Saturday, July 24, 2010

Washington, D.C. or Bust

Monday, July 12 - Friday, July 16, 2010
We've finally done it - we're on our way to Washington, D.C.! We've been talking about it for two weeks, and we're finally heading up there. Granted, there have been a few obstacles: a) We didn't want to be part of the craziness during July 4th weekend, so we couldn't arrive too early; b) We had to be in front of a TV for the World Cup semi-final; c) Once Holland won the semi-final, we had to be in front of a TV for the final. Knowing it would take us 4-5 days to go from Solomons to DC - all remote anchorages, no place to go ashore - we either had to race up to DC in time for the final, or stay in Solomons until the final was over. Since we've never been good at hurrying to anything, door #2 it was...

Before watching the most yellow cards get handed out in the history of the World Cup final, we spent a leisurely morning at the Calvert Marine Museum. We'd been told that Solomons had a fantastic museum, and we were thoroughly impressed. There were exhibits on maritime history, biology, and paleontology; river otters, turtles, stingrays, and other sea life could be seen in their various tanks; and visitors could climb the stairs to the Drum Point Lighthouse, a 1883 screwpile lighthouse that was moved from its original location near the Patuxent River entrance to the marine museum in 1975. As one of the docents told us, don't be fooled by the museum's size - we were blown away by everything there was to see.

So...2pm, and we were back at the Naughty Gull restaurant and bar to have lunch and watch the World Cup final. How inspiring to see the overhead shot of Amsterdam's Museumplein filled with fans in their orange shirts! And how disappointing to watch the Dutch team get penalty after penalty from dirty plays. By the time one of the Netherlands players put a foot in an opponent's chest, even Rene was rooting for Spain to win. Oh, this case, the best team definitely won. More importantly, we were finally free to begin our journey to Washington, D.C.!

Any of you who know us (or just read our blog) know that we like to take our sweet time going from place to place, and this trip was no exception. We made some good headway on day 1: 35 miles from Solomons to St. George Creek off the St. Mary's River, 6 miles inside the Potomac River. It would've been the perfect anchorage, well protected behind St. George Island, if the winds had been from any direction except the southeast. Well, you know how our luck goes when it comes to wind, and we had swells from the Potomac all night. After a bouncy night with little sleep, we got an early start for our next stop. We debated going to the Wicomico (30 miles away) or even Port Tobacco (45 miles away), but were fighting the current and had winds on the nose. Better yet, NOAA was forecasting thunderstorms by early afternoon. Not wanting to risk getting caught in a squall, we settled for a 20-mile day and found a lovely, protected anchorage in Canoe Neck Creek off St. Clements Bay. Ultimately we would've had time to get to one of the other anchorages, but we certainly wouldn't have had the same protection. At about 7pm that evening, Rene was checking's radar and mentioned that it looked like we'd be getting hit about jinxing us! Within 15 seconds, the winds gusted up to 50mph and put the boat on its side. The rain came down like crazy, we were surrounded by lightning strikes for a couple of hours, and winds howled through the night. There were two other boats in the anchorage with us, and there were times we couldn't even see them through the rain. We all managed to come through without a problem, but we've never seen so much rain in our dinghy. (Note to Stacy's mom: there was even more rain than in Marsh Harbor. :-))

We had planned on a "rest day" on Wednesday, meaning we'd stay in our Tuesday night anchorage for an extra day, give ourselves and the kitties a break from traveling, and get some boat projects done. Believe it or not, we're usually incredibly productive during these breaks. There's just something about dedicating a day to mundane tasks that have been on a to-do list for weeks or months. This time it was all about storage, or more accurately, making better use of the limited storage we have. Last week we tackled the DVDs; this week, CDs. There was also the topside and below, re-organizing cupboards and drawers, plus some much-needed trip planning. Three calls to different DC marinas finally resulted in a slip at James Creek Marina. One problem - no laundry facilities. (Author's note: it ends up being THREE WEEKS between laundry runs. Scary!)

Anyway, we managed to get to Canoe Neck Creek so early on Tuesday that we finished over half of our projects by the end of the day. said it would rain through most of Wednesday morning, and would clear up after that. Perfect...that would allow us to go another 20 miles upriver to the Port Tobacco anchorage, and would give us an easy trip to Mattawoman Creek the following day. know how we keep complaining about the weather gurus? They did it again! We woke up Wednesday morning to the same forecast - rain til noon, then clearing in the afternoon - even though there wasn't a rain cloud anywhere near us. At 11am, we checked the forecast again, and it said to leave NOW, since it would instead be clear til 2:30-ish and then start pouring. Huh??? Rene had just turned on the generator and Stace was about to vacuum (it's been awhile...). Change of plans! We did a quick cabin-prep and hauled up the anchor. We weren't even out of St. Clements Bay before we were questioning our decision. The forecast? 10-knot winds gusting to 20. Reality? 20-knot winds rarely subsiding to 12-15. And the direction? On the nose, of course! The Potomac was covered in whitecaps and we got thoroughly bounced around (think "pukey Tux"). We quickly decided that we'd settle for cutting an hour or two off of our Thursday trip, and anchored near shore in Wicomico Creek. By the way...those thunderstorms that were supposed to hit us after 2:30pm? Never happened.

Thursday we got an early start for the 45-mile trip to Mattawoman Creek, 30 miles south of DC. What a beautiful day! The sun was out, and there wasn't a rain cloud in the sky. Winds were 7-10kts and on the nose again, but we figured we'd be able to sail once we made the first turn...or not. As soon as we rounded the bend, the winds died. For the first time ever, we saw "0.0" wind speed on the chartplotter. Huh??? We reduced RPMs thinking we'd be better off in a moving boat than sitting at anchor, and dropped anchor around 5pm. As we sat melting in the cockpit, all we could think of was the 24-hour air conditioning we'd have over the weekend once we reached James Creek Marina.

Friday morning we got another early start and actually had the current with us. It was incredible - we actually managed to get to the marina in under four hours! We'll stay here at James Creek over the weekend, and will likely anchor out in the Washington Channel for a few extra days of sightseeing. We're really looking forward to our DC visit and will have plenty of pictures to share in the next blog. Cheers!

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