Saturday, October 20, 2007

A Day On The Dismal Swamp

The Dismal Swamp connects Virginia with North Carolina. It was built through a large swamp and the surveyors made the statement that it was a very "dismal swamp" and so the name stuck. It is a great way for boaters to travel south without going out into the big Atlantic Ocean. It is also beautiful. It can also be a bit unnerving as it is very narrow and carries only about 6 feet of water.There are very few homes along the way but occasionally you come upon a scene straight out of Huck Finn. This year the canal was especially full of green floating stuff. It is pollen and seeds from the trees and looks like split pea soup. After this passage, Steve spent 5 hours cleaning our engines of the green stuff. Not fun.

This was our second trip through the Dismal Swamp and probably our last. Every year there is talk of closing it down because maintenance is very expensive.

We are continuing south on the Intracoastal Waterway (ICW) or Ditch as some people call it. It will take us through North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia and finally into Florida. It is a great adventure.

Anne and Steve

Friday, October 12, 2007

Cruising The Chesapeake Bay

Leaving the dock can be hard. Especially when you have been attached for 2 months. We were calling Deltaville home, not so bad, but it was time to leave. We headed north on the Chesapeake Bay and made a left hand turn on the Potomac River. You can sail right up to Washington DC but we took a detour up the St. Mary River to St. Mary's College. There used to be a small town here and some colorful history remains.

The attraction for boaters is the beautiful anchorage and the cafeteria of St. Mary's College.

We munched our way through the dining hall leaving nothing untouched. Afterwards we figured some exercise might be in order so we did some touring with friends David and Deborah (S/V Water Music). There were plenty of historic buildings and sites to explore.

"I will behave"!!
The great anchorage and good weather gave Anne a chance to hoist Steve up the mast. Steve replaced the anchor light and added two radar reflectors. He also cleaned the main track since our main sail was getting stuck when we tried to drop it...not good.

The college racing team practiced in the bay and we watched them raise and lower their spinnaker.
We left St. Mary and headed back out into the bay. Heading north again to Solomons Island.

We stayed put here for a few days, rented a car and drove north to Annapolis. The annual boat show was under way. We do not need anything else on our boat but it is fun to look. We ran into lots of friends and bunked on friends Kenny and Tana's boat for the night. The highlight of the boat show is watching the end of the show when simultaneously the temporary docks are dismantled and 200 boats either sail or motor away.

Tangier Island was our next port of call. It lies in The Chesapeake Bay towards the eastern shore. It is a working island with not much for tourists to do but we found the place very interesting. Milton Parks owns the small marina. He is 74 years old and once he ties up your boat you are off on an island tour in Milton's small golf cart. There are no cars here. Milton was born and raised on the island and knows everything. The tour takes about 20 kidding.

Later we chatted with our boat neighbors. They are Brits and we shared a couple of bottles of wine and good stories. What's for dinner? Cashews and wine.

We were really hungry the next morning so Milton took us to the boarding house for breakfast. The breakfast hall was empty except for the Methodist Ministers, Peggy and Leroy Jones. We had a great family style breakfast and were spiritually revived.

Crab cakes were not on the breakfast menu but we'll pray for a second chance to enjoy some.

The island makes it living from crabbing. Crab pots, like these, dot the entire Chesapeake.

The human population on this island is in decline, according to Milton. But the cat population is booming. Milton alone has somewhere in the neighborhood of 35 cats.

The Chesapeake Bay is enormous and would take years to explore. We have seen some beautiful historic places in our short stay here and would love to see more but it is time to head south again. The evenings are getting cool, the leaves are changing, the hurricane season is winding down and we are longing for the warm tropics. Our rum drink awaits us somewhere down south.

Adios for now from the crew of Fine Line