Thursday, March 30, 2000
Mount Vernon, Potomac River
The steak in Coinjock lived up to all expectations, especially since it was the first red meat in a very long time. Carol had the seafood special and we went back to the boat well fed and with leftovers for Pearl. However, Pearl was missing and had been since before dinner. I got the shore party detail to do a search and rescue. With flashlight in hand I began my search along the docks and then expanded it to around the buildings and ultimately I saw two little yellow eyes peering out from the tall grass. After a chat, Pearl decided it was time to scamper back to the boat and did so without complaining. Pearl enjoyed her leftovers of shrimp and steak shes not too spoiled! The following days weather report didnt sound too promising for later in the day. So we made our plans to leave early. As it turned out it was the right decision. The Currituck Sound was very peaceful and the wind began to pick up only as we were arriving in Norfolk. Arriving in Norfolk by the water is a very visual experience. It is so industrial and so full of ships of all types that it is near impossible to take it all in, especially so one so nautically inclined. We tied up at Waterside Marina and were made very welcome by their young dockmaster. In the afternoon we explored town, getting film developed, making that inevitable Post Office stop and even visiting the Hampton Roads Naval Museum. Again the WX weather station on the VHF was telling us things that we dont like to hear about the following day. Those who know us know that we can sometimes be very indecisive and we just went back and forth about leaving the following morning – so it was after much debate that we decided to leave the dock and didnt get underway until after 0900. We followed the USS Nicholson out of the harbor and as we approached the Navy piers further up, another naval vessel began to back out of pier 7 making the Nicholson come to a very abrupt halt. At the same time we were passed by a brand new Moran tug making about 12 knots through the water and throwing a five-foot wake which really shook up everything. It put our bow under as we crossed it jeesh! The USS Grapple was entering the harbor at the same time. The Grapple is the ship that helped with the recovery of Egypt Air flight 800 and John Kennedy JRs plane off the New England coast. There were also Coast Guard ships moving about and of course several merchant ships of all typed coming and going.
We figured that we could make it ten or fifteen miles up the bay before the weather got too bad – we ended up motoring seventy miles to Kilmarnock. We tied to a dock at the Chesapeake Boat Basin just as the weather really let loose with heavy rain and thunderstorms. Kilmarnock is a very pleasant small town. The have an unusual transportation system. The Bay Transit company, what they call the bus, will come and pick you up and deliver you to any destination for one dollar. This is not a scheduled route but an on demand service.. simply call them up and tell them when and where you need to go. At the marina we also experienced very friendly and helpful people and we were able to get to the grocery store and provision.
Kilmarnock is the home of American Diesel, the place that has all the replacement parts for Vera Segundas engine. During the past ten months I have had several occasions to call them and get parts. This is likely one of Americas most courteous and professional outfits and I just wanted to stop by on this trip and thank them for all their help. Every time I called, and early on it was often, I got all the answers I needed and the parts were shipped immediately. Bob Smith owns the company and Brian and Todd answer the phone most of the time. The following morning I got a ride to their place of business and had a great chat with Brian. Thanks to these guys this trip has been a successful one so far. Our little Ford Lehman just keeps purring along. Carol took a nice long walk while I went off to American Diesel and really enjoyed the neighborhood. She even reported a prime piece of property for sale hmmmm. Pearl explored the dock and was greeted by two Black Labs and she kept her distance. We will remember Kilmarnock fondly.
Leaving around ten thirty that day, we made another 40 miles and made it up into the Potomac River. We also passed our 6000 mile mark, ending the day with a total of 6006 statute miles since leaving Rhode Island last May. We anchored in a beautiful stream off the Coan River called the Glebe. This was one of our more scenic spots and we enjoyed the evening aboard. Carol made a great spaghetti dinner and we read as Pearl did her even gymnastics. A perfectly clear evening gave us a night sky just dripping with stars. This Morning we awoke to a spectacular sunrise, no wind and the water like glass. That was 12 hours ago, and as I write this and the water is still glass we followed slack tide all the way up the Potomac. Gilda Radner once said "Its always something", well, this morning as we approached Swan Point we were hailed on the radio by U. S. Army Range Control Boat #3 and told to follow him out of the channel and hug the Maryland coast. the Army was conducting gunnery practice down the middle of the river Its always something.
Today had to be one of the calmest days we have seen on the trip consistently calm form dawn to dusk. Motoring today was a joy as Vera Segunda hardly rocked at all, however Carol decided to go shake out a rug and dropped it over the side. I have seen her do this in even the worst weather and never has she lost anything overboard but today in the dead calm . . . And the other day I lost my favorite mug from De Tour Michigan – shattered from getting tossed from the table as an inconsiderate Sea Ray went past creating a huge wake. Its always something.
We are now at anchor in front of Mount Vernon, George Washingtons home. We made 95 miles today in ten hours an average of 9.5 miles per hour. Our longest distance made in one day to date, thanks to the tide and an early start. The upper Potomac is just as spectacular as the Hudson was last spring. The season is just beginning and the trees are all lacey and light green or pink with spring. Forsythia is in bloom as well as dogwood and an unidentified red-pink blossom. We are hoping that the cherry blossoms are holding out in Washington there is a possibility of frost this evening.
April 18, 2000
Our visit to Mount Vernon was an eye opener. I didnt realize just how large Georges farm was or how many people he employed. It was a great visit, and we were not alone, there were at least a dozen bus-loads of children there as well as the weary Huffs. We also learned that the red-pink blossomed trees were the Eastern Redbud trees, one of Georges favorites. We left Mount Vernon and motored the easy twelve miles up to Washington, DC and found our dock at the Gangplank Marina. Although the marina wasnt the best we have stayed at, the proximity to the Metro and groceries made up for it. I am going to try to fit in all that we did without boring you too much as this was a stop that had every minute filled with friends old and new and something exciting at every turn. As we arrived we had our usual list of things that we needed and things to do before we could meet up with our friends. I took off in one direction and Carol began on the chores that needed to be done onboard. Everything got done and by late afternoon we were having drinks with our friends who had come to visit from Rhode Island. It was very good to visit with Dick, Laurie, Donna and Mac in their hotel and then after happy hour we were off to a fantastic restaurant in Alexandria, Il Porto, and a fine dinner. It was late when we returned to Vera Segunda and Pearl was glad to see us. This was repeated many times over the next couple of weeks, as we almost always left early and arrived back to the boat late. The following day we all went in search of America and were joined by Dicks brother Bob and his girlfriend Hope (Bob, Hope - tough for me to keep my mouth shut).We wonder if these folks really came to visit with us as we feel they really came just to see Pearl. We had a great day visiting the Jefferson Memorial, Lincoln Memorial, Viet Nam Wall and the Korean War Memorial and the Kennedy Performing Arts Center and dinner that night in Rosslyn, VA at another fine restaurant. Sunday afternoon we said goodbye to our friends at Union Station after a full morning together starting with breakfast at their hotel in Alexandria. Then began the marathon of seeing all there is to see in Washington. That afternoon we started with the U. S. Postal Museum and that was just the beginning. In the days that followed we saw Holocaust Museum, the Washington Monument, the headquarters of the National Forest Service, the White House Welcome Center, the Hirshorn Museum and the Freer Gallery, The Smithsonian "Castle" and their Exposition Hall and The National Cathedral. Whew! On Thursday of that week we stayed aboard and visited with our friends Jim and Gaby who live in the area and whom we had not seen for several years. We have known Jim for almost thirty years and he is one of our oldest and dearest friends. For our Rhode Island readers, Jim used to play at the old Met Café with his band Chicken Every Sunday. It all seems so long ago well it was! It was a good reunion as we spent the entire day just chatting and munching some great bagels that they had brought. Jim and Gaby left around three and we prepared for the arrival of our friends from NY, Ann and Gordon who you may remember from our early newsletters. They arrived in the early evening and Carol had prepared a great dinner for all. The following morning we were off again to explore this wonderful area of our country. We visited Arlington National Cemetery, which was a very moving experience. The changing of the guard at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldiers was perhaps the most moving. We then went off to Georgetown for drinks and some sight seeing. The Metro system in the DC area is just great and will deliver you just about anywhere you would want to go. That Friday evening the girls beat the guys in an on going Euchre match, two games straight. Saturday was the Cherry Blossom Festival Parade and what a great parade it was. It seems as though we are always seeing parades with these guys. We saw the Memorial Day Parade in Essex CT last spring, the Macys Parade in NYC on Thanksgiving and now this! Go figure. The weather was perfect in the 70s and sunny. We also visited the Japan Bazaar and then off to the Neuseum in Rosslyn. Another great museum, about the reporting and dissemination of news. When we exited the Neuseum the weather had changed for the worse, it was now in the low 40s, raining and a strong wind was making the rain come in sideways. We sought shelter in a Mexican restaurant and had dinner - Ann & Gordon treated for my birthday. That evening the boys beat the girls two games straight in that ongoing Euchre match. Sunday morning we went off to do some chores and then off to Chinatown for lunch before saying goodbye to our friends once again. The dropped us off at the White House and we did the tour. Twice a year they have the Garden Tour at the White House and this was the day. We had a very good time and we especially enjoyed the sculpture garden on the south lawn.
Monday was my actual birthday and Carol was exhausted so I struck out on my own visiting the Navy Memorial, the National Archives, the American History Museum and the Air and Space Museum another long day. Tuesday we were up early to get tickets and a tour of the Bureau of Printing and Engraving then off to the Natural History Museum, The sculpture gardens, the National Galleries (East and West) before finally going back to Vera Segunda. Wednesday we visited the Capitol building where a protest was being formed by organized labor against a bill which would give China Most Favored Nation status. We chatted with a couple of UAW workers while in line for the Capitol. We ate lunch in the Senate Café in the basement of the Capitol and were joined by a couple who are touring America by RV. We had a lot in common with them and enjoyed their company for lunch. Then we went off to the Supreme Court and a side trip to the Dirkson Building to meet our current Republican Senator Lincoln Chafee, the son of the late John Chafee who died suddenly last fall. We gave him our condolences and told him of our travels and wished him well before heading out once again. Off to the National Zoo and another 10,000 miles of walking. It seems as though we are wearing out our shoes at an unnatural rate. Thursday morning I got Vera Segunda ready to travel once again checking everything and changing the injector pump oil. At noon we met our friends Jim and Gaby at the Philips Gallery in Dupont Circle and had a great afternoon together. Afterwards we ate in a great restaurant nearby and the back to the Metro and one last grocery shopping before heading out early the next morning.
Visiting Washington DC was a good decision. We both have our favorite things that we did and the Holocaust Museum has to be at the top of both lists. It was an incredibly moving experience. We also enjoyed the White House and I enjoyed the Navy Memorial and the American History Museum. Visiting DC puts America in perspective and is a good place to visit at this point in our journey around this country. I think we have a renewed appreciation for the goodness of our country and the possibilities that our freedom allows us.
Friday morning we started out early stopping for fuel and then down the Potomac River toward our destination of St. Clements Island some 70 miles away. We had chosen this place as we could tie free to a dock and go ashore to explore. It didnt work out that way. The dock we tied to was covered with the droppings of every bird that had wintered there and apparently we were the first humans to arrive this year. We didnt dare go ashore as we would have had to walk the long dock through inches of goo. However Pearl made it a point to go explore. She explored a barge and crane tied to the dock for several hours before returning, and she returned in need of a good foot washing before she was allowed to walk around inside Vera Segunda.
We stayed aboard and left in the morning in fog so thick you could have cut it with a knife, fortunately the water was like glass and it really was an easy day, just foggy. We had 7 hours of fog until we got to Solomons and anchored just off the Calvert Marine Museum. Sunday was a great day of warm sunshine. We walked all over town, visiting galleries and shops. We had ice cream and free wine at a gallery opening. We explored by dinghy and picked up oil for the engine and chatted with neighbors at anchor. All in all, a good day. We listened to the forecast, which said wind at ten knots and seas to one foot, another fine day on the Chesapeake wrong! The wind went to twenty-five and higher and the sea state went to three to five feet. We had a LONG day of motoring to get to Oxford and in the seven hours we only averaged five knots. (We normally average well over seven.) Carol and Pearl were not happy and poor Vera Segunda began to leak through the windows, which got a lot of stuff wet. It is still raining and blowing and cold. It is too wet to tend to the windows and to do much of anything. Everything is still drying out, thankfully we do have a good furnace aboard which is keeping us warm and aiding in the drying of all that got wet. We have decided to stay here until tomorrow at least before moving on, which gives me time to write this and hopefully get it sent out. And of course almost everything in Oxford is closed as the season really hasnt started yet but it is charming little community and I think dinner out is in order this evening.
Bridges Passed Under/Through 747
Miles Traveled 6268
Average speed 7 knots
1 District of Columbia
"The world -- this shadow of the soul, or other me -- lies wide around. Its attractions are the keys which unlock my thoughts and make me acquainted with myself. I run eagerly into this resounding tumult."
Ralph Waldo Emerson, August 31, 1837