Thursday, July 26, 2012

Comings and Goings

Moonshadow is in Annapolis mainly because we needed to be somewhere near an airport in July so Deb could fly back to San Diego to see family and friends.

We picked Baltimore and booked her flights in and out of there while we were way down south and didn't realize that move committed us to living in the heat this area experiences in July!  Whew it gets hot here.  Today, for example, it's 92 degrees, but the heat index is 101.

John's high school buddy Jamie Cooper flew out to join Moonshadow while Deb was back west.  While he was here, we sailed back to San Domingo Creek (near St. Michaels).

On the way there, we received a call from Alli Bell and Trisha McCanna who were in Annapolis looking for Moonshadow.  We arranged to meet at the dinghy pier at the end of Chew Avenue in St. Michaels.

We had some rum drinks and a good laugh at other cruisers probable view of Moonshadow's arrival to the anchorage:

Two sixty year old men steam up the creek and drop the hook; then one hops into the dinghy and returns 10 minutes later with two thirty year old chicks!

The next day, Jamie and I cruised Moonshadow about 12 miles to Oxford, Maryland, to visit this small town with 5 boatyards (!). While there, we walked around the town and enjoyed the best Ice Cream Cones in the World.

One of the boatyards in Oxford, Cutts & Case, specializes in wood boat restoration and has a bit of a museum of old boats and these fascinating old gasoline marine engines.

Back aboard Moonshadow, we had another visitor, but this was no saucy chick looking for a good time with a couple of sixty-year-olds...

...she just cruised up at about 5 knots, came about alongside Moonshadow and started to demand food.

We gave her some and soon she was eating out of the Captain's hand.

We left Oxford, for an overnight at Dun Cove on Tilghman Island.  Tilghman Island sits right in the way between Oxford, up the Choptank River, and Annapolis, across the Chesapeake, where we needed to be to pick up our son Ryan the next day.

Dun Cove is a couple of miles north of the town of Tilghman and Knapp Narrows, which provides a channel across the island, saving about ten miles for anybody headed to Annapolis with a boat that draws less than Moonshadow (like 5 feet or less - we draw six ).  The cove was beautiful with dozens of Osprey fishing from the 65' pine trees on one side of Moonshadow and rolling farm land with acres of corn fields on the other.

While there, Jamie and John took a ten mile dinghy ride looking for the town of Tilghman about two miles away.

Yes, you read that right.  We somehow motored right past the entrance to Knapp Narrows where the guide book talks about some of the few remaining active skipjack fishing sloops.  "It must be just around that point", we agreed, neither of us looked over our shoulder to see the channel markers we'd just past by.  That point was practically the end of the island so we turned around and backtracked, finally entering Knapp Narrows and motored through the middle of town... It all wouldn't have been so bad except for the thoroughly wet butts and the whole ego thing.  (Farmer Flag!)

The next day was a busy day.  We had to make the 1300 hrs opening of the Spa Creek Bridge in Annapolis (we missed it by 5 minutes); moor Moonshadow once again at Annapolis Yacht Club; rent a car so we'd be ready to pick up Ryan the next morning; find a good restaurant... I'm telling you: we were busy!

The next day, our son Ryan joined Moonshadow's first official stag cruise.

Immediately after picking Ryan up at the airport, we found a waterfront table at Pusser's in downtown Annapolis and ordered Painkillers.

After that, things were kind of hazy, but the next day we did have a great sail with Ryan driving Moonshadow with her new Spectra Genoa at 9 knots up the Chesapeake to the Chester River for dinner and an overnight.

Ryan, Jamie and John toured Chestertown on foot and shopped at the Saturday Farmer's Market, picking up some sweet corn, fresh veggies and gifts for the folks back home.

As a stopover on the way to Annapolis where Jamie had to catch his flight home, we stopped in a really, really pretty cove on the Chester River, called Wright's Neck.  We anchored near a raft-up of twenty or so sailboats arranged in a circle with sterns to the center.  At night their anchor lights made a bizarre constellation low on the horizon.

The wind had gone completely still and since we couldn't see any jellyfish, including the one that stung Ryan on his foot, we all jumped in for a swim.

The next day was a "work day" requiring our motoring back to Annapolis, negotiating the  bridge and dock under the bridge at Annapolis Yacht Club; hiring a rental car; last minute shopping for folks back home; and getting Jamie off to the airport for his evening flight back to San Diego.

Then... (sounds of angels singing) ...Debbie flew back to Moonshadow arriving the next morning!!!  Ryan, Deb and John had a low key day in Annapolis, walkling to lunch, and playing Mexican Train, then it was time for our sixth trip to the airport in Baltimore to get Ryan back to San Diego.

Finally, Deb was sitting right where she belongs, in Moonshadow's salon!  All is right with the world!!

 What to do now...?!!

Washington DC

We spent a day walking around our nation's Capitol, then visited with DC's most coveted dinner date.

No, not him... Alli Bell, of course!

Alli met us at this really awesome spot just two blocks from the white house where everybody wears shorts and flip-flops (if they're cruisers).

One day in DC just isn't enough, so we returned for a second day and spent the whole day touring the Capitol building then sitting in on both the House of Representatives and the Senate galleries.  

We were lucky to witness debates and actual voting, even if the voting was on bills that will never pass and only serve the purpose of getting election candidates to take a stand on issues...but that's politics, and we don't discuss politics here.  But it was pretty cool to see 99 actual living Senators in living color on the floor of the Senate.

Our time in Annapolis has been long enough that we're ready to move on, and in a day or two, that's just what we'll do.  But we accomplished all we hoped for our stay here.  Deb got some time with family and friends, John had guy time with his buddies, and we've made still more improvements to Moonshadow:  All new batteries, a new dodger, picked up our new genoa, made some sail repairs (to the new genoa), and some other minor chores are now behind us.  From here, we head north but how far we haven't decided.  One option is to sail to New York, then take small hops north.  The other is to leapfrog further north to Nantucket or Massachusetts and catch New York and Long Island Sound on the way south.

Stay tuned!

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

On to Annapolis
What 9 knots looks like.  

Moonshadow's easily driven hull leaves very little wake even at her hull speed.  Thanks go to Ed Bulchis, who took the photo from his beautiful Hallberg Rassy "Summer" on the ICW somewhere north of Charleston, South Carolina.


Two things we like about the Chesapeake are the lack of bridges ...and the lighthouses!  What stories they could tell.

I just know there's a story here.

Along our way to Annapolis we anchored in San Domingo Creek which provides the "back door" access to the town of St. Michaels just north of the creek.  Who do you suppose we found anchored there?  Prior Moonshadow owner George and Merima aboard their new to them Mainship 39 trawler, very appropriately named "Sin Velas".  Actually this was no surprise, we'd been corresponding with them and knew exactly where to find them.  

George and Merima were both moved to see good ole Moonshadow steaming up the creek.  As soon as we anchored nearby we discovered it was cocktail hour so the four of us had drinks aboard Moonshadow.  

We talked and laughed in Moonshadow's cockpit until finally someone realized it was after midnight!  The next morning (late) we enjoyed some coffee and more time with G & M, this time aboard Sin Velas, which they intend to cruise south via the ICW to Florida, then load her onto a ship bound for New Zealand.  

We all bade farewell and promised to see each other again.  What a great deal we made buying Moonshadow:  a fantastic boat/home, and great new friends too!

The town of St. Michaels has some history, old buildings, restaurants, delicious seafood, and the biggest pair of ... er, ah, and a figurehead from an old ship.

But for us, the dinghy cruise through the surrounding bays and coves was really a treat.  

 There's a certain harmony between the miles of shoreline, natural wildlife and mankind's careful impact that all seems so right.

We shut off the outboard and drifted for half an hour and just took in the sights and sounds, including a pair of Osprey nervously protecting their nest and these geese keeping a wary eye on us humankind.

But it was really, really, really, really, really hot.  The heat index was 119 degrees, and there wasn't a breath of wind.  In the Cities across the Chesapeake, people actually died from the heatwave.  We would have been enjoying Moonshadow's swim-up-bar, but the bay was full of jellyfish, so we just turned the hose on each other about every 15 minutes.  It was so hot we had to sleep up in the cockpit.  

The next day, we decided to head straight for Annapolis, get some shore power, turn on the Air Conditioner, and start on our fixit list.

We reserved a slip at the Annapolis Yacht Club, and discovered we weren't quite through with those pesky bridges after all!

Sixth Street Bridge in Annapolis is eight feet from Moonshadow's port spreader, and let me tell you... it was no picnic squeezing her into this spot.  

It seems that Moonshadow is now the troll that lives under the bridge.  I think she'd much rather be ticking off the offshore miles than tied up here.

But the good news is this is where the Annapolis Yacht Club's Junior program runs their summer program so it's really fun to watch all the kids just enjoying being around the water.  I think junior sailing programs are the same all over the world.

Moonshadow will be stationed here for a few weeks while we get some needed work done.  Deb will be back in San Diego to visit family and friends while John stays with Moonshadow.  Our son Ryan will spend a week with Moonshadow as will John's buddy Jamie, so the three guys will make an east coast version of the SDYC Stag Cruise.  Should be fun.

Thursday, July 5, 2012


We left our dock at the Hampton Yacht Club near Norfolk to enter the largest estuary in the United States, with twelve large rivers flowing into it, the Chesapeake.  

You know you're in the Chesapeake when the boats start looking like these:

Our first stop was a very small town called Onancock, Virginia, where we joined the town folk for an ice cream social.  This is one of those small towns where everybody knows everybody.  But nobody knew us.  There were lots of old people.  We fit right in.

Onancock sits a few miles up a river in some really beautiful country.

We found a peaceful corner for Moonshadow, dropped the hook, and put up all the flags we have to dress up for the fourth of July.

We met Scott Ripley and Michele Workman aboard their 58' aluminum catamaran motoryacht named Orza. Scott had her built in Bellingham Washington and cruised down the west coast, through the Panama Canal and up to Norfolk.  

Scott brought out his  stainless steel 10 gauge cannon which he let us both fire to celebrate the fourth.

We didn't think there would be any fireworks since the town is so small, but one family had some fireworks they lit on the end of their dock.  Then we heard some booms and turned to see the town had some fireworks going off at the town square.  Finally a nearby  waterfront home very near Moonshadow's anchorage had a private fireworks display complete with aerial skyrockets and the works.  Not to be out done, John fired two of Moonshadow's out of date flares.  This time, no buildings caught fire... but that's another story.  It turned out to be a really memorable 4th of July celebration.  

Happy Birthday Good ole USA!!

Today, we sailed Moonshadow north to Solomans Island, Maryland on the western shore of the Chesapeake.  

Along the way, a ship appeared on the horizon.  It took a long time to figure out which side of Moonshadow this ship would pass.  When we pulled closer it became evident this old relic had no intentions that involved Moonshadow.  

This old wreck sits perfectly upright in 16 feet of water and has been extensively used for bombing practice.

(click images to enlarge)

Here's an aid to navigation you don't see everyday... it reads DANGER BOMBING.

That would be some fireworks on a whole different scale!