Southern Chesapeake Bay

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Maryland State Capital Building, Annapolis, MD

After a blustery sail from Baltimore to Annapolis, we rushed ashore to see the city before sunset, as this would be our only time there.  Although we were only in Annapolis for about two hours, we crammed in a lot.  We saw the state capitol building, which briefly served as the US capital, and might have been more impressive if we hadn’t just been to D.C.  We visited various shops around the city.  My favorite was an amazing spice shop where I bought several wonderful smelling spices and teas.  After we finished touring the city we scouted out the nearest café with free wifi.

Isaac and I were just setting up our laptops when the guy next to us barked, “You think you can just set up your office in here?” Bewildered, Isaac calculatingly responded, “Yes, I believe we’ve been told it’s ok.”  The guy was pulling our leg, as apparently he was a regular and used the place as an office himself.  He asked us about ourselves and we were shortly joined by a young friend of his, and they both started asking all about us and our sailing voyage.  We would have chatted longer, but it was getting dark, and we needed to be getting back.

Another blustery sail brought us to Solomons, MD.  We seemed to be having a lot of these.  There were gusts up to 30 knots and the boat was heeling up to 20 degrees.  But this would be our last sail for several days, while we waited for a shipment of boat parts to arrive.

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A picturesque view from the roadside in Solomons

Isaac and I spent an afternoon exploring downtown Solomons. There were antique shops and restaurants and little else.  However, there was one very good antique shop that said on the sign “antiques, eclectica, and eccentricities.”  And there certainly were a lot of eccentricities.  Taxidermied animals, rocks and minerals, WWII Nazi paraphernalia, African tribal masks, old fencing equipment, ect., and all of it curated and labeled with tags describing the item and its origin.  It seemed like the sort of shop where you might accidentally purchase a cursed or bewitched item.  So we didn’t buy anything.

The other notable place was the visitor’s center for a marine biology research lab that was part of the University of Maryland. The person working there was very friendly and we chatted for a bit.  He was the janitor of the institute, but also occasionally worked the visitor’s center, and while he had an incomplete understanding of the research done there, had great admiration and respect for the work.

After nearly a week in Solomons, we continued down the bay.  It had been quite cold, and we made use of our little woodstove in the main saloon every evening.  The first thing we’d do after anchoring was start a fire in that little soapstone stove, which wouldn’t really put out that much heat until we were all just about ready for bed.

A small portion of the massive Navy base in Norfolk

A small portion of the massive Navy base in Norfolk, the world’s largest naval station

After two day’s sail hopping down the Chesapeake Bay, we made it to Norfolk, VA, our last stop before the Caribbean.  We were all enjoying a leisurely afternoon ashore, using wifi at a local marina when all of a sudden Dad announced we needed to be ready to head offshore either that night or the next morning, first thing.  We quickly jumped into action, and divided tasks.  Isaac and Molly were assigned laundry duty; Scott, Mom, and I caught a cab to the grocery store for final provisioning; while Dad was glued to his computer monitoring the weather. Mom, Scott, and I bought two full shopping cart loads of foodstuffs, including a small turkey we’d measured to ensure it would fit in our tiny oven and all the fixins for a thanksgiving dinner.

Scott working on the seizing of the ring for the flag on the man overboard pole

Scott using the bosun’s chair to work on the seizing of the ring for the flag on the man overboard pole

After the tasks ashore were completed we set about securing everything above and below deck, as we expected a couple of rough days as we went through the gulf stream.  Meanwhile, next to Koukla a tugboat was maneuvering a barge right ahead of us.  We eyed it as it gradually got closer and closer and closer until we started shouting to them.  It was getting so close I went up on the bowsprit, thinking I may have to fend us off.  It took several of us shouting at the top of our lungs till we were hoarse to get their attention over the din of their dredging equipment.  In the meantime, we frantically pulled up our anchor, as the tugboat captain was clearly inept, and we were not about to let them crash into us.  We finally got a hold of them on the radio, when my dad said, “what are you doing, you may have dropped your equipment on our anchor!” to which the tugboat replied, “Nah, we’re about 70 ft away from your anchor.”  Seventy feet!  He clearly didn’t know anything about anchoring, as we easily could have had that much chain out.  We finally got the anchor up, motored around until the crazy tugboat had settled and the danger of collision had passed, and re-anchored.  I guess this was a sign that it was time to be moving on.

A peaceful evening in Solomons

A peaceful evening in Solomons

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