Annapolis to Hampton, VA

By aaron.axvig, 3 November, 2019

We hung out in Annapolis for a few more days after our Washington, D.C. adventure.  One day I took the dinghy way up Weems Creek until the highway bridge.  There I parked it in a sort of dodgy spot and walked about a mile to the Apple Store to get a Lightning->HDMI adapter.  Now we can watch things on TV streamed using the unlimited data plan.  I also stopped at Trader Joe's and got some groceries, including a healthy stock of Anna's favorite salsa.

Louise saw the vet one day to get a checkup and rabies test in preparation for visiting the Bahamas.  We also had a diver come out to clean the propeller.  When we first put the boat in the water we could motor a little over 7 knots.  When we left Miami it was more like 6.5 knots.  By the time we left Maine 5.5 was about the max for motoring, but when sailing we could still get up to 7 knots with a brisk wind.  So I figured that the hull itself was probably not that dirty (and doesn't look that dirty from what we can see around the edges) and after cleaning the propeller we are back up near 6.5 knots when motoring.  So our bottom is somewhat dirty but we will work on that a little once we are in warmer and clearer water.  There are some regulations that prohibit cleaning ablative paint so we couldn't have the diver do the hull cleaning.

On October 29th we motor sailed all day to Solomons, MD.  We got fuel and water on arrival there and then went up a little river and anchored.  It was very quiet and peaceful there.  The next morning when we pulled up the anchor it had a crazy amount of mud stuck to it, with a weird sort of jelly quality.  It was very nasty!  We motor sailed for another day to Dymer Creek.  The first place we tried to anchor didn't hold very well and we knew the next day we were going to sit there while some decent wind blew through so we went further up into the creek and found a spot where our anchor held very well.

It blew about 15 knots throughout the day and we were happy to not be out motoring straight into the wind and waves.  The waves are always choppy and uncomfortable on the Chesapeake Bay.  Then just after midnight a cold front came through with a sudden 90 degree shift in wind direction and gusts up to 38 knots.  The boat was really swinging side to side and then as the wind would hit us on the side we would heel a bunch.  This was exciting and stressful but we had the anchor alarm running on my phone and could see that our anchor was holding in the new direction so we did fine.  After about 30 minutes the front was past and we were able to sleep well.

The wind was still blowing about 15 knots gusting to the low 20s the next morning as we left so we were ready to put in some miles sailing downwind, at least until about noon when it was forecast to die down.  I got a little greedy though and put up the full sail as I knew our downwind course would result in a reasonable apparent wind.  But this made for a little tension as we were exiting Dymer Creek through the sort of winding channel.  We came out OK and then toughed out several hours of rolling back and forth as 2-3 foot waves came mostly from straight behind us.  Anna spent most of that time staying warm and comforting Louise down below.  It was a nice sunny day so even though it was about 50 degrees I stayed warm enough with a few layers on.  As we approached the end of the Chesapeake Bay the wind and waves faded and the last couple hours were a nice smooth motor sail.

In Hampton, VA we anchored in a narrow little spot next to the channel by Hampton University.  Thursday's Child was in the nearby marina preparing for the Salty Dogz rally so we joined them for a rum toast and then supper.

The next day we met up with Joy and Dave who Anna had been talking to for the last day or two.  Anna originally met Joy in Annapolis on our way north and they were excited to have us stay with them for a few days to enjoy their house and the surrounding Newport News area.  So we met them at the Hampton public dock with some laundry and bags packed for a couple nights.  Back at their house I took Louise to the dog park just a few blocks away.  Dave took Anna to Costco to stock up on many provisions and then Anna took Louise to the dog park.  We had Papa Murphy's for supper.

The next day Joy made an excellent breakfast and then went shopping with Anna.  I took Louise to the dog park.  Then I went to the nearby Maritime Museum while Dave and Anna went to the grocery store.  The museum had a crazy collection of stuff.  There were many artifacts from the CSS Virginia and USS Monitor, the first iron-clad ships that fought in the port here (right where we drove our boat!) during the civil war, and a full size replica of the USS Monitor.  Then there was a huge Fresnel lens assembly from a lighthouse, a huge model ship collection with maybe 40 or 50 ship models that were between five and ten feet long, and an Oracle AC72 catamaran from the America's Cup race.  We went to Cook Out for supper and had Joy and Dave's special recipe margaritas later that night.

We returned to the boat around 10:00am the next day and put a few things away and then decided that if we left soon we would be able to make it through the Gilmerton Highway Bridge before it stops opening at 3:30pm for rush hour traffic.  We made it through there by 3:00pm and then arrived at the Deep Creek Lock on the Dismal Swamp Canal in time for its 3:30pm opening.  Louise had fun running around in the lock yard with the operator's dog and we raised the boat about 4 feet.  Then we tied up at the dock just past the lock.  There was one other boat there, Walkabout, and we chatted with them for a few minutes.

The lock operator had invited us to coffee the next morning so we showed up at 8:00am for that and talked about the lock, boating, and everything else until about 11:30am.  Then the lock operator went to open the nearby lift bridge and we were one our way about 15 miles to the Great Dismal Swamp Visitors Center.  The Dismal Swamp Canal is a very straight canal...we only made one turn.  It is short of shallow and is known for the trees along its banks that occasionally fall in and then boats hit them.  Clunks are expected for any boat here and we did about average for this leg, with two great whacks on the keel and two other small bumps.  Walkabout was radioing whenever they hit things so we avoided a couple by having some warning.  Also there is duckweed growing on the surface of the water and as we approached the visitors center it became so thick that it covered the entire the surface in a green layer.  The water is also VERY brown, like even where it splashes out of the engine exhaust it looks very dark brown--it has always looked foamy white there in the past.  Walkabout got the last spot at the visitors center dock so we tied up to them which was a little exciting being the first time we have ever "rafted up".

Tomorrow we will make it to Elizabeth City which is renowned on the ICW for its free docks in town.

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