Chesapeake Bay, Virginia & Maryland

10 - 16th July 2004


After motoring past the manoeuvring warships at Norfolk's naval bases, we made our way out into the Chesapeake Bay.   Our first port of call was Cape Charles, on the Eastern Shore of Virginia, to visit new friends Ralph and Jeanette.

Space was quite limited in Cape Charles' harbour, so after we'd deployed a stern anchor, to stop Anju swinging and blocking the marina entrance, Ralph came to the harbour to pick us up.   As Vice President of the Chamber of Commerce, Ralph knew everyone in town and gave us a tour of all the town's sights, his own yacht and home.  

Touring Cape Charles with Ralph.


Dining in Style with Ralph and Jeanette at "The Chesapeake"


Later Ralph and Jeanette really spoiled us by treating us to a wonderful meal in a local restaurant, The Chesapeake, where we sampled delicacies of the Chesapeake, including crab cakes, flounder and soft shell crabs and we met the owner Robin.  For dessert we moved along the main street to a beautifully decorated coffee shop for cakes.   It was a wonder that our dinghy made it back to Anju after all the indulgence! 

We were to be spoiled more next day, when Jeanette kindly allowed us to use her washing machine, drove us to the supermarket and invited us to a barbecue with her parents, Gus and Dorothy!


We had to leave Cape Charles before we got too accustomed to the luxury, so set off at first light next day for Deltaville, on the western shore of the Chesapeake.   We'd adopted a strategy of leaving as soon as it was light enough, to ensure we were anchored soon after lunchtime, before the storms normally began.  In Deltaville we were glad our bikes were still with us, as the pretty town was strung along a road about three miles long and we managed to take a quick tour before the bad weather started. 


Phew what a stink!  Manhaden Processing Plant.

We left the following day to continue north and planned to anchor in Sandy Creek, which was described as an idyllic spot with a well-marked 8 foot entrance channel.  This turned out to be a mistake as we ran aground in the well-marked entrance, which was very narrow and definitely less than 6 feet! Luckily with the help of the now 20 knots of wind, we managed to get off again quite quickly and turn around. Instead we headed to Cockrell Creek near the town of Reedville.  The anchorage was fine, so long as the wind stayed such that we weren't downwind of the manhaden (fish) processing plant, which produced an indescribable smell! Soon after we'd anchored we heard storm warnings on the VHF for the area but luckily the bad weather didn't bring us downwind of the factory!  Later in the day we were able to dinghy ashore and take a look at the pretty town, which was so quiet that we could stand in the middle of the road while taking photos.



Next day we headed further north to Solomons Island and found that despite the weather forecast, we had the wind against us, so ended up motoring there.   On our way we passed a lighthouse called Point No Point and debated whether it was so-called because there was no point or headland where it stood or because the builders thought there was no point building it.  In any case we weren't close enough to see for ourselves.

The following day in Solomons, we went to see the Calvert Marine Museum. First we watched otters playing in their enclosure and then visited the old Drum Point Lighthouse, which was relocated in one piece to the museum in the 70s and renovated to look as it did originally. We decided it would be a good place for us to live, as we're used to living alone in a small space, surrounded by water!  By the end of its working life, you were able to walk right out to the lighthouse but when it was first built it was out at sea.  One of the lighthouse keepers was stranded there when the steps and lower deck washed away in a winter storm, his only way to get ashore was to swim! 



Solomons Calvert Marine Museum with the old Drum Point Lighthouse.

We toured the boatyard with lots of old locally-built boats of all types and finally the museum itself.  The paleontology section had an impressive reconstruction of the skeleton of a Megatooth shark. In the aquarium there was lots of information on the aquatic life of the area, including seahorses of various types from tiny dwarf seahorses to pot-bellied seahorses. We didn't even realise seahorses lived up here but should have guessed by the 25 seahorse sculptures located through the town!  The seahorses were decorated by local schools and were to be auctioned off for charity at the end of the summer. 


Megatooth or what?!

We had a chance to look at a Chesapeake Terrapin close up, as well as a horse-shoe crab, which was fascinating. Its mouth is a hole with bristles amongst its many legs and to chew it has to walk, to grind the food up!   Just the thought of that made us hungry, so we took a break for lunch at the excellent Woodburn's gourmet supermarket in the town, before continuing our sightseeing with a visit to the promenade of Solomons, which is located along the Patuxent River.

We visited the Oyster House, which had interesting information on the different fishing methods used in the area and how the Oysters were prepared and canned for shipping to the cities where demand was high in the 30s.  It was interesting to learn how fish stocks in the Chesapeake were depleted by over-fishing and pollution.

We called in the fishing shop, we are never allowed to walk past one!  Ryan there showed us local crabs in both the soft shell stage, when they have shed their shell and are entirely floppy for a couple of hours until the new one starts to harden and also "peelers" which are ones due to shed soon. 


When we got back to the boat there were warnings on the VHF for a severe storm heading straight at us again! We quickly put the dinghy up, tied the table down on the back deck and as we were half way through taking down the sunshade over the cockpit, the storm hit. It was eerie, we could hear the wind coming through the trees towards us.  Luckily the trees gave us a lot of protection, whilst further down the creek we could see white horses on the water surface.  Next big hailstones started drumming on the deck, followed by heavy rain, which made it look like someone had hosepipes on each of Anju's portholes. It was quite scary and lasted half an hour or so before it all calmed down. The sky was still quite dark, so we were nervous about more storms but they never materialised.   The weather didn't seem to deter the local yacht club, whose members headed out to race regardless!

Now we know where seahorses go for their holidays!

Before leaving Solomons for Annapolis, we fuelled at the marina, which had very reasonable prices at $1.36 a gallon, (although not if compared to the eight cents a gallon we paid in Venezuela)!   Fuelling had become much less unpleasant as we were able to use the new sight levels on the tanks, which Phil had fitted in Norfolk, so we could check the level of diesel in each of the three tanks, without having to climb down a hole into the bilges and end up smelling of diesel! 

As we approached Annapolis the sea got thick with sailing boats of all types and sizes - it was crazy. We wove our way between them and decided to anchor off the wall of the Naval Academy, close to the town centre. The anchorage was rolly mostly due to the passing boat traffic.  As soon as we arrived we called our friends Woody and Janine.  We met them in Martinique last year when they were cruising on their well-named vessel "Boat".  They live nearby in Crownsville.  Woody picked us up straight away and whisked away to dinner at their house, which was about a 20 minute drive away. It was great to see them again and they fed us the most enormous steaks.

Back on Anju, when we were awakened next morning at 6 am by the " Plebes" or trainees at the Academy doing their early morning exercises in a very noisy manner, we were glad we'd decided to move the boat to a creek up the Severn River, Valentine Creek, which was near Woody and Janine's house.

Anchored off Annapolis' Naval Academy.


Woody took the six mile trip up the river with us.   Valentine Creek was very pretty, with many boats on mooring buoys but we managed to find a spot to anchor near the entrance.   Woody was highly entertained by our normal debate about where to drop the anchor!. We found a spot at the bottom of their street where we could leave the dinghy.   We'd planned to stay in Herald Harbor, as the area is known, for a few days but Anju was to become a fixture in Valentine Creek for almost three months in the end!


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