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Chesapeake Bay - 10 days/520 miles (Long post. too...)

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Old 09-09-2002, 11:44 AM
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Thumbs up Chesapeake Bay - 10 days/520 miles (Long post. too...)

Around Chesapeake Bay in 10 days
(Or “City Slickers go to Sea”)

It was an ambitious trip, but worth every minute of it. We departed Port Deposit, MD at noon on Friday, August 30 and didn’t get back until Sunday, September 8 after covering the entire length of Chesapeake Bay and back. According to the trusty GPS, we ran 520 miles (and used about that many gallons of gas).
Friday the 30th was the toughest day. We ran 70 miles, stopped for a snack and fuel, then ran the last 135 miles virtually non-stop. Originally, we had planned to stop for the night after about 140 miles, and run another 60 or so the following day. When we discovered that the marina we wanted to stay at would not rent slips for a single night, we decided to run all the way to Virginia Beach in one day. At first the weather was overcast and cool, but it did brighten up for a while mid-afternoon before turning nasty around 3:30. At this point, we were just north of the Potomac River, and things started getting pretty bumpy even though we were running with the wind. Still, our average running speed to this point was about 55 mph. 30 miles later, just south of the Rappahannock River, things got rough and I had to do more throttling over the next 50 miles than I had done in the previous two years. It definitely helped to keep the boat speed over 50 so the hull could do its job, and not fall into the holes. With 40 miles to go, it started raining (ouch!), and things got a little more tense. There were hardly any other boats out, and we began to depend heavily on the GPS and various marker buoys to make sure we were staying on course, since visibility was not too hot. We also broke out our full-face helmets to protect us from the rain. Finally, after a solid 45-minute pounding, the Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel at the entrance to the bay came into sight. We crossed under the center span and got a taste of open Atlantic Ocean waves for about five miles before finally coming off-plane as we entered Lynnhaven Inlet at 5:00 PM. Needless to say, the helmets generated some stares from the on-shore onlookers as we worked out way towards Broad Bay and our friends’ house, but -what the heck- at least we were dry. OK – our heads were dry. The rest of us was soaked. We were off the boat (including luggage) and in their house getting cleaned up by 5:30 PM. In four hours of actual running time, we had covered 205 miles, and we were absolutely exhausted.
We didn’t take the boat out again for almost three days while we waited for the rainy weather to pass. This was fine with us, as we were both really sore. We were also glad that we had run the whole way, because there were torrential downpours on and off, and the water was even rougher on Saturday than it had been on Friday. The wind was blowing out of the North at 15-20 mph, and had 180+ miles to build up the waves. We were really, really happy to be based in a house for those three days instead of just sitting on the boat, even though it has great accommodations. I took advantage of the time to install a Garmin 2010C 10” color chartplotter and get it programmed and set up. Once we got used to this thing, we couldn’t believe that we hand been operating with a small hand-held GPS for the last four years.
Finally, at noon on Monday, the weather started to clear, so we made a short run up the canal for fuel and lunch. At this point, I called members of the Hampton Road Powerboat Association, whom we had met at the OffshoreOnly.com party at this year’s Miami Boat show. It turned out that, not only were they based out of the marina located right behind my friends house, but they were out and beached close to where we were eating. Needless to say, we made a quick trip down to “The Narrows” and spent an hour or so visiting. Then, it turned out that one of the other boaters there was someone we had met at a Poker Run in the area in 1999, and then again at the Baltimore APBA race that same year! Small world. Afterwards, we went for a nice cruise on the Lynnhaven River. All the sore muscles and bruises were starting to heal up, so it was great to get out again, even if it wasn’t open water.
Tuesday September 3rd dawned clear, brilliant and calm. We left at about 10:00 AM, and had a fantastic 65 mile ride up the Bay to another friends’ house on the Rappahannock River. The water was so smooth, that I sat instead of stood for most of the trip. If you have never been there, the Rappahannock River is absolutely fantastic cruising grounds, with really nice houses and coves on both sides. Our friends’ house is on a point overlooking the water, with a nice long dock, swimming pool, fantastic sunsets, and a workshop that turned out to be handy, since we had failed seawater pump bearing. Fortunately, the pumps are mounted on the front of the crank pulley, which made it easy to remove, but no one in the area had a replacement, so we had to wait for one to be sent in on the following day. In the meantime, we enjoyed some fantastic sunny warm days and got a taste of what retirement living can be like if you do it right. Even though the boat has good sleeping accommodations and air conditioning, we had not spent a single night onboard to this point. (This was about to end.)
Thursday afternoon we left for the 75-mile run to Solomon’s Island. As he headed down the Rappahannock on (yet another) sunny day, it was smooth sailing. Smooth, that is, until we turned the corner into the Bay and headed north. It was not as rough as Friday afternoon’s beating, but we ran through some pretty rough stuff for 45 minutes before we turned into the cover of the Patuxent River. The whole way, I was more and more impressed with the way the boat handled the water and the new chartplotter as it almost seemed to anticipate what you wanted to see, automatically zooming in as you approached each waypoint, and then zooming back out to show the next leg. Very, very cool. Solomon’s Island and Spring Cove Marina are great places – very nice and well-kept. We filled up with 89 octane at (get this!) $1.54.9 per gallon. After a walking tour of Solomon’s, with a quick stop for crab dip and margaritas on Solomon’s Wharf, and a soft-shell crab dinner at the Captains Table, we made our way back to the boat. On the way out the dock, we noticed another boat that was from our home marina, and struck up a conversation with the owners. Long story short – we wound up sharing cruising stories until almost midnight.
Friday’s run was a little smoother, even though we were in one of the most open sections of the bay. We left around 10:30 AM, and pulled into St. Michaels Town Marina just before noon (58 miles). St. Michaels is another great place, and we found ourselves in the middle of a Hatteras Rendezvous. One of the yachts belonged to friends of the people we had stayed with on the Rappahannock a few days earlier, so we stopped by and spent a hour or so with them after touring the town and making the obligatory souvenir and t-shirt purchases. When we got back to the boat, we found a note that had been left by some people we had met on the bay a few weeks ago, and called them, but couldn’t get in touch. Dinner that night was at the Bistro St. Michaels, which I can only describe as exceptional. I had the best crab cakes I have ever had anywhere, with green beans fried with a spicy teriyaki sauce. (We also ran into our new-found Hatteras friends there, too.) The only down side to our stay at St. Michaels was that our particular slip was somewhat exposed to rocking from boat traffic in the harbor, but all that died down around 9:00 PM.
Saturday was (yet another) gorgeous day. We enjoyed at sit-down-smooth ride from St. Michaels up to Kent Narrows and out the Chester River past Rock Hall. Unfortunately, we had to fight an outgoing tide through Kent Narrows, so we lost a little time. At Red Eyes, we saw a fantastic assortment of powerboats, capped off by a red/yellow/white 46’ Skater catamaran with a big “4” on the side of it. Awesome hardware. Almost as cool was the osprey we saw on the daymarker on the way out. We passed by less than 15 feet away, and it just casually eyed us up like we might be his next meal. Very, very cool birds, ospreys. After working our way around lots and lots of cruiser traffic, we wound up at Mears Great Oak Marina in Fairlee Creek for lunch, then anchored out for a few hours and watched the comings-and-goings at Jellyfish Joel’s. A quick run up and into the Sassafras put us at a BoaterEd.com rendezvous just across from Skipjack Cove at about 3:00 PM. We made about half a dozen new friends there before tying up for the night at Skipjack Cove around 6:00 PM. There, we wound up on “G” dock, where there was a major “Hawaiian Night” theme party going on. (Too bad I forgot my “Hawaiian Flyin’ ” shirt.) After dinner at the marina restaurant, we were treated to a rare show of the Northern Lights. If you’ve never sent these, they are very hard to describe, but very beautiful. It is extremely rare for them to be visible this far south, so we were impressed. A few shooting stars just added to the effect. This was a fantastic final night out.
Sunday wound up being a short day. Even though we had plans to go out and anchor up for an hour or two, once we got underway, both of us decided that we were ready to get home, so we made the 25 mile trip over and up to Tome’s Landing, and had the boat cleaned and closed up by 1:30 PM, just as a bunch of friends we know there were getting ready to go out for the day. They understood when we said that we were done for the day…..
Summary – awesome bay, people, boat (thank you, Formula), chartplotter, and the best First Mate (oops – Admiral) in the world: Dianne, aka “Woo-Hoo!!”.
Now, we’re planning on a trip to Cape May next weekend (September 14/15th). It’s only about 100 miles each way. Anybody wanna go?????
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Old 09-09-2002, 12:00 PM
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Wow, that sounds like one incredible trip. Thanks for sharing the details! I read it with enthusiasm.
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Old 09-09-2002, 12:06 PM
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WOW! We didn't get the full story yesterday, but we understood.(your faces said it all) Lets try to get together in the next few weeks.
Chuck-tell Diane that the boat looks great!!
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Old 09-09-2002, 12:06 PM
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Sounds like a great trip! The Chesapeake has some great boating for sure. The are endless destinations and sites.
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Old 09-09-2002, 12:17 PM
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Quote:
Originally posted by Mrs.R'Addiction
...your faces said it all...
By that, I hope you mean that we were wearing tired, but outrageously happy, grins.....
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Old 09-09-2002, 12:59 PM
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pictures! did you take any pictures along the way? would like to see them!!
i’ve never been up that way and would really like to see what it looks like.
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Old 09-09-2002, 02:39 PM
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Chuck,
It was good to see ya again. Too bad the weather was crap, but we did manage to get a few boats to "the narrows". The lower Chesapeake Bay snot is usually challenging to drive in. We have this type of water most of the time.
See ya in Miami, and send me those hotel rates when you get em.
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Old 09-09-2002, 11:31 PM
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Great story Chuck. Enjoyed the reading.

Living and boating on the Chesapeake, I think most of us take it for granted. It's truely a spectacular body of water with so much to offer. Glad you had a safe trip, welcome back. Try to hook up with you in the next week or two, maybe some crabs at Watermans in Rock Hall for lunch??
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Old 09-10-2002, 01:06 AM
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Great story Chuck! Sounds like a blast. I would like to try something like that......maybe next year or when we go BIG!! See ya soon!
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Old 09-10-2002, 09:06 AM
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Chuck,

Sounds GREAT! Tell Dianne Kristen and I say hello. We hada nice "trip" down the Hudson on Sunday. Sounds like you had a FANTASTIC adventure! Glad to hear all went well.

Take care and talkt oyou soon.

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