Sailing (some) to Solomons

July 5, 2015
Where to from Portsmouth? Solomons is at least 2 long days or 3 easy days away. Anchoring out in Mobjack Bay might be fun. Nah. It’s going to be in the 90’s again. During the day, we can take the heat but at night after being on the water all day, A/C feels really good. We set our course for Deltaville.

We leave Portsmouth around 7:30 AM. There’s quite a bit of activity on the river for a Sunday morning especially a Sunday morning after the 4th of July holiday. Shipping lanes are busy. We see cranes taking containers off barges, and fishing, lots of fishing.

It’s a lot quieter in the Chesapeake Bay. We eat a bowl of cereal. Steve turns on the auto helm, gets himself situated on one of his noodle lifelines, and keeps watch. I practice my cleat hitches and help Steve look for markers.

Steve almost always sees the markers first. There it is, he says, pointing. I can never tell where he is pointing so I ask where. He just keeps pointing and says there.

I get frustrated and start reading the Waterway Guide Magazine. Ironically, there’s an article in there about on-board communications called “Boat Whisperers”, and I read this to Steve.

“Always point out landmarks, other boats and particularly the next navigation aid using color descriptions and a clock reference.”  I demonstrate this when I point out York Spit Light as we cross the entrance to the York River.

M (pointing): There it is.
S: Where?
M (still pointing): There’s a black blob at about 1:00. See it?
S (adjusting our course): Yes, I do.
M: You’re welcome.

Neither one of us have trouble seeing Wolf Trap Light as we pass Mobjack Bay before turning left into the mouth of the Rappahannock River.

Wolf Trap Light is off the west shore of the Chesapeake Bay, Virginia, northwest of the mouth of the York River
Wolf Trap Light is off the west shore of the Chesapeake Bay, northwest of the mouth of the York River

I am at the helm heading into Broad Creek. Steve is navigating but takes the wheel when I tell him I am going to slow down because I am only in about 3 feet of water. In my defense, it’s a narrow channel and it shoals quickly so that’s to be expected when you pass an oncoming boat.

We stay at Deltaville Yachting Center for the next two days. A well-taken care of, friendly marina. Good, clean facilities. Excellent Wi-Fi signal. Pool.  Loaner car. We provision, do laundry, watch a few episodes of Longmire, and that’s about it. Yep, I can live in a marina.

July 7, 2015
We’re going to Tangier Island. A straight shot across the bay, it should be an easy trip. Like us, the diesel is a little slow to start, but once she warms up, we motor on out into the bay. Winds are blowing 10 – 12 knots on our nose and it’s a little choppy so no sailing today. Steve is keeping watch and I am in the main salon reading. I look out the hatch in the quarter berth and decide I better go out on deck. I am not feeling quite right.

I like to sit in the companionway and look out over the deck so I sit there for a while. A few ujjayi breathes help (see link below) but I am not going down below anytime soon.

We get to Tangier Island around 1:30. I feel better. We call the marina on the VHF radio. No answer, but that’s okay. We’re in a quaint little harbor with lots to see so we’re in no hurry to dock.

We call again. No answer. We pull into a slip after our third call goes unanswered.
The wind is blowing us into the slip but I get a line on a piling before we ram the pier. Steve starts tying the boat up. Two lines on and here comes Mr. Parks riding down the dock on his scooter. We had read about Mr. Parks. He’s the 80-some year old marina owner.

Mr. Parks apologizes for not being there to meet us and then tells Steve that he is tying up wrong. Amazingly, Steve is speechless long enough to realize that cussing out an 80-some year old man is not in his best interest and dutifully follows the often conflicting orders that Mr. Parks is barking from the dock without blowing a gasket.

A small close-knit community, Tangier Island residents make their living off the water. We spend the afternoon walking the streets of this small village and listening to the locals speaking to one another in what sounds like the High Tider dialect spoken in Hyde County, North Carolina.

No Trepassing
This sign may be about as old as Mr. Parks himself…
Nice Boat
That’s a nice boat. It needs work but it’s a nice boat.

We eat an early dinner and with no Wi-Fi to stream Netflix, we turn in early.

No Service
No service? This is one remote place!
Verizon Sign Edited
Wait, I am confused. How can I not have service if there’s a Verizon on the island??

July 8, 2015
We talk about dinghying over to the beach on the south end of the island, but we’re ready to move on. For us, Tangier Island is one of those places we’re glad we visited but probably won’t go back to. We’re underway by 8:15.

With winds blowing 15 – 20 knots, it’s a rough ride. Steve lets the headsail out and things smooth out some. Having felt not quite right the day before, I took a Dramamine before leaving and even though I took the “less-drowsy” formula I still get sleepy so I take a nap.

The highlights of our day are realizing that the ship we’re approaching is a target ship and trying coconut water.

I don't remember seeing a target practice zone on the chart.
I don’t remember seeing a target practice zone on the chart.

We like water and we drink a lot of it. We drink Gatorade every once in a while, but if I am going to drink empty calories, I prefer they be the fermented kind. I’d read about coconut water and bought some a while back thinking it would be a nice change of pace. We try it. BLECK!  Not good. YUCK!! Not good at all. In fact, coconut water reminds me of Tangier Island. I’m glad we tried it but it is not going to be our change of pace drink.

This stuff tastes so awful...
This stuff tastes awful.
Coconut Water2
Bye-bye, coconut water.

Solomons is just inside the mouth of the Patuxent River.

Welcome to Solomons
Welcome to Solomons!

We plan to stay at Beacon Marina on Back Creek. The dock master is not answering our VHF radio calls or his cell phone so we tie up to the end of a T-dock. The marina is affiliated with the nearby Comfort Inn. The young man at the front desk there tells us that the dock master is gone for the day but we can stay where we are until we talk to him. What do we owe you? Wait until you talk to the dock master, he says after he gives us the Wi-Fi password and tells us that there’s a free breakfast in the lobby and gives us directions to the bathrooms and free laundry. Sweet. Not bad for $1.50/foot/night, we’re thinking. Nothing fancy. Basic accommodations. Docks are in okay shape. Could definitely be cleaner but we can make this work for a few days. We settle in for the evening. Tomorrow, we’ll get the lay of the land.

We’ve traveled between 250 and 300 nautical miles since leaving Oriental. FNR has proven herself to be mechanically and structurally sound. We’re gaining confidence in our vessel and in ourselves, but we’re still figuring things out so Solomons is going to be home for a while.  We plan to stay cool, work on a few projects, hang out with Young Son, and decide when and where to go next.

3 thoughts on “Sailing (some) to Solomons”

  1. LB: I wish both our dads were here!! Mine would be my biggest fan! You better believe all those days at Hatteras prepared me for this! Living on FNR is just like camping except we’re on the water and not in sand! Take care and keep reading!


  2. Just caught up on your adventure. I wish my dad was here to read this, he would be so impressed, and a little envious. I’m sure he would feel all those days at Hatteras prepared you for this. Especially the flying bugs. LOL. Be safe and keep blogging.


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