We are back in Annapolis! We left Dowry Creek Marina in Belhaven, NC, last Friday and over the next 6 days we traveled 290 nautical miles to Annapolis. It really was a good trip and thoroughly enjoyable. After arriving here I looked back in my log books for mileage stats. It took us three months to get here after leaving Michigan last June and we went1,565 nautical miles to get here. We left Annapolis in the middle of October last year, so it took us eight months to get back. In those eight months we traveled a total of 3,273 nautical miles and spent a lot of time in the foreign country of Bahamas. It also means that so far we have gone a total of 4,838 nautical miles on our boat. It will be exciting when we pass our 5,000 mile mark next week!
But onto the trip here to Annapolis from Dowry Creek Marina. We left Dowry Creek Marina last Friday morning, June 14, and went 42.5 miles to an anchorage just past the Alligator River Swing Bridge. It was a pretty relaxed trip, other than the two times we hit bottom with the keel. The first time was not a big deal as I was able to plow through the sand, which must have shoaled in that spot, to deeper water. The second time was a bit more dramatic as the shoaling we hit was enough to swing the boat around about 90 degrees. Thankfully it was soft enough sand that we were able to go through it to water that was deeper, but it’s always a bit unsettling to feel your boat suddenly slow and shift like that.
When we reached the end of the Pungo River (I love the names of some of the rivers around here!) and entered the wider Alligator River we were able to head more north in direction. Because of the west wind we had of 10 – 12 knots, with gusts up to 15 – 16, we were able to put the headsail out and we flew! Boat sped was 8.5 – 8.6 knots, but because we were going against the current we hit speeds of 7.6 – 7.8 SOG (Speed Over Ground).
Chris and Mark, who left Dowry Creek Marina the same time as us (fellow rally-mates with us last fall), made it to the anchorage later that afternoon. Because we probably may not see them again for the rest of the trip we had them over for dinner on our boat. It was a wonderful evening and we know we certainly will miss these guys as both of them are kind, funny and great to spend time with. Fair winds, Mark and Chris!
We parted ways the next morning, Saturday, June 15, as we took off to head up the Virigina Cut and they headed to the Dismal Swamp route to end out the ICW. We also can travel faster than they are able to and so will continue to be ahead of them. All three of us had to cross the Albemarle Sound and it is at that point that we headed a bit east and they headed a bit west.
We intended to stay at an anchorage area north of Coinjock, NC, but since we were making great time we decided to keep going and stop at the Great Bridge Free Docks just before the end of the ICW. We went just over 62 nautical miles that day. Because we had not looked that far ahead the night before in planning the route we didn’t notice the couple of swing bridges we had to wait for (and yes, because of that we missed one by 3 minutes so had to circle for a half an hour until it opened again), but at 4:00 pm we were tied up and set. Being a free dock, with access to their town and restaurants, etc., there was no power or water, but it was a great chance to get off the boat and stretch our legs. Max always appreciates that too! We also learned that this was the site of the first land battle of the American Revolution in Virginia and America’s first victory in the war. Lots of history!
The next morning, Sunday, June 16, we went through the drawbridge, called the Great Bridge, just past where we stayed and entered the Great Bridge Lock about a quarter of a mile up the river. We got through both of them fine and headed to Norfolk, VA, and the end of the ICW. We passed through the bustle and busy-ness of the Norfolk Naval Base area and by 11:15 am we were into the Chesapeake Bay! The wind was still from the south, almost directly from behind us, so we threw out the headsail and motor sailed up the Chesapeake Bay to a wonderful anchorage in Back Creek. This was right off Langley Air Force Bay and the next morning we were treated to a mini air show as fast and loud aircraft both took off and landed right nearby. Amazing planes!
Oh, because I have the best children in the whole world, and because it was Father’s Day we did a Face Time call together that evening with them. Awesome!
Monday, June 17, we didn’t have as far to go, only 36 nautical miles, to our next anchorage in Fishing Bay Harbor, so we had a wonderful morning before finally pulling up the anchor at about 10:00 am. We reached the anchorage area and got fuel at their fuel dock before putting our anchor down about 4:00 pm. We had to weave in between probably 60 or more small sailboats racing in the bay before reaching the fuel dock where we were informed it was Junior’s Week at the local Yacht Club – hence all the racing. That evening we experienced an incredible storm with high winds, lightning, thunder and rain. But our anchor held firm and we ended up sleeping well.
After 60 nautical miles the next day, Tuesday, we put our anchor down in Solomon’s, VA. This is the area we rode out the remnants of Hurricane Michael last fall, and once again it was a great place to anchor. That evening we had even more lightning and rain than the night before, but we rode it out with no problem.
Wednesday, June 19, we made the last push to get to Annapolis. Because we had not intended to stop in Annapolis earlier we had our new anchor remote sent to a friend’s marina just south of Annapolis, so we had to stop there to get it first – thanks Stan and Kathy Brooks for letting us use your marina for our package! That added a few miles to the day but we still made it to Annapolis in plenty of time to make the 3:30 pm drawbridge opening to Spa Creek. At the end of Spa Creek we were able to grab a mooring ball where we will stay for the next four days. We find it is good to stop and take a break every 4 – 6 days from traveling and Annapolis is a great place to do that. We can provision here, take walks along beautiful streets and enjoy the beauty of the area. We even met up with fellow Beneteau 411 owners, Ran and Belinda Fowlkes, who were on a mooring ball nearby. They were the couple who came over to our boat in Hampton, VA, last fall and told us about the water purifier unit I later installed in the galley sink for our drinking water. It has been a game changer for us for drinkable water!
We intend to stay here in Annapolis until probably Monday when we will leave and head up the last part of the Chesapeake and over to Delaware Bay and down to Cape May. We will see about timing from Cape May as the stretch from there to New York is all out on the Atlantic, so we will want to be sure we have a good weather window for that. We will let you know how that goes!