The last couple of months were spent in the Chesapeake Bay. We had some great and some not so great times. The not so good times were all tied to surprise maintenance on our boat but, yet again, but the good times outweighed the frustration of the bad ones.
Jamestown and Williamsburg
We arrived into Norfolk, VA area on July 10th about 11pm. Crossing into such a busy shipping channel in the middle of the night was interesting. We passed a couple of ships that were well over 700-800 feet long. Even barely moving their wakes were huge. We were happy to drop anchor at 1am. Our adventures began the next day.
One of our first trips led us to Jamestown. We loved it there. The only thing about the trip was that we had to motor almost the whole way. It’s a bit up the James River (20+ miles) and the depth is not so great outside of the channel. That may have been reason why we were the only boat out there. Visiting Jamestown and next day Williamsburg counted as a history lesson for our kids. This is where some of the very first European Settlements in North America existed.
Kids were all happy (I was not as excited) to go stomp their feet in the mud that was getting cured for the brick maker to make bricks. We had some muddy kids.
On the way back South we passed Newport News, Portsmouth, and Hampton. These are the areas known for building all the aircraft carriers and big navy ships for the US Military. They seemed to go on and on.
Crabbing in the Chesapeake
We have not done much fishing but kids did do some crabbing. It seems the thing to do in the Chesapeake. We used turkey necks on hand lines and it worked like magic. We couldn’t believe how fast we were getting crabs on the line. Kids were running back and forth screaming “I got one”. Brent and I were having a hard time keeping up pulling them out of water. That said it is a lot of work to prepare a meal out of them. It took Brent a while to kill them all (no we didn’t boil them alive), then they were cooked, peeled and we made crab cakes out of them. They all love them, me not so much. I still see those crab eyes staring at me.
Brent and I both fell in love with Tangier Island. It is located in Virginia in the middle of the Chesapeake Bay. It is a sleepy old waterman’s island that is disappearing rapidly. Every year the island looses acres of land due to ice melting and other environmental causes. The island will be mostly gone and unliveable within next 100 years unless there is some huge intervention. I can’t help to feel sad that it will not survive. The island seems like it got stuck in the last century but in a good way. Kids were playing on the streets, which were shared by walkers, bikers and people on golf carts. We saw very little cars as only a couple dozen are on the island. You can get everywhere with a ten minute bike ride. The island is only accessible by water. There are no stop lights and only a single place to eat dinner. We bought some oysters from local farmer although most of the watermen live from crabbing. His oyster house (like most of the watermen houses) was a shack on the pilings in the middle of the bay with electricity run to it. Again accesible only by boat.
We stayed in Parks Marina which is run by Mr. Parks. He built the marina with his own hands over fifty years ago and has runs it since. He is in his 80’s now and still going. There will be probably nobody to run this place once he is gone, but then there might be no Tangier Island much longer past that.
The kids didn’t like this place much. The only good time they had when they met a friend who had followed us on our boat and played with them all over the boat. Otherwise they had declared the island boring. They prefer being on the anchor where they can jump of the boat instead in a marina with no pool or fun stuff.
Sunset on Tangier
View from our boat
New friend we met
Our next stop was Salomon Island off the coast of Maryland. We found a great anchorage with a small beach nearby. The kids loved it here as they could swim whenever they wanted and had a private small beach to explore. It did get very hot so the water was great to cool off in. We liked it so much we hit it again on our way back south a few weeks later and visited a great museum there. Here is how we get around in our dinghy.
We spent more time here than any other anchorage. We dropped our anchor in Swan Creek which was a 10 minute dinghy ride to the marina area. It took a few tries to get good holding but it was worth it. Again the kids loved the ability to swim whenever they wanted. Also the town was really cute. There was a main street with a few good restaurants and a small grocery store. We then moved to a marina and met GeeGee and Grand-Daddy (Brent’s parents). They drove their camper all the way from Georgia to see us and the kids. They camped a short drive away and drove back to the marina each day. It was great to have them there and the kids were excited. We walked the city, went out to eat, relaxed and visited a National Marine Sanctuary. We miss you Gee Gee and Grand-Daddy. After they left we spent another day at the Swan Creek Anchorage and then headed south for a week in Annapolis.
Annapolis is known as the sailing capital of the U.S. There are sailboats everywhere. It is also neat to visit to see the history and be so close to the downtown area. The mooring area (where you can tie up to a submerged chunk of concrete) is only a couple hundred yards from the shops and restaurants. We all went out to eat at Pusser’s and looked at some of the historic buildings. On our last day there we spent most of our time at the U.S. Naval Academy. We were all very impressed by the campus and there is a great museum with a large number of miniature models of ships. Some of these date back to the 17th century and have amazing detail. Since Annapolis is mostly old stuff (that is what the kid’s said) we decided to head back to Rock Hall for the annual Pirates and Wenches Weekend.
US Navy Academy
Back to Rock Hall
We went back to Rock Hall and anchored at Swan Creek again to go to the Pirate Festival. It was great fun. Things started off Saturday morning with a treasure dig for the kids on the beach. We also saw pirate plays, pirate cannons, did a pirate scavenger hunt and learned some pirate talk. On Sunday Marco and Brent did a 5K while Mei and Makai did a fun run. All in all it was a great weekend of fun. Brent even got to rescue a boat in the anchorage when we had a big storm Saturday night and a 50′ boat with no one on board pulled it’s anchor!
Kids favorite activity
Pirates weekend at Rock Hall
Digging the treasures
5K run Rock Hall
Herrington Bay North
We knew that we had a lot of items that needed to be repaired and it is tough getting everything fixed while “on the hook” so we decided to spend a few weeks at a marina. Herrington North is about 25 miles south of Annapolis and it has almost everything you could ask for in a marina. We spent three weeks there and it was nice to have constant air conditioning and power. We were able to get some engine work done, some new lines run up the mast and all new rivets on our trampoline. The work was great but the family also enjoyed the activities. The marina had a pool where they had a breakfast buffet one morning and a Labor Day Party a couple of weeks later. They even had some movie nights for the kids and a shuttle that ran us to the grocery store. We met some other great cruising families and hope to hook up with them again. Eva also had a big birthday surprise when Tammy Deraney (our old neighbor) flew in to visit for a few nights. Eva had no idea. It was fun to have another person on board and Tammy was our first overnight guest. After a few weeks we knew we had to get south so we could get the boat laid up for the rest of Hurricane season.
All the fun the kids had on the top of our boat. They especially like to be pulled up the mast. It was not that comfortable; I tried.
Here I got to celebrate my birthday with my surprise visitor Tammy. I loved it! The best surprise of all
Back South and Cape Charles
Upon leaving Herrington we made a beeline to Cape Charles, VA about 120 miles south. We stopped at Salomon Island and aother small marina before getting to Cape Charles. Upon getting there we started to get Walden ready to be lifted. We knew that we had to get some paint work done (the one from June did not adhere correctly) so we decided to have the boat hauled while we went to visit family in Europe for six weeks. Cape Charles is a sleepy little village that we used a borrowed golf cart to explore. Everyone was nice and we got the boat prepped for dry land and a possible hurricane in our absence. For the next few weeks we will be on dry land!