Heading Up the Chesapeake

4 Jun

Well this wasn’t the revised plan but it is the revised-revised plan! Some heavy weather was forecast to develop off the coast so instead of sitting somewhere for several days to wait it out, we decided to head up the Chesapeake and then down the Delaware. Of course once we got a few days into that, the weather and wind direction was such that we will have to sit a day or two somewhere at the top of the Chesapeake as the wind velocity and direction, and current are such that a trip down the Delaware would not be pleasant. The bonus is that we will get a taste of Chesapeake cruising.

Our first day took us from Portsmouth to Deltaville, a very small community. We had a 52 NM day, motor sailed most of the day with jib and the winds built through the day. The main onboard activity was fly swatting – they were wicked and they bit! We reached Deltaville at 1615, anchored at Jacobson Creek, dinghied ashore for a walk in the tiny community and settled in for the night. The evening brought us a great lightning show.

Off the next day, early as  usual as it was another good distance for Gypsy in a day – 54 NM. We had the jib up to start but then winds died as heavy thunderstorms rolled in and we sailed through very heavy rain and dark skies, but no wind really to speak of. (I was glad we were in our location as near the coast they were warning mariners to take refuge in the nearest port as there were severe weather outbursts.) We watched swirling boiling fish on the water’s surface and David say a Cownose Ray wing tip (there are Clearnose Skate here too) – I was hoping it was dolphins of course. Most inlets on the Chesapeake seem to be marked by large navigational beacons, like min lighthouses – note the outhouse off to the side in the photo (with no floor!). We saw pleasure boats, container ships, tankers and a lot of military activity particularly near our destination where there was a large amphibious training base (where they trained for D Day operations). Today it looks like a major communication/listening post. When David called in to Customs to report our change of position, we were warmly welcomed to Maryland by Officer Betty Tune. We reached Solomons Island, Avril and I went for walk and David did some bilge chores. This brings us about half way up Chesapeake Bay.

The following morning (June 4) the weather was forecast to be strong winds right on our nose – translation: bash away making maybe 2 NM per hour. We set out to see what it would bring and the forecast was right. As they say “gentlemen cruisers don’t sail to weather”, so we turned back in to Solomons Island and went to Spring Cove Marina. A great stop, they lent us bikes to go to the grocery store and then we walked to the Calvert Maritime Museum which was excellent and featured a screw pile lighthouse that was from Drum Point. The structure is similar to a carousel and was a British design from about 1840. The bell that made the sound signal was run by a system of weights similar to a grandfather clock. We learnt that the last time there was ice in the Chesapeake was 1977 and there were no roads in this area until 1915. We also confirmed that the hawks we had been seeing in the nests on many ICW marks recently are Osprey. They (and the American Eagle) were nearly extinct due to the use of DDT and have both recovered. The Osprey have recovered now that DDT is not allowed and because nesting platforms were erected for them (the ICW marks served the same purpose). It was a lovely sunny clear day with the strong northerlies and a great temperature.

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