Gunkholing, for the non-boaters, is the practicing of dropping your hook in a secluded, scenic cove. With 6,000 miles of shoreline in the Chesapeake Bay there’s no shortage of scenic coves and we set out to explore some of these special spots.
The East River (off Mobjack Bay), the Corrotoman River (off the Rappahannock River), and St. Mary’s River (off the Potomac) were perfect spots. For us, perfect means that the coves were peaceful, uncrowded, and lovely. The tree lined shores are gorgeous making it difficult to believe that these were formerly tobacco farms. One day we took a 9 mile dinghy ride going 32 mph to the town of Urbanna. Scott likes to get his “speed” fix on dinghy excursions. Thank goodness it wasn’t too choppy and we only caught a few raindrops on the wild ride!
While in the St. Mary’s River we hosted daughter, Allegra and her boyfriend, Brandon on the opposite side of the aft deck. We unpacked our blow-up towable to give them a ride. They were a site for sore eyes since we hadn’t seen them since last October!!! Being together in person lifted my heart; Zoom and videochats, although nice, are poor substitutes for the real thing. I practically had to tie my hands down to keep from hugging them!
Our new kayaks were delivered to us at St. Mary’s College and they are beauties (Hurricane Santee 116). Teri and Scott on Miller Time were anchored next to us and gave us a timely lesson on getting in and out of the kayaks without tipping over. This was an invaluable lesson since the water was teeming with nettles. Our first outing was much more windy and wavy than we would have attempted on our own but was smooth sailing thanks to our Kayak mentors. Thank you Scott Miller for the kayak photos.
After two weeks of anchoring we needed fresh food, water, and cheap electricity to wash two weeks worth of clothes. Our two night stay at Calvert Marina in Solomon’s, MD, was jam-packed with chores and cleaning which were much more bearable in the air conditioning. We rarely use the air conditioners while at anchor. To encourage even the slightest zephyr to float inside we leave the doors open. This immediately results in piles of bug carcasses littering the flat surfaces, especially in the guest shower and salon. It was delightful to have two full days of clean surfaces. My upcoming project is to make screens for the 3 dutch doors.
Next stop was Island Creek up the Patuxent River. There wasn’t a single boat in sight. It felt rather lonely so after two nights we headed to Rhode River, south of Annapolis.
The Rhode River anchorage was our favorite of the six we visited despite it being extremely crowded for the 4th of July weekend. We kayaked to the Smithsonian Environmental Research Center and perused the deserted complex. There were signs stating that it was also a wildlife refuge and to watch out for bears! We talked loudly and continuously as we strolled and got a big surprise from a deer before she scampered away. This creek was the first one in which we were not inundated with the local species of jellyfish so we were able to relax in the water and swim around the boat. This is unusual for me as I’m not really a swimmer and do not enjoy being “in” the water…just “on” the water. I had been quite disappointed that we couldn’t find any scheduled fireworks for the 4th of July due to Covid-19. We had a serendipitous surprise when there were not 1, but eight fabulous firework displays that we thoroughly enjoyed from the flybridge!
We spent 4 nights on the Rhode River then continued up the Bay to the Magothy River. Our friends, Kitty and Kenny on Sabrina, own a home nestled among the trees that line the bay. We spent a lovely afternoon chillaxing in the shade of their back yard, at a social distance, of course. We also experienced a long storm the first evening which created a meteotsunami just 14 miles from us. Never heard of a meteotsunami? We hadn’t either. Rather than seismic activity creating a huge wave, this smaller wave was created by pressure from the thunderstorm and is a rare occurrence.
Our final stop was at Herrington Harbour South Marina and Resort where we filled the tanks with 1250 gallons of diesel. It was quite a bargain at $1.63 gal. This marina takes the cake with gorgeous gardens and outdoor spaces making for a delightful walk. We were packed in like a sardine between boats so when we awoke to big winds we chose to make live easier and settle in for another pleasant night.
Hot and muggy was the theme for the past 2 weeks. When exercising we are dripping wet within seconds. Despite hating the sound of the air conditioners Scott broke down twice and turned them on for a total of 6 hours. One day it was so miserable Scott buried his head in the freezer and chilled his pits with frozen soy curls!
Problem #1: As we were heading back to Solomon’s for our haul out our automatic pilot went crazy as we were transitioning to the fly bridge. Somehow Scott figured out that turning on the fly bridge chartplotter, after the pilot house chartplotters are already on a route, gives the autopilot a headache and it does not know which route to use. Problem solved.
Problem #2: When we back into a slip, as we did at the boat yard, Scott is blind. He can’t see out the back of the pilot house so I am his eyes. I direct him how far to go, which direction, etc. This process is always smooth as silk but this time it was a complete failure. He wasn’t doing anything I told him to do and kept going forward when I said backward. Talk about major frustration which was exacerbated by the hot sun! After several attempts we realized that the port engine had died and the starboard shifter detected transmission shifting overload and went to neutral. He restarted the port engine and we moved to open water then dropped anchor to take stock of our problems. A visit to the engine room found a cotter pin on the transmission shift arm rubbing a bracket causing the problem. I switched all my lines to the port side and we went in bow first returning us back to smooth as silk mode! This couldn’t have occurred at a better place or at a better time as we had space to maneuver.
Time to spiff up our girl and give her some TLC at Washburn’s Boat Yard.