Between Cape May and Solomons stand the Delaware Bay, the C&D Canal, and the top half of the Chesapeake Bay. The unusually good weather continued to hold and we continued to move… Thus, the trip up Delaware Bay could not have been more different from our first experience with that large, commercially busy, body of water. We had mostly clear skies and both gentle winds and the current in our direction for the majority of the day. We made it to the east end of the C&D Canal in good time and without incident and after checking carefully for the light warning of commercial traffic in the canal, we ventured forth with 3 sail boats in our wake. As before, the Canal was virtually empty and after bypassing our mid-canal overnight stopping point on the trip north, we arrived at Chesapeake City near the west end of the Canal with plenty of sunlight and current manageable for safe docking. Little did we know that this was the first day on the job for the dock hand guiding us in or that he knew nothing about either docking or securing boats to docks. We learned both soon enough and though we could easily secure Sojourner ourselves, our position on the dock made for an interesting and challenging departure the next morning, one we were able to accomplish with some trepidation but without incident and we headed into the Chesapeake by way of the Elk, Sassafras and Bohemia rivers. During the evening at Chesapeake City we noted to one another that we had seen no commercial traffic on the C&D Canal and wondered whether it was really use much anymore. Barely had that thought been uttered when the largest vessel either of us had ever seen slid into view. An “Autoliner,” it looked more like a massive warehouse traveling along on a moving sidewalk… The interesting thing is that it threw up very little wake. Had we met such a vessel in the Canal and had we been able to find any space on either side of it, we probably would not have been seriously tossed about by its wake. We are simply thankful we did not have to figure out how to get out of the way anything like it in the narrow confines of the Canal!! We did, however, “race” a sister ship to the Canal Auto-liner to a bridge crossing the bay. It was traveling down a different channel than we and though it appeared to be far behind us, we weren’t that far ahead of it by the time we both reached the bridge. Clearly, had a choice needed to be made, we would have deferred to the behemoth!!
Our next stop = Annapolis, and again we decided to try something different! And this time, with great success!! We chose to go to the Annapolis Municipal docks, right downtown, about one block from the Naval Academy. According to the dock master, we could select either a mooring ball or a slip; we decided not to press our luck and chose a slip. Maneuvering in “Ego Alley”, the narrow fairway along the slips, turned out to be an interesting challenge… as did tying up with only pilings, no dock or finger pier cleats, but remembering neutral is a gear and slow is good, we wiggled into the slip in such a way that we could also tie off on all four pilings and Sojourner was once again at rest and secure! We thoroughly enjoyed Annapolis and secretly wished the good weather would break so we might stay another day or two! But Pixie Dust called and Solomons was but a day away, so the next morning we headed down the Chesapeake… in ever deepening fog as it turned out. The sun did not appear until almost noon, and the morning brought an eerie journey through absolutely calm waters and a pea soup sky… Once the sun burned through, however, the remainder of the day was the best yet on the Chesapeake and we arrived at Spring Cove Marina at Solomons, MD ready for a few relaxing days after 12 straight days on the boat!! [More pix]
After some rest, laundry and provisioning we joined Capt. Carol on Pixie Dust III for an early Sunday morning departure heading to the Potomac amidst a deteriorating weather window… It was a two-day trip and we overnighted in Colonial Beach, VA, half way up the Potomac River. There we met up Capt. Patti, also of SEASENSE, and two of her students, Rusty and Edie on 43 ft Grand Banks named After You, and enjoyed an absolutely delicious crab dinner with them all. The next day brought better weather but increased winds and we were all anxious to arrive at Pixie Dust’s home marina, only to find her slip being occupied by a vessel of unknown origins. After some discussion and exploration, we tied Pixie Dust up on the fuel dock and wished her well until her owners arrived the next day. The side trip as crew on a boat larger and more elaborately equipped than ours was a great experience! We appreciated some amenities on Pixie Dust (e.g., two chart plotters with very large, interactive touch screens, easily read LED gauges, a full size refrigerator, and a real chair for reading), but we also came away from the adventure with deepened appreciation for some of Sojourner’s finer qualities, e.g., an incredibly quiet and very efficient diesel engine, solid teak interior, enclosed fly bridge, etc.) It’s nice to experience another boat and as a result feel a renewed sense of rightness about one’s own! So, now we are back at Spring Cove Marina in Solomons, MD for TrawlerFest and a hopefully quick trip to Washburn Boat Yard for some work before heading further down the Chesapeake to Norfolk, VA and another layover to visit with family and attend our niece Megan’s wedding in San Diego!