Dick and Gayl's Cruising Adventures

Middle Chesapeake Bay

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There are two pages to this section.  Click on the link at the end of the white portion of this page to continue to Annapolis on page 2. 
Be sure to look at the blue section on the bottom of this page to learn about Maryland's symbols. 
Friday, May 13, 2005  Lottsburg, VA to Solomons Island, MD
36.8 miles
We were off the Seeds' dock at 7:45 and into two to three foot waves on the Potomac by 8:15.  We were preparing ourselves mentally to face another day like yesterday on the Chesapeake, but found as we got out into the bay it was calmer than the river.  A couple days later when we heard other boaters exchanging horror stories of big waves on the Potomac, they talked about the wind working in opposition to the tide.  That sounded like a good explanation for what we experienced today.

Point No Point Light

It took us just over four hours to cruise north to Solomons Island in the Patuxent River along the Chesapeake's western shore.  Just north of the mouth of the Potomac we saw this intriguing light.  It is called the Point No Point light, and it stands about two miles out from the point for which it is named.  Because of the way it is built, standing alone on top of a platform, the lighthouse looks like a miniature from the water, until you get right beside it.  The house is 35 feet tall -- 52 feet counting the platform upon which it stands -- and it has quarters for a lighthouse keeper, although now it is solar powered.  It was first lit in 1905.
We arrrived at Solomons at noon, ate a quick lunch aboard, then took off on our bikes to explore the town.  Our search for clues to a geocache took us to a dozen historical markers and plaques around town.  Our marina is located on the grounds of the Navy's first amphibious training facility.  Other important activities in the island's past include ship building, fishing, and fish packing. Now its primary industry is the tourist industry, with special attention to boaters and those wanting to charter fishing boats.  Solomons has a large protected deep water harbor and lots of great anchorage spots in the deep creeks that flow into the Patuxent around the island.
It has been at least a week since we have been in a place with lattes and pastries.  We knew that Solomons would have what we craved, and it didn't let us down.  The afternoon of our bike ride was cold and windy, and just as we were getting chilled, we found the CD Cafe, where we got our lattes and a piece of peach pie.


Saturday, May 14-Monday, May 16  Solomons Island
Saturday was our warmest day yet, with temperatures up to the low 80s and bright sunshine.  We started the day with a reprovisioning trip to the Gourmet Grocery using the Calvert Marina loaner car -- a 1987 Mercedes.  Then we got down to the business of enjoying the day.
We rode our bicycles to the Annmarie Garden, a free sculpture garden north of town.  It was a most unusual spot, with paved paths through a wooded setting that had clearings where the sculptures were positioned.  Many of the pieces were on loan from the Hirschorn Museum's sculpture collection.  

The Tonger

Our favorite piece was the only realistic sculpture in the garden (and the only one incorporating flowing water).  It was called "The Tonger," and showed a waterman hard at work tonging oysters.  We thought it captured the spirit of the watermen we have seen very well.
In the afternoon, we took our dinghy out for a ride into the creeks that surround Solomon's.  We saw an Open House sign, and made an impulse visit to a spectacular three story waterfront home with all of its entertaining areas and the master bedroom on the third floor where the views were best.  If we had a spare $1.2 million, it could have been ours.
We had dinner out on the deck of a waterfront Italian Seafood Restaurant, DiGiovanni's Dock of the Bay. We enjoyed the views of the passing boats and the kids in their prom attire coming to dinner.
We planned to leave Sunday, but the weather report called for showers and thunderstorms, and possible high winds, so we decided to stay put.  It rained off and on all day.  We borrowed the marina loaner car again for a trip to the Gourmet Grocery for a latte and the New York Times.  With the Times on-hand, a rainy Sunday can be quite enjoyable.
We left Solomons on Monday.  The morning dawned sunny and much breezier than the weather radio would lead us to expect.  The further out in the bay we got the higher the waves grew.  About an hour out, waves were in the range of three to four feet, with some higher, driven by the north wind, and compounded by the incoming tide from the south, making the distance between the waves very short.  We were plowing into them, rocking bow up on a wave's crest, bow down as we hit a trough.  The bow didn't always rise from a trough before the next wave came, causing water to wash over our decks. We started imagining all the wine glasses in our galley sliding out of their racks, and the cupboard doors popping open from the food inside sliding and slamming against them.
When heavy spray crashed against our flybridge windshield and isinglass enclosure, then over our bimini top (which is 17 feet high), we decided it was time to turn back.  
We headed back to Solomons, and up Back Creek, which has a serene sheltered cove.  Our anchor was down at 10 am, the sun was shining, an inspection of the cabin revealed no broken glasses, and West Marine was just a short dinghy ride and walk way.  Except for the first few hours, this was shaping up to be a perfect day.  
While savoring the sun, Dick worked on boat projects, and I worked on reading the New York Times and James Michener's Chesapeake.  It is 1,000 pages long, and I am not quite half finished.  I fear that, barring more terrible weather,  we will finish cruising the Chesapeake long before I finish the book.
We listened to the weather radio before we went to bed, and prayed the prediction was accurate, and we could safely get moving north again in the morning.
Some Maryland Facts


The Maryland flag is the only state flag with heraldic shields.  The golden yellow and black sections are  the arms of  the Calverts, the family name of the Lords Baltimore, who founded Maryland.  The red and white sections are the arms of the Crosslands, the family of the mother of George Calvert, the first Lord Baltimore.
The state bird is the Baltimore Oriole, whose black and golden orange plumage is similar to the colors of the Calvert family crest.  As long ago as 1698, this oriole was referred to as the "Baltimore Bird," and it was transported to England to grace the royal gardens.
The state flower is the Black-eyed Susan, probably for its color scheme matching the Calvert family crest.
Maryland may be the only state with an official state crustacean, the Blue Crab.  Its latin name, callinectes sapidus, means "beautiful swimmer that is savory." Every Maryland restaurant we have been to features crab dishes on its menu.