Hello virtual crew members and fellow adventurers!
I would like to welcome mirmal@…. aboard as our latest virtual crew member. Welcome aboard!
Eric here reporting on our crew’s wanderings and whereabouts in the Chesapeake Bay.
After arriving at Yorktown on Friday, May 6th, the crew spent Saturday on the back of the sundeck listening to three different bands play the blues. The Blues, Brews, and BBQ Festival wrapped up at 1800 so the crew went back to Ben & Jerry’s for more ice cream. They then walked the waterfront of old Yorktown to read the historical markers along the path. A couple of the favorites:
You can click on the pic to enlarge and read the markers.
The skipper also managed to work in a repair of that pesky ‘lower switch’ on the anchor. He had a new switch delivered to Norfolk. The new switch had a rubber cap to prevent water intrusion into the body of the switch. After removing the old switch, the skipper was able to clean the spring and operating cylinder so the switch does not stick anymore. The skipper installed the repaired switch with the new rubber cap. We will see how long the repair holds up. Especially since the crew will be anchoring out several nights in a row after leaving Yorktown.
The run up the Chesapeake to Smith Point was more than exciting. The day started fairly routine with calm waters greeting the crew. However, as the day progressed the weather worsened to the point to make this the roughest day on the water yet. The weather report was for winds out of the northwest which should have provided protection as the crew voyaged north. However, about 1300 it got eerily calm. Then you could see ripples building on the water to the North. Then the winds decided to pick up steam. The skipper estimated the winds at 15-20 mph. This caused some serious wave action.
At first the waves built to 2-3 feet, then 3-5 feet. The problem with that is that every once in a while the crew got 7-10 foot waves. In fact, water crashed over the top of the bow pulpit three times as Still Waters II cut through the waves. That was a first for the crew. The ships bell seemed to be ringing constantly due to the up and down movement of the boat riding over the waves.
Old Salts call this phenomena of large rogue waves the “three sisters” because the larger than average waves seem to travel in sets of threes. The skipper could see the large waves coming and the boat took the first one pretty well. The second sister then arrived and lifted the bow high, high, high into the sky. The boat then crashed down in the trough between the second and third wave. The water then came crashing over the bow. The crew spent about 2.5 hours in this mess before the conditions began to lighten up as the crew finally approached land at Smith Point.
The other thing that happened during this period was the loss of the dinghy. Somehow the bow of the dinghy came off of the support davit while the back of the dinghy was still on the swim platform davit. The Admiral took the helm so the skipper could go out on the swim platform and try to rescue the dinghy. Several times the water came about knee deep on the skipper while he clung to the swim ladder with one hand and wrestled with the dinghy with the other hand. The bottom line is the crew lost their second dinghy. You might recall the loss of the first dingy in the Pamlico Sound in 2015. The skipper called the Coast Guard to report the dinghy adrift and that the seas were too bad to try and recover the dinghy. The Coast Guard called the following day and reported that the dinghy had been spotted 16 miles down the bay from where it came off the swim platform. So the score is now: dinghy 2, skipper 0.
After making it to Smith Point, the crew entered a narrow channel and anchored in the protected Ellyson Creek. The crew was amazed at how calm the creek was while just outside there was still chaos.
Things went much better for our crew the next day on their run to Tilghman Island where they anchored in Dun Cove. Other than the rain that followed them most of the day, this was an uneventful run.
With the cloud cover and rain it was hard to see much of the surrounding area. The skipper did point out though when they passed Calvert Cliff Nuclear Power Station. He just cannot let it go.
They did pass several old lights that have been basically abandoned in place. These lights make for good landmarks to target while traversing the Bay. Unlike the day markers and buoys, the lights can be seen for miles.
The crew had a peaceful night’s rest until about 0430 in the morning. Then the Bay Watermen were out in force checking their lines and crab pots. They kept waking the boat as they passed so the skipper went ahead and got up at 0515 to prepare for the day’s cruise.
It was an uneventful day with one surprise though. During the mid-day engine room checks, the skipper noticed a bundle of wires had fallen and were rubbing on the port engine shaft. The skipper made a temporary repair while underway. Once docked the skipper made a permanent fix. One blue twisted strand wire had worn thru the insulation and most of the twisted wires had been eaten through also. The skipper is not sure what that little blue wire feeds, but he is glad it got fixed before something failed.
After docking at the Waterman’s Crab House, the crew walked the small town of Rock Hall down as they went to the grocery store. Let’s just say it is not your neighborhood HEB. But the crew did find the essentials. The skipper got cokes and cookie dough, while the Admiral was a little more practical and got milk, cheese, and bread. The sun did finally make a showing in the evening so the crew walked out to watch the sun set over Baltimore.
The next morning the weather was calm with little to no current so the skipper took some time to give the Admiral docking practice. The Admiral backed the boat away from the dock and then maneuvered back to the dock where the skipper secured the boat to the pier. They untied and shoved off again. The Admiral then once again successfully maneuvered the boat to complete her second dock exercise. The crew then shoved off the last time and headed to Havre de Grace in the northern reaches of the Bay.
The crew spent about 5.5 hours cruising over to Havre de Grace. The wind was perfect for a calm day on the water. The north end of the Chesapeake is very picturesque. Just as the crew completed securing the vessel to the dock and getting the shore power and water hooked up, a big rain storm started. Timing is everything.
The skipper found the history of this little town very interesting. For starters, General Lafayette inspired the name of the town when he commented that the town reminded him of Le Havre, France. When the town incorporated in 1785, they named the new town Havre de Grace.
Secondly, in 1789, Havre de Grace, almost became the nation’s capital. The First Congress selected the town as the nation’s capital, but did not officially vote and make the selection binding. During the next session of Congress, the southern states would not back the location due to it being too far north. The southern states were now working to locate the new capital further south.
The northern states were also trying to pass a law where the Federal Government would pay off the states war debts. The southern states had less debt than the northern states so they did not support the bill. A compromise was finally reached where the northern states agreed to move the capital further south, and the southern states agreed to pay off portions of the northern war debt. In 1790, Congress passed the Residence Act which sited the new capital along the Potomac River. The Act allowed the sitting President, George Washington, to make the final selection of where on the Potomac. Is it a wonder that George picked an area just upstream of his home at Mount Vernon?
Third, During the War of 1812, the British invaded and basically burned the town to the ground on May 3, 1813. One man, John O’Neil, manned a cannon and began firing on the British. The 400 British soldiers returned fire, finally landed, and captured O’Neil. His daughter, Matilda, at the age of 15 went to the British Admiral George Cockburn and negotiated her father’s release. The Admiral was so impressed by the young girl’s courage, he also gave her a gold snuff box.
The town rebuilt and there are now many homes still occupied that date back to the 1830’s. There are actually two homes in town that have been occupied by the same family since they were built in the 1800’s. They are now in the fifth generation of family ownership and occupancy.
The Lafayette Trail is a three mile, self-guided tour that takes you around 57 historical landmarks in town. All you have to do is follow the Blue Line that is painted on the sidewalk. You can see pics and read about all 57 stops on the trail by clicking on the Lafayette Trail Link. If you take the virtual tour, look for the blue balloon at the top of the map, it is stop number 1. All other balloons are red. I invite you to review the historic buildings and post a comment on your top three.
The skipper’s top three were:
One stop that was not on the historic trail but was the skipper’s favorite stop in town was at Bomboy’s Ice Cream and Candy Store. They advertise, “You are what you eat, so eat sweets.” Now that is a motto that the skipper can get behind.
On Saturday, May 14, the plan was to cross through the Chesapeake and Delaware Canal. Then anchor in the Salem River to wait for good weather to make the run to Cape May, N.J. The weather forecast calls for winds near 20 mph with gusts greater than 25 for Sunday and Monday.
However, Still Waters II decided she wanted to go to Delaware City. The starboard main engine has had a vibration issue since the boat was purchased by the crew. They knew that eventually they would need to repair the prop and cutlass bearing. Well the time and place is now. Over the last three runs the vibration has become a little worse each time.
The crew has decided to have her hauled out, props reconditioned, cutlass bearings replaced, and splash back in the water on Friday, May 20.
In the mean time, the crew will do shore excursions in and around Delaware City. The first thing the skipper learned about Delaware that he likes, is that the price you see is the price you pay. Delaware has no sales tax.
But before fun and games can begin, the skipper needs to find a place to stay for a few days while the marina works on the boat. Check in next week to see if the schedule holds and the splash happens on Friday so the crew can get back underway.
Till then, may the wind be at your back and the seas calm ahead.
Eric the Red