Visiting Baltimore

A whale’s tail off NJ

We had a nice voyage thru Long Island Sound, NYC, down the NJ coast, up the Delaware River, across the C&D Canal & finally headed down the Chesapeake.  This year, we had considered detouring to visit the City of Baltimore.  When I heard from Jack (my brother) & Kerry from CA that they were visiting Baltimore at about the same time, that made our decision easy!  Hey, it wouldn’t be a family get-together without Benj, so he flew in for a few days too!



With a good weekly rate at Anchorage Marina, we settled in for a fun, busy 2 week first visit to Baltimore.  Anchorage Marina is in the Canton section of Baltimore about a 20 minute walk on the waters edge promenade to Fells Point.  Directly next to our marina was Professor Trash Wheel.  His job is to gobble up the street trash which floats down the street grates from the city directly into the harbor.  The orange booms direct the heaps of trash right into his “mouth”, up a conveyor & into a removable container.  During times of heavy rainfall he has to be constantly emptied, but it didn’t rain a drop during our 2 weeks, so no show for us.



The main tourist area, the Inner Harbor, was a bit further, so we usually took an Uber.  Benj only had time to visit 2 tourist attractions, so he chose touring the historic ships downtown & then taking a water taxi out of the harbor to Fort McHenry.  We toured 2 of the 4 historic ships, including the USS Constellation (the last surviving sailing naval warship, having been built back in 1854) along with the Chesapeake Lightship.

After lunch, a 20 minute water taxi ride brought us out to the historic Fort McHenry.  Originally built in 1798 & used in various forms up to WWII, it is more famously known for it’s role during the War of 1812.  On September 13, 1814, the fort successfully thwarted an attack by the British navy with superior firepower (including a new style of rockets – versus conventional cannons).  The morning of the 14th saw the British navy retreating, which inspired Francis Scott Key to write the poem “Defense of Fort M’Henry”, which eventually became our national anthem “The Star Spangled Banner”.  That’s probably all you learned in High School, but there was much, much more including…  There was a simultaneous land attack, which almost succeeded.

The flag… you probably learned that “the” famous flag was celebrated by Francis Scott Key as it was still flying.  Actually, at dawn, the 17′ x 25′ American “storm flag” was lowered (which took the breath of Francis Scott Key – waiting for perhaps the British flag to be raised in victory).  However a larger 30′ x 42′ American “garrison flag” immediately took it’s place – hence the “our flag was still there” actually referred to the new, larger garrison flag which had just been raised.  It’s always good to hear, “the rest of the story”, versus the tiny amount we learned from school.

Both before & after Benj’s visit, we toured many sites, including the National Aquarium & The Museum of Industry.  The museum was especially interesting, showing the huge influence of Baltimore to manufacturing, inventions & distribution, especially with the B & O Railroad right in town.  Right near our marina had been the American Can Company & the National Can Company – the largest can manufacturers in the world.


Ahhh… pies for dinner!

We celebrated Lori’s birthday at a fabulous B&B named Rachael Dowry (George & Martha Washington ate there when the road was called the Columbia Highway – not sure if they slept there), enjoyed the most fabulous dinner ever at the Charlestown restaurant (number 1 of 1855 on Trip Advisor), bought a cannoli in Little Italy, had “dinner” at Dangerously Delicious Pies & much more.  We also enjoyed spending time with Jack & Kerry, including a relaxing harbor cruise on a Krogen 42 trawler.



Ohhhh… donuts?  Can’t live on pies alone!  We had to make a side trip on our museum day to stop at Diablo Donuts across the harbor.  Well worth the trip!

Calm Days Before the “Storm”: 9/24 – 10/7

Confident paddler- and yes the board needs more air

Confident paddler- and yes the board needs more air

Oh give me a home where the paddle boards roam and the waters are calm all day; Where seldom is heard, “Oh crap I fell in”, and the SeaDoos don’t come out and play.

Yes, we know a place like that; Harness Creek off the South River next to Quiet Waters Park. We’d anchored there for nearly a week 5 years ago for weather and to get Ms. Ortolan’s screecher repaired after Russ lost the race with s/v Pride of Baltimore off New Jersey. 🙂

And first off a few good boat pics as we headed down the Bay.

Time to clean

Time to clean. Too messy and LOUD to do at the dock.

We keep out of the channel, which is for the big ships, but at one point just before I took this shot, it sure looked like we’d be meeting up head on. The day was overcast and not very pleasant so we were surprised to find lots of local boats anchored in Harness Creek.

Perspective- 600ft vs 27ft

Perspective- 600ft vs 27ft. Prometheus Leader – probably a car carrier, left a negligible wake. Good boy

Sunday was sorta warm and quiet pleasant so why not practice? In the top part of the photo you can see the yellow rental kayaks, (SUPs too) at the floating dock. It’s where you can leave your dinghy to walk through the park.

Looking good!!

Looking good!!

The resident blue heron kept me busy but I missed a good in-flight shot.dsc04099-800x584

Monday brought breezy and a chance of showers but we bravely walked through the park headed for lunch at Main Ingredient, another great dining spot only one mile away.

Deer show no fear as we walk through Quiet Waters Park

Deer show no fear as we walk through Quiet Waters Park

Because Main Ingredient also caters, the dessert offerings are extensive and from our booth I could hear them calling out to us. The Andes (Mint) chocolate multi-layer cake served us for two dinner desserts.  We share. 🙂

Lunch at Main Ingredient. Tempting desserts taunted us from our booth

Lunch at Main Ingredient. Tempting desserts taunted us from our booth

Next stop Solomons, where we’d re-connect with our friends Mike & Ann of Traveling Soul, now also owners of a beautiful condo unit. Spot was more active than we usually have seen her, as she’s got more leg room (even though Traveling Soul is a large Defever motoryacht) and an attentive audience.

Spot is mezmerized by the garbage disposal

Spot is fascinated by the garbage disposal, but you should have seen her with the Soda Stream!

Do you know you can grow more romaine lettuce from the ends?  Ann told me you just do like in the photo below and soon you will have more for your money. Nice uh?

The lettuce whisperer

The lettuce whisperer: growing more from the bottom hearts

We were invited not only for dinner and Vodka & Tonics made with Ann’s magical formula homemade tonic, but to do a load of laundry. I know some of you can’t imagine how great that was, but it was pretty special.

My best new laundry helper

My best new laundry helper

We got to spend three nights at Calvert Marina (same place as this past June), but they were booked for the weekend due to the upcoming Krogen Rendezvous and a Defever Rendezvous after that. Rain was the word, especially Wednesday which of course was errand day. Ann took me to shop and we both got some things off our lists.

After leaving the dock we moved less than 1/8 mile up Back Creek to anchor. The wind was still honkin’ in the Bay although we felt little all tucked in, and rain came and went through Saturday evening. During our Solomons stay the wind display function on our wireless weather station crapped out. I don’t think you will be surprised to learn that the one year warranty recently passed.

The last hurrah of a line of scattered heavy rain. Was so narrow you could see brightness beyond.


Behind the trees and tall flag pole is Mike & Ann's Solomons Landing condo

Behind the trees and tall flag pole is Mike & Ann’s Solomons Landing condo complex.

Early on during our Solomons stay we began reading about Tropical Storm / Hurricane Matthew. The models disagreed, the spaghetti strands fanned out like octopus tentacles and we devised several plans, each based on severity and guestimate location of the storm as it headed up this way.

Top Rack was a planned stop for diesel and dining but they’d kick us out if a hurricane warning was in effect, so we had to cancel. I mean did we want to just assume we could find room at a protected marina close by? Not many choices for those.

One option was to head way up the Potomac as far in as possible; either find an acceptable anchorage or protected marina with floating docks.

One suggested marina could only offer us the outside of a T head, so even though it was a floating dock we declined and kept calling.

Then I came across Sunset Boating Center in Hampton, VA. Up the Hampton River and down a dead end canal, it met all our criteria.

We arrived on Monday Oct 3, well ahead of the very slow moving hurricane. The NE Bay winds were forecast to pick up mid week so why endure a rough trip when we can avoid it?

Never visited Hampton before, so a few days of settled weather allowed us to explore by dinghy and by land.

Sunset Boating Center- no frills lots of protection. Before removing cushions and closing bimini top

Sunset Boating Center- no frills lots of protection. Before removing cushions and closing bimini top

Over by the side street entrance sits the Barking Dog where we ate dinner. Casual atmosphere as you can see. Hot dogs, several types of sausage grinders are menu’s focus but they also make a fantastic crab cake-super thick and virtually all crab. Hush puppies were great too.

Fantastic friendly service at The Barking Dog

Fantastic friendly service at The Barking Dog. Our waitress was an 11 on a scale of 1 to 10!

Tuesday morning we walked approximately 1/2 mile to a nearby Food Lion. At the checkout the woman ahead of us pegged us for boaters (lugging a cooler bag) and offered us a ride back. She told us of a great dining spot downtown, “next to Goodys” with pizza, tapas and more. She even gave us her name and phone number should we need anything.

After stashing the groceries we head for downtown and well what do you know? we stumble (ya right) upon a doughnut place. If you dinghy up the Hampton River to Hampton Public Piers there’s a place to tie up and walk one block to downtown Hampton. The area is small but has many restaurants, a few gift shops, the Air & Space Museum Hampton History Museum, water access, tour boats and a restored carousel.

We easily scout out the dounut shop, but alas closed Tuesdays

We easily scout out the donut shop, but alas closed Tuesdays

Intersection of Queen & King

Intersection of Queen & King

We find Goodys and next door is Venture. (hidden behind the trees)  The posted cocktail menu was all we needed to lure us in. Priced to entice with Classic and Crafted Cocktails averaging $7, you can see below these were not eensy teensy drinks.

One size crafted pizzas made with their own dough, sandwiches, salads and seafood; tapas items served starting at 4pm. But what are Tots? Our waitress- phenomenal- plopped down this free sample. Cook potatoes and skins, add just the right amount of seasoning, spread in a jelly roll pan, chill, cut into small squares and fry em up fresh!!  Served with a side of spicy mayo, they were out of this world delicious. Some entrees are served with a side of Tots but you can also order them as an appetizer.

Venture's signature Tots- to die for

Venture’s signature Tots- to die for

Another great spot with a view! Excellent menu and cocktails too!!

Another great spot with a view!


This gorgeous restored carousel has a Connecticut connection

This gorgeous restored carousel has a Connecticut connection


Reminds me of the carousels at Quassy, Watch Hill and Greenport (especially)

Reminds me of the carousels at Quassy (CT), Watch Hill (RI) and Greenport (NY) (especially)

Each day small boats arrived to be hauled out and placed into rack storage. We had a front row view. The only other transient boat here was the blue sailboat you can see a bit of in the below photo.

Lifting up and into storage building

Lifting up and into storage building

Matthew was due to be at its closest to us sometime Saturday night-ish, and Friday’s weather was pleasant so why not one more trip into town? This time we walked and before ending up at Venture for an early dinner, we popped into the Hampton History Museum for a side of culture.

At this point any of our considered options would have been fine, even Top Rack but we were happy with Sunset as many days in a slip can add up those $$$$ and this place was “B2G1F” and only $1/night for 30amp power (only had 30amp). It’s a smaller boat place lacking nice scenery; even across the water is a huge barge. But the power was great; many places cause our ground fault warning to sound, the wi-fi worked well and we could easily get to downtown,groceries, pharmacies and yes, ok doughnuts!

Thank you to all who checked on us. 🙂   Next up; fun times during and after Matthew.