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June 29, 2003

Norfolk to Oxford

We used the waiting time for the new refrigeration compressor to arrive and went to see the sights in Norfolk and the surrounding area. We tracked down the Mariners’ Museum in Newport News. It claims to be the largest Maritime Museum in the world and I now believe it. It is very comprehensive and well done. For me, the highlight was seeing the 16 ship models made by August Crabtree. They are the finest I have ever seen and are reputed to be the best in the world. It was a rainy day so it was good to be inside and we made a full day outing of it. Sue had been here as a teenager with her family and remembered the ship sculpture on the pedestal in front of the museum that is in the photo gallery. They have parts of the Civil War Ironclad Monitor that were recently recovered in the Museum in the process of being preserved. On our way out of the Norfolk Harbor, we passed the Navy yard and saw the USS Regan Aircraft carrier being finished and scheduled to be commissioned next month.
Our next stop was Deltaville on the western shore at the mouth of the Rappahannock River. We met several cruising couples that make Deltaville home and wanted to check it out as a possible future spot for ourselves. We got a local realtor Marvin Mason to spend half a day with us and give us the overview. It is a beautiful area and ism is probably inexpensive but has no “town center” and is very remote from anything like museums, concerts, etc. so it probably won’t do for us. The anchorage in Fishing Bay is excellent – well protected and large – and surrounded by very nice homes with great views.
On to Tangier Island on June 22nd where we tied up at Mr. Park’s Marina for $25 for the night including electricity. Mr. Parks himself (age 73) came out to help us dock and greet us. He spent 50 years “on the water” and a crab fisherman and now has his grandson running his boat. We went out to dinner at the local seafood restaurant where I had soft shell crabs (Sue had Chicken!).
The next day we took of up the Tangier Sound for Chrisfield. This is a well-protected harbor and we anchored next to the Coast Guard Station. This is the “Crab capital of the World” so I went berserk and bought a dozen LARGE live soft shells and a dozen frozen! They are really good sautéed in butter and a little beer or white wine – with Old Bay seasoning of course. I hope the rest of them keep so I can enjoy them for several weeks! Chrisfield is in interesting place but seemed economically dead – no people other than the locals. There is a new large marina that had mostly empty slips and a lot of new bulkhead work but with no businesses on it – just old abandoned buildings. It is out of the way and hard to reach either by land or sea, which probably explains the lack of tourists, and pleasure boaters.
We left Chrisfield mid afternoon to get a start on the trip to Solomons on the west side of the Bay. By dinnertime we were at the entrance to the Deal Island harbor, which our guidebook says has a 7-foot deep channel. On the way in we ran aground and then found out from the locals that the channel has silted in and there is a sand bar across it! So much for the $40 cruising guide. We were able to work our way off and anchored off of the channel entrance for the night. It was probably better anyway since there was no wind and we think we had fewer bugs being away from the land.
The trip across to Solomons was uneventful other than flat calm very humid and hazy and HOT! We are beginning to be \believers in the stories of the Chesapeake being windless in summer!
We anchored in Back Creek at Solomons next to a nice marina with a free dinghy dock. Several other boats joined us and three of them rafted up about 100 yards west of us. Later the next day a squall/front came through with winds of 20 knots and the three-boat raft dragged the anchor toward us picking up another boat along the way to make it a 4 boat tangle! I thought they were going to miss us but they caught and pulled up our anchor chain and we started to drag too! I had the engine running and tried to back out of their way but they bumped our port side and bent one of our lifeline stanchions in the process. We then tangled with the 4th boat and his starboard stanchion got bent. Fortunately the wind died out and the boats got untangled before being blown ashore or into the marina docks. Afterwards we all exchanged insurance info etc. and settled down for a calm night! Even when you are securely anchored you are still at the mercy of other boaters who are not so careful.
In Solomons we toured the Calvert Maritime Museum and walked partway through town but the heat go to us and we gave up. Did some provisioning at the local market and left for Cambridge MD the next morning.
Cambridge is an upscale version of Chrisfield with nice Victorian homes and some even older. The town also seems dead although there were more visiting boaters since it is on the Choptank River and this is a popular cruising area. We took advantage of the free public dock and struck up an acquaintance with the couple on “No so Interim”. They are a year from retirement and joining us full time cruisers. We went to dinner with them and sat in our cockpit afterwards and did the “boat talk” thing until almost 11 PM – later for us!
This morning we took a self guided walking tour of Cambridge and then motor/sailed to Oxford where we are now anchored just outside the harbor. We plan to be here for several days and will leave the boat here over the 4th of July weekend while we go back to Haddonfield. Ethan is going to drive down to spend a day with us and then take us back with him for the 4th. I also hope I can have one of the local yards install the new engine mounts that I bought while we are gone.

Posted by Dick at 05:06 PM

June 15, 2003

North to Norfolk

We had a short trip up the ICW to Wrightsville Beach and anchored in a protected spot. That evening a terrific thunder and lightning storm came through about 9 PM. The 35 knot winds were OK but the continuous lightning for an hour was the worst I have ever seen! We got through it OK and the weather turned calm and peaceful as fast as it had come up.
The next day we continued north to another nice anchorage next to the Marine Corp training center at Camp LeJeune, NC. The next day took us to Morehead City, NC and the Spooners Creek Marina where we tucked Omega into a slip while we made the trip to Durham to visit Katherine and Jackie. We had a wonderful visit and made up for a lot of time apart. My trip back to NJ for the Fresh Creek board meeting went well and we returned to Omega on June 9th. After provisioning and turning in our rental car, we moved north just a few miles to downtown Morehead City and the dock at the “Sanitary Seafood” restaurant to link up with friends on “Emilia” whom we met in the Bahamas. After a nice visit with them combined with a side trip to Beaufort NC to see the sights, and a seafood dinner, we headed north again the next day.
This turned into a 10-hour 70-mile day – our longest single day so far – and we ended up anchored at the north end of the Alligator River positioned for the hop across the Albemarle Sound. This turned out to be pleasant sail with a nice SW breeze and we were in Coinjock NC by mid afternoon at the Midway Marina. This place has the reputation of being very friendly and inexpensive and our experience confirmed the reputation. They even have a pool that we enjoyed along with other northbound boaters. Yesterday we made the final let to mile marker “0” in Norfolk and are now anchored next to the Navy Hospital along with many other cruising boats. Today we took a cab to Newport News to go to the Mariner’s Museum. It is the largest maritime museum in the world and is well worth the time and cost to visit. The ship model displays are awesome to say the least and they now have parts of the Civil War ironclad “Monitor” on display. It was recently found where it had sunk and is being recovered by marine archeologists.
On the way here the compressor for our refrigeration system decided to “retire” so a new one is ordered and will be here Tuesday and be installed by a local service company. Boat maintenance never ends! We hope to be ready to start our leisurely exploration of the Chesapeake Bay Wednesday if all goes well. In the mean time, we will do the tourist bit here in the Norfolk area.

Posted by Dick at 10:35 PM