Monday, May 7, 2018:
We were going to move on up the bay somewhere today, but didn’t like the weather forecast and do like staying here. For some reason, we both woke up about 0400, so I took time to catch up on the blog and later, we went to the store to get groceries and did some gift shopping at Nauti-Nell’s. It was pretty much a lazy day. We took some time to route plan the next legs of the trip ahead and Jane did laundry. Just before dinner, Mark came by in his dinghy, and we went for a boat ride around the little bay. Deltaville is a pleasant place on a peninsula with even more water front and marinas on the north side. Jane had made a wonderful batch of veggie pasta, but for some reason, I wasn’t feeling well and saved mine for tomorrow.
Tuesday, May 8, 2018:
I was feeling fine and refilled the water tanks. We have plotted a course for Ingram Bay Marina which is in Towles Creek. It was named no doubt, by some of my pre-Revolutionary War era Towles ancestors. I didn’t get to go up the Rappahannock to boat by Towles Point, so this is some consolation. I cranked up the engine at 1030 and let it warm up a bit. Then I shut it down and gave the oil a chance to drain back down to the pan. I rechecked the oil and as expected, had to add some since to compensate for the effect of the new filter. At 1045 we left the dock and moseyed over to the lift area so we could get a pump-out. We had a lot of help on the docks with Dale from The Journey and John and Sheena from Next Act along with Jacqui from the marina. By 1100 we were all pumped out and easing out toward the crooked channel to get us back into Chesapeake Bay. The forecast was winds out of the northeast at 10 to 15 knots with waves of 1 to 2 feet. Shouldn’t be a problem, right? By 1125 we were in 3 to 4 foot seas. It was uncomfortable for Jane to move about the boat, but after we traversed into deeper waters by noon the sun was coming out and the waves were calmer. By 1415 the cruising was downright nice with a smooth ride on a very beautiful day. We found our way into Towles Creek through the narrow jetties. This is one very protected harbor! After 24 ½ miles, we docked at 1435 in the first slip alongside the modest dockhouse of Ingram’s Bay Marina with the assistance of the owner, Billy. Billy is a friendly guy who gave up his career after college to return to his roots and make a life on the bay. He bought the marina and runs charters and seems to love his life. There are some pleasant homes on the creek, but no commercial endeavors save the marina. It is very quiet. Queen Jane wanted a dinghy tour of the creek so I got it launched and she packed the small ice chest for refreshments. On the chart, it looks like a tiger and we enjoyed idling around all the appendages.
When we returned to the boat, we had an early dinner and decided to turn in early so we could get an early start in the morning. We will be trying to make it up to Washington, DC by Friday.
Wednesday, May 9, 2018:
We woke up early and all the engine checks were a-ok so I cranked up at 0618 and proceeded to get things arranged for the day’s travel. At 0628 I removed the lines and backed out of the slip while Jane was below. I think that surprised her. Northeast winds of 5 to 10 and waves of one foot were forecast. Once out in the bay conditions were a little rougher than expected, but by 0900 we passed green marker #3 and were in the 12 mile wide mouth of the Potomac. It made for a calmer ride but still rolling on what seemed like 2 to 3 foot seas. By 0945 the sun was out and it was flat and calm in the river. At 1015 the depth sounder showed 60 feet in mid-channel under the water-ski-glassy surface. At 1215 we arrived at the red marker #14. Here, I radioed for instructions from the Dahlgren Range Patrol to avoid becoming a national news item by getting bombed during the Navy live fire exercises. The Dahlgren Firing Range runs from the Naval Surface Warfare Center, Dahlgren Division, for more than 20 miles downstream. They’ve been practicing here since World War One. The Navy positions patrol boats to make sure all vessels receive coordinates for change of course to safely navigate the area. They were only using the middle Danger Zone and instructed me to continue to red marker 25, then turn to starboard and motor to a white diamond marker, keeping that tight to starboard, and then turn to the yellow “Oscar” buoy about another mile which I should keep to port, from which I could continue to tall fixed red “30” and then “32” to the center of the bridge. He was rattling this off and I wished I knew shorthand, so I read it back piece by piece to make sure I knew what to do. He was very patient and assured me that we would see their vessel and they would assist if we strayed from the designated detour route. When I inquired as to what they were firing, he gave an appropriately ambiguous answer. To my disappointment, we got to see no action at all. I was hoping for some excitement; not sinking Sabbatical excitement, but maybe just some target strafing.
Later, we came around Mathias Point I noticed a fire ahead on the left. It was putting up quite a bit of black smoke which I assumed to be fuel related. I wasn’t sure what the source was but I knew it was big because I could see flames and it was still several miles off. Nobody was mentioning any emergency on channel 16, so it piqued our curiosity. As we got closer, using the binoculars, Jane could see people on the beach at Chotank Creek Preserve conducting a controlled burn.
We were getting tired after a long day’s run and anchored in Acquia Creek near Widewater State Park at 1720. We had come 89.4 miles; our longest day so far. Even though we each had a chance to nap while the other piloted, we were still wiped out after the 11 hour run. Glad to be on anchor in such a lovely harbor, we enjoyed just sitting and talking on the flybridge for sunset before downing some leftovers and hitting the hay.
Thursday, May 10, 2018:
I checked the weather forecast and it showed a slight chance of showers and thunderstorms after 1400 with southwest winds of 10 to 13 and gusts to 22 mph. After checking all the requisite engine points, we pulled anchor at 0845. By 1000 we passed the Ghost Fleet of Mallows Bay on the right and Quantico on the left.
Some Army boat that must have a need for speed came by us. I’ve never seen so many outboard motors on one boat. I think there were seven 300 hp motors.
It was beautiful cruising as we kept getting up river and passed Mount Vernon to port and Fort Washington to starboard.
The banks got steeper against the narrowing river for a while. We could easily have made it to the Capitol Yacht Club, but our reservations were for Friday and they had no room, so I picked out an anchorage in front of National Harbor. Charted depths for this anchorage show depths of 7 to 13 feet, but all we found there was about four feet of water. I’m not sure why there was such a difference, but our draft is only 3 ½ feet, so we set the hook at 1320. National Harbor is a pretty fancy development with hotels, restaurants and shops. They even have a huge Ferris wheel out on the waterfront. We agreed that some shopping and dining was in order, so I got the dinghy ready, changed clothes and in we went. The folks at National Harbor are very proud of their dockage and we found out that it would be $15 for up to four hours to tie up the little dinghy. Ouch! On Fridays through Sundays they charge $20. Lucky for us it’s Thursday. We perused a few shops and asked one friendly clerk about where we could buy some casual things like Columbia sportswear. She directed us to walk to the outlet stores. So off we went down the indicated path and through the tunnel.
Forty minutes later it finally came into view. It was a hot and muggy day and we were ready for some air conditioning. We found the Chico’s and Columbia store with some good deals. Jane bought a needed rain jacket. When we came out it had rained some and we Ubered back to the marina. We had a superb dinner at Thai Pavilion before returning to the boat before sunset. We were treated to a fabulous rainbow.
Earlier in the day, we received some good news from our son Scott in Nashville that he is in a relationship with a young lady that we adore. So that was cause for celebrating with the Rombauer Chardonnay on the fly bridge for sunset. I got out my guitar to serenade my sweetie and we had a great time enjoying the evening. I checked the log and noted that we have now done 1500 miles of the Loop.
Friday, May 11, 2018:
We were up at 0730 but lollygagged around with a leisurely breakfast of salsa grits and reading the hometown paper on line. It is only 8.3 miles to the Capitol Yacht Club and we can’t check in until 1100, so there’s no real rush. Good thing. I hate to rush. It was a nice day with an expected high in the low 80’s and northwest winds of 8 mph.
After checking him over, I woke Big Red from his slumber and the able diesel jumped to life. Right away, I heard something that definitely did not sound right. I was just reaching for the kill switch when I hit me that what I was hearing was not coming from our engine room. It was a sound that brought me quickly back to DaNang. Coming up the river making time at low altitude were four choppers. I’ve no way of knowing, but wondered if it might be the President. We waved anyway.
We hoisted the anchor at 1115. The chain and anchor were pretty gummed up with mud so I pulled out the trusty hose from the stern, hooked up the high pressure gun and squirted it all off as I reeled it in. It left some mess on the deck, but I knew I’d be scrubbing that soon enough. Jane navigated us out of the tricky anchorage and into the Potomac. Once we entered the Washington Channel, Jane called the Capitol City Yacht Club on the radio for docking instructions. I was paying close attention to what they were saying and did not see the “NO WAKE, IDLE SPEED ONLY” sign. Sure enough I got the blue lights from the police patrol boat, but he was very kind and just pointed out my error.
By 1230 we were lashed to the T head of B dock with thanks to the assistance of David the dockhand and fellow Loopers, Jim and Allie Cantonis of Meraki. This is one very nice facility. The club has a long history, but this brand new clubhouse and all new docks just opened in October. Transients here are welcomed as temporary members and are invited to use the bar and grill. The club is located in the recently redeveloped Southwest Wharf area and there are bunches of restaurants here along with all necessary shopping. Walking to the Mall and museums is easy and there is even a free shuttle bus that goes by the Mall and to the Metro stop. I cleaned up the boat and myself and then we set off walking. We spent some time in the Hirshhorn Art Museum and then strolled over to the Old Ebbitt’s Grill. It is the oldest saloon or restaurant in town. It was very packed, but we lucked out and got seated right away. The food was fresh and the service very attentive.
We walked past the Washington Monument on the way back and stopped in the upstairs bar at the yacht club and found the members in the CYC bar very friendly. This was their first day with the kitchen open and they were proud to be able to serve excellent food to the members.
Saturday, May 12, 2018:
We checked out the nearby farmer’s market in the morning and picked up a few things. Then we got the bikes out and rode over to the Georgetown Garden Tour. We toured the gardens of seven very old homes including the former home of President and Jacqueline Kennedy where they lived before he got the nomination. All the gardens were private and beautifully maintained.
We were exhausted by the time we got back but glad to have gotten some exercise. The ride totaled about 10 miles to Georgetown plus around all the neighborhoods and back. We showered in the clubhouse and dressed for the evening. We were headed for a performance of the Capitol Steps at the Reagan Center and opted to eat after the show. The Capitol Steps show is a hilarious musical show that casts barbs at our politicians and changes frequently with the abundant material Washington provides. Once we got back to the Wharf District we tried to eat at Kith-Kim but got no service. We left and went to Mi Vida Mexican Restaurant. It was a great choice for dinner with a sweet attentive waitress. It was a fun but tiring day.
Sunday, May 13, 2018:
It was cloudy and dreary and a little rainy. We made it over to Riverside Baptist Church. They are meeting in Thomas Jefferson Junior High School auditorium. It reminded both of us of our own elementary school, J.J. Finley. Riverside is under construction with a new building on the corner across from the Wharf. They were very friendly and have a completely mixed-race congregation and a wholly inclusive attitude. Afterwards we walked to the Smithsonian complex and visited the Air and Space Museum, had lunch at the Pavilion, visited the National Archives and generally roamed around. We noted bunches and bunches of police in full dress uniforms. It is Police Week here and they were about to march to honor their fallen brethren.
Jane made an awesome batch of Avocado Basil pasta for dinner and we planned what all else we wanted to see while here.
Monday, May 14, 2018:
David came by and pumped out our holding tank. Since the equipment is new, it does a really great job. We always appreciate a good pump out. Jane defrosted the fridge and ended up snapping the fragile plastic hinge pin again. I think we’ll just deal with it as is. We set out on the free shuttle for the metro station at L’Enfant Plaza and figured out what trains to take to get out to Bethesda so we could visit our friends, Linda and Larry Awbrey, their daughters, and meet the grandkids. The youngest is only five days old. They met us at the station and we picked up some lunch at a nice market before going over to the house. It was a nice visit, but too short and Blake chauffeured Larry and Ashley to the airport so we rode along to catch the metro from there. Once back at the boat, we got out the grocery cart and headed over to the Safeway (just several blocks walking) to stock up. Once we got back to the boat again, we saw that a bad storm was rolling in so we hunkered down to ride it out. It rained most of the night.
Tuesday, May 15, 2018
It was a pretty day, but warm. No, not warm. It was hot. It was muggy. It was very hot. But we were riding our bikes to visit the sights. We went to The Jefferson Memorial, The FDR Memorial, the Lincoln Memorial, The Korean War Memorial, The Viet Nam War Memorial, and then we rode over the river to Arlington National Cemetery. Jane was getting worn out and asked about doing the tram tour, but I didn’t think we wanted to be bothered with that. Oh, boy! Was I ever wrong! We hiked up the hills to the Kennedy grave sites and then over to the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. She was getting weaker by the step. I wondered and asked if I needed to put her in some shade and go get the EMT’s. It was around 95 and she was feeling sick. We did finally make it to witness a laying of the wreath ceremony and the changing of the guard at the Tomb. It was solemn as it should be. We made it back to the bikes at the ANC reception center and I offered to get us an Uber that could just take us and the bikes back to the marina. The offer was turned down, but Mama’s not happy having been drug all over DC. We finally made it back to the Wharf after a wrong turn and went to a disappointing Chinese Restaurant (Jenny’s) with sticky floors. Midafternoon, we returned to the boat hot and totally beat. We showered and got naps. Another storm is coming in and when it rolls through, I’m going to treat Jane to a fine dinner and never put her through a day like this one again if I want to keep her on this boat.
Sunset over the Jefferson Memorial just before the storm.