Chesapeake Bay 2012

May 1

I headed to Mayo, MD, for a week cruise on the middle portion of the Bay. I put in at Holiday Hill Marina, a laid back place off off the Rhode River (but a very good marina for trailer sailors). SunShower will stay here three weeks as I plan to sail a week, go home for Katie's graduation from pharmacy school and then Gretchen and I will return for another week of cruising. It was almost five p.m. when I arrived but I easily launched SunShower and was eating dinner at the dock by seven. Struggled with the motor again but finally got it running. I think I just flooded it.

May 2

Late thunderstorms forecast for this afternoon so I decided not to cross the Bay. I sailed out of the Rhode River and headed on a beat north toward the South River. It was a great sail with 10 mph wind and foot and a half waves. Turning off the wind into the South River, it was a reach all the way up to London Town. I docked at the historic house and gardens and took the tour. I too need to get off the boat and walk Gretchen! London Town was a tobacco port in the first half of the 18th century. The house was the home of William Brown and a tavern on the north/south colonial highway next to the ferry landing on the south side of the river. Unfortunately, the State of Maryland lifted the Town's port designation, Mr Brown lost everything and the town fell into obscurity. Today, the restored historic site is an Anna Arundel County Park.

Tonight SunShower is anchored in a cove in Church Creek. It is striking how quiet and pristine this creek is considering it is less than a mile to the busy Route 2 bridge over the South River.

May 3

I thought today would be one for motoring with light winds predicted. However, a breeze out of the SW carried me down the South River to the Thomas Point Lighthouse before it died. I motored for less than a mile when a SE wind filled in and I continued on a broad reach all the way into Spa Creek in Annapolis. The Thomas Point Light is the last of the remaining "screw" type lights working in place on the Bay. The light is literally anchored in place by screwing it into the sea bed. Several other lights of this type have been preserved by museums and have been relocated to their facilities.

Spending the night at Mears Marina, a very nice facility on Back Creek in Eastport. Had a great crab cake for dinner and I'm sitting on the porch, writing this blog and watching the soon to be "super" moon rise in the east over the creek!

May 4

Interesting day....forecast wings 5-10 mph from the south. Left Annapolis at 9:30 a.m. to find a north wind coming down the Bay. So I decided to head for the Eastern Bay. The wind was only about 5 mph so I cranked up the motor and made good time across the Bay. Approaching the Bloody Point Light, the sky darkened and the wind filled in from the west. Shortly thereafter, I got the sail down and 20 mph winds astern plus the motor took me past the light and up into the Eastern Bay with 2-3 foot swells. The storm passed to the west, waves diminished, sail was raised, and I was running for a short while until the wind shifted to the east (say beating) and then to the south for a reach into the Wye River. Started out in fog with less than a mile visibility, and ended with the sun out and a clear blue sky. Anchored in a beautiful spot named Dividing Creek because it almost cuts Wye Island in half. All the land on the creek is the Wye Island Natural Resource Management Area.

May 5

Took my time with coffee and breakfast. The anchorage was just to nice to leave in a rush. Motored out of the Wye and had a pleasant sail crisscrossing the Miles River on my way to Saint Michaels. I hope we have a nice sailing day like today when Gretchen and I get Sally on the Bay in a few weeks! Staying at Higgins Marina tonight; a nice bare bones, low cost boat yard in the center of town. Walking around town ( I think it is just as interesting as Annapolis), I saw a sign for tastings at the Eastern Shore Brewing Company. So, in order to salute Gary, David and Laurie's 60 mile ride on the High Bridge Trail, I decided to partake. Wish I could have ridden with you guys....NOT. The stout was pretty tasty but the ales and pale ale were average. Dinner at the Crab Claw and another stroll around town ended the day. The photo below is the entrance to the Saint Michael's harbor. Looking around the harbor, I don't think it is possible to pack anything else into the space.


May 6

As I was sailing today, I thought, "I missed the super moon last night!" Tonight is clear so I checked moonrise out; a beautiful orange orb rising over the trees. Easy sailing day today, into the wind up the Miles River. SunShower is anchored in Tilghman Creek off the spit of land where Matthew Tilghman ( father of the Maryland revolution) had his estate. The wind has shifted to the SE and is blowing harder than it did all day. Actually more than any time I've been at anchor. But, I'm in a protected cove so the wave action is minimal and the anchor is holding well! I'm thinking of sailing 30 years ago with Garland when we might have weighed anchor and sailed across the Bay at night! The wind is supposed to hold for tomorrow so I should be able to shoot across the Bay to Galesville on a reach.

This afternoon, I walked into Claiborne, a small hamlet that used to be a resort area where summer guests would arrive by ferry. Some of the resort buildings still exist as private residences. Several people have tried in the last few years to revive Maple Hall ( the largest ) as a luxury inn but the recession did them in and the bank currently holds the property. The storybook setting at the Willow Grande never hosted a guest. What a shame. The hamlet actually thrived into the 1950s as a ferry stop but the Bay Bridge eventually took away the ferry business and the landing is now a public boat ramp. Today, it seems like people are buying the old houses and restoring them as vacation homes and rentals. It's a nice area on the water that is only a few miles by car from Saint Michaels.

I finished a Richard Castle novel Heat Wave tonight. I imagined the characters to be just like the ones on the TV show. I wondered how the author imagined them or how I might have if I never saw the show?

May 7

Left Tilghman Creek and headed out of the Eastern Bay on a reach. The winds shifted and I decided to motor (rather than tack) the last two miles to the marker where I could lay off heading to the Bloody Point Light. Crossing the Bay SunShower was cruising at 5-6 mph on a reach in 12-17 mph winds and 2-3 foot trailing waves. Small boat cruising doesn't get any better than today! I checked out the West River approach to Galesville before heading back to the Marina where I'm keeping SunShower. Topped off the day with a 6 mph dead run up the Rhode River. Small craft warnings are posted for tomorrow so I decided to leave a day early and head for home in the morning. The marina owner suggested Mike's Crab House on the South River so I checked it out tonight. Had a good stuffed flounder with a lot of crab stuffing!

May 8

Got a civilized start this morning getting SunShower out of the water, stored in her space and leaving the marina by 10:30. Messed around on the way home stopping at West Marine in Deale, for lunch, and at the Horton Winery in Barboursville. Looking forward to Katie's graduation from pharmacy school this weekend and returning to the Bay with Gretchen next week!

May 16

Gretchen and I left for the Bay mid-morning after a meeting she had at Randolph College. We arrived at Holiday Hill Marina and put SunShower in the water in time for happy hour!

May 17

Awoke and checked the marine forecast to find a small craft advisory in effect until noon. So we decided to drive to London Town so Gretchen could tour the site. After lunch, we headed out and had a great day of sailing around the common mouth of the Rhode and West Rivers and into Galesville. Good start to the trip. Called Sally to wish her a happy birthday. We were sorry she couldn't join us for crab cakes at the Pirates Cove Restaurant this evening.

May 18

Sailed north to Annapolis beating most of the way into a 10 mph breeze. It was a cool, sunny, pleasant day on the water. Got a transient slip at Mears Marina for two nights. Enjoyed an evening of walking around Annapolis and dinner at the Boatyard Bar and Grill in Eastport. SunShower was quite the conversation piece in her slip by the marina office.

May 19

The forecast looked great today (sunny with 10-15 mph NE winds) for our plan to sail up to the Bay Bridge. We headed out about 10 a.m. along with the kids learning to race in their Optis.

Alas, the wind never materialized and we sailed slowly fighting for steerage with the waves from motorboat traffic. Suffice it to say, we never made our destination and headed in about 2 p.m. to enjoy more of the ambiance of Annapolis.

May 19

The morning weather check revealed a small craft advisory in effect today with rain and diminishing winds the next two days so we had to rethink our plans to go to Saint Michaels. Rainy days on a small pocket cruiser are just not fun. The forecast for today was just not that bad (10-15 mph wind with gusts to 20 and one foot waves), so we decided to sail back to the Rhode River. We left Mears Marina about 9 a.m. after enjoying their complimentary weekend breakfast and headed out of the Severn River. It was a super sailing day for SunShower and crew. We scooted past Thomas Point Light doing 5-6 mph with the gps topping 7 mph as we surfed down the 1-2 foot swells pushing us south. We arrived at the Rhode by 11:15 a.m. and had to make a decision. We decided to end our trip after a wonderful sail so we headed back to the marina. We ate lunch, prepared SunShower for travel and were on the road home by mid afternoon. It was great to see Gretchen quite enthused about this spring's trip to the Chesapeake. She literally is talking about places she wants to go next and about taking more time at the tiller. Great days of sailing can create a reaction like hers; not to mention staying at marinas and plenty of time to get her walks in each day! I believe Gretchen is beginning to love the Bay as I do and that is a prospect that is exciting to me.

Taking account of all of my days on the Chesapeake this spring, it was a great trip. I got to spend some time in beautiful anchorages, visited several neat ports, ate some fine crab cakes and had several top notch days of sailing. It is neat to visit the Bay in early May before the heat and crowds descend on it. We'll be back next year, same time but perhaps a different place?


Dr. Katie Alexander

Earning a doctorate degree is not an easy task. It is a long and difficult endeavor, and Katie did it! It was a wonderful weekend for celebration as we gathered in Hillsborough to attend her graduation from the UNC Eshelman School of Pharmacy. Mom and I are very proud of you and what you have accomplished Katie and we know you will have a wonderful, fulfilling career as a pharmacist!

It was great to be with all our family members this weekend; Katie, David and Henry of course, Kelley and Maggie from SC, Sally from Md, and Jim and Linda from Chapel Hill. We began the celebration with lunch at Antonio's, went to the graduation and ended with a picnic at Katie and David's. Saturday was a great day.

Seeing grandchildren is a joy and it was neat to be with Maggie and Henry again. Maggie is growing and developing on schedule. It is hard to believe she was a premie. She is sitting up, rolling over, grasping objects, eating food, and standing up; all new accomplishments since we saw her in early March. Kelley is being a great mom too! Henry is tearing around the neighborhood on his tricycle and scoot. I'm sure he will master a regular bicycle by year's end. Oh, and he is just talking constantly. He is quite the trip narrator when he is in the car. I'm so glad Katie's daily routine eases a bit so she can rest and take care of herself during the last weeks of her pregnancy. We look forward to our new granddaughter arriving in July.

Thanks to all for gathering this weekend and your contribution in making Katie's graduation a wonderful celebration!



Eat local

A couple of years ago we joined Horse and Buggy, a Charlottesville company that delivers locally produced food weekly to a local pick up spot in Lynchburg. We liked the idea of supporting local farmers, and the quality of the food is great. The photo above shows our basic share this week; snap peas, strawberries, green and yellow squash, rhubarb, arugula, asparagus and mint. At first it was just produce ( which is what we get ) but now they have trout, chicken, beef, granola, etc. It's been a great experience and supporting the production of local food is a great cause. I only wish all people had access to this type of food, but alas most of the customers are upper middle class. It is encouraging to read studies that suggest programs like Horse and Buggy could eventually create markets delivering food at lower prices since transportation costs could be eliminated if local producers could meet demands. I think there are signs of progress since the hydroponic salad producers are now supplying Horse and Buggy year round. So they have stepped up to the plate.