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, July 12, 2016

After the ICW: 2016

After we completed the ICW for the ninth time, we reentered our home waters, the Chesapeake Bay. Sometimes we meander up the Bay visiting various venues along the way. This year, we decided to make only one stop because we wanted to get back to Solomons, MD by 5 June. Our one stop was at Cape Charles, on Virginia’s eastern shore, so we could visit Ann’s cousin, Ralph, and his wife Mary. Our visit was wonderful. We got to see the golf club where Ralph works part time (it was really beautiful) and to have lunch at the club’s restaurant. We also visited Ralph’s home in Machipongo, VA (try saying that three times fast!) All-in-all, it was an enjoyable day.

Ann and her cousin, Ralph
The first and last days of our stay at the Cape Charles marina were also pretty good. The first day the weather was decent, so after docking the boat we walked around the town, the marina and the beach. The middle days – or more precisely the middle nights – were absolutely terrible. When we docked the boat, the dockmasters put us on an outside “T” dock with our bow facing the marina and our stern facing the bay. The first night it was fine, but the second the third nights the wind picked up and slammed wave after wave into our stern and our swim platform. Since our stateroom (fancy nautical name for bedroom) was aft (fancy nautical term for “in the rear of the boat,”) it sounded as if guys with sledgehammers were pounding on the transom all night. Ann slept through it, but it got so bad that I had to go up to the salon to get away from the constant thump, thump, thump so I could get at least a little bit of sleep. If we can avoid it we will never again let dockmasters put us in with our stern facing the bay!

There was one other event that occurred while we were at Cape Charles, and it will shape my life forever. While exploring the quaint little town, we discovered a little place that served, among other things, lox and bagels. Oh my God! Now, I have had bagels before and have certainly had salmon, but all together with capers and cream cheese? Wow!  My life is now complete and I would change my religion if I could have lox and bagels every day.

I mentioned we wanted to get to Solomons by 5 June. The reason is because my West Point Class was holding a Remembrance Ceremony for classmates who had passed away this year. For the first time, my company of 24 men had someone die; in fact we had two deaths, Dallas Britton and Dave Marler. That, plus the fact that I knew know several other classmates who had died, made me really want to attend this year’s event. It also gave those of us who were still alive a chance to get together and meet with the immediate families of those who had passed away.  You know years ago we used to get together for weddings and other affirmations of life. Nowadays, we seldom get gather with family and friends anymore except for deaths and other kinds of tragedies. I was, of course, saddened by Dallas’ and Dave’s passing, but I was glad to see all our classmates and company-mates who could attend:
Facing us from left: Chuck Woodrow and Me.
On the right of the picture, you can see half of
Ron McConnell, the Steve Bothe's back and the
striped shirt of Phil O'Donnell. (The beer bottle seemingly hanging in
 the air is being held by no other than Ann.)
Chuck Kaylor
Mike Thompson
Steve Bothe
Doug Ferguson
Mark Tracy
Ron McConnell
Chuck Woodrow
Phil O’Donnell
Sandy Federico
Dick Atha
And, of course, moi.

Ron came from New York, Dick from North Carolina, Chuck Woodrow from California, Mark Tracy from Charleston, Sandy from New Jersey and Phil from Delaware. The rest of us were from the DC area. Ding Britton was also able to attend from Minnesota as well as Mary Marler and a few members of the Marler clan from Tennessee were also able to attend.

To get back on a more positive note, Ding, Dallas’ wife told me that Dallas used to look forward to getting and reading this blog. So, the good parts in this one are for Dallas. The bad parts are – as always – on me.

Doing the Unthinkable.
After the Remembrance Ceremony, Ann and I did the unthinkable. We bought a condo. If you will recall, five years ago we sold our house and most of our possessions and moved onto Traveling Soul. Our boat has been our home every since. Although we have loved (almost) every minute of it, we never intended to spend the rest of our lives on the boat. Living on the boat was part of a five-year plan. For the past five summers, though, we found ourselves stuck in the Chesapeake, primarily because of my foot operations, but also because – try as I might – I just couldn’t generate much enthusiasm for going north. We finally figured that if we were going to spend most of the summers in one place on the Chesapeake, we might as well spend them in a land-based structure, so we bought a small two-bedroom condo in Solomons, MD, a big boating community (go figure). Our new five year plan is to stay for six or so months in the condo, and six or so months on the boat – either in the Bahamas or on the way there. We have gone from full-time cruisers to snowbirds.

Just because we have bought a condo, however, does not mean that we are not going to go boating in the Chesapeake during the summers. In fact, before we closed on the condo, we decided to take a quick eight-day cruise around the Middle Bay. We headed to San Domingo Creek (behind St. Michaels), for two days, then to Annapolis for the weekend, to Rock Hall for a couple days, then took two days to get back to Solomons.
The trip from Solomons to San Domingo Creek was uneventful. We arrived mid-afternoon and enjoyed the scenery and the quiet. The following morning we were planning to go into the town of St. Michaels early in the morning, but it was raining. It wasn’t pouring, just raining hard enough to make traveling in the dinghy a non-inviting prospect. Luckily, however, about 1100 the weather started to break, the rain stopped and we headed into town.

A rainbow after the rain at St. Michaels
I don’t remember how long it has been since we visited St. Michaels, but the place sure has changed, especially the east side of town. There used to be (and still are) several touristy gift shops. At some point, however, those gift shops changed into restaurants. Previously, there were a few restaurants in the town, but not that many. Now they have a crepe shop, two Irish Pubs, several sandwich shops and others that have specialties of which we are not sure. Anyway, the east side of town is very different than it used to be.
After St. Michaels we cruised over to Annapolis. Again, there were changes for the better. When we first started visiting many years ago, the largest boats that could moor on their mooring balls were 45’. Then they determined that about five balls could hold boats to 55’; now they allow 55’ boats on ALL of their mooring balls. All of that is GREAT – with one possible caveat. I noticed that, while they have increased the stated holding strength of their mooring balls, they have not changed the tackle at all. In fact, the ball we were on employed a 5/8 inch line from the pennant to the ball. To be honest, on Traveling Soul we don’t use a 5/8 inch line for anything important; we use ¾ inch at a minimum. We do that because we don’t think 5/8 inch lines are strong enough to hold a 50’+ boat in place when there is serious weather.  I just hope they don’t find out the hard way that they should have upgraded their line.

Anyway, Annapolis, with the notable exception of the navel academy (no, I didn’t misspell it – that is the way it SHOULD be spelled), is a nice place to visit. We met our friends Dave and Joan Wolf who drove up from northern VA and stayed with us on the boat for a couple of days. Beside the fact that the Annapolis waterfront is definitely a party-place (the first night the boat behind us kept Ann awake until 0400; the next night I happened to wake up to cheers coming from the shore – at 0245) I think we all had a good time.
After Annapolis it was on to Rock Hall, MD. We had visited Rock Hall several years ago, on our former boat, Sans Souci. At the time the town was down on its luck with many of its businesses not doing particularly well. What it did have was a restaurant – a restaurant that we remember even after all these years. Its name was Osprey Point. And “yes,” the restaurant is still there and “yes,” it as good as it ever was. We split two appetizers and one entrĂ©e. It was just the right amount of food and everything was delicious. As Arnold said, oh so many years ago, “I’ll be back.”

We also met Judith and Paul, folks we had met in Jekyll Island last spring. They own a very nice B&B, but took time from their schedule to have a glass of iced-coffee with us. It turns out that they are looking forward to taking their boat back down the ICW and heading to the Bahamas next fall just like we are. We are sure we will meet them somewhere along the way.
After Rock Hall we pointed our bow back towards Solomons, spending the night at the Rhode River Anchorage. There had been some thunderstorm warnings earlier in the afternoon so we cruised pretty far back into the anchorage. No thunderstorms appeared, so we headed home the following day.

Well, next month we are going to close on our condo, buy some furniture and head out to Arizona and Colorado to visit my mom and other relatives and have something of a family reunion. After that, we’ll be back in Solomons to move into the condo and do some bicycling. In October we will be heading south with a quick stop in Hampton, VA to participate in the Hampton Snowbird Rendezvous, where we will be giving presentations on ICW Trouble Spots in Georgia and South Carolina, and on the Bahamas as a wintertime destination.
We’ll keep you posted along the way.

Ann’s Notes: As I recall I ended my part of the blog with a ‘cliff hanger’ about our little cruising cat.
One PO'ed cat after her dip in the drink
On Traveling Soul we have door screens that snap to the door frames from the inside. We have enjoyed them so much for several years, they let the nice breezes in while keeping all the bugs out.  The back sliding door screen is next to the bookcase, Spot can look out the door and window from the top of the bookcase; it is one of her favorite places to hang out on. Michael had gone out the sliding door and had to unsnap the screen to get out. I was at our table in the salon on the computer. All I heard was a very strange splash and a cat cry that I never heard before. Once my brain put all the sounds together, I was on my way down the stern ladder and on to the dock. Our sweet Spot, in all her feline glory had miscalculated the distance from the bookcase to the stern deck. The best we can figure is that she literally jumped off the boat from the bookcase, through the open corner of the screen and into the water. She managed to get out of the water and up on the floating dock, I did see her jump back onto the boat, through the snapped Starboard side screen. The jump was about five plus feet, soaking wet and pissed off. I got back on the boat, wrapped her in a towel and blanket. She was growling but not trying to get away, she was mad, cold and not a happy kitty. I am grateful that it happened where it did. Calvert Marina has no current to speak of and the Chesapeake has very little tide change, if this had happened in GA or Charleston with the fast current, we would have lost her in a blink of an eye. Spot only weighs ten pounds, when wet maybe ten and a quarter. So that is our story of Spots first swimming lesson and a happy ending.

We have been very busy since our arrival back in VA / MD. We also have a lot more to do. The condo is perfect for us and I am excited to have a land base once more.

Traveling Soul….OUT