Thursday, September 26, 2013

Tuesday, September 24th

 We woke up again to another beautiful sunny day!  It’s cool, 58 degrees, but we can live with that for awhile because it’s supposed to get to 75 degrees!  Yahoo!!  I love it.  Chuck found some restrooms last night that were open and they even have showers…there is a small park on the premises with a pool, so I think this facility belongs to the park.  We both walked over to the building to get a nice hot shower…let me restate that…Chuck got a nice hot shower because the women’s was locked!!!!  Ugh! I had to settle for my shower on the boat.

We pushed off the bulkhead at about 10 am heading for Annapolis.  Before we got out of the harbor, we stopped at North Point Marina to fuel up and fill our water tanks.  The fuel was more expensive here than any other place we stopped.  $4.509 per gallon but when you need it, you pay whatever! The men at this marina were very accommodating and friendly.  You can find out all about the area just by striking up a conversation. 

It was so much easier leaving Rock Hall.  All we had to do was follow our route on our chart plotter in reverse!  What a glorious day on the bay.  We once again can see the Chesapeake Bay Bridge and were hoping to sail under it!  We popped our jib and raised our mainsail.  This is really a shake-down sail for us.  We’ve used our jib a few times previous to this day but not the main.  So we were hoping we rigged everything correctly…..but we were sailing along!  Chuck decided the reef lines didn’t look quite right.  Of course in the midst of trying to follow the lines and make corrections, the wind decides to swing out of the south. Down came the sails….that lasted real long!

Right before the bridge, we passed Sandy Point State Park as well as the Sandy Point Lighthouse off our starboard side.  We tried to visit that park and beach the winter we made so many trips to Annapolis looking at boats.  We drove into the park and then when we saw there was an admittance charge, we turned around and left.  Immediately we were motoring under the Bay Bridge….awesome….it is 186’ high.  When we’ve driven over the bridge in the past, it seemed much higher.  However, now that we’re underneath it with Happy Hour’s 60’air space, it doesn’t seem nearly that high!!!!!!Yikes!

Once we got south of the Bay Bridge, Chuck wanted to play more with the reef lines.  I set the auto pilot while he worked on the sails again.  Before we knew it, we were at the mouth of Spa Creek which leads into Annapolis’mooring field #1 and then the city docks….know as Ego Ally.   We passed small sailboats practicing their racing skills and 4 naval ships  maneuvering around in front of the Naval Academy.  They looked just like the PT 109 ship.

I called the harbormaster on the phone and the he said that the mooring balls are ‘first come, first serve’.  He said any of the white balls would be good but the yellow covered balls were for boats 45’ or over and any covered in red are out of commission.  Chuck motored to the back of the mooring field and I snagged #12.  Shortly, the harbormaster boat came around to collect money.  When we questioned him on prices, we found out that it was cheaper to pay for a month than for 3 weeks.  However, he said that there were certain balls that could not be used starting this weekend because they will be too close to the floating docks that they’re moving in for the power and sailboat shows….about 15 balls will be out of commission.   So, we immediately moved out to  #31.  This is our home for at least 3 weeks.  We paid for the month but here again even if we leave right after the boat show, it will still be cheaper for us!  I can’t believe that we are moored in Annapolis!!  What a view during the day as well as the lights at night.

Now because we were staying a month, we had to dinghy in and go up to the harbormaster’s office. We were instructed to take our Documentation Number, our numbers on our dinghy, and the serial number of our motor.  Once there, they also wanted our driver’s license numbers.  I didn’t have mine….oh well, if they want it bad enough they’ll have to come out to the boat to get it  While at the main dinghy dock, we rand into Jack and Sue from Passage.  They got to Annapolis about a week before us. They decided to grab a mooring ball further up the creek.  It’s a little cheaper but you have the lift bridge to contend with….lifts every half hour. I think they told us they are in mooring field #3. 

 After walking the town and eating dinner at Chick & Ruths, we motored back to our boat.  A lady on ‘sv Melinda Kay’ waved us over to her boat.  Barb & Doug are from Bethlehem PA and their boat is a 380 Catalina.  We’ve seen the boat at various stops that we’ve made and her her name hailed on the radio.  They said that they were one of the sailboats that cruised down the east coast with us from Atlantic Highlands to Cape May.  They were leaving the next day to motor down a few creeks to a Seven Seas get together but then they’re coming back to the sailboat show.  Hopefully we’ll talk to them again!

Monday, September 23rd

Check out the skinny cut!
Oh boy, it was windy again last night! We both slept well because I think we both are starting to feel more comfortable and trusting of our anchor.  Chuck decided to raise the anchor at 9:30 and he was prepared to wash the chain and anchor down with his bucket.  Surprise… mud this time.  However as the windlass was pulling up the anchor, it pulled up another rope.  By the time he reached down to grab it to see if there was an anchor at the end, the rope fell off!  Oh well, that was probably for the best.

We left Fairlee Creek late because since it was such a skinny entrance, we wanted to make sure we had high tide and lighter winds.  Plus we were headed to Rock Hall Harbor and that’s only a little more than 10 miles away, or so we thought! We motored out of the creek a little before 10am without any trouble and before we knew it, we were in the bay heading SE.  The wind was 10 kts from the NW with gusts every now and then of 17 kts.  It was cloudy and cool , 58 degrees.  Soon the sun appeared and it turned out to be a very pleasant ride considering what the bay was like on Saturday. 
For a while we debated whether to shoot over to Baltimore where ‘Mar A Lago’ and ‘Mighty Fine’ decided to spend another day sightseeing.  However, we both wanted to see Rock Hall, so it was hands down to continue in that direction. We were hoping to get on the city’s bulkhead which is free and also has free electricity… can’t beat that!
The only problem with going to Rock Hall or Swan Creek which is a little further north, is that you have to navigate quite a distance south to get out around a large area of shallow water….and then back NE.  But on a nice day like today, the extra distance isn’t too bad.  It just takes time…but hey we are on the Chesapeake Bay!   During this trip, we got to witness some watermen on their boat checking their crab traps.  We also heard someone hailing the Coast Guard reporting that there was a 57’ Sea Ray at Skipjack Cover on fire.  That’s where we spent Friday evening….up the Sassafras River.  Hope no one got hurt on that boat!!
As we got closer to the channel that leads to Rock Hall, we could see the Chesapeake Bay Bridge.   I was tempted to suggest to Chuck that we change our plans and continue to Annapolis.  I love that town!!  But again, we wanted to see the Rock Hall, Gratitude, Chestertown area by boat.  We’ve been there before by car to look at sailboats.  Do you remember Bill and Sandy? Now it’s time to visit by boat.

It was very tricky getting into this harbor.  Of course our Garmin Chart plotter really helps but we’ve come to rely on the Blue Water Charts with the Active Captain overlay which is loaded on my IPad.  The reviews, with all the suggestions and directions by other boaters,  are wonderful!  It sure makes it much easier to navigate into tight spots and into places we’ve never been before.  (Thanks Roger and Mike telling us about it!)   

 This harbor is very interesting…..once in boats must motor around the circumference of this little harbor because it is only 1-2’ in the middle.  Rumor has it that people like to eat at the Waterman Restaurant to watch unsuspecting boats try to motor directly across  and get grounded!

We tied up to the free bulkhead at 1 pm and joined one other sailboat, a 45’ Bristol.  We both heard that this is a great place to get out of the weather if need be, except if the wind is blowing out of the south.  If that's the case then, boats get pinned to the wall…..which isn’t  good. 

We needed to provision Happy Hours II and Chuck wanted to go to the West Marine as well, so we walked into town.  West Marine was closed for the day….go figure… so we decided to check the town out before grocery shopping.  From what we could see, Rock Hall is very small and many of their buildings were empty.  It seems to be a very depressed area.    Many of the locals are watermen.  However, everyone is very accommodating to boaters and they have a trolley that runs back and forth from the marinas and Bay Shore Groceries drove us back to our boat!  What a nice complementary gesture on their part!

Durding Restaurant


While relaxing in our cockpit before dinner, we met a very colorful character along the waterfront.  His name was Capt Ziggy.  He had all kinds of questions for us about our trip and then shared his adventures over his last 30 years of sailing.   He referred to himself as a “sailboat hippie back in the day”. Supposedly when his boat died at Rock Hall, he decided to trade it in on a house but he still wished he  could sail away into the sunset again!  He had so many suggestions of where to go and what to do and was very encouraging about our trip!    We also met the couple from the Bristol, 'sv Nalani'.  We went to dinner together at the Harbor Shack and exchanged stories about our adventures so far. 


Sunday, September 22, 2013

Sunday, September 22nd

Still at Fairlee Creek!!  It’s going to be a great day.  Our plans are to stay here for a second day, explore and do any odd jobs that need to be done.  I got an email from ‘Mar A Lago’ and they were bumping and bashing their way across the bay to Baltimore.  Instead, we got in the dinghy and went to the little beach over by the channel and cut that is the entrance to the creek.  Walking the beach, we noticed it was a mixture of pebbles, small shells, fish scales, and beach glass!  I love to walk the beach looking for glass. 

Baby Turtle

Beach looking toward basin

Chuck walking along channel

30' cut we motored through
Powerboat going through cut

We motored to the fuel dock at Grand Oak Boat Club and filled the dinghy’s gas can.  The gas attendant was very helpful about the depth of the water in the approach to the pumps as well as where the dinghy dock is.  So we motored over, cleated the dinghy off and explored behind the boat and the yacht club.  It was a little past noon so we went in the to Grand Oak Bar and Grill for lunch out on the deck.  It had a great view of the boats and the creek.  We also discovered the golf course, swimming pool, and tiki bar.  Very nice!

View from the deck of Restaurant

Once back to the dinghy, the Seatow captain was there working on his motor and dinghy.  He has made the trip south 10 times, and he seemed to enjoy sharing his knowledge of the different areas we will be passing through.  I asked him questions about Fairlee Creek.  He said that it meanders for miles… we motored toward the back of the basin and found homes with docks and boats.  The winds picked up a bit, so the water began to chop and we knew if we didn’t want to get too wet on our ride back that we should go back now!  

House built over the creek
We spent a great afternoon on the boat.  Chuck wanted to check out the fuel gauge to see if he could get that to work again…he did.  He also ran the engine to charge the batteries while I did some more writing on my blogspot!  It then was a trip back to the beach before having shrimp on the grill.

Happy Hours II anchored out in Fairlee Creek
View from Bay looking over spit of land into creek!

Today's haul of beach glass!

Saturday, September 21st

I have some bad feelings about today!  We decided to head over to the dock at Skipjack Marina to pump out and fuel up.  When Chuck raised the anchor and chain, it was caked with tons of mud.  Since we don’t have a wash down hose (good thing to have), he would raise a few feet of chain and throw a bucket of water on it, raise more chain, throw another bucket of water on that, etc.  It must have taken him 15-20 minutes to clean the chain and anchor….YUK…before we were free to motor over to the dock.  Once there, we were able to pump out, $5, but the gas attendant said they only had high speed diesel??  What??  Well here, the nozzle is bigger to allow the diesel to pump twice as fast for the yachts that take a lot of fuel!  Makes sense I guess, but what about us?  We then were directed to Georgetown Boat Basin.  Once there, one of the employee’s that had just finished towing a boat to the fuel dock, motored over to us and then told us they just ran out of diesel yesterday!!   I knew this wasn’t going to be a good day.  :(  Neither of us wanted to take off without more fuel, so we pulled up to an empty dock and Chuck poured diesel into the tank from one of our 5 gallon cans which had been latched to our boat.  This is the first time that we had to use those cans.  They came in handy!!

Our friends took off ahead of us not knowing the trouble we were having finding fuel….who would have thought?   Craig was leading the way and would give our two sailboats a call every now and then about what he was experiencing.   Our plans were to go to Rock Hall Harbor, MD which is south of where we are now, on the eastern shore.  Now remember, we had to go 11.5 miles up the river and so now we have to go 11.5 miles back down the river to get to the bay and than another 21.5 miles to the mouth of Rock Hall.   On a good day, that’s about 5 hours. 

Motoring out of the river, the winds were out of the SSE.  We popped our jib and it gave us the burst of speed we needed to make up for lost time.  The only problem was that the navigable part of the river snakes around and the wind would be in the right direction, and then our jib would flog.  We finally had to furl the jib.   Once we got near the mouth of the river, we had crab traps to dodge.  It was like a mine field!  We were running close to the shoreline and soon came upon white floats that were designated as a “crab lane”.  Apparently the crabbers have to keep their traps north of these floats.  That eased our exit from the river a bit.
Crabber out in the rough waters too!

As the day progressed past noon and we advanced further south, the winds and waves increased considerably!    They now were calling for small craft warnings in the afternoon.  For once,  weather NOAA was right!!  Of course the waves and wind were on our nose but we still were attempting to make it to Rock Hall.  We’ve been in worse conditions on Lake Erie so all was cool….and then our engine stopped…..just like on the Delaware Bay.  Okay, now I’m ready to get sick…but Happy Hours II started right back up.  Whew!!  Chuck decided to not run her so hard again…..he backed her down to 2400 RPM’s.  The only problem now is that we are being overpowered by the winds and especially the waves.  I think we were only going 4 mph and probably less!

At this rate, we’d be going into an unfamiliar harbor at dusk and we didn’t want to do that.  Plus Chuck wanted to change the fuel filter while he still had some light.  We had just past Fairlee Creek and Worton Creek before that.  So we both decided to turn around.  Worton Creek is very wide and would be easy to get into, but the protection from the wind looked much better at Fairlee Creek.  However, all the reviews on Active Captain warned about staying between the markers and then close to the south shore…almost as though you were going to beach your boat!  Since it was so rough, we weren’t sure we were doing the wise thing.  As we got closer to the their channel,  we watched two boats go in and then they seemed to disappear.  Where did they go?  From our angle, we couldn't see.  All of a sudden, there was a cut through the sand which looked to be only 30’ wide.  I shouted over to an outgoing powerboat and he said to stay in the middle of the cut, that there was 11’ or more of water.  Once through, the body of water opens into what looks like a small lake with the Mears Great Oak Landing and the Great Oak Yacht Club.    Definitely a good place to anchor when the bay gets rough! We anchored early, at 2:30.

At 3:45, we got a call from Brian on ‘Mar A Lago’ because they could not hail us on the VHF.  We had turned our radio off once we anchored.   They were just approaching the Rock Hall Harbor.  Wow…and they weren’t inside yet.  He said that they were seeing 6 footers and it was a bumpy ride.  They were glad to hear that we were okay and we were glad that they made it safely to their destination.   We ‘re hoping to see them again at the boat show in  Annapolis.  Chuck and I both agree that one of the best parts of our trip is getting to know so many nice people and from so many different places.  Most of them are 'newbies' like us!
Once the engine cooled down, Chuck went to work.  He had lots of time on the water to think about what could be happening with the Yanmar engine.  His conclusion of course was that it had to be one of the fuel filters.  He explained to me that when he replaced everything on the engine in August, the one filter was already a spare that came with the boat….so he installed it.   He wanted more spares for our trip, so when he called Brants in Port Clinton…they are a Yanmar distributor…..he placed his order which was the same filter he replaced and they told him it was wrong.

In the evening as soon as Chuck was finished grilling, the rains came.  Once again I want to thank CJ for making our enclosure for us.  It is so nice to be able to eat or sit out in the cockpit when it is raining or cold.  If we didn't have it, we would be sitting down in the cabin with the hatches, ports, and companionway closed up tight.....warm and with no air.  It rained all night and  some strong winds woke me up in the middle of the night.  Hopefully tomorrow is a better day.  

Friday, September 20th

What a quiet and peaceful night! When we peeked outside it was very pleasant with mist rising off the water.  It was  8 AM and we thought we better get moving if we wanted to go back ashore, before it was time to head out.  We actually were thinking about staying one more night before we heard the weekend forecast….winds & rain.  So we thought we should move on with the other 2 boats who were leaving at noon.

We dropped our dinghy and motored over to say ‘good morning’ to the ‘Southern Belle’, Lynn and Sally.  We watched  them motor in and anchor while we were eating on the deck yesterday evening.  Their intentions were to head south as far as the Sassafras River and take a dock at the Georgetown Boat Basin.  Even though we were going to the same river, our group  thought we would anchor because there are so many anchorages up and down that river and on both shores.  Once again we were going to have great weather to securely anchor.  We wanted to tool around the Chesapeake, so we didn’t get to Annapolis too soon before the boat show.

We found a neat little breakfast shop called the Bohemian CafĂ© and Bakery before a quick check of the town again before we had to go back to the boat. 

We left our anchorage at 11:15 thinking we’d get a little jump on the two faster boats.  It didn’t take us long to get to the Bay but on our way we discovered that, hey, there are freighters on the canal also!   Chesapeake City is an interesting place, and we most definitely will stop on our way home next spring!

The Bay is so beautiful today!  It is so flat because there’s only about 3 kts of wind blowing out of the south and already 75 degrees.  We are in the narrow part cruising toward that Sassafras River which is on the eastern shore.  What a name…it just rolls off your tongue!  I read that there are Sassafras Trees that grow along its shores, thus its name.  The Indians made sassafras tea out of the roots of those trees.   The mouth of the Sassafras is very wide and all reviews from Active Captain direct boats to enter and stay near the southern shore because this is where the depth is.  Of course there are so many crab traps along the river’s mouth that it looks like a mine field.  At times it’s hard to see where the traps are because the floats are submerged.  The hardest to see were the floats painted black.  They tended to blend in with the color of the surface of the water!  

    Scenery on river!

We got to the entrance of the river at about 1:00 and from there had to ride 11.5 miles up the river toward Georgetown.  This was a very scenic ride with houses and properties that were out of this world!  We anchored at Skipjack Cove at around 3:30 PM.  It was 29.5 miles from Chesapeake City  to Georgetown…..4 ¼ hours.

I think I wrote that Chuck took a bath in the Hudson River at Croton Point….well I heard all this hooting and hollering…. and here he was bathing in the Sassafras River!  We then joined our friends in our dinghies to explore the Georgetown Boat Basin.  After walking around, we went back to The Granary Grill & Restaurant.  The six of us had a sun setter, or two, on the upper deck looking down the river to the cove where our boats were anchored.  On our way back to our boats from toasting a safe and wonderful day on the bay, Chuck donned his good Samaritan suit and we motored over to help a couple whose 18’ fishing boat wouldn’t start.  We ended up towing them back to the basin…didn’t think we could pull them…..and then headed back home.


Craig, Donna, & Dillon
'Mighty Fine'
Makayla, check this out!