Chesapeake Bay Delivery - 2003

This is my log of a delivery down the Chesapeake Bay aboard Odyssey, a Cal 35 being taken from Chicago to Sarasota by its owner, Jack. Various family members as well as members of Winthrop Harbor Yacht Club crewed with Jack on sections of this trip.

October 9 – Baltimore - Annapolis

Really early morning start with a taxi pick up at 0500 for the flight from Chicago to Baltimore. Getting to the boat from BWI was an easy process with the Super Shuttle taking me directly to the Marriot Waterfront Hotel. The Inner Harbor East marina is directly opposite, and made for an easy walk to the slips. Found Odyssey, went aboard and changed into shorts as the weather in Baltimore was much warmer than Chicago. Jack, son Dan and grandson John were ashore, so I walked up to the office to look at photos of the marina during hurricane Isabel. No damage to the marina but the slips were floating almost at the tops of their pylons which were about six feet above the water. Much of downtown Baltimore was flooded by the storm surge.

Jack, Dan and John arrived about 1230 and we left for Annapolis. Took a small detour before the Baltimore Bay bridge to photograph the ‘Francis Scott Keys’ buoy, which marks the spot where he penned the ‘Star Spangled Banner’.

Arrived at Annapolis at 1630 and anchored in the Naval Anchorage area off the Navel Academy. Went ashore for dinner and a walk around Annapolis. Ran into Jim and Joni, friends from North Carolina and arranged to meet up with them the next morning.

October 10 – Annapolis

Took the water taxi ashore and met up with Jim and Joni. Went to Weems and Plath’s tent sale, then on to Bacon and Company’s used equipment sale. Managed to discover great finds at both. Spent the rest of the day at the boat show. Not as big as I expected, being more accustomed to the Earls Court and Southampton shows. Got some useful information on equipment that is needed to add to ‘Forty Two’ before next year’s trip.

October 11 – Annapolis – St Michaels

We all went on a tour of the Naval Academy, which was especially interesting as Jack was an alumnus. Final part of the tour was a visit to the crypt below the chapel which houses the remains of John Paul Jones and many mementos of his career as the founder of the US Navy. Dan and John left here to return to Chicago.

Jack and I left at 1430 for St Michaels. I took the boat out of Annapolis and in the process of dodging race boats and a power boat that was obviously a social event from the boat show managed to go outside the channel and briefly aground. No damage except to my pride. On arrival at St Michaels at 1730 we were shocked to find the marina charge was $2.75 per foot. But “the rate goes down to $1.00 per foot tomorrow” was the comment. We tried but could not negotiate a discount, but at least they had a courtesy van to take us uptown.

October 12 – St Michaels - Oxford

I went ashore early to visit the Chesapeake Marine Museum. It is an interesting collection of old buildings clustered around an old lighthouse. Exhibitions of oyster, crab and fishing operations in the bay, boat building and duck and goose decoys. There are a number of restored older boats, both sail and power, in the water, and one old boat in the shed being restored.

Left St Michaels at 1230 and went to the fuel dock to fill with diesel and water. More sticker shock when the fuel dock charged an extra $7.oo for water as the fuel bill did not meet a minimum $30.00 charge!

Arrived Oxford at 1700. A very nice harbor and marina with a good anchorage the other side of the fairway. Eat walk into town. Coming up the river we followed a mini Cruise ship ‘American Eagle’ which also docked at Oxford,

After dinner we took a walk around the waterfront. Most interesting was Cutts and Case boat yard with a lit up section showing several old wood boats they had restored.

October 13 - Oxford – Solomons Island

Walked back into Oxford to visit Cutts and Case. We were able to walk around the shed where there were several other wooden boats being restored and one new power boat being built of strip plank. Left Oxford at 1100. As we came out of the harbor, met the cruise ship backing out of the dock. Hoisted sails in the river and had a good sail for about two hours until the wind dropped.

Arrived Solomons Island at 1530 and tied up at the Solomons Island Yacht Club. Great Clubhouse and very friendly members. One member directed us down the road to a place that sold fresh shucked oysters which we took back to the club and washed down with local beer.

There was obvious hurricane damage to docks and buildings. One marina we tried did not respond to our VHF call and when we did get through on the cell phone we got a message that the marina was closed due to hurricane damage.

October 14 – Solomons Island - Crisfield

Left Solomons Island at 0830 for the trip across the bay to Crisfield. Wind was on the nose, so another day of motoring. Once we got to the east side of the bay we found very skinny water, at places only eight feet with lots of crab pots. Like dodging mines in a minefield continually watching for and avoiding pot marker buoys. Got into Crisfield at 1700 and tied up in Somers Bay Marina. This is a state owned facility, very nice and protected. Just as well as that night the wind got up and was gusting to over 40 knots.

October 15 – Crisfield

Wind continued all day at 25 – 30 knots with gusts to 40 knots out of the east. Since that was the direction we needed to go, we declared a lay day and concentrated on some maintenance. Fixed the solar vent, one windlass foot switch and replaced missing nuts on the fore hatch hinges. Jack wired up a new inverter and drained the primary fuel filter. Wind kept up all day but forecast was for it to drop over night.

October 16 – Crisfield – Deltaville

Our intent was an early departure. We first started the engine to make sure air was out of the system after draining the primary filter the previous day. The engine ran for about five minutes, then died. We bled the system several times but were unable to get the engine to restart. Finally check all the way back to the fuel tank to find the fitting had broken at the shut off valve. Fortunately, Crisfield is a major crab fishing town and has a number of stores selling marine supplies. Jack borrowed a bike from the marina and rode up town to get a replacement. Once installed and the fuel system bled, the engine ran without trouble. We finally got under way at 1045. Again, the wind was on the nose at about 15 knots with 2 – 4 foot swells and the occasional 6 foot swell. Boat seemed a bit sluggish, but we attributed that to the wind and sea conditions and a rising tide. I came off watch at 1300 and went below to find diesel on the counter above the engine compartment. Opened the compartment and found the #1 injector spitting fuel. Obviously when we bled the fuel line we had not properly fastened the injector down. Simple fix, but a messy clean up!

Wind dropped mid afternoon but stayed on the nose all day. Arrived in Deltaville at 1830. The marina assigned us a slip close in and assured us that our draft of 6 feet was not a problem. About one length off the slip we were aground! It was low tide, and the east wind had pushed more water out of the bay, so the level was about a foot lower than normal. After apologizing we were reassigned to a slip on the outside on a floating dock.

October 17 – Deltaville – Newport

Left Deltaville at 0845 with high hopes of sailing. Alas, the wind gods once again decided to blow from the direction we were headed. So another eight hours of motoring. Looked like everyone was departing Chesapeake Bay. At Wolf Trap lighthouse I counted 22 other yachts traveling south.

On arriving in Hampton Roads it got very interesting with a navy cruiser and destroyer inbound and a submarine outbound. The navy was enforcing a strict 500 yard exclusion zone around each vessel with RIB patrol boats zipping all around. Then came a long trip up the channel to Tidewater yachts marina. Arrived at 1615. This is a large marina, but confusing instructions over the radio initially put us up the wrong slip channel. Finally got it sorted out.

For me, this was the end of the trip, although I did stay onboard one more day. Terry arrives October 18 to replace me for the trip to Savanna. I leave Odyssey with another 245 miles added to my log, a good understanding of the Chesapeake Bay, and many fond memories. This will serve me well when Forty Two makes the same trip next year.

October 18 – in Newport

Spent the day sightseeing with Jack, and then later with Terry after he arrived. First went to Nauticus, which is a new marine museum with the battle cruiser USS Wisconsin tied alongside. We were able to walk the deck of the Wisconsin, but as she is part of the ready reserve, access to the interior is not possible. It really is incredible to see the size of this ship, and her armaments. Her last service was in the Gulf War in 1991 shelling Iraqi positions in Kuwait. After Terry arrived, we went on to the Douglas Arthur memorial museum. Housed in the old city hall this contains a wonderful collection of artifacts and information of a long and distinguished military career. Unfortunately we had to miss the section on Korea as the museum was about to close, .

We also took the time to look at the schooners in port. There was a Chesapeake Bay schooner race the previous day, and all the competitors were moored close to the Tidewater Yachts marina. It was wonderful to see so many well preserved old sailboats together in one place.

In summary, the past ten days feed my passion and determination to make my own cruise on Forty Two a reality.