Monday, September 19, 2016

Down the Chesapeake

After our stop in St. Michaels, we started making our way down the Chesapeake. Our first stop was in Solomons MD.  This is the same place we stopped on the way up.  We chose to go to Calverts marina again since they only charge $1/foot for dockage and that is a bargain by just about anyone's standards.  The transient docks are good quality floating docks and they have an on-site pool and restaurant.  One convenient feature of the marina is a courtesy car and, although it is not in the best shape, is enough to get you to nearby stores if you need provisions or something for the boat. The bathhouse closest to the transient docks are also the ones closest to the boatyard and what I could only describe as "boatyard rustic" with painted concrete walls and floors and a hodgepodge of fixtures.  I don't mind the rustic facilities, but wish they were a bit more clean.

We used the courtesy car to pick up a couple things from the grocery store and stopped by a local BBQ place for lunch.  Courtesy cars are always an interesting thing.  I was first introduced to the concept as a pilot.  Smaller airports in smaller towns would often provide a car to allow people passing through to visit (and spend money at) local businesses.  Many marinas, especially those that are a bit out of town, also provide cars as a perk as those traveling by boat don't usually carry long-distance transportation any more than those in small personal aircraft.  The car is provided for free (other than you are generally expected to replace the gasoline you use) so they are often not the greatest of vehicles and not in the greatest of repair. I've learned to test basic things before taking a courtesy car very far.  Quick check of forward and reverse at slow speeds and brake effectiveness and function of the lights if we might be out in other than sunny daytime conditions.  Despite their limitations, they are very handy resources to have and are often greatly appreciated.

Courtesy cars can be looks nice from a distance.
At Solomons, the courtesy car is an old diesel Mercedes sedan.  The car runs OK, the suspension is a bit loose as is the steering linkage.  With 200,000 plus miles, the worst part of the car are the collapsing seat cushions, failed air conditioning, and failed drivers side window.  Very minor inconveniences and definitely better than walking the mile or two to the stores.

Although we didn't spend much time looking around, Solomons appears to be a touristy, weekend vacation sort of town. Thanks to the weather we decided to spend two nights here before continuing our trip south. The second morning we departed Solomons (and Maryland) for Ingram Bay Marina across the Potomac in Virginia.  As with most of the trip thus far, what little wind we have had has been pretty much right on the nose so not much sailing has happened.

Ingram Bay marina is a small marina guessed it...Ingram Bay. When we arrived we found a rather narrow channel, but it was wide enough for our boat.  The reported depths of over 6 feet must have been at the middle of the channel, but we found around 5 feet of water under our hulls as we crossed the breakwater into the marina basin. Once inside the basin the depth increased and we tried following the instructions for where to dock.  When we got to what we thought the marina had said, we found a slip that was about half the width of the boat.  We ended up tying off to the fuel dock instead.

The marina is a smaller facility, with covered and open slips for mostly smaller boats.  The fuel dock and one other end finger pier are the only places where larger boats can dock and I'm not sure if anything much larger than our boat can be accommodated, but we did fit.  It is in a nice setting and the marina owner also has a bunch of the surrounding property.  On it he has a couple cabins for rent as well as a lot of open area that our dogs really enjoyed.  The bath house is again rather basic, but here it is in better repair and cleaner than the last stop. This marina is again a bit out of the way, in fact, it is over 12 miles from the nearest town with stores. The owner, Captain Billy, offered to pick up something for us when he went into town later or we could use his work truck as a courtesy car. We took him up on the offer of the truck and went to town.  The best part of this marina was the WiFi though.  WiFi seems to be a common problem at most marinas but this one worked pretty well.  My guess is that it may be the quiet location and lack of users, but it was nice to have a more consistent connection (guess I should have worked on a post there...but didn't have a lot of time...sorry).

We left Ingram Bay the following day and made our way to the York river, just south of where we were when we built the hardtop.  This was intended to be a longer stop as it was where we had repositioned one of the cars. We arrived at the marina and I called them on the radio and they gave me instructions to a slip.  This was interesting since they said they would likely put me on a face dock.  I re-confirmed my beam and directions to the slip and made my way in.  As I approached the slip I could tell we wouldn't fit but the employees still seemed to think we would.  Since it had adequate rubber edge protection, I slowly moved the boat back until it touched on both sides.  We were a good foot wider than the slip, two or more if you include fenders.  After seeing the obvious evidence, they moved us to a face dock.

Rainy day on the York river.
Since our arrival, we have spent time re-positioning cars, re-provisioning, meeting with friends, and  other mundane tasks (I really did need a haircut). We are preparing to move on again, so naturally the weather seems to be deteriorating and with the rain I finally had a little time for another post. In the next few stops we are going to make our way through the Dismal swamp and the Albemarle loop before stopping again in Oriental, North Carolina.

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