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.

 

 

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Vero Beach- still sticky 11/22- 12/1

DSC02867 (800x589)AND it remains a good place to meet old friends and make new. The trip on Sunday from Melbourne area- easy and few boats thanks to the crappy forecast that never quite came to fruition. Dolphins enjoying the bow wake of a trawler (ours is too puny) and a man-made water-spout added interest and helped keep the binoculars in working condition.DSC02878 (800x506)
The city marina gave us a good laugh and unbeknownst to them, a tip-off on who we’d find on mooring. I’ll give you a clue; she’s a boat near and dear to us.

Recognize this cat?

Recognize this cat?

The marina’s confusion (we tried hard to straighten them out) over which boat goes with which owner lasted even after we departed. 🙂 Respecting their request to be kept out of the lime-light (not even candle-light!) this will be the only mention. Due to his extensive experience with vinyl lettering, Russ applied Ms Ortolan’s new name. Feeling a bit sad that her name is now retired but we still have boat bags bearing her name. And no one was yet looking for us and finding new owners; who, happily are not only still talking to us but invited us out for pizza and catching up.

The week prior we placed orders with seven companies for things we needed for Twins. Tuesday was the mother load; all kinds of goodies from Defender, Quill (K-cups) and Amazon.

Our happy holiday loot from Defender

Our happy holiday loot from Defender

We met David and Barbara on PDQ34 Miss My Money, also heading to Stuart for the rendezvous and Jack and Diane on PDQ34 Airlia who live in the apartments overlooking the mooring field. Interesting to see that even PDQs built the same year have noticeable differences; so far we are very happy with ours. Barbara gave me a wonderful tour (owned the boat about 2 years) while David gave the “guy tour”. Love their shades; and because they are sleek and not puffy like the curtains we have, the interior appears larger. 🙂

A November stop at Vero Beach (aka Velcro Beach, Zero Beach (so mean)) means sharing Thanksgiving with 200 other cruisers, some you may even know. Ann and Mike of m/v Traveling Soul were forced to spend their few days in a slip because the city decreed that boats over 50 ft could no longer attach to a mooring, but three boats could still raft up! Lucky us, we remained alone on our ball way up in the north section.

Sugar Shack Donuts!!

Traveling Soul (the other TS) fed our donut desires with treats from a Cocoa Beach stop the prior day. You guys are THE best!

 

Some cats are cute all the time

Some cats are cute all the time. Ann treats Spot to time on deck (you can’t see her harness )

 

We get legal with the dinghy - boatnumber plate makes this easy

We get legal with the dinghy – boatnumberplate.com makes this easy

Goes without saying that we made several trips on the bus to Publix, did laundry, hit the VB Farmers Market on Saturday. This time we needed to visit the dentist; same one as two years ago. One block from a bus stop (free bus you may recall), less expensive than our CT dentist and Russ is happier with their methods. A win-win.

I love pleasant surprises, don’t you? We get to the bus stop after Publix with plenty of time to spare. The woman waiting (another cruiser) said she was watching the bags of groceries sitting in the corner for another couple who left them to pop into another store. Turns out we knew them- Deja Vu!! and guess who they’d just rafted to? She who shall not be named, that’s who.  I was so tickled when Helen & Joe told us that they recognized the boat but not the people.. where are Lori and Russ and what did you do with them? 🙂  We left the next day, but we know exactly where we will meet up with them ….. when we get there.

 

Cats and more cats

Fast moving multi-hull

Fast moving multi-hull

Do you find the origin of words fascinating, or least interesting? I do. Find myself delving into word origins more and more; and hey it’s easy these days. How about this word: “catamaran”? The other night Russ and I tossed around some possible countries of origin and you might be doing the same right now …but we didn’t get it right. Try this: India.

You can check it yourself but here’s the Cliff Notes version: In and around India, vessels which looked to be nothing more than one or two lightweight pieces of wood tied together, were called Kattumarams in the Tamil language. (Tamil is one of 22 languages of India and one of the oldest surviving classical languages in the world). The word meant literally, “tied wood” (from kaṭṭu “to tie” and maram “wood, tree”). When English visitors encountered the swift and stable boats used by the Polynesians two widely spaced canoe-type vessels tied together, the same term was applied and thus today we have catamarans, or “cats” for short.

The same day of the catamaran word history tour, we drove down to lovely Wiscasset then lunched at Mine Oyster in Boothbay Harbor. I walked into only one shop in Boothbay Harbor (yes, I am feeling just fine) where local crafts and other interesting Maine items are sold. One book cover caught my eye; a stunning photo of a Maine Coon cat. Ah yes, the Coon Cat.

Captivating Coon Cat

Captivating Coon Cat

I smiled because if you Google that or do any search for Maine Cat, guess what comes up first? Yep, the Maine Coon Cat, which we never investigated, probably because we were too focused on that Maine Cat catamaran.

That same evening, there we sat at our tiny dinette table, sipping our Happy Hour libations and minding our own business. We sat inside because thanks to a cold front, the day was chilly, chilly and windy, windy. You get the picture. Our window looks out toward…….. not much, just open space, a barn, a few trees (one fallen) and grassy tent sites beyond. Movement caught my eye and I saw what looked like large, furry cat-like creatures; two of them.

He and she Maine Coon Cats

He and she Maine Coon Cats- taken through window so as not to scare them off

We know next to nothing about cats….. but we do love the ones our family and friends have and share such wonderful photos of!! 🙂 More research was in order and you can just call us your nomadic research assistants for all we routinely Google; most of it we don’t trouble you with!

Russ gets their keen attention

Russ gets their keen attention when he steps outside

Maine Coons are quite special; known as “gentle giants”, they are the largest domesticated cat breed in the U.S. and are now one of the most popular cat breeds in the world.  One of the oldest natural breeds in North America, especially native to Maine where they are the official state cat. Can you believe, a Maine Coon cat won the first North American Cat Show in 1895? Intelligent, excellent hunters with long fuzzy/bushy tails and medium to long hair, the one feature that assures you that you are indeed staring at a Coon cat is their slightly tufted ears. Look carefully at their ears in the above photo: see?

In the photo below you get a good look at the female’s tail. How do I know that she’s the female? At first I just labeled the light-colored one the female, but then …. well Spring IS here and love is in the air. 🙂

Pardon me sir; I take the front seat.

Pardon me sir; I take the front seat.

Now about that name; two folk tales seem to be the most popular, with the more ordinary one (naturally) being the more likely. My favorite goes like this: in 1793 when Marie Antoinette, Queen of France, tried to escape from France (probably to her relatives in Quebec 🙂 ) she brought her beloved Turkish Angora cats with her. She never made it, but her cats – with their nine lives- made it to the Wiscasset shore (weren’t we just there?) where they bred with the local short-haired cats and thus today- oh wait-people who first saw the new version must have seen dark-colored ones and though, “raccoon”. Romantic and all but not very likely.

The generally accepted theory among breeders also involves ships and the sea; perhaps not as boring as I led you believe. A seafaring trading ship Captain, Charles R. Coon often put into port in New England and his brave many-lived long-haired cats traveled with him. In classic literature what happens when a ship stops at a port? The sailors rush to the taverns, eager for brews and wenches. This wild abandon activity would surely include the cats aboard, eager to get away from a ship that offers not one speck of decent kitty litter! When the local population noticed cats similar to the ship’s long-haired cats with a touch of ‘common’, they called these felines “Coon’s Cats”. Take your pick, find another or make up your own story; but if you have a better one, you’d better share.  P.S. I gave Captain Coon the middle initial “R”.