Thursday, October 28, 2021

Harbor of Grace

We are under way southbound in the Chesapeake Bay, making tracks on a good travel day before we are once again pinned down by wind. We just wrapped up four days in Havre de Grace, Maryland, where we were also pinned down by wind.

View of the Concord Point Light this morning as we weighed.

When last I posted, a week ago, we were northbound in the Delaware Bay. We squeezed in behind the Reedy Island Dike, a training wall in the Delaware River that extends south from Reedy Island for three miles. We pulled up to a spot with favorable depths, abreast of the south warning light (map), and dropped the hook. As a side note, the dike is fully awash at low tide and just a short distance below the surface at high tide -- hence the warning light and a phalanx of buoys -- and it has claimed numerous inattentive vessels over the years, including a very nice Nordhavn a few years back.

Our view from the Reedy Island anchorage, dominated by the nuclear station across the river in NJ. In the foreground can be seen the warning mark for the dike, just below the surface.

We had a relaxing afternoon, a nice dinner aboard, and a calm night. Friday we did not weigh anchor until the tide was favorable on both the Delaware and the C&D canal, about mid-day, and we left the anchorage via a marked gap in the dike. The flood was running hard enough that we crabbed through at a considerable angle, making the narrow entrance seem even smaller.

We had a nice sunset from Reedy Island.

We raced up the Delaware on the flood and turned into the C&D just as the tide there was turning. The confluence always has confused eddies and I steered by hand. Soon enough we were whizzing westbound, arriving at Chesapeake City nearly mid-ebb. We normally anchor in the basin here, but we needed the facilities of a dock, so we spun around and pulled alongside Schaefer's Canal House, a familiar stop (map). They put us up next to the restaurant, and as I docked from the flybridge I was eye to eye with the lunch patrons on the patio.

Vector at Schaefer's. We had only one neighbor overnight.

The main reason we needed the dock was to do laundry. We do have our own machines, but they use a lot of water for wash and power for the dryer, so other than an occasional emergency load, we only run them when tied up. I started the water filling and Louise started the first of several large loads of laundry as soon as we were settled in. Unfortunately, the power here is only 208 volts rather than the normal 240, meaning everything takes a third longer to dry.

Sunset from our dinner table. Some boat nearly in the way.

We had a nice dinner on the deck at Schaefer's, where my view was dominated by Vector. The canal was relatively quiet during our stay, but the enormous RoRo Hoegh Trident did pass by at night, with the pilot boat Breakaway kissing her side. This is where the Maryland pilot disembarks and the Delaware pilot embarks, or vice-versa. In the morning we dropped lines right at slack and moved over to the fuel dock, where we bunkered 1,200 gallons at the best price we could find in the entire region, $2.90 per gallon.

The festive lights of Chesapeake City across the canal. We seldom have this vantage.

Bunkering took a full hour and a half, and we departed the dock with considerable ebb behind us. By this time it was the height of the weekend lunch rush, and we headed out into a veritable sea of incoming boats headed to Schaefer's or the Chesapeake Inn for lunch. We ended the day at a familiar anchorage in the Bohemia River (map), but not before passing a trio of, I kid you not, zebras on a hillside on Elk Neck. Not the only zebras on a farm in Maryland, according to Google, but we never found their backstory.

Another lovely sunset, from the Bohemia River.

Sunday we weighed anchor, rounded Turkey Point at the tip of Elk Neck, and made our way up the Susquehanna River to Havre de Grace, Maryland, a new stop for us. We dropped the hook in 15' off the historic Concord Point lighthouse (map), which is so much shorter than the surrounding trees that we could not even see it until we were right next to it. The annual Art Festival was in progress in Concord Point Park as we arrived, and we had also noticed some of it in a different park behind the city marina.

Vector at anchor in Havre de Grace. That's the promenade at left.

From our saloon we enjoyed the music of a Tom Petty cover band at the festival. Just before dinner we dropped the tender and headed the very short distance to a floating dock near the lighthouse, so we could stroll the festival in its final hour. After walking past the booths at Concord Point, we walked the wooden promenade around the end of the point, a bit over a quarter mile to Millard Tydings Park for the other half of the festival. They had different music at this venue -- a US Army combo was playing jazz and belting out Frank Sinatra hits. We presume they came from the neighboring Aberdeen Proving Ground, from which we occasionally heard ordnance during our stay, and where Louise once lived when her dad, the ordnance guy, was stationed there.

Army jazz combo in the gazebo at Tydings Park. Army sound guy at far left hard to see due to Operational Camouflage. The crooner front and center, but facing away, just finished In Other Words.

We walked back to Concord Point Lighthouse on city streets, passing the Decoy Museum and the Maritime Museum and arriving just as the show wrapped up and the vendors were tearing down. We got back in the tender and ran a half mile upriver to the Tidewater Grill, which has its own dock, and had a nice dinner on their patio.

Mandatory shot of a generic Arts festival.

Monday the weather was lovely and I ran ashore stag to wander the town. I tied the tender up at the little-used boat ramp at the Jean Roberts Park, just north of the historic 1907 railroad bridge that still today carries Amtrak's high-speed electrified trains from Washington to New York and beyond. Long-time readers may know that we stopped numerous times in Havre de Grace in the bus, parking at the Elks Lodge, but that's a very long walk from town and this was my first stroll through the historic downtown.

Re-purposed early 20th century buildings in downtown Havre de Grace

In addition to enjoying my walk along the downtown streets, I also scoped out other tender landings, finding a decent one at the Frank Hutchins Park, and some dinner venues with outdoor seating. Dinner was iffy, with a thunderstorm due to arrive at 7pm, but we decided to chance it by going early. We returned ashore at Hutchins Park and walked down to MacGregor's, eating on their nice covered deck in case of sprinkles. We enjoyed dinner and were just about to order dessert when Louise, checking the radar, said "we gotta go"; we took dessert in a to-go box and scurried back to the tender. We arrived back at Vector mere seconds before the heavens opened. Winds quickly escalated to 39 steady, and the harbor was a frothy mess.

Sunset over the city yacht basin, from our anchorage, in a calmer moment.

Having just become eligible for a booster shot, I had made an appointment at the CVS in town for Tuesday, and I also had a script refill sent there. As of Monday night, it looked like it would be pouring rain all day Tuesday and I very nearly rescheduled. But by Tuesday morning the forecasted rain had moved back to the evening, and I took the e-bike ashore at the closest dock for the trek up the hill to CVS, by way of the post office and the dollar store.

I initially had the one-shot Janssen vaccine, and I opted to get Moderna for my booster. After the 15-minute wait period I went next door to the Weis supermarket, across the street from the aforementioned Elks lodge and thus very familiar, to stock up on provisions before heading back to the dock. It was a whirlwind errands trip, but I got to see a bit more of the town, further afield than walking distance. Before errands I made a quick stop at the old Susquehanna and Tidewater canal lock.

Final lock on the Susquehanna and Tidewater Canal, where it rejoined the Susquehanna.

The rain arrived at dinner time and we had a nice dinner on board. Yesterday, forecast gale-force westerlies had us pinned on the boat all day, which was fine with me as the booster shot had me feeling low-energy for most of it. By dinner time the winds had let up considerably, and I ran ashore at the boat ramp with our insulated pizza carrier and picked up a pie at Nonnie's Brick Oven Pizza, which was quite good. After dinner we decked the tender for an early departure this morning.

While we were just fine in gale force westerlies at that anchorage, tomorrow's gale is easterly, so we needed to get out of dodge. We'll be on the eastern shore tonight, so we should be well protected.

City seal over the Maryland flag, painted on a piece of Amtrak infrastructure.

Update: We are docked at the free bulkhead in Rock Hall, Maryland (map). This is a familiar stop, but we were last here in 2014. We've secured the boat with extra lines for the storm. I am a little disappointed that the nearby power outlets are turned off, which means we will be running the gen here, but still it's nice to be able to just walk off the boat.

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