Chapter Three  October, 2003


October 1, and out of New York Harbor, bound for Cape May.  With no wind, we ended up motoring all night through almost glassy seas.  Most of the nighttime navigation was done using the Atlantic City casino lights.  Boy!  They really know how to light up the night.

The wind kicked up a bit towards morning, but by that time we were nearly in Cape May, so we just continued to motor.  We had the anchor down by 0830 on the 2nd, and just went to bed to get back some of the sleep we’d missed overnight.  We roused ourselves around noon, and went into the harbor area to look around and do some errands.  We found a laundromat, convenience store, and several chandleries.  We also met up with Chuck and Ann on Fair Winds from Detroit.  We’ll be seeing a lot more of them as time goes on, fortunately.

The overnight forecast was for high winds, so we decided to layover in Cape May for another day, and are we glad we did.  Even in the protected canal, things were a bit rocky and rolly.  But we were safe and secure.  Next day, October 5, we motored out of the canal and into Delaware Bay.  Good SW winds of 20-30 pushed us up the bay at 6-7 knots under the genoa alone.  It doesn’t get much better than this.

But it’s a long way from Cape May to anywhere, and the Delaware Bay is no exception.  As we were motoring along the Chesapeake and Delaware Canal, considering our options for the night, who comes along but Fair Winds?  We end up anchoring alongside them in the small harbor midway through the canal.  There was a band playing oldies in the bar by the side of the harbor, but it didn’t keep us up that night!

Moving into Chesapeake Bay, things looked different immediately.  The Bay is much more rural than the places in New England we had been cruising.  We spent overnights in the Sassafras and Chester Rivers, in quiet anchorages.  Often we were the only boat in sight.

We went up the Chester River as far as Chestertown one day.  What a lovely town; tree-lined streets with historic homes, brick walks, a small college, and very nice people.  We trudged about 2 ½ miles to find a grocery and laundromat (the laundromat at the marina was a victim of Isabel), did the wash and some pretty heavy provisioning, and found there is no bus or taxi service in the town.  We stood there with four bags of laundry and $150 worth of groceries, and no way to get it back to the boat.  Now, we certainly can, and do, walk this far.  But we can’t carry this much stuff forty feet, much less 2 ½ miles.  When I inquired in a shop next to the laundromat, a man brought his truck around to the front of the shopping center and gave us a ride right back to the dock.  What nice people!

From Chestertown, on to Annapolis.  (Oh, yeah.  We did run her aground in the Chester River, but a well-executed kedging drill had us off and going in less than a half hour.)  We found a great place to anchor in Back Creek in 8 feet, and stayed a week.  A week!  Who’d have thought?

Annapolis is fun, no matter what time of year, but Boat Show Week things are really popping.  Saturday, the Seven Seas Cruising Association had a gathering, and we really learned a lot.  The three hundred participants ran the gamut from armchair cruisers to those with several ocean crossings to their credit.  The seminars (especially on Preparing for an off-shore passage, and Cruising the Med) were great, but most interesting was talking to people who are doing just what we’re doing, but have been doing it longer.  We got lots of good pointers on how to get to the Caribbean, where to go, etc.  What’s quite interesting is that no two pieces of advice were the same.  Whatever this person had done was the best way to go, in his opinion, and so on.  But we learned, nonetheless. 

Anchored across Back Creek we found Chuck and Ann on Fair Winds.  It was good to see them, again.  We spent some time one day practicing our marlinspike seamanship together, splicing new anchor lines, snubbers, and docklines.

Sunday, we attended services in the Presbyterian Church in town.  We were treated to a visit from the Men’s Chorus of Dumfries, Scotland who sang at the service.  They were great.

Going through the Boat Show on Friday, we stopped in the booth of the folks who installed our watermaker (Yes, we have our own little desalination plant, right on Seraphim.) to pick up some spare filters.  They said our unit required modification, and they would like to do it (at their expense) immediately.  So, we spent Monday and Tuesday sitting with technicians first tearing apart and then putting back together our watermaker.  We took the opportunity to catch up on e-mails, do the laundry, and provision.  This trip to the grocery was only about 1 ½ miles, and there was a West Marine across the street (we needed an oil change).  BUT this time we were prepared:  At the Boat Show, we came across this nifty little wheeled cart that folds up into a “pancake”.  So, back we trudged with the groceries (it’s always $150!), two gallons of motor oil, AND a refilled propane tank for the stove.  Very nicely, too, if you please.

Facing a forecast for wind gusts up to 50 knots (actual never exceeded 46 knots), we decided to delay leaving for another day, and we’re glad we did.  Then on to Oxford, MD on the Eastern Shore.  What a pretty little town!  One can walk the entire town in an afternoon.  While we walked, we came across a crew making a movie.  A movie!  It’s an “independent” film, so I don’t know that any of us will ever see it.  From Oxford to Solomons Island on the Western Shore.  Entering Solomons, we saw another ketch in the distance, flying a mizzen staysail.  Now you don’t see many of those!  Upon investigation, we discovered Verve, a Shannon 43 out of Portsmouth, New Hampshire with Michael and Heidi aboard.  Verve is only 5 feet longer than Seraphim, but she seems twice the size inside.  We’re still devoted to Seraphim, though.

We decided that Friday night in Solomons was “date night” and went out to dinner.  Well!  For those New Englanders reading this, Sharon wants you to know that the best crab cakes do NOT come from Maine, but from MARYLAND.  Stoney’s Kingfisher has world-class crab cakes, and that’s the truth!  They’re round rather than flat.  Each crab cake is about the size of a baseball, and they’re almost ALL crab; very little stuffing.  Yum!

After watering up (we don’t make water from this stuff in the Chesapeake!), we departed late, but made St. George’s Creek off the St. Mary’s River by dusk.  Ah, Saturday night for cruisers:  a macaroni casserole using up all the odds and ends at the bottom of the fridge, listening to A Prairie Home Companion, going to bed at 8:30.  What could be better?

From St. Mary’s River it was an easy motorsail to Deltaville, and then on to Hampton, Virginia the next day.  Entering Hampton Roads is quite interesting, but easy if you just follow the buoys.  The radio crackles with warnings to keep away from the aircraft carriers and submarines, and Navy ships are everywhere.  We anchored up the Hampton River in front of Hampton University, right in the middle of town.  Everything was close by, and we stayed a few days enjoying the low-70’s temperatures in the middle of October.  And Sharon baked cookies!

Next we start the Intracoastal Waterway.

A Bientot!