“Back home” is such an interesting term for us at this point. Where is home? When people ask us “Where are you from,” we stumble and stutter . . . it’s not a simple answer. Is home where we grew up? Frank called New Jersey home for the first 47 years of his life. There is a part of him that will always call that home. I grew up in WV but have moved around a good bit since then. I spent 15 years living in NJ, but that was a different time and life. Although we have moved our stuff into a little place in New Jersey and have lots of family there, that doesn’t exactly feel like our home . . . we’ve barely slept there 20 nights total. Harrisburg, PA was most recently our home, but we don’t live or work there any more. So right now, home is on the boat. And the place where Eleanor Q called home for the last four years is the Chesapeake Bay . . . and her hailing port is Annapolis, so that feels as much like home to us as anywhere right now. I guess that explains why we feel a little like we’re coming home this week.
Home is where the boat is . . .
And, home is where the heart is. Frank happy to be with his three children: Frank, Andrea and Nicole.
After a wonderful visit in NJ with family (who we miss very much) and friends, and two weeks of a big, comfy bed and long hot showers, it was time to hit the road again (so to speak). We set out on a beautiful day with the goal of getting to the bay as quickly as possible. We didn’t leave Longport, NJ until September 24th and wanted to make it to the Seven Seas Cruising Association Gam south of Annapolis by Thursday the 26th so we really needed to make tracks! We had a very nice sail down the NJ coast and anchored up in Cape May overnight. Unlike our big tour of Cape May in June, we never even touched land in Cape May this time – just anchored overnight and left early the next morning to catch the perfect combination of the tide going up the Delaware Bay and then the current in the C&D Canal. It timed out just perfectly! It was quite a long day, but we got 80 miles under our belts and settled in Still Pond in Maryland for the night. Both of us had the same reaction to being there: our shoulders felt a little bit lighter and everything suddenly seemed more relaxed and peaceful. The bay generally has that effect on us.
Goodbye Longport and Seaview Harbor Marina!
A beautiful sail down the NJ coastline – the “skylights” are a new addition which allow us to keep our canvas up and see the sails – a BIG improvement in comfort underway.
Anchored up in Cape May with many other boats heading south.
Ems behind the wheel at 8am with an unexpected 18 knots of wind. Clearly looking in need of more of the coffee sitting next to her!
Going through the C&D canal was, once again, a non-event . . . although we had lots more company than in June, but only small boats like ourselves. No tankers!
Frank teaches Ems the term “sun dog.” It’s a mini- rainbow kind of thing. See to the right of the sun . . . that’s a sun dog. Try to find something prettier – I double sun dog dare you!
Red at night was certainly our delight in Still Pond.
The next day we hoofed it right on down to the Rhode River, another long but wonderful day. It was very exciting when we caught our first sight of the Chesapeake Bay Bridge again for the first time in several months!
Looking at the Bay Bridge again! A familiar sight.
We love this view of the bridge!
Frank has found that, while I’m at the helm and conditions are calm, he likes to do boat chores. There were OH so many things I could have done to him at this moment, but I resisted the urge . . .
We anchored up with nearly 80 other boats to attend the gam. It was fun to reunite with friends that we made from last years’ gam and great to make some new friends as well! I was even reunited with my former neighbor, Kate, from Hellertown, PA from more than 10 years ago! She has married a sailor as I did and they are talking about cruising to the Bahamas! She and I laughed: if anyone had told either one of us what we’d be doing in 2013, we wouldn’t have believed it! Life has funny twists and turns. Why I didn’t get a picture with her is beyond me. If only I was traveling with someone who could operate a camera . . .
We attended seminars given by seasoned cruisers on a whole host of topics. We are now more well versed on going to the Exumas in the Bahamas and traversing the Intracoastal Waterway (ICW)on our way through the southern US coast. I met a remarkable woman at the gam last year who I got to visit with again this year: Margaret Roth. Margaret is a tiny little woman in her 90s who comes up to about my chin. She and her husband lived together on their boat cruising the world for more than 30 years! Her husband authored a number of books on sailing and I bought one and asked her to inscribe it for me. During a panel discussion, a group of accomplished woman sailors (including Margaret) was asked, “What is the worst thing that happened to you on board?” Mostly the answers were, “You know, nothing really bad has happened.” There was a health scare or a particularly bad storm mentioned. Margaret took the mic and chimed in with her very scratchy voice, and in a non-plussed, matter of fact, British manner answered, “Well, there was the time we were shipwrecked off of Cape Horn . . . ” It was priceless. Why I didn’t get a picture with her I’ll never know. If only I could get my hands on a photographer . . .
The opening night dinghy raft up at the SSCA Gam. I borrowed the picture from Michele who borrowed it from a friend . . .
Gam Friends from left to right: We met Anthony and Annette from Magnolia last year. They are in their first two weeks of cruising! We have enjoyed getting to know them very much. They introduced us to Al and Michele on Kindred Spirit (which they are) and last year A&A introduced us to Dudley and Cheryl who came with us on a test drive of our Gozzard since they are in the market. Cheryl is my #1 blog supporter! (after my sister) What a truly wonderful group of compadres.
Then we headed to one of our favorite places on earth: Oxford, MD. We love it so much we got married there aboard Eleanor Q more than two years ago. We came around the corner happy to find “our spot” in the anchorage unoccupied and spent a great few days at anchor. We were thrilled to find our new friends on Kindred Spirit from the gam anchored just across from us! Then another boat from the gam showed up and a mini-gam was born! We had “date night” our first night there – we always like to go back to the restaurant at the Robert Morris Inn where we had our after wedding dinner! It is a splurge when we are in Oxford, but one we can never resist. So you might think, “Why do you need date night when you’re sailing around alone together every day? Isn’t every day date night?” Well, here’s the criteria for it to be considered a date night: a)we both shower, b)Frank puts something on other than his dirty relaxed cut jeans that make him look like Farmer Jim, c)we don’t do our cheap cruiser calculating when we order our food and actually get a bottle of wine with dinner, d)I actually wear my hair down and attempt to make it look like something. If I’m feeling real sumthin’ sumthin’, I put on some mascara and a little lip gloss just to be sassy, d) we have an actual conversation over our meal and it takes us more than 7 minutes to eat it. And THAT, my friends, is date night! I manage to coerce Frank into one every couple of months.
A cleaned up Ems . . . nice to feel a little girly from time to time. Almost forgot how!
Awwww . . . isn’t he handsome?
Tuesday we went crabbing. Our friends from Kindred Spirit took shots of the action. We take about 10 floats (water bottles and mixed nut jars), wrap twine around them for a line, put a weighted hook on the end to hold the raw chicken, and zip around in the dinghy dropping our “buoys” about 30 feet apart. Let those puppies soak for a few minutes and then it’s time to start checking the lines. The net and bucket are at the ready for our catches, and after about 3.5 hours we had 15 LARGE crabs ready to serve up for dinner to our boat neighbors! Frank is the finest crab steamer around . . . a big pot with water, beer and old bay. Yum. He is also a good coach on the most expedient way to clean a crab – Granny taught him! (who was THE Eleanor Q, by the way.)
Crabbing in the anchorage in Oxford.
Here we are casting our crab line apparatus. Very high tech!
Crab Fest! Michele’s photos . . . and tomatoes and quinoa salad, for that matter! Rob and Karen brought an outstanding tuna dip. Cruisers are experts at the pot luck dinner.
- The next day we took advantage of the bike rentals and had a little picnic lunch at the park beside the Methodist Church in town looking out over the water. By the way, thank you to the United Methodist Church of Oxford for the beautiful chimes that play every day at noon and 6:00pm. I’ll hum along and Frank will say, “Do you know that one?” And I’ll say, “It’s a Methodist Church . . . I’ll know ANYTHING they play!” There was a funny moment during our bike ride . . . it’s not going to SOUND funny, but it really was, so hear it the right way. We rode around the Oxford cemetery which overlooks the anchorage where EQ was parked. Neither one of us has any intention of being buried in an actual plot (not that we discuss it much, mind you, other than Frank saying “Put my ashes in a coffee can and throw me in the dumpster.”) We toured the whole place admiring how well kept it was and looking at the view. As we pedaled down the long road out, Frank looked at me and said, “You know, I don’t want to be buried in a cemetery, but if I did, this wouldn’t be a bad one to be in.” I laughed out loud and said, “I was thinking the EXACT same thing!” Great minds . . . I know, that’s weird humor.
Picnic at the park . . .
Frank looking over at Eleanor Q in the anchorage
As much as we love Oxford, Frank had a major setback there, however. . . the Highland Creamery (home of the finest ice cream) was closed for mid-week. He is still under treatment for depression from the incident. He had to make do with other ice cream options – and he did. Actually, on Monday we thought the Creamery was going to be open and planned to hit it on our way back to the boat . . . we had walked to the little market in town and while I was grocery shopping, Frank went to the ice cream counter inside the store and got a cone. Here’s the conversation that followed:
Ems -“Didn’t you just go online and see that the Creamery is open today?”
Frank – “Yes.”
Ems – “So when were you thinking we were going there? It’s not open tomorrow.”
Frank (with half eaten ice cream cone in hand) – “When we leave here. DUH!”
Yeah, I know . . . what was I thinking? Who wouldn’t have ice cream with an ice cream chaser? Especially if you’re Frank Quigley. Duh indeed. Unfortunately, the website lied and the creamery was closed until the end of the week. He’s nearly over it now, but it was a rough go.
This was actually the following day – Frank now brings his own spoon and goes to the freezer section of a store when there are no ice cream stores around – a technique he learned from a fellow cruiser.
By the way – for those who saw June’s picture of Frank’s “catch” – this would be the scene of the crime, otherwise known as where he “caught” the striper. Just sayin’ . . .
Another nice evening with boat neighbors, a good nights’ sleep and we were underway to our next Bay destination. Until next spring, Oxford! It’s good to be home on the bay.