Monday’s planned departure was foiled by a small red light, which indicated that ZMI hadn’t quite sorted out the electrical issue. Mike and Ed finally wrapped up at 3, but we saw no appeal to rolling into Solomons in the dark so we stayed at Herrington Harbour yet another night. Grrrrr. But at least—fingers crossed—we won’t be tripping any more shore power pedestals.
Tuesday’s theme was sailboats. Here we have what turned out to be a rather pedestrian one, but it was pretty enough in the morning sun.
Next up, Pride of Baltimore II. This globe-trotting Baltimore Clipper topsail schooner “represents Baltimore and the State of Maryland” as she visits ports far and wide. Despite all those billowy sails, AIS clocked her at 3.9 knots. If you ask us, that’s a lot of work for very little payoff.
The Cove Point Lighthouse might be the last one we see for a while. Originally built in 1828, Google gives it 4.4 stars. For whatever that’s worth.
As we rounded into the mouth of the Patuxent River, we caught an awkward angle of Sultana, a full-scale replica of a British schooner with the same name. The original Sultana enforced the tea tax up and down the east coast between 1768 and 1772. This one seems to be some sort of school. We would’ve gotten a better photo, but we were distracted by the nice people who were so desperate to go slow in front of us that they tried to ram their Great Harbor into Tumbleweed’s side. Dana later made peace with them, however, so it’s all good.
Then on in to Solomons. We love Solomons.
Solomons has what the little plaque says is the “Maryland State Record Swordfish.” Does that mean the largest swordfish caught by a Maryland angler? Largest caught in Maryland waters? Largest eaten with Old Bay? All we know is that Old Bay is delicious on everything.
Zimmerman graciously set us up in a free slip beside the TraveLift. Which worked out well, because they’re busily hauling boats in and out starting at sunrise so we didn’t even need to set an alarm.
Here we see the Atlantic Test Range at Naval Air Station Patuxant River. This is the Navy’s “principal location for the research, development, testing, and evaluation of Naval aircraft.” We always think it cool to pass by.
A fighter of some sort screamed overhead just as we injudiciously cut a corner of the restricted area, but luckily he didn’t bomb or strafe us.
Long but easy day down to Deltaville. Past green channel marker 69A—famous as the official place where we finished our Loop—but too far away for a commemorative photo. Past the Potomac River. Not even a worthy sailboat along the way. Stress-free, but a tad boring.
Deltaville normally wouldn’t be much of a reward for a long boring day. We’ve spent far too much of our lives waiting in Deltaville for this or that to be done to a boat. This stop was great, however, because Barry and Robin from Crossroads picked us up for a delightful dinner at our favorite Thai place.
Crossroads and Misty Pearl were two of the three Selene 43s in the 2018 Loop fleet. Although Change of Pace—the third one—sits just a few slips down from Crossroads, sadly Jeff and Terri couldn’t join us. Awesome to catch up with Barry and Robin, and for dessert the Diamondbacks finished off the evil Dodgers.
Thursday was one of those weird Chesapeake Bay days that can’t decide whether to be sunny or gray. But the water was smooth the whole way, which is all that matters.
Dana is a bit out of practice with dolphin photos—what with the scarcity of them in the Great Lakes and all—but still managed a decent job as we approached Norfolk.
Past Hampton Roads, which is famous as the place where ironclads USS Monitor and CSS Virginia bounced cannonballs off each other to a draw and as the place where some dirtbag shot out a window on Second Wave. Then past Norfolk Naval Shipyard and into our spot at Waterside.
This is way more of a business trip than a sightseeing trip, so there wasn’t time for more exploring. But there was plenty of time for Scott and Sandy. Scott grew up a Yooper. Even spent a year as an Eskymo. He follows the blog and sent us lots of ideas about the U.P. and Lake Michigan and Lake Superior while we were up there. Scott and Sandy stopped by the boat before we enjoyed a great meal that actually involved more than just water. Fun people.
Scott gave us some local history and things to do, but sadly we didn’t have the time. Up for an early Friday morning departure.
Portsmouth is home to the oldest operational drydocks still in use by the Navy. Drydock No. 1 is right along there somewhere. After the Confederates took over the facility they raised the poorly-scuttled USS Merrimack, used Drydock No. 1 to cover her in armor, and renamed her the Virginia. Now they supposedly work on subs along here, although we can’t verify that because despite our best efforts we still haven’t seen one.
This may look like just another bridge. It isn’t. It’s the @$&%ing Bridge No. 7, which we have studied for multiple hours from the other side while waiting for it to open.
This time luck was with us. We zoomed right through, literally two minutes before they closed it. For a brief moment we pitied the poor slobs who were behind us and got stopped, but then quickly resumed congratulating ourselves.
Did we mention that Scott is a great guy? He drove around Friday morning just to get some cool photos as we started down the ICW.
A slow day was made slower by the Great Bridge Lock and the Great Bridge Bridge and Tocino and Seabird and Sam McGee piling up with us and Island Pilot pushing a barge through a narrow opening while we sat dangerously near the stumps. But since we recently had foiled Bridge No. 7, we couldn’t complain.
Plus, the weather was glorious when we pulled into Coinjock.
The plan yesterday involved a pre-dawn departure. Gotta get to Alligator River by noon, because we greatly prefer to be tied up when storms hit and the weather people predicted afternoon storms. No way we want to face the Albemarle Sound in wind and rain. Pre-dawn departures often yield good photos, however, and once again Dana got a good one.
The Sound? Meh. Not a big deal. We entered the Alligator River at 11:30. Time to spare. Wait, what did the Alligator River Marina Dockmaster just say to Miss Eva and Gemini? They radioed in ahead of us, asking for their reserved spots on the wall. Lots of confusion and funny business, apparently caused by a sailboat that hadn’t left as expected. Long story made short, we weren’t certain there was room for us after all, we weren’t inclined to wedge into a small slip in the wind, and the bridge was about to open. As the Greatest College Football Coach in history preached in Maxim No. 3, however, “If at first the breaks go against you, don’t let up. Put on more steam.” Screw it. Let’s go to Belhaven. Maybe the rain will hold off.
Here’s No Curfew passing by. She’s a 100-foot Princess, available for weekly charter by anyone with $65,000 or so laying around.
We later chatted with the captain. Nice dude. Very young. They’re moving the boat down to the Bahamas for the winter charter season. Since they plan to be in Port Canaveral by Thursday, we probably won’t see them again. We’ll still be north of Florida when October turns to November. We get the last laugh, of course, because they’ll burn a lot more fuel.
Anyway, back to the Alligator-Pungo Canal.
Although it remains super-fun to say the word “Pungo,” the Alligator-Pungo Canal is not particularly enjoyable. The Alligator-Pungo Canal is even more not particularly enjoyable in the rain that hit us about five minutes after we took the preceding photo. But we slogged on, mostly because there wasn’t any other option.
After several hours, we reached the Pungo River just as the rain took a break. Seagulls swarmed us like they swarmed The Lower Place that time Charlie tossed cheese balls in the air and then flashed us from the flybridge, but we’re not sure why. (We’re also not sure why Charlie took off his shirt.) Dana got yet another photo that looks fake but isn’t.
We felt a little dirty passing by Dowry Creek and our pal Jeff—particularly since the restaurant finally is open—but we decided to give River Forest a try. Rolled in almost exactly eleven hours after leaving Coinjock. The Vols were tape-delayed, but still beat Jimbo Fisher and the disgusting Aggies when we watched the game.
So we made it from Herrington Harbour to Belhaven in five days. For us, that’s pretty impressive. Time for a day off, which meant we remained happily tied to the dock and in our pajamas at sunrise this morning. Nice.