29/06/2016 – Still heading north, slowly.

We spent two nights at anchor at Solomons. We went ashore on Monday and walked to the Marine Museum. We've found many museums closed on Mondays but fortunately it was open and we spent several hours there. There is a screw pile lighthouse dating from between 1850 and 1900 which was moved to the museum when it was replaced by an automated light. It was fascinating to wander through the rooms of the two storey cottage, furnished with simple period furniture. The lighthouse keepers were encouraged to bring their families with them. A steep staircase gives access to the light with its Fresnel Lens. There were also a number of historic boats plus exhibits detailing the tobacco trade, archaeology of the area, prehistoric remains and a number of aquaria plus much more. We enjoyed our visit. A photo of a screw pile lighthouse, still in use, will follow as I seem to be unable to enbed a photo in the text. Back on the boat we decided to leave the next morning for Annapolis. We had a reasonably early getaway, not crack of dawn but early for us. We sailed all morning, making good time, and were within 12-15 nM of our destination when we spotted dark clouds ahead. There was a weather warning broadcast of severe thunder storms accompanied by 60 mph winds, torrential rain and flooding anticipated. What should we do? A quick look in the pilot book confirmed that all the nearby marinas or their approach channels were to shallow for Starblazer. Our options were not fantastic: turn round and head south but we didn't think we'd get back to Solomons in time; head across to the Eastern Shore and try to find somewhere deep enough to anchor which would offer us protection; or just tough it out! We rolled the Genoa away, started the engine, dropped the main then parcel wrapped the mainsail along the boom so it couldn't get caught by any strong gusts. I lowered the Bimini and tied it up and we also put a second strap down on the dinghy then we turned around and headed south for an hour. looked as if the worst had passed so we turned around and motored into 32 knots of wind with current against us. It was painful making less than 2 knots over the ground! Four and a half hours after taking avoiding action we motored into Annapolis but the weather wasn't finished with us. For the last 30 minutes there was torrential rain and very poor visibility. I managed to spot a Harbourmaster's mooring right in front of the Naval Academy which we picked up first try. We were very happy to be safely tied up. Wednesday morning we dinghied into the marina where our friends Cathy and Charlie are currently living aboard their lovely yacht, Celebrate. They were on the 2014-5 World ARC and we parted company in Musket Cove, Fiji. We then went ashore, visited the tourist office then jumped aboard a 'Trolley' for a 40 minute tour of Historic Annapolis. The commentary was very informative and it gave us a great overview of the city. There are more Georgian houses here than in any other city in the USA, in fact it reminded us of home. Many of the houses have a coloured plaque, a different colour for various periods in the city's history. There are two dominant domes on the skyline, just like the Capitol in Washington. The oldest one, made of wood, stands on the original Capitol building on a hill. This was the first capital of America before the government moved to Washington, not very far away. The second dome is stone and is part of the church in the Naval Academy. Cathy and Charlie kindly took us to the supermarket on Thursday morning then we spent the afternoon on boat jobs. I did the washing by hand while John worked on the water maker which had gone on strike. Black Friday, the day of the confirmation of the BREXIT vote, was a fairly miserable day, at least on board Starblazer. We decided to visit the Naval Academy; entry is free but you need to show passports if you are not a U.S. Citizen, there is a bag search and you walk through a scanner. After that you can wander around at will, visiting a number of the buildings open to the public. Sadly we couldn't see inside the church because President Carter (once a president always a president) was visiting. He was a graduate of the Naval Academy, became a submariner and commanded a nuclear submarine before resigning to take over his family's business on the death of his father. Saturday was a much nicer day, both in weather and company! We joined Cathy and Charlie for a sail in Celebrate, a Taswell 58. It was amazing how well she sailed in very little wind. We tacked across the Chesapeake and back again until we could set a course for the middle span of the Chesapeake Bay Bridge which has a vertical clearance of 182 ft so no problem passing under there though it still looks rather close to the mast. At that point the breeze deserted us and we turned around. For the beam reach back down towards Annapolis Charlie and John launched the Gennaker, a huge colourful sail which helped us fly. When the wind died completely as we reached Spa Creek they snuffed and lowered the sail and we motored the final few hundred yards into the marina. To celebrate our safe arrival we had a bottle of Sparkling Ayama from South Africa in the fridge which we all enjoyed, accompanied by a cheese board. Dinner at Pussers was very good though our appetites were dulled a little by the cheeseboard. We reluctantly said goodbye to Cathy and Charlie and returned to Starblazer. Sunday morning we went ashore to visit the Farmers' Market but first of all stopped and stared at a wonderful collection of cars: Ferraris, Porsches, Lambourginis, a Mazerati, an Austin Healey 3000 and a split screen Jaguar XK 1??, all in concours condition. Apparently this is a fairly regular Sunday morning meet. We then walked around to the marina to drop off a bottle of nutmeg syrup and a Bill Bryson book about the origins of the American language. I was reading this when we sailed together on the World ARC and had promised to pass it on when I'd finished it but our ways parted too soon. We said a final farewell, with promises to meet again in New York in October and possibly again in Annapolis a few weeks later on our way back down to Portsmouth for the star of the Caribbean 1500. We left Annapolis on Monday morning, initially heading towards Baltimore but changed our minds. Instead we kept going and anchored in the Sassafras River for the night. Today we will make our way toChesapeake City and follow the C&D canal towards Delaware City then find an anchorage for the night. More soon. Joyce

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