Sunday, October 28, 2007

Crisfield, MD to Deltaville, VA

October 27, 2007

Hi Everyone:

We are really are thrilled when we hear from you, so please go to the end of this posting and click on the word Comments and let us know your reactions!

We are currently tied up at the Seaford Yacht Club, on the Back Creek in Seaford, VA, close to the Yorktown, site of the decisive battle of the American Revolution. Nancy and Mark, our boat show friends for 30 years and SYC members, have invited us to stay for a few days. We are looking forward to tonight’s big SYC Oyster Roast, despite the first real rainy weather we have experienced during the trip.

But when we last left you, we had just arrived in Crisfield, MD after bumping our way out of Smith Island’s eastern channel. Here’s the rest of the story.

Golf Carts, High Rises and Change (Thurs, Oct 18)

We went into the marina office to register, and ran into Jenny and Leon, cruisers we had last seen in Solomons. They encouraged us to call again to see if the Tangier Island cruise was on for that day. It WAS -- and leaving in 20 minutes! We dashed back to Sogno, grabbed a few things and made the sailing with 4 minutes to spare.

Tangier Island, VA is south of Smith Island, and is similarly isolated from the rest of the mainland. It does have a larger population, a single schoolhouse, and seems to be more prosperous. Sue and I had last been there on July 4, 1976 (the Bicentennial) and were anxious to see what “changes” had occurred. When we landed, we were first off the boat and first to line up at the Waterfront Sandwich Shop. Brian stuck to a crabcake sandwich, but Sue “thought outside the box” and went for fried shrimp. Fortified, we toured the island, hiking down the narrow roads in a light drizzle in our bright yellow panchos. Electric golf carts were the main mode of transportation, with a few scooters, motor cycles, and all terrain vehicles thrown in. All the houses had concrete blocks at the road’s edge to restrain any thoughts of driving along the shoulder. We were there to see school let out. Most students walked, or had bikes, but there were a few moms in golf carts there to pick up the kids.

We went over to the small marina we had stayed at long ago and met the owner. When we explained we had been here over 30 years ago, all he would say is: “Well, I guess you don’t come here very often – and shame on you!”

The skies opened up just before we made it back to the boat, but by the time we returned to Crisfield the sun was out. At the marina we ran into Randy and Morris and had a chance to walk about town. (We had not seen them since the episode going down the East River.) Maryland’s “Seafood Capital of the World” was a town in transition, and the changes since 2002 were pretty striking. Most of the seafood buildings along the waterfront were gone, three condo high rise buildings were taking their place, and many store fronts were empty. We stopped for some crab dip. Some friendly locals, upbeat news about the Sox, and soon our spirits were back on track.

Romancing the Oyster (Fri, Oct 19)

We spent the morning doing some shopping before the day’s main event: The Second Annual Watermen’s Festival. There was a great old-fashioned hardware store, where we found out more about the Festival’s Oyster Shucking contest, and met Sam who was touted as the sure winner. Sam was very modest, but you could tell this was serious business. By the time the festival began at 12:30, it seemed like most of the town was there.

The first order of business was eating. At $35 per head for all the beer, wine, steamed crabs, oysters, shrimp, clam strips, fish, and chicken you could eat, it was quite a bargain. We joined other sailboat cruisers: Jenny and Leon, plus a new Canadian couple, Blair and Mary who it turned out were on the boat anchored near us during our 3-day stay in Lees Creek (St. Michael’s). Lots of tips and ideas swapped about cruising and heading south. Leon and Jenny were soon taking their catamaran Andiamo to her home port on the Rappahanock and then driving home to Reno, Nevada. Blair and Mary were heading down the ICW in their sloop Strathspey, so we fully expect to see them again along the way.

After the food, there was much music, dancing, a Native American dance performance, and finally the Oyster Shucking contest. Fastest time to shuck (open, prepare, and place on a silver platter) 24 raw oysters was the basic rule, with a complicated time penalty system if you made mistakes with the oyster (e.g., knicking the oyster with your knife). We were of course were rooting for Sam and he shucked true to form, finishing with a corrected time of 1:52 which beat the closest competitor by over a minute. “Miss Crustacean”, a local high school senior, presented the winner with a $400 prize plus $100 more when Sam’s winning oyster knife was auctioned off. Sam, it turned out was also off to another competition the next day, to qualify for the “nationals”. Seems that oyster shucking is a very competitive field of endeavor!

We had the group over to Sogno to continue the talk, and after everyone left around sunset, we finished a great day with one of Sue’s special pasta dishes, and some DVD viewing. The wind was a bit blustery that evening, so we had to do some dock line adjustments to be sure we stayed off the pilings.

Publish or Perish (Sat, Oct 20)

After 2 enjoyable days at the marina, we decide to take advantage of the “third day free” offer and stick around some more to publish the weekly blog posting and do some laundry. After some intense deadline pressure, Brian finally finished another installment (chapter 5). We then hiked out to the library (the marina only has dial-up) and post the text and pictures with 15 minutes to spare. With a beautiful day, we meandered back, stopping at Dollar General Store (Sue can never pass a dollar store), a Mexican restaurant (Brian can never say no to nachos and a $2.75 draft Dos Eques) and a seafood restaurant (we satisfy our crustacean fix, with some Maryland crab soup). Back on Sogno, broiled chicken breasts and some more X-Files episodes on DVD end another lazy day on the Eastern Shore.

The House of Deals (Sun, Oct 21)

Sunday, we topped off our water tanks and expertly left the slip (there was no wind, and we didn’t want to disgrace ourselves in front of the 4 power boats that were all leaving the marina with us at about the same time.) The wind finally picked up just as we neared Onancock Creek, so we were able to have some fun for about an hour before we had to drop our sails and motor in. It took two shots to anchor, but we were soon settled in the town harbor. Andiamo (Jenny and Leon) were anchored nearby and came over to chat. That’s when we found out more about their “incident” on Friday evening. They had dragged about 200 yards across the Somers Cove harbor (Crisfield) and not noticed anything awry until they actually “bumped” into a docked boat. Kind of scary. They spend the rest of the night on a dock, but then dusted themselves off and went back out on the anchor Saturday night.

They then gave us a great tour of Onancock, VA, a town that looked like it was still back in the 1950’s. Most everything was closed, but we did get to peruse another old hardware store, named “The House of Deals.” Lets just say that it contained a selection of both new and not so new inventory, complete with a husband and wife who ran the place and were both engaged in shelling fresh butter beans (baby lima beans to city folk like us). Excellent tomatoes, native potatoes, clams, scallops, etc. were available along with the latest weather analysis and the local news. It was really a fun stop. After that, we went back to the local pub near the town wharf which was open (a surprise) and promoting happy hour prices for both beverages and wings. We got to know more about Jenny and Leon, who live near Reno, alternately cruise the East Coast or the Pacific Northwest, with boats in both locations. A couple who really has their sailing priorities in order!

We continued our conversations aboard Andiamo, and finally dinghied back in to Sogno around 8, under a nearly full moon and totally calm and glassy anchorage. After making a round of family phone calls, we learned that Auntie Sue had another nephew (technically a grandnephew) – Noah Thacker, born Friday with mother Molly doing fine. With a fine nautical name like Noah, we were happy to hear that his launching had been a complete success.

The Big Blow that wasn’t (Mon, Oct 22)

We woke to a very calm and misty morning, complete with ground fog and a heavy due. We motored out and picked up a nice breeze that was blowing almost in the right direction, and we got across the Bay to the Western Shore by around 1pm. From there we had to motor sail occasionally to get south of the Rappahanock to reach our destination Deltaville. We were overtaking one of the sailboats we had seen ahead of us, and soon discovered that she was being towed off a shoal by TowBoat US. The shoal was clearly on the chart, but since our track was only 200 yards south of theirs, we certainly didn’t feel particularly superior about our navigational skills.

Our first attempt at anchoring in the north branch of Jackson Creek, was a partial success. The anchor held well, but we were too close to another boat who declared they had 86 feet of chain out and were expecting a “big blow!” We decided this particular Canadian vessel wasn’t inviting us to raft up with them, so we picked up our hook and proceeded to a less crowded area (south branch) and successfully anchored (on the second try) a hundred yards or so off the public pier. Jackson Creek was another area where Canadian boats were almost in the majority.

Brian got his chance to grill a steak, and by 9pm it was “lights out” in a totally calm anchorage with hardly a breeze in sight, let alone a “blow.”

Coming attractions: Our virtually rain free weather streak comes to end with a vengeance and we learn how the locals roast oysters and claim to make clam chowder.

Don’t forget to send us your comments. Click on Comments below!

Cooler weather has arrived (60s), we’re only a day or so from the ICW. Time to get serious about the ICW and all those bridge opening schedules!

Brian and Sue Schanning
Buds at Sea


John B said...

Brian & Sue,

It sounds like you both are having a great time exploring and eating your way around the Chesapeake.

Things here in Marblehead are proceeding on schedule as well. Autumn is definitely here; the trees are turning and the temperatures are dropping; it was 37 this morning.

The boats in the harbor are thinning out with more and more empty moorings visible. The engineers have started surveying the causeway, to the neck ,to begin the construction of new sea wall. Hopefully the project will be well underway by the time you return next spring.

Have fun,

Barbara & John

Dave and Holly said...

Brian and Sue,

Just discovered your blog. Really, really jealous as I just brought Windswept in from her mooring last week and we continue to downrig Friendship for the winter.

Good luck and remember, red to stbd (most of the time)!

Dave and Holly

Anonymous said...

Glad to see your both having a great time. Can't wait to see wat you think of the "Ditch"

Pete & Vicki

Anonymous said...

Hi Brian and Sue!
Pete and I just got your blog address from Wally at BWSC. Sounds like you're having a great time!
Your posts are fantastic! Great reading and wonderful pictures too!
Hope the rest of your trip will go smoothly. We're looking forward to making the trip again next year. Glad to know you're enjoying yourselves!
Vicki & Pete

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