The density of people and boats in Annapolis during the boat show is something to see to believe. With 27 mooring balls out of commission due to the expanded temporary docks, anchoring and mooring space is at a premium. With our somewhat smaller length, we qualified for the mooring balls in St Mary’s Cove, inside the Spa Creek bridge, which surprisingly had some availability almost every night. The maximum length allowed is 35’ 11”. We come in at 35.4 feet, so we just made it.
From our vantage point, we could watch the harbor transform. On the Sunday before the show, all private boats were required to leave the inner harbor (aka Ego Alley) by 6:30 pm. The dinghy dock was closed at noon. Also, all boats had to be off the affected mooring balls by noon as well. The materials needed to build the new temporary docks were already positioned to deploy, with huge timbers for pilings, floating docks, and a working barge to drive the pilings. By Monday, the first wave of boats were already in place. Each group had to be brought in before the next set of docks could be put in place, blocking them into their slips. There were stacks of pallets, a convoy of forklifts and truck after truck delivering the goods for the vendor booths that would cover the site.
By Thursday, all was ready for the opening day. However, the high ticket price for this “VIP” day kept most cruisers away until Friday. Friday was therefore a very busy day, with the dinghy docks already full to overflowing long before the 10am start time. We found it hard to see everything we wanted to, despite our arriving as the show opened. We visited the Yanmar booth, looked at several life raft models, checked out the latest in LED lights, among many other vendors there. We got to catch up with Bruce Empey from Neil Pryde Sails, who had worked with us in replacing our main sail. We met Ken and Joy from Slow Dancin’, before meeting up with Dave, Donna, Roger and Amy from Merlin and Shango around 4pm. We closed the show down as we made our last purchase just before closing at 7pm and headed back to Orion, satisfied that we had done the show right.
Dave’s dad had joined us in the very beginning as we learned to sail with the Annapolis Sailing
School back in 2004. So, we were thrilled when he accepted our invitation to join us for a week in early October to explore the Bay with a little bit more experience than in those early days.
He arrived Saturday evening, October 6th. After touring Annapolis and the US Naval Academy on Sunday, we headed out Monday morning for the Magothy River. (This was the stop we missed in our original Annapolis Sailing School adventure, since the winds and our inexperience were working against a trip up through the Bay bridge.) We arrived in the anchorage behind Dobbins Island with only 1 other boat for company. That gradually changed, but we had a pleasant night there before heading out the next morning for Galesville. On our way out of the Magothy, we passed the Pride of Baltimore II, which was anchored there. She was attracting a lot of attention from the other boats leaving the river as well. It was good to see her back together again after the terrible dismasting that occurred early last Spring.
The mild cold front that passed on Tuesday night was followed by a much stronger one on Wednesday night. This one brought thunderstorms, rain – lots of it – and strong winds. It also dramatically cooled off the temperatures, which was a big relief. We flew down the river on 25kt winds and higher gusts and a furled headsail. Since we were just heading to Solomons, we took some time to sail around in the river before heading into the harbor. The winds didn’t die down until later Friday afternoon. This kept the harbor full of boats unwilling to tangle with that much wind on the Bay.
We took a day off from traveling on Friday and visited the Calvert Marine Museum, which is at water’s edge in Solomons and hosts the restored Drum Point Lighthouse. It was a very interesting museum, with indoor and outdoor exhibits to explore, and of course, the lighthouse itself.
We said goodbye to Dave’s dad on Saturday afternoon, as he flew back to Rochester. Our trip to BWI took us by our old haunts at Liberty Marina, so we stopped to visit some friends there – Harry, Dan and Regina, Grady and Ruth. Harry on Linda Sea traveled south last year as far as Brunswick and hopes to do the same again this year. We exchanged boat cards and promised to look for each other along the way.
If you don’t count the boat show, we didn’t do much on Orion over the past 2 weeks. (It was just too much of a social whirl.) We did manage to squeeze in an oil change, top off the water and fuel tanks, and fully charge the batteries but not much more.
With other friends now underway at various points along the East Coast, we started tuning in more regularly to the Waterway Net on the ham radio, which meats every morning at 7:45am on frequency 7.268. We managed to hear Eleanor M as they began their trip south out of Newburyport and Marianna as they moved toward the Cape Cod canal. Now we can track each other’s progress, even if we can’t talk directly by other means.
While in Annapolis, we took a day trip into DC to ”do the tourist thing”, where we visited the mint and the restored Library of Congress building. Being off season, it was a great time to visit, with very few crowds. The Library of Congress building, having been restored to its former splendor in 1997, should be on everyone’s list of things to see in Washington. It is breathtakingly beautiful. We managed to squeeze in some lunch at Captial Q, Dave’s favorite BBQ place before heading back to Annapolis at day’s end.
We woke up Sunday morning (Oct. 14th) to find Kokopelli, a boat we’d first met in the Bahamas, on the mooring ball next to us. They were planning a month of travels in the bay, but no trip further south this year. Monday night, our last night in Solomons, we left Zahnisers and anchored in Mill Creek. (This is the one off Back Creek, not the one nearby off the Patuxent River.) We had read about anchoring in this creek, but had always passed it by in favor of Back Creek. Although we anchored fairly close to the entrance, we took a long dinghy ride up to the end, where we found many possible anchorages, with navigable waters almost to the very end.
We are now working our way south to Hampton, where we will get to spend some time with our kids and their families before heading down the waterway. We hope to catch up with Marianna and Merlin there before we start out for Mile Zero.