Cruisin' The Loop Aboard Kibon
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Monday, June 7, 2004... Happy 46th Anniversary to Kay and Pearce.  We still give thanks that we have survived each other and all other elements.  Pearce was up early again and walked down to the store to get the morning paper.  By the time he came back, the lockmaster Robert Peake had come to work and was readying for our decent in the lock.  We cast off and prepared the lines for a port side tie off.  As everything was proceeding, a sailboat rounded the bend below the lock and asked when the next opening would be.  Robert replied that they would be on the next rise.  We had spent a beautifully quiet night at the dock, and we continued on down the rest of the Dismal Swamp Waterway until we rejoined the ICW.  The trip through Norfolk was interesting.  We were held up at the railroad bridge just before the Gilmerton Bridge.  When we asked for an opening for Gilmerton, the tender asked if we could pass under the RR Bridge (which was lower than the highway bridge.)  Last year we were held up at this point for over an hour because work was being done on the RR bridge.  No one was willing to say anything about what was happening.  Today, as we were waiting for the openings, we saw some smoke coming along the tracks -- a train was coming!  It would be nice if someone let the poor recreational vehicles know what is going on.  The train went through, the bridge opened, the highway bridge opened, and we went on through.

We continued on down the long passage through the docks of Norfolk and Portsmouth into Hampton Roads.  This is a very large area of boat channels that commercial, military, and pleasure craft use to transverse these huge waters.  We passed and were passed by tugs, tows, pilot boats, huge container ships, many pleasure craft, many working commercial fishermen...it was a time to be alert.  We came across to Hampton on the south side of the James River, and we tied up at the Hampton Public Docks.  The Blackbeard Festival had just ended, and we were welcomed into the harbor.  Skipper Bob's book talks about a Happy Hour at the Radisson Hotel that has plentiful hors d'oeuvres.  Forget about it.  The hotel has cancelled that bountiful feast and now offers pop corn and pretzels.  Drinks are full price.  We suggest all Radisson Hotels be punished for this one's need to rake in the cash.  Back to Kibon for our own cocktail hour and dinner.

We put into the Downtown Hampton Public Docks for two reasons: it was the closest docks to the VA Hospital that Pearce wanted to visit, and they have a buy two days, get one free deal.  We unloaded the bicycles and rode across the bridge to Phoebus.  The bridge was only 30 something feet high, but since it crowned, we needed to walk up to the top and think about riding down.  Pearce could do the down ride, but Kay had to wait until the bridge sides became solid.  Then OK.  The wait at the VA was 4 to 5 hours, they suggested that Pearce come back very early tomorrow, 6:30 or earlier.  We rode around Hampton College, looked at their impressive football stadium, and rode back to Kibon.  

Tuesday, June 8, 2004...  Pearce got up very early to go to the VA and was happy to come back by 9:30 to say that the doctors gave him a few prescriptions and a clean bill of health.  We rode over to the laundry facility -- 1.5 miles away -- it was nice, but forget about having to go that far.  The Public Docks should have something more convenient.  We spent part of the afternoon trying to relax, and the other part of the afternoon washing down the decks.  By the time Joyce and Rex Williams arrived we were ready for a cocktail hour and then a dinner out.  Joyce was one of my bridesmaids and a long time friend from junior and high school, so it was good to spend the evening with them.
Wednesday, June 9, 2004...Chesapeake Finally! We're anchored tonight in a lovely little harbor at Deltaville, Virginia, about fifty miles north of Norfolk, on the western side of the Chesapeake, just south of the Rappahannock River.  As we were coming out of the marina in Hampton, we heard that an aircraft carrier was leaving from Norfolk and two warships were coming in.  We hung out near one of the sea markers and watched the Navy pass in review.  God Bless those ships coming home, and God Keep Them in His Arms for the ship going out.

Since we crossed Chesapeake Bay last year and went up the Eastern Shore, we decided to go up the western side of the Bay this year (with possibly a few side trips).  The weather window had today and tomorrow as good traveling days with the wind out of the southwest and seas from (the most) 2 to 3 feet.  We had a good trip up to Jacksonville Creek, which is just below the Rappahannock River.  We put into an anchorage at Deltaville.  There was a town dock that would have allowed us temporary access to the village, a few miles away.  There is another dockage area up another branch of the Bay that would allow sailors dockage right in the town.  We didn't need anything and weren't interested.

Thursday, June 10, 2004...We left all the sailboats in the marina -- maybe they had read the upcoming (possibly) storm that might come through later tonight or tomorrow, but anyway, this is one of the few times we have left an anchorage before any sailboats.  We cruised out to the Chesapeake again and headed north.  The Chesapeake has a number of interesting lighthouses. One we passed is called Point No Point Light and it protects a point where there is no point, just a significant shoal protruding out into the bay. We passed by the Potomac River and continued north to the Patuxent River.  The guide books talk about terrible conditions if the wind and the tides are in opposition when crossing the Potomac.  I guess we really hit everything at the most beautiful conditions, because the water and the tides were just great.  We just swelled and swayed all the way across. The south side of the Patuxent River is the home of the Patuxent Naval Air Station which spreads for miles. Pearce had a feeling of homecoming as this is where he was stationed as a navy control tower operator during part of the Korean War. The base looks like it has grown considerably since then. Across the river are the Solomons, one of the finest protected ports on the Chesapeake. As you come into the harbor, which is actually several wide deep creeks, you are hit with the sight of hundreds of sailboats... truly, a sailor's haven. We docked at the Comfort Inn Beacon Marina, a combination motel and boatel,  because it has a pool and we want to watch the Reagan Funeral service tomorrow on TV. After cooling in  the pool (someone just said, "Did you bring all this heat with you from Florida?"), we set up the satellite dish to watch the news during dinner. Unfortunately,  a large thunderstorm planted itself to the southwest. TV stopped in the middle of JAG; so tonight, it's early to bed with a book.

Friday, June 11, 2004...a misty day with light rain showers.  In between watching the services, we went to West Marine where Pearce looked at all the toys but couldn't buy anything because we left our coupons on Kibon.  We had fish and chips for lunch and visited the Calvert Marine Museum.  Aside from their displays on the history and life of the Patuxent River, they have a screwpile lighthouse that used to mark the shoal at Drum Point.  The shoal finally came out to meet it, and the lighthouse was replaced by a light pole.  A screwpile lighthouse is one whose steel legs are screwed into the mud and sand of the river bottom rather than having a concrete foundation built on bedrock like the more traditional looking lighthouses.  When the bridge across the lower Patuxent River was being built in the '70s, the construction company cut the poles at the waterline and lifted the lighthouse to its present position up Back Creek in Solomons.  We climbed into the lighthouse and toured its two story living quarters and the cupola where the Fresnel lens is.  We had a nice view of the town.  Kay walked up to a nice market for some fresh produce and met Pearce back at the boat.  It began to rain in earnest as the front went through.     

Saturday, June 12, 2004...What a beautiful day -- clear blue skies, the humidity is gone, and the temperature is in the upper 60s.  We joined the many sailboats leaving the harbor.  Some are traveling like we are, and some may be going out for a race or just a sail on a beautiful day.  We crossed tacks with a barge (well ahead of it) and then we paced each other all the way up the Bay until we turned off into the Miles River, slightly below and opposite Annapolis.  We also passed a huge tanker docked at an offshore platform loading or unloading compressed gas.  I sure wouldn't want to serve on that kind of a tanker!  The fishing boats were out in force at the mouth of the Choptank River.  We picked up some wave action crossing that wide river.  Several years ago Pearce and Jerry Sachnoff had sailed their El Toros off of Cambridge which is 20 some miles up the river.  Even there it was a challenge.  

When we turned northeast to go up the Miles River, we joined many sail and power boats headed in the same direction.  At one point Pearce counted at least 20 sailboats behind us and as many in front.  Most of them were headed around the corner and down to St. Michaels.  The guidebook says the harbor is crowded on a summer weekend, and slips in the marinas need to be reserved well in advance.  We arrived mid-afternoon in advance of most of the sailboats and squeezed Kibon between a sailboat and two cruisers.  After making sure that we were well anchored, we took the dinghy to shore.  The town is mostly along one main street which is lined with shops and restaurants housed in buildings from the last two centuries.  It's pretty, pricey, and full of tourists (like us!)  We wandered around the streets, looked at the crafts and gift items, bought steaks, Romaine lettuce, strawberries and came on back to Kibon to have dinner and watch the sunset.

Sunday, June 13, 2004...Pearce was up to watch the sunrise, and then he plotted the rest of our trip.  We should be at the Chesapeake and Delaware Canal today or tomorrow and will head down Delaware Bay on the outgoing tide Monday or Tuesday.  We plan to go the inside route up the New Jersey Intercoastal, arriving in Manasquan sometime Friday.  Son-in-law Donald and daughter Caryl will meet in New York City and drive to Manasquan to meet us Friday evening.  They'll cross to Jones Inlet with Pearce on Saturday while Kay drives the car back to Amityville.  Of course, this all depends on the wind and the weather.  

Today is a dull, cloudy day, and while there isn't much wind, the Bay is quite choppy.  The Bay narrows above Kent Island, and we are outside the shipping channel alongside several barges and tankers heading in the same direction.  We were passed by a tug towing a barge full of containers.  Pearce called it a moving van.  We were also passed by many fast cruisers throwing out huge wakes.  One group of four had us rocking and rolling for 10 minutes.  While we were traveling through the Kent Narrows on our way back to the Chesapeake, we heard about the 13th Great Chesapeake Bay Swim which started at Sandy Park which is on the west side of the Chesapeake and finished across the bay at Kent Island, a distance of 4. 5 miles.  The Bay was effectively closed to all boat traffic that wanted to go up the Chesapeake from Annapolis to Baltimore!!!  We could hear all the boats complaining, including some dumbie who said, "I'm on my way from Florida to New York and I demand that I not be delayed."  The patient answer was, "We'll open to all traffic after the last swimmer has cleared the channel."  We just happened to be going up the inside way -- weren't we lucky?  

4:30 pm, 65 miles and we finish the Chesapeake. It all narrows down to a narrow ditch called The C&D Canal connecting the Chesapeake with the Delaware River. Along the canal is Chesapeake City, a nice anchorage (the only one on the canal), where we turned in for the night. We anchored at first among a tight pack of sail and power boats. One small unattended sailboat insisted on zigging whenever we zagged, bumping our transom every few minutes. Suddenly, a spot became available at the free town dock. We moved; enjoyed an evening with a sociable group of live-aboard sailors and spent several hours trading sea stories.

Monday, June 14,2004... Flag Day!... Some of the sea stories last night dwelled on the horror of going down the Delaware with an ebbing tide against a southerly wind. This morning the tide hadn't started ebbing and the southerly was still light. Kay remembered the horror stories, but reluctantly agreed to give the Delaware a try. It was relatively quiet out there before the tide turned; several ships came and went passing each other, us and the atomic power plant. We had  preplanned several bailout coves and rivers along the Jersey shore, and, sure enough, around 10 o'clock, we were starting to get beat up. We put in to the Cohansey River after fighting the Delaware for only ten miles. The Cohansey is deep and windy and meanders past Greenwich, New Jersey, a lovely, historic town that was founded before Philadelphia. We tied up at Hancock's Harbor Marina, rustic, but quiet and friendly, unloaded our bikes and pedaled into the village. The guide book says it's only a mile, but we clocked at least three... Thanks to gear shifters and no hills, we made it there, lunched, groceried, touristed and made it back too! The guide book says that this town was established a few years before Philadelphia, had an intimate relationship with Blackbeard, and suffered two British invasions.  It would have been nice to peruse some of this history, but the Historical Society was closed, and most of the old homes are private residences.  Along the way we came across a little farm stand and bought a stack (about three pounds) of just picked asparagus for three dollars. It was an honor stand so we put the money in a box on the counter. Never saw the farmer. Back at the boat, after a nap, Pearce caught a huge catfish and filleted it. A cold chardonnay, shrimp cocktail, the catfish and asparagus was a memorable gourmet dinner. Tomorrow, if the Delaware lays down, we'll turn the corner at Cape May. 

New Jersey, New York and back "home" to Long Island is the next chapter... worth a new page of its own.

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