Deltaville, VA to Washington, D.C. September 3 through September 16

Click on the above thumbnail for a map of points visited during this time period.

(Photos at bottom of page)


We departed the Regatta Point Marina slightly after noon, having spent the morning cleaning on the hull of the boat.  Went back out the Rappahannock River to the Chesapeake for a short jaunt back down to the Piankatank River.   Seven miles up the Piankatank we found paradise.   Anchored off Berkley Island, and didn't leave for a week!   What did we do at one isolated anchorage for a whole week?   Well, I got in two long runs and two 5-mile runs.  We put down many coats of varnish on the cap rail.   Barb took her bike nine miles back to Deltaville to pick up the weather receiver (about which, more below), later another ride to send the defective ones back, and later to get a haircut, buy vegetables, and secure a few varnishing supplies.

On Sunday just as we were about to sit down for breakfast, there was suddenly a center console runabout at our stern.   I ran back to see what they wanted, fearing that we had attracted the ire of our nearest neighbors to shore; were we going to be scolded for ruining their view?

There were two men on board.   One held a manila envelope.   Oh oh.   Were we about to be served with some kind of legal papers?

Nope.   Big smiles, and an explanation:  they had been admiring our boat; had taken some pictures; were presenting the envelope as a gift containing a print of one of the pictures and a CD with several others!  How nice!

After Jack and Jo left the anchorage on Labor Day, we had the glorious bay pretty much to ourselves for awhile.   Eventually another vessel appeared.  Interesting looking.   We dropped by during one of our many dinghy runs to the public landing, and learned that Ned, the single-handing skipper, had designed and built the steel-hulled vessel some 26 years ago in Ohio, and had been living on the vessel ever since.   Originally a sailboat, he had removed the sail mast and converted it to a motor boat a few years ago, when the 65-year old had decided that he was too old for single handing a sailboat.   He has taken the vessel up the Tom-Bigbee, up and down the east coast many times, and down through the Bahamas and Caribbean as far as the Dominican Republic.   Interesting fellow.   We pumped him for recommendations of interesting anchorages off the Chesapeake, and learned that he had a few years ago been on the first leg of a transit of the "Great Loop" (in the conventional counter-clockwise direction -- up the east coast, through the Great Lakes and down the Mississippi) when a hurricane got in the way, and he had to hide in one of the Chesapeake's many hidey-holes.  That was the genesis of a new quest:  to visit every one of the Chesapeake's many side rivers.   When we spoke, he had only three left.  He still hopes to do the Great Loop, "some day".  Bet he will too, since he also said he hopes to live aboard for at least another 20 years.

On the day after Labor Day, as Barb waited at the public landing for me to come get her and her bike, she engaged in conversation with two couples that had brought a sailboat down from New Jersey to the Chesapeake for the holiday.   As they busied themselves with getting the boat onto a trailer, they excitedly told of seeing bald eagles and a huge nest which had been built on top of a man-made structure on Berkley Island.

So several days later, during a break in the varnishing action, we loaded ourselves and our binoculars onto the dinghy for some serious bird watching.   This was to be Barb's first real experience with her brand-spanking-new image-stabilized 10 x 30 Canon beauties, so she was even more eager than I to spy on the eagles.   I think it can be safely concluded that our sailors from New Jersey were city slickers.   To see why, consult the picture of the "nest".   While we didn't see any bald eagles, we did see several osprey.   And osprey do have a certain amount of white on their heads.  (But also a black mask, as well as other black areas.)  The idea of these little cousins of eagles somehow cutting and carrying the large branches that covered the top and sides of the duck blind so amused Barb and me that we could hardly stifle the giggles sufficiently to steer the dinghy back to our boat.

Oh, about the receiver.  Got the new cable installed and the new receiver, and it works!  We now can get a rather sophisticated set of weather data in a variety of formats.   Including graphical representations of projected hurricane paths.   It was comforting to see the projections for Ophelia stop pointing toward Savannah, but disconcerting to see them pointing toward the Chesapeake.   It was comforting to see the projections later move considerably east of the Chesapeake, but distressing to see them aim for Beaufort, NC and Cape Lookout and Ocracoke -- all locations we had enjoyed just a few weeks earlier.   But I am getting ahead of myself...

On 9/10 we reluctantly left Berkley Island and moved on up the Chesapeake.   Skipped over the Rappahannock and entered the Great Wicomico River.   Anchored in Mill Creek, at the first of many protected spots.   Saw at least seven sailboats tucked into similar spots just a little farther in.   Small Creek.   No businesses; no marinas.   Described in the guide books as "like all of the Chesapeake was 50 years ago".   Would have been a great place for dinghy and/or kayak exploration, but we needed to get on up the Bay, since we have reservations at a marina in Washington, DC, so we left early the next morning.   Bumpy ride up to the Potomac River, so when our turn west into the River gave us waves off the starboard, we engaged the stabilizers.   Haven't used them much, but they sure are a blessing when they are needed!  Our destination:  one of Ned's recommendations -- St. Mary's River.   Lovely protected anchorage called Horseshoe Bend.  We'll spend more time there another day.   The anchorage lies just off St. Mary's College of Maryland, a small liberal arts school with what is described as a first-class sailing program.  What a place to go to school!   Gorgeous view, and a dock brimming with rowing sculls, sailboats, and kayaks.

And here I must digress, and say a few words about communications among cruisers.   We all mostly read the same set of relatively few guides.   We all share personal impressions and news of conditions when chatting with other cruisers at docks, etc.   So, when there is a "resource" available, the word spreads.   So, for example, if there is "dinghy dock" available for general use at an anchorage, it will be known by most cruisers.

Until a few years ago, the campus of St. Mary's College was such a resource.   Cruisers were welcome to come ashore and use the school's swimming pool and showers.   Alas, no more.   Too many boaters.   But all is not lost.   One can still pull up to the outside of the 150-foot pier and dock for up to three hours free of charge.   And can top off the water tanks!

The College is also, in partnership with the State of Maryland, a steward of "Historic St. Mary's City",  a museum of history and archeology immediately adjoining the campus.   St. Mary's City was the first capital of Maryland and the fourth permanent settlement in British North America.   It was the first place in English America to mandate religious toleration.   There are archaeological sites still under excavation, but also reconstructed buildings and costumed interpreters. 

Ned was in the anchorage when we got there, motivated, I am sure, not only by the beauty of the large anchorage, not only by the protection afforded by the topography from almost directions, not only by the bikini-topped coeds zipping about on the small sailboats, but also by the free water!   One can learn so much by emulating those with more experience.  :-)

And so, on the morning of 9/12 we moved the boat over to the dock, where Barb topped up the water tanks while I ran 5 miles over gentle hills over forested back roads next to the river.   That done, we swung by and said goodbye to Ned and then found our way back out to the Potomac and onward toward DC.   As evening approached we were headed to the top of Tobacco Creek to anchor when a sailboat crossed in front of us -- heading toward the distant shore.   I was following the advice of our guide book which mentioned an anchorage much further up, but described it as unsuitable if southern winds were expected.   As they were, but in very moderate amounts -- five knots.   Hmmm.    I will be no more protected way up there than I would be along the shore right where the sailboat is headed, I mused.  And so, I swung hard to starboard and wended through the thick tangle of crab pots to find a spot close to shore that was maybe just free enough of traps to give room for dropping anchor.   One can learn so much by emulating those with more experience.  

We left fairly early (for us) the next morning, and admired the mist still embracing the cliffs along the shore.   See below for a picture of the cliffs, the mist, and the sailboat.

The last leg up the Potomac had a number of interesting sights.   We passed Quantico Marine Base, on which several helicopters were practicing touch and go landings.   We passed Mallows Bay, graveyard of hundreds of wooden-hulled vessels that had been intended to be used for shipping during WWI, but due to bureaucratic stupidity (is that redundant?) had never seen service across the Atlantic.   We passed Mount Vernon and gave our respects to George by ringing our ship's bell as tradition requires.  As we approached Washington, DC, we passed mansion after mansion along the banks of the Potomac.  Defense contractors?

And then we rounded a bend and suddenly there was the capital.   Washington's monument, the capital building, and Reagan National Airport, all visible in one frame.   We entered into Washington Channel, cruised to the end, and anchored just opposite Capital Yacht Club.   As per the guide books, we called in to the Marine police that guard the Capital, registering our names, vessel name and number of days of intended anchorage.   And then we settled in.  But not to peace and quiet.   There is a lovely park just adjacent to the anchorage, directly opposite the Yacht Club.   But peaceful it is not, since the Airport is just on the other side of the park (and the main channel of the Potomac), and since the Washington Channel is the flyway for helicopter traffic to the airport.   The choppers come over quite low, and they come over often.  Fortunately, all airport traffic stops at dusk, so we had a peaceful evening.

The next day we moved over to the Capital Yacht Club Marina, where friends Teri and John joined us for dinner on board.   They came back and picked us up the next morning, and we drove 66 miles to Harper's Ferry, located at the confluence of two rivers and three states.   (Potomac and Shenandoah; and Virginia, West Virginia and Maryland.)  We had an enjoyable time relearning the importance of Harper's Ferry for such things as John Brown's death and the start of the Civil War, the first railroad in America, the first mechanized gun factory, an important battle and the surrender of 12,500 Union troops to the Confederacy during the Civil War, etc. 

We stayed with Teri and John that night, and the next day (9/16) were delivered back to Reagan National Airport just in time to catch our flight to Las Vegas, where we joined the rest of Barb's family in celebrating her father's 80th birthday.

Below are photos from this time period - click on them for a larger view...

Sailboat race that we had to weave through

Photo of Tusen Takk in Berkley Island cove taken by local

House on Berkley Island cove

Tusen Takk at Berkley Island

Duck blind thought to be an "eagles" nest by sailers from New Jersey

Reconstruction of the "Dove" - one of two ships that brought settlers to St.. Mary's

Ned on his personally built boat Rainbows End

A better photo of the boat

Chuck and kayaks at St. Mary's College docks

Part of the rebuilt town of St. Mary's

Another rebuilt cabin

Port Tobacco River anchorage in the foggy morning

Calm Potomac River on our last leg

Mt. Vernon

Fancy day marker on Potomac

First view of Washington Monument,White House, and airport

Closer photo of White House as we approach

Approaching our anchorage with Washington Monument in background

Teri & John visiting us on Tusen Takk II

Park Ranger Nancy giving orientation at Harper's Ferry

Confluence of Potomac & Shenandoah Rivers

Teri & Barb walking over Potomac & Shenandoah

Ralroad tunnel at Harper's Ferry

At Lock 33 on C&O Towpath

Appalachian Trail & C&O Towpath

C&O Canal and Towpath

Teri, Chuck and John

Train tunnel at Harper's Ferry