The Chesapeake Giveth, and the Chesapeake Taketh Away.

This will sound like sacrilege to some, but I’ve decided that New England is far superior for sailing compared to the Chesapeake.  And that’s saying something given that we have only sailed in southern New England.  We haven’t even gotten to Martha’s Vineyard, Nantucket, Buzzards Bay, or Maine which is renowned for incredible cruising grounds.

But the Chesapeake?  Meh.  Yes, there are plenty of anchorages.  But they are generally up rivers so it can be a pretty fair distance off of the Bay.  You don’t have to go five or ten miles up a river to get to great anchorages in New England. 

You can’t swim in the summer in the Chesapeake because of the plethora of jellyfish unless you head up to the far northern part of the Bay where the water is more fresh than salt, and the visibility in the water is lousy.  The water in southern New England is too chilly for swimming until late June/early July but the clarity is significantly better, and while there can be jellyfish, there are about a tenth as many as we saw this summer. Continue reading “The Chesapeake Giveth, and the Chesapeake Taketh Away.”

Our first real weather event – Isaias

We had debated spending the summer in Vero Beach, FL, then Beaufort, SC, rejecting both because of the hurricane risk.  Not wanting to travel as far north as southern New England this year, we settled on the Chesapeake with the rationale that it rarely gets hit by a hurricane.  Well, by the time Isaias arrived in Maryland he wasn’t a hurricane anymore, but he was a strong tropical storm.  And wouldn’t you know it?  Cambridge, MD was right in his crosshairs.

Our friends on S/V Minx are cruising in New England and several days before Isaias’ arrival they had kindly offered us their slip located in a true hurricane hole in the upper Chesapeake.  We debated taking it but the slip was 75 nautical miles away and we foolishly thought, “What are the odds?”  Ultimately it turned out the odds were very good, but by the time we figured that out it was a bit too late to make the trip.  With that option off of the table and the marina wide open to the Choptank River, we decided to take our chances in a local anchorage.

Continue reading “Our first real weather event – Isaias”

Annapolis – settling in.

After leaving Rock Hall we went to the Magothy River and anchored behind Gibson Island in Eagle Cove.  This was a lovely anchorage where we planned to spent a few days.

As we sailed down the Magothy we heard announcements over the VHF about an open water swim fundraiser that would be held the next day, but we thought it was going to be in a different area.  Imagine our surprise when we were were awakened bright and early the next morning by the voice of a very upbeat race announcer over a loudspeaker.

Poking my head out into the companionway, I saw that we had unintentionally anchored in the middle of “Swim Across America”, a fundraiser for cancer research whose participants swim either one or three miles in the Magothy River.  We ended up with front row seats!

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The swimmers had picture perfect weather and we enjoyed cheering them on.

After a few days bobbing in the peaceful anchorage, the winds were good for a sail and we were itching to move on.  A small craft advisory was winding down so we sailed down the river and poked our nose out into the Bay.  It didn’t take long for us to realize that we had jumped the gun.  It was an easy decision to make a 180 and sail back into the river, dropping anchor for a few hours to let the winds and waves settle down a bit more before trying again.

The original plan was to go to St. Michaels, but as we sailed past Annapolis it was clear that the wind angle meant we were going to need to motor for a few hours if we wanted to make it before sundown.  What followed was a half hour of indecision while we debated anchoring in this creek, then that creek.  Finally we decided that we’d had enough of isolated anchorages for a while, and we turned around and headed to Annapolis. Continue reading “Annapolis – settling in.”

Mount Harmon Plantation on the Sassafras River and Rock Hall.

While waiting for Dorian to settle on a track we had several days to decide where the next stop would be.  We had approximately three weeks before we needed to be in Annapolis, so we thought we would head south down the Eastern Shore for awhile before crossing over to the Western Shore and working our way back north.  Looking through our Waterway Guide, we quickly decided on a visit to the Mount Harmon Plantation, followed by Rock Hall.

Dorian passed giving us nothing but some clouds and moderate winds, so the next day we pointed our bow towards the Sassafras River.  It was a gorgeous day as we tacked our way out of the Bohemia River and several miles down the Chesapeake before the wind died.  Firing up Big Red, we motored up the Sassafras before dropping the anchor in a nice spot near Mount Harmon. Continue reading “Mount Harmon Plantation on the Sassafras River and Rock Hall.”

An unholy body of water.

It was another fun ride down the East River from Port Washington.  High winds the day before had stirred up the water but it wasn’t noticeable until after we went under the Verrazzano Narrows Bridge.  Then it was VERY sloppy for a few hours with the wind on our nose and against the current until we were inside the tip of Sandy Hook.  45 minutes later we were anchored in our regular spot behind the Atlantic Highlands break wall (I think three visits makes it a regular spot, don’t you?).

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Getting closer.
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Rikers Island

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We’ll just stay out of this guy’s way as he makes his way towards New York Harbor.

Now I will readily admit that I was NOT looking forward to going down the Jersey coast.  Even though we had a windless, uneventful trip from Cape May to Atlantic Highlands a few months ago, this was going to be the same direction as our trip from hell last fall, and it was absolutely messing with my mind.  My nerves were NOT helped when I saw the waves near the hook as we went inside towards Atlantic Highlands.  

Continue reading “An unholy body of water.”