information about pirates and the prohibition of alcohol in the 1920s paints more of the picture. Tales from St. Augustine, Savannah and Charleston are just the beginning of the story each city tells about the battles fought in their vicinity.

Fountain in Charleston.

If you like pirate lore, don’t miss the Maritime Museum in Beaufort, NC (pronounced BO-furt). This museum has the artifacts found off the NC coast from the wreckage of Blackbeard’s ship, Queen Anne’s Revenge. It’s very nicely done and tells his story very well.

Exhibit at the Maritime Museum in Beaufort, NC

On a different note. We happened upon a dock in McClellenanville, SC. From our slip, we could see several shrimp boats docked and a seafood market down the canal. We went for a walk to find the seafood market. We were the last of three customers at the end of the day. Each placed their order. The first two wanted one or two large tubs (16 oz) of shrimp dip. We ordered two pounds of shrimp and a small shrimp dip. Both ladies turned around with a look of wonder. “Why would you order a small one? Trust us. Get the large.” Ok. I changed to a large one. OMG. That was the most delicious shrimp dip we have ever tasted. If you go, definitely get the large one.

We took two days off the boat to visit my father and older brother in NC. It was great seeing them and catching up on their lives.

My dad and me.

Along the way, we saw manatee, lots of dolphins, sea turtles and bald eagle. We saw very few alligators. The last one was just south of the Va. state line in NC. They say there are none in Virginia but I’m not so sure the gators know that. We think this one was at least 10 feet long.

Visiting my brother and his wife at their new house.

We plan to spend the next five and a half weeks exploring the Chesapeake Bay. We want to visit the towns in Virginia and Maryland along the coast plus head up the Potomac River to Washington, DC. Of course, we plan to stick around for the Annapolis Boat Show in October.

On the way south, we hope to take the Dismal Swamp route, visit some places we missed, such as NC’s Outer Banks, Tybee Island, SC and Brunswick, Ga. We will plan to stop at McClellenanville for more shrimp dip.

On a sad note, both our dogs, Scout and Sandy,  have passed away. At age 13, they lived good lives and spent their last months sailing with their people. We miss them. RIP.

The Plan

“Go small, go simple, go now,” is a saying credited to Lin and Larry Pardey, sailors and writers, known for their small boat sailing. They have sailed over 200,000 miles together.

So … Scott and I are taking their advice. We are going now. Our plan is to cruise until we don’t like it anymore or we are ready to do something else.

Depending upon the weather, we’ll leave Shell Point at the beginning of November, taking the boat to the Tampa area for bottom paint and other maintenance. We’ll spend Thanksgiving and Christmas with family.

In January, we will head to the Florida Keys to enjoy the mild winter and prepare for a trip to the Bahamas in the spring. We plan to spend the summer in the Chesapeake and head to the Carribean in the fall.

In this blog, I’ll write about our travels, life on board, our challenges and successes.

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