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Misty Pearl on America’s Great Loop and the Down East Circle

Here’s a map of Misty Pearl’s stops along way, right down to our actual slips.  (Except for Beaufort, N.C., where D Dock is too new for Google Maps.)  Pressing one of the little red balloon-looking thingys will load up our blog posts related to that spot on The Great Loop.  The yellow thingys will load up the Down East Circle posts.

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Why can’t every day be like today (but cooler)?

When we left at 6:55 this morning, the Chesapeake was smooth.  Almost too smooth.  Doug thought it looked like the surface of the mountain lake where the girls are swimming and then their classmate who they drowned in a bullying-incident-gone-bad a year earlier but never told anyone about reached up with bloody hands and dragged them down one by one to a watery grave, their screams of terror turning quiet as they paid the ultimate price for being part of a mean-girl clique.  Dana thinks Doug’s an idiot.

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A big boat loomed in the haze.  Doug thought it looked like a ghost ship, left adrift when the crew mysteriously vanished shortly after a final desperate radio call reporting bright lights silently hovering just above the superstructure.  Dana thinks Doug’s an idiot.

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Ok maybe it was just so smooth that Doug’s imagination ran a tad wild.  But at least Dana was able to use the dog-retrieving net to snag some garbage.

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Even though the message on the balloon certainly was appropriate for Doug, balloons are deadly for wildlife.  Come on people, stop with the balloons.  Or at least don’t put helium in them.

Back under the Chesapeake Bay Bridge.

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Past Annapolis, and St. Michael’s, and Baltimore.  Several hours later, another balloon.  What the hell is wrong with people?  Where do they think balloons go after the two seconds of watching them flutter in the air before going back to the picnic table for more of that delicious barbecue?

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It was nice enough that we contemplated going on to Delaware City, but Oscar has a long run up the Atlantic coast in his future so we figured seven hours was enough for today.  Speaking of Oscar, he spent the afternoon sunning himself on the flybridge, no doubt day-dreaming about strangers with endless treats and a willingness to share them with a small black-but-graying senior dog.

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All day, smooth water.  As smooth as whipped butter.  As smooth as Doug’s head.  Smooth, baby.

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Doug took a long shower, because underway we have nearly unlimited hot water.  Dana took a nap, because underway or not she really likes naps.

The only troublesome patch was the shallow entry up the Bohemia River.  At a few spots we had only an inch or two under the keel.  It felt kind of like Canal Lake.  But we spotted the lighthouse and eased on in.

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They stuck us out at the end of the long dock, because that’s where the “deep water” lives.  By “deep water” we mean four feet of water.  Which means we’re on the bottom at low tide.

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Being stuck on the bottom isn’t a big deal, of course, because we know how to handle being stuck on the bottom.  We’ve been to Alton, Illinois.  On the positive side of things, the lighthouse can guide us back to the boat if we get lost.  Getting lost seems unlikely though, because we ain’t leaving the boat.  Inside we have AC.  And good WiFi.  Outside it’s hot.  And muggy.  And it just started raining.

Tomorrow we leave the Chesapeake Bay, after what seems like an eternity.

How’s it possible to go north to go Down East?

So we’re claiming to have started the Down East Circle at Spring Cove Marina.*  “Spring Cove Marina” sounds a lot sexier than, say, “a green channel marker covered in bird poop.”  That makes today—instead of the second half of yesterday—our first day on the Circle.

Up and at it this morning, because good travel days have been as hard to find as Tennessee Volunteer touchdowns.  And a gorgeous day it was.

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Somehow we’re supposed to feel wiser and more competent today, because after all, we’re GOLD LOOPERS.  When we started this thing, we thought of Gold Loopers as gurus on the mountain, sages in the wilderness, folks to be revered.  In reality, it doesn’t seem work that way.  At least for us.  Doug still was absurdly confident that everyone in our general vicinity intentionally was trying to screw with us.  Dana still believed with all her heart that we were about to run into every single crab pot on the Bay.   Crab pots, or maybe pool toys.

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Somewhere in Maryland there’s either a crying child or a crabber with a sense of humor.  We tend to think it’s the former because a few hundred yards further along we passed a beach ball that appeared to belong with the watermelon.  We promise we would’ve retrieved them both but the water was a bit churny at that spot, even if the photo doesn’t show it.

Anyway, we managed to muddle up to Herrington Harbour South.

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This is where we picked up Brent and Karen—and where they left their car—so it kind of made sense for them to get off here as well.  Good times.  We’re sad to see them go but glad they traveled with us for a few days.  They were a huge part of our Loop experience.

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Tomorrow a long day up to Bohemia Bay at the top of the Chesapeake.

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* That doesn’t necessarily mean we’ll end back there, of course.  The trip up to Manhattan is kind of like a balloon tail.  Once we get past the Statue of Liberty we’ll take the Hudson north but then in about September we’ll come back through Long Island Sound and down the East River to the same statue, assuming we can find it.

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Of Beginnings and Endings, and Beginnings

Yesterday, as promised, we chickened out of traveling.  Hardly a cloud to be found, but too dang windy for our taste.  The next week or so looks like good traveling so why be miserable?  So instead we Mini-Pearled around.  Here’s where our marina would go if we weren’t also too chicken to open that B & B.

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Inside the Fishermen Museum we found a model of the home, because it’s historic or something.  Is that a sign or what?

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We even took the dinghy depth finder out.  Ten feet of water where we’d put the marina.  Perfect for eight slips and a T-head.  Another sign?

Whilst we pondered the possibilities—and pondered the foolishness of even considering the possibilities—we had a delicious dinner on the waterfront deck of the only restaurant in town where we hadn’t already eaten.  The deck was full of boaters, and as generally is the case we all started talking.  At an adjacent table sat two sailing couples.  Turns out they cruised down the rivers last fall.  Hey, we cruised down the rivers last fall too!  They had a sad story about how their sailboat—Fair Wind—sank on the Tennessee River and was salvaged at Cuba Landing.  Hey, we cruised down the Tennessee River and stopped at Cuba Landing too!  Small world.  Wait a second.  Come to think of it, when we pulled in to Cuba Landing, a sailboat named Fair Wind had just been hauled out and wrapped in tarps and was sitting on the bottom right next to us.  Yup, same boat.  We even had a picture to prove it.

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By now they have a new boat, so were in much better humor than we’d have been if strangers had been cackling about witnessing our misery.  What are the odds?  More signs that we should buy that Victorian maybe?  The point is that Reedville is a cool little village.  Anyone who takes fish oil supplements or eats cat food should appreciate Reedville as the Menhaden Capitol of the World.  Plus Jennings Boat Yard was an awesome find.

Okay, we’re probably not going to open a bed & breakfast or a marina in the Menhaden Capitol of the World.  Might as well put Mini Pearl back in her cradle and plan our trip up to Spring Cove.  Looks like we might just string together a few good travel days.  Finally.  So this morning at 7:40 we slipped the lines and headed for glory.  Past the menhaden pound net traps and on up to the Potomac.

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Anyone who’s been reading our drivel, er, blog posts, from the start, will recall that we left Washington D.C on May 23 last year.

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Although the Potomac is a Loop side trip, the original plan was to go back up and claim victory at The Yards.  Meh.  The Potomac was really cool once up and once down—and before we saw the rest of the much cooler stuff along the way—but we hate D.C., Mallory is gone, and there’s no point in going back.

After our first Loop stop at Colonial Beach, we rounded Point Lookout, cruised out to green 69A, and joined up with The Loop proper.

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From there we’ve spent over a year underway.  That’s a ton of miles and locks and drawbridges and boats and dolphins and LCBOs and boat cards and tows with barges and rivers and crab pots and canals and long days and great restaurants and gorgeous sunsets and crappy days and fog and new friends who became old friends.  What a trip.  We didn’t necessarily love every minute of it, but the minutes we didn’t love at least were rare and interesting.

At 10:15 this morning, we paused at green 69A.  We were last here 387 days ago.

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Woooo!  The Gods of Sea and Air honored the occasion by giving us an easy day crossing the Potomac, which allowed for a champagne (and cranberry) toast.

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We’re happy Brent and Karen were along to celebrate with us.  Plus we needed someone to take the picture.

A couple of hours later we pulled back into Spring Cove.

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The end of The Loop, for us, also is the start of the Down East Circle.  We’ll head back up the Hudson, but instead of a left at the Erie Canal we’ll go straight up to the St. Lawrence.  Then hook a right.  Until we get past Albany we’ll be replowing ground we’ve already covered.  Plus we’re in a bit of a hurry so the days might be long.  Which means blog posts might be iffy.  But we’ll round back into shape at some point.

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So close and yet so far, or Rough start to a great birthday

The last couple of days in Deltaville mostly were warm and clear.  But windy.  Wind makes waves like corn makes whiskey.  So we sat.  But Barry from Crossroads came by and drove us around—which was a pleasant surprise—and we got a sunset one evening.

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How about that artsy sunset photo, eh?

Today, however, is Dana’s birthday.  Cool to cross our wake on her birthday, we figured.  Most of our weather sources predicted south or southwest winds, a bit stiff but not too bad, and two-footers or so on the Bay.  If we time the mouth of the Potomac just right, it shouldn’t be too bad, although timing the mouth of the Potomac meant leaving at 6:30.  Which sucks even if it isn’t your birthday.

Of course, when we got up it was windy and rainy.  Because of course.

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Oscar was too cold and wet to poop.  What the hell?  Don’t the Gods of Sea and Air know it’s a special day and we have a wake to cross?  But now that we’re hardy mariners with a goal, a little wetness won’t stop us.  Not today.  So Brent and Dana braved the weather, slipped the lines, and we shoved off.  For her first birthday treat, Dana got to stow fenders in the wind and rain.

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Pretty quickly, the rain stopped.  Hey now, things are looking up.  Just as quickly, however, we realized that the waves were coming from the north.  And were surf-able.  And we were taking spray over the pilothouse.  And Oscar was getting sick.  And the Chesapeake Bay had turned to shit.  Seven and 1/2 hours of this?  On Dana’s birthday?  No way.

Fortunately we had a bailout option.  Forty-five compass degrees and nine miles later we docked at Jennings Boatyard in Reedville.  This will be our last stop in Virginia, because there ain’t no more stops in Virginia to be found.  Nice folks helped us in.  The sun peaked out.  Looks like things might be okay after all.  So let’s take Mini Pearl over to the nearby restaurant for lunch.  It’s only a thousand yards away by boat but a mile and a half by shoe.  About a hundred of those thousand yards later, however,  the outboard died.  Grrrr.  But we had oars and we had Dana and Karen, so Brent and Doug enjoyed a nice ride.

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During lunch, the rain returned.  Which exposed the foolishness of the conversation we’d had just as we all loaded in the dinghy: “Should someone go close all the windows before we leave?”   “Nah, it doesn’t look like rain any more.”

Things brightened considerably after the rain and lunch.   Brent cleaned the filter and Doug replaced the old dinghy gas with new and she fired right up.  After naps and whatnot we headed into town.  Meaning Reedville.  Very cool place.  We might move here.  It’s a fishing village but locals apparently don’t mind the smell.

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There’s a cute Victorian for sale that would make a great bed & breakfast and has waterfront for a small marina.  We’d be rich and famous in no time, except we lack the experience and skill to run a bed & breakfast and marina.

Dana enjoyed a birthday dinner at The Crazy Crab, but refused to allow the wait staff to sing even though they had a special song and the rest of us thought her rude.  But she did enjoy the molten lava cake.  Then we waddled back for the dinghy ride home.

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So we survived the rough stuff and ended with a great meal and blue skies.  All in all, it turned out pretty nice, even if we’re still flying the white burgee.

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Tomorrow looks bad enough that we’re sleeping in.  It’s only about five hours to Solomons but we made dinner reservations here and there’s a fishery museum.  And we might need to make an offer on that Victorian.

Will the Circle be unbroken, by and by Lord, by and by?

So we’re THIS close to finishing The Loop.  From crossing our wake.  From completing the trip of a lifetime.  All that.  And of course those same few hours from starting the Down East Circle Loop.  We have the gold Loop burgee and the DECL burgee ready to fly.  But somehow we have to get to the Potomac River first.

Way back on April 12 of last year we put Deltaville behind us after an excruciating 27 months here waiting for the chance to head up to D.C.  Ok it wasn’t really 27 months, but it felt like it.  Now we’re back.

Sunday we got a hugely pleasant surprise when we returned from a trip to town.  From a distance we saw the unmistakable shape of a Selene 43 at Zimmerman’s.  And it wasn’t ours.  And someone wearing Terri Culy’s unmistakable trademark floppy hat was cleaning the bow.  Wait, it IS Terri’s floppy hat.  We last saw Change of Pace in West Palm Beach.  Jeff and Terri popped over to catch up.

Yesterday brought a short weather window for us to leave Mathews, so we jumped on it.

Terri send us a photo of the departure.  Yup, Brent and Karen back on a Looper boat.  About 45 seconds after this photo, the fly bridge shifter stopped working.  What the hell?  We just had it tuned up.  Smokin’ Bob shot out on the ZMI skiff and took care of it so all was good.

Given the crap weather that seems to be plaguing the Chesapeake, things were decently smooth.  Good to be back underway.

The rain came and the auto pilot acted up, but otherwise things were about normal.  The extra deck hands helped us dock at Dozier.  Take-out from what The Norm assured us was a mediocre Chinese joint.

Unfortunately the winds are higher than a heroin junkie so now we’re stuck in Deltaville.  Again.  So close to the finish line we almost can see it.  Because of the weather our next post may be tomorrow or may be a month from now, but we’ll be Gold Loopers and have the new flags aflyin’.