31 October, 2014
October 22, and we’re finally underway again. Forecast was for 20-25 knots out of the North, and 3-5’ seas, but there is hardly a breeze as we pull off the dock in Solomon’s at 0730. The Girl rounds the corner to head down the Chesapeake, and Hello! There’s the forecasted conditions-on the nut. Beam seas of 2-4’ heading out of the creek, but once we turn South, they’ll be on our stern. Fine with us, our little ship loves following seas. The sailors following us out aren’t having so much fun, rolling 20 degrees and sitting in the mist created by the tops of the waves blowing off. Sipping my second cuppa, and munchin’ on my egg muffin I be smilin’. Gonna be a windy, gray day, so “White Squall” starring Jeff Bridges sounds like good entertainment. Five hours later, the entrance to the Potomac is a washing machine. Wind and current are opposing the incoming tide, and the waves are standing straight up. Our intended anchorage is dogmeat, even though it is mostly in the lee, so we abort and tuck in on a shallow creek behind Cobbs Island. As it turns out, it’s not as shallow as the chart would indicate, and since it’s off season, there aren’t many other boats around. I fact, we’re the only boat moving at all. We shoot down the hook in 10 feet of water, and the drizzle turns into a downpour, which really simplifies the “washing the boat” deal. Next morning, the weather’s an instant replay-gray and windy. If Suz didn’t have a flight out of Reagan in the morning Friday, we probably would have stayed put. I’m not sure what I expected, but the Potomac River is really wide at its’ lower half, and is quite rural. Even on this gray and windy day, the scenery racing by at 7 knots is quite beautiful. About halfway to D.C., we start seeing more and more military installations cloistered behind restricted waters dotting the otherwise uninhabited banks, as well as a few centuries-old forts. My fertile imagination runs wild as we pass antenna farms, huge satellite dishes, little harbors with military vessels tucked in, truck-sized tunnels exiting the bank above the shore (with no road or apparent access from the water), and Quantico-replete with its cadre of Osprey VTOL aircraft and helicopters. Could be the backdrop for a spy novel-maybe Jack Ryan or Jack Reacher. Our excitement level elevates as we pass Mount Vernon (home and burial place of George Washington) on our port side. Half an hour later, the Woodrow Wilson bridge rolls into sight just below Alexandria. Next, the Washington Monument and the Jefferson Memorial appear low on the horizon. I’m not sure which sight stirred the old patriotic juices more, this or the Statue of Liberty-let’s just call it a draw. The Gangplank Marina will be our home for the next week. It’s pretty funky, but well-protected, and just a walk from the National Mall, with a Metro (subway) stop right there too. As we’re tying up the Docklady, Dianne, tells us that this is the largest liveaboard marina on the East Coast. Off the boat, we take a quick walk to get our bearings. Suz and I took our 2 day honeymoon here after being married in North Carolina, on our way back to school and work in Ann Arbor. During a period in my previous life I spent a bit of time here as the chairman of my professions’ political action committee, but entering any city from its waterfront provides a completely different perspective.
Friday morning we hop on the Metro to get the Admiral out to Reagan for her flight to Madison, Wisconsin for some wedding dress shopping with our daughter, Ali. After returning to the boat, I decide to trek over to the marine supply store for 6 gallons of oil, filters and etc. for some routine maintenance that I have planned. Our neighbor, Greg gave me the keys to his truck, but I’m kinda uncomfortable driving his nice truck in downtown D.C. Can’t be that far, can it? Yup, sure is. Especially with 45 pounds of oil and assorted stuff. After a few unsuccessful attempts to bum a ride from other customers, the service manager takes pity on me and has a tech drive me back to the marina. How come these quick jobs are rarely quick? I’ve got 2 frikkin’ oil filter wrenches onboard, but do you think I can find one? Thank God for the “chain link” visegrip. At least I got to listen to the Sirius 60’s station asloudasiwanted for an hour and a half, and nobody was there to hear me cursing. Chores done for today, I’m reading on the back porch as my neighbors are returning from work. It’s really strange to see folks walking down the docks in their suits, with their briefcases, and hopping on boats. The next few days passed pretty quickly, filled with small boatchores, touristing, reading, and WATCHING FOOTBALL! Did I mention that Scottie and I put in a digital TV antenna? Now I can get the local network channels in addition to our satellite stuff. (Don’t even get me started on why my satellite provider couldn’t provide me with the networks-it’s a convoluted FCC deal-RV’s can, boats can’t). Suz is back before I know it. Mission accomplished-wedding gown ordered, rehearsal dress purchased, and the Admiral’s dress picked out. I’m gonna have to clean up my diet-she’s not a fan of Cheetos and beer for dinner ( I wasn’t that bad-I had salads a couple of nights too), but sometimes you just gotta do it. Over the next few days we hit some museums and the Capitol, as well as monuments. Everyone has their favorite attractions in D.C., so I won’t get into a lot of recommendations, BUT, if you haven’t been to the Holocaust Memorial, I can guarantee that visiting will be a Powerful Experience. I went the week that it opened, back in the day, and again this trip. Both visits were unique. If you don’t have favorites because you’ve never been to D.C.-go! (It’ll make you prouder of being an American). Okay, I’m off the soapbox now. Thursday the night of the30th, and we’re off to Safeway, a short walk from the marina, to provision. I know that they have Cheetos, but find out that they also have great fresh produce as well.
Halloween morning, 0600, and it looks like the clear, 75 degree days that we’ve enjoyed for the past week are at an end. It’s overcast and 48 degrees-good day for rollin’ down the river. We’ll do a long one today, to the mouth of the Potomac-I’m guessing about 11 hours or so. Justin will drop our dinghy off at the Lookout Point Marina near the Chesapeake Bay, so we can grab it there. He says it’s running like a top-we know he worked his butt off to get it right, and it’s one of those Ka-Ch$ng moments for us. In reality, it is for him too, as he put in a lot of hours that he didn’t bill us for, ‘cause(as Scottie says) he’s that kind of guy (refreshing). Passing Mt. Vernon, we spot a pair of bald eagles nesting on the green buoy directly opposite-I’m thinking old George is smilin’. The rest of the way down the river, the depthsounder is lighting up nonstop with schools of fish-we heard the Stripers (aka Rockfish) were running, but I’m too snuggly warm and lazy to break out my rig. Ah, almost forgot. There was an awesome fresh fish market that I found on my way to get oil a couple of days ago. I’m not too sure what the health department says about it, but what this Farmers Market for fish lacks in cleanliness, it makes up for in quantity/variety (I know that doesn’t make sense, but it sounded good to me). Crustaceans, mollusks, cephalopods, and fishes could be found in abundance-and the prices were right. I love living on the ocean. Just passing our anchorage from last week, Cobb Island. Seas are much kinder today, and a couple of hours to go. Our plan is to head South on Saturday, but the forecast is for 5-7’ seas, so we’ll see.