Friday, July 29, 2011

La Trappe Creek to Cambridge

The stay at La Trappe was fantastic. There was just one house within close view of the anchorage. We discovered that it was rented out for a family reunion, inclusive of cool water toys such as kayaks and a john boat with a Honda motor, thankfully there were no jet skis. Their significant grass yard was well shaded and was alternatively used for bad mitten, soccer, tag and tents. There was a pool, as if the creek and cove were not enough, and a dock with crab traps. At one point, there must have been 30 kids running around and three grumpy old men fishing off the end of the dock. It was actually a blessing to hear the happy squeals of children…at a distance. We called it the kid camp and it was very active. They brought their own chicken necks, tied them on a weighted line and rang that line at least 20 times a day to keep themselves eating crab throughout their stay.

Every morning we were greeted by low flying Hogs, aka A10 Warthogs. The comfort of familiarity must have set in because our last day we saw the lowest and closest flyover yet – we giggled with pleasure at our own air show. We also occupied ourselves at La Trappe by swimming and ‘explorigating’ in our dingy. We went to the head of La Trappe Creek a couple of times and checked out Trappe Landing, a former boat building site and now very quiet marina, boat yard and storage. We were amazed at what we saw up there in about five feet of water. Three travel lifts (lift boats out of water) and huge work buildings. We also took a long trip out on Choptank River over to Island Creek. According to the charts that creek entrance is too shoal for Hold Fast. Just as well, we discovered a heavy population of McMansions that gobbled up the shoreline. Now and again, we could detect the original farm houses and caught a glimpse the golden corn beyond the trees. Take a gander at our tracks on the Google map.
From Solomons to La Trappe Creek

As we pulled up anchor today and washed away that sticky beautiful mud that holds us so well, some adults from the kid camp came over in the john boat to say goodbye. We expressed our apologies that we might have interrupted their scenic cove, but they felt an anchored sailboat was part of the beauty of the scene. I cannot think of a better compliment!

We left for a temporary stay at a marina, something we do not particularly care for, especially after the serenity of the hook. It was the "lesser of two weevils" however as the temperature reached 102 today with a heat index of much worse. Today was about provisions and seeking to solve our Wi-Fi antenna dilemma. We fared better than the last heat wave as there is much less pollution on the eastern shore. Hopefully the heat index tomorrow will be 105 or less. I have reserved the marina bikes for a trek to Advanced Auto, a computer store and groceries. The Dockmaster did not think we would have any competition for the use of the bikes. Please note that a primary purpose of our trek in this heat is our quest to restore our long-range Wi-Fi abilities. If that is not accomplished tomorrow, we will be less frequent on our communications and we will lose our ability to upload tracks. Please bear with us. I threaten to write a blog on all the equipment that has failed us in less than two months, much of it new. Although it is part of the shake-down, it is much too depressing and I find myself easily distracted by something else, pretty much anything else.

Love to all,
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Monday, July 25, 2011

Solomons to La Trappe Creek

It is indeed a small world. At Calvert Marina we docked behind Diamond Girl, a 36’ Nova. Bud commented on my Camarillo Flight Center hat and, within what seemed like seconds, we realized we shared the stomping grounds of Ventura Yacht Club back in the ‘90’s. Bud was the Commodore and Myron and I used to crew for John Grether on Strider, his J35C. Bud and Elaine have been cruising between Florida and Chesapeake for about six years and just celebrated their 48th anniversary. Not only do they have longevity, but they also have true grit – Diamond Girl has no air conditioning, just fans. They expect that our hot weather might last another couple of weeks. They are working for Waterway Guide and were kind enough to give us some tips on primo anchorage spots. They also gave us a new Skipper Bob guide – woo hoo!
One of the anchorage tips was La Trappe Creek. I was ready to pass it by, too shoal an entrance to risk, but they encouraged us. The air during the trip over was thick, a prime thunderstorm making day. As the day wore on, we sensed the thunderstorms chasing us into the anchorage. My prayers were frequent that we would encounter the thunderstorm before or after the entrance, just not during. Our latest routine is that it is my job to get us to the entrance, and Myron’s job to get us through the entrance. As he rounded the second channel marker he told me to brace myself because the bottom was shoaling quickly. We were expecting to see a minimum of ten feet on the entrance, but it came up to six feet. Thank God the six feet held. We were holding our breath as well and let out a collective sigh as the bottom dropped down to ten feet again. We dropped the hook in eight feet and grabbed right away, probably in that sticky mud, the perfect match for our Manson Supreme anchor. A second sailboat arrived shortly before the thunderstorms and now a third is here. We are tight in this little cove, but the holding is good, the water is skinny, so not much scope is required, which makes us all play well with each other when swinging only on one hook.
The thunderstorms were perfect timing and a God send. It is cooler now, the rain stopped, a slight breeze continues and we can open our ports. It should, we hope, be a pleasant night’s sleep.
From Solomons to La Trappe Creek
As a side note, we were unable to attend church on Sunday. There was nothing within walking distance and we are only allowed to borrow the marina car for an hour at a time. We will see if it holds true, but our theory is that churches are more readily available within walking distance in small towns.
Love to all,
{GMST}38|37.917|N|076|07.163|W|Martin Pt|La Trappe Creek{GEND}
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Friday, July 22, 2011

Calvert Marina/Heat wave

Today we moved to Calvert Marina to suffer thru this heat wave in air-conditioning.
{GMST}38|19.941|N|076|27.438|W|Calvert Marina|Solomons{GEND}
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Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Crisfield to Mill Creek

Crisfield was a nice stay, and not just because of the air conditioner, although I must admit, that was dreamy. It must be a fact that they are the crab capital of the world. We took a walking tour of the crab processing plants via a worker at the local museum. We got to touch things on the tour, like soft shell crabs and feisty hard shell crabs. Mostly the sales were soft shell crabs, but they also pick steamed crabs – and at that place I bought one pound of jumbo lump crab for only $18. We had crab cakes tonight, some crab on pasta the other night, and the rest we will have with eggs. We also bought a dozen steamed hard shell crabs for $20 and ate those at a picnic table (not on Hold Fast please!) We found a church on Sunday and met more of the locals. All in all, a great stay and we recommend a visit.
Then the time comes for more adventuring. We took on our first fuel this morning, at $3.66/gal for diesel, plus tax, and that was with the BoatUS discount. Today’s forecast called for 10 to 15 knots out of the South. We never saw it. It was a hot and steamy day, teasing us occasionally with five knots out of the NW, the direction we were heading. Hold Fast needs more wind than that, and on at least a 45 for tight reaching. We started to head in to Solomons, but ‘Luna,’ another Whitby 42, had just anchored outside the creek and told us that all the creeks were full with boats at anchor, probably left over from the four days of racing. We swiftly sorted through the gunkholing guide and found Mill Creek further up the Patuxent. We found a cove with no houses on 75% of the shoreline, very well protected and good ‘ol sticky mud. Even with the water-skiers, this is still a very nice place. I have not seen a jellyfish and we saw others swimming this evening. That may be on the agenda for us tomorrow.
Love to all,
{GMST}38|20.189|N|076|30.188|W|Mill Creek|Solomons{GEND}
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Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Sandy Point, Great Wicomico River to Crisfield, MD

Yesterday we gunkholed around Great Wicomico River, found a nice little spot to wait out a NW blow and then re-positioned back at Sandy Point in preparation to cross the Bay. Sandy Point is nice because it has almost 360 degree protection from fetch…except NW of course. The heat index on most places around the Chesapeake was over 100 yesterday, it was a tough night to get any sleep once the wind disappeared.
From Deltaville to Sandy Point

We are using a combination of guides to the Chesapeake, but I must say that our go-to tends to be ‘Cruising Guide to the Chesapeake’ by William Shellenberger. He has a couple of definitions on the book cover (his words not mine): “‘Gunkhole’ – a shallow cove of channel nearly unnavigable because of mud, rocks, or vegetation; ‘Gunkholer’ – a species of boater that is inexorably drawn to gunkholes in search of seclusion, adventure, wildlife – or just by an ungovernable urge to see what’s around the next bend.”

When dropping the anchor last night we saw something quite new to us. Some small crabs were swimming near the surface among all the jellyfish. At first we thought the jellyfish were in pursuit of the crabs, but then I witnessed a crab go at the jellyfish fast and furious with both claws, cramming the pieces into its mouth as quickly as possible. “You go” I yelled to the crab! It made my day to know that these jellyfish have an enemy. They have ruined every swimming hole.

The forecast called for light winds in the morning and small craft advisories in the afternoon. At first we ghosted along about 2 knots under main and jib, then as the wind freshened we put busted old granddad up (mizzen) and soon we were seeing over 5 knots boat speed with about 10-15 knots wind on the beam. Out on the Atlantic, we blew out the clue out on old granddad. Not desiring to completely lose use of the mizzen we tied the reef into the outhaul to put old granddad back into commission until we get the new sail (already on order from Rolly Tasker). It was good to be sailing again, but there was no time to kickback as we entered into “skinny water” (9-11 feet) on the Tangier Sound. Skinny water also equals crab pots.
From Sandy Point, Great Wicomico River to Crisfield, MD

We first were attracted to Crisfield because of the “all you can eat” crab and clam bake festival. Floyd Ward’s family was from Crisfield and he was very excited to hear it was on our agenda. At Crisfield, we can either anchor in the small harbor or take a slip. Myron surprised me with taking a slip in celebration of our 31st anniversary. It is not cheap, but we doubt we will see lower prices as we head north. We will be here for the next six days and try to get some projects done, including changing out the engine fresh water pump. During his pre-start check, Myron discovered that the pump was starting to fail, and to our surprise, we do not have a spare. We ordered it as soon as we settled in at the marina – then we headed out for…you guessed it…ice cream! One of the most significant advantages of docking at the marina: air conditioner. It will be a sound sleep tonight!

Love to all,
{GMST}37|58.677|N|075|51.478|W|in the slip|Crisfield{GEND}
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Monday, July 11, 2011

Deltaville to Sandy Point

We stayed longer in Deltaville than we expected. The people are
friendly and welcoming and the anchorage is well protected. Such
attributes make any place difficult to leave; we have not really
figured out a timeline or destination anyway. Besides, did you zoom
in on that entrance? That was some tight gunk-holing and we wanted to
pick a calm high-tide morning to leave. We watched two sailboats get
grounded in the shoals Saturday before the regatta. No serious
damage, but it sent the crew lurching forward on deck. Someone was
not paying attention to the video game…
It had been some time since we had taken on water and we prepared to
catch rain from one of the many thunderstorms that came through our
newly adopted town. We discovered that the water needed to run at a
pretty good pace to overcome the lip around the tank fills. We prayed
for rain that would help us, but not hurt the town. Our tank fills
for the starboard and port saddle tanks are just forward of mid-ship,
reducing the area of rain capture. The collection was miserly for the
first few days, below the rate of usage. Floyd mentioned that some
areas were expecting flash floods on Friday. We dammed up around our
fill caps in anticipation. The first storm of the day was a gulley
washer. We could put an ear on the floorboard over the starboard
water tank and hear the water trickle into the tank. We were gaining
and we were thrilled! The second storm came on about 10 in the evening
and was even more productive. About 2 a.m. Myron had to go out into
the rain and close the port tank cap because the tank was overfilling
and running into the bilge. We believe our saddle tanks are 100
gallons. Quite impressive, our cup runneth over, praise God! Jean
told us their rain gauge showed over 4 inches that day, yet no one
suffered any flood damage. He hears our prayers.
Jean and Floyd Ward are the couple we met when we attended church on
Sunday, July 3. They were incredibly gracious to us, invited us to
their home and to a youth choir performance in Urbanna led by their
grandson. He has been leading this youth choir since he was 14,
twenty years ago. We have been fortunate enough to meet many of Jean
and Floyd's family members, play with their cat "Midnight," tour the
tug boat and get much of the history of the town and the watermen.
The museum we attended was informative to be sure, but this personal
trip to the past was even better. It was a pleasure to return to
church with them yesterday. We even met the couple who bought Floyd's
mother's house and spent a few hours discussing our Messiah,
scripture, prophecy, and the events unfolding today.
I also told John that, in exchange for the tug tour, I would make
mention in our blog that the tug is for sale. I do not know the
price, but some details include two V-12 GM Detroits (1294's) and dual
generators larger than the engine on Hold Fast. You would need at
least a 150 Ton captain's license to operate her. Each of the two
props are 74" in diameter. The cable on the tug had to be 1.5 inches
and the anchor and tow attachment lines could do serious damage to a
back if not probably handled. Other than all that, it would make a
very nice cruising boat. Leave a comment if you are an interested
We left Deltaville today on the morning high-tide and headed for
Reedville. Winds were favorable and it was a relatively quick trip.
As you can see by our tracks (zoom in on the Google map), we winded
our way back into the town. It was incredibly quaint, well protected
and the holding ground is known to be good. However, the town is the
home for the entire menhaden fishing fleet and processing. A healthy
South wind was blowing and we could not find a place on that creek
that was not odiferous. It was under mutual agreement that we pulled
a tight u-turn and sought anchorage elsewhere upwind. We are anchored
off Sandy Point as a result. The wind is strong giving us a little
fetch. We do not mind a bit. We are not downwind from the processing
plant and the ships, and the wind makes tolerable today's 90+ heat.
If the wind calms down, we may launch the dingy and do some exploring,
but for now it is time to shower (just maybe some of that odor stuck
to my skin?) and grill something for dinner.
{GMST}37|49.437|N|076|18.501|W|near Reedsville|Sandy Point{GEND}
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Friday, July 1, 2011

Deltaville, VA

Last night 'Alfin II,' a Brewer 44, circled us at anchor several times asking what we knew of the weather forecast. They were evaluating their window to run outside up to Newport, RI. Myron said he was getting an update on the HAM radio about 6 or 7, when propagation improved. They invited us to aboard for dinner as thanks for the weather report. It was a wonderful evening of tasty Cuban food and good conversation. Kiko and Gordi conduct boat accident analysis for the USCG.

As to our weather, we were promised light air for the next few days, from alternating directions. Might as well poke our bow out into the Chesapeake at dawn and see if we could catch some favorable wind. It was favorable, but light, for the first several hours. A nice broad reach until the winds went too light. It was going to be a tough entrance into Jackson Creek, something to only be attempted during daylight hours, so on came the iron sail and we arrived about 2:30 pm. Myron says that inlet is not for the faint at heart.

We tried the public dock for a 24 hour stay, and after getting all docked in by ourselves, we walked to the sign that does not face the dock which prohibited overnight docking. Away from the dock we went to a spectacular anchor spot surrounded by homes in pine trees. It is so beautiful we felt guilty and kept waiting for someone to come tell us we had to leave. Now there are other boats anchored around us, we feel pretty smart! If there is a drawback here, it is that the water is full of jellyfish. No swimming to be had here, and the swimming is so tempting. I pointed out one to Myron with tentacles almost three feet long. I only found small ones for pictures.

The town is putting on 'Heritage Day' tomorrow. We will figure out where to dock our dingy and take the long walk to Tiffany's (West Marine), hitting the festivities on the way back. We are hoping there are some bay crabs cooked up with our name on them. This town also has a museum and some historical sites. Not sure how long we will stay here, there seems plenty to do.

A man rowed by in his kayak and told us about the tornado that struck here recently. We took the dingy to see some of the downed trees and some more folks told us to tour the town on foot. Apparently the center was torn right out of one church, leaving the sides standing only.

Much to see yet, off to get some rest. Love to all,
{GMST}37|32.804|N|076|20.291|W|nice neighborhood|Deltaville, VA{GEND}
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