Waiting in Cape May


The Inner Harbor from our boat the night before we left. Still many people on the walkway to the left.

Nothing else to do, might as well write a blog entry. We’re in the canal that cuts through the southern tip of New Jersey in Cape May waiting for weather that allows us to go the 120 miles up the coast to NYC. This will be the fourth time we have made this crossing and the first time we had to wait more than a day for weather to do it. The cold windy weather that came as we left Baltimore is still with us today.

The Saturday trip up the rest of the Chesapeake and through the C & D Canal to our third stay at Delaware City Marina was windy but minimal movement for us.


Just saw a little, but most homes were 1800’s, some early 1800’s.

We had never thought about the town behind the canal where we docked, but discovered some of it this time when Sue decided on a walk before sunset.

We saw a number of pre Civil War homes and buildings. With the weather back to cold we walked only an hour but covered quite a lot of this small town. Later I found that 204 of the buildings that the 1500 residents of Delaware City live in and use are in the National Historic Register. Something else we need to get back to see more of.


Looking back as we left Delaware City Marina


Looking forward along the marina canal. Delaware City to the right, state park to the left.

Winds and currents can cause steep waves 6’ or more in Delaware Bay since its southeast is completely open to the ocean. These are not waves we ride up and over but the kind that can slap the side of the boat really hard. The dockmaster meets with those going south at 5 PM to go over the next day’s weather on the bay. While Saturday morning was bad, with even some commercial ships turning back, Sunday looked good with the current switching in our favor at about 8 AM.


The first large ship we passed in Delaware Bay was headed toward Philadelphia.

We left just before 8 and had some waves toward the last. We saw some smaller boats having a rougher time but still making it OK. We were docked Canyon Club Marina by 2 PM.


One of the lighthouses in the middle of Delaware Bay.

I checked the NOAA app at noon today and thought we might leave for Atlantic City Tuesday. When I rechecked at 6 PM it looked bad through Friday, the end of the forecast. The guy at the marina desk said one boat went out on the Atlantic this morning but then decided to come back. No chance of leaving here tomorrow, but after that we’ll be watching. If I can get a decent forecast the night before that stays OK at 5 AM next morning we’re out of here.


Baltimore III


Star Gazer at the end of the Baltimore Inner Harbor

We leave Baltimore tomorrow after 9 nights. We saw more museums: the Visionary Arts where all artists must be amateurs. It’s pretty left wing counter cultural but a lot of fun. We also saw the Jewish Museum of Maryland and the Reginald F. Lewis Museum of African American history. The Museum of Science and History was our last one. There was a lot of old technology on display there with half of it being from our childhood world. These museums were not quite as world class as those we saw before, but we enjoyed all of them. We also rode the water taxi to Fells Point, the closest thing to an “old town”, and other Baltimore places.


On the men’s room wall at the Visionary Arts Museum. Click to enlarge.


A great ship model of the Lusitania until viewed closely. It’s made entirely from toothpicks.

Baltimore has a reputation that keeps people away. For 7 of our 9 nights here we have been the only boat on the dock. While there are problems in some parts of the city, we saw none anywhere we went. Several places we went have already replaced much of their older housing with modern versions of the row houses that once dominated much of the older city. Many large public housing buildings from the 50’s and later “urban renewal” have been torn down. There is a lot here worth seeing and doing. We’ll be back.


Arriving at Fells Point on the water taxi.

The weather went from cold for a few days to breezy just right for a few days and then hot for these last two days. No problems on the upper Chesapeake, so we’ll leave tomorrow (Saturday) for Delaware City at the top of Delaware Bay. The predictions show possible problems on Delaware Bay, but I think we can get past that. The issues on the Atlantic, where we need two days to get past New Jersey are more of a problem. We may have to wait some days in Delaware City or more likely Cape May.


After the Jewish Museum and touring two old synagogues we visited the Jewish deli for the best corned beef.


Baltimore II


We went to an unexpected church service here.

We’re still in the Inner Harbor at the Baltimore City Dock for our 2nd time in Baltimore. Someone did come by yesterday to collect the docking fee. We’ll be here at least 7 days, maybe more.


A room at the Walters Museum.

The Walters Art Museum where we spent Friday was top dog. We ended up spending all day Saturday there as well. Sunday after church we spent at the Baltimore Museum of Art. We weren’t too sure about going there since what we could find about it touted their impressionist and modern art. Turns out they had a lot of 17th and 18th century European and American art as well, and we had plenty to see.


Faberge eggs at the Walters Museum.

Another thing that turned out good was lunch. Museum restaurants are usually very good and among our favorites. We got there after church all ready for lunch and forgot it was Mothers Day! Of course they mentioned it at church but we did not connect the dots. No way could we reserve a table and the museum is on the John Hopkins University campus, so no other places to eat nearby either. They still had two places (and only two places) left at the bar with the same menu however, so we were saved. As expected, lunch was great. In fact, the seating was great. The two places left were together at the corner of the bar, so we halfway faced each other as we often do when we have a table, just sitting a bit higher.


Tiffany window of the Baptism of Christ at the Baltimore Museum of Art.

Sunday morning we grabbed and Uber to the First and Franklin Presbyterian Church. Its current building, built in 1859, is on Madison street. It was started in 1761 and had another location from which it got its name.


The choir sang at the back and at times moved to the side balconies.

The service was very good and the pastor did fine, but what blew us away was the music. They have a very good pipe organ and someone who really knows how to play it. The choir was phenomenal. The last time I heard one that good was 50 years ago at compline at St Mark’s Cathedral in Seattle. Sue agrees it was not just good but outstanding. They sang above the congregation, usually in the back by the organ but sometimes from the connected side balconies. A formal service even by Presbyterian standards, but hey, do formal that well and we’ll be back.


Ran into this on the way to the restroom. Mercury pendulum. Wonder how old it is.

The congregation was not large considering the size of their building, but was a good mix of young and old. We talked with several people after the service when every one met for berries and cream. They thought they had a good choir, but didn’t seem to see anything special about it. Puzzling to us. Maybe we’ll learn more when we can get back there.


Sue out in front of the church. We like traditional. This is traditional.

Today, Monday, we spent at the Baltimore National Aquarium. As good as any aquarium we have seen. Sue was not able to see that when I went with Sharon and Paul last year.

It finally started to warm up Sunday and now is back to fine weather today. We still have places to see. Will 7 days be enough?


To Baltimore


The big room in Bancroft hall. I think the dining hall is below this.

We spent another day in Annapolis walking around parts of the the naval academy campus we had not seen before. We wanted to see the formation before lunch, like we did last time with Paul and Sharon, but it’s finals week and they don’t do it now. We did see a few more buildings and spent more time in the museum.


Townhouses on the way to the academy.

Just like the swimming pool at the Alcazar in St Augustine, we have a new favorite for lunch in Annapolis. The officers club, otherwise known as the Alley, is open to anyone weekdays from 11:00 to 2:00 for lunch. Of course you can’t park a car anywhere near it unless you are an officer, but even so it must not be widely known. If fact, none of the 3 midshippersons we asked had ever been there or had any idea who was able to eat there and they don’t answer the phone. The only way we could find out was by going over there and asking.


Sue in the Alley after we finished lunch. As close to being a naval officer as we’ll ever get.

The salad buffet was the most extensive we’ve seen outside of Sweet Tomatoes. Along with that on Wednesday was fried chicken and whatever you can think of to go with it. The price with a generous tip was under $26 for both of us! It had White table cloths, subdued quality décor, enough other diners so it did not appear empty but it would not have been crowded or noisy with twice that many. Why the place was not packed to the gills we’ll never know. Subsidized by the Navy? Anyway, if you’re looking for us at lunchtime in Annapolis you’ll know where to find us. It’s right by gate 3.


Faculty housing. They’re all duplexes, but plenty large. Some of the best housing in the city.

We’ve seen Annapolis several times before, and our decent weather was leaving with rain predicted most of Thursday, so we decided to pull up stakes and head to Baltimore, less than 40 miles (as we travel) away. Forecast waves and wind were 1 foot and light and that’s how it turned out, with a cold steady drizzle all the way until we tied up at the city dock in the Baltimore Inner Harbor. It never got above 60 degrees.

No one was there to help us tie up and no one showed up today (Friday) either. When I called the number in Active Captain that worked last year it was disconnected and the dock was completely empty when we arrived. Like in Annapolis, however, being empty could be due to people in their right mind not being out on the water yesterday. The power hookups work fine and the restrooms are a very short walk over at the visitor center so no complaints. We’ll see if we end up paying.


Great models at the museum. This large brass model of the Maryland battleship is at the visitor center.


Closeup of the Maryland.

This is a great place to stay and we’ll be here at least a week. It’s convenient to get to but other boaters just don’t come. It must be Baltimore’s reputation that keeps people away.


Better Weather in Annapolis


Just leaving the Solomons. The Patuxent River enters the bay in the distance. University’s research boat parked just to the right.

The weather was great for us in Norfolk. Not hot and a bit of wind, but still sunny and just a shirt was all I needed outside. Since we left Norfolk on the 4th it has been cold and windy, with highs in the low 60’s. We’ve driven from the top but kept the isinglass closed against the wind, which we were usually going into and magnifying a standard 20 – 30 mph wind to 30 – 40. The locals have been talking about some kind of front that we didn’t look into much more. We’re beginning to see less wind predicted a few days from now, and warmer temperatures a few days after that.


Part of the Solomons just before we left.

We left Solomons down the Patuxent river, which is much larger than the Indian river and navigable 30 miles up. During the depression Esso parked between 20 and 40 of their unused tankers here while awaiting a better economy. The bridge that crosses near here is 140 feet as opposed to the normal 65 foot maximum, so something big still goes up there.


Ego Alley is empty all the way down when we got there at noon.

Today the waves were 1 – 2 feet all the way, with less but still significant wind against us. We arrived in Annapolis by noon and turned up the “Ego Alley” city dock basin. Ego alley is mostly first come first served and gets pretty full most days. Although we have been able to get a spot twice in the past we’ve shoehorned in between parked boats with just a few feet to spare. We were surprised this time to see it completely empty. No one was there.


We visited the State House again.

It should not have been a surprise. Traveling on the 4th we saw no other boats save large ships. On the 7th we did see one other power boat in the distance and a sailboat. Coming here to Annapolis on the 8th we saw 2 power boats and 3 sailboats, which like wind more, on our trip. No wonder we saw no one in Ego Alley. This is for short stays, not long dockage. Boats weren’t out traveling. A couple of sailboats did come in later, and today (the 9th) the wind has eased off considerably and the sky is clear, and the boats are back. There are still two spaces on the wall, but neither large enough for our boat.


Two sailboats came in later. They’re little, but tough I guess.

With better weather we have been walking around Annapolis, visiting a house museum we have not seen before and spending time on the naval academy campus.


Across the Potomac to Solomons


Just leaving Kilmarnock before 6 AM, looking down the Indian River.

Indian creek was very calm as we left just before 6 this morning. Once we got out on the bay it was flat with no waves at all. The wind came up after 15 miles as we hit the mouth of the Potomac river. The rivers that run into Chesapeake bay are all very wide. It took us 12 miles to cross the mouth of the Potomac. The wind was from the northwest, same as the river, so it had more than a 20 mile fetch to kick up some 3 footers that hit us on the “port front quarter” as they say. Not such a bad place to take waves.

After we crossing the river mouth the wind and waves turned directly at our front, right down the length of the bay, so we hit the waves and crashed a little, but not enough to ring the bell. Our wind gauge was regularly showing 40 mph, which meant 30 mph winds. It has a way to show the maximum gusts for the day, which read 50. That was a lot of wind.


Off the back of our boat just before we left Chesapeake Boat Basin. Sue likes a view where we tie up.

Awhile after we arrived at Solomons Sue happened to look up and noticed the dinghy cover was almost blown off. Only one of the 4 straps that hold it had come loose, but that was enough for two others to work there way up toward the dinghy front. The wind was less than 20 at the marina when she noticed that. Still enough to make it great fun getting that cover back on.

Sue still thought that trip was much easier than the one out of Norfolk, and I agree with her. Short trips are better in that kind of weather, so we got to Harbor Island Marina in Solomons MD by noon.


The boardwalk. Locals said the big restaurant behind is popular with the younger set but pretty noisy.

It warmed up and the wind dropped more so we walked around a bit. Before Sue was ready I walked to the end of the peninsula and visited the University of MD Chesapeake Biological Center and watched a few videos of the various graduate student projects regarding bay ecology. One was measuring Methane trapped in the bottom sediment, another jellyfish populations, etc.


Harbor Island Marina is small and not so elegant, but its restaurant is good and highly regarded around here.

Sue and I walked up the peninsula visiting various shops along the way. This is quite a tourist area with a long boardwalk and many restaurants in our area. According to the locals the restaurant at our marina was one of the best, so we finally returned there for dinner, ordering two of their Tapas each instead of regular dinners. That turned out better than average.

Weather looking even better for a trip up to Annapolis tomorrow. 1 – 2 foot waves all the way. 10 mph or less winds predicted, but I think that is from the land. It has been easily 10 mph more than the land prediction (Weather Underground) out on the bay.


Still in Kilmarnock VA


Sun just starting to show and reflect off a navy supply ship with destroyer further on.

The predictions stayed pretty much the same and we went ahead north to Kilmarnock. Two days later it now appears we can leave on Sunday after 3 nights here. The wave forecast is 1 – 2 feet with slightly rougher toward the end of our trip.


Sun just up now and reflecting off the side of an unloading tanker.


A forest of ships. Three super-carrier towers are in there but tough to see.

We had it smooth for almost an hour as we left the river, going by the naval base last. After that it was pretty rough much of they way here with 3 – 4 foot waves coming on our beam (side). When they say 3 – 4 that is an average. From time to time a few waves somewhat larger will come as well. When these hit we could start a pretty severe roll, but the stabilizers stop us on the way back. I don’t want to try that without them.


We moved closer to the navy base to clear this boat.

The waves slacked off toward the middle of the trip and came back near the end, where the bay is 25 miles wide. The 20 mph wind was from the east and we were on the west side of the bay, which apparently gave the waves enough space to build up. When we turned west we still had 6 miles to the Indian creek inlet. We traveled with and nearly the same speed as the waves. That was a lot smoother. We surfed the waves a bit, our speed slowly changing back and forth between 10 and 12 mph. Chesapeake Boat Basin was 3 miles further up Indian creek.


Super-carriers from left to right Eisenhower (69), George Washington (73) and the new Gerald Ford (78). No other nation has even one like these.

The wave forecast on the open ocean gives the period of the waves. If the period in seconds is more than twice the height in feet then they don’t rock & crash the boat so much, but just move it up and down easily. We’ve had friends out in the Caribbean in 18 foot high long period waves and it was no problem for them. They don’t bother giving the period of waves on places like the Chesapeake and Great Lakes. It’s always short.

This is the fourth time we have been in the Chesapeake and the only time we have ever waited for weather except maybe a day our second time. This is the earliest in the season we have been here. Maybe it gets better next month?


Looking back down Indian Creek from the marina. Weather not good.


We’re usually out at the end, often on a T head. Sue likes a view.

Not a lot here, but there is a borrow car that we took the 2 miles into downtown Kilmarnock (pop. 1200). Yesterday we restocked at the Food Lion store and this evening we went back and had dinner at a Thai restaurant.

Next stop is Solomons. So far the next day looks good also, so hopefully we’ll push on to Annapolis.