MAY---Sailing the Chesapeake---Destination the "Sassafras River"

When May 1st arrived, we were still in Norfolk, VA anchored at Hospital Point waiting out the blow that followed the passing of a big cold front. I finally visited the Nauticus Museum.....very cool. The museum has lots of interactive/simulated activities. For example, you are sitting at the controls of a nuclear submarine----all of a sudden the sonar picks up sounds. Is it the screws of an enemy submarine or it is just a whale? It is up to you to decide what it is and then if it is an enemy---what armament is to be used based on the range! In another simulation, you have the controls for a jet fighter and your job is to land on a runway. I did manage to land but I took out several residential buildings before coming to a stop. I had the most fun at the helm of a tugboat in the San Francisco Bay with navigational marks and all sorts of traffic. To avoid running aground or hitting another vessel, I was just spinning that wheel. The highlight of Nauticus was the IMAX theater where I saw a film about the world's oceans. Just before I left the museum, one of the museum employees said to me, "You've been here all morning haven't you."

Finally left Norfolk the afternoon of May 2. Traveled about 10 miles to Mill Creek just off Old Point Comfort---Hampton, VA. As you leave Norfolk, you pass all the US Navy Warships, Submarines and Air Craft Carriers. The ships just tower over us!

Had a good weather forecast for traveling north so we left Old Point Comfort early in the morning heading for Dymer Creek. We hadn't been into Dymer and it was recommended by cruisers, Lorie and Gordon, on MYSTIC . Had a fantastic current as we left the James River heading into the Chesapeake Bay......speed over ground was 9.3 knots with a boat speed of 6 knots. As we turned to head north we found the current was against us! Also, the winds were out of the north working against the current resulting in huge rolling waves breaking over the bow. This day wasn't going as we expected! After about 1 hour of banging into the waves, we diverted to Deltaville, VA to anchor in Jackson Creek. Lots of crabpots to watch for and dodge as we headed into Jackson Creek. Stayed in Jackson Creek last October on our way to Vero Beach, FL and so we didn't have any problems with the tricky entrance. The marked channel takes you very close to close that if people were standing on the beach, you could determine the color of their eyes as you passed. It is also quite shallow---last October we touched the bottom twice when we left Jackson Creek at low tide. This time, we entered and exited during a rising tide without any problems at all.

Left Jackson Creek the next morning heading for Solomon's Island. Just a light breeze (less than 5 knots) so we motored with a favorable current pushing us along. Took on diesel fuel and water before dropping anchor. Went out for crab cakes one night for dinner. Oh, do we love crab crakes. Tom and Sandy on ANANIA anchored next to us. We first met Tom and Sandy in Port Lucaya last January 14. Since then, our paths have crossed several times---we traveled with them from Wrightsville Beach to Beaufort, NC in April. It is fun to meet up with fellow cruisers to share stories. Tom and Sandy were also headed to Annapolis to attend a wedding at the US Naval Academy Chapel. The first thought that came to my mind was "Sandy, how will you get shoes on after being in sandals for almost a year?"

From Solomon's Island we sailed up to Annapolis just in time to watch the restart of the VOLVO OCEAN RACE---a very fast 32,700 mile lap around the planet! As background: Leg One started November 12, 2005 from Vigo, Spain to Cape Town, South Africa (6400 miles). We were there for the start of Leg Six on May 7th---a run from Annapolis to New York (what is called a pit-stop 400 mile race). Just to give you an idea as to how fast these sailboats move......the first boat completed Leg FIVE in 15 days, 2 hours, 47 minutes and 52 seconds (a 5000 mile run from Rio de Janeiro to Baltimore). DISCOVERY was one of over 2000 spectator boats surrounding the starting line just south of the Bay Bridge. It was something to see---Coast Guard and TV News helicopters flying around, 3-4 tall ships, a Coast Guard Cutter and a host of sail and power boats. By the time the race started, the winds were 5-10 knots and the seas were flat. As soon as the race boats broke through the gates, 2000 spectator boats started chasing them. We pretty much stayed put and let the lead boat fly by us. Those boats can move! I was amazed at how all the spectator boats kicked up the seas so that there were waves coming at you from all directions.

Below is a picture of one of the Volvo Ocean Racers approaching us.

In the following picture you see two Volvo Ocean Racers in the distance but note the water chop. The water surface was smooth as glass until all the spectator boats starting chasing the racer.

Below is one of the Tallships in the Chesapeake Bay for the Volvo Ocean Race.

Anchored in Weems Creek in West Annapolis for about a week. We spent so much time in Weems Creek last October that it "felt like home". Tied to one of the Navy Academy moorings. Lee and Cindy on TRANQUILITY were already in Weems Creek when we arrived---we traveled with TRANQUILITY from Georgetown in the Exumas up to the Abacos leaving them in Marsh Harbor on April 4th. CLOUDSPLITTER finally caught up with us.....we left them in Vero Beach on April 12. When we arrived at Weems Creek we noticed a derelict boat (22 to 24 feet) tied to a mooring with a drastic list to port. One morning we woke up to find that sailboat sunk---just its bow was poked out of the water. Visited the US Naval Academy again---this time we had a guided tour and we spent an hour or so in the Academy Museum.

Next stop was Baltimore's Inner Harbor. Traveled with CLOUDSPLITTER. Anchored between the Baltimore National Aquarium and the Tall Ship the USS Constitution. Had a fantastic dinner with Doug and Marianne in Little Italy. On our way to dinner, we saw two men laying on the pavement with their limbs in an awkward position. All four of us thought perhaps they we dead. Carl and I casually kept walking while Doug and Marianne went to investigate. Good news, they were only sleeping (on the hard, hot pavement). Doug and Marianne left the next morning before we were awake. This would be the last time we sailed together this spring and summer because CLOUDSPLITTER was headed back to Lake Ontario. We are hoping they will return to the cruising community this fall! Carl and I walked around Baltimore's Inner Harbor stopping at Dunkin Donut for coffee and a sweet treat before going to the Baltimore National Aquarium. The featured exhibition was walk around the exhibit to observe the marine life while colorful parrots fly over your head. There were several bats hanging upside down from the ceiling----yuck. It was really fun to watch the small children at the reef exhibit looking for their favorite clownfish, NEMO. My favorite part of the aquarium is the rainforest located at the top of the building.....beautiful birds flying around and iguana waddling past.

Below is a picture of the reef fish at the Baltimore National Aquarium. Can you "Find Nemo"?

The following pictures were taken in Baltimore Inner Harbor. The Tallship the USS Constitution is in the first picture. The Chesapeake Lightship in in the second and the Baltimore National Aquarium is in the third)

Enjoyed a fantastic sail from Baltimore to Georgetown on the Sassafras River. Anchored across from Skipjack marine for a couple days before moving further up the river to a mooring. DISCOVERY is tied to a mooring that belongs to a friend of Dave and Karen Lauser on FREEBIRD. We met Dave and Karen several years ago when they were doing the Great Circle---we anchored next to them in Harbor Island near Drummond. Dave and Karen stopped in Pentwater on their way to Chicago. Dave and Karen introduced us to Carol and Ben who have a boat at a mooring next to DISCOVERY. Ben and Carol were getting ready for a 3 week cruise around the Chesapeake. At the mooring, I scrubbed down the boat and put a coat of wax on the cockpit and deck smooth surfaces. Carl made arrangements to have the boat pulled when we return from Michigan. We will paint the bottom, repaint the boat stripe and wax the hull when the boat is out of the water.

Dave and Karen included us in the Memorial Day festivities. Drove to Chestertown for the Tea Party Festival. Here is the scoop regarding Chestertown's Tea Party. The Boston Team Party was in December 1773---under the cover of darkness the "Sons of Liberty" (dressed as Mohawk Indians) dumped 45 tons of tea into the harbor to protest the tea tax. As payback for the lost tea and lost taxes, the British closed down Boston Harbor. The British intended to make an example of the people from Massachusetts for their disobedience but instead the closing of the harbor fanned the flames of the American Revolution. When the news of the closing of Boston Harbor reached Chestertown, the citizens were enraged. Concerned citizens met---resulting in the "Chestertown Resolves" which forbid the import, sale or consumption of tea in Chestertown. Local residents gathered in the town center to march down High Street to the recently arrived schooner anchored in the Chester River to toss the cargo of tea overboard! The re-enactment starts at the town center with the good guys dressed in blue and the bad guys are in red. The two opposing sides fire muskets at each other with the concerned citizens prevailing. The citizen march to the end of High Street to decide what action to take---the final decision is to board the schooner and toss the tea. The Chester town-built schooner SULTANA is sitting at anchor in the river, the citizens row out to toss the tea and the Brit's that are on board! It is my understanding that the town council plays the role of the Brit's on board SULTANA and thus are all tossed into the river.

The following picture is of a Fife and Drum Corp performing at the Chestertown Town Center. (0734)

The following picture is of the Redcoat (Bad Guys) Camp prior to the re-enactment.

Pictured below is just a few of the "Concerned Citizens" prior to the re-enactment. I was walking around Chestertown where I innocently stumbled into this Den of Vipers!

The following picture is of the SULTANA sitting at anchor in the Chester River with its cargo of tea.

In addition to going to Chestertown, we went to a local Memorial Day party at Mike and Kay Arms. Mike and Kay's home sits up on a hill over looking the Sassafras River.....the view is so beautiful. The party included music----"Wishing Chair" two female musicians who did mostly Kentucky folk music. Carl and I enjoyed them so much that we purchased one of their CDs. Mike is a very interesting person. He likes to sail in the northern latitudes (yes, around the arctic circle) on educational and scientific cruises. He has written several book (Carl is reading them). The third neighborhood activity over Memorial Weekend was a picnic at Joe and Connie's.

By the time we reached the Sassafras River, DISCOVERY has traveled over 4700 nautical miles. We enjoyed several great sailing days in the Chesapeake and the weather continued to be great. DISCOVERY is safe at a mooring on the Sassafras River while Carl and I are in Michigan. Dave and Karen drove us to Philadelphia where we caught our flight to Grand Rapids. Arrived in Grand Rapids on May 31st. Our friend, Al Forte, picked us up at the airport. Went to their daughter's (Jamie) soccer game. Return to the boat on June 24th.

Submitted by Marilyn Thoreson
June 8, 2006