Herald Harbor, Maryland, USA

12th -26th June & 10th - 31st July 2006

We arrived in Valentine Creek and immediately felt like we'd reached our 'home-from-home'.  We were excited to be seeing all our old friends again.   However, first things first, we inched our way gingerly through the shallow water to our preferred anchoring spot of the previous two visits and were pleased to see 'our' spot still available and not occupied by any mooring buoys.    The spot is tight for Anju, so as usual we set out quite an array of anchors.   This time we opted for one bow anchor and a smaller anchor off each of the stern quarters, to stop Anju from trying to swing around with the wind.   In no time at all we were racing up Snodgrass Road, eager to see all our friends again.

As in previous years we were overwhelmed by the kindness and generosity of all our friends in Herald Harbor.   Dave, with his house at the waterfront end of Snodgrass Road, let us use his dock to tie up the dinghy and didn't seem too perturbed by us tramping through his garden at all times of day.   Greg and Shirley, one house further up the street had lent us a car on a previous visit for a trip to the mountains.   At Christmas Greg had called us in the UK and told us he would have a car for us to use during our stay in the summer and sure enough, no sooner had we arrived, than we had the keys to their Toyota, to use as long as we needed.   In a country the size of the USA, where the places you need to go can be spread over many miles, a car is invaluable and Greg and Shirley's generosity gave us independence during our stay. 

Anju in her holiday home, Valentine Creek

Next we had to recover from the shock of the beautiful transformations which had taken place to Woody and Janine's home during our nine month absence.   When we'd left the previous autumn, the upstairs and rear part of the ground floor were more or less finished and Woody and Janine were about to begin demolition of the area inside the front of the house, the part which originated from the old building.   Now we found that all the work was completed and beautifully decorated, we'd arrived at our summer palace!

As normal with old friends, as soon as we sat down together it was as though we'd never been apart.   In fact we've spent so much time enjoying Woody and Janine's generous hospitality that maybe they felt like we'd never left!    

We were offered use of their guest room (now with en-suite bathroom up and running - what a luxury), while we carried out a makeover on the interior of Anju.   This made life much easier while we were renovating.  Normally we would have had to tidy up all the tools and work in progress at the end of the day, to be able to cook dinner and get to bed.    Staying in the house meant that for a month or so, Anju could be left in a state of permanent chaos as we were able to escape each evening!   

Repainting the cabin sole (the floor inside the boat) was also a much easier proposition that on its previous repaint in Venezuela, when we were forced to climb around Anju on the furniture, like monkeys, to avoid stepping on the wet paint.  This time we could paint ourselves into a hole by the companionway and then leave.

Janine and Woody's beautifully decorated home.

It was fortunate that we had our own projects lined up, as this year, with their own house being completed and no decorator show house to wallpaper (see summer 2004!), we would otherwise have been at a loose end, with nothing to do but enjoy ourselves!    We soon set to work, remodelling Anju's saloon.   We'd decided to reutilise the area where the navigation table stood.  The chart plotter was now located in the cockpit and all paper planning carried out on the larger saloon table, so the area had become redundant.   

We tore out all the existing woodwork and came up with a plan.   First we'd move the fridge from below the table to the large empty space on top.  Then we'd fit a cupboard next to it with lots and lots of small drawers inside with labels on, which were supposed to train us to put things back in the right place and thus reduce the amount of time wasted searching for things and shouting at one another!   Finally we'd build a new cupboard below the table, where the fridge had been, where we could store larger items in an organised manner -  at least that was the dream. 

Who needs a nav station anyway??

The first stage of this plan meant we had to redesign the electrical cabinet, making it smaller and more organised.   If we were to do this, we felt we really ought to tidy up the spaghetti-like heap of wiring inside the cabinet, to make it more easily traceable.   So began the initial step of tracing all the existing wires, replacing some and relabelling everything.  

Several hours into this project we wondered why we'd begun at all, but with some perseverance, in a matter of a couple of days, we had a compact and organised electrical switch cabinet with only one mystery wire remaining unlabelled.   Well, we knew it was nothing critical and we'd work it out eventually when something didn't work! 

The fridge was then moved, revamped and decorated to make it more aesthetically appealing and securely fixed into its new position.   Needless to say the first time we went to switch it on for use, despite frequent tests during its move, it decided not to work.   Of course, it waited until we'd designed the whole area around it and built everything in.   Miraculously, however,  it seemed to cure itself and we decided to leave it alone and not mess with it any more, just in case!    

Phil's commencement of the work on the new cupboard meant that the girls had an ideal excuse for a girls' day out to IKEA in order to purchase "lots and lots of small drawers" to fit inside.    Naturally Janine and Christine found several other essential stops on the way!


For several years we'd been a three TV yacht.   It seemed a little excessive, given our limited living space, to tote a UK system TV, a European TV and and American NTSC TV around the world with us.  When we discovered a reasonably priced, all-region, multi-voltage, flat LED TV which would mount on the wall, we decided to treat ourselves and free up space by splashing out on one.   

We have come across many cruisers scornful of those wanting TV aboard but we have enjoyed our TV and also found that watching local TV broadcasts has been a valuable means of learning about local culture, politics and news in the places we've visited.   Thus we justified the expenditure and freed up yet more space aboard. 

The new entertainment centre

With Woody's extensive range of carpentry tools and his workshop available for our use, Phil decided on an ambitious project of building an "entertainment centre" in the newly available space, in which to mount our new stereo (purchased to replace our recently deceased one), our XM satellite radio, video player and DVD, plus all the DVDs and CDs we have aboard.   Despite an altercation with the circular saw, in which a piece of wood escaped from him and left Phil with a severely bruised belly, the results of his wood working efforts were great.


One of Janine's personal chefs at work

Meanwhile we continued to enjoy the hospitality and company of Woody and Janine, on the understanding that we had been appointed chefs and had to introduce Janine to a range of new recipes.

Finally it happened, Janine was able to come up with an assignment for her squatters.   She'd double booked herself for a weekend when she was due to hold an estate sale with Fran.  Phil and Christine (with their extensive knowledge of household furnishings and antiques) were appointed to deputise for her at the sale.   The house where the sale was taking place was in a beautiful location by the water in Annapolis and its contents were an eclectic assortment of valuable antiques and junk acquired by the late home-owner during her world travels.     


The weekend of the sale arrived and it certainly made an interesting and entertaining break to the boat work.   We were astounded when we arrived at the location half an hour prior to the start of the sale, to find a long line of potential customers queuing at the door.   At 8 am the doors opened and the clients charged through the house like a herd of wildebeest, gathering like vultures around the more attractive items for sale.   Elbows were definitely in use, these were the serious bargain hunters and antiques dealers!    We were greatly relieved, although this probably wasn't in the spirit of the sale, when the fanatics thinned out leaving us with a steady stream of less desperate customers.

Fran and Janine try to convince Christine that she can sell antiques!

After so much hard work, it was time for a day out and some fun.   Something we'd always wanted to do since we'd been in the States was to visit a shooting range and learn how to shoot a gun.   We had the perfect opportunity, Woody, a qualified firearms instructor, was wanting to brush up his shooting skills and offered to take us along and give us a lesson.   

Woody was a great and patient instructor and once Christine overcame her surprise at the noise level and the heat inside the range, the kick from the gun and the fact that hot shells flew out of the gun after it had been fired and if they bounced off your chest it would really hurt (it really wasn't like it looks in the movies!), she got the hang of it pretty quickly and even began to make holes in the target.



Don't mess with me!


Phil had fired rifles before but enjoyed the chance to try out hand guns and quickly became a pretty good shot.   Woody, of course, put us all to shame when we compared our targets afterwards!   We had lots of fun and acquired a new and valuable skill, which we hope we never have to use.

To complete our total American experience, Woody and Janine took us to the Johnny Boy's Rib Shack, to sample the local fare. 



Before our summer trip to the UK to visit family and friends, we got to meet more of Woody and Janine's friends and neighbours at the local annual Hootenanny, held at a neighbours house.    This was some party!   A live band performed in the garage, a Tiki bar was set up nearby, picnic tables were set up in the woods for the party-goers and we partied until we couldn't take any more insect bites!  It was quite a night.   

When we flew back to the UK, we left Woody in charge of Anju and now and again wondered when we got back if he might just have sailed her away on an adventure!

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