June 1-13, 2012... Washington DC

Our move into the Washington Channel anchorage couldn't be smoother; the folks at the Capital Yacht Club very welcoming.  It took us a few days to re-orient ourselves to the area, walking, walking, walking, and re-learning the metro.  We wanted to be tourists, a luxury we didn't have when living here.  We walked the Mall, the Tidal Basin, and the neighborhoods from the Waterfront through downtown and up to Dupont Circle, Adams Morgan, Woodley Park, and Tenleytown.  We revisited our old apartment building and relived those years -- good memories.

We had loads of family and friends to see, Jay and Galen of course, the Virginia Litmans at Roi's 5th birthday party, the Saltuses who came to walk Capitol Hill in the heat (!!), and our stay coincided with John III's TDY from Quito!  One of our most avid blog readers, Lou, came in for bagels on the Anhinga.

We also wanted to 'taste DC' again, and chose restaurants that mean Washington to us.  At one of our favorites, Cafe Divan, a Turkish restaurant on Wisconsin Ave., we had a real surprise when the owners recognized us and ushered us in warmly, though we hadn't been there in over 3 years.  The food was as good as we remembered, and we are glad they continue to thrive.
Another thing we missed while in the Caribbean were blues festivals.  Luckily for us, there happened to be one in Falls Church (accessible by metro!) and bands we'd seen years ago were scheduled to perform.  It was a hot day, but we danced to great songs from Cathy Ponton King and had a blast being entertained by Kelly Bell.  
Washington is so much fun.  Its too bad most people work while they are here... we don't know where the 2 weeks went, but we had a great time.

May 23-31, 2012... Chesapeake Gunkholing & Potomac River

First stop, Fishing Bay, Deltaville, VA. We have a soft spot in our hearts for this place because this is where we found Anhinga. We sailed downwind from the Poquoson trying out wing-on-wing, and it worked! A really pleasant, civilized way to travel. Pulling into the broad expanse of Fishing Bay is easy and kayaking options abound. We didn't waste any time and set out exploring Moore Creek (amazingly beautiful) and other spots on the Piankatank River. Our wildlife encounters were typical of the Bay, but we did kayak across a snake (!) and a muskrat. (OK - not on the scale of the alligator encounter, admittedly...)

Next we went to Gwynn's Island across from Fishing Bay. Many vacation homes here, but the local watermen are still out crabbing and oystering. Lots of history in this little place, and we walked to the cemetery to learn about the families that embraced it. This being Memorial Day weekend, a fair number of people were around boating and we joined in, kayaking to the beach. And to celebrate going on land for the first time in a week, we ate out in the one restaurant on the island. Love those crab cakes and hush puppies.

Now the big trip up to Washington DC, traveling the length of the Potomac River - almost 100 miles from the Chesapeake. The southern Potomac is HUGE, and there were times that we couldn't really tell that we were in a river and not out on the Bay. Our first anchorage was up Smith Creek and we just loved that place - a gorgeous cove with no houses and very protected water. The second day out we rocked and rolled up the river. What started out as a sporty sail ended up a bit scary (for weak sister Patti) as the weather started to deteriorate and the waves built and crashed. About a third of the way up the Potomac we cut the day short and ducked into the Wicomico River and anchored off Wicomico Beach in front of mansions. Yet another beautiful place. Day three couldn't be more different that the day before. Zero wind, flat mirror-like water on the Potomac. Motoring, we drove till heading into our last anchorage, the Port Tobacco River, where after skirting a zillion crab pots we anchored in yet another terrific spot and listened to not a sound other than the church bells from up the hill.

And finally, day four, we had some wind, but not enough for sailing, so we motorsailed. Having had careers centered in Washington DC and its environs, we spent many years in places we now saw from the water. How fabulous - we got a little choked up as we went under the Woodrow Wilson Bridge and saw Alexandria to the left, the Washington and Jefferson Monuments straight ahead, and the Capitol off to the right. We even saw the Cathedral up on the hill in NW DC. Turning off to go around Hains Point, we went past the beautiful grounds of the National Defense University and anchored off the Capital Yacht Club, smack dab in the middle of town. The contrast to the quiet anchorages of the lower Potomac was incredible. The cacophony of traffic on the SW-SE freeway, planes taking off from National Airport, and the Presidential helicopters flying low over us on their way to and from the White House reminded us that we weren't in Kansas anymore. But we are thrilled to be back!

Fishing Bay, VA: +37° 32' 21.30", -76° 20' 4.38"
Gwynn's Island, VA: +37° 29' 33.48", -76° 17' 42.90"
Smith Creek, MD: +38° 7' 25.56", -76° 24' 53.88"
Wicomico River, MD: +38° 18' 24.78", -76° 50' 53.94"
Port Tobacco River, MD: +38° 26' 52.20", -77° 2' 14.04"
Washington DC: +38° 52' 40.26", -77° 1' 36.72"

May 21-22, 2012... Onward to the Chesapeake Bay

Time to move again. We puttered up the Pasquotank River. The northern end of the Pasquotank is absolutely beautiful, and our morning ride through was very peaceful. After a few miles we entered the lock at South Mills along with 5 trawlers. The water level change was 8 feet and it took some time to raise us up. Then out and chugging down the Dismal Swamp Canal. This canal is a key element of Route 2 of the ICW. We weren't sure our draft could handle it, as the Army Corps of Engineers only dredges to 6 feet, but we never went aground or plowed a furrow and only bumped a couple of times.

The history of the canal is pretty interesting; begun in the late 1700s and finished in the early 1800s, it is the oldest operating manmade waterway in the country. By the end of the day, we had transited the canal and were at Deep Creek, VA, hoping we'd be able to tie up or anchor and await the bridge and lock openings the next morning. Linda and John on Easy, one of the boats that left South Mills lock with us had most of the bulkhead occupied, so they invited us to raft up to them. We did, and cannot thank them enough for helping us out.

Next day, we managed to separate ourselves without incident, move into and through Deep Creek lock (but not until Robert, the lock operator, serenaded us on a conch shell) and finish the ICW. So, this voyage, which started for us in February in Delray Beach, FL at mile marker 1050, ended in Norfolk, VA at mile marker 0. But, no time to think about that. We soon passed the Norfolk Naval Shipyard and slowed to watch a crane lift an FA-18 jet onto a new aircraft carrier. Patti took the wheel so that John could run back and forth and photograph every gray vessel for the next ten miles. We'll post SOME of them here.

We finally rounded Norfolk Naval Base and the blue-green waters of the Atlantic Ocean replaced the brownish waters of the ICW. It was like a breath of fresh air. We were in the Chesapeake Bay! Winds were weak, but we insisted on getting some canvas up, and motorsailed to our first Chesapeake anchorage in the Poquoson River. Anchor down; we're home!

Deep Creek, VA: +36° 44' 25.74", -76° 20' 42.00"
Poquoson River, VA: +37° 9' 33.30", -76° 24' 20.22"

May 16-20, 2012... Elizabeth City, NC

After a blustery arrival, we found our anchorage pretty comfortable for what turned out to be almost a week-long visit to this small city. Never did we think we would stay so many days, but the Annual North Carolina Potato Festival was going to take place in just a few days, and we couldn't imagine moving on and missing the fun. More about that later.

If you want to shoot a movie that takes place in an early 20th century town, this would be perfect. Many of the old commercial buildings in the Main Street district and homes all over town date from that period and earlier. Elizabeth City makes it easy to appreciate the architecture and history with well-organized and accessible information.

The Museum of the Albemarle is a terrific place to start a visit here. This museum is monumental and does a really good job of illustrating the history of the area; maritime, agricultural, political, and cultural. There was a new exhibit on the Civil War that taught us quite a bit about divided loyalties of that time in NE North Carolina.

The visitor center has bicycles to lend, so we took them up on it and took a spin around town and out to the Riverside district. Beautiful homes line the water and we took photos of pretty houses, met a guy fishing for catfish, and got more pictures of Anhinga riding at anchor in Forbes Bay.

Okay, so you are waiting to find out about the highlight of our visit: the Potato Festival. The day started with the potato peeling contest. 26 teams competed. These people are incredible - 4 pounds of potatoes in 5 minutes? And, free French fries were distributed from the peeled potatoes. We don't normally eat fries for breakfast, but hey, it's a festival!

Next big event - the Paul Bunyon Lumberjack Show! These two guys sawed, made bad jokes, and log rolled. Pretty entertaining. We watched twice. And we didn't get this, but an eagle joined the Zumba demonstration...

Another exciting show - the Coast Guard search and rescue demonstration. (the largest USCG air station is in E. City) A boat put a guy in the water and a helicopter came, dropped a rescue basket, demonstrated a sling rescue, and more. As boaters, we were especially impressed with these skills -- these are the guys you want to see coming when you are in trouble at sea.

Of course we would be remiss if we didn't mention that there were over 10 bands playing during the day. And, the Voltage Brothers played Saturday night at the street dance. So we topped off the day dancing to all those R&B and pop songs from the 60s, 70s, and later. What a great day! A great stay in a town we never planned on visiting in the first place!