September 20 - October 9, 2012... Chesapeake Cruising

You may have noted gaps in our blogging over the summer.  We’ve just been a little busy with Jay’s move to Oregon (we went out there to see Corvallis and make sure Jay was well established), and other non-boat issues occupying our time in August and September.  We kept Anhinga at Sarles through mid-September, finally breaking free for good.  With fall coming on, we started our migration down the Chesapeake Bay.  Our general mission was to find warmer weather, though we also wanted to see places we hadn’t been before.  

Our first stop was Hudson Creek on the Little Choptank River.  The first thing we noticed was the quiet.  Again, it is amazing how we can get used to noise when living in a more densely populated place.  Getting into the kayak for our first exploration, we saw a turtle swimming nearby.  Just a little guy, but exciting just the same.  Hudson is oriented north-south, and the cold fronts were funneling north winds right down the creek.  This made paddling more than challenging, and it whipped up the water making our anchorage a bit uncomfortable.  So, on the second day we moved off the creek into a cove to get a little more lee.  This was an interesting place to paddle, the houses along the shore ranging from the very modest to the very palatial.  We went all the way to the end, hiding from the wind and water behind marshy shores and stands of trees.

Our next destination was Smith Island.  Every time we go through the Bay, we try to stop there and never have, so this was to be our chance.  We didn’t get an early enough start from Hudson, so the first night we stopped over in the Honga River, and finished the trip the next day.  We had a beautiful sail (saw pelicans!! we are south again!!) and anchored north of Smith, just past Swan Island, in the channel that goes east to Tangier Sound.  This channel is deep enough for us, but only 150 feet wide before the bottom comes up for the marshes.  We anchored exactly in the middle, keeping our keel a couple of feet above ground.  We spent the early evening enjoying the egrets, herons, and bald eagle!! and planned on visiting the island the next day.  But, we woke up to a roaring wind and we had shifted slightly out of the channel and were hitting bottom.  There was no way we would be able to stay.  The weather reports indicated that the wind was only going to get worse that night and the next day, so we needed to leave while the weather was ‘less bad’!  Easily pulling off the mud, we left Smith Island -- a place we are destined to never visit.  We bumped our way through the square waves in the worst weather we had ever experienced on the Bay, and headed for shelter on the Western Shore.

Checking the charts, we saw that Mill Creek off Ingram Bay offered pretty good protection.  Up we went, found a cove with still water, dropped the hook, and breathed.  It hadn’t been a good day, but the evening was promising a beautiful sunset, and we were safe and comfortable.  We ended up staying in Mill Creek for 4 nights.  This was an absolutely beautiful place, we paddled the creek, out to Ingram Bay, and several other creeks.  The water was clear and we could see the rays that swam under our kayak.  One night we noticed a familiar boat pull into the anchorage.  Our friend Phil on Sweet Pea had come in from Solomons, so we got to catch up after not seeing each other since the Bahamas two years ago.  That’s cruising.

Another place we had been before, though not by water, was Urbanna, Virginia.  We liked the town and thought if we ever had a chance, we would go up the Rappahannock River to visit.  So, 16 miles up the river we went and anchored off the town dock.  Here we were able to re-provision, do laundry, and eat out.  People were very nice to us, welcoming us to town, offering us rides and even their cars to help us out while we were here.  We even had a great blue heron welcome us -- sitting either on our hoisted dinghy or the solar panel, not caring if we got close.  The weather was less cooperative, and we had a couple of pretty wet days, and we waited for yet another cold front to turn the wind so that we could sail down the river.


But first, we wanted to fill up on fuel, and Urbanna had none, so we went across the Rappahannock to Irvington.  Up Carter Creek, we got fuel, water, and a beautiful place to anchor.  And lots of creeks and side creeks to explore by kayak.  How is it possible that there are all these beautiful homes on all these rivers and creeks?  Who are these people?  Well, we’ll never know -- we left the next day to go downriver.  We actually had somewhere we wanted to be -- the Blues and Brews Festival in Gloucester, Virginia.

Thursday we sailed up Mobjack Bay, found the Ware River and headed past shoally shores to a pretty corner and anchored.  Having scoped out the river on google maps imagery, we knew that the public boat ramp was only a mile and a half away -- an easy enough paddle.  And the road to town was only a couple of miles from there.  Friday we would do a recon run to make sure we would be able to make it to the festival.  But Friday morning we woke up to a major emergency -- our coffee pot was broken.  So the recon run turned into a shopping expedition.  Finding no place to buy a coffee pot in downtown Gloucester, we walked the highway to Walmart.  We found a pot and will not go into caffeine withdrawal.  And yes, Saturday we got to the festival, danced and listened to wonderful bands from southern Virginia, and made it back to Anhinga, tired, but happy.  (BTW - there are bald eagles here too!!)

Hudson Creek, Little Choptank River:  anchorage 1:  +38° 32' 28.20", -76° 14' 41.88"
anchorage 2:  +38° 34' 15.24", -76° 14' 50.64"
Asquith Island, Honga River:  +38° 16' 34.50", -76° 7' 44.04"
Smith Island:  +38° 0' 17.58", -76° 2' 9.12"
Mill Creek, Ingram Bay:  +37° 47' 31.44", -76° 19' 22.56"
Urbanna Creek, Rappahannock River:  +37° 38' 13.44", -76° 34' 8.58"
Carter Creek, Rappahannock River:  +37° 39' 55.92", -76° 26' 5.46"
Ware River, Mobjack Bay:  +37° 23' 34.32", -76° 27' 33.72"

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