We made a short trip from Annapolis and arrived in Rock Hall, MD around 2PM on May 26th from Annapolis.
We docked at Waterman’s Crab House on their dock. There was no water or power, but for $44/night, we were fine!
After cleaning up the boat, we took a walk around Rock Hall. it was about a mile from the marina to the other side of Rock Hall where there was a tiny waterman’s museum — which was closed, so we could only look inside the windows. There were a couple of historical markers we saw during our walk around in Rock Hall — besides this, there wasn’t much to see. We re-provisioned a few items and headed back to Waterman’s Crab House for dinner, drinks and called it an early night when the rain came.
The following day, Thursday May 27th, we headed north (38 miles) up the bay and up the Sassafras River to Skipjack Marina in Georgetown where we arrived round noon. After fueling up (diesel was $2.78/gal) and a pump out, we headed off to check out the resort amenities.
It was a warm day — upper 70’s — to enjoy some time at the pool and plan out our next few days. It was a huge pool that we pretty much had to ourselves — and great views of the Sassafras River.
It looked like the next couple days were going to be rainy and cool, so we decided to extend our stay in the Sassafras for 2 more days — waiting for a good weather window as we continue our trip on to Cape May New Jersey and running outside on the ocean around the New Jersey coast to New York Harbor. We woke up Friday morning to 50 degree weather and overcast so did some work on the boat that day and took a walk to lunch — saw a couple historic markers on our way.
Saturday was another rainy, cold day — we awoke to 48 degrees. Pretty much stayed in on the boat this day, but ventured out to go to Saturday night church. It was 2 miles to church and good thing we brought umbrellas, as it was quite a wet walk. St Dennis Church was a historic stone structure.
On the walk back to the boat, we were able to stop at historic Kitty Knight House restaurant for crab nachos, dinner and brownie with mint chocolate chip ice cream. We were wet from our knees down by the time we got back to the boat — what an adventure!
On our trip to Annapolis, we saw the largest number of sailing and motor vessels since starting our trip. Must have seen 100+ as we went into Annapolis – even though it was a Sunday, we chalked it up to being the beginning of the weekend before Memorial week and the week before Midshipmen graduation at the Naval Academy.
As it turned out, our boat was only parked a couple blocks away from the Naval Academy entrance, unfortunately the academy was closed to the public still from CoVID.
We parked the boat on Ego Alley. A narrow waterway that dead-ended in 200 yards, and boats paraded there all day back and forth down the narrow alley. One interesting boat was powered by a stepper on the back and steered with a paddle board paddle in front.
At the end of Ego Alley was a commemorative statue of Alex Haley who wrote the book Roots. This location commemorated the arrival of Kunta Kinte and other slaves on these shores into bondage.
We stopped at Pussers to get a picture of our boat just across Ego Alley – they were too busy there to serve us… Picture of the Maryland State Capital from the main shopping street in Annapolis. Also a great sunset shot behind the capital from our boat parked at the Annapolis city docks.
Walking to breakfast at Chick and Ruth’s – a popular spot for Midshipmen families as well during graduation week.
We watched a fabulous Blue Angel’s air show from our boat on Tuesday, the day before their real show for Midshipmen graduation week.
We decided to go on a pub crawl complete with oysters, beer, smashed peas, lamb balls, “new Fashioned’ drink, etc. We started at O’Brian’s and went to McGarveys Saloon, the Middleton Tavern, and Galway Bay. It was fun walking around all the old town buildings.
The plan was to stay at Oxford, MD before stopping at St. Michaels, however there was no slips in Oxford as one of the marinas had recently gone bankrupt so all their current slip- holders relocated to the other marinas in that bay making no vacancy’s. The plan changed to continuing on to St. Michaels and renting a car to visit Oxford and Easton, MD. This was a good plan, except when we called Easton to arrange the car rental, there were no cars to rent. Apparently, CoVID caused issues with rental agencies getting new cars due to automotive chips manufacturing being way behind for automakers.
We arrived at St. Michaels around 5PM on Thursday, May 20th. This is an exceedingly small harbor, but one of the most popular stops on the Chesapeake Bay. It was an extremely hot day, so after getting tied up we ventured into the on-site restaurant called Foxy’s for happy hour snacks and drinks.
After cooling off, the evening was spent walking to learn our way around St. Michaels, visit a few quaint shops and identify where the church is for Saturday night. We found a nature trail, some free libraries and ended up at the Eastern Shore Brewery. There was a winery, but not open for wine-tasting.
Most interesting story about St. Michaels was the towns trickery around the War of 1812 when the British Fleet was heading north on the Chesapeake Bay and decided they would bombard St. Michaels as they passed by. Somehow the town found out about their plan, enforced a blackout in town and hung lanterns in the trees outside of town. In the early morning of August 10th, 1813, the British shelled the lanterns in the trees, overshooting the town. Only one home was struck, and it is still known as the cannonball house today.
The next day, we decided to visit the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum and Hooper Straight Lighthouse. This was an outdoor museum with several buildings (each with themed exhibits) and a lighthouse = a lot to see!!
Exhibits included the Bay’s history of oyster harvesting and crabbing.
There were several things to look at in the Maryland Crab meat company which showcased the crabbing industry in Maryland. Automatic crab picker pictured here didn’t work very well. More common was the humans who were very fast at crab picking.
Fishing Shanties were used by watermen when they followed the shad and haddock as these fish made their spring run up the bay – the watermen would tow a floating house behind them and set it up on shore as they fished and moved far from home fishing for a week or so. The origins of a “Shanty Town”.
The Hooper Straight lighthouse was just like the Drum Point lighthouse we saw at Solomon’s the day before. One interesting bottle in the medicine cabinet on this one had a quote from William Greenwich – assistant Keeper of Hooper Straight lighthouse “Even two miles offshore, the mosquitos ate you up”. They had malaria medicine and a tonic for repelling mosquitos. Another notable quote from the Keeper of the Holland Island Light, 1950: “Every morning we were required to ascend the spiral staircase to the Fresnel tower to pull down the opaque shades. This prevented the magnifying properties of the lenses from causing a fire and burning the wooden structure. The shades were raised at dusk before the lamp was lit” –
We spent several hours at the maritime museum and it was a warm great day to do this. We did some more walking around town. Mary found the Farmers Market in St Michaels and we got some fresh eggs and tomatoes. This was also a great day for crab cake sandwich at the Carpenter Street Saloon and the pool at St. Michael’s Marina.
Our last night in St. Michaels, we went to the Crab Claw for dinner just across from our boat and and tried the Smith Island 9 layer cake.
We got up the next morning for a 3 mile run on the nature trail before setting sail for Annapolis.
We got an early morning departure from Alexandria VA (May 14th) complete with a beautiful sunrise.
A smooth ride down the Potomac, included views of Mt Vernon and Marine Base Quantico where both Marine Officers and FBI Agents are trained.
Spending time at the Boathouse Marina May 15th and 16th while we wait for our dingy engine to get a replacement water pump.
Really neat Dune Buggy at Colonial Beach
Monday May 17th we made our way to historic St Mary’s City, Maryland, home of St Mary’s College. We parked the boat at the St. Mary’s College docks — school was out and not starting for another week, so dockmaster said we could tie-up there for the day while we investigate Historic St. Mary’s City.
Interesting history of the Catholic Church in Maryland and its conflict with the Church of England. The chapel was built with classical England ideas. Later, after the Church of England was declared as the official State church of Maryland, the Catholic Church was closed and the key taken away. Catholics were not allowed a church, so many Catholics added on a “Mass Room” to their homes where they continued to worship in smaller groups.
Later the same day we motored ~5 miles to Dennis Point Marina & Campground for our overnight dockage. Great day for cruising the Potomac and St Mary’s River, but not our best day docking the boat as we were backing into the slip one of the lines fell overboard and got wrapped in the prop. Larry spent ~1.5 hours in scuba gear untangling and cutting the rope. Fish bites and fried oysters dinner at this marina were awesome!!
Departing Dennis Point, MD on the morning of May 18th we headed back out into the Chesapeake Bay in route to Solomons, Maryland. After cleaning up a bit, we took a dinghy ride to have dinner and the first Maryland Crab Cake!
May 19th at Solomons, we took the dingy over to a maritime museum and then walked to the Lighthouse for a crab tower appetizer and Grapefruit Crush, MaiTai and Peach Crown at the Tiki Bar.
On May 20th, we arose early for a 3 mile run in the morning and then motored to St. Michaels, Maryland.
On Thursday morning (May 13th) Mary walked a few blocks from the Capital Yacht Club marina in DC to St Dominic’s Church to attend mass for the Ascension of the Lord while Larry did a bit of Eastman work (he’s still a part-timer).
By 11am we cast off our lines and headed back down river the short 5 mile distance to Alexandria City Marina which is adjacent to Old Town Alexandria. What a wonderful town with lots to see and do. Adjacent to the dock was the Torpedo Factory Art Center — what used to be a Torpedo manufacturing facility that has been repurposed into an Art & History venue with several restaurants.
We walked by Washington’s Townhouse and toured Gadsby’s Tavern museum just down the street. The Gadsby’s Tavern is where George Washington and Jefferson frequented after the American Revolution in 1783. They likely talked about the new nation and how to put in place liberty, equality and justice among other things.
After touring and re-provisioning, we made it back to the boat for an excellent ‘boat cooked’ scallop dinner with roasted vegetables, cilantro rice, hors d’oeuvres and wine.
Tuesday May 11th we departed Colonial Beach, VA on a perfect weather day for a ~50 mile cruise up the Potomac River to Belmont Bay on the Occoquan River, VA.
Conditions were ideal for the journey with no wind or waves to speak of. The only delay in our travel was a slow down for some bridge construction work. When we arrived we filled up the tanks with diesel — this is when we found out about the Colonial Pipeline that was hacked and the Dockmaster suggested we sip our fuel until this issue gets calmed down. We walked 1.7 miles to a Mexican Restaurant for dinner.
The following day (Wednesday, May 12th) was equally great for cruising the final leg to Washington DC with a stop at Mount Vernon along the way. The distance traveled was just over 30 miles.
Mount Vernon was wonderful…..so many historical sights to see. Mt Vernon is the 500-acre estate of George Washington and his family – with only about 50 acres open to the public. We had to dock ourselves at their Wharf then sign some paperwork to dock there. We got tickets to tour the outside areas, visitor center, education center and the Mansion furnished with objects dating back to 1740’s.
According to his will, Washington was entombed in a family crypt he had built at the estate (The Old Vault) – built in 1799. In his will, he also requested that a new larger tomb be built – this was done in 1831. George and Martha Washington remains are now in the new tomb and other family members (~54 people) are interred in an inner vault — all were moved from the old tomb located on the property.
The education center was full of history, George as a colonel, his hand in setting up the United States Government, and then as the first sworn president. Some pictures are below.
We arrive at the Capital Yacht Club in Washington DC around 4pm where we were greeted by the marina staff which were very helpful getting us squared away so that we could take in a 4 mile walking tour of the National Mall.
Our last day at Tides Inn was spectacular and filled with fun events including golf and tennis. Mary put up a good challenge, but Larry still won both rounds.
Borrowed the courtesy bikes again to ride to prime rib dinner at “The Office” just in town.
There was fog on the water early morning on May 7th when we departed Tides Inn for the 54 mile cruise north to Windmill Point, Maryland.
We headed south down the Rappahannock River into the Chesapeake Bay, then north up to the mouth of the Potomac River near the VA\MA state line where we turned northeast up the Potomac.
The cruise up the bay was easy with excellent weather and super calm seas. This was the point in the Chesapeake where there were hazard warnings about moving in bad weather — so we couldn’t’ have picked a better day. Upon entering the Potomac River we did encounter an increasing number of crab pots and watermen tending their pots. There were some Deadrise boats at the marina, and we got to see one fisherman taking his Crab catch for the day off the dock.
Point Lookout Marina is an average sized marina tucked in a small cove just off the river. This marina was going through a bankruptcy, so there were several amenities not available. This was fine with us, as our newly ordered ‘replacement icerette’ had delivered here and this allowed us time to get it installed. We once again have the luxury of making over 20 lbs of ice per day. Later that evening and overnight we did encounter some gale force winds but we were tied securely to the dock allowing us a good nights rest.
We departed Point Lookout (Saint Inigoes MA) around 8am Saturday the morning of May 8th in route to Colonial Beach, VA. This ~36 mile journey would take us due east up the Potomac and across to the Virginia side. It was a fairly rough day to be on the water with 10-15 mph winds and 2-3 foot waves occasionally splashing over the railing and onto the front canopy.
After a fairly bumpy ride we finally arrived at Monroe Bay which is a well protected harbor. We had arranged to stay the The Boathouse Marina where the dockhands were waiting to meet us.
We can’t say enough about the fine folks at The Boathouse Marina. Nathan, Judy and the crew were all very helpful and welcoming. The facility is a working boatyard with several liveaboard as well as transit slips, all of which were nearly filled to capacity. Owner Bill Bowman suggested we tie up just behind his 65′ foot yacht – Cherish. Bill, a collector of Boats (he has ~30) and cars is an excellent harbor host with an extensive knowledge of the area.
By mid-day we had finished our laundry using the free facilities at the marina and proceeded to take advantage of the courtesy golf cart to tour the town and get a few provisions. This is truely a Golf Cart community, where cars share the road with golf carts on all roads 25 MPH or less. They have a golf cart parade in October annually, which may explain this Police Cart…
Bill had recommended several restaurants within walking distance but since we had use of the cart we toured most of the small (1 stop light town). After a short stop at the Colonial Beach Brewing we walked over to Suki the Cuisine for sushi and Thai food. Coincidentally Bill Bowman arrived shortly after us so he joined us for dinner and stories.
On Mothers Day Sunday May 9th we took the golf cart to attend church services at St. Elizabeth of Hungry Roman Catholic Church, the second oldest Catholic church in the Northern Neck of Virginia. Facemasks were optional at this church and 99% of the congregation opted to ‘just be normal’. All the mom’s were given Mother’s Day flowers.
After church we went to Lenny’s for breakfast where all the mom’s were given Mother’s Day cheesecake dessert. If you’re in Colonial Beach you don’t want to miss this place for breakfast. Immediately after breakfast we headed to Walgreen’s so Mary could get her 2nd/last COVID shot. Long wait so Larry went to NAPA and Food Lion. On the way back to the marina we found a humorous farmer selling produce which Mary could not pass up.
After unloading all our groceries and we changing into cooler clothing for an ~3-mile hike to James Monroe’s birthplace. On the way we stumbled upon a treasure in the form of an antique store (Compulsive Cravings Antiques and Gifts) where Mary found several interesting items. Note: Larry does not recommend walking the busy highway from the edge of town.
One the way back from Monroe’s birthplace we had to stop once again at Colonial Beach Brewing before hiking along the beach to see Alexander Graham Bell’s vacation home located on the banks of the Potomac. The residence is now privately owned but in very nice condition as are most of the homes along the boardwalk.
Later that evening we joined up with some Looper friends (Simon and Linda aboard Indigo Seas) for a nice dinner of ‘shrimp and grits’ at Dockside Restaurant & Tiki Bar. We took the courtesy golf cart to ride to dinner which included live music and a lively crowd.
Today we had planned to cruise up to Belmont Bay Harbor but Mary was not feeling especially well and there was a ‘small craft advisory’ in effect until 6pm due to high winds on the Potomac. So we’ll continue our journey toward Washington DC tomorrow as the weather continues to improve. In the meantime, Larry had time to install a new radio on the boat and work on the speakers and sound system on the helm.
We departed sunny Florida on the afternoon of Thursday April 29th with additional crew: our great friends and Tara Golf & Country Club neighbors: Shannon Bailey Barnes (TN cousin), Bob and Jane O’Tain. Our midday direct flight from Clearwater St. Petersburg PIE airport to Norfolk was quick and easy. We rented a truck for a day to aid in logistics of provisioning and take us to local restaurants. Living the Dream was already out of covered storage where she had been for ~7 months. The fine folks at the Atlantic Yacht Basin had taken good care of her over the winter, completed their de-winterizing commissioning and repositioned her to an outdoor basin prior to our arrival.
Once we had settled onboard the crew headed out to Vino’s for a fine local Italian meal.
Friday April 30th was ‘boating cleaning day’, the crew was hard at work all day getting our vessel in ship shape condition for the future voyages up the Chesapeake.
At the end of the day the crew rewarded themselves with an excellent dinner at the Court House Café (known for their Prime Rib). On the short walk to the café, we watched The Great Bridge open for a sailing vessel.
Saturday, May 1st we cast off our lines and proceeded to join the growing line of boats assembled at The Great Bridge awaiting the opening and subsequent ‘Great Bridge Lock’ opening.
……… After successfully clearing the lock we proceed down the Elizabeth River toward Norfolk. This portion of river is highly industrialized with several highway and train bridges, one of which we had to wait for ~45 minutes to open to give us access as it was only 7’ above the water level. We had to run 1 engine due to an overheating issue that later repaired itself. Saw lots of Navy ships, downtown Norfolk and crossed the James River before arriving downtown Hampton for Beer tasting, Pub Crawl, Kentucky Derby at the biker bar.
Sunday, May 2nd was Captain Larry’s Birthday!!! We began the celebration with an early cruise toward Yorktown sailing the windy waters of the lower Chesapeake. We saw several boats as well as a large warship. After Arriving at York River Yacht Haven, and rinsing down the boat, we had a nice lunch at the restaurant there, York River Oyster Company for a “Shell of a Good Time.”
Monday, May 3rd the extra crew had to depart for their return to Florida. Larry drove them to Richmond at noon then returned to spend the afternoon w/Mary planning for the next several days of cruising.
Tuesday, May 4th we headed out for Windmill Point Marina on the Rappahannock River. The day was less windy than previous days and excellent for boating. Upon arrival we found the entry to the marina to be very shallow (~3 ft according to our depth finder) but we didn’t notice any bumps.
May 5th we went to the Tides Inn in Irvington, VA — this resort location has so much to do including courtesy kayaks, paddleboards, bocce ball, pickle ball, tennis, par 3 (chip and putt) golf course, and bikes!
We stayed at Tides Inn Marina 2 days. The first day we borrowed the rental bikes and rode 5.5 miles into town to go to the only Mexican restaurant for margaritas in honor of Cinco de Mayo. On the way back we stopped by Jim Dan Dee Seafood – Crab King and got shrimp, crab cakes, scallops and Salmon for our freezer.
On Tuesday (8/25) we departed the Atlantic Yacht Basin for the short 24.6 mile cruise to Norfolk & Hampton VA. The cruise took us along the Elizabeth River thru the towns of Chesapeake and Portsmouth. This area has an enormous amount of industry along the shoreline, but it’s lifeblood is tied to the US Naval Station and all of the massive shipbuilding in the area between Newport News and Norfolk.
We arrived midday at Old Point Comfort Marina which is adjacent to the Fort Monroe in Hampton VA where we booked a slip for the month of September as we had already made travel plans to visit our kids/grandkids in TN as well as make a quick trip to our Gatlinburg cabin. During our ~30 days in the area we enjoyed visits to Colonial Williamsburg, Yorktown, Virginia Beach, the Virginia Air & Space Center as well as several other local attractions.
We took a quick break to Tennessee to see our two granddaughters get baptized.
Upon returning from TN travels in mid September we took on additional crew consisting of son Michael Bailey, daughter-in-law Sarah and baby Elizabeth (only ~4 months old). Michael and Sarah and Elizabeth were able to visit Colonial Williamsburg and Yorktown during their stay with us. Below pictures are walking around at Waterside Marina in Norfolk, VA and by an outdoor history of the USS Wisconsin located there.
Near the end of the month of September we made yet another trip away from the boat to visit relatives in Las Vegas for a wedding and a short Board of Directors meeting that Larry attends quarterly.
Vegas was very muted due to COVID, but we had an excellent time visiting relatives (including Dora, the cat). You may recall that Dora actually started the Great Loop with us back in Tampa Bay during February where she decided to jump off during the night while docked at a residence in Apollo Beach. We later recovered her, nursed her back to health and flew her out to Las Vegas to live with Mary’s mom Donna. Dora was 4 lbs and in poor health when we recovered her in Apollo Beach, but she’s fully recovered now and weights over 10 lbs.
Our final entry for the 2020 boating season will concluded with these images of the boat in winter storage at the Atlantic Yacht Basin. We’ll be back in late April to restart our Great American Loop adventure.
We pondered the 2 route options to get from Albermarle Sound to Norfolk and settled on the ‘most scenic’ Great Dismal Swamp route. It was an excellent choice but a little spooky due to the shallow drafts and very skinny channel width. It also included 2 locks along the way.
Good news was that we were the only boat headed north that Sunday and we met only one sailboat headed south which was easily passed about midway through.
We did have a few ‘bumps’ along the way from floating stick debris and experienced a ‘high temp alarm’ on our port side engine shortly after entering the canal (so we pretty much ran the entire trip on only the starboard engine).
After the Dismal Swamp, we passed under the Great Bridge on our way to the Atlantic Yacht Basin for the night. On our way to dinner we learned that the Great Bridge is a national historic site where a battle took place in 1775.
We found Vino Italian Bistro Sunday night — a great little Italian Restaurant and had a 3 course meal — Salmon and Veal Parmesian, WOW!! Too much food — we had leftovers for Monday.
On Monday (8/24) we had Atlantic Yacht Basin take a look at the port engine to see what the issue was with overheating. We ended up pulling the boat out of the water to find and fix the problem, and while it was out also to fix the bow-thruster, touch-up some bottom paint and check zincs.
We learned quite a bit during this:
1) They fixed the bow-thruster, but this could have been done while in the water we were told — good to know for next time…
2) They said there was an oyster shell in the port engine water intake, and this was causing reduced water flow causing the heating problem. When we left AYB the next day however, the engine heating problem resurfaced. They said we could come back and they would take another look at it, however we were already underway to Norfolk area — Fort Monroe, VA. Still need to figure out what is happening with the motor overheating.
3) When back in the water, the air conditioner stopped working and the pump overheated. They said the pump may have needed to be re-primed after the haul-out. We learned this after the pump was not working anymore, so ordered a replacement pump, and went to Walmart to get 3 more fans to make the next few 90 degree days more bearable.