It rained today. It’s news as it is the first rainy day since we got here a month ago. I called a friend in Oregon to tell him I knew now what he felt like after not seeing the sun for four hours. Funny guy huh?
We are tied up at Gangplank Marina right down the street from the Jefferson Memorial and just a few blocks from the mall and life is good. We ride the bikes up just three blocks to the Fish Market for fresh seafood a couple of times a week and there are two farmers markets close by. There are some really cool places to walk and we walk or ride the dogs up to 5 times a day.
Shiloh is a 14 month old Golden Retriever who has joined us for three months to help demonstrate to these federal government employees what a Service Dogs do as we try to convince them to pledge donations to paws4vets. She is cute, lively and a good dog but has some issues making it all the way off the dock before she pees. It is a little embarrassing when she stops to pee right in front of someone’s boat just as they are arriving or leaving. That’s why I always allow Shelly to hold her leash and I take Goose.
We are getting out as much as we can to see what we have not yet seen. The Marine monument with the 32 foot tall bronze replica of raising the flag at Iwo Jima. Roosevelt Island Park out in the middle of the Potomac River with 88 acres of trails. Meridian Park in NE DC where there is a 75 ft drop in elevation and some really cool (though neglected) cascading pools and statues. This is where Le Enfant (designer of DC) laid the true North/South meridian line that all of DC is designed around.
We visited Great Falls Md where George Washington’s canal company had to build 5 locks close together to get around the 45 foot drop in the river when they built the canal from the tidal waters of the Chesapeake at DC all the way to the Ohio River to bring trade. The railroads came before they got it done but it is still an amazing feat.
And of course for work we go to events at places we would not normally be allowed. The Pentagon, CIA headquarters, Museum of Buildings, Bureau of Prisons HQ, EPA, FEMA etc. If you could only see what we see about the people running these places…
Another benefit for us this year is to watch firsthand the panic in this town as people start to realize life around here might be a little different come next January. My Make America Great Again hat is a great conversation starter to say the least.
Truthfully though, we are already talking about leaving and what is next. I am bad enough on my own, but after 35 years I think I have infected Shelly with the same yearning to be moving.
Shelly finished another one of her cool ‘sheet’ rugs. She is so talented!
Both of us are working hard on rebuilding our two websites – webwidewizards.com and miamiphillips.com – and it is a ton of work! We are attempting to organize years of content, images and video where we can get to it easily.
Plus we are always looking for more web clients and needed to update the sites for marketing.
And to finish off this post here is a video of our last day of the summer sailing around the Chesapeake. next time we go sailing it will be Thanksgiving, probably cold – and we will be heading back to Florida!
In all the years I have spent on the water, three thunderstorms within the last 30 days have gone a long way to creating real fear when the wind gets up!
Shelly and Goose especially are having some issues.
This too will pass. Yesterday, at anchor up by St Michaels on the Eastern Shore, we were watching a tstorm on the radar that looked to pass well north of us. Just like the one in Crisfield. Yea right.
We had lots of warning this time and the anchor was already down. But the wind still blew hard, sustained 45-50 mph for 15 minutes and the waves that build in that kind of wind are fairly amazing to ride out. But the boat did fine with a little help from the motor. And the night was nice and cool for sleeping with a very nice breeze coming down the hatch.
And now we sit opposite St. Michaels in another smaller creek with an afternoon breeze and crab cakes sizzling on the stovetop. Life is good.
Last week, with the heat index up around 115 every day we decided to go all the way up the Choptank River to Cambridge MD, and find an inexpensive dock to catch up on computer work and some chores that are easier on a dock.
The old watermen’s town of Cambridge has a really nice creek right up through town with a drawbridge almost every boat bigger than a dinghy has to ask for an opening.
There is an old crab factory (processing plant?) at the entrance with the coolest mural painting we have seen in a long time.
Good advertising huh?
We ended up at Generation III marina at the end of the creek. Got caught up on all the blogs we wrote for others, plus some p4p work and more. The generator heat exchanger needed a small leak repaired, which meant I needed to clean and paint while I was in there!
The masthead anchor light has not been working for awhile so we bought two mast steps. Shelly hauled me up (with the new halyards now long enough to reach the electric anchor windlass) so I could drill and tap the machine screws for the new steps. Then I could stand up on the steps and reach over the top of the mast to work on the light. Kinda scary up there! But great views…
We also found time to scarf in a piece of teak rubrail on the port side that has been bothering me for too long. With some new varnish and oil, the boat looks pretty good right now. Time to put her back on the market!
The last night in Cambridge we met a couple of guys (Larry and Doc) who shared some very nice Cuban rum and kindly bought us dinner at a local place on the water. Good stories and fun was had by all. They were headed back to Oriental NC in a little trawler and we wish them a safe voyage.
The last few days in Crisfield after the 70 mph storm were interesting. In addition to all the repairs listed in the last post, we got the shear stripe painted on the boat, and Shelly sewed a new dinghy cover that looks awesome!
The day we left – we backed the boat out of the slip and noticed a crab pot pop up beside us. That is not generally considered a good sign. The fuel dock was only about 150 feet away. I got half that distance when the rest of pot pulled up into (and wrapped around) the prop stopping the engine. Lucky for us there was not much wind so we just drifted on to the dock with some helping hands pulled the boat into a slip. I got out the old hooka dive rig and went down and cut off the blasted trap. We must have picked it up on the rudder when we came in the week previously and when we backed up it pulled right into the prop! Crap!
We ended up dragging out in the bay five separate times for the $1500 anchor and rode we lost during the storm. It is hard to believe we did not snag it with the two grapnels. On the last day as we were leaving, I used a small fishing grapnel behind the dinghy for a few hours and hooked nothing by an old pair of oilskins. Bummer.
After Crisfield we had run back across the bay to Solomons Island, rented a car and drove to Annapolis looking for used anchor chain. We ended up with 190 ft of chain from Bacon Sails and 175 feet of 5/8 rode from a craigslist poster on the Eastern shore. The anchor had to be bought new. We still have our boat and more stories to tell!
It was a short 4 hours to the Potomac River to meet a couple who will be helping us with fundraising in DC this year. First we stopped off at one of favorite anchorages in Smith Creek on the north side of the river. It is nice and quiet and has a great sea-glass-finding beach. It also has tons of blackberry bushes on the beach so we had blackberry pancakes and blackberry sorbet! Decadent!
Goose loves blackberries!
We motored across the river and up the Yeocomico River to Kinsale Yacht Harbor (not too many yachts there lol) and the Powers drove out from Fredericksburg for lunch at the one local place to eat. These towns that were once both farming hubs and the steamboat landings are slowly dying off. And back out we went after washing the boat and filling up with water.
From Kinsale back across the 5 mile wide Potomac River to Point Lookout State Park and a very small anchorage right at the mouth of the Potomac. There was a really nice beach (lots of shells) with the most sea nettles we have ever seen. It was like a breeding ground or something with nettles in big clumps of ten to fifteen. We both got stung just getting into the dinghy! It hurts!
We found these cool dried out horseshoe crab skeletons on the beaches.
From there north back across to the eastern shore and Slaughter Creek for a night, then up and into the Choptank to Cambridge for a week.
Yesterday it was out the Choptank, through Knapps Narrows drawbridge on Tilgman Island and around into the Bay again, and north and east into the Miles and Wye Rivers. It is really pretty up here with lots of history mixed in with expensive homes and boats on the water all blending together.
Plans now turn back to the Potomac and up to DC to our fall job working the Combined Federal Campaign for paws4vets. We are super excited to be able to stay this year right downtown DC in the harbor! It will make for much less road rage on my part.
The boys are both on the move. Ian is finishing up his SOC Loadmaster school in Albuquerque, and takes his E5 test today. Ryan flies back to St Pete to get his new gig with jeromeasf and friends there. Mom is having empty nest issues but we are both so proud of our boys and hope they do well so Dad doesn’t have to work as a Walmart greeter when he is 80.
It is probably best to offer a video summary first, then tell the story.
I could spend a lot of time talking about the storm even though from start to finish was only about 16 minutes – though it surely seems like hours. In a nutshell, I knew there was a tstorm coming, was watching it on radar on the phone which showed it moving north of us. We were only 3 miles from a very safe harbor, had just turned around a light marking a shoal, and had put out about half the Genoa sail as a light breeze was just starting that would help us get in a little faster.
With it beginning to sprinkle, I had just finished putting my rain gear on when the light breeze turned into 70 mph. And it was that fast with no warning. No waves in advance, no wind increasing, no noise, just 70 mph and driving rain. The waves caught up a minute or two later and were at least 5 feet. The wind took the sail and the boat completely out of my control and changed our heading by 90 degrees.
We went from a ENE heading up a channel to a WNW heading straight for the Jaynes Island light and the shoal on the other side. The boat was standing on her beam with the decks under water with water pouring in the hatches below. The noise was deafening.
Within a minute or two it was clear we were not going to be able to make it to deep enough water and the boat needed to change direction – like right now! With about 100 feet left to the shoal, I yelled at Shelly below to hang on and jibed the boat. We went from the starboard rail and deck under water to the port rail and deck under water instantly with a lot of crashing and things breaking and the boat flying through the water heading SSE. The engine is racing, the awning has ripped off the dodger and wrapped around the steering wheel and boat cushions, the cooler, and everything else is trying to go over the side.
The next few minutes are really a blur but I know that somehow I got the sail sheet off the winch which meant it was blowing, flapping like crazy and the sheets were being flung around trying to hurt someone. I know I was able to go up to the bow and let go the anchor. The boat was moving so fast that I just prayed the chain would hold in the windlass and it wouldn’t tear the the windlass right out of the deck.
The chain caught and jumped out of the windlass several times with a sickening crunching noise then seemed to grab and hold. The anchor seemed to hold but I really didn’t take much time to wait and see with the sail above my head making an awful noise and the engine still in gear and running full out. The waves were coming over the bow as well.
I got back to the cockpit and started winching in the Genoa on the roller furling. With the wind and the lines all wrapped up it was very difficult to do. The next thing I remember was feeling the boat give like the anchor had let go. I went back to the bow and saw the anchor, 180 feet of chain and 200 feet of 3/4 inch line was gone. It had obviously jumped out of the windlass and run itself out. (Later we found the line and chain had melted the roller and shredded it where it had to be replaced.)
By now the storm had almost blown past us. We were able to turn the boat with the motor and get into the dock.
Whew. One for the late night stories.
And here we sit making repairs. Shelly has been sewing – the sail, the awning, the dodger and the dinghy cover all needed repairing. We are still dragging a grapnel out in the bay by the shoal looking for our anchor and chain. The wind generator mounting bolts were sheared off. It had to be removed, welded and remounted. And of course, it took most of that afternoon to clean up below. A lot of water came in and soaked all kinds of stuff. There was broken glass, pots and pans, pictures, books etc strewn all over the boat.
But it is all good. We are here and no one was hurt. We have met some great people who have been super friendly and helpful. And we really appreciate the thoughts and prayers from you!
Just remember that if not for the storms we would not be able to really appreciate the sunrises, sunsets and calm beaches like we do! And shoot me if I ever, ever underestimate a thunderstorm’s power again.
Up until “the storm” Shelly and I were quite enjoying a relaxing, leisurely Chesapeake cruise, with short hops to places we have not yet visited like peaceful, remote Back River where we got to watch the new F35s practice landings mornings and afternoons!
We visited Gwynn Island, supposed to be named for the man who saved Pocahontas and whose father gave him the island in reward. Then on to Reedville for the menhaden capital of the bay.
And finally to Smith Island – a real throwback to an earlier time where crabbing and bay men are still the mainstays.
With a few more days here to tidy up, we will be heading back out this weekend and looking forward to getting in some more ‘cruise time’ and maybe even a visitor or two before getting back to work in DC.
Oh – and we got to go see Bruce Hornsby one night in old Williamsburg VA and had a great time out!
We begin in New Bern NC, a beautiful town we liked a lot (highly recommended for a visit!). We played tourists for several days visiting Tryon Palace where the royal governor of the great colony of NC lived, and the governor of the state of NC before they moved the capital further west.
Bicycles are very handy allowing us to cover way more ground than walking, and Goose gets lots of exercise. The cemetery in New Bern was amazing.
Some work did get done including finishing up the new dodger and fixing the broken ipad glass (again). As you can see in th picture it does take some nerve-steadying medicinal support to accomplish!
Steve Karr, a friend from US Navy Nuc Sub days (40 years ago), and someone I haven’t seen in 20 years or more, replaced Shelly as crew for 10 days.
As a neophyte sailor he experienced many different aspects of our life aboard, from the flat, mirror-like motoring with no wind to the thunderstorms gusting to 30 kts to the three days of 25 knots at a dock.
Our first day was just 23 miles to Oriental. We got there at 830pm and all four places to eat were closed already!
The following morning we headed out into a strong thunderstorm for the 40 miles to Ocracoke Island on the Outer Banks. The storms passed on by and we enjoyed a very nice day of sailing and motoring and catching up.
From Ocracoke it was only 18 miles to Hatteras where we docked overnight in the middle of a Blue Marlin fishing tournament fleet (largest of the the day was 650 pounds) and left with some new friends and a whole freshly filleted mahi mahi. (That sure was tasty with Shelly’s mayo and parmesan recipe!)
With winds forecast to go to the NE and blow up to 50 knots (never happened) we beat feet north the 45 miles to Manteo, NC on Roanoke Island where the Lost Colony was – well – lost. Cool downtown area.
We got docked just before it started blowing – and it blew for the next 48 hours or so fairly hard. We were glad to be at a dock!
Yesterday we got underway around 830 to a beautiful clear day for the 55 miles up through Albemarle Sound and into the Albemarle-Chesapeake Canal with a nice stop at Coinjock for their famous 32 oz prime rib.
Today we head on into Norfolk and through there to Fort Monroe to finish up this leg. We leave the boat Wednesday to drop Steve in Charlotte for his flight home and then on the Marion to pick up Shelly and see Ryan off to his new home.