July 11, 2015
Well here we are, back at home.
Some highlights of our first Chesapeake Cruise on M/V Sunspot Baby:
We left in mid April, during a spate of warm weather in New Bern, thinking we didn’t need jeans and with only shorts and capris (for me), we shivered our way to Maryland where we bought jeans, then the weather warmed up and we didn’t need them.
We had planned to anchor in Fishing Bay, Deltaville, northbound, but the weather was so cold and rainy we opted for Fishing Bay Harbor Marina and had a good several days taking advantage of laundry, courtesy car, exploring Deltaville and staying warm plugged into 110.
Combs Creek Marina, off the Potomac near Leonardtown (where our Cypress, CA family is about to end a temporary assignment), turned out to be the perfect spot for us for the first month of our trip. It’s a small boat marina, and we had a private tie-up with our own personal osprey nest to welcome their one offspring of the year. It was great fun watching them come and go, constantly tending the chick and the nest.
More on the wildlife front, we were introduced to our first barn swallows at Fishing Bay, and while in Dowry Creek I watched a very determined cormorant kill and eat a snake while swimming in the water.
We are used to dolphins in our home area, and just when we thought we wouldn’t see dolphins in the Chesapeake we had a pod of about 20, with a preview of one the day before. The rays seem to be bigger up here, and are easily identified by the tips of their two wings barely showing above the surface. Later in the season the rockfish feed from below on small fish, creating what looks like a silvery breaking wave on the water. It’s a spectacular sight on a flat calm day and we saw this over and over again.
The lighthouses all have a story. The first one we came across was Smith Point, near the entrance to the Potomac. The outhouse teetering on the rail was a sight to behold. Then in no particular order there was Point No Point, Smith Island Light, the charming Thomas Point screwpile light, the listing Sharps Island Light (we have to resist the Photoshop “straightening” feature because it really is tilted), Wolf Trap Light, and numerous others.
Food was fabulous and although we ate mostly seafood, we enjoyed the traditional delicious prime rib dinner at Coinjock, northbound and again southbound. The owners of Combs Creek Marina gave us some highly seasoned and very tasty steamed hard crabs, we ate at the Crab Claw in St. Michaels (where we had visited 28 years ago on our 25th Anniversary sailing trip), and we had a crabcake tasting spree during our time at Solomons. In little Leonardtown, family owned Kevin’s seafood can’t be beat. We watched a thunderstorm roll over the Patuxent River while we had hard crabs with the family at the Seabreeze. A personal favorite was soft shell crabs at Stoney’s in Solomons.
As usual when you are cruising, things happen. Sunspot Baby is sporting a new forward hatch, a rebuilt racor filter housing, and the dinghy motor is really not fond of ethanol laced fuel which is the only gasoline available in Maryland. We have acquired and will soon install a replacement mid bilge pump for the temperamental one, just replaced during last spring’s haulout. And I’m not saying anything about the overhead hatch at the helm station. That’s on the list, too. Apparently in the early spring and fall, when the water temperature reaches 71 degrees, a barnacle bloom happens. When we weren’t getting good speed it turned out that sheets of these little rascals had attached themselves to anything metal below the waterline. A prompt and efficient diver in Annapolis cured this problem in short order, and we know if we were to home base in these waters, we would need to add protective paint on these parts.
There was good weather and bad weather, cold and rainy, and sweltering, and absolutely perfect. We spent three lovely days anchored at the end of Back Creek in Solomons, and on our way home we anchored four days over the Fourth of July weekend in 80 balmy degree temperatures, only going ashore to get ice every now and then. We spent three really nice days in Annapolis in the mooring field just past the Spa Creek Bridge. The best meal I had in Annapolis was at the touristy Pusser’s, a curried jerk chicken lunch that I will definitely order again.
We took a lovely photograph of the Fishing Bay Yacht Club’s boats with a full moon, George sent it to their webmaster and it was posted on their website. It is very popular, at last count it has had about 2,500 views.
One highlight of the trip was attending grandson Jack’s high school graduation and seeing all of our grandkids from that branch of the family, as well as meeting one of my former Girl Scouts, Edye, who has maintained a friendship with daughter Becky over all these years. We took her for a boat ride on Sunspot Baby, ate seafood (of course), and did lots of catching up.
The trip from Leonardtown in Breton Bay with daughter Becky down the Potomac to Solomons was very special. The water was glassy flat, the scenery was spectacular and it was great to have her aboard.
We learned long ago that it’s a small world among cruisers. We met numerous folks from our Fairfield Harbour Yacht Club (Karl and Elaine, Elliott and Ina, John, Paul and Linda, and Scott and Darlene), and saw several boats that we have known in the Bahamas.
Two days ago, when we were crossing Albemarle Sound in nasty conditions, I was telling myself “I am never going to get home.” But yesterday we had a boisterious but lovely trip. The boat was covered with salt spray, and even though it was 95 degrees, we had a refreshing breeze blowing into the helm station as we sped toward home. I told George I had changed my mind, maybe we should spend one more night out...
818 NM miles traveled.
Thanks to everyone who made this trip possible. For our Maryland Family, soon to be a California family again and especially son-in-law Chuck for checking on our boat when we were off-site, to neighbor Bob who watered our new trees and other plantings while we were gone, to folks at FHYC who filled in during our absence, to Bev and Arne for shuttling vehicles and the delicious welcome home dinner, and especially to George, the Captain of our little ship.