Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Potomac River & DC to Oxford, MD

Oxford, MD
38 41.61 N 76 10.18 W

Motoring up the Potomac River
under calm and hot conditions
 On 7/5/11 after spending some 35 days docked at Calvert Marina we departed Solomons, MD destined for our nation's capitol. We had become quite content at Calvert's plugged in to air conditioning, using their pool and having access to shopping with their courtesy car. It was time to get back into cruising mode and away from the "luxuries" of marina life. The weather was hazy and hot with little to no wind for sailing so we motored in very calm waters back down the Chesapeake Bay, around Point Lookout, to the 5 mile wide mouth of the Potomac River.

Catching a cooling breeze
at sunset
 Washington DC is situated about 100 miles up the Potomac River so we split the trip up into 3 days of cruising.  Our 1st night we anchored about 10 miles up the Potomac River in a tributary called Herring Creek. We were totally alone in this pretty anchorage most likely because it was too hot for most sane people to leave the comforts of AC. It was hot and humid – temps were well into the 80’s through the night with our fans not doing much of anything.

Day two on the Potomac took us past the Dahlgren Navy test range where they conduct routine live firing drills. Patrol boats redirect river traffic as needed to keep everyone safe and out of the line of fire. That night we anchored about 3 miles off the Potomac, on the Port Tobacco River. This turned out be our least favorite anchorage... open and exposed to the south and unfortunately, noisy from people partying along the nearby shores of the state park until after 11pm.

Thursday 7/7/11 we raised anchor and continued on under another hot, hazy, humid day passing Quantico, VA. Our destination today was Mattawoman Creek as it had been recommended to us by some cruiser friends. We anchored and took advantage of the “cool” (86’F) and clean water to do some swimming and kayaking.

Passing by George
Washington's "Mt.Vernon"
On Friday 7/8/11 we continued up the river passing under the bluffs of Mt. Vernon. We were quite surprised at how scenic and undeveloped most of the Potomac River is. Bald Eagles, Great Blue Herons and Ospreys are visible everywhere. The river also has very little commercial boat traffic to contend with.

View of the Capital Yacht Club
with Washington Monument
& 14th St bridge in background
 However, as we approached the city of Alexandria on the western shore (Virginia on west shore, Maryland on east shore) the scenery finally changed toward urban megalopolis. The runway approach for Washington’s National Airport was right over the river. We arrived at the Capital Yacht Club by mid-morning and once again plugged-in and turned on the AC to escape the maddening heat and humidity.

Carina docked on outside"T"
The CYC is located just down-river from the 14th St Bridge, near the city's fish markets. The monuments and Mall are only a short walk from the marina. Skies were threatening and it was extremely hot and humid but we decided to do a walking tour around the tidal basin to visit the Jefferson, FDR and Lincoln Memorials as well as the Vietnam and World War II Memorials.  
Playing tourist
We spent the next four days playing tourist and taking in as many museums and other attractions as possible. Inspite of the summer heat and humidity that Washington DC is known for there were throngs of tourist visiting the city. 

Our cockpit view of
Canoe Neck Creek 
 After a very full four days including a grocery store run to refill the larder we departed Washington DC on Wednesday 7/13/11. Our plan was to check out a few different anchorages on our way back down the Potomac. Canoe Neck Creek off of St. Clement’s Bay offered all around protection in a beautiful tree lined cove.

Evening on Canoe Neck Creek
We shared the area with lots of Great Blue Herons who made quite a ruckus if we came to close to them. We decided to spend a second night here to explore by kayak a few more of the numerous side creeks.

Carina anchored in Horseshoe
Cove as viewed from the college's
boat house and waterfront area.

We were underway early on Saturday morning to try to ride the ebb current downriver to our next stop in St. Mary’s River. We 1st anchored about 5 miles up the St. Marys's River, in Horseshoe Cove, just off St. Mary’s College. The college is quite friendly to cruisers offering free daytime use of its face dock to tour the area, take on water or even access meals in the college cafeteria.
Touring the grounds of
Historic St. Mary's City
Historic St. Mary’s City adjacent to the campus is steeped in history and an active archeological dig site. St. Mary’s City was one of the first colonial settlements in Maryland dating back to the 1600’s and was Maryland’s first capitol before relocating to Annapolis.

Kayaking the head waters of
St Mary's River
 On Sunday 7/17/11 we moved Carina about two miles further upriver in yet another beautiful tree lined cove with a few large private homes and farms along the shore. We kayaked up through tidal marshes that narrowed and shallowed to tree lined head waters. Three and one half hours later we made it back to the boat with aching arms and shoulders. We took a quick dip (no sea nettles yet thank goodness) before an early cocktail hour and dinner onboard.

Veronica, Jason
and baby Quinten
 On Monday  7/18/11 Kathy became a grandmother for the second time!! Quinten Kusheba arrived at 1:33pm weighing in at 5lbs. 5 oz. and 19” long. Although he was 3 ½ weeks early he is a beautiful and healthy baby boy. While waiting for the call from Jason (Kathy’s son) we spent at least an hour trying to find a spot to anchor Carina with good cell phone reception. It was the first time our choice of spot to drop the anchor was dictated by how many bars we had on the cell phone. We finally settled on a spot just inside Jutland Creek off Smith Creek. With 1-2 cell phone bars we were able to get the all important call and even a text photo of the new baby.

Dinghy ride on Jutland creek
With Quinten’s early arrival we decided to move our own schedule up for Carina's haulout. So on Tuesday 7/19/11 we traveled back up the Chesapeake, anchoring in Mill Creek of Solomons overnight before continuing  the next day across the Bay to the "Eastern Shore of Maryland" and the Oxford Boatyard.

Carina had only 3" of clearance
on each side in the travel lift
 Carina is going to spend a well deserved month “on the hard” here to get a new coat of bottom paint, wax, a new strata-glass “windshield” and mainsail “stack pack” among some other routine maintenance and such. With Carina scheduled for a haul out on Friday 7/22/11 we rented a car on Thursday to make the drive to Wilmington, DE where Jason and Veronica live. We enjoyed a great visit with the new baby and parents before gratefully accepting the keys to one of their cars and the keys to their condo in Rehoboth Beach which will be our home for the next month or so.

Since we will be land based until around Labor Day we won’t post another blog until we are once again underway in September.
Sunset over Canoe Neck Creek on St. Clements Bay