Wednesday, June 12, 2024

First scratch

We are under way northbound in Chesapeake Bay, bound for an anchorage in the West River, south of Annapolis, a new spot for us. We had an uncharacteristically long five-night stay in Solomons, mostly due to waiting on outboard parts at the Honda dealer.

Fiery sunset, reflected off the pilothouse, from our spot in Solomons harbor near Mollys Leg Island.

We arrived Friday afternoon and went directly to our preferred spot in the southwest corner of the harbor (map), which was empty when we arrived. We like this spot because it is a short tender ride to the free county dinghy dock and four restaurant docks. In the evening we splashed the tender and headed to the Island Hideaway for a casual dinner. We strolled the riverfront promenade afterward, weaving our way through what appeared to be the local high school prom.

We kept seeing this same family of Canada Geese crossing the harbor and feeding in the nearby grass 

This is the latest we've arrived here on our northbound trek, and the summer tourist season is in full swing. What we did not realize when we dropped the hook in this spot is that the nearby Tiki Bar (yes, that's its full name), which has been closed for the season every other time we've been here, hosts live music every Friday and Saturday night in season. It was quite loud, but fortunately it was mostly covers of music we like, and it did not go all night. The Tiki Bar has a dock, which was quite busy our whole stay.

Last night's sunset over Vector after we decked the tender. Photo: Liz Marks

Saturday was a gorgeous day, so, naturally, I spent it working. This was my first quiet opportunity in pleasant weather to get back to replacing my scooter tire, a project that has languished on the deck since Jacksonville four weeks ago. The seized-on bearing required both good weather and nothing on the agenda, including moving the boat, for at least a day, or, as it turned out, two.

Getting the wheel fork off involved drilling out the bearing cage and moving the balls until the races came apart.

I made a whole write-up about this over on the Kymco scooter forum, complete with photos, so I won't repeat it all here (interested folks can read the write-up here).  Suffice it to say that I had to resort to destructive methods to get the old bearing off, but once I did, the new bearing went in smoothly and I was able to replace the tire, with a lot of grunting and elbow grease on the tire irons. Of course, the patched tire was still fully inflated, holding air just fine for the month it sat on deck. The project took the entire weekend; I'm looking forward to testing it all out when next we are at a dock.

What tire plugs look like from the inside. These two were still holding air.

Saturday evening we tendered to the public dock and walked the three blocks to the CD Cafe for a nice dinner. It's not on the waterfront, so a bit less chaotic on a summer weekend, and a little higher-end than some of the closer options. On our way home we sounded the public dock, which includes a pump-out station and a water spigot, to make sure we could get Vector in for a pump-out.

Dinner at the CD Cafe.

Sunday as I was on the boat deck winding down the scooter project, Joe and Corrin from the lovely Selene 60 Coffee Break, which was anchored just a short distance from us, stopped by to introduce themselves. We've been playing leapfrog with Coffee Break since Skull Creek on Hilton Head Island, so it was nice to finally put names and faces with the boat. After I got cleaned up, we tendered to The Lighthouse for dinner. Afterward we walked through the Tiki Bar to check it out, and we stopped for a soft-serve at Brrrr.

Another great sunset over Solomons. Coffee Break at right.

Monday morning, with the weekend crowds gone, we weighed anchor and took Vector over to the dock for a pump-out. The dock is arranged as two "slips," with additional pilings outboard, and it was a tight squeeze. Past a certain point I could no longer see the pilings below the gunwales, so Louise was on the bow guiding us in. From her vantage, it looked like the pilings were just above our rub rails, but it turned out that they were instead just below. What should have been a soft landing on the rub rail was instead the top of the piling hitting the hull. That would have been fine, except they had nailed plastic weather caps on the tops of the pilings, and one of the nails got us, digging a gouge into the fairing compound.

The first scratch in the new paint, just aft of the hawsepipe. The black is from the plastic piling topper and wiped off. What shows is the light pink of the fairing compound. Fortunately, it did not go all the way through to the steel.

I quickly backed away and we shifted strategy. Instead of trying to pull into the slip as the builders intended, and with no other boats there or waiting, we instead came alongside the end of the dock, using the outermost pilings of the two slips as our fore and aft ties. We lined up the forward boarding gate with the end of the dock, and put one of our big cylinder fenders vertically against the dock end to keep us off the killer pilings. That worked a charm, and we were able to fill our water tank, doing some laundry in the process, pump out our waste, and offload the trash.

Creative mooring. Boats are meant to go alongside the dock; the pilings at our bow and stern are meant as guides and to tie off the side of the boat opposite the dock.

With the weekend music behind us, we went back to nearly the same spot in the anchorage (map), for the convenience. We returned to the dock via tender for dinner at Bugeyes next door, a new spot for us. The menu spans from high-end steaks at half a c-note all the way to burgers and sandwiches for a third that, and they had some very nice local drafts. Our server was a bit inexperienced  and the kitchen did not do a great job with Louise's bok choy, the lone Asian dish on the menu, but my sandwich was good.

The evil villain. If you zoom in you can still see some of our paint near the nail head, though I brushed most of it away. We have one lage fender keeping us off the end of the dock.

I was hoping my Honda parts would arrive at the dealer by the end of the day Monday, and since we needed milk, toward closing time I made the long dinghy ride down to the dealer's boatyard, a few blocks from the shop, tied up, and headed toward the shop, near the 7-11, to check on them. I never made it; the mini-mart at the Citgo station was a lot closer to the dock, and I bought the milk there instead, leaving a voicemail for the dealer about the parts.

Our neighbor last night was this Chesapeake Bay oyster buyboat that has been converted to a pleasure cruiser.

The dealer called me back after closing time, which is apparently when UPS made its delivery. So yesterday morning we both piled into the tender for the twenty-minute ride to the boatyard. While I walked to the dealer, Louise stopped in to the nearby hair salon for a cut. While I waited for her to finish, I went in to the public library to kill time, and ended up using one of their computers to play my daily suite of NY Times puzzles. The librarian was very friendly and helpful; when I got home, Facebook reminded me it was exactly one year ago that we went to get library cards in Mamaroneck.

The library had lots of available computers, free to the public, and decent Internet.

By the time we got home from morning errands, it was really too late to get underway for a 6-7 hour run north, especially since we missed the last of the fair tide. We decided to just spend another night. I used the extra time to replace the sheave bearing in the crane; the new one I installed in Mamaroneck was evidently not up to the task and had deformed, jamming the sheave in place. Unable to find a suitable synthetic replacement, I had ordered a small roller bearing instead for delivery while we were still here.

The glass-impregnated PTFE bearing that deformed with the one it replaced.

The ID of the old bearing is enlarged from wear. The new roller bearing is a nice fit, but it remains to be seen how it holds up in the salt air.

We ended up back at the Island Hideaway again for dinner last night, where our waiter Charlie not only remembered us, but remembered which beers we like and that I like my fries crisp. We decked the tender as soon as we got home, in preparation for this morning's departure. I was a bit worried about another loud night when we started to hear amplified sound from the Tiki Bar, but it turned out to just be trivia night.

Deceased dolphin floating on its side.

It's been flat calm out here on the bay since we left. That makes it easy to see the pot floats, and it also made it possible for us to see a deceased dolphin floating in the bay, which I reported to the Coast Guard. A few minutes later we crossed paths with the tall ship Buque Escuela Guayas, a training vessel of the Ecuadorian Navy.

BAE Guayas of the Ecuadorian Navy. More impressive under canvas, I'd imagine.

The plotter says we should be anchored shortly after 3pm. My route originally went all the way to Annapolis, but hunting for a spot in that harbor at the end of a long day can be a chore, so Louise suggested we try the West River instead. It cuts three miles (a half hour) off the day, at the expense of an eight-mile round trip up the river, but it is reported to be a hidden gem of the Chesapeake, and we are far enough from hurricane territory to be more relaxed in our travel.

1 comment:

  1. Had my first Orange Crush at the Tiki Bar. If you’ve not had one it’s the indigenous Chesapeake drink. Delicious and possibly dangerous.


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