Chesapeake Bay

Arriving in the Chesapeake Bay on September 29 felt a bit like coming home. At the time, Hurricane Matthew was a threat as it began charging through the Eastern Caribbean and weather experts around the globe proposed potential tracks, some going right over our heads. We considered the Bay safe, given the many tiny creeks we could tuck Alembic into. Boatyards are abundant here as well, and hauling our home onto dry ground was also an option. We listened throughout the following days to weather reports and personal accounts of friends and strangers who were enduring the lashings of this miserable storm.

Our hearts were especially drawn to Haiti. After witnessing first hand last year how absolute poverty permeates this beautiful country, we ached to find a way to help them deal with this blow. There is not enough control over safety and many accounts of aid are dashed by the chaos that reigns. Huge relief trucks carrying water have been looted, and deliveries of food often don’t make it to their intended destinations. How can we help? Even money sent there often doesn’t land in the right hands. The owner of a beautiful resort told us that his business blossomed during the earthquake relief because aid workers were put up there while awaiting orders to assist the community. Many helpers never even had a chance to help, but they enjoyed the safe confines of the resort. I applaud anyone who can actually make a difference in Haiti and humbly regret that I don’t have the guts to go there now.

One aspect of growing up, which I am still working on, is to continue to work toward my own goals while trying to help others along the way. I can’t fix the world but I hope to make a difference here and there.

Two inch Bee
Two inch Bee
Bad Photo of Two Eagles together on a branch
Bad Photo of Two Eagles together on a branch

So, on we charged, into the Chesapeake to where the wildlife struck us as more robust than ever. This two inch long bee came along for the ride for a few hours before I became tired of watching him NOT sting us and shooed him away. They sure are huge here! My camera is pathetic, but this photo shows a pair of eagles having a snuggle on a branch. Eagles are everywhere, swooping down and catching huge fish, landing on mastheads, and being chased by much smaller birds who are finding them a nuisance!

Keeping the wildlife out of our cabin is a constant chore. Fruit flies, mosquitos, and other creatures are constantly trying to nest and nibble below. My only defense is to attack all surfaces with scrubbing. I used to hate cleaning my stove in the house, but the galley stove has proved to be even more challenging!

Cleaning around a galley stove is challenging!
Cleaning around a galley stove is challenging!

My galley got a break when we arrived at the Whitby Brewer Rendezvous and all meals were ashore for 3 and a half days. Only four boats arrived at the gathering, with Matthew looming, but almost fifty people were in attendance. Bill and I truly appreciate this group for the valuable information that is shared, and for the family atmosphere that is evident when we gather.

Allegria, Red Ranger, Shooting Star, and Alembic
Allegria, Red Ranger, Shooting Star, and Alembic
Whitby Brewer Family
Whitby Brewer Family

After saying our goodbyes to our Whitby Brewer tribe, we headed north to Annapolis to connect with another wonderful group of friends and family. While we plan our visit for the Annapolis Boat Show, seeing cruising friends and Swansons is really the best part. Eric set us up again at his dock for a safe and convenient place to carry out our plans. The Boat Show is an easy walk and guests can come aboard without having to organize dinghy rides.

Bill went up the mast in Annapolis when our courtesy flags started coming untied
Bill went up the mast in Annapolis when our courtesy flags started coming untied

Our first night at the dock we arranged to have dinner in Alembic’s cockpit with Anne, Eric, Carleen, Bruce, and Susan. Jim’s presence was strongly felt, even though he passed away only one month earlier. Sitting among his wife, son, daughter-in-law, and friends, I longed to hear from Jim too; he always had bright ideas and positive insights. I regret that we took no pictures; perhaps this was because Jim could not be in them.

Friday was a great day for us to attend the Boat Show, as the next day was a deluge of rain. Unlike last year, we went aboard many boats, and confirmed our love of Alembic. Many new boats were flashy and expensive, but none felt like home. One boat, however, did make us consider a change for when we consider “settling down”. A Seawind Catamaran seemed to have “grandchildren” written all over it. NO! We don’t have grandchildren, but if we are graced with them someday, we would like to have a boat that is perfect for them. Aside from prowling around on boats, most of our day was spent, like last year, visiting all of the exhibits of gear and services. While we walked away with a few purchased items, we collected many ideas and plans for improvements for Alembic.

Family
Family
Chrissy and James, who went to West Point, enjoy a day at the USNA
Chrissy and James, who went to West Point, enjoy a day at the USNA

To top off our Annapolis visit, my siblings Marie and Paul came with their spouses and children. Despite the downpours, it was wonderful to be together to catch up on each others’ lives.

Hurricane Matthew may not have hit us, but it did send wind to blow enough water out of the bay for us to be stuck in our slip one more day. The Chesapeake is bizarre in that the tides are affected more by the weather than by the moon. The moon does seem to time the high and low tides, but the water levels are a result of the wind. But I didn’t complain, because this afforded me the time to have a nice long visit with Anne. From the days we cruised together in 1989, she has always been a mentor for me, and listening to Anne’s perspective on life’s challenges and joys helps me to focus on what is important.

Anchoring at Solomons at sunset
Anchoring at Solomons at sunset

As the wind settled, and the water filled the bay again, we untied from the dock and set off for a lovely sail to the Solomons. We dropped anchor just inside the harbor and went ashore for a wonderful musical experience of a one man show at a bar. Beatboxing, storytelling, singing, and sharing his zen crafts, this guy was talented! I wish I could post a video of his skills.

We were all neighbors for a season on a dock in Maine
We were all neighbors for a season on a dock in Maine

Deltaville was our next stop. Here we met friends from Maine and completed many projects. Bill replaced our steering conduit and cables, and sent our alternator to be refurbished. I sewed the sacrificial blue fabric back onto the genoa, but brought the sail to a sailmaker to replace leather and webbing for the clew. My Sailrite sewing machine may be magic, but it can’t stitch through this thickness. Then, I almost finished sewing the dinghy chaps, a necessary “jacket” to keep the sun from eating the dinghy material in the Caribbean sun.

Bill takes the heavy alternator on his back to shore by SUP
Bill takes the heavy alternator on his back to shore by SUP
Taking a swim break
Taking a swim break
Ullman Sails sewed on this leather and webbing through at least eighteen layers of stiff fabric
Ullman Sails sewed on this leather and webbing through at least eighteen layers of stiff fabric
This genoa is cumbersome to manage on deck and with a sewing machine!
This genoa is cumbersome to manage on deck and with a sewing machine!

Our last stop in the Chesapeake was a quick trip into Salt Ponds to say hello to Dan and Åsa, friends from our Caribbean rally last year. Seeing them, and hearing of their plans to go through the Panama Canal, revved up our wanderlust. While we are not ready to join them this year, maybe next…

Dan and Åsa from Sweden
Dan and Åsa from Sweden

The Chesapeake is a popular place for weekend sailors and world cruisers. The weather is pleasant, the anchorages are abundant and safe, and the services and supplies are second to none. Someday we may actually spend a season exploring all of the many offerings, but for now, we are off to Norfolk and points south.

2 thoughts on “Chesapeake Bay

  1. Anne Hays October 20, 2016 / 12:49 pm

    I am glad to hear of your safe travels, at least up to the southern end of the Bay. I do hope you come back some time to spend a season as it is a wonderful place to cruise. Our reaction when we came back from ocean sailing was always “Isn’t this flat water wonderful!” But don’t forget it gets hot here in August.
    I have noticed that you have good things to say about everywhere you go and I admire that. All of life is better if you seek out the good things.
    I am anxious to hear about what you find on the ICW.
    Anne

    Like

  2. Gordon & Grete October 20, 2016 / 4:27 pm

    Echoing Anne’s comments about saying good things – it is one of the things that make your blog so interesting and satisfying to read. Thank you.
    We have heard and experienced the same frustrations with trying to be of help for the many tragedies in Haiti. We can only keep trying.
    We too, will continue to miss Jim for a long time – or for as much time as we have ourselves.
    As you continue your sailing we look forward to your blogs. Keep them coming.
    Smooth sailing…

    Like

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