First we want to wish EVERYONE Seasons Greetings. We hope your plans and preparations for the festive season are well underway and that you have a great one with family and friends. As for us, well we are still meandering down the east coast of the U.S.A. not sure where we will be for Christmas. It is so nice not to have the stress that can go with this season. America really does know how to celebrate Christmas, and we are really enjoying seeing how the different towns that we are passing through decorate and dress themselves up with lovely decorations. Everyone really seems to get into the Christmas Spirit with shops, banks, public buildings and private homes all putting up wreaths with red ribbon, Christmas Trees, lights, and the likes. Even some of the private docks in front of peoples homes, will have a Christmas Tree covered in lights sitting out on it. It really is very pretty. We have even managed to catch a Christmas parade which was fun.
|Light House Cape May|
After our five days at Cape May waiting for a weather window so we could to continue, we eventually upped anchor and motored on out of the harbour. There must have been a local fishing contest going on that same day as the breakwater was lined with fishermen with their rods out, plus dozens of boats draped in fishing gear were leaving the harbour as well.
|Ship John Shoal Light Delaware Bay|
The sun is out but the wind is really cold. We motor around Cape May with Alec taking the inside route. A little hair-raising at one stage to say the least with a disturbing chop due to the shoals. Once around the corner we head out towards the main shipping channel and up into Delaware Bay. There is a canal which cuts across Cape May but unfortunately for us we could not take it as there is a fixed bridge with a vertical clearance of 55ft. and our mast is 58ft high.
|Nuclear Plant, Delaware|
We are able to sail for most of the morning, but then loose the wind. We can’t believe it, but the temperature climbs to 20 deg.c. out of the wind. It turns into a lovely day apart from the lack of wind. By mid afternoon we are passing the Salem Nuclear Power Plant and heading towards to entrance to the Chesapeake Delaware Canal. Delaware Bay is a fairly busy shipping route as it leads to Philadelphia further on up the Delaware River.
|Sunset at entrance to Canal|
As the days are much shorter now and we want to do the canal in daylight, we decide drop anchor in the Delaware River just outside the entrance to the canal. I am glad we are now upstream of the Nuclear Power Plant or we might all be glowing in the dark !!! We join another yacht who is also anchored outside the entrance. We are sitting just downstream from Delaware City.
|Farmland along Elk River|
|Chesapeake Delaware Canal|
The Chesapeake Delaware Canal is 14 miles long. It took 150 years to go from an idea to actually being built, and it took more than 2,600 men seven years to dig it out with pickaxes and shovels. In 1829 it was opened to shipping and was 10ft deep and 66ft wide. Since then it has been deepened and made wider and the original four locks have been removed. At its western end it opens into the Elk River then into Chesapeake Bay. Once through the canal and into the Elk river we were now passing farmlands and even grape growing countryside.
|Alec takes a dive|
|Critters in water filter|
That evening just after 1700 we dropped anchor at the entrance to Worton Creek, and estuary on the upper western Maryland Peninsular. We were having an issue with the Port engine and it had stopped pumping water – not good !! Alec had been talking about taking a dive to check the water intake for the watermaker which was also not behaving, but had decided that 12 deg c. water temperature was just a bit TOO cold. Now he HAD to go over and see. But first he cleaned the water filter for the engine and found a small fish, a baby crab and a bigger crab leg inside the filter. This was not the cause of the engine problem, so with Murray and I trying to be as positive as we could about his pending dive, he put on warm thermals under his “tropical” dive suit ( for that is all we have, not COLD water dive suites ) and over he goes. The dive lasted a total of 7 minutes before he just had to get out, BUT he did clean away an algae growth from over the watermaker intake, and thank goodness the Port engine intake was all clear. So we can now make fresh water again, and we will have to keep a close eye on the Port engine. It is being a little spasmodic – sometimes going well, then it stops pumping water again. He is now looking at the water pump !
|SHAMAL in Annapolis|
Next day we head on down the Chesapeake and into Spar Bay, Annapolis where we tie up to a mooring buoy in the harbour. We spend five nights here. Annapolis is Maryland’s capital. It is also the self-proclaimed sailing capital of the world !!!! Another claim to fame is it is home to U.S.Naval Academy where John Paul Jones, a Scot who was the “father” of the American Navy, is buried in the Main Chapel. Strange how this unscrupulous character who was usually denigrated as a pirate, but managed to avoid any such charges, rose to such a prestigious position in the US navy. He started life at sea sailing on British merchant and slave ships. He climbed through the ranks very quickly and became a captain after the death of his captain who died of yellow fever.
He set off to the West Indies. On a ship there he flogged one of his sailors, a carpenter, who later died. He killed another crew member in a dispute over wages in Tobago. A warrant for his arrest still is out today for that charge !!!! He then fled to Virginia and joined the American Navy to fight against the British.
He later served in the Russian Imperial Navy, and for the French. He died in France and his body was shipped back to the States in 1905 after 113 years lying in a Parisian cemetery. His grave was found by the then US Ambassador to France at that time.
The State House
OK back to Annapolis. It is a very pretty colonial town with lovely buildings and tree-lined streets. The State House finished in 1779 served as the nations capital from 1783 to 1784. We walked around the town looking in at the eclectic shops, drank coffee and ate out. Like nearly all the towns we have visited since, the locals really got into the Christmas spirit here, and it is so nice to see. Again the shops, banks, local public buildings and private homes are beautifully decorated in lights, wreaths, red bows and other ornaments. We watched as a huge team of volunteers came into town one morning, and each group was designated a street area to decorate. Annapolis look lovely after they had finished.
|This Sign was at a Bus Stop|
After some homework done by our son Murray, we decided to do our trip to Washington DC from here. This would save us time as we would have to sail 57nm on down the coast to Point Lookout, then up the Potomac River about 100nm. From Annapolis we were there in two hours travelling by bus then train. One thing we have found quite funny in some parts of the States, are the notices around town outside shops, banks etc., that say - No Loitering, No Trespassing, No Soliciting. The above sign was at a Bus Stop – the dictionary describes loitering as to stand or wait idly – a bit hard to stand any other way at a Bus Stop for most people I would say.
|Looking out from Lincoln Memorial|
Washington is a great place to visit, especially as we had Murray in his wheelchair. It was a beautiful sunny day, but cold again. We walked for miles pushing him around, but the streets are wide and the area we concentrated on was nearly all flat. We visited the Washington Monument, the National World War Two Memorial, Lincoln Memorial, Vietnam Veterans Memorial, The White House, Capitol Hill and a couple of the Smithsonian Museums, which are very well done. One of the museums was the National Air & Space Museum which houses full-size air and space craft including the Apollo 11 command module. It is a city where one could easily spend a week as there is so much to see. We had the same bus driver on our return trip to Annapolis after we got off the train. He was great with Murray and calls him Captain. He talks the whole way back and plays us Christmas music singing along with it.
|The White House|
The next day – Monday 23rd November, dawns clear but oh it is cold. At 06.30 it is –1deg.c. I now have layers of clothes on. We get Murray to stay in bed as we untie our mooring line and move on out of the harbour.
|Tender in a Lake, Point Lookout|
Sails up and we are running on a broad reach and down wind between 5-7kts with winds 15kts gusting to 22kts. Eventually the sun comes out but we are still so cold. After a 60nm run we drop anchor on the eastern side of Point Lookout just outside the entrance to the Potomac River. The winds have totally died, and there is no shelter here, but we are sitting on a mill pond. The following morning the sun is up and it is a barmy 6deg.c. !!!!!! We are not in a hurry to move today so Alec does maintenance in the morning, then we up anchor and move around the corner just inside the entrance to the river. Later we take the tender ashore for a bit of an explore.
|Fishing Bay, Deltaville|
Our next stop is Fishing Bay, Deltaville on the western shore of the southern Chesapeake. It is a very pretty and peaceful anchorage, and very sheltered. There is a slight fog at dawn as we raise the anchor and head south to Sarah Creek at the entrance to the York River. Again no wind and another lovely anchorage. Next morning we pick up diesel before crossing the river and anchoring off Yorktown. Here we tried to tie up to the pontoon at the marina, but they had closed. This may have been because it was Thanksgiving weekend, but still one would have thought they would have had a least one person on duty.
|Victory Monument, Yorktown|
|SHAMAL Anchored off Yorktown|
We take the tender in to the beach and set off to explore historic Yorktown. It is well known for the role it played in both the Revolutionary and Civil wars, but this area dates back to 1570 when nine Spanish Jesuits established a mission here. Yorktown was officially founded in 1691 and developed into a busy tobacco port. In 1781 the British army comprising of 8,300 men marched into the port to establish a British naval base. That went down like a lead balloon, and the American and French forces marched in and surrounded the British, and after a three week siege the British surrendered. The visitors centre had a great amount of information and a great shop. We also visited the Victory Monument and other interesting parts of the town.
|Pelicans and Seabirds|
The following morning we up anchor and again have no wind. We watch the pelicans dive bombing into the bay having their breakfast as we motor out. It is now 13 deg.c. We motor the 28nm down to Hampton which sits on the northern shore of Hampton Roads, just across the entrance to the James River from Norfolk and Portsmouth. We have now come down Chesapeake Bay as far as we will go.
It is here in Hampton that Murray will be leaving SHAMAL. We spend our first night at anchor, then move into the Hampton Public Docks where we spend four nights. Hampton has a quaint shopping street one block back from the town docks. I loved the murals painted on the buildings.
|Murals of Hampton|
|Murals of Hampton|
We do a big stock up at the local supermarket and find a taxi that is able to take Murray’s wheelchair which is great. We visit the local shopping centre and stock up with some Christmas presents for Murray to take home. I get loads of washing done so we are all up to date with that. Then we have to say good-bye to our Shore Manager. We take him out to the airport where he is flying down to Miami to spend a week with a friend before heading back to New Zealand.
|Murray leaves us in Hampton|
Before leaving here there is one more boat job that needs to be done. When Alec did his dive in the Upper Chesapeake he noticed the zincs on the props needed to be replaced. He had been looking for a travel lift and was hoping that he would be able to do it with SHAMAL sitting in the sling, but after talking with the Dock Manager he was told that a diver would do it for much less. So over they came and in they went. The water temperature was still only 12 deg.c.but they had the correct gear. Within an hour they had replaces the zincs, cleaned the props and even given the hull a quick scrape. We were now ready for the next leg of our travels.
We will sign out here, and again wish you all A VERY MERRY CHRISTMAS AND A SAFE AND PROSPEROUS NEW YEAR.
The Admiral and The Commander