Friday, January 30, 2009

Gotta Regatta!!

We left Solomons Island on Saturday and headed up to an idyllic anchorage in the Magothy River - the passage was anything but idyllic yet it was breathtaking (literally)!!

Tammy by the way...

As we headed out of Solomons, the sun was just cresting the horizon - another early morning jaunt since we had a 7 hour trip up the Chesapeake ahead of us. The sunrise was again spectacular (who knew sunrises could be so great - they used to just signify the start of another work day!)
and fueled by coffee and tea, the crew of Gypsies was ready for anything. Good thing too because we got anything and everything!! No sooner had we left the Patuxent River and entered the shipping lanes in the Chesapeake Bay when Doug was faced with a couple large boats. When I say large, I'm not talking just big - I'm talking an 851 foot cargo ship. From 12 miles away it looked like a city - you can only imagine what it looked like up close!! or maybe you can't, so we took pictures!!
Next up for Doug was a "measly" 531 foot cargo boat - not too bad if it passes a couple miles from you, but this one wanted to pass within 300 feet of us!! We gladly moved out of its way!!

Next up was John at the helm - he didn't have to worry about too many commercial boats but we spent the next couple hours dodging hundreds of pleasure boats! and remarkably after zigging and zagging and dodging and weaving, we wound up close to our original track - how's that for navigating!! I found myself at the helm for the last 2 1/2 hours of our trip and as luck (or not) would have it, I got to head up towards Annapolis and the Bay Bridge. Can I say that I have never in my entire life seen so many sailboats - let alone all sailing directly at us all at once!!! I had the distinct pleasure of having to wind my way through numerous regattas and hundreds of sailboats all intent on making my life a living hell! Is it really necessary to tack back and forth in front of me repeatedly??? I don't think so!!
It only then dawned on us that not only was it a beautiful day, but it was the Saturday of a long weekend and Columbus Day weekend at that. Columbus Day is one of the last hurrahs in the Bay so every yahoo with a boat was intent on being out there! Guess I can't blame them - we were out there too!

After the chaos of the Bay, we pulled into the Magothy River and found our anchorage for the evening. As the guidebook explained,' "it is a quiet little anchorage with good holding ground that is not even named on the chart but which is called Eagle Cove by the locals." When we pulled in, there were about 5 or 6 other boats already anchored but we found room and proceeded to drop the hook. Of course when you anchor, you need to understand that every eye in the whole cove will be on you since everyone on the surrounding boats stops what they are doing to see if you get it right - no pressure there!! Even with the audience, we got it right on the first try - WHEW! It was indeed an amazing little cove - surrounded on 3 sides by marsh and woods and across the river sat a plantation similar to Monticello complete with white pillars and horses grazing. Out came the beers to celebrate an arduous but well done passage and we settled in to enjoy the peace and solitude.

Such was not to be! Almost immediately a near constant parade of boats starting flowing into our "idyllic, peaceful anchorage." Power boats, sailboats and even a cruise ship schooner, the Mystic Whaler, all headed to our cove to drop anchor for the night.
Guess they had all read the same guidebook as us - although many of them seemed to know each other so we guessed they were locals. Cruising hasn't diminished our powers of observation! Just when we thought the cove couldn't hold another boat, sailboats started rafting up to each other - the new boat would find a buddy boat already anchored and tie up to it. We thought they might just be there for the afternoon since it isn't a real safe or sturdy way to hold for the evening but sure enough, they were all there to stay.
We sat and enjoyed yet another spectacular sunset and by the time we went to sleep, there were at least 35 boats in this tiny cove, some with 5 boats rafted up to one anchored boat!!!
And I have to admit, we did wholeheartedly participate in the spectator sport of watching people anchor (beers in hand) and even laughed as some yahoo came in after sunset and had to make 3 attempts before he finally got his anchor to hold!! All in all it was a great day and you can't pay for that type of entertainment!!

The next morning we headed out relatively early although not at sunrise - the boat rooster did ensure that I saw the sunrise though and although I'd never tell her, it was well worth it!
Our cove, even with all the boats, had actually been a really great anchorage and we hope to head back there sometime, although preferably during the week when it is a little quieter!

The three hour run to Baltimore was largely uneventful, which after the day before we all relished! Pulling into Baltimore Harbor is quite a trip - it is very much a working, industrial port with very large, commercial ships everywhere. It is also a very historic town - you pass under the Francis Scott Key Bridge and pass a red, white and blue marker that supposedly signifies the location of the ship Francis Scott Key was on when he wrote the Star Spangled Banner (how do they really know that???)
As you approach the inner harbor, you also pass Fort McHenry where the British launched an attack during the War of 1812.
For more current history, the marina that we are staying at is located right next to the condos that Michael Phelps lives in!

Our first night in Baltimore found us chatting with Lois and Art on the boat next to us "FabuLois"- they actually live right in Fells Point a couple blocks from the marina and invited us to their house for a "great glass of wine" - how cool was that? And as tempting as that invitation was given the bag in the box wine we drink most days, the Pats were on TV and that was one of our main reasons for coming into B'more a day early. Trust me, we should have gone and had the glass of wine!!! It's just not the same without Tom!!!

The next day had Colleen and John on a mission to explore the city for photos for Colleen's next kiddie blog (check back soon!), while Doug and I hung out on the boat and met another great cruising couple, Lynn and Wayne on Skinwalker, a boat very similar to ours. What's funny about cruising is you never really pay attention to last names, you just focus on first names and the boat name - so Doug and I are now just Doug and Tammy on Gypsies in the Palace - we can live with that!! As cruisers are wont to do, we swapped stories with Capts Wayne and Lynn and got great ideas about where to stay and things to do on our trip down the coast. They have been cruising the Great Loop for 5 years so had lots of good stuff to tell us and have recently spent the past summer in B'more where Wayne captains the tourist pirate ship several times a week!!!! They head south November 1 (after the last pirate ship cruise) and we hope to see them again on our travels! At a minimum we got a great idea for future employment opportunities!! Can't you see Doug decked out in pirate regalia - it will match his ponytail, earring and tattoo!!!

Last night friends of ours that Doug used to work with in Baltimore, Ray and Denise Maskell and Scott and Denise Lancaster, drove in to meet us on board for drinks. After several drinks and another unbelievable sunset,
we all headed into Fells Point for drinks and more frivolity (minus John and Colleen since it was their last night together before John headed back to Manchester for 10 days)! Part of the fun of this cruising life is being able to reconnect with old friends as we travel down the coast!! The case of National Bohemian beer (or Natty Boh as it is "affectionately" known locally!) that Ray and Denise brought us was a humorous reminder for us of a great evening of fun with good friends!!!

Today John left early to catch a flight back to Manchester - he'll be gone for about 10 days - and the current plan is for us to pick him back up in Norfolk (we'll see!) I think he's a little worried!! So Colleen, Doug and I have about 10 days to explore the southern Chesapeake. We may just stay one more day in Baltimore today and do some exploring (pub crawling) through Fells Point. Tomorrow we'll figure out the rest....

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