July - November 2000: Chesapeake Bay
After a wonderful 3 day sail from the Abacos, we arrived in Charleston SC on July 1st to be greeted by the Sauer family. It felt so comfortable to be with old friends and to spend nights ashore in air-conditioned comfort, home in the USA!
Bob Sauer and son Kurt joined us for the passage from Charleston to Hampton Roads, around Cape Hatteras. July 6th began as a light air day, and we motored for most of the first day and night. Highlights were the flying fish which landed on the deck overnight. The wind came up, but was on the nose, so we set as close a course as possible and made for Hatteras. At about 3:00 p.m, the jib tore along a seam near the head, so we furled it and set the staysail. We decided to motor sail to make more headway, but when we tried to start the engine, it wouldn't start. We tried every battery combination on board, but no luck. Andi set to work to patch the tear in the jib, while Rob and Bob removed the starter and found it appeared to have seized up. We didn't want to face Cape Hatteras without an engine and with the possibility of easterly winds, so we turned west and headed for Beaufort NC. After an uneventful overnight sail, we arrived on July 8th, sailing in as close as possible before getting towed into the Beaufort City Docks. Kurt, who had been seasick through much of the previous day, was particularly relieved to be ashore! We rented a car and drove to Hampton to deliver the Sauers and get the starter refurbished, then returned to Beaufort to discover that we had a dead starting battery. We bought and installed a new battery, then had another uneventful sail around Cape Hatteras. The most interesting site was the Mariner's Museum Monitor recovery operation just south of Hatteras. Eight moorings in a "spider" hold their 345 foot barge in place over the wreck while a tugboat constantly circles the entire operation to warn off all vessels away. At 0200, we enjoyed a long chat with the tug operator, who sounded bored and lonesome!
In Norfolk, we hauled Akka to check to see if we'd done any damage in our close encounters with coral in the Bahamas (we hadn't) and to paint her bottom. This took much longer than expected due to the very wet summer weather. We thanked our lucky stars for the hospitality of the Burshells while Akka was on the hard. It was then that we decided to abandon our plan to sail north, and decided to spend the remainder of the summer and fall in the Chesapeake. What a wise decision that turned out to be!
So, in the first week of August, instead of sailing, we drove to NY where Rob was head judge for the Thistle National Championships in Sayville, Long Island. Sayville is on LI's Great South Bay, about 15 miles from Bellport where Rob grew up sailing. In mid-August, we headed up the Chesapeake Bay, stopping at Fishing Bay by Labor Day weekend. There, Andi raced with the Burshells on Cool Change in the Screwpile Regatta while Rob flew to Chicago to judge US SAILING's Hinman Team Racing Championship Regatta. Akka served nicely as "mothership" and "motel" for the Cool Change crew for the regatta.
We then continued up the Bay, reaching Annapolis in time for Rob to race his Laser in the East Coast Championships at the end of September, mooring Akka in well-protected Weems Creek. One of its charms is the early morning and late afternoon practice runs of the Navy 8-man shells. Such beauty and power! We enjoyed the Sailboat Show, left Akka in Weems Creek for 5 days in order to attend USSailing's Annual General Meeting in New Orleans, then set sail for to the Eastern Shore. The Chester, Wye and Choptank Rivers are all just perfectly lovely. Leaves were just beginning to turn, the days were warm but the nights were cool, and the sight and sounds of geese provided a constant accompaniment to the peaceful beauty of the area. As we left the Chester River early one morning, we saw, poking up through the surface mist, the 3 masts of a 16th century replica ship. We watched her slowly shaking out sail after sail, wondering what the early Native Americans must have thought of the sight.
Our leisurely trip was interrupted twice when Rob flew to Freeport Texas to work with Wagner on installing his anti-sway software on a crane there. He's not too good at this retirement stuff yet.
We got to Urbanna for the Oyster Festival, then rode a 25 knot northerly wind from Urbanna to Hampton, breezing down in 7 1/2 hours on a sparkling cold day. We spent a couple of weeks in Hampton, seeing old fiends and preparing for our next ventures: to Bermuda and then south to St. Maartens and Trinidad.