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.



Havre de Grace

Approaching Havre de Grace

Approaching Havre de Grace

We’d always zoomed through the upper Chesapeake and now it was time to explore a new place, Havre de Grace at the mouth of the Susquehanna River. The Susquehanna is what makes the Bay the Bay, providing over half of its fresh water. One of the oldest rivers in the WORLD, it flows for 464 miles from New York, to PA then into MD. The mouth is small near Havre de Grace and dams are used to control the water flow during rainy times and spring flooding.

But the question is- how do you pronounce Havre de Grace??  If you say Haevre de Grace (long A sound), with a French pronunciation of Havre, then you are technically accurate but you will not be mistaken for a local. According to Southern Living’s extensive research into the correct pronunciation of “southern” city names, the city’s name gets all run together with the “de” sounding like “t”. So you say it,  “Haverty Grace”.  Bet you feel better knowing this.

The town-sized city of less than 14,000 offers a walkable downtown area, a small maritime museum, a duck decoy museum, a boardwalk and the very popular Bomboys Ice Cream mega-parlor with their large fudge and candy shop right across the street. Yes to ice-cream, no to candy shop.

We choose Tidewater Marina because not only did they have fuel, they had room for us. Billy was fun at the gas dock and he found us an easy side tie dock in their basin furthest away from the “more active” rack storage small boat basin.

We exited (on foot) the marina (a gated secure fenced in place) and turned left to head toward the point where we’d spotted the little lighthouse. The Maritime museum was just my size and priced to entice, so in we went.


Havre de Grace's First Family -John & elizabeth Rodgers

Havre de Grace’s First Family -John & Elizabeth Rodgers. Looks like the house still stands.

We always wonder about the process of crabbing, fish-trapping, oystering and lobstering and how the various nets, traps, etc look below the surface. The below was informative and we learned something new. Retention is another thing. 🙂

A peek at "below the floats"

A peek at “below the floats” of gillnetting.


Benj- this one's for you

Benj- this one’s for you. Some may recall the 3 sheep Benj raised a few summers ago.

North Washington St is where the action is, if you can call it that. The Vineyard Wine Bar left no doubt that they were highly rated and it looked enticing, if not a skosh out of place in this town, er city. But well, you know us and if there’s donuts around we point in that direction. Golls Bakery; talk about old fashioned. More like out of the Twilight Zone of the 60s/70s era. Family owned and operated since 1930, the place looked like not much had changed in many years, including the prices.

Excellent tradional bakery in Havre de Grace

Excellent traditional bakery in Havre de Grace

We didn’t think much would be available at 4pm and the current owner’s nephew assured us Saturday morning would bring a huge assortment of temptations. With a nod to Terminator our “we’ll be back” must have been believable.


Clever name for a very interesting store

Clever name for a very interesting store

The Rodgers home survived the 1813 burning of Havre de Grace. Dating from 1787, this is the town's oldest documented structure.

The Rodgers home survived the 1813 burning of Havre de Grace. Dating from 1787, this is the town’s oldest documented structure.

We found the Rodgers home across from Laurrapin, our selected dinner spot on N.Washington. They wisely/kindly defined the word, and we both agreed while memorable, it didn’t quite reach the laurrapin-ness of Spoon River in Belhaven, NC.


Dinner- Farm to Fork Washington St

Dinner- Farm to Fork on N. Washington St

Appetizers and entrees were mostly reasonably priced as were the creative cocktails. As you can see we couldn’t resist a delectable dessert, or two. The cheesecake was not your run-of-the-mill kind, but a goat cheese cake. A bit of tang as expected and very tasty. I still remain a fan of the artery clogging heavy New York cheesecake. 🙂 Some day I will be able to make one again.

The flourless choc cake was akin to solidified hot fudge sauce- yummy

The flourless choc cake was akin to solidified hot fudge sauce- yummy

We spotted a sign at the small park next to Tidewater: Farmers Market Sat 9-12.  Lucky us, we seldom run across a market and this one was so convenient. Our morning just got better-the plan to raid the bakery was enhanced by a market opportunity.




And there we are, essentially next door.

How close can you get?

How close can you get?

The Vienna bread at $1.95 from Golls was a steal. Hearty and flavorful, with a soft crust, it made excellent french toast. The bacon/cheddar/chive scones and pasture eggs purchased at the market.

More doughnuts and raisin sweet rolls are missing

More doughnuts and raisin sweet rolls are missing from the photo

Stomachs full and the bread basket stocked, we headed out back into the Bay our bows pointing toward the South River, which can you believe is the next river south of Annapolis?