Annapolis MD, Washington DC, and on to the New Jersey Coast

One of our ongoing challenges during this trip is deciding where to go and the best route to get there.  This is particularly true for the Chesapeake region because there are so many interesting places to visit, far more than we have time to explore.

Although we considered cruising up the Potomac to stay in the heart of Washington DC, in the end we decided to berth His Idea in Annapolis and make a day trip to the U.S. capital by car. This worked out well for a number of reasons: Annapolis is a great little town, with much to see in its own right, including the US Naval Academy; the trip by rental car is only about 45 miles and relatively easy to navigate;  it was sizzling hot and the marina had a pool!

We only had time to visit the core of Washington. With its impressive variety of monuments, buildings and museums (entrance is free to all of the Smithsonian institutions) we spent most of our time just ‘walking the town’. Of the museums we did visit John was especially impressed with the historical collection of aircraft at the National Air and Space museum. Because of all the things to see, Washington is definitely on our list of places to visit again one day (maybe on a second trip around the Great  Loop?).

We also had the good fortune to meet up with Doug and Charlotte Kerr, who live in Annapolis. They are also new owners of a PDQ  34 (Abbotsford III) whom John met at the PDQ rendezvous in January. We had a great time discussing our respective boats, cruising plans, and boating experiences. We hope to see them again during their cruise to the Thousand Islands later this summer.

Due to a small craft warning forecast for later on Thursday we departed Annapolis very early in the morning (6:30) to make a run for Chesapeake City, at the head of Chesapeake Bay. The first half of the 55 mile trip was relatively comfortable, however it became quite rough and began to rain for the remainder of the journey. It’s times like these when the lower helm of the PDQ, with it’s calm cabin and excellent visibility, is such an advantage. Fortunately we also found a space at the free Chesapeake City dockl, which was very secure during the evening’s strong, gusty winds and heavy rains.

After transiting the Chesapeake and Delaware Canal (which provides a major shipping link between Chesapeake and Delaware bays), our next extended run was down Delaware Bay to Cape May, New Jersey. This is another ‘open water’ trip that can get very nasty at times. Although there were whitecaps and moderate rollers the wind and seas were on our stern, and because of this we were able to ‘surf’ the waves for the entire trip. I’m not sure we would have attempted the passage if we had been going the other way, but this time we had ‘fair winds’.

Annapolis Harbour - the domed building is the Maryland legislature, the oldest in the U.S.

 

Annapolis back street scene - there are many old buildings here that have been well maintained, and the town retains a strong 'port city' feeling.

 

Another view of the Maryland legislative building.

 

Charlotte and Doug Kerr, fellow owners of a PDQ 34.

 

The Washington Monument, which dominates the National Mall and Memorial Parks.

 

The White House - perhaps because one cannot get close, we found it did not make as strong an impression as the other monuments and buildings we saw.

 

A rear view of the U.S. Capitol - even from this angle, it was an impressive sight.

 

Exterior of the Lincoln Memorial - it is very representative of the commanding presence of U.S. history and institutions in the nation's capital.

 

Not to be outdone, the Canadian Embassy has a prominent and impressive location on Pennsylvania Avenue.

 

Early morning sunrise over Annapolis - 'Red sky at morning, sailor take warning'.

 

Shortly after leaving Annapolis, our approach to the Chesapeake Bay Bridge.

 

A little while later - this is what was chasing us.

 

Chesapeake City berth - after the morning's run and before the evening's storm.

 

The next day, more bridges over the Chesapeake and Delaware Canal.

 

Surf city at the Ship John Shoal light, Delaware Bay (about halfway to our destination).

 

At last - landfall at the entrance to the Cape May Canal.

 

Our next stops will be at Cape May and along the New Jersey ICW.

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More from the Chesapeake

We’ve been enjoying the eastern shore of Chesapeake Bay for the past week, with stops in Oxford and St. Michaels. For those of you who have read James Michener’s historical novel about this area (aptly named ‘Chesapeake’), these communities and the rivers they reside on, such as the Choptank, were at the centre of this tome. Unlike Tangier Island, which remains untouched by development, the proximity of these communities to large urban centres such as Baltimore, Washington and Philadelphia provides a more sophisticated (and moneyed) flavour to this largely rural setting.

We had the pleasure of sharing St. Michaels with hundreds (thousands?) of spirited Americans during a warm and beautiful Memorial Day long weekend, and we enjoyed the celebration along with them. On Saturday night the live music from an outdoor wedding just across the little harbour also enhanced the scene. With more than a hundred boats anchored in the small harbour and in the river, there was a galaxy of mast lights when darkness arrived.

Enough of the poetic stuff, we’ll let the pictures speak for themselves….

A view of the Tred Avon River from Oxford.

 

Oxford street scene, with Oxford flag.

 

Ria's favourite beer, to go with her baked crab (of course) and cheese lunch.

 

Our anchorage in a small cove behind Oxford (at 3 feet, it was just deep enough).

 

St. Michaels inner harbour from His Idea.

 

One of the old churches in St. Michaels - this one had lovely bells that we could hear in the harbour.

 

John, after too much partying - and sun - in St. Michaels.

 

This is the 1879 Hooper Strait Lighthouse, located at the Maritime Museum in St. Michaels harbour.

 

A welcome lemonade on our very hot bike ride to Bozman - thanks kids!

Next stop, Annapolis.

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Great Dismal Swamp, Naval City, and a Broad Bay

Behind again, this time because our last stop – Tangier Island, Virginia – had no internet or cell phone coverage (we think they like it that way).
Since our last posting on May 13th we’ve travelled about 250 miles and experienced a wide variety of different  places. The broad expanses of Abermarle Sound were exchanged for the narrow confines of the Dismal Swamp, and the bright lights and big city atmosphere of Portsmouth (Norfolk) were followed by the quiet days we spent on relatively isolated Tangier Island.
Chesapeake Bay is very big, being over 200 miles long with thousands of miles of shoreline created by extensive rivers and creeks that drain much of the eastern United States. Strong winds out of the north delayed us in Portsmouth for a few extra days, but this was not an inconvenience as there was much to do. While there we visited the Chrysler Art Museum (they have an extensive collection of blown and stained glass, including many priceless Tiffany examples), saw a glass blowing exhibition, and had a great meal at an old restored tavern during our visit to Colonial Williamsburg.

We especially enjoyed our visit to Tangier Island. Its original inhabitants have their roots in Elizabethan times, and even the accents of the current residents have ‘olde English’ influences. The island, which at its highest point might be a few feet above sea level, has for hundreds of years survived off the bounty of the local waters (principally soft shelled crab, for which the Chesapeake region is renowned). The common term used for these folk is ‘watermen’, which seems very fitting now that we have had a chance to visit this unique place.

We’re now anchored in a small cove at the town of Oxford, Maryland (eastern shore of the Chesapeake), where we’ll spend a couple of days exploring. We currently have thunder and lightning with a torrential downpour, which are not uncommon in this region in the afternoons. At least the boat will get a good wash!

After travelling together for almost two weeks it’s time to say goodbye to our fellow PDQ travelling companions Bill, Carole and Suzanne. We wish them fun in New York (especially at DeBeers!) and safe travels home. We’ll see you in Belleville for sure.

Cruising indoors for the first time, in the rain, on our way to the Great Dismal Swamp.

 

Our first locking experience - everything went smoothly.

 

As still as can be - what's wrong with this picture?

 

Norfolk harbour has many navy ships receiving maintenance - the Norfolk area is one of the largest U.S. naval bases.

 

Dinner and a movie (The Avengers) in a restored theatre with wide screen and THX sound - great fun!

 

At our inner city dock in Portsmouth - a bit like False Creek (and free!).

 

Vancouver has orca's, Norfolk has mermaids.

 

We recommend a visit to the Chrysler Art Museum for it's blown and stained glass displays.

 

We attended an excellent glass blowing exhibition at the museum.

 

Colonial Williamsburg is very large, with many restored houses, period costumes, and craft demonstrations from the 1700's and 1800's.

 

The original King's Arms Tavern, where we had a traditional meal in period settings.

 

Entertainers at the King's Arms Tavern.

 

A typical Tangier Island scene.

 

Milton Parks, a Tangier Island resident, and waterman for 60 years.

 

'Downtown' on Tangier Island - most people get around by walking, cycling, scooters and golf carts.

 

The island has about 500 permanent residents....and at least that many cats.

 

This is Spanky's Place (with Spanky), the island's hang out hot spot - open until 9:30 pm!

 

Sunset over Tangier Island.

 

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From Plantation Country to Outer Banks

Despite our best efforts to keep the blog current we have fallen behind again, so this will be another lengthy version.
We are currently berthed at the Manteo Waterfront Marina, which is located on Roanoke Island, just inside the barrier islands that define the ‘outer banks’ of North Carolina. By great coincidence, five minutes after we arrived yesterday we were joined by Tiger, another PDQ 34, piloted by Bill Lowther and Carole Binch of Belleville, Ontario.

Since our last post from Charleston we have travelled over 400 miles and have stopped at the following locations:

  • Georgetown, SC (anchorage)
  • Cow House Creek, SC (anchorage)
  • Carolina Beach, NC
  • Moorehead City, NC
  • Upper Dowry Creek, NC (anchorage)
  • Manteo, NC

Our journey over the past week has taken us from the tropical low country and hot weather of South Carolina to the more temperate climate of the central east coast . Read more »

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Goodbye Florida, Hello Georgia and South Carolina

This will be a catch-up post, because the blog has been lagging behind a bit.

Where are we?

Today will be our third day in Charleston, South Carolina, where we are anchored in the harbour of this famous southern maritime city.

Life aboard

As our familiarity with His Idea grows, we’re finding that we have more free time on our hands, for blogging, reading, domestic chores, etc. Routines are being established  (we’re writing this at 7 am, because we now get up with the sun), we’re figuring out the various boat systems (often through trial and error, even though the documentation on board is very good), and things are generally more efficient now. For example, the captain is getting comfortable with the generator (a godsend, as it blesses us with air conditioning when anchored, almost a necessity given the very hot, steamy weather we’ve had since the beginning) and the inverter (still a work in progress, because it’s really just another g.d. computer!). For her part, the admiral has learned how to use the on-board washer/dryer (also a godsend – see comment about hot, steamy weather). Read more »

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