Back Where We Started: Annapolis and the Next Leg
After a couple of nice days in the Wye, we headed back to our old stomping ground. It was a beautiful October Saturday meaning that the bay was PACKED with boats. We steered our familiar route right back to our old marina. Dean, owner of Stella’s Stern and Keel, had an open slip that we were able to rent for a couple of weeks, and when we pulled in it was just like we had left it . . . there was Dean in the yard ready with a hearty welcome and Buttercup, the yellow dog, with her mom/owner, Suzanne. It was a very welcoming feeling and we were excited to be back in our old stomping ground.
We spent our time in Annapolis seeing friends, readying the boat for our trek south and visiting the boat show which gives us a chance to catch up with Mike, Liz and Robyn Gozzard, the builders of our boat. We met up with friends which included a “chick day” at the Boat Show with Cheryl! And sister Caroline met up with us at the end of the day, too! (That’s Ems sister Caroline – not like a nun or something.) Caroline brought a delightful dinner with her and then helped with a major grocery run the next day. Our very dear friends, Tom and Cathy, have a Brewer sailboat that they have been lovingly restoring over the last several years. We spent time catching up with them and seeing the fruits of their labor as they get ready to move aboard! They were our neighbors at Stella’s our first two years there and we have watched each others’ projects and preparations as we shared the cruising dreams over a beverage or meal. The offers of rides and help and errands from many was heartwarming, and we are always grateful for them!
We rented a car which we used to do a visit of the Mamas! First stop, a nice visit with Frank’s mom and bonus fly-by with two nephews while there! Always good to “chat with Pat”! Then we drove to attend Mama Rapking’s 90th birthday celebration. (That’s Ems’ mother – and yes, that is really my maiden name . . . ) All six children came in from all over the country to recognize this happy occasion! As I like to say, my mom is 90 going on 70. Not that I am at all biased, but she is spunky, witty, affectionate and independent and we love being around her. Frank and I made use of her spare bedroom . . . and I asked her if we could pretend I was in college again so I could bring my laundry with me!! We loved having the gang together again for a couple of days . . .
We took off from Annapolis this past Sunday morning early to start making our way south. First stop, Solomon’s Island, MD for a quick overnighter. We ended up anchored by a boat that we met in Martha’s Vineyard this summer! After a quick chat with them as we rode the dinghy by, we agreed to meet up the following night in Deltaville, VA, the next night’s scheduled stop. We anchored up side by side in Fishing Creek and enjoyed cocktail hour in their very pretty and spacious cockpit.
The minute we left Solomons and took a right on the bay, we were in new territory for Eleanor Q! And so we begin the next leg of our trip – the southeast coast of the U.S. First stop, Hampton, Virginia. Hampton is “right close” to Norfolk, thus major military area. As we were getting close we noticed several helicopters and a couple of fighter jets hovering over the area, and we figured that might be normal for the area. Then we heard a “securite” announcement (French pronunciation sounding like seh-cure-i-tay) commonly used on the VHF radio to alert boaters that a large vessel is underway. It announced that aircraft carrier # 71 was departing the area and going out to sea. It also reminded mariners that it is against the law to be any closer than 500 feet of a naval vessel, enforceable by force including deadly force. That certainly will make you think twice about doing a buzz by one of the navy fleet! And sure enough, there was a Naval entourage leading the way with four heavily armed gunboats coming out first. Then we watched as the USS Theodore Roosevelt come out of the Navy base. It was surrounded by a few skiffs directing it out. The ship had just undergone a complete overhaul in August, and after passing all of its sea trials had returned to Norfolk. Carrier #77 was parked right behind it, the USS Hebert Walker Bush. Both are nuclear powered ships. Frank looked up their specs. He quizzed me, “What do you think their range is?” This means how long can the boat stay out without need of refueling. The answer: 20 – 25 years. That ship wouldn’t have to come back into port for 20 – 25 years. I imagine that there would be a mutiny before they tested that theory, but that’s the deal. It is a self contained small city. Pretty amazing. When you look at the deck of the thing, you wonder what it is like for the young pilot the very first time they ever have to land on its deck.