Cape May, New Jersey

Packed grab bag ✅

Packed dinghy saddle bag with safety/emergency equipment ✅

Dosed up on sea sick tablets ✅

Covered safety and emergency procedures ✅

Leaving Delaware City Marina

All systems go! At 8.55am on a glorious 27C day wth light airs and smooth waters, we set sail down the Delaware River and on into the Delaware Bay. The voyage took 8 hours and 7 minutes and at times we reached over 11 mph!

On our way we passed Salem Nuclear Power Plant on the New Jersey side of the bay. 

And the John Ship Shoal lighthouse which does not light up at all, but rather sends out eerie horn signals. From a distance this lighthouse looks like Cinderella’s fairytale castle.

We were passed by a large work rig. And met quite a few large ships inbound.

Halfway down the bay we were met by countless small pleasure craft sailing their way up to the C&D Canal. At times we felt like a salmon heading in the wrong direction. 

We gained a boat moustache in the murky brown water – most unbecoming! And somehow we attracted the most diabolical blood sucking flies who just refused to die – over, and over, and over again! We finished the bug repellant spray and they still kept coming. 

Now, after negotiating the shallow and narrow Cape May Canal with innumerable speedboats and fishing boats streaking by, we found our berth at the pretty South Jersey Marina, where we shall reside until the effects of Hurricane Larry settle down.

Such is Life!

Dashing to Delaware City

The current in the upper reaches of the Chesapeake Bay can be exhilarating. Approaching the C&D Canal (Chesapeake and Delaware Canal links Chesapeake Bay to Delaware Bay), Bushranger topped speeds in excess of 9 mph. We searched for protective eye glasses and seatbelts in our safety equipment. A fellow looper took photos of us in our speedy transit of the canal. We actually created a bow wave!

Photo courtesy of Jenny Lynn Girvan in Melody in Sea.

The C&D Canal is 14 miles long with a tow path its entire length. Along a section is a duck hunting range. I hoped the gunmen aimed really high, especially when I saw the duck hides down low on water level. Cyclists and joggers regularly overtook us, as did occasionally walkers!

To pass the time we admired the different bridge shapes spanning the canal.

We arrived at Delaware City (all of eight by six blocks) about 12.30pm. In the narrow creek in which the marina is situated, we are tied to a long floating wharf, stern to bow with other boats. If someone sneezes we can pass a tissue across easily! Upon arrival, we (and every other boat) were deftly swivelled around via a bowline by the marina staff. This is to allow boats to exit the creek going ahead, not backing out. Currents are pretty swift here, as well. A very slick operation – no boat stuck like in the Suez Canal.

We dined on garlic tonight with some tasty seafood. Luckily we both ate the same dish. We met our very friendly bow neighbours who invited us onboard their Marine Trader.

Now for decision time: do we sail to Cape May tomorrow or not? We’ll sleep on it.

Such is Life!

Bobbing on the Sassafras River

Tonight we reside in the Sassafras River, in the northern Chesapeake.

Earlier in the day, Mark showed his seamanship by not only manoeuvring Bushranger out of a tricky slip but also showing how Bushranger can ‘turn on a dime’ in the narrow marina basin after pump-out duties. 

We quickly settled into our sailing routine.

Mark found his ‘happy place’.

We were warned of the large amount of debris washing down the Chesapeake from the flooded areas caused by the low depression, Ida. We stealthily wove our way through branches and tree trunks, clumps of grass and weeds – not to mention the numerous boats plying the waterway on the US Labor Day long weekend.

Being a craft of high speed (7 mph) and battling the ebbing tide, we made our destination in 5 hours and 17 minutes. We only had to go 35.5 miles! Still, our cheeks resembled the flapping jowls of dogs hanging out a car window.

And now? In our little lazy bend in the river, chosen for protection from southerly winds forecast for tonight, we are enjoying the river vista (and neck-jerking bobbing) of men raging with testosterone and probably fuelled with alcohol, chasing each other on PWCs, doing doughnuts in high speed pleasure craft, and using Bushranger as a rounding mark. Only another two hours until sundown!

Such is Life!

We’re Alive!

Ex-hurricane Ida came and went. We felt her majestic but waning presence. We battened down the hatches, tripled the lines and waited out the tempest. Heavy rain accompanied by strong north winds on the port quarter buffeted our old girl. She is one tough cookie! Listening to the banshee howls and feeling the slight rocking motion, we remained safely sheltered. Mark slept, I didn’t!

Unfortunately, we were unable to sail today as the winds were still blowing strongly and seas a little nasty.

But, there is always a silver lining. We put the cooler temperature and sunny weather to good use…

Fixing the leaking head!

Oh, and if you are wondering about the workload, Mark’s t-shirt says it all.

Such is Life!

All systems go…

Bushranger has launched! After two years and one month she is finally happily bobbing in the water. And may I say, she is looking rather spiffy! All decks have been scrubbed. Eisenglass (clear plastic windows) have been installed on the bridge. All walls, floors and accoutrements dusted, wiped down and disinfected. Any and everything that could be washed in a washing machine was laundered. Victuals bought and stowed. Maintenance undertaken. All checks completed. Sea trials successful.

That is what we have been doing this last week in unbearable heat and up to 91% humidity. 

We are ready to go!

Our broad brush plans have already changed thanks to Hurricane Ida. She has decided to make her presence felt here, in the Maryland/Delaware region. We set sail at 11.30 this morning to high-tail it over to Rock Hall three hours away on the eastern shores of the Chesapeake. We have opted to stay snug in a marina securely tied up for the next four days, by which time we hope Ida will well and truly pass us. High winds and rough waters, thunderstorms and flooding are forecast. Bit of a bummer!

Such is Life!

Out of Lockdown

Bushranger here.

For two years, through no fault of my own, I have endured isolation, been confined to my LGA (Local Geographic Area), no power, no travel, no exercise, no company except for a few passing forklifts. Weeks and months of being socially isolated have been very bad for my health. Elective surgery was cut when I was half way through a procedure on my injectors. My heartbeat slowed as my batteries died and I now need a complete battery transplant.

I even missed that precocious and noisy dinghy that has too much to say, hanging off my back end. I just found out that dinghy had to wear a facemask for the last two years – poor bugger. Bet it didn’t shut her up though.

The worst thing is how you let go of appearances when nobody is looking. Dust has settled thickly, spiders have found their way into the most secret of places, my shiny brightwork has dulled and the smell from my incomplete injector procedure has made its way throughout my nether regions.

Now the end is in sight. HOORAY! They are back! My misery and distress draws to a close. Hoses, rags and brushes have lifted my appearance and spirits. The battery transplant was a complete success and the injector elective surgery is soon to be completed so I can again run for miles and miles with no effort or tiring.

My two years of isolation give me great empathy for those now in lockdown. Can I encourage you? It will pass and you too will enjoy the euphoria I now feel as my life returns and I can do the things I really want to.

Such is Life!

The journey continues…

I am very hesitant to add to this blog during these hard covid times. With much of Australia under harsh restrictions, and especially NSW experiencing draconian lockdowns, I am very reticent in sharing our overseas adventures. I do not want to be insensitive to the plight of our friends and family. 

It has always been my intention to chronicle our journey. With that said, when speaking, messaging, phoning, the overwhelming sentiment was friends and family wanting to read our blog and live vicariously. 

So the journey continues…

Such is Life!

Reflections on the Chesapeake Bay

Many people have asked us ‘What is the best part of your Chesapeake trip?’ To which we reply, ‘the journey’. Each town, river or creek we have entered has had its own special charm. And the people we have met in passing have enriched our travels greatly.

We love anchoring out in quiet coves and creeks. Unfortunately, due to the excessive heat, we have only been able to do this about four times. The boat is too hot to be able to sleep without air conditioning and to run aircon without being alongside we must run the generator. This is noisy. So, that was a disappointment.

Most days, with the extreme and atypical hot temperatures, weather alerts were sent to us forecasting thunderstorms. This again, made us reevaluate where we needed to be each afternoon – tucked up and safe. The shallow waters can be very nasty with high winds. For this reason we missed out on seeing some of the coves we had originally planned to visit.

I have observed the way of life on the eastern shores and Tangier Island is more laid back than on the western shore. Life revolves around the water. It is the lifeblood. May the waterman style of life never disappear. It has a richness and time-honored cadence.

Our trip to Washington with the Turners was a highlight. We saw more of the “hidden delights” of the Capital than in previous trips. A trip of discovery made all the more enjoyable with good friends.

Before we hit the waters of Chesapeake Bay we were warned by quite a few people that we would be sailing in a high density boating area – doubly so being the summer break. We have been amazed at the lack of sailing vessels. Most days we would be lucky to encounter 10 or so watercraft (watermen excepted). Off Annapolis we saw 7 bulk carriers at anchor waiting to dock in Baltimore. The only day we encountered boats in any density was on arrival at St Michaels. Guess when we were warned we were thinking of boat density similar to Saturday afternoon races on Sydney Harbour. Now that is boat density!

But never have we had a send-off like this one from Baltimore! We were the only boat sailing on the harbour. And we lapped it up!

Lighthouses galore and the bay is richer for having them. They come in all shapes and sizes and colours. Not all are working or in good order, but when you glimpse one it evokes a bygone era.

The insects of Chesapeake are truly horrible bugs. They all have fangs which delight in finding uncovered skin. Kill one and three take its place. They are stealth buggers – you don’t know they are on you until the pain explodes.

Crepe Myrtle in all its white, red, lilac and pink blossom glory is everywhere. I thought Magnolias were an image of the south, but Crepe Myrtle is quite literally everywhere, and at the time of our visit, in colourful bloom.

Many places on the Chesapeake are famous for something:

  • George Washington born / died / resigned / elected / visited here
  • Deltaville is the Gateway of the Chesapeake and Boating Capital of the Chesapeake Bay
  • Tangier Island is the Soft-Crab Capital of the World
  • Crisfield is the Seafood Capital of the World
  • St Michaels and Oxford are famous for James Michener writing Chesapeake
  • St Marys and Annapolis both claim to be the first capital of Maryland, with Annapolis also the first capital of USA (for nine months)

Perhaps the most note-worthy has been the towns themselves. All have been quaint and picture-perfect. The manicured lawns and well preserved homes with tree-lined streets, present life in a bygone era. The architecture is unique and sublime. Here, there is a stateliness and charm not found in modern cities. Most have been colonial towns, created in the 17th Century. All have known the effects of Revolutionary War and the Civil War. Battlefields are near or bombardments from ships were endured. History is alive.

Oh, the places we’ve gone, the sights we’ve seen, the people we’ve met…

In brief, some statistics of our trip from Isle of Hope, Georgia to Pleasure Cove, Maryland (Chesapeake):

  • Distance travelled this voyage from Savannah, Georgia to Pleasure Cove Marina, Bodkin Creek – 1032.1 miles
  • Loop distance overall – 2616.2 miles (almost halfway of the usual loop route)

On a personal note:

  • Crab is a staple on the bay and very tasty. But I am almost ‘crabbed’ out. Too much of a good thing… And we hate crab pots!
  • I have surprised myself with a new set of skills – varnishing woodwork and painting the deck. Mind you – where was that in the fine print when I signed up for this adventure?

Now Bushranger is winterised and awaits recommissioning next April when the adventure will continue. We are homeward bound.

Such is Life!

And so to the Coffee Quest

My quest for good coffee in the USA is ongoing. Each state, each city, each town we visit I live in hope of a good cup of coffee.

Now don’t get me wrong – I am not a coffee snob. I simply like a ‘Flat White”, nothing special, nothing with syrup or whipped cream or half and half, or chocolate…

The closest I have been to my “Flat White” was tasted in the Naval Academy at Annapolis. So close and yet so far!

And coffee needs to be savoured. One needs to drink it out of a china cup with saucer, sitting awhile and possibly chatting with good friends. The coffee shop should have ambiance conducive to relaxing and enjoying the moment. Comfy deep chairs and delicate pastries to agonize over, with staff who are professional and friendly. These coffee shops are few and far between in the USA, at least in the southern states.

I have, however, had fun in my search for the elusive coffee shop and Flat White.

With our friends, Gregg and Carol Turner, we sought out coffee stops whilst en route to Washington DC from the Rappahannock River. For value for money, Gregg wins with his Mocha Coffee at Java Jacks Caffe in Tappahannock.

In Urbana, we visited the old time diner cum pharmacy cum gift store. It was a hoot, but the coffee did not live up to the promise.

In Montross we lucked upon the Art of Coffee, with an eclectic range of clothing, jewellery and artwork. We could have stayed here a lot longer, but the menfolk wanted to push on.

And we ‘stumbled’ upon the Front Porch Coffee House in Kilmarnock. This almost ticked all the boxes!

And for stunning surrounds we could not beat The Tides Inn in Irvington. I was so relaxed in the moment, I forgot to take a photo!

And of course, when one is in Fredericksburg, one has to go to Goolrick’s established 1867, if not for the coffee, then for the gelato. Their sundae is to die for!

Good times were had by all in our quest for coffee. Roll on future quests.

Such is Life!

Baltimore

Baltimore was a place I was quite iffy about. Frankly, I did not mind if we skipped it all together. I had read a little about it. It seemed like just an industrial city with a shipbuilding history. Could take it or leave it.

Well, people… I’ll take it! What a surprise! From the moment we sailed up the Patapsco River, and under the Francis Scott Key Bridge, past Fort Caroll and Fort McHenry, the skyline of Baltimore is expansive and stunning. The city is attractive and the harbour has been revitalized.

Historic buildings have been re-purposed, leaving in place the interesting 18th century architecture.

In the Fells District, cobbled stone roads with embedded railroad tracks add to the shipbuilding history of the area.

A waterfront promenade runs 7.5 miles connecting districts. Ongoing building projects are everywhere.

Baltimore has a friendly vibe with plenty to see and do.

We went to the observation floor of the Trade Tower to see the most stunning 360 degree views of the city.

The waterfront is connected via footbridges, cycleways and paths, and water taxis.

There are many museums and historic ships berthed alongside.

Interesting nooks and crannies everywhere from murals to sculptures to public Adirondack chairs to outdoor theatres to amazing outdoor eateries and bars.

The food here is sensational, international and we agree with people who have said the food is outstanding. (Not so in other places!)

Mark chose well when he chose Harbor East Marina, right smack bang halfway between the Inner Harbor and Fells Point. We took great delight in walking and discovering the delights of Baltimore.

I should never pre-judge!

Oh, and we painted half of the deck before breakfast!

Such is Life!