19/06/2016 – Heading North, slowly.

We did get up early Tuesday morning to leave Portsmouth but the wind was still gusting strongly from the north. We spent the morning putting things away, walked to the High Street to buy more milk and helped another Hallberg Rassy 42F tie up in the free basin at the end of High Street. 'Free' is good but you can only stay for 36 hours and no return in 72. After lunch the wind dropped so we paid, untied, motored to the fuel dock, refuelled, emptied the holding tank then waved goodbye to Portsmouth. The Elizabeth River heads north before turning a little west where it merges with the James River then the river turns hard to the right passing between Hampton and Norfolk and enters the Chesapeake. We share the river with container ships, colliers, naval vessels, general cargo ships and fishing boats, sometimes all at the same time! The tide was against us until we met the Chesapeake so it made for slow progress. Once clear of the shipping channels we headed for Koptopeke on the Virginia east coast which is actually a tongue of land joined in the north to Maryland, across the entrance to the Chesapeake from Norfolk. Ashore there is a state park, the beaches look lovely and there is a breakwater though the seas were calm and the wind had dropped to almost nothing. The breakwaters are unique, formed by a string of concrete ships. I should mention there is one major problem with this anchorage, it appears to have measles! There are an awful lot of crab pots, strung in lines, and it is difficult to find a space to anchor with enough room to swing around when the tide turns but we had a very peaceful night. Wednesday morning we started the engine and, to John's horror, there was no cooling water. He checked that the lid was tightly screwed on to the water strained then tried again, still no water. He checked there was lots of water coming out of the pump, tick. Eventually he discovered that a pipe with a joiner had parted. He put it back together and tightened up the jubilee clips (hose clamps in the U.S.) restarted the engine and we were on our way, rather later than we had hoped. The next problem was finding a destination with an anchorage in deep enough water which we could reach in daylight. Eventually we decided on Deltaville which is on a peninsular separated by two rivers, the Piankatank to the south and the Rappahannock to the north. Following a fairly tortuous route we headed for Fishing Bay on the Piankatank, followed closely by WhisperHR, the Australian HR 42 we had helped tie up on the quay in Portsmouth. We anchored in about 5 metres of water and invited Kevin and May on board for drinks. The weather forecast for the next few days was dire so we stayed put! Fishing Bay was lovely, surrounded by trees interspersed with large and not so large holiday homes, most with private docks. Several people came out in small motor boats to chat, everyone was very friendly. Wednesday night we had an hour and a half of thunder and lightning, which John slept through, and about three hours of rain, sometimes torrential. Thursday improved slowly, by afternoon it was sunny so we went ashore and walked to West Marine, about a mile and a half away. We started to walk towards the NAPA store to buy alternator belts, John wanted 4, they had 1 but we had 1 onboard - we use them in pairs. The staff in West Marine said it wasn't too far to walk....they lied. Fortunately a chap who followed us out offered us a lift. He also said he would look out for us on the way back once he had collected some friends from a marina close by. In fact he pulled up at NAPA and came to find us then took us all the way back to the marina where we had left the dinghy. How kind was that? I've subsequently measured the distance on a map and West Marine to NAPA was 2.25 miles! Thursday and Friday were forecast to have winds up to 30 knots though we were well protected in Fishing Bay. On Saturday the winds were expected to diminish but the water in the Chesapeake would still be fairly rough so we stayed put. We were told about an hourly bus service so we set off to catch the bus due, we thought, at 1040. We made the bus stop, together with Kevin and May, at 1041 but there was no sign of the bus. After about 15 minutes the Ullman Sails van returned from the yacht club and offered us a lift as far as their building, next door to NAPA. We walked from there to the Maritime Museum. This is a new museum which describes the boats which were built and sailed in the Chesapeake and also describes some of the history of the area. John found the display of old tools particularly fascinating. We walked down through the park to the pontoon where two old boats are moored, the bigger one dating from 1924. Sorry, I didn't take any photos with the i-pad. The bus arrived right on time and, for 50 cents each, we set off on a tour of the area! It turns out that we didn't miss the bus, the first service left Stingray point at 11:00 and meandered its way around all the marinas and boat yards with stops at the various clusters of shops and services. Deltaville is not really a town, rather just a fairly straight road about 4 miles long with a few businesses in each cluster. We got off at a new cluster where we had lunch at The Table, a very pleasant place with tasty food. We caught the bus an hour later and got off at the stop named Deltaville Market which is actually a supermarket. By accident we entered Dollar General and bumped right into Janet from Wayward Wind, one of the World ARC fleet! Pete is still in Florida with the boat, waiting for engine parts yet again, then he will bring the boat to Deltaville for the summer. Dollar General stocks a bit of everything but this one had no refrigeration for meats or milk, unlike the one in Portsmouth. We bought quite a few things here then bumped into Kevin and May who had just come out of Deltaville Market. With 15 minutes until the bus was due we left the bags with Kevin and bought fruit, onions and milk. The bus is a new venture which started the previous week, sponsored by a number of local businesses and runs on Thursday, Friday and Saturday. We were the first passengers to use it! Given its route and the lack of a recognisable town centre, it is aimed at the boating fraternity and I think it is a marvellous service. In all it cost us 3 dollars for three separate trips, wonderful. Janet had offered to come back to give us a lift to the marina after she had dropped off her ice cream, we declined because we didn't want to disappoint our bus driver. Similarly, someone in Deltaville Market offered Kevin and May a lift back and they also declined! Sunday morning we pulled up the anchor and set off, heading north towards Solomons. The holding had been very good, in thick mud. It took half an hour to bring the chain up and down and up and down and up, two metres at time trying to scrub off the mud with the chain scrubber we rarely use! Not only did Deltaville lack shops, there was no cellular coverage for T Mobile so no Facebook, no BBC News, no football text coverage. I feel very deprived! Joyce Postscript. We arrived in Solomons at about 1830 and are now anchored in Mill Creek just off the Patuxent River. Pictures to follow. Sent from my iPad

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *