Rather than point fingers at each other, we’re just assuming it was Oscar who ticked off Thor or Neptune or Poseidon or whatever god decided to punish us, but enough is enough. Tuesday morning, the sun was behind clouds but all the weather apps suggested a nice five-hour ride to Cambridge. Yeah we’re crossing the Bay yet again, but shouldn’t be a problem. Slip the last line in Solomons just after 8 and we’re off.
Rounding Drum Point, however, things suddenly didn’t look problem-free. Mostly things were ominous. Right where we’re headed. We knew it was ominous because sometimes we didn’t doze off during the first part of that weather webinar.
At 8:34, the National Weather Service issued a Small-Craft Advisory for this part of the Chesapeake. What the hell is this? Storms. Wind. Rain. Waves. Probably sea-monsters to boot, although they left that part out so as to prevent mass hysteria.
But still, we remained in good spirits as we passed the Cove Point LNG Terminal, which at the time was pumping gas—intended for the good people of Panama—into a brand new tanker named Gaslog Windsor. Fully loaded, that sucker cruises at eighteen knots. How embarrassing to lose a race to something that big.
At 9:15, Lucky 13, heading south on a reciprocal course, hailed us on the radio. “Huge waterspouts along the eastern shore,” the Captain offered. Wind and waves building. The skies over there indeed looked even lower and darker and Good Lord, what’s next?
Well, checking the weather service again is what’s next. Dang, clearly we should’ve slept in.
By then, of course, we were well past Drum Point heading towards the storm. And Cambridge is up the Choptank River. And we don’t like waterspouts or anything else that “can easily overturn boats.” The Cambridge Dockmaster said the fishing boats all had run away scared and that the Choptank River acts like a funnel and that we should do what the weather service advised, which was to “seek safe harbor immediately.” But not in Cambridge. Fine, but while an eight-knot trawler in the middle of Chesapeake Bay might “seek” shelter, actually getting to shelter before being sucked into a waterspout that lands us in the marine version of Oz takes hours. We’ve been in worse, but the decision to flee to Herrington Harbor on the western shore—at eight knots—was unanimous.
At 11:54, the Coast Guard issued a Notice to Mariners extending the Small Craft Advisory for another six hours. More storms, winds, waves, and spouts. By then we mercifully had safety in sight.
But safety didn’t come easily even after we turned into the narrow harbor. The first spot they put us was too small, so turn around, down the wrong fairway, so back out, down another fairway, barely enough room to spin, and the dockhand didn’t know port from starboard so move everything over at a sprint. We almost landed in the weeds but we made it, just about the time some blue patches poked through.
Not the end of our troubles though. Tuesday evening they pushed the weather advisory out another thirty-six hours. Then Wednesday they added some more stuff.
Hey, why stop there? How about the weather just sucks until Labor Day?
Another issue—unrelated to criminal elements or weather elements—took two days, shuttle trips to ACE Hardware and West Marine, and enough cursing that if Doug had one of those jars for quarters we could use it to send a village of kids to Harvard. We’d describe the problem further, but it’s one of those holding tank things best not discussed in polite society.
But here’s the thing. We really like Herrington Harbor. Our slip was twenty feet from grass for Oscar and thirty feet from a good place to eat. The shuttle girls were cheerful and prompt. The Dockmaster loaned us a tool we needed. The WiFi was awesome. And although out in the Bay things were rough and tornados were predicted, we were rock solid. Yesterday morning? Back to beautiful everywhere.
Which meant another trip across the Bay, this time to Oxford. A moment about these British copycat names. We have New York, but not New Oxford. We have New London, but not New Cambridge. A little consistency isn’t too much to ask of the eighteenth century is it?
Regardless, the Chesapeake and the Tred Avon River were just like they’re supposed to be when we’re traveling on them.
Oxford is another of these little towns that called us up the Eastern Shore in the first place. Despite some dock shenanigans for the second stop in a row, we ended up in another one of those cool spots with nobody in front of us to block our view of what we counted on being a glorious sunset.
Lunch took us down the tree-lined street, but then back to the boat to meet the AC guy. No worries though, because the scooters are charging for a big day exploring town on Friday.
Hmmm. Thursday evening the clouds started gathering again, which mostly screwed up the sunset. This morning, solid rain. But it left cooler air behind when it left, which we consider a net win for the good guys.
The town isn’t much, but that makes it easy to scooter to the four corners. Which we did. Looks a bit like those fishing villages in Nova Scotia. Our kind of stop.
We often bumble across stuff to remind us of the good times with Second Wave, and this time it was Scottish Highland Creamery, ranked by TripAdvisor as a top-five joint. Not just in Maryland, or even the Chesapeake Bay area, but top-five in all of our United States. Out of a sense of obligation Doug had a waffle cone, because nobody sniffs out ice cream like Brent Bazar.
Again pesky clouds screwed up the sunset, but we tried.
Finally, Dana got one of those cool photos where the moon looks like something else. In this case, a giant anchor light.
The forecast for tomorrow is crappy again, but we’re going to find a window for the eleven miles down to Cambridge. Unless we don’t.