Go South, Go South

That's what the little voice in the back of my head keeps repeating over and over. With a fresh coat of paint on the bottom, new zincs and a clean prop, the boat seemed to glide along in the water now. With the bow pointed almost due south, it seemed like the boat itself was anxious to get underway once again. The ride back down the bay was smooth and uneventful, other than the constant need to dodge the bizillion floats attached to crab pots, and the faint chill in the air. There is also the slightest hint of the foliage beginning to turn colors for the fall. We did have one more stop to make before the push to Norfolk. And I hesitate to use the word push because we did plan a slow, steady trip down the western shore to visit some creeks and anchorages we haven't been to for a while or at all. We were both raised on the Chesapeake Bay and each spent the first 30 or so years of our lives exploring it. And yet there are many rivers and creeks that we have never visited. And we did want to make one more visit to our friends Bill and Elisa in Rock Creek before the long trek south.

Just as we did the last time, we rafted up to one of the boats at our friend's dock. The plan was to spend a couple of days and then move on. Plans are the things you make while God laughs. It's always good to visit with Bill and Elisa. They are outfitting their boat Phoenix for long distance cruising and while there, we enjoyed some great meals and talked a lot about boats and places to take them. Since this is pretty centrally located for us, we also had time to visit with my son and my mother one more time. Susan's sister also drove in for one more visit. My daughter and the grandkids had driven to Havre de Grace and Baltimore and visited with us there. The couple of days quickly turned into five, including one weather delay, but it was a fun and enjoyable five days. Too soon we were pulling away from the dock and waving so long until possibly next year.

The next day out was a total of about an hour and a half. Remember, I said it was going to be a slow and leisurely transit. We motored in flat seas from Rock Creek to the Magothy River and dropped the hook just outside of Grays Creek behind Little Island. This is a small island with a single home on it that has its own lighthouse replica. It's accessible only by boat. There was a small monohull sailboat and a catamaran anchored behind Dobbins Island when we arrived. A couple of hours later, they pulled their anchors and left. We wondered if it was something we said. This small anchorage gives great protection from all directions but south. All of the winds for the next couple of days were forecast to be from the north. By the afternoon the wind was out of the south. Fortunately it was light and didn't develop a chop, and by late afternoon, all was calm. The area has a 6 mile-an-hour speed limit, but the only boats that maintained the speed limit where the ones that could read. There is a small marina just up Grays Creek and we have actually stayed there in the past.

After a good nights sleep, we hauled the anchor up and motored another excruciatingly long hour and a half to Whitehall Bay, just north of Annapolis. Once inside Whitehall Bay, we took the twisted, but well-marked, channel to Mill Creek. Since we left Rock Creek, we had already received orders for our new Bahamas Anchorage Book and needed to get to a Post Office to send them out. We knew that there was a restaurant on Mill Creek called Cantler's that was famous for their steamed crabs. The new plan was to meet a friend, who lives in the area, at Cantler's, have lunch and then make a trip to the Post Office nearby. It all worked out perfectly since Cantler's has a dock where you can tie up for a meal or even fuel up. After lunch and the Post Office run, we asked how much they would charge if we wanted to stay at the dock overnight. We were told that since we had eaten a meal there, we could stay at the dock overnight at no charge. We just had to be off the dock by 9:30 am the next morning. It was great. There is no power on the dock, but we were able to fill up the water tanks, and we decided to have dinner at the restaurant also after some of Susan's friends dropped by for a visit.

The next morning we just made the deadline and left the dock at 9:30 am. I doubt anyone would have said anything since the restaurant was not even open yet. This day would be another rather short run. By 11:30 am, we dropped anchor in Sellman Creek on the Rhode River. The river was getting full of anchored boats since there was an SSCA event planned for the weekend. We didn't plan on attending and would only be staying for the night. This is a beautiful anchorage and under any other circumstances we suspect it would be very peaceful. There is a marina nearby and a YMCA Camp that had a lot of youngsters having a great time both on the water and ashore. We did chat with a couple of SSCA members that dropped by, then we settled in for the night. The YMCA group was obviously have a good time and somewhere nearby there were fireworks being launched. We're sure it would have been a fun weekend if we had stayed around. But duty called and we needed to press on the next day.

The weather so far had been spectacular and we had perfect trawler weather for days. We kept wondering when this was going to change since we have never had a straight run down the bay with good weather all the way. The next day was our longest run for quite a while. There really isn't any place to stop and drop the hook south of the Rhode River on the western shore. Our destination was Solomons, Maryland and the trip would be a total of 51 statute miles from anchorage to anchorage. It was starting to blow a little, but fortunately the wind was out of the north-northeast, and for most of the day was on our stern quarter. As we arrived near Solomons, it did turn more east and on our bow. The forecast 5 to 10 turned out to be 10 to 14 with occasional gusts to 17. And the north forecast was closer to northeast than north. They just can't seem to get it right. But we made Solomons without any discomfort and at about 1:40 pm, we were anchored all by ourselves in Back Creek just north of the Solomons Holiday Inn. It was good to be back once again, but we didn't know that we would be staying a little longer than expected.

Our anchorage in Back Creek is all the way up the creek where it begins to split. This is past all of the marinas and the Holiday Inn. It's all residential at that point, but is very close to the only real dinghy dock in Solomons that is not connected to a bar or restaurant. The dinghy dock at the Holiday Inn is located between docks B and C and is a small floating dock near the shoreline. There is a $2.00 per day charge to use the dock, but there are dumpsters at the hotel for trash, water is available and it's a short walk to the highway and some shopping areas. There are a couple of convenience stores on the highway and a few restaurants in the shopping center just outside the hotel to the south. The West Marine is about a block away, also to the south, and there is a Food Lion supermarket about a mile north up the highway. It's a long walk into the main part of town, but the Maritime Museum is on the way and a good place to stop and visit. Solomons isn't a traditional waterfront town like we are used to visiting. There is no downtown area per se with shops and stores. It's just kind of a main street with private homes and restaurants, bars and marinas mixed in. This is indeed a boating location and most of the marinas are pretty full until the winter season closes in. There are many places that can haul your boat, and you can get almost any kind of service done that you might need, from minor to major repairs and for sail or powerboats.

Our one day stay was suddenly extended as an offshore storm developed and moved up the coast just east of us. The storm itself was not going to impact the area, but the high pressure system over us and the storm offshore would generate a tight pressure gradient that would increase the winds in the lower Bay considerably. While we experienced light winds in Solomons. the buoys in the lower Bay were reporting 15 to 25 knots of wind with some places gusting to 30; not trawler weather. Leaving Solomons means crossing the entrance to the Potomac River and that area can be very uncomfortable in strong winds with the strong currents running in and out of the river. The Bay, too, can be nasty even in moderate conditions and downright scary in strong winds that oppose the incoming or outgoing tides. We just don't need to be anywhere in a hurry so sitting in Back Creek, protected from wind and seas, and enjoying Solomons was a much better option until the winds lay down. That may be in a day or it may be in a couple of days. We'll just WAIT and see.

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