From VA to NY: Time Flying

July 17, 2010

Sojourner cruising the Chesapeake

It is hard to believe we are already in Central New York State and we’ve been here for awhile… more than a month ahead of last year’s trip!! 

In early June, we left Sojourner in Chesapeake VA at the Atlantic Yacht Basin while we took a brief car trip to Lexington KY.  Overnight stops in Lexington VA both going and coming provided two (too) short, but truly enjoyable, visits with Carolyn’s brother Ross and sister-in-law Connie, including much delicious food and even a minor league baseball game! 

Once underway again, we decided to abandon the route of our previous trips and explore some new places, especially on the eastern shore of Chesapeake Bay.  Until we began to look closely at the “eastern shore”, neither of us realized that much of it is in Virginia- we had just assumed it was all Maryland, but we found a couple delightful, less well-known/populated places.  Cape Charles was our destination the first night out of Great Bridge.  Advertised in the cruising guides as an authentic, working fishing village, Cape Charles harbor is home to both crabbing and shrimp fleets.  We thought seeing them up close would be fun and the town docks marina sounded more like our style than the resort marina a few miles further away.  What we didn’t understand was the extent of our exposure to the fleets, including docking up against stacked crab boxes drying in the late afternoon (aka hot!) sun and the unisex restroom facilities marina guests share with the crabbers and shrimpers.  Nonetheless, we were too tired to move on so we settled in and after showering on board, we walked through a working railway yard into town-   There we found quaint shops and had a delicious dinner at the Old Firehouse restaurant.  The marina has great plans for new floating docks, additional facilities and some separation between recreational and working boats.  When these plans are realized, Cape Charles will a really interesting stop on the eastern shore.  While on our way to Cape Charles, Sojourner crossed the wake of  Horicon, sleek sailboat from Norfolk, piloted by a professor from Old Dominion University.  Horicon hailed us to say they had some pix of Sojourner and asked if we would like them-  Of course!!  Getting pix of one’s boat underway is difficult and we don’t have many, so we returned the favor and now both vessels are documented cruising the Chesapeake on a gorgeous summer day!

Horicon whizzing by

Next came Onancock (Oh-NAN-cock), just what Cape Charles aspires to be!!  A delightful little village with a small, easily accessible marina, it is about 4 miles off the Bay.  With incredibly scenic landscapes and beautiful homes scattered randomly along the shore, the trip in on a well-marked channel was worth the detour even if the Onancock had not been-  There we met up with Marysue and Leon of Pixie Dust III, the American Tug we crewed on for Capt. Carol last October.  It was great to see and chat with them both, and we hope to meet up again somewhere in the environs.   And we had a wonderful dinner at Charlotte Hotel.  From Onancock, we crossed the Bay back to the Maryland side and a return visit to Solomons and Spring Cove, one of our most favorite marinas.  This time we were assigned to an essentially “residential” dock, and the locals were catching blue crab right off the dock with simply a chicken and string!! From Solomons, we re-crossed the Bay to St. Michaels, a well-known and extremely popular Chesapeake boating community.  We arrived on a Sunday, along with the Virginia Yacht Club on a summer outing!  In contrast to Cape Charles, Onancock and even Solomons, St. Michaels is clearly a vacation destination with innumerable shops, restaurants and other establishments catering to the short term visitor.  Of the four, we liked Onancock the best, we think.  Though with temperatures at St. Michaels hovering around 100, we really didn’t see as much there as we would have liked.

St. Michaels

From St. Michaels, our exploration of new places took us on “The Narrows” route to the C&D Canal instead of returning to the Chesapeake and rounding the corner at Annapolis.  Now the Narrows was quite an experience!!  Beautiful water and great scenery surrounding some of the narrowest channels and “skinniest” water we have ever encountered!!!  Even the bridge we had to pass under at The Narrows was narrow!!!  Our beam is almost 15 ft., and we would guess the bridge’s horizontal span wasn’t more than 20-25 ft!   That’s a margin of only 3-5 feet on each side!!  We had hoped to end the day through the C&D Canal and stay at Delaware City, yet another new place for us.  However, the Narrows route was longer than we anticipated, so tired and hot, we stopped at Summit North, about 2/3rds through the Canal and were glad to be down and in by about 5 pm.  With Delaware Bay, we returned to our familiar route:  stops in Cape May, Atlantic City and Manasquan as we ran the Atlantic 2-3 miles off the Jersey shore to New York City.  We must report one significant change in that routine, however!  At Atlantic City, Carolyn once again ventured into the casino and this time, doubled her stake!!  In NYC, we stopped at a different marina, though still on the Jersey side of the Hudson.  We had INCREDIBLE views of the Manhattan skyline from our slip, and the trade-off was rocking and rolling all night.   In fact, the side-to-side (beam sea) wave motion from the river traffic was so severe, Susan had to take her trusty Bonine, anti-seasickness medication-  The view was worth it, though- at least once!!

To avoid Newburgh and any chance of the problems we encountered there last year, we did a short day to Haverstraw from NYC, and at about West Point, we passed the Tumbleweed with Linda and Floyd, the couple we first met at Hoppie’s on the Mississippi, a seeming lifetime ago!!  Sojourner and Tumbleweed crossed wakes a couple times thereafter:  western Kentucky and St. Petersburg and had a couple “near misses” going north last year, so it was great to at least them on the water!!  Then, a long day to Catskill, during which we passed Barbara and Jim on the Golden Lily, another couple with whom we have crossed wakes several times during this grand adventure!  At Catskill, we had a delightful overnight stay with our friends Susan and Slade of Sojourner NY!  We would have loved to stay longer, but we “had a plane to catch” as our friend Patty was flying in from Lexington to join us for a few days!  We made the quick run to Waterford, the beginning of the Erie Canal, with about ½ hour to spare, met up with Patty and the three of us had dinner with Jim and Barbara who had also moved on from Catskill.

Linespeople Ready!

One of the most profound insights we have gained in the last couple years is the power of weather.  When living on land, weather can be a bother and can perhaps even delay some activity, but unless it is truly severe, it does not substantially affect what we do and when we do it.  On the water, weather is THE determining factor, and we learned that lesson anew on the Erie Canal.  Last year our time on the Erie Canal was… leisurely, comfortable, and as boating challenges go, rather easy.  The two of us did all 22 locks between Waterford and Brewerton twice (up and back) by ourselves, with little or no trouble.  This trip, with winds of 10-15 knots and (unpredicted) gusts to 25, two people could not handled Sojourner in the locks by themselves!  Thank heavens for our friend Patty!!  She was great company, gave us a new perspective on this, our third trip along the Erie Canal, AND she was a terrific lineperson enabling us to keep Sojourner safe, if not still, in the locks!!   On a lighter note, Patty also provided a soundtrack for our canal adventure:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=roqhd3yG3Qk  !!!!

Ensconced at Ess-Kay Yards, Sojourner’s “home away from home” in Brewerton, we are having great fun visiting with our dear friends in Syracuse:  we’ve enjoyed campfires on the shore, kayaking, “playing” with chain saws, and learning to drive a brand new ATV at Sue and Susan’s Lake House, and we’ve relished quiet, leisure time with Maurie and Dominique.  We’ve also had the opportunity to celebrate the 4th of July on the shores of Lake Ontario and some delightful time with Susan’s mother, Phoebe.  The Tumbleweed arrived at Ess-Kay a few days after we did; so we even had some time with Linda and Floyd!!  All-in-all, we have relaxed and unwound, but now, we are gearing up for our next adventure, one that will take us beyond where we have traveled before:  a jump across Lake Ontario and into Canadian waters.  Ava and Anne, two friends from Lexington, will join us for the first several days and then in a couple weeks, we hope to meet up with Doug, Sarah and the grandsons somewhere along the way!

While we explored new places along the Chesapeake and tested our navigational skills in finding them, we maintained our “travel in good weather” approach throughout the trek north.  We were sure we’d have at least a couple of “weather days” during which we could catch up on routine tasks (the blog??) and perhaps do some in-depth exploration of a new place or two.  Wel-l-l… that didn’t happen!  Other than the continuation of the unseasonable heat we experienced on the Intercoastal Waterway (FL, GA, SC, NC and VA), we had great travelling weather all the way up the Atlantic Seaboard, and thus, other than our short trip to KY, we did not “lay down” a single day from Melbourne FL to Catskill NY!  That’s one reason for the recent silence on the blog, and another is certainly the invitable sense of routine that sets in when traveling through now familiar waters.  Perhaps equally influential, however is the sad fact that right after learning how to make videos, we broke our good camera!!  One too many falls to the fly bridge floor when we hit a big wave, or much more often, were “waked” uncontrollably by faster vessels speeding by.  Nonetheless, we did get a few good pictures for this phase of the adventures…   More important, we now have a new camera, so we hope to provide some interesting shots and videos when the blog reports on our Canadian experiences!  That may be awhile in coming, however, because communicating via either cell phone or secured internet from Canada is outrageously expensive so we’ll most likely wait until we return to post again.