Sunday, May 31, 2015

Cambridge to Cape May

Thursday,May 21 - Rain, rain, and more rain. And…cold!! Low 50’s!! We left Oxford and traveled in that rain and cold to the Cambridge free citydock. No water, no power…but, as they say, the price is right!

There were two boats already on the wall so we went behind them, towards Gay Street end of dock. We showed about 4.5 ft. of water there…but watched the tide and decided we were OK. Lots of fiddling with the lines and fenders the first day and night…but got it right.

Friday,May 22 - Warm and sunny today, but winds are blustery so it’s a perfect day for checking out the city.

We started with High Street and followed it to the river to see the Victorian beauties on the street (homes, that is). Then Wayne took off to a marine museum and I to the Dorchester County Arts building.

Nice little shop at the art center with goods from the member artists…and a group of ladies engaged in knitting, crocheting, and…talking. It was the Fiber Fridays group that meets in the center weekly. I wasinvited to join them…and was tempted, but Wayne and I were meeting for lunch soon. I did buy a couple of postcards and a set of note cards.

We had a good lunch at Don Chuy Taqueria, then off for provisions. Wayne headed for a wine store and I for a grocery. I walked there, but got a taxi back. $7 for the ride was probably the most reasonable price we’ve had for a taxi ride EVER!

We liked Cambridge and the free wall. Like many towns on the water, there were shops for rent or vacant. But the houses on High Street were lovely…and the people we met were very friendly.

Saturday,May 23 - Off we go to Rock Hall, MD. We had entertained the idea of stopping at St. Michaels this time because we haven’t seen that town yet. However, that Saturday before Memorial Day was the 50th anniversary of the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum and they were having a Party on the Point to celebrate. That celebration plus Memorial Day weekend traffic…sounded too congested for us to enjoy.

We decided to visit St. Michaels the next time…by boat or by car!
Our decision was justified by the traffic we had in the Eastern Bay that day!

Oh…but first I must tell you about the narrows. We had two sets of “narrows” to negotiate that day: Knapps Narrows and Kent Narrows. We watched carefully through both spots…expecially when we saw one boat aground at each location! 

When we exited Kent Narrows near Kent Island (huge boating community, by the way) we saw sailboats from one end of the horizon to the other! Amazing site!! I tried to capture the feeling in a picture, but the expanse of the bay and the number of sailboats meant you couldn’t see the sailboats, they were so far away.
We crossed the bay, running amidst and between, and went on up to Rock Hall and the Swan Creek Marina mooring field.

Catching the mooring ball was pretty easy…then we were set for a couple of days. The mooring field that Saturday was almost full, as was the anchorage on the creek behind it.

Cutest marina, town, area! Really laid back and yet resort-like. Beautiful!! Lots of boats here from Pennsylvania, a relatively short drive away. And the marina dockmaster was most helpful. If you look really, really hard you will see JOURNEY way in the background of this scene...

Dinghy dock is just on the other side of that dock you see in the foreground.

Sunday, May 24 - Walked to town. Supposedly a mile, but seemed longer because there was no sidewalk and a bit of traffic that weekend. Scoped out the village area, then walked further to get to the harbor and our destination for lunch, the Harbor Shack. Good lunch. Wayne had a crab cake stack sandwich and I had coconut shrimp.

Appetites satiated we walked to the grocery store in town and picked up a few items. Wayne trekked up to West Marine while I was picking up the groceries. We opted for Dove bars from the grocery as out ice cream fix since the local ice cream shop hadn’t opened yet for the season…then called the local trolley for a ride back to the marina with our loot. $1 per person. Can’t beat it!

Great idea for the town banners this Memorial Day...

And look at this cottage for sale! Anyone wanna snap it up? Under $200,000.

Monday,May 25 - Memorial Day! Most everyone in the mooring field and anchorage left. Small craft warnings were out that day and we decided to wait it out a day.

Pretty laid back day for us. I biked in (with loaner bike from the marina)to Rock Hall and the Dollar Store for a couple of supplies…then drove by the local beach… Oh. And this is the entire beach. No need for a panorama shot. ;-) And, yes, there are people in the water. I don’t know the water temperature, but I’m pretty sure it’s cold!

We’ve decided these are hardy people, though. We saw a couple swimming this morning from the marina to their sailboat in the mooring field. Probably just finished a run around the area and cooled off with the dip. At the time, I think we had the heat on and fleece jackets.

I’m amazed that there are so many beaches on the Chesapeake Bay! Some are small…but cute!

Tuesday,May 26 - Small craft warnings were still out for today…but in looking at the conditions we decided we could probably do it…AND we had a back up plan. ;-) We timed our departure so we’d be going with the current and with a south wind. Only time we got rolly-poley was when we had to run for a short while with the current and wind on our side as we exited the Rock Hall area and headed north up the Chesapeake.

We left Hampton Piers on May 4 and exited the Chesapeake Bay on May 26. It was a good three weeks cruising the Chesapeake. In the process we’ve gained an appreciation for all those people who say it’s some of the best cruising around. So many great anchorages and small towns, it would take a long time to get tired of this. We got a feeling from the Eastern Shore area…and like it a lot! ;-)

Twice now, on the Chesapeake, I’ve seen what I was calling sting rays. Turns out there are other kinds of rays besides “sting” rays. I think, having read a bit more about Chesapeake Bay marine life, that I was seeing cownose rays. The first one I saw was a loner…floating very near the surface of the water. The second sighting was even better because I saw four rays in formation! At first I couldn’t figure out what I was looking at because the pattern made them look like something manmade. And…OK…we were near an area on the Bay where war ships conduct target practice. Was this a target??? But, no. When the boat got right up beside them I could see they were rays. Couldn’t get a picture so I did a rough sketch of the sight.

The rest of the day was an easy ride…and we had an incredible push, especially on the C & D Canal, the body of water that connects the Chesapeake Bay to the Delaware Bay. At one point we were doing 11.5 mph!!

To give you a perspective on the kind of ships that travel on this C & D Canal….We had started to pass a sailboat when we saw something coming around a bend ahead. A big something!

We pulled into Chesapeake City around 2:30PM and found a good spot in the anchorage there. Several boats there already…and more arrived later. Reset the anchor after watching it awhile because we seemed to be moving with a current in the basin. Notice the huge ship in the background of this shot...

Wednesday, May 27 - The marine weather for Delaware Bay looked like it might be good for us to go either Thursday or Friday of this week. We decided to leave Chesapeake City and get a bit closer to the Delaware Bay by going to the Delaware City Marina in Delaware City, DE. We left Chesapeake City with a favorable current pushing us along. Saw a couple more mammoth boats along the C & D. One, a tow with a barge, had a wake so big that we felt it’s effect for a long time after!

The entrance to Delaware City Marina was very shallow in spots, so the marina employee asked us to call her when we got to a certain point in our approach. She then gave very specific instructions about how close we should stay to the port side of the channel as we came into the marina area. The marina at waterside consists of a very long dock running parallel to the water.

All snug and cozy in our spot on the dock, we headed first thing for the laundry! We got three loads done before the “weather talk” in the marina office started. Turns out, a couple of people on the marina staff meet with interested boaters in the evenings at 5:00 and offer their opinion on the next day’s conditions.

We, too, had been monitoring the weather forecast and had pretty well decided to leave on Friday. Thursday’s forecast wasn’t quite as good as Friday’s…but a lot of the boats there had obviously been waiting a while for a reasonably good day. The next morning all but about three of us transients left. We were hoping the conditions for our chosen day would hold steady…or, if a change is in order, get better. ;-)

Thursday, May 28 - We took the first part of our day to walk around the small town of Delaware City. First stop was the bakery for a few items to munch. Then we walked on down the main street to the waterfront on the Delaware River. They’ve done a great job with the park areas in the town area. This is looking out at the river and a large tanker.

Our walk over, Wayne headed back to the boat and I stopped in for a hair cut at a salon on the main street. Walking back to the boat I saw evidence of a night time visitor to the dock. A BIG visitor.

That afternoon we went back up for the 5:00 weather meeting and they confirmed that Friday should be a good day. I’d walked over to a local fish market, Wiso’s, and brought home supper…steamed shrimp.

The day ended with a peaceful scene of the bank across from our boat...

and we went to bed anticipating a 5:30 AM departure the next morning.

Friday, May 29 - Checking the weather at 4 AM, it still looked like a good day to travel down the bay. SE winds, 5-10, waves 1-2. The only “messy” part was the southerly wind. Skipper Bob, a series of guides written for cruising boaters, advises “any winds but southerly.”

A member of the marina staff was up to see us off and we were heading for the bay at 5:30 AM. We had over 60 miles to travel, and for part of that time the current would be running against us. We were anxious to see what sort of speed we could average that day.

We started out with waves of less than a foot. Even after the waves got a bit higher, they were coming on our front at an angle so we were able to adjust our course slightly to make for a smoother ride. About half way down the bay, just after the Miah Maull Shoal, we took a course off the shipping channel that headed straight for the entrance to the Cape May Canal.

That’s when things got a little rocky-rolly. We began to see some swells of about 3 feet or slightly more. Again, we adjusted course as we could…sometimes to miss crab traps and other times to help take the bite out of the waves. Nothing dangerous for us, but we did end up bracing ourselves constantly for the rocky ride.

By the time we got into Utsch’s Marina in Cape May, NJ, fueled up and tied into our slip, we were ready to crash! We hadn’t eaten much lunch on the trip down so we decided to go get a take out pizza from Tony’s Pizzeria nearby. Supper done, we were in bed early! Check off the Delaware Bay! ;-)

Saturday, May 30 - Time to explore the town of Cape May, NJ! We will be here at Utsch’s Marina until at least Tuesday morning because we have mail coming in on Monday. The weather for going up the coast probably wouldn’t be the best for travel on the intervening days anyhow.

We asked the marina staff for good breakfast places nearby and the response was a solo name: Lobster House. Really? But, yes! A small section of the larger Lobster House is set up with stools and counter to form the Lobster House Coffee Shop. We got there before 9 AM and found a couple of seats at the counter right away. An omelet, 6 slices of French toast, and 4 pieces of bacon later…we felt ready to walk into town, about 1.7 miles from the marina.
It was a beautiful day for being outside! We walked down sidewalks all the way…admiring the homes on either side. There was a light breeze blowing in off the ocean and the sun was shining bright.

We peaked in at the beach area, which was getting a lot of action that day.

Browsed some of the shops at the Washington Street Mall…I will be back!

A stop at the Acme Grocery store on the way back completed our first survey of the city. Never pass up a grocery store in this little boat! ;-)  Back at the boat, it was time for a major washing of the vessel.  We even took the time to treat the teak deck with bleach and suds.

Meanwhile, in all this moving, dinghy rides, new grass…Lucy is doing great...

And so are we!  ;-)  Blogged while sitting on the back deck, soaking up the sun and breeze...'Til next time!

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

These are exciting times!

Friday, May 15 - We left Pocomoke City Municipal Dock at 6:30 AM.
We were above the drawbridge, so we had the bridge raised for our departure.  Fortunately for us, the bridge opens operation at 6 AM.

Oh, and a few geese. Pocomoke River had geese and eagles galore. In the Pocomoke City dock area near our boat there was a very proud couple who came out every evening for a promenade...

We were traveling to Crisfield, MD, which involved going back down the Pocomoke River to Pocomoke Sound…then heading for a cut-through called Broad Creek that leads from Pocomoke Sound to the Crisfield area. Broad Creek has at least 3 feet of water in it, even at low tide. But, ya see, we have a 3.5 draft on Journey and we LIKE to see at least 4 feet or more in the depth finders as we travel.

 So. We planned our trip on this day so that we would hit the mouth of Broad Creek at about 1 hour before high tide. The tide in that area was changing about 2.5 feet from low tide to high tide. By going in on the rising tide we were planning an escape plan if we ran aground: we’d wait for the rising tide to carry us off!

Anyway, we had the current with us going down the river, which we really didn’t need on that day. We had the throttle pulled back to 1200 rpm to keep the speed down to 7.5 miles per hour.
When we got to Pocomoke Sound, we Pocomoked around to slow our progress even more. We arrived at Broad Creek as planned and ended up having more water than we needed…up until the end of the creek when the markers “gave out” and we were in barely over 4 feet of water. But…we didn’t go aground. ;-)  We were feelin’ pretty good! Made that trip thru Broad Creek. Headed to Somers Cove Marina for the night…life is good!

So…we were totally blind-sided when, as we were looking for the marina entrance, we were hailed by a Coast Guard boat. I went down on the back deck from the bridge and talked with them to find out they wanted to board the boat for safety inspection. OK.

Their boat came along side and two young officers, a man and a woman, came aboard with clipboards in hand. They asked for name, registration documents, drivers licenses (for ID, apparently), then started in with the inspection. The young man did talking.

He checked for our life vests and made sure the vests were Coast Guard approved. Check. He wanted to see the lowest part of the bilge to make sure the boat wasn’t taking on water. Check. Where is the Y valve and is it directed to the holding tank? It wasn’t. We were using the Electra Scan. “You need to have the waste directed to holding tank in inland waters. Go ahead and set the valve to holding tank and it’s OK.” Check.  Huge sigh of relief escaped my lips!  Fine envisioned...and avoided!

Do you have signs displayed for oil and garbage disposal?  Check. Check.

What is your destination?  "Somers Cove Marina."  Young man reports this back to his "boss."  You've gone past that!  "Well, we were looking for the entrance to the marina when you hailed us and we've just been floating along out here because of you all.";-)  Can you have the driver come down and tell my boss that?  Wayne came down and explained…and the boss shook Wayne’s hand.

That done, they signed a boarding document for us to keep as proof that we’d been boarded on that day. Then the Coast Guard boat pulled along side again and the two inspectors got off.
Oh! How I wanted a selfie with them! I didn’t even have my cell phone on me. It was on the bridge. Ah, well...

So, we went on into Somers Cove Marina, took on fuel, had a pump out of the holding tank, and found our slip. Floating docks!!! Oh, we love ‘em!! OOKPIK was there! We were on the same dock. They’d come in the day before.

We walked Lucy, looked around town a little, ate lunch at the Water’s Edge Cafe, had ice cream at the Ice Cream Gallery on the waterfront...then settled in for the afternoon. ;-)

Saturday, May 16 - We rented a couple of bikes from the marina for half a day ($6), and toured the city. We rode all the way out to the Food Lion and picked up some groceries…then back into the “downtown” area. Crisfield was pretty closed up. Not sure all of it was because it is “pre-season” for them. Lots of business locations for sale or rent.

I did catch this lovely scene in one of the restaurant windows..

Groceries back on the boat, we walked back up to the waterfront and ate a great lunch at the Chesapeake Crab House. We’d seen another ice cream venue so stopped there on the way back to the boat. Later that evening we had OOKPIK onboard for drinks and catching up.

Sunday, May 17 - Happy Birthday, Nadine!!!

Weather forecasts had predicted troubled waters for our departure until Monday. But we woke up on Sunday morning to an altered forecast. Maybe we could make a run for Cambridge, MD, or Solomons!

We were looking at an early forecast and decided to wait around until the 7-8 AM forecast came out to see if conditions improved just slightly. They didn’t…and we decided to just stay until the next day when we felt sure conditions would be pretty perfect.

Ice cream that afternoon with OOKPIK at the Ice Cream Gallery…and conversation in the evening. On the morrow OOKPIK was heading for Annapolis or beyond, and we’d decided to go to Solomons to cut a long trip to Cambridge.

Oh, and as we were headed to the ice cream place guess who pulled up at the marina fuel dock? The Coast Guard boat (and crew) that had boarded us. They obligingly gave me that wanted picture...

Cute bunch!

Monday, May 18 -

Left Somers Cove Marina and Crisfield at 7:30, right after OOKPIK, and we arrived at Solomons harbor around 2 PM. We had planned to pretty much follow OOKPIK up the Tangiers Sound to Hoopers Strait before we cut over into the Chesapeake Bay proper. BUT! That was before we realized we had NO wind and MANY gnats!

We decide to take Kedges Strait and escape to the Bay, hoping for a little breeze. It worked! ;-)
Gnats gone, we motored on over to Solomons. The Bay was nearly flat, but there was enough of a breeze to keep the gnats…at bay. (I hear the groans.)

Coming into the Solomons harbor we were altering our route to cut short the trip…and taking note of some anchored fishing boats we would avoid. And, look, Dear! There’s a Coast Guard boat here, too! Look, Dear, it’s headed our way!

Are you kidding me????

Yes. They wanted to board us. I met them downstairs. “Have you been boarded recently?” As a matter of fact, yes, just a couple of days ago. “Do you have your boarding documentation?” You betcha! I walk in and retrieve the papers and at this time they are still “standing off.” “What’s the officer’s name signing the paper?” Gave that to him. “OK! Thank you very much!” Hey! I wanna picture, says I!   The folks at home are never going to believe this! Smile!!!

So then we’re asking ourselves, do we have a “kick me!” sign on our back??? We think maybe they are looking for live-boards…and with Knoxville, TN, as our proclaimed home port…maybe that tips ‘em off.

Anyways, we were not boarded again and motored on into our selected anchorage on Back Creek near the Holiday Inn dinghy dock.

Took Lucy in for a walk, using the dinghy dock access. No problems. Signs indicated putting $2 in an envelope and placing under the office door for each day of dock use.

Things were steamy in Solomons on Monday! The temperature was up to high 80’s and there was no wind to be had. We decided to close up the boat, turn on the NEW generator and air condition the place.  The air conditioner in the salon would not start. The panel was lit…but no sound from the unit starting and no fan. Wayne called the manufacturer and ran through some diagnostic steps…nothing helped. We decided we really needed to get this repaired…NOW.

We had planned a ride to Oxford, MD, tomorrow and identified Brewers Oxford Marina and Boat Yard as a place for servicing the Cruisair. Graham, the service manager, talked with Wayne and said he could check out the problem tomorrow afternoon. We “muddled" through the evening…and got some relief when later that night storms came through to cool down the air.

Tuesday, May 19 - Checked the weather, walked Lucy, and had one cup of coffee each before starting out on our 46 mile run to Oxford. Great day for traveling, again. The Bay was quiet and it was an easy trip. Got into Oxford Boat Yard around 1:30PM and Graham met us at the dock to help tie.
He came down about half an hour later ready to check out the issue. 

 The Cruisair started immediately! 

Diligently, Graham tested several possible reasons for the failure last night. Nothing was identified, which left us feeling a bit uneasy. We are staying two nights in the marina to test out the air conditioner before we leave.

So, that afternoon we strolled over to the Scottish Highland Creamery, within sight of our boat, and indulged in some of the best ice cream ever! I had a single cone of toasted almond coconut snack and salted caramel ripple while Wayne had a single cup of salted caramel ripple and peanut butter explosion. Which begs the question: what’s with a “single scoop” of ice cream that involves two distinct scoops of ice cream on a cone???? Just sayin’... and not complaining'!

Strolled around town and remembered just why we wanted to come back to Oxford. It’s a beautiful seaside town. Wonderfully quaint houses and flowers abloom everywhere… Walked along the little beach and found some beautiful stones and one smooth piece of sea glass.

This is definitely a dog-friendly marina, as you can tell from this sign.

Just a few of the neat homes and gardens...

And, ever heard of a skipjack? Well, we saw one as it left the marina… According to Websters, a skipjack is either a variety of fish or it is
"a sailboat with vertical sides and a bottom similar to a flat V."

Sunset on the Tred Avon River our first night in town...

Wednesday, May 20 - Worked on planning moves up the Chesapeake after we leave here tomorrow. If the weather for the next week and a half proves perfect (oh, yeah, like that could happen) we could actually be going into the NYC harbor before June 1! We’ve got several more towns to see before we leave the Chesapeake, though, and will take our time in doing so.

We decided to go out for lunch and headed, first, to the Schooner very close to this marina. Found out they are closed on Wednesdays, so we went to the Masthead at Pier St. Marina. Very good food and a view of the water. We would have eaten outside except that the blustery weather has moved in, as of midnight last night, so winds are high and the air a bit cool.

On our way to lunch we saw a sign announcing the farmer’s market today at the community center, 3:30-5:30. Excellent!

As we walked back to the boat I decided to take a detour and see the town's library.

What a great little library!  A lady was sitting in the small room (maybe the size of our living area in the Coachman Lane house.

Mrs. Morris, a volunteer,  was sitting behind an office desk at one end…and a wonderful fireplace was positioned at the opposite end. I’ve always thought it would be so nice to have a fireplace in a library. This one has a propane-fed log.

The building was donated to the town of Oxford to be used as a library. The space on the walls and shelves between the two ends of the room are filled with fiction and non-fiction…with a nice-sized children’s area and a history section with materials on the history of Oxford, Maryland, and the Chesapeake.

The library is run totally by volunteers.  Mrs. Morris was eager to talk about the library and the town.
The library has “plenty of money” from the book sales ($1 for paperback and $2 hardbacks). They take requests for purchase and never have to turn anyone down. (They must turn over the collection pretty quickly).  All those boxes piled up in front of the fireplace are donations for the book sale.

They still operate circulation of books with paper cards, but the books are “in the computer.” She laughed telling me about the docent who set up her library card when she first came. “Oh, I’m sorry, we already have a D. Morris.” Mrs. Morris said that was OK, she’d just use her husband’s card. ;-)

The library, being all volunteer, doesn’t belong to any system and doesn’t participate in interlibrary loan. They get enough money every year to sponsor a scholarship for local high school students.
I briefly scanned the sale books and the ones in the boxes yet to come. There were some great deals there…lots of current titles.

The town of Oxford, she said, is made up of 650 people and 1100 boat slips.  Most people end up here because of boating.  Oxford actually vied with Annapolis for capital of Maryland.  She says they are glad now they lost the bid: they wouldn't like having all those politicians around!

Well, time to hit the farmer’s market! Hoping to score some asparagus for supper. Tomorrow we’ll be off to Cambridge. Maryland, that is...

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Hello, Chesapeake Bay!

Wednesday, April 22 - We traveled an easy day up to Oriental, NC. Wayne asked me on the way what my favorite little town was of all we'd visited this, and last, trip. Oriental may be one of my two favorites. Vergennes, Vermont, is the other.We tied up at one of the two free town docks, the smaller one. There's no power or water on the dock...but, it IS free. ;-) They have a video cam focused on the dock so you can see if it's empty or not.

As is plastered all over the town, Oriental is the "Sailing capitol of North Carolina." Everyone we met was extremely nice and helpful (walking along the highway to Bradley's Restaurant we had people offer to give us a ride.) We got to the town early enough in the day to be able to walk around and see the harbor area and shops. And...we got ice cream at Bean's, right across from our dock. View from the Bean…Journey on the right of the sailboat at town dock.

Park on the water near our dock...

My favorite house here. It has curved windows along the left side of the front. I need to compare it to the pictures I've made on our other trips to Oriental. I think they've improved the landscaping. ;-)

And…the town dragon in the middle of the little duck, oops, dragon pond by the harbor. The below excerpt from the town’s website ( explains the history of the dragon its relationship to Oriental:
Once upon a time a part-time resident of Oriental, Joe Cox, was pondering how to celebrate New Year's Eve in Oriental. He must have laughed out loud to himself when the idea came to him that a town named "Oriental" should celebrate New Year's Eve with a dragon like those used to celebrate "Chinese New Year".  
Being a talented artist and very gifted man, Joe set about creating a dragon. This first dragon, donned by a a few stalwart revelers, ran around Oriental that New Year's Eve, running through homes, around the village, startling, surprising, and delighting. There are still some who remember that first dragon. It's been more than forty years and that first dragon has been lost to history. But, thanks to a deep and abiding sense of whimsy, dragons have come to be a part of everyday life in Oriental.
We still celebrate New Year's Eve with the "Running of the Dragon". Every New Year's Eve since Joe Cox first created the idea, a dragon has emerged from the shed on Hodges Street that Joe first built his dragon in. Unfortunately, Joe passed away some years ago, but the homeowners who have since owned the "shed" have been very accommodating in allowing the tradition to continue. 
Every New Year's Eve for all these years, at the hours of 8 PM and 11 PM the dragon has emerged from the shed to walk among us. It is also tradition that everyone makes as much noise as possible, beating pots with metal spoons, banging drums, blowing whistles and horns. All this chaos is intended, as with Chinese New Year, to frighten evil spirits away from the new year. It is also considered very good luck to touch the dragon as it passes. 
At 8 PM on December 31st, the dragon wanders, not exactly "running", down Hodges Street, past the Town Dock to the end of the block, then turns around and wanders back to the shed, to wait for the 11 PM "run", after which, the dragon will rest quietly until the next year. The "run", with the street full of people making all sorts of noise, takes about twenty minutes. Then, revelers still have time to retire to their various parties out and about the area, secure in the knowledge that they have done everything possible to convince the spirit of the dragon to keep their new year safe and secure. 
The legend "thickens" a tad here...since Oriental was so welcoming to its first dragon, word got out among dragons that Oriental was a wonderful place to be. Now, wandering around town, you can see evidence that other dragons are here. The ultra secret Dragon Protection Society (DPS) oversees their nests and lairs, protecting them and making every effort to keep them safe from harm. There are now so many dragons, that adults are often seen helping children with arithmetic by having them count the different dragons they see as they wander around town. 
One very dazzling dragon has even set up housekeeping in the Duck Pond near the harbor. Of course, we do have ducks sometimes, but here it's more of a "Dragon Pond". Luckily, the dragons that make Oriental home, are benevolent and kind. The one by the harbor is often seen allowing a Great Blue Heron to sit on its head to get a better view of the fish in the pond. 
For many years local resident Grace Evans was the Keeper of the Dragon. She saw to our New Years dragon's every need and was active in soliciting other dragons to come to town. Grace was awarded a plaque of thanks for all her attentions to our dragons. Now, others have taken up the mantle to take care of these creatures and the whole town watches out for them. 
So, if you see a dragon's nest, with a dragonlette emerging...shhhhhh!

We had decided to leave Oriental the next day, but as Wayne was doing his daily engine room check he noticed the shaft seal had salt crystals on it: some water was getting in. He called Deaton’s Marine and Gary, the service manager, came over within half an hour and reassured us that the seal was OK, we just needed to watch it.

It was still early enough to leave…but OOKPIK had gone out and come back saying the water was too rough on the Neuse River! Wayne had been suffering from a nasty cold and was glad to spend an extra night at the Oriental town dock.Friday, April 24 - Left Oriental early after OOKPIK and headed for the Neuse. Water was rough, but do-able.
Anchored that evening on the upper Pongo River and readied ourselves for the Albemarle Sound the next day.  It was a large anchorage and relatively sheltered...though a little wind crept in that night.  We're on the left and OOKPIK is on the right...

Saturday, April 25 - Took Lucy to shore in the early dawn light and set out up the canal to the Alligator River following OOKPIK. The Alligator can be gnarly, but on that day it was as smooth as silk…

The Albemarle? Well, it wasn’t horrible, just uncomfortable at times with a wishy-washy effect in the waves. We altered our course several times to try and lessen the effect, and it would help for a while.   At one point, Wayne gave the sign:  "You must be this tall to ride!"

Seemed like it took for-ev-er to get to Elizabeth City, and when we did…it started to rain.
OOKPIK knew of a free dock sponsored by the local restaurants. Tie up at the dock, eat dinner at a restaurant in the city, and the tie up was free. Great! Well, what we didn’t know is that the property on which the dock is located is a commercial concern and the entire site is locked up on Saturday and Sunday(read: constantina wire, high fences) to the point that we couldn’t get out to go to a restaurant…or see the town. Bummer!

Not to be outdone we called the local police department, a couple of restaurants…no one knew how we could get off the property other than to go by water. Finally we called Papa Johns and they delivered a couple of pizzas. We met them at the gate and they slipped the pizza box under the gate. Hey, after the ride we had today we were not about to be cooking that evening. ;-)
Sunday, April 26 - The Dismal Swamp was our destination that day. The trip started out looking pretty dismal, all right, with rain and grey skies...

But the rain and clouds gave way to a beautiful afternoon before we finished the run.

We had left pretty early that morning so we were docked up at the top of the Dismal Swamp at the free Deep Creek dock by 3 or 4 in the afternoon. There were several other boats there, but plenty of room for the two of us.

Monday, April 27 - Went through Deep Creek Lock at the first opportunity and headed for Hampton Public Piers in Hampton, VA. The Deep Creek lock master is known for his shell collection...

On the way up to Hampton we stopped at Top Rack Marina to take on fuel and eat lunch in their deli.
Going through the Norfolk area is a unique experience in itself: large warships on either side of the channel, armed guards pacing the decks or in boats letting us know we should “keep our distance."

That evening we enjoyed supper at the Taproom in Hampton with OOKPIK.

The rest of the time in Hampton was spent doing “life chores” and working on little boat projects. Interspersed were trips to the local Patrick’s Hardware, lunch at Goodies Deli and Bar and the Grey Goose, and some shopping in the local shops.

One day we walked over the bridge to Hampton University. A historically black university, it was beautiful from the water as we came into the harbor. We walked around campus, admiring the architecture and setting, then ate lunch at a little Chinese restaurant nearby.

Friday, May 1 - One reason we stopped in Hampton was so I could arrange to go back to Kingsport, TN, for my 50th high school reunion. Early on the morning of the 1st I walked over to the Enterprise location (within sight of the marina, BTW) and picked up my car. By 3 PM I was checked in at the hotel and had time to take a walk before getting ready for the evening social. We had a good turn out for the two-day event and I enjoyed catching up with friends.

Luckily, Nadine was able to meet me for breakfast so I got a sister fix that weekend, too. ;-)Sunday I was packed and on the road by 6:30 AM. I rolled into Hampton around 1:30. Since we had a car, we knew a trip to the grocery store was in order so we got OOKPIK and headed to the local Food Lion for provisions.

Monday, May 4, we were ready to leave Hampton and start cruising the Chesapeake. Trouble was, we had ordered a couple of guidebooks and they weren’t delivered on Saturday because the marina office was closed. We tracked down their location and were told they would be delivered to the marina that morning between 11 and 12. We had a short day planned, so decided to wait.

Once they came, we were outta there! We had a short run up to Chisman Creek where we anchored just before Dare Marina. (We saw a point that looked like a good spot for Lucy to wander.) 

We were attracted to Chisman because of a marine railway up there that is supposed to be one of the oldest still functioning on the East Coast. It was a tad windy by the time we set anchor so we didn’t opt for a dinghy cruise that evening to check out the railway. Little did we know, we’d have an opportunity to puruse it up close the next day.  [Way to build suspense, eh?]

The sunset that evening was amazing! …And, while we’re not sailors, we filled with delight. ;-)

We had a beautiful day on the hook the next day! I think this is the first time on this trip that we’d anchored in the same spot for two consecutive nights. It really is our favorite time: we’re more inclined to relax, read, whatever, when anchored out…as opposed to being land-based where there are things to be done or seen.

Late that afternoon we decided to take that dinghy ride up to see the marine railway. As we were embarking on our cruise, Captain Bob of Boat US came by to say “hi.” We asked him about the location of the railway and he said he’d be glad to guide us there…just follow him. We tried. The dinghy motor started stalling. Finally it just wouldn’t go. Bob circled back, we told him our predicament, and that we thought it might be the gas we just bought and put into the dinghy. He said he would tow us to Dare Marina to see if they could do something to help.

Dare said they would empty the tank and fill up with new fuel. Wayne waited there with the dinghy while Bob took me back to the boat. About half an hour later Wayne floated up in the dinghy…but he was “not a happy camper.” The motor had stopped several times on the way back to the boat.After calling Mercury about the motor situation we decided to go back down towards Hampton to an authorized repair facility, Dandy Haven Marina, on the next day.

We were talking about our experiences that day and Wayne was marveling at the fact that Dare Marina hadn’t charged a penny for the work they did…or for the fuel they supplied! Then I took a good look at Wayne. We’d just taken Lucy into shore before our dinghy cruise and Wayne had on his “I may have to wade to shore in these shoes and pants” outfit..

They may have taken pity on him. ;-)

Wednesday, May 6 - Motored back to Dandy Haven Marina down the coast about 15 miles. Boat US Bob had told us that the channel into Dandy Haven was narrow and tricky…and to call and have them escort us. We did just that, and it was a good thing. The markers were tricky and the water outside the channel was slim, even at high tide.

Preston, the serviceman, checked out the Mercury motor and discovered it needed a new altenator and spark plug.  The altenator would come in overnight from Mercury. We were tied to the service dock and decided to stay right there for the evening.

Thursday, May 7 - The part came in by 10:30 and we were ready to leave by noon. We had planned a short day and were in Cape Charles Town Harbor by 3 PM. We had easy, smooth waters as we crossed to the east side.

We walked across railroad tracks to get to the historic little downtown area. Found a great hardware store where we scored a good, large map of the Chesapeake and a hat for Wayne.

Then we walked down to the public beach…

And just where was that selfie stick? Back at the boat!

Walking back through the residential area we admired the beautiful old homes and the new, tastefully done new ones.


This house is being restored and you can tell by the detailing on the window trim that they are taking their time and doing it right. Love the old gate, too...

Really a nice little town! I guess the municipal marina atmosphere and the railroad tracks between us and town sort of colored our perception of the place, though. It seemed, overall, like a town trying to “come back."

Friday, May 8 - Off we go to Onancock, VA! Took about 6.5 hours up and the waters were fine. We anchored in the bight near the town wharf. Later that evening we were joined in the anchorage by two sailboats.

Saturday, May 9 - This morning we went into town for the farmers’ market. Small, but we came away with fresh asparagus, leaf lettuce, eggs, and a loaf of oatmeal wheat bread. Wayne took our haul back to the boat while I toured the art galleries and scoped out the shops. We met for lunch at Mallard’s Restaurant, right at the wharf, and enjoyed our first crab cakes this trip. They were good, too: “nothing holdin’ them together but love!” Dessert was gelato at the Gourmet Market. Yum!!

OK. We LOVE Onancock. I know, this is only our second small town this trip on the Chesapeake…but we do. I’ll let the pictures tell the story.

The town from our anchorage...

Dinghy dock, only a short ride from the anchorage.

Park adjacent to the town harbor and the dinghy dock.

Park on the way to "downtown" from harbor.  Looks like they were getting ready for an afternoon wedding...

Looking out to our boat in the anchorage from the town harbor parking lot.


Town harbor from nearby bridge..

Sunday, Mothers' Day, May 10 -For our cruise today we decided to go up the Pocomoke River to visit two small towns we'd read about: Snow Hill and Pocomoke City, MD.

It was a pretty day for travel, the waters were calm...and we saw almost NO CRAB TRAPS!!  Maybe the crabbers take off for Mothers' Day?  We ran straight up the coast and into the Pocomoke Sound, then followed the channel on up to the river.  The channel was really narrow coming in...and shallow on the sides.  Of course the current and the 10-15 wind that had picked up in the sound made for an "eyes to the road" ride.  

But once we got on the river itself we were rewarded with placid waters and spring in Maryland! 


It was a pretty solitary trip up: we saw only about 3 boats the whole time.  Over twenty miles later, and having passed Pocomoke City for the time being, we found an easy spot on the Snow Hill town dock.  The Port of Snow Hill, they call it.  There are two free docks, actually.  One is further down the river by a large public park.  We chose the dock closest to town up by the drawbridge.  There were only two boats on the dock (OOKPIK was one) and plenty of room for many more boats even after we'd docked.  We're right by a smaller park (Lucy has made her mark there) and the public library (beautiful facility!)...and only a block or two from the downtown area.  We have 30 amp electrical hook ups and water available on down the dock.

Our timing for the visit was a little off, though.  Most of the town's restaurants and shops are on a Wednesday-Saturday schedule.  We have enjoyed walking around, though and seeing the neighborhoods...

The Blue Dog Cafe looked very inviting...Maybe the next time we'll be there when they're open.

As in a lot of downtowns, there were lots of store fronts that weren't "taken."  Still, it's a pretty place.

Wednesday, May 13 -  Happy Birthday, David!!

We're leaving Snow Hill today and heading on back down the river to Pocomoke City.  OOKPIK, who'd already visited Pocomoke City, said there were actually more "services" here in Snow Hill (grocery, for instance, within half a mile)...but we don't want to get out on the Chesapeake until 
Friday when the winds and waves calm down so we're going to spend a couple of nights in the City.
While in Snow Hill, we did go to the grocery store for a few items and yesterday we washed clothes at a nearby laundromat.

We have noticed that we see way more cars on the street than people.  The road through town that crosses the drawbridge seems always to have traffic, but I bet we've only seen a handful of people on the downtown streets.  Of course, only the banks, offices, and library were open while we were here so there's that.

Later that day... So here we are in Pocomoke City!  At last I can round up this episode with a couple of pictures of our Pocomoke City Municipal Dock surrounds. Like the park next to our dock...

From our back deck, looking towards town and the bridge...

And JOURNEY sitting at the dock with the Pocomoke City Drawbridge in the distance.

It's 4:15 on Wednesday afternoon.  We got here at around 11:30.  We've already taken Lucy in for a grooming appointment and walked to Walmart for a few supplies.  Life is good!  ;-)  Till next time....