I can’t recall if I’ve blogged about Lil Sudden’s inverter. Both Lil Sudden and Saga had inverters installed to help our power situation. Unfortunately, Lil Sudden’s inverter had a manufacturer defect and they had to ship it to Tennessee. Since then, they’ve been limping on limited power unless they were plugged in on the dock. Well, after months without their inverter, one was scheduled to be sent. Annapolis was the location selected to have it sent to so we altered our travel plans and headed for Annapolis.
Thanks to recip benefits from our boating club membership, we were able to stay at the Eastport Yacht Club for a discounted rate (it’s usually $4/foot for dock space in Annapolis).
We took a few hours and walked around the historic area of the town, then returned to the boats to watch the weekly sailboat race. The water was covered in sailboats with their bright sails unfurled.
Unfortunately, the inverter delivery was delayed and it was now expected to arrive next Tuesday (it is currently Wednesday).
The next morning, we decided it would be best to continue on with our plans and then get a rental car from another location and drive to Annapolis when it arrives.
We’ve been zig zagging across the Chesapeake going from one town to another. There is so much to see and do, but not enough time.
Saint Michaels was next on our Must Visit list. When reviewing the Great Loop Facebook page, there was discussion on a few loopers’ anchors dragging; however, those people were on the north side of town and we were going to anchor in the southern side.
We thought to be safe, we would put out a little extra chain (or all of it). 175 feet of chain in 10 feet of water later, we were rafted up and secure. A few other looper boats joined us in the bay as well including Bama Breeze, Beach Side, Pu Hana, and eventually Fika.
The anchorage was great. The only possible issue was the number of crabbing boats cruising by. I’ve never seen this manner of crabbing. They’d drop a weighted line with little sandbag-like-bags that the crabs would grab onto. The fishermen would come by and pick up the line, catching the crabs at the surface with a net or basket. We weren’t bothered by them and it was fun to watch this method of crabbing.
Up the bay was a small dinghy dock that was a few blocks from the heart of town. The town itself is a grid pattern around a central square. The streets are lined with cute houses and shops as well as a museum and waterfront. This is one of my favorite towns so far.
What makes this town interesting, besides sharing a name with my son Michael, is its role in the War of 1812. The British was planning on attacking St. Michaels, but the town knew of this plan and hung lanterns in trees beyond the town. When the British attacked at night, they saw the lights and overshot the town. Only one cannonball hit a house and the town became known as “the town that fooled the British.”
Our first day arriving in St. Michaels, we headed to town to see a distillery and do some wine tasting. I also tried some Chesapeake Gold cheese which was delicious. The first winery, St. Michael’s Winery, had an amazing selection and I went home with some Gollywobbler Peach. I loved the taste and the name. Apparently, a Gollywobbler is a staysail set between the foremast and mainmast of a schooner.
The second winery, Bordeleau, wasn’t bad, but their tasting fee was a little on the higher side ($18 for 5 pours). Thankfully, the pours were generous, but I didn’t bring any home.
The Windon distillery made delicious Lyon Rum. We enjoyed sampling many flavors and types, but my favorite was the coconut rum.
The rest of our stay included walking, shopping, exploring, eating, and even a day of swimming in the bay. After many locals recommending Avas, we went for dinner with a bunch of other loopers. It was great getting to know more people and sharing travel tips.
Here are some photos of our exploration:
When leaving in the morning, we watched the crabbing boats slowly boat around. I was a little concerned with where their lines may rest and discovered one was caught on our anchor when we started pulling her up. A little nudge with a boat hook released it and we were on our way to our next destination. Sadly there were no crabs attached to the line.
Solomons Island is surprisingly fun with so much to do. We anchored in a peaceful spot around the corner from the main town that allowed space for kayaking and a quick dinghy ride to many different areas.
The island is a major boating center located at the mouth of the Patuxent River in Maryland. It reminded me a lot of Gig Harbor with restaurants and docks along the water and a lot of small pleasure boaters zooming around.
The 13th is Steve’s birthday. We started the morning with coffee on Steve’s boat and presented him with his gifts. The day continued with dressing in Hawaiian theme clothing and Leis while taking Steve to lunch at a nice Italian restaurant. The celebrations continued with drinks at the Tiki Bar. Unfortunately, it started raining so our festivities were cut a little short with a wet dinghy ride back to the boats.
While anchored out, we also met a few other Loopers. Fika was in their dingy and came over to say hello. They have two kids a little younger than Annette and Michael. The kids all hung out for a bit while we visited.
While leaving for lunch, we noticed another dinghy in the water with Fika. They had just completed the Loop and were coming to say hello. We joined them on the water for a quick meet and greet.
May 14, 2023
It’s Mother’s Day. We pulled anchor and moved the boats to the Tiki Bar dock. The boys had projects and work to do and I wanted to see the sculpture garden. The garden was a long walk away, but Boris found a possible dock we could take the dinghy to. The kids, Tonia, and I loaded into the dinghy and headed out. Unfortunately, the dock was private and not in great shape so we had to nix that idea. Feeling bummed, we turned around, only to be surprised by a fever of sting rays swimming.
After some oohs and ahs, we went to the Calvert Marine Museum, explored their exhibits, and toured the Drum Point Lighthouse. Drum Point Lighthouse is a screw-pile cottage-type lighthouse and is only one of four remaining from forty-five that once served the Chesapeake Bay. It is complete with furnishings of the early twentieth century. It’s incredible imaging what it would have been like living in one. After our tour, we returned to the boats and we had drinks at the Tiki Bar where we met another Looper (Bama Breeze)
Below are some images of our wanderings around Solomons Island.
Tangier is a remote island accessible by air or sea. The narrow streets are traveled mostly by bicycles and golf carts and are dotted with small homes and shops. Stepping foot onto the island is like stepping back in time.
John Smith was the first European to explore the island in 1608 and the people made their livelihood by crabbing and oystering.
We anchored near a long sandspit on the south end of the island. Surrounded by crab traps, we found a clear spot to settle in for the day. Michael and I kayaked to the beach and enjoyed a nice stroll in the sand.
Later, we took the dinghy into town. As we first approached, we passed hundreds of crab traps that dotted the water’s surface. Following a narrow channel, we arrived in town surrounded by small shacks and docks on the water and finally reaching land.
While strolling around, we did notice that many of the homes have gravestones in their front yard. This is due to:
Closer proximity of burying a loved one allowed the grave to be more easily cared for and visited.
Placing the grave close to the home reduced the risk of grave-robbery, which was a common problem in the 1800’s.
Animals were less likely to dig up graves when in such locations.
Higher ground near a home was less likely to result in a casket being floated to the surface by rising tides.
The locals also speak a distinctive dialect of Southern American English which many believe is what the original colonists may have sounded like.
We did find a Sea Hawks fan identified with a sticker on their golf cart.
While the water was calm during the day, we had a horrible experience at night. The wind blew over and the waves were rolling. As all three boats were rafted, we kept rocking and banging against each other. The option of untying and moving away wasn’t an option as we were surrounded by crab traps and didn’t want to risk getting a line caught around a propeller. Instead, no one slept while we kept adjusting fenders and lines. Any opportunity to drift off to sleep would be interrupted with the banging of lines against the hull, splashing of water between the boats, or fenders rubbing. The video below doesn’t due the experience justice.
5 am and sunrise couldn’t come soon enough. Once there was enough light to see, we all untied, pulled anchor, and left for our next stop.
The adventure continues up the Chesapeake Bay with our next stop in Deltaville, VA. I feasted on a Low Country Boil and we all chilled at the anchorage. The evening graced us with a lightning show that I videoed in slow motion.
The problem with anchoring out is trying to figure out how to access shore. Most of the time, we find a dinghy dock and/or pay a dock fee. I noticed that we were located next to Fishing Bay Yacht Club. They were kind enough to let us use their dock for the dingy as well as their shower facilities and picnic tables.
Matt, Steve, and I took the folding bikes to shore to run errands and provision. The ride out was fine, but the return trip was more challenging riding with fully loaded backpacks; I somehow tweaked my back and am in a bit of pain.
We are trying to keep our traveling down to 3 hours or less a day as we make our way up the Chesapeake Bay. Our next planned stop was Deltaville, but it was 6 hours a way. Not wanting to move that long, Matt found an anchorage in Hampton which was half way. Once arriving in Hampton, we were pleasantly surprised with all that it had to offer.
Tonia discovered the area was home to Fort Monroe and Battery Irwin. We had a history lesson while climbing around the battery and walking the walls of the fort. The shoreline is also where the first documented Africans arrived in Virginia abord the White Lion. I was just teaching the kids about this in homeschool! This is also where the Confederate President Jefferson Davis was confined.
Most of the forts that we’ve come across had dried up moats and vacant buildings. This fort, however, had a moat, cars coming inside and buildings used as residences.
Next to the fort was the Battery and other historic buildings and markers.
While wandering around, we spotted an old firehouse that has been converted into an ice cream shop. We had to do some taste testing of course.
At the end of our tour of the fort, we found a post card with a picture of an Oozlefinch. It is the Mascot of the Coats Artillery and flies backwards in order to keep dust out of his eyes and is so bashful, he swallows himself when he sees someone.
We were so amused by this bird, that when Tonia discovered a brewery nearby with the same name, we had to go check it out. The brewery was family and pet friendly offering a variety of beverages including boozy sodas and slushies. it was the perfect way to end our day.
While our boat sat at the boatyard at the Atlantic Yacht Basin, we had plans to go home for some appointments, see friends and family, and to get our dog Flash. It was a welcome sight landing back in Seattle with a lovely sunset.
Day Island Yacht Club
We ended up leaving Washington D.C. a day early and was able to attend our yacht club’s dinner meeting. A few members have been following our blogs and saw that we hit bottom a couple of times. They felt it was appropriate to honor us with “The Shorts.” The Shorts are given to members who experience learning opportunities (usually embarrassing), and are flown from the boat. I shall proudly fly them when we return.
Tacoma Daffodil Marine Festival
Tacoma Yacht Club hosts an annual Daffodil Marine Festival where many yacht clubs in the area come and attend. We couldn’t be away from Matt and Tonia for so long (after all, it’s been 2 days since we’ve last seen them) that we rushed to Tacoma and the awesome Daffodil festival to join them in the antics. We also saw many of our other boating friends and I helped support Day Island in the trivia contest. We won the Most Spirited Award.
We tried to see as many friends as possible during our brief stay at home. I obtained a visitor’s pass to the same gym as my friend Mandy so that we could see each other in the mornings and work out. She also invited me to a Rainiers Baseball Game. Her husband Eric even came over to help Boris rebuild our gate.
KayAnna, Robby, and their family came over a couple of times for dinner and board games. I also went to explore Pike Place Market with KayAnna and Adeline. I’ve been to Pike Place Market many times, but never stopped to really appreciate the area. While on the Loop, I like to explore each town and admire the art, decorations, and shops. I finally slowed down and saw Pike Place the same way as I view the towns on the Loop and began discovering many charming details that I never noticed before.
Our visit back home was great timing as my friend Kristin was also in town for a weekend. We were able to catch up over dinner.
Steve’s friend Toni was also throwing a surprise birthday party for Steve so we ventured north to help celebrate. We were able to finally meet Toni and got our Matt and Tonia fix again as we hadn’t seen them in 1 week. It was great celebrating. On our way home south, we stopped by to see our friends Greg and Sandi.
The kids also took advantage of the opportunity to see their friends. The hardest part for the kids on the Loop is them missing their friends. The next two weeks we were a revolving door of their friends visiting or having sleepovers.
I was very thankful to see so many friends and catch up.
We missed my nephews first birthday by a month. When we left, he was just starting to stand; he now walks. It was great seeing my brother and his family along with my parents. I also convinced my mom to make some delicious Chinese food for dinner. We feasted over egg rolls, pearl balls, and all sorts of other amazing food.
My mother-in-law Vera has been staying in our house while we have been gone. She’s been taking care of our dog Flash and deep cleaning the house. We delayed taking Flash with us as we originally were going to go to the Bahamas and had time constraints with obtaining a pet permit. We came home in time to celebrate Orthodox Easter with her.
Our visit home went by quickly. I enjoyed sleeping in my bed and utilizing my recently renovated bathroom. It’s wonderful taking a long hot bath without worrying about the water level in the tank. The two weeks are over and we are ready to return to our adventure.
Our original plan was to fly into Philadelphia and get a rental car to drive to Hershey Park. We would play for a couple of days and then drive back to the Atlantic Yacht Basin in Virginia to return to the boat. While at home, we decided that we would put off Hershey Park for when we are in Delaware City, but couldn’t change our flight, so we flew into Philadelphia and then got a car to drive back to Virginia.
We flew in late at night (nearly midnight) and stayed at a hotel. The next morning, Boris had to work so the kids and I hit the pool with some epic games of Marco Polo. Afterwards, we went to see the Liberty Bell and get some tasty Philly Cheesesteak Sandwiches before driving for 5 hours to the boat. The drive took us over a very long bridge and under water through a tunnel that extended across the entrance to the Chesapeake Bay.
We finally made it back to the Atlantic Yacht Basin with Matt and Tonia greeting us at the dock (they flew in the day before). It has been just over a week since we last saw them. Steve would fly in the next day to his boat in Bennett’s Creek Landing where we will head to later.
It was surreal stepping foot onto the boat. While in Washington State, our Loop trip felt like a dream as we quickly returned to our old habits of being home. Back on the boat, our dream became a reality once again as we refamiliarized ourselves with our new home.
Finally, many have been asking us about the repairs on the boat. We ended up with a very bent shaft, another shaft that was somewhat damaged, and two very bent propellers for a total bill of $5,500. With the repairs done, it is time to continue with our adventure with the addition of Flash.
It’s a funny thing, we were homeschooling and discussing the difference between Capitol and Capital. What a perfect time to put the spelling differences into practice by visiting our Nation’s Capitol.
Our itinerary had us leaving the boat near Norfolk and driving to D.C. After D.C. we will return home for a couple of weeks, then fly to Pennsylvania for a few days before returning to the boat. While we are gone, Saga will be hauled out to look over the props and shafts.
We wanted to time D.C. for the cherry blossoms, unfortunately we were a tad late and most of the blooms were gone.
The trip to D.C. was long (6 hours of driving in a car). Tonia was amazing and found an Air BnB 2 miles from the white house. It was also conveniently located next to a bike rental with bike rental racks throughout the city.
April 8, 2023
We woke up bright-eyed and busy-tailed, ready to hit the sights. Jumping onto the bikes, we cruised through the streets and ended at the Lincoln Memorial. It is a magnificent sight climbing the stairs and taking in the size of Lincoln’s statue. About 18 steps down from the top is an inscription in the stone step signifying where Martin Luther King Junior stood when he gave his “I Had A Dream” speech.
We left Lincoln and continued our bike ride by the Korean War Memorial, WWII Memorial, and Washington Monument, finishing our ride at the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History.
The Smithsonian was fun, but quite crowded with the other tourists and kids on spring break. Michael’s favorite sight was the Hope Diamond while Annette was in awe with the dinosaur skeletons.
April 9, 2023
Happy Easter! It took some planning on my part to ensure the Easter Bunny would visit while we came to D.C. The kids woke to treats and colorful eggs scattered throughout the house. Even Matt and Tonia were visited by the bunny.
After indulging in a lot of candy and chocolate, we were ready to hit the city once again. Our first stop was the Supreme Court. It was not open, but we did admire the architecture.
Right next to that was the Capitol where we continued our stroll with a brief pause for the kids to roll down the hill.
The Botanical Garden was the next for lunch amongst the flowers.
We then found bikes and took a quick trip to the Eastern Market, which is similar to a farmers market/street fair.
The day of touring finished with a trip to the International Spy Museum. This is my favorite museum. It is full of hands on interactive activities, amazing displays, and a lot of information. On display included an authenticated original letter written by George Washington as well as a wooden hand-carved Great Seal that contained a listening device in the U.S. Embassy in Moscow.
When we returned to the house, Matt and Tonia prepared an Easter Ham dinner for all of us to enjoy.
April 10, 2023
The kids asked for a rest day and Boris had to work, so Matt, Tonia, and I went out on bikes to explore.
We first stopped at the Smithsonian Post Office Museum. Our expectations were low, but we wanted to take a peak inside and were surprised with how much this museum had to offer. The first floor was full of stamps and baseball memorabilia. We saw the first stamp and learned how stamps were printed. The lower floor had displays of the various ways mail was delivered.
Matt made a remarkable discovery. There was a package sorting activity and he picked up one of the packages to sort. Lo and behold, the package address was to Puyallup, WA. What are the odds of being in D.C. and an activity would have Puyallup as the address?
We left the museum to find Union Station. A brief stroll took us to a chocolate shop with amazing Swiss chocolate. I had to buy a few items.
The evening was complete with a dinner out at Ambar, a Balkan cuisine experience. There is a flat fee per person and the server makes recommendations on food, but you are also able to request the food on the menu. The server then brings over small plates of the food for you to try. You can always ask for more or to try other items at any point. It reminded me a bit of Dim Sum and Brazilian Steakhouse. The food was amazing.
When it came to the dessert course, there was a bit of confusion. The dessert was Baklava, but it was not clear on how it was served. We saw someone else order it and it was four pieces with ice cream on one plate, which matches the small plate dinner theme. So we all ordered baklava.
The servers brought over three plates (each with four pieces) and apologized that the fourth plate wasn’t ready yet. We promptly said we didn’t want more and to please not bring it.
A few minutes later, another server came up and tried to deliver a plate of Baklava, but saw that we already had some and was confused. We explained we didn’t want more and he left. Then another server came and tried to deliver two more plates. We told him the same thing. Then our server came back and asked if we received our dessert. We laughed and said yes and that they keep trying to deliver more. At that moment, the manager was coming up with a plate of Baklava, trying to deliver it to us. We begged them to stop trying to feed us. We were very happy and full.
April 11, 2023
We made reservations for the Museum of Optical Illusions. It was a small area with fun activities and puzzles.
After leaving the museum, we rode bikes to the White House. I didn’t make reservations (you have to do that through your congressman or representative), so we just admired it from the outside.
We also visited the National Archives, but photos were not allowed inside. The kids enjoyed viewing the Declaration of Independence and Constitution. Michael did find a tree to climb on the side of the building so he was happy.
That evening, I really wanted to see the city at night with the lights. We attempted the bikes, but the station was not responsive, so we took an Uber.
April 12, 2023
Time to go home. We were scheduled to go home on the 13th, but Matt and Tonia were leaving on the 12th and we would have to move to a hotel, so we decided to see if we could fly out a day early. It worked out perfectly. We arrived at the airport, had some time to relax in the lounge, and boarded the flight back home.
We learned our lesson going into Ocracoke and left first thing in the early morning to avoid the fery. Turning on the correct navigational overlay, we set our course for Roanoke Island and the town of Manteo, NC.
Entering Manteo was a challenge due to confusing channel markers. The route was narrow and shallow, but we managed to get in. Reservations had been made at Shallowbag Bay just in time for a 50 mph windstorm. Docking was the typical stern in with two pilings to attach the bow lines (I’m getting better at these).
Not many Loopers go to the Outer Banks, but I had heard great things about them and wanted to visit Roanoke Island to add to the kids’ homeschool curriculum.
Roanoke Island is the first British Colony in North America, established in 1585. In 1587, the first child of English parents was born in the settlement (named Virginia). In the same year, Governor White, Virginia’s grandfather, has to return to England for needed supplies, but is unable to return to the colony due to attacks by the Spanish Armada. In 1590, Governor White organized a relief expedition and returned to the colony; however, the colonists nor the settlement, were to be found. The only clues are the word CROATOAN carved into the palisades and the letters CRO carved into a tree. The disappearance of the colonists is still a great mystery and many hypothesis exist. Researchers and archeologists continue to uncover the mystery of the Lost Colony.
April 1, 2023
I woke up to the giggling of children and know they’ve woken up early to play pranks for April Fools Day. Michael has hidden the French Press coffee maker (unfortunately for him, he forgets that we now go to Coda for our morning coffee) so we weren’t inconvenienced. Annette then shows me she can use magic to unlock my phone. She did something with the settings and voice command, but it was a very clever trick. Aside from that, there were no other pranks by the kids.
The day is extremely windy, reaching steady 50 mph winds. Ensuring the boats are secured, we walk a mile to town and prepare our exploration adventure.
Our first stop is the Roanoke Island Festival Park. It’s a Living Museum with a couple of actors playing the role of colonists. The kids learned how a blacksmith makes nails and received one to take home. There was an area on the Native Americans and Michael was able to participate in covering the side of a longhouse. Finally, there was a recreated Queen Elizabeth ship that we were able to tour and experience.
The afternoon was spent exploring the downtown area. There was one store that was a repurposed bank that still has a vault incorporated into the shop. We also enjoyed wine tasting and learning about the local grape varieties including discovering information on a 400-year old grape vine known as the Mother Vine. Unfortunately we were unable to locate this vine. Despite it being windy, we had an enjoyable time exploring.
The evening was a rollercoaster ride. The wind was howling and the boats were really rocking. We were secured, but I would look through the porthole in the middle of the night and see the boats bouncing around. The next morning, I noticed that our bow lines broke the wooden cleats on the front pilings.
April 2, 2023
The morning started with a trip to a nearby Christmas shop. The shop was huge! Each room had a different theme of decorations, ranging from Star Wars to Dr. Seuss. There was an additional section dedicated to Halloween and a general store with more wine tasting and chocolates.
The kids wanted to rest and the boys wanted to work on boat projects, so Tonia, Barb, and I took an Uber to the northern point of the island to tour the Elizabethan Gardens and Fort Raleigh National park.
The Gardens were lovely despite it being early Spring. The rose garden had a rose gifted by Queen Elizabeth II from her Windsor Garden collection to commemorate America’s Bicentennial.