The trip from Norfolk VA to Cape May NJ was our first, “solo”, extended journey on big bodies of water: 4 days on the Chesapeake Bay and 1 day on Delaware Bay with a day in between going through the C&D (Chesapeake & Delaware) Canal. And each day was quite different from every other.
Our first day on the Chesapeake began alittle before noon after our trip through Norfolk and Hampton Roads. Just as we lost our Navy escort and headed out of the last channel, we heard an ocean-going freighter call to Kasekuchen, a beautiful, green-hulled, 53-ft., Selene, owned by friends Cheryl and Bob. We had no idea they were in the area, but they were about 10 miles ahead of us. We hailed them and the two Selenes kept tabs on one another as we moved cautiously northward. The weather was overcast bordering on quite foggy, and it deteriorated the further into the Chesapeake we ventured. Clearly a storm was brewing and we were going to be caught in it! At one point, the Kasekuchen called to be certain we were OK and suggested we duck into an inlet to let the storm pass. But as it turned out, we were further from shore than they and that put us further from the storm. Foggy, windy and generally unpleasant, our first day on the Chesapeake gave us a great opportunity to practice foul weather procedures without really having to resort to them: don life jackets, steer from below, track the weather and other boats with the radar, etc. As it turned out, we had more wind and waves than rain, and without incident, we rendezvoused with Kasekuchen late in the afternoon at Dozier’s Regatta Point, a delightful marina in Deltaville, VA.
After a layover in Deltaville to be certain the storms passed without us, our second day on the Chesapeake could not have been more different than the first: it was warm and sunny with both haze and wispy white clouds but also some wind (8-10 knots) so we contended with good sized waves most of the day. The day ended in the Solomons, MD, but not before we had to thread our way through 3 different sailing regattas to get into the inlet where Calvert’s Marina awaited us. We planned the stop in the Solomons to visit Washburn Boat Yard, the other Selene specialist on the east coast, to tie up loose ends remaining from Sojourner’s stay at Bennett Brothers. As it turned out, the trip from Wilmington, NC served as an extended sea trial for the work done by BBY, and we had a multi-item list to go through with the folks at Washburn’s…
The third Chesapeake day dawned overcast with only light winds. It threatened rain almost all day and the temperature never got above 71 degrees. Despite less than perfect weather, it was an eventful day. We passed the point at which the Potomac River flows into the Chesapeake, and it was fun to contemplate the possibility of going to Washington, DC on our return trip this fall. Day 3 also took us through a very large and forbidding-looking restricted area. It actually covered one whole section of the bay and according to the paper charts, we had to be through before 1:30 in the afternoon. Very strange markers in the water and on the charts suggested the area could be a practice run for aerial bombing, but we didn’t stay around to find out if anyone would be sharpening their skills that day! We also passed 3 huge freighters, anchored in the bay but seemingly in position to pass under the Lane Memorial Bridge. Later, we worked through a series of showers and rain squalls but nothing too serious. Nonetheless, at the end of the day, we were happy to find our way into the Annapolis Landing Marina, and the weather in there was terrific: warm and sunny. We were delighted by a surprise visit from Andrea and Chuck Wistar of Selene Annapolis. They had helped us secure us a spot at the marina, and they came by bearing gifts and greetings. It was great to see them and get a chance to catch up since four of us first got together some 15 months ago when we met at Port Charles Harbor Marina in St. Charles, MO for the intial viewing of the Selene 36 that became Sojourner.
From Annapolis northward, the bay continues to narrow and becomes more and more like a river, and by mid-afternoon on the 4th day, we were in first the Sassafras River and then, the Bohemia and Elk Rivers, heading for the C&D Canal. The entrance to the Canal is really quite inauspicious and, despite knowing to look for the warning lights about potential barge and freighter traffic in the Canal, we almost missed the signal. Luckily, there was no traffic and we ended the day at Summit North Marina, a little over half way through the Canal. Friends had suggested we stop at Chesapeake City which is not quite as far into the Canal, and that would have been good advice to follow… So, despite an iffy weather forecast the next morning, we re-entered the Canal on our way to Cape May, NJ, blissfully unaware of the adventures awaiting us during our day on Delaware Bay.
We were lucky to have practiced foul weather procedures earlier because we truly needed them on Delaware Bay: we hit rain, wind, waves, fog, and significant large ship (and small boat) traffic all at once! Fortunately, navigator Carolyn insisted we follow advice given by others, and the course she plotted kept us out of the major ship channel. At one point, we emerged from a total fog bank to see 3 trawlers coming at us and a very large freighter gaining ground just behind us, but all were off to one side because they were all in the ship channel and we were not! WHEW!! What became a very long day of watching (and experiencing) weather develop and pass on a large body of water, ended with one of our most challenging approaches to a marina. It was full moon time so the Cape May area and especially the channel to Cape May from Delaware Bay were experiencing extreme tides. And of course, we hit there at low tide so we went from the Bay, into and through the channel, out the other side, around the breakwater to the marina and into our assigned slip with the depth finder reading 1.0 at best and usually 0.0! As we pulled into the slip, the dock master kept yelling: “pull her forward some more!” Well-l-l… Sojourner wouldn’t go any further forward: her nose was in the mud!!!! [More pix]