Redwings Round the World

Chesapeake Bay

21 May - 2 June 2001

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Photo - Morning on the Indian River, Virginia, a typical Chesapeake anchorage.  May 25th.  Its our 10th wedding anniversary!  Double digits.

21 May - Norfolk, Virginia

Aaron - Dinghied in to the Waterside Marina right off downtown first thing in the morning and they allowed me to get online for free, put me in in touch with a sail maker, and indicated we could leave our dingy there whenever.  Really helpful especially as we are not, and at 1.25 per foot are not going to be, customers.  The anchorage is fine and not too much current.  Good holding.  Most of the boats that were there last night bugged out early this morning.  Very transient.

Rushed back to the boat, took the main off, and had it in the back of the sail maker's van by 1100.  It will be ready by tomorrow morning.  That's progress.  Spent the rest of the day chasing health insurance, cleaning up the boat, and napping / reading.  Crappy weather.  Heavy rains.  Nice to be here through.

22 May - Norfolk, Virginia

Aaron - Finally got around to doing some real boat work this morning.  Picked up the main (US$250 to fix - ouch), changed all the filters, oil, and engine zinc, and topped up the batteries. Whoa were we low on oil!  Normally we have 5-6 liters in there and I was only able to drain about 3.  All this high-rev running seems to really burn a lot more of everything.

Spent the afternoon in the Nauticus museum which includes exhibits on marine life, naval architecture, navigation, weather, and of course navel history.  I liked it a lot and ran out of time.  I plan to go back tomorrow to tour the Wisconsin - the largest battleship ever built.  After that we hit the mall and a movie - haven't done that yet since we've been stateside.  Norfolk is a good stop as a) its a secure free anchorage, b) its easy to get stuff done around here and c) there is a lot to do within walking distance of the dingy dock.  Strongly recommended.

23 May - Norfolk, Virginia

Aaron - May-Britt and our friends Rasmus and Kersten caught up to us last night and anchored beside us.  They were out when we returned last night, so we dinghied over this morning and chowed down on some of Kersten's yummy breakfast muffins and caught up.

Rasmus and May-Britt Kersten

We hit the town together - I and the May-Britt crew doing the Battleship Wisconsin tour and Colleen doing the mall and manicure tour.  I then headed back to the boat to put the main sail on and finish yesterday's maintenance jobs while Colleen and the May-Britt's spent the afternoon in the Chrysler Museum of Art.  They were happy and surprised to find that Wednesdays are free at the museum. 

I spent the evening at a sports bar indulging my own cultural impulses - watching the Red Sox / Yankee game while Colleen, Rasmus and Kersten went back to the museum for a free jazz concert in the atrium followed by a nice dinner at the museum restaurant. They joined me later and I tried to explain to Rasmus (who is Danish) how the empirically boring game of baseball can be fascinating if you understand the strategy and histories of the teams playing.  Not sure I convinced him.  He liked the re-run however of the 1973 fight between the Yankees and Red Sox in which Graig Nettles trashed Bill Lee's arm....

24 May - Indian River, Virginia

Colleen - Finally we made an exit from Norfolk.  It took a while to navigate out of the busy harbor channel.  We passed two warships that were being piloted in.  

Now that we are ready to sail with the main repaired, there's virtually no wind.  We motored all day with May Britt following us to the Indian River inlet.  Just as well, as our boat is not ready for heavy sailing again after slothful days motoring in calm weather along the ICW.  We had fenders strewn everywhere, not tied on, nothing stored and stashed as it should be.

The photo above shows one of the many "light house" markers in the Chesapeake Bay.  This one marks the Wolfs Trap shoals.  We arrived around 5pm in the anchorage.  We were looking for a restaurant that the guide book referred to where one can tie up for free.  We couldn't seem to locate it, so we went to anchor in a small creek.  Later we were to discover the restaurant had been demolished.

Aaron went off for a nap and I went with the gang from May Britt to venture into town for the supermarket.  We were a bit low on food, they were totally out of food.  Our "nice walk" back ended up being a bit more vigorous than I planned as we trudged 2 miles weighted down with groceries.

We spent the evening over on May-Britt where Rasmus BBQed some steaks.  We brought the cats with us to let them explore a new environment.  They intently sniffed out every corner of May-Britt and ignored the aromas of our steaks. 

25 May - Patuxent River, Maryland

Aaron - We had breakfast on May-Britt and then said our goodbyes and got underway around 0900.  Weather forecast was for 5-10 from the South East.  After yesterday's calm, we expected more of the same and left the dingy in.  But as we made our way out the Indian River and rounded the corner, the wind was already blowing 15 knots on the nose (20 apparent) with choppy waves stacking up over the shoals at the river's mouth.  We hoisted the main as we were heading out and were soon reaching towards the middle of the bay under main alone with the wind gusting 20 and the waves really hammering on the trailing dingy.  Poorly stowed junk sought its own level rather quickly.

Once a bit off shore, we were able to crack off roll out a bit of genoa and enjoyed a fast 7-8 knot romp up the bay with following wind and seas.  Once, we hit 9.5 knots through the water with the wind blowing up to 25.  Nervous glances back at the dingy confirmed it was still there.

As we approached the entrance to the Patuxent River, we passed a large restricted area with "targets" noted on the chart and soon had Navy planes roaring and swooping over and around us in formation.  We found out later that these were the Blue Angels performing for an air show at the Patuxent Naval Air Base.

Finally in the shelter of the river, the waves eased but the wind started gusting 30.  I had heard some serious thunder storm warnings for various counties in Maryland in the forecast, looks like this is one of them.  Ominous clouds blackened the sky up ahead, the darkness often punctuated by streaks of lightening.  Great.  We were able to tuck into a bay and get the main down just before the storm hit.  We had raised our friends Rob and Christine (from Far Niente - they are staying with Rob's father Bob and his wife Betty for a month) on the VHF and Rob and Bob came out to meet us to pilot us in.

As the heavens opened, we followed them up Cuckold Creek and finally tied up in 8 feet of water off the end of their dock.  Wet, wet, wet!  It is great to see Christine and Rob.  We last saw them in Antigua when we celebrated Colleen's birthday on Far Niente.  We had also met Bob before in St. Lucia as he helped sail Far Niente across the Atlantic with Rob.  Bob's wife Betty is the Betty Currie who gained notoriety as President Clinton's personal secretary during the Monica Lewinsky scandal.

As you may or may not know, Betty has adopted Socks, the Clinton's cat.  Manuel and Polly came up to the house to meet the famous cat and, more importantly, play with all of his toys.  Man does he have a lot of toys!  People all over the world continue to send him toys and treats.  Socks was not too impressed with the kittens.  Manny went right up to him and got a bit aggressive, but luckily the 14 pound Socks (official weight - I guessed 18) remained calm and did not respond.  See the photo gallery detailing the cats big adventure at the Former First Cat's house.  Hey it's our 10th wedding anniversary.  Family photo.

26 May - Patuxent River, Maryland

Aaron - Rain, Rain, Rain.  Absolutely torrential.  A leak opened up right over my head at 0400 this morning through the hatch.  Drip, drip, drip.  Chinese water torture.  Too tired to do anything other than put a bowl under it and scrunch up at the foot of the bunk....

The Animal Planet film crew came at 0900 to do a segment on Socks.  Apparently, they have a show coming up on "Celebrity Pets".  The angle is "how is Socks adjusting to life after the White House".   Apparently, the press stories that the Clinton's gave up Socks because he does not get along with First Dog Buddy are not really true.  The real reason is that Bill and Hilary are both allergic to cats and Socks is really Chelsea's cat and as she is now at Stanford, where she can't keep a cat, Betty offered to take Socks since she is a major cat lover.  The crew were at the house all day long and also got in a few shots of the kittens.

Colleen did laundry while I cleaned the bilges and the inside of the boat.  Great to have unlimited fresh water!  In the evening, we went to dinner at some friends of the Currie's and enjoyed first class "Beer Butt Chicken".   

27 May - Patuxent River, Maryland

Aaron - Finally a bit of a break in the weather!  Its only raining about 20% of the time today.  Spent the morning cleaning up the boat and doing laundry, and then headed off to the Navy Air show at the Patuxent Naval Air Base.  Bob is building an ultralight plane and was displaying it alongside finished ultralights.  Loads of people!  Good cheap entertainment I guess.  We poked around numerous military craft and watched them fly around overhead.  The highlight was probably the Stealth Bombers.

The cats had fun running around in the back yard today climbing trees and chasing squirrels.  Be tough to keep them entertained back at sea now.

28 May - Patuxent River, Maryland

Aaron - I cleaned out the bilges this morning and moved around some of our "ballast" - extra ground tackle we keep in the old water tanks under the cabin sole.  We have sort of an ongoing port list problem and I was therefore not surprised to see that the chain had slipped to the port side of the tanks as we often heel that way.  In fact, on inspection, it seems that the tanks extend further to the port side in general so perhaps this has been part of the problem.  I hauled out the chains, cleaned the area out, and stuffed empty milk bottles on the far port side of the water tanks and then laid the chains back so that as much of the weight as possible will be on the starboard side.  Seemed to have helped a bit.  We are constantly trying to keep the boat trimmed properly by keeping the starboard fuel and water tanks more full than the port ones.  A thorough cleaning of the bilge was much needed and hopefully it will smell a bit better going forward when we roll around.  Ever since we dumped 20 gallons of fuel into the boat in St. Lucia the bilges have been a bit smelly.

Later in the morning, Colleen, Christine, Rob, and I piled into the car and headed to Baltimore to take in an Orioles game and check out the city.  Fortunately, the weather cooperated.  We had a fun time at the game watching the Texas Rangers slip by the O's.  Camden Yards is a great ball park and tickets are about 1/2 the cost of those at Fenway.  Pretty good food too I thought.  After the game, we walked from the Yard along the harbor front.  Quiet day (Memorial Day), but looks like a pretty city.

Back at the homestead, where Bob and Betty were taking care of RC and the kittens, it seems like all went reasonably well.  Except Polly went into the neighbor's yard and would not come back nor allow herself to be grabbed.  Betty was worried she would get lost at night, so just before dark, Bob set out a folding crab trap for her and lured her into it with a toy on a string and then pulled it shut.  Gotcha!  They were both asleep on the boat when we got back.  

29 May - Patuxent River, Maryland

Aaron - Gassed the fridge this morning.  We still have a slow leak and the compressor was starting to run a bit hard so I figured it was time to see if I could remember how to use the gauges I bought in Puerto Rico to test it and top up the gas.  It took awhile, but we finally got it.

We then did a moderate shopping run and I bought a fishing license for the Bay.  Six bucks for five days.  Not bad.  Bob gave us a big scary looking day- glo lure that is supposed to be good for Striped Bass.  We'll see.

Spent the afternoon really cleaning the outside of the boat, fenders, dingy, etc.  The waterline of the boat and area where the bow wave wets the hull was dark brown from the ICW.  Apparently, the tannic acid from tree bark in the water creates its dark color and staining qualities.

Cats and humans spent one last evening chowing down a great dinner on land and taking in a VCR movie.  Gotta get moving tomorrow.  We had expected to depart by now, but the company, hot water, hot food, free phone line, and soggy weather kept us here.  Its been a great stop and hopefully we are now pretty re-charged and ready to start pushing North again. 

30 May - Hudson Creek, Maryland

Aaron - One last e-mail download and breakfast with the gang up at the house.  Then we slipped the lines and, waving good bye, putted out into Cuckold Creek and towards the Patuxent River.  Another gray day and there is a bit of bite to the wind.  Blowing 15 from the NW - just the direction we need to go.  Great.  On the way out to the Bay, we stopped for fuel in the Solomon Islands, and then finally nosed back into the Chesapeake.  The morning gray burnt off, but the wind built and we soon had 20-25 right on the nose.

We just motored into it making 4-5 knots.  Not great, and after a few hours, the seas built and we were taking every other one over the deck, and our speed had slowed to 3-4 knots.  Not bad, but not enjoyable.  We got a late start and at this speed, we won't make Annapolis before dark.

After a bit more slogging, we decided to pull into an anchorage off the Choptank River on the Eastern side of the bay about 20 miles North of the Solomon Islands.  It took about an hour to wind our way around the shoals and into the Little Choptank River, but when we finally threaded our way into calm and protected Hudson Creek, we were happy to be able to drop the hook and enjoy a quiet afternoon.  Swans feeding along the shore.  Crabbers passing to and fro in the channel.  The wind is supposed to ease off overnight so we should have a nice trip up to Annapolis tomorrow.  Why bash now?

On the way in, we caught a small bluefish.  I was excited to poach it for dinner, but yeach - soft meat and not too good.  The cats ate what they could and we dumped the rest.  Early to bed as we hope to get moving at 0500 tomorrow if the wind abates as advertised.

31 May - Annapolis, Maryland

Aaron - I woke up at 0500 to the alarm.  The coming day was heralded by a bright red florescent strip in the East.  "Red sky in morning sailors take warning".....?  And just go back to bed?  I think so.  Its still blowing 15 from the NW and its supposed to ease throughout the day, so we'll leave a bit later.

We got going at about 1000.  The other boats in the anchorage (all two of them) had already left.  Wind was down to 10 to 12 knots and, once out on the bay, we were able to make 5-6 knots towards Annapolis now only 30 miles away.  As the day progressed, the wind dropped further as advertised and fell to about 5 knots by the time we were approaching Annapolis, though it remained right on the nose.

As we entered the Severn River, we could see the dome of the US Naval Academy ahead and hundreds of sails in the river.  As we got closer, it became apparent that there were three fleets of small boats racing.  Lots of cruisers and sport fishers coming and going as well.  Leaving the Naval Academy to starboard, we entered the yacht basin to wait for the bridge to open so we could pass into Spa Creek.  This is the first real "yachting center" we have been in since the Caribbean.  Loads of racing boats, cruisers, and liveaboards everywhere.  Cutesy re-gentrified tourist restaurants line the harbor side.

After we passed through the bridge during its 1630 opening, we wound our way up Spa Creek and finally anchored in about 8 feet of water near the end of the creek just across from a small public park and dingy dock.  So pretty here.  Beautiful houses on both sides with docks on the water, ducks all around, lots of trees.  Quiet.  I took the cats ashore for a walk in the park which they enjoyed, though they still get nervous getting in and out of the dingy.

Colleen and I then took a jog into town.  Looks really nice.  Be tough to make this only a one day stop.

1 June - Annapolis, Maryland

Aaron - Another rainy day on the Chesapeake.  We headed into town to make a few calls, and poke around, and spent most of the time dodging in and out of shops and restaurants to keep dry.  We toured the Naval Academy and its (free) museum as well.  Looks like a good place to go to school - especially if you are a sailor!  If you can get in, full tuition and housing free plus a salary and loads of boats for racing.  Only catch is five years of Naval service on graduation.  Really pretty town.  The red brick State House is one of the nicest capital buildings I have ever seen.

After a great (and inexpensive) Mexican Lunch, we started walking out of town towards the mall district to Kinko's to get on-line.  Based on the map we had, it looked like a nice 2-3 mile walk.  It turned out to be about a four mile slog along wet highways with limited sidewalks.  Colleen turned back early, but I pushed on and was soaked and muddy by the time I got there.  Oh well, not much else to do today anyway.  Got on-line and schlepped back to the boat, arriving back at around 1730 soaking wet.

Just as I reached the dock and called out to Colleen to come pick me up, she indicated that Carl McHenry and his wife had just arrived by car and were just now parking nearby.  Carl is the owner of a KP46 and has been following our website for some time.  We have exchanged numerous e-mails about the boat and cruising life and had been trying to arrange a meeting in the upper Chesapeake area (his boat is in Baltimore) over the past few days.  We spoke on the phone this morning and he was going to bring the boat down, but the weather was so crappy they decided to drive instead.

Carl and I went over Redwings stem to stern outside in the drizzle comparing notes while Colleen and his wife chatted below with Colleen passing on the real scoop on the pros and cons of long-term cruising.  It was great to finally meet them and had fun chatting and getting more info on how best to tackle the next leg up to New England.  I was tired and thirsty and chugged a couple of large bottles of apparently-too-well-aged ginger beer on an empty stomach and found myself taken by surprise and virtually under the table by supper.... whoa.  The evening ended rather weirdly.  As I left Redwings with the McHenry's, Polly started mewing like crazy and was straining after us at the rail.  When we were mid-channel, she fell / (jumped?) in and started paddling right towards us and the shore.  The McHenry's quickly jumped out and said their good byes and I turned back towards the moving and mewing white spot on the water.  Luckily I was able to grab her on the first try and flip her into the dingy.  What's up with that?  Very strange.  I guess she really wanted to go ashore after all of the fun they had at the Currie's and in the park yesterday.  I hope this is not the start of a pattern.

2 June - Annapolis, Maryland

Aaron - We had planned to leave this morning, but first needed to confirm with Robbie, a woman we met in Savannah GA on "The Mousehouse" who lives in the Annapolis area, whether or not she and her husband would be coming to visit today to do a radio interview with us.  When we met her in Savannah, she took some videos of us and the cats and was very interested in our story.  She and her husband have a media company and put together radio and video programs and are working on various pieces related to their trip up the ICW.  They seemed pretty tied up when we spoke with her yesterday and did not expect it to happen, but when I called she said "yes, we are coming, I've been up since 6 am printing out your website".  It was another gray day and I was still a bit wiped out from the previous evening so in fact welcomed the idea of staying another day.

The Mousehouse gang was not coming till 1600 so we took the opportunity to dingy around to the next bay where we were told we could tie up our dingy and walk to a supermarket.  In my mind, that meant the supermarket was, like, right there.  But in fact it was over a mile away so we did not buy much as we had to lug it all the way back.

Robby and Richard came by as promised in the afternoon just as the sun came out and it turned into beautiful day.  It was nice to see them again and we "did" our interview with Robby.  I guess it turned out well, though it seemed a bit brief.  They may come up to Maine later in the summer to flesh it out with more audio and video.  It was fun to do and will be nice to have a tape of whatever comes out.

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Copyright 2001 All Rights Reserved by Aaron Henderson and Colleen Duggan