Our mission -- Space, the final frontier. These are the voyages of the starship Enter .. OOPS, sorry, I got carried away. Let me start again.

Our mission -- Warm Waters and Great Weather: The final frontier. These are the voyages of the Motor Vessel Traveling Soul. Its five-year mission: to explore strange warm waters, to seek out new forms of recreation and new civilizations, to boldly go where no Brown, Applegate or Higgins has gone before.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Crossing the Pamlico and Sightseeing in Ocracoke and River Dunes

We waited an hour or so before leaving Belhaven as we had heard that waves would be 2 – 3 feet in the morning decreasing to one foot in the afternoon. Well … that wasn’t quite the way it worked out. The waves started out at about 2 feet, then increased to three feet, then to four. My guess is that we had a pretty steady diet of four footers by the end of the afternoon, with a few five footers thrown in. Now don’t get me wrong. The boat can handle these seas easily and Ann and I can handle them pretty well, too. (In fact, Ann was sleeping during part of the ride.) A few bottles slid around in the bar and in the refrigerator, but nothing significant happened. It is just that we aren’t big on going out in 4-5 foot seas when the prediction was for 1-2 AND we could have stayed another day in Belhaven (if we could have found something to do).

There are two reasons we wanted to go to  Ocracoke for three days. First, of course, we wanted to see what was there, learn more about Blackbeard (who was killed just off Ocracoke) and generally enjoy ourselves. Second, we wanted to test all the stuff that should make our time at anchor easier and less worrisome. I was especially hopeful that we had addressed both the “dragging” problem and the inverter issues.

At any rate we arrived at the Ocracoke Channel at about 2:30PM and moved right into the anchorage. When we dropped our anchor, I set my soon-to-be-patented “Brown’s Garmin Anchorage Gizmo” AND we set a new anchor alert app – called Drag Queen – on Ann’s Tablet. For those of you who were wondering, no, drag queen isn’t something kinky. You use it so you don’t “drag” your anchor. All of these appear to have worked very well. In fact, because I kept the tablet and Drag Queen beside my bed, every time I awoke, all I needed to do was look over and make sure we hadn’t moved too far. Heretofore, I had to get up, out of bed and check both our position and my Garmin Gizmo. Ok, I still got up once to check, but not as frequently as I have in the past. The result? I am confident that we will know when we are dragging and I may not have to spend quite so much time awake in the salon just waiting for us to drag.

The second issue we wanted to check was the DC – AC system electrical system. As some of you may recall, our inverter setup has been a curse for over a year. This year we had the guys at MTS look at it and make some suggestions. Those helped, but did not resolve the issue. The folks at Deltaville Boatyard also looked at it and suggested that we get new batteries, as they determined that ours were going bad rapidly. Now you might think that buying a couple of batteries wouldn’t be much of an issue. But these batteries are 8Ds. They are huge, they are heavy and they are expensive. I decided, though, that we would not only go for new batteries, but we would go for those near the top of the line, so we bought two Lifeline Batteries at over $500 each. The Boatyard people told us, we got a great “deal” (yea, right). Anyway they weigh 156 pounds each, are about 21” x 11” x 9”, and carry 255 amp hours each. Oh, and they are AGMs (Absorbed Glass Mat), that require absolutely ZERO maintenance. If you could see how I had to contort my body with my traditional wet cells – just to check the battery levels – well, you would understand how much I appreciate the new batteries.  Anyway, over the three days we were anchored … drum roll please … they worked almost perfectly. We consumed about 6 – 8 amps per hour and the batteries delivered the appropriate power superbly. We want to be able to recharge within four hours and – well, it took them about 4.5, but we can work on that.

We also tried out our propane coffee maker. When we are anchored we try to conserve amps – but that doesn’t mean we don’t want coffee. So, last summer we bought a propane coffee maker. And you know what? It makes great coffee!

With one or two hiccups, all the other systems we use when we are anchored worked well also – the generator, the heads, etc. We haven’t checked the watermaker yet, we want to wait until we get to Florida before we “de-pickle” it and start using it again.

The bikes we used to pedal the three miles to
AND from the National Seashore
On to sightseeing in and around Ocracoke. The first day we kind of walked around the village proper.  There were, as you might expect, a few T-shirt shops – yea, like a few hundred – and other tourist traps. The second day, however, we rented bicycles and did the island. We went to Springer’s Point, to the National Seashore, to the Ocracoke lighthouse, and to the Grocery Store. You see the first day we were there, we saw a seafood market that sells, among other things, clams. At that point I got a craving for linguini with clam sauce – one of Ann’s specialties. In addition to the clams, however, we needed a few additional ingredients so we decided to go to the grocery store on the second day and to buy the clams so they would be fresh.   We went to the grocery and got everything we needed. Mmmm those clams were going to be good. And they would have been, too, if that darn little seafood store had been open. Who heard of a seafood shop being closed on a Tuesday? AARRGGHH!
Springer's Point. The place where Blackbeard
lost his head -- literally.

Speaking of AARRGGHH!! Did you know that it was just off Ocracoke that Blackbeard, the famous pirate, met his maker? Yep, just off Springer’s Point, Blackbeard fought it out with Lt. Robert Maynard, a Royal Navy Officer, who commanded two armed sloops, Jane and Ranger. On 21 November, Maynard caught Blackbeard at one of his favorite anchorages, called Teach’s Hole (Blackbeard’s real name is thought to be Edward Teach). According to many sources, after the ships exchanged several volleys of cannon fire, Blackbeard appeared to have the upper hand. Maynard ordered his men below. When the smoke from the cannons cleared and Blackbeard saw very few men on the decks of Maynard’s ships he figured that most of them were dead. At that point he determined to board the ships and take them as prizes. Alas, when Blackbeard’s men hit the decks of the Ranger, Maynard’s men poured onto the decks. Though Blackbeard fought like a Banshee – he was allegedly shot five times and stabbed or cut twenty times – the pirates lost. Because there was a price on Blackbeard’s head and because killing Blackbeard was a political issue back home, Maynard needed positive identification. If this had happened in the twentieth century, Lt Maynard would probably have taken fingerprints or DNA for analysis. In those days, however, these hi-tech identification systems did not exist. Since Maynard did not want to have a rotting corpse on board he faced something of a dilemma; what to do, what to do? Well he used the eighteenth century version of positive ID. He cut off Blackbeard’s head and displayed it on his bowsprit.
The memorial just outside the British cemetery on Ocracoke.
There are some other interesting tidbits about Ocracoke. In 1942, HMS Bedfordshire, a British trawler that had been converted to a submarine chaser was sunk while hunting German U-boats in the Atlantic. Over the next several days the bodies of four crewmen were discovered on or around Ocracoke Island. They were all buried in a small plot near the village. However, British law says that English soldiers or sailors killed in war must be buried on British soil. As a consequence, the US Government leased the small cemetery to the British government in perpetuity – making it virtually British territory.

We left Wednesday morning, but will probably be back in the spring. It was a really nice place and we haven’t seen it all yet. The trip back across the Pamlico Sound wasn’t quite as choppy as it was when we came across, but it wasn’t a smooth one either. Anyway, we re-joined the ICW and had already decided to spend two nights at River Dunes Marina (two nights for the price of one). We arrived about 1PM.

We had heard of River Dunes years before when the real estate market was doing well and they were selling houses around a marina. They are still doing the same thing, but the housing market seems to have taken a back seat to their marina. It was a very nice marina. They have a courtesy car that took us into Oriental, North Carolina – which, according to the Chamber of Commerce is the sailing capital of North Carolina (about which, more below) – a swimming pool (but it was far toooo cold to partake), a “kind-of” restaurant. Let me explain these a little more:

·         The weather was coooold. In fact, I put on my sweat pants over my shorts. I even put on socks. I know, I know – heresy. As many of you know, I swore I would never wear long pants again (unless, of course, it was cold). Even Ann was cold. That is a history-making event.

·         Having a courtesy car is great. But, at River Dunes, you have to reserve the car a day before and you could only use it for two hours at a time. It took about 30 minutes to get from the marina to Oriental, NC the only town in the neighborhood. So that meant you only had an hour to run around Oriental – which looked like a cool place to explore. We only had time to go to the hardware stare, the grocery store and to stop by a sandwich shop for a take-out. We drove back into the marina after we had the car for one hour and 58 minutes, which was 2 minutes early. And the next signee was there ready to go.

·          The “restaurant” served had only one listing on their menu – chili – along with a salad and cookies for desert. The only the reason meal was worth the cost ($12) was the opportunity to meet other people. Although we met several, the ones we liked most were Karsten and Peg aboard their Selene trawler, Duet. They have been up and down the ICW for the last 17 YEARS. We have a lot to learn from them.

·         The River Dunes Community seems almost a cult. There are certainly several cliques within. People who bought back when it made sense to do so are convinced that they will make their money back and then some. Maybe. If they enjoy the development, I wish them well. But if they bought their property as an investment … well … I think they would have done better in the stock market.

Before I turn things over to Ann, I know some of you have asked how to track our progress. There is site associates with our AIS that will tell you where we are AS LONG AS THE RADIO AND WE HAVE THE AIS ON. Now we do not keep it on all the time. I fact, when we usually only have it on while we are moving. But if you would like, you can check the following site to see what you can see.

http://www.marinetraffic.com/ais/datasheet.aspx?SHIPNAME=Traveling+Soul&TYPE_SUMMARY=Pleasure+Craft&menuid=&datasource=SHIPS_CURRENT&app=&mode=&B1=Search

Well, that’s about all for now. I’ll let Ann tell you about our first dolphin sighting for the season and all the other things that she wants to say.

Next time we will report on our trips to St. James Marina, Butler Island and Georgetown, SC.

Ann’s Notes: I must admit that Michael is correct in telling you that it was cold outside. As the anchor goddess I need to be outside while bringing up the anchor. I have to tell you that I could not feel my hands after ten to fifteen minutes outside…the water temperature was warmer than the air temperature. We are slowly moving into warmer weather. I think that is good until it get too hot and humid and then I won’t like it all that much. I am still trying to talk Michael into cruising to Maine in the summer months. I have to tell you that I think he is starting to `give in`. We have talked to several other cruisers that say it is beautiful and a must see….maybe …just maybe…we may go and explore the towns and coastline.

 
Sunrise at Ocracoke
Poor little Belhaven, NC. At one time I am sure it was a busy town, and, though they are trying to make a comeback, they have a long way to go. I wish them well. They are even closing the local hospital. It is right on the water and it has been flooded so many times that they have closed already several wings. Now they have a terrible mold problem and the whole building has to been torn down it is so bad. That means many jobs will be lost, they have no plan to rebuild.

 
I loved Oracoke Island NC, the weather was perfect and there was so much to explore. When we were visiting our daughter Lisa in Twenty-nine Palms, CA we went to Joshua Tree National Forest. While there I bought a National Parks Passport. The deal is that you visit the parks and you get a stamp in the pass port; it’s just a fun thing to do. Well … I got the passport stamped in Oracoke since they are part of the National Seashore. I have many more stamps to go and many more places I need to return to, I think it is fun…Michael thinks I am a bit crazy…but that is why he loves me. I keep him on his toes but making him take me places.

 
The “twins” aka our engines are humming along nicely. All other systems are making Michael happy. As long as they keep the fridge running and my fans running when I need them…I am also happy.

I am going to add `Quotes from the Water` to my wild live count. While traveling we have to radio on to listen to alerts and to call the bridge tenders. Actually it is also like the old fashion party line telephones and we hear some funny conversations from time to time that I would like to share with you.

Wildlife Count:

·         Saturday 19 October 2013 First DOLPHINS !!!!  2 Dolphins in Pamlico Sound

·         Wednesday 22 October 2013  Oracoke NC  2 Dolphins

 
Quotes from the Water

Obnoxious captain in a sports fishing boat going very fast in the channel in Norfolk, asking us to `MOVE OVER, YOU ARE IN THE MIDDLE OF THE CHANNEL` Michael response was we are not in the middle, we are hugging the red buoys. Obnoxious captain reply ... `It is all a matter of perspective`….no not really we were following the makers.

A large 65 foot cruiser …a voice over to radio with a strong Italian accents says..”Going to pass you, but don`t worry I will-a not-a make-a a wake-a for you.”  He said that to every boat he passed for several miles. Reminded me of “No soup for you.”

 
New word from Oracoke … “Dingbatters” …. look it up on the computer.

 

Thank you for reading…

Traveling Soul…OUT

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Deltaville to Broad Creek to Belhaven (October 9 - October 20)


Our intentions were to leave Deltaville on Thursday, 9 October. On the 7th, however, Mother Nature decided to remind us that she was the boss, as she unleashed quite a wind and rain storm. The winds were 25 gusting to 30 MPH, the visibility was from 1 – 3 miles, and the rain was constant. Even when it wasn’t raining it was damp.  So we postponed out departure until Saturday when the weather was supposed to let up a little. The good thing was that the port side of our boat got “power washed” by the wind and rain (we were facing east), though the starboard side – not so much.

On Saturday we disconnected the power cables, unhooked the water hoses, re-jiggered the lines and cranked the engines … er … I mean we cranked one engine, as the other didn’t want to start. My diagnosis was that it was another bubble in the fuel line – but fixing it was beyond my meager mechanical talents. We obviously had to call someone and just as obviously no one was going to be at work – it was a Saturday. The best we could do was contact Deltaville Boatyard; they said they would have someone here first thing Monday morning. I must admit that I was impressed by their determination to solve my problem.

While we were waiting to leave, we didn’t completely waste time. Earlier in our stay in Deltaville we met Tom Hale and Christina Sison aboard their trawler Tadhana. Tom is the Managing Editor of the Waterway Guide, a set of publications we – and other cruisers – use extensively as we roam up and down the ICW. Tom and Christina take every chance they can to cruise on the Chesapeake (Tom and Christina are both still working (poor folks) so they can’t cruise full time). This weekend they were going to Urbanna, one of our favorite towns in Virginia, just a little ways up the Rappahannock from Deltaville.  Since we couldn’t take the boat out, Tom and Christina lent us their car so we could meet them and have dinner. Needless to say, they are very nice people. The restaurant was so-so, but the company was really great! 

John from Deltaville Boatyard was there, as promised, bright and early Monday morning. He determined   that we had air in our fuel line and bled it – just like I thought he should. Of course the fact that he knew how to do it and I didn’t, makes him just a little better mechanic than I am. He also spent some time trying to track down the cause of these air bubbles. We thought we figured it out last time (in Baltimore), but since they keep happening we aren’t too sure what is going on. Anyway, on Wednesday, we will be ready to throw off the bowlines and head south. Our first stop will be the Top Rack Marina in Norfolk.

16 October – Top Rack Marina, Chesapeake, VA

On our first day we traveled 68.7 miles from Deltaville to Chesapeake, VA. There were two main reasons we wanted to stop at Chesapeake. First, the Top Rack Marina advertises the “best diesel prices” in the area. Since we needed somewhere around 400 gallons, the price of fuel was important to us. In the event, if it was not the cheapest around, it had to be close. Two weeks prior we had paid $4.40 for about 100 gallons at one of the marinas in Deltaville. (We didn’t buy more than that because we knew we would be coming here.) At Top Rack we paid $3.54. Even if most marinas would charge $3.90, we still  saved about $144. We now have our complete complement of 700 gallons aboard.

The second reason we stopped at Top Rack was because they had a “dock and dine” special. If you go to their restaurant and spend $75 or more, your docking for that night is free. That sounded great! Now, the Amber Lantern isn’t one of your typical Chesapeake restaurant/bars, it is a fairly high class place. (Thank Heaven, though, I could still wear shorts – otherwise it might have been a no-go!) Anyhow, we figured that their prices might be a little high. We were right. It is true that when we ordered we wanted to make sure we would meet the $75 minimum so we went for appetizers and for entrees at the high end of the menu. Well, we needn’t have worried. As you might have expected, they have done this a lot more than we have and have figured out how to make money. We spent a total of $123 for dinner. That is about when we would have spent if we would have paid for our dockage and gone to a little less pricey restaurant. Still, it was a good meal, but the best part was the fact that we met our marina-mates Peter and Ann.

Peter and Ann are full-time cruisers aboard their beautiful (almost) new Kady Krogen 52, Keeper. (Their Krogen holds 1400 gallons of diesel! Wow!) Peter is an airline pilot who takes time away from the boat periodically to move people from one part of the country to the other. We ended up following them all the way from Top Rack to Belhaven.

Locks, Bridges and Broad Creek

We had a great plan. We were going to leave Top Rack at 0845. We would catch the bridges and locks on time so we would have to do minimal waiting. Well, it didn’t quite work out that way.

Here is the bridge/lock schedule:

Name
Opening
Mile Marker
Steel Bridge
On the Hour
8.1
Great Bridge Lock
Quarter past the hour until quarter ‘til the hour
11.7
Great Bridge Bridge*
On the Hour
12.1
Centreville Bridge
On the Hour and half-hour
15.2
North Landing Bridge
On the hour and half-hour
20.2

 
*NOTE: No, that’s not a typo. The location is Great Bridge, Virginia. The town of Great Bridge has both a lock and a bridge; thus, the bridge at Great Bridge is Great Bridge Bridge. Now why they didn’t name it the John Smith Bridge or something like that, I don’t know. But I’ll bet that back in the day there was a bridge-naming guy who was sitting in his chair in Richmond laughing saying something like, “Hey guys, watch this. I’m gonna name this bridge the Great Bridge Bridge. Get it? Get it?” Anyway …

From the chart, you can see the possibility. If you get under the Steel Bridge at 0900, you can get into the lock right away, then through the lock to the Great Bridge Bridge, then to the Centreville Bridge by half past, then of you can go 10 MPH you can make it to the North Landing Bridge on the hour. So you could make it through the system in about 2 hours. Unless.


Just a few of our fellow travelers after the bridge at
Great Bridge was FINALLY raised.
 

Corps of Engineer barges have the right of way in the lock system. So, if a northbound barge comes up to the lock at the southbound time, the southbound traffic has to wait. If the same northbound barge has a fender-bender in the lock, then the barge captain has to get all the information for an “incident report” before he can leave. I think you can see where this is going. The worst part of it was that right after we got through the lock, we had to wait nearly 40 minutes for the Great Bridge Bridge to open. There were about 12 good-sized boats in a very small area. Luckily, there was only a little wind and current, so boats could stay in place fairly easily. If there had been some wind – well, it wouldn’t have been pretty.


Sunrise near Broad Creek, North Carolina
After the bridge finally opened, we went in line to the next bridge. I stopped well before the bridge so we wouldn’t end up in the same dense mass of boats that we had earlier. And wouldn’t you know it. Two of the boats that had been in line behind us decided that they just had to cut in front. That wouldn’t have been so bad, except that one of them was slower than we were. In fact, his top speed was only 9.5 MPH. Now take a look at the last entry in the chart. If you cannot average 10 MPH between Centreville and North Landing, you are going to have to wait another half-hour for the next bridge opening. The canal is really too narrow to pass – unless you don’t mind waking the other guy – so we just followed in line. Luckily, the North Landing Bridge Tender took pity on us (there were about five boats in the group that had become separated from the faster group) and held the bridge for a few more minutes. Needless to say, immediately after the bridge I passed our sluggish brother.

The rest of the trip through Virginia and into North Carolina was not particularly interesting. We pulled into our Broad Creek anchorage at about 1600 and we were “Engines-off” and anchored at about 1630.

Belhaven

From Broad Creek to Belhaven is about 74 miles. Belhaven is a peculiar little town. The best thing about it is the size of its anchoring field; it is huge. We anchored the first night with about four other boats and none of us was anywhere near the others. We will be back to anchor here again.

We had heard that Belhaven was trying to become a cruiser Mecca like Georgetown, Elizabeth City and others. Moreover, our friend Tom Hale asked us to stop and say hello to Les and Brenda, the owners of the marina, and to take some pictures of a new restaurant called, “The Tavern at Jack’s Neck.” Our plan, therefore, was to anchor one night, then to put in at the marina for the second night. That would give us time to see Les and Brenda, to check to the town and to go to dinner and take pictures of the Tavern.




New York has its cows, Norfolk has mermaids, Annapolis
has its chicks and Belhaven has its crabs.
We got in the marina t noon and found that Les and Brenda were away for the week end at a relative’s wedding in Richmond. Ok, so it looked like we failed at mission one. To take pictures of the Tavern we checked on-line and they were supposed to be open at 11AM on Saturdays. They weren’t. They weren’t open at 1 PM either so we decided to check out the town. By 3 PM we had covered the five square blocks that is Belhaven and went back to the boat. We had pretty much decided that there wasn’t anything in the town worth seeing.

About 4 we called the Tavern and found that they would be open that evening, but not for dinner. They would only be serving beer, wine and popcorn. Well, we went, had a glass of wine and took a lot of pictures – most of which were very dark, even with a flash. Now, I have to tell you that the Tavern itself is beautiful. They have a teak bar, teak tables, magnificent wood ship models and I could go on and on. It is truly worth seeing So, while we have included a picture or two, please realize that they do not convey the true beauty of the Tavern.


One of the wooden sculptures
at the Tavern at Jack's Neck
Then we had a stroke of luck. We went across the street to eat dinner at “Spoon River Artwork, Market and CafĂ©.” Well, they had wonderful food. I usually order seafood, but, since I wasn’t expecting much I just went for the fried chicken. For those of you who know me, you know I am something of a connoisseur of fried chicken – I have been eating it for more years than I can count. I am here to tell you it was some of the best fried chicken I have had in a long time.  Moreover, it was presented extremely well – on a bed of jasmine rice and sweet potato sticks on the side. It was just moist enough Mmmm I can still taste it. Ann had shrimp and grits served in a very unusual manner. First, there were a lot of shrimp. Second, it was served on a bed of dark, slightly sweeter-than-normal grits. The taste was different, but excellent. That with a bottle of wine and piece of very chocolate cake came to about ½ the price of our dock and dine in Chesapeake, VA.

 

ANN’S NOTES: I  cannot tell you how happy I am to be back on the water again. Sure there have been a few hic-ups but nothing that a few more boat units can`t fix.

I was happy to discover that my anchoring skills all came back … I even thought of a new way to measure out the amount of snubber we need for the anchor. Plus now Michael wants to put the brake on the windlass when he back up on the anchor. That small step takes a lot of the pressure of the windlass and more on me … just kidding. It takes me a while to change a routine I have had for two years but I have added the extra step without my brain going into over drive.

In the past few days we have meet some really nice people and have enjoyed their company at dinner. Hearing about other adventures makes cruising so much more fun.

What can I say about poor little Belhaven…it has a long way to go before it becomes a mecca to cruisers. The town and the homes are beautiful and the walk pleasant. One can just imagine what it was like when there was any sort of industry … mostly lumber along with hunting and fishing lodges. They even have a small hospital that will be closing its doors soon. It has been flooded so many times that they have a mold problem that only tearing down the building will solve. Sad but true. The meal at the restaurant was so very good. My shrimp and grits was served with a fried egg on top.  I know what you are thinking … for most of you that know me I do not venture very much when it comes to food … ok … STOP laughing.  Anyway, after a glass or two of wine I figured what the hell –  and I am glad I ordered it because it was yummy.

I know Michael wants to get this posted today so I am going to wrap my part up…

YES….LADIES AND GENTLEMAN ….I have a wildlife count…small but nevertheless a count..

First I have to amend the last posting…when we were traveling out west I did see the following…

Twenty-nine Palms CA in the parking lot of the Base Exchange

·         1 roadrunner (MEEP ... MEEP)

Green Valley AZ in Mom`s back yard

·         several Quail families

·         Lots of lizards in the west…too many to count 

Thursday 17 October 2013  

·         1 Bald Eagle at the Great Bridge Lock

Friday 18 October 2013 

·         many flocks of geese and ducks. They better start flying way south because duck hunting season will open soon.

Thank you for reading our blog

Traveling Soul…OUT

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Oxford, Cambridge, and Mary's City (August 21 - October 9)


Oxford. We left Kent Island on August the 21st. We didn’t have any place we needed to be until the 23rd – when we had reservations at the Hyatt Regency Marina in Cambridge, MD – so we decided to spend the night at anchor in Fatty Cove, near Oxford Maryland. We also decided that since we were there, we might as well take a little trip into Oxford and … well … get a beer! We downloaded the dinghy and off we went. We stopped at our favorite little waterfront bar in Oxford – Schooner’s Landing – only to find it closed on Wednesdays! Now if you know Oxford, you know that there really aren’t too many other places to go for an afternoon beer. So we roamed around a little and ended up at the Robert Morris Inn. You may recall that last year we had a scrumptious meal at the Inn. We hadn’t planned on eating there this year, but we certainly could have a beer and some fries.
This isn’t one of those places on the water, it’s a block or so inland, so we decided just to sit at the bar rather than in the restaurant itself. It wasn’t much of a view, but I gotta tell you that those fries were delicious! They were crispy, just as I like them, and they were made with parmesan cheese and rosemary sprinkled on top. MMM mmm good! And it was one of those hot, humid Maryland afternoons so the beer – we each had one of the local craft beers – tasted especially good. After the beer and fries we strolled around the town a little, just enough to remind ourselves that there really isn’t much to do in Oxford. We headed back to the boat, watched a video or two and went to bed.
Cambridge. It was only about two hours from Fatty Cove to the Hyatt and the weather was just beautiful. Now the Hyatt is a true destination resort. On the property there are probably three restaurants, three swimming pools, a golf course (for those who indulge), a miniature golf course for the rest of us, a game room, a nice work out facility and lots of other stuff. Although we have been there in our previous boat, we hadn’t been in Traveling Soul simply because it was sooo expensive ($3/foot/day, plus $15 electric/day, plus a $25/day resort fee – that would have been a total of around $196 PER DAY.) Sorry, but that’s not gonna happen. Well, somebody somewhere got smart and reduced the dockage fees. It was now $1.50 per foot per day (plus electric and resort fees), AND you get three nights for the price of two. Ok, it is still not cheap, but a three day total of $276 is a lot better than a three day total of $588.



 

Our friends Dave and Joan came to visit and we celebrated Dave’s birthday at a little downtown restaurant called Bistro Poplar. We have been going to Bistro Poplar since it opened. In fact, I think we may have been there the first night it was opened – or at least during its first week.  The food was good, the company even better and the resort … what can I say? It lived up to all of our expectations.
After a few days lounging around the pool and walking around the property, we took off. We were on our way to St, Mary’s MD, but on our way we decided to spend a night anchored in Hudson Creek, just off the Little Choptank River. It was during our stay there that I went fishing for the first time off Traveling Soul’s stern. One of the reasons I have been hesitant to fish until now is that I really wanted to get some circle hooks. Because of their design, fish rarely swallow circle hooks. Since most of the fish I catch are really too small to eat, I wanted to be able to throw them back uninjured. Circle hooks allow me to do that. (Don’t worry, I haven’t gone over completely to the Green side. if I ever catch one big enough to eat, I most certainly will!) Anyway, I caught two small (8 inch) croakers and threw them back alive.
The view off our stern in the St. Mary's City Harbor.
You can't really see much, but it sure was pretty!
This was the caption on what is thought to be the
oldest map of VA and MD after John Smith's
St. Mary’s City. St Mary’s City, MD is one of the best kept secrets on the Bay. There are several really cool things about it. First, it has a magnificent anchorage. It is almost like a lake, in that it resembles a circle with only one relatively small entrance and a relatively small exit. The water throughout the “lake” is 15-20 feet deep – even near shore—so it is a little deeper than most boaters would prefer, but it is so big that you can let out as much rode as you want. I think we let out 150 feet, leaving us with about an 7:1 scope. We could have let out more, but given the weather, that was plenty.
The second really cool thing about St. Mary’s is that it was the first capital of Maryland! The city was founded in 1634 by a group of 300 English settlers. I mean it is only 27 years younger than Jamestown and is the fourth oldest permanent settlement in British North America. It is considered the birthplace of religious tolerance in the United States, as the colony passed the Maryland Toleration Act at its capital, St. Mary’s, in 1649.
The original land grant for Maryland was given to George Calvert, the first Lord Baltimore, by his patron and grateful friend, King Charles I. George had served Charles well until he (George) committed the unpardonable sin of declaring himself a Roman Catholic. After that, it was sayonara. In fact, it was because of the Calvert’s faith that the colony was so strongly supportive of religious toleration. About forty years after the Toleration Act, however, in 1689, the religious tensions in England and the Colonies became so great Maryland’s Protestant settlers revolted against the Lords Baltimore. As a result, the English Crown took responsibility for the Colony away from the Calvert’s and appointed a succession of royal governors. In 1695 Maryland’s capital was moved to Annapolis. Between 1695 and 1934 St. Mary’s City became – quite literally – lost. Its buildings were torn down, and it became farmland.
This is the Catholic Church in St. Mary's City.
When religious problems arose back home,
the Church was literally locked to prevent worship. 
This was the "courtroom" (of sorts) in St. Mary's City.
Ya think maybe Ann is getting illusions of grandeur?
By its 300th birthday, St. Mary’s City had been “rediscovered” and the state held quite a birthday party for it in 1934. (There are pictures of the harbor at St. Mary’s filled with 40 – 50 of those elegant wooden 1930’s yachts – kewl!) Ever since, it has been the subject of archaeological digs and historical research. As a tourist attraction it is laid out extremely well and has several “interpreters” dressed in Colonial costumes throughout the complex. In short it is a wonderful place to visit – kind of like Jamestown with a dash of Williamsburg, but much less commercialized – and if you haven’t been there you should go!
Deltaville. After St. Mary’s we headed on down to Deltaville, Virginia. We left the boat to be bottom painted at Deltaville Boatyard while we went on a vacation to the Great American West. Some of you will remember that we used to have work done by Zimmerman’s Boatyard here in Deltaville. Some of you will also remember why we won’t make that particular mistake again. Anyway, let me explain a little about bottom painting. All recreational boats that operate in salt water need some kind of a bottom paint, otherwise all sorts of little sea creatures (like mussels, barnacles, etc.) and slime (like, well, slime) will form and grow on the bottom of the boat. They, in turn, will slow down the boat and significantly reduce its efficiency as it runs through the water (think reducing mileage). Properly applied bottom paint prevents this in two ways. First, it contains and slowly releases a biocide that kills the nasty sea creatures – kind of like a slow release capsule only it’s a covering rather than a pill and it releases over a couple of years rather than 24 hours.  Second, the paint sloughs off over time, so any sea creatures that stick to the bottom – whether they are alive or dead – come off as the boat travels the seas.
Traveling Soul on the travel lift preparing for her bottom painting
We generally have the bottom painted every two years with two coats. The top coat is blue, with a red coat underneath.  As the blue coat sloughs off the red coat shows through. When you see the red coat, you know your bottom is still good, but it is time to start thinking about painting again.
Anyway, while the boat was being worked on, Ann went to Portland, Oregon to visit her mother and sister while I went to Green Valley, Arizona to visit my mom. We then converged on Twentynine Palms, California to visit our daughter and her family.
 
ANN’S NOTES:  As usual Michael gives a good overview of what we have been up to.
Our visit to Oxford was fun. The weather was very hot so the walking tour was short, but sitting at the bar was nice. I had a beer that was brewed in Annapolis and the name of the beer was Magic … now how could one refuse a nice cold glass of Magic. The town of Cambridge is so quaint but so many of the store front and homes are closed or for sale.  Small town USA is slowly disappearing, I am sorry to say.
I really enjoyed our visit to St. Mary’s. The weather again was hot and humid but there were a lot of shade trees to walk under most of the time. I learned so much that day about the history of Virginia, Maryland and the East Coast. The living history actors were excellent and made it fun to listen and learn from them. We saw many old grave markers, the oldest tobacco barn in Maryland and the machine that packed the tobacco into barrels for transport back to England. I agree with Michael that it would be a great weekend getaway for a family with older kids. 
The visit to Cambridge as always was wonderful, the Hyatt Resort and marina is such a nice place to just relax. And they have a Starbucks!!! What more could one ask for? Having Dave and Joan visit makes it that much more special. Dave had a nice birthday dinner and got a present he actually liked.
While Traveling Soul was being pampered and made to look pretty, the Captain and First Mate took off for some fun time of their own. We flew together out of Norfolk to Atlanta and then parted ways; Michael went to Arizona and I went to Oregon. I left Portland in 1973 and this was the first time back. Oregon really is a beautiful state, with mountains, trees, rivers and friendly people. It was great to be with my mom and sister and her family. I also did some work for my sister that needed to be done, like moving boxes and furniture. My sister is going to have back surgery next week and she is limited on the amount of lifting and moving she can do … so … the one with the good back and ample strength from boating volunteered  to get it all done. I am glad I could help and have fun at the same time.
The time was short but sweet in Twentynine Palms , California. Being with family is the best feeling ever. It was wonderful to hug and talk to the older grandchildren. Nikolas is a fine young man with a bright future and has received early admission to Arizona State University. He is also trying for a naval ROTC scholarship. Maddy is a beautiful young woman, and also has early admission to ASU. She wants to be a vet. She has a great love for animals and will do well in that career. Trent is a freshmen in high school. We share the same birthday and we all went out to celebrate. He has always been quiet and likes time alone.  He is a also a really good soccer player.
I could not believe the landscape of the high desert, it is so different from the desert in Arizona. It is beautiful in a hard sort of way. The Joshua trees are my favorite. I think I have found where all the “old” hippies of the 60s went, they live in Joshua Tree, CA … trust me … they are alive and well.
I also want to thank Michael`s mom, Barbara, for showing us a good time in Green Valley and sharing her car with us. Also for driving all the way to CA to visit Lisa and family. Love you Mom 
I know that Michael wants to get this posted today so I better wrap this up.
Sorry dear readers…not much in the wildlife count, I was told always leave my readers wanting more ... so that is what I am doing.
Traveling Soul….OUT