Our first real taste of the Chesapeake.

Saying good riddance to Chesapeake City, we finished motoring down the canal and finally entered Chesapeake Bay.  We knew the next day was going to have howling winds so we wanted to stay someplace where we might have something to go see rather than being boat bound.  Initially we decided to go to Dark Head Creek up the Middle River where the Glenn L. Martin Aviation Museum is located, but we changed course en route to save ourselves a long trip up the river (and back).  

Looking through our Waterway Guide and our Skipper Bob anchorage book while Jeff was at the helm, I found a promising looking spot with great protection in all directions up Worton Creek.  Keeping with our new, post-hitting-an-underwater-dike routine, I closely inspected the chart, reviewed the Notice to Mariners online, and looked through Active Captain.  In an abundance of caution I also called one of the three local marinas to make sure that I understood the entrance (the guy I spoke to couldn’t have been nicer).  O.k.  It was a go. 

I was understandably nervous after what happened the last time we made a decision on the fly, but after threading up the skinniest water we’ve ever had (we had less than two feet under the keel – welcome to the Chesapeake!) we dropped the anchor in a beautiful spot. 

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Our view from the anchorage at Worton Creek.

The next day had gale warnings followed by a small craft advisory for another 24 hours, but we never would have known it from where we sat.  The anchorage was protected in all directions by tall trees and while we could hear the wind blowing through them, the actual wind speed in the anchorage was substantially less and the water was calm.  We were understandably a bit nervous after dragging in Chesapeake City, but the holding was excellent and we didn’t budge.  

We enjoyed 2 1/2 days of peace, tranquility, and bright sunshine (but cool temperatures).  There was very little boat traffic given that it was the middle of the week and late in the season, but the few boats that went by were great, puttering slowly until they passed us waving cheerfully. We watched several bald eagles across the way, soaring, harassing the immature ones, and returning repeatedly to the trees.  It was like an episode of Mutual of Omaha’s Wild Kingdom come to life, and it was amazing.  Neither one of us had seen a bald eagle outside of a zoo, so this was very cool.

Unfortunately all good things must come to an end, so we woke up bright and early to head to Annapolis, waving goodbye to Worton Creek until the next time we visit (and there WILL be a next time).  Small craft advisories were scheduled to start by 2:00 p.m. so we motorsailed, wanting to get there as quickly as we could.  

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We saw more freighter traffic going to Annapolis than we did going up the Delaware Bay and through the C&D Canal.  Note the Chesapeake chop.

The trip was uneventful with the exception of watching the winds steadily increase into the high teens as the morning progressed.  With strong wind on the nose and the chop getting more intense, it was “interesting” getting under the Bay Bridge but eventually we were happily pointing starboard towards Annapolis, making for a smoother ride.

Annapolis represented a bit of a milestone for us.  Six years ago, before we had bought Little Bristol, we went to the fall Annapolis Sailboat Show and said “Someday we’ll bring our own boat here.”  And now that’s exactly what we were doing!

We had decided ahead of time that we were going to spring for a mooring ball during our three night stay (if not longer, based on the weather) which was reasonable at $35/day in the main mooring field.  With yet another small craft advisory predicted (will the weather ever cut us some slack?) and lots of errands to run, we knew we’d be more comfortable leaving Pegu Club for the day if we were on a mooring.  

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Across from the Naval Academy in the anchorage.  We could hear reveille.  
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It’s always fun watching the next generation of sailors blast through the mooring field.

First up on the agenda were showers.  Long, hot, wonderful showers.  Aaaahhh!  This was followed by necessities like grocery shopping, picking up mail at the UPS Store, picking up prescriptions at CVS, etc.  It was a very productive stay, but it wasn’t all chores.  We also made sure to have some fun.

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Mmmmm.  Crabcakes at Chick & Ruth’s.  I had been looking forward to this since last fall’s boat show!  Jeff enjoyed a few bites – too much sodium for him to have his own.

Navy football was playing Houston on Saturday and the grocery store was near the football stadium.  Apparently the midshipmen all march from the Naval Academy grounds to the stadium, so we timed our trip to watch them go by.  That way we were also able to see the flyover after the National Anthem, which was very cool. 

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An afternoon “off” for the midshipmen.  Mandatory fun for those who don’t like football.

We also spent some time visiting the Naval Academy itself and saw the noon formation which was fun.  I wanted to spend some more time there but the weather was starting to turn so we headed back to the boat knowing that we would have more time in a future visit.

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Noon formation.  All of this to get lunch!
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Halloween spirit from one of the companies at the Academy.

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Speaking of the weather, we were very glad we picked up a mooring during our stay.  We had small craft advisories more often than not, and one night around 11:30 p.m. we were startled awake by the largest gust we had ever felt.  The entire boat heeled over, and Jeff was concerned about our holding on the mooring.  I was just glad that we weren’t at anchor!  We found out the next day from our friends on SV Bentana that what we had felt was a gust of 60 knots (that’s 69 mph for landlubbers).

It was not a great night.  It was very windy, Jeff couldn’t relax, and his stress started rubbing off on me.  He spent part of the night looking at RV’s for sale online, and we both worried that maybe we had left for this trip a bit too soon after his congestive heart failure diagnosis. The past few weeks had been very stressful between our overnight passage, hitting the damn underwater dike, dragging in Chesapeake City, and the never-ending small craft advisories.  The fun-to-suck ratio was definitely out of whack.  But….

The sun came up as it always does, the wind died down (for awhile), and a few days later we enjoyed an extremely pleasant motorsail down to Solomons, Maryland.  There’s nothing like a nice day on the water to help your worries fade away.  By the time we dropped the anchor in Solomons we were both feeling much better.  Hopefully this is a sign that the fun-to-suck ratio is starting to improve again!

4 thoughts on “Our first real taste of the Chesapeake.

    1. Thanks, Norman. I sure hope so! We were well tucked away last night and are going to move on tomorrow. We might actually be able to sail instead of motor or motorsail! Fingers crossed! Kimberly

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