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...