The Nautical Adventures of Captain Kitty and Her Crew
. . . or what I did on my summer vacation


by Les Rothman, Autumn Saga, NT37-054

Part III


We returned to Yorktown, on July 3rd, spent the 4th engaged in R&R with my sister in law, and reprovisioned for Autumn Saga on July 5th. With the yard work completed, Saga was splashed on July 6th and took on fuel and water and moved to her berth. Provisions and Ms Kitty were brought aboard. Toward late afternoon, we met with my sister in law for dinner and then returned to Saga, where we briefly contemplated the morrow’s optional destinations and went to bed at 2150.

Ms Kitty, obviously happy to be aboard once again, awoke us at 0500. With just a little attention, she settled down and permitted us to sleep once more until 0655. There was a very light fog, the barometer was steady at 29.90, the wind was calm and the temperature was 77*F. The fog was lifting into a solid gray sun obscuring sky by the time we finished breakfast at 0840.

Ms Kitty, having escaped from my sister in law’s home, where there were two other resident cats, was her old happy self once more, exhibiting her patented lovable, amusing and tiring antics.

With all ship checks and house keeping completed, by 1015, we cleared for Deltaville, which lies to the north on the western shore of the Bay, on the north shore of the Piankatank River. The fog increased with visibility now less than a mile. We secured in our previously reserved slip at 1430, and had a beer. After we signed in, we visited with a father and son who had cruised over the Atlantic from England. Then, while Louise went for a walk, I laid out a general cruise plan for the Chesapeake, i.e., north bound western shore and south bound eastern shore. Louise returned and lay supper. While we were eating, I received a telephone call from my sister, in California, who was inquiring about the safety of my son who resides in England. She did not know where we were and had heard the news reports of the terrorist bombings in London. Out of touch, we went and found a T.V. with CNN broadcasting the event. He lives about 100 miles outside of London and unless he happened to be there on business it was unlikely that he was in any danger. We returned to Saga at 2043 as it began to rain hard. I awoke the next morning at first light and it was still raining but by 0740 when I served breakfast, it had stopped. This was to be a lay day and we dressed to walk out and see the sights of Deltaville. There were none, of note, to be seen save for a museum, which was worth our stop. Now past noon, Louise prepared lunch as a storm appeared to prepare to strike. Ultimately, heavy black clouds overhead, but no rain. After checking the engine room, we walked around the marina and met interesting folks. One couple had lived on a sailboat for 20 years and claimed to have ridden out two hurricanes aboard, during that time. We also met a retired professor and his wife aboard a 65 foot power catamaran out of Costa Rica, as well as another family, with three young children, cruising together aboard a 35 foot sailboat. The long threatening sky began to clear. Louise went swimming and I repaired to the shaded aft deck to read. Then, we had dinner aboard with a beautiful evening to contemplate, until sleep beckoned.

Awakened by the antics of Ms Kitty, I arose at 0625 to a beautiful morning of mild temperature, a rising barometer, calm wind and a clear blue sky. While we were completely ready to get under way by 0915, we had to wait until 1050 for the dock master to allow us to proceed to the pump out dock which had been blocked by another vessel. We finally cleared at 1105, destination the Rappahannock River. We entered its wide mouth at 1205 and passed under its name sake bridge at 1258 and turned into Carter Creek. We dropped anchor in Yopps Cove determining she was set at 1330 in 10.2 feet of water, near high tide. We had lunch and relaxed in our own personal ways; Louise read, I studied charts and Ms Kitty slept. When the temperature reached 94*F, I started the generator and air conditioners and shut up the boat. We ate dinner and with no T.V. or radio reception; we are very glad that we are literate. Evening turned into night. We showered on the aft deck and went to bed. The temperature was now down in the low 70s. I turned off the generator and thus the A/C. Having had once, some years ago, a near death experience, sleeping with a generator and air conditioners running, I never do such any more.

Our customary morning routine was completed at a leisurely pace. Perhaps because we were enthralled with this delightful anchorage, we did not depart until just past 1000 and then we first explored the rest of Carter’s Creek, before heading down the Rappahannock. We took a nominally northern heading toward the Great Wicomico River entrance, crossed Ingram Bay and secured an anchorage at Sandy Point at 1415. We are nearing mid July and, in spite of our near 40 years of Florida summer conditioning, the 90+ degree heat of mid to late afternoon is becoming oppressive, especially to Louise. So, in spite of the breeze and very low humidity, the house was closed and the generator and air conditioners were started once more. I found some things to do that I’d been putting off as nonessential. After dinner, the temperature dropped with the setting sun and we sat on the aft deck discussing the next day’s agenda until sleep beckoned.

Again awake at first light and I can’t tell if it is the light itself or Ms Kitty’s antics that arouse me from sleep. The sun, about 5 degrees above the eastern horizon, is blood red and the two companion boats, sharing the anchorage, are mirrored on the water’s surface. Our morning routine completed, we left the anchorage at 0900 and first explored Reedville from the water. Our initial impression was of an uninteresting, near derelict town. Thus, we headed out onto the Bay at 0945 and turned north, our destination the Potomac River. At 1220, Point Lookout was broad on the starboard beam. At 1303, we left the St. Mary’s River entrance buoy to port. Louise wanted to look in on Inigoes Creek to see if she could spot the home of newscaster Ted Koppel and his wife, who had restored the gardens and oldest house in Maryland, which dated from the 1600s. Mission accomplished, we continued north on the St. Mary’s River until we reached Horseshoe Bend, where we cruised along the shoreline next to the college before dropping the hook in 17 feet, joining three other cruising vessels. All was secured at 1440. Now with cell phone service, we made a number of calls. Then we launched the dinghy, went to shore and walked around the historic St. Mary’s college and the original settlement. Back aboard the dinghy, we explored the entire Horseshoe Bend cove before returning to Autumn Saga for dinner, some T.V. showers and sleep.

This day we have but a short run to Solomon’s Island so we took our leisure in preparing to depart. A light haze gave the rising sun the color of gator orange. A light breeze from the south ruffled the waters upon which the four anchored vessels had their bows pointing to the west. The temperature was 78*F when Louise began to prepare our breakfast of juice, eggs, coffee and coffee cake. With housekeeping, personal hygiene and telephones completed, we hauled anchor and were underway by 0920, running down the St. Mary’s and Potomic Rivers, out into Chesapeake Bay. We turned to the north and made Solomon’s, where we secured at the Calvert Marina at 1430. After we signed in and made friends with the resident dog and cat, I washed the boat and Lou washed our clothes. A family of two parents and four are-we-there-yet children tied their Fleming 55 off our stern. We had tied, as instructed, behind a boat called Tocando, home port, New Smyrna, which we had first encountered two years before in the Bahamas. Of course we said hello. A short time latter, a 58 foot Krogen, slowly passed and we exchanged greetings with the captain whom we had met the year before in Stuart. He had been on a smaller vessel then but the name TAPESTRY was unique, and thus recognized. As evening approached, Louise and I both showered and had dinner aboard. T.V. allowed us to catch up on the world news. With shore power, I now ran the air conditioners continuously, and sleep was more comfortable.

We had planned a lay day here at Solomon’s for some chores and some sight seeing. As the marina is on the “wrong” side of the water, we used the dinghy for both and found our dinner on shore. Louise had never been to the Maritime Museum, which I had visited twice previously. We left our dinghy at their docks to pursue dinner at nearby restaurant, which turned out to be very good and a relaxing change for us. We cruised the harbor in the twilight and returned to Autumn Saga just before dark. We showered, read, considered tomorrow’s options and went to bed. I arose the next morning at my usual time and fed Ms Kitty. Across the fairway, I noticed a calico cat and a golden Labrador retriever playing on the side deck of what appeared to be a 62 foot Hatteras motor yacht. The cat particularly concerned me as she was leaping about, probably after insects, I saw no people about and knew that even if it had all of its claws, they would do little good on the fiberglass deck. I walked the estimated 100 yards around to the other vessel and there found one of the owners. Instant bonding as we were now discussing cruising with animals. Although their home port was shown as New York, they were out of Miami, Florida, had lived aboard for about ten years and had never lost an animal over the side. We visited for about 45 minutes before I returned to Saga and breakfast.

Throughout the cruise, I had been concerned with the possibility of loosing Ms Kitty to the briny. While we were fully prepared with cat rescue equipment and a cat pfd, we had never let her out of the boat without at least one of us near at hand and her leash usually secured to her harness. This routine had led to her learning to stay inside of the boat, even when we were at anchor and invited her to join us on the aft deck. When at a slip, she sometimes would venture on to the aft deck but would return if we called her. Although her bravery in this regard increased with the passage of time, I never observed her doing anything that would lead her to demonstrate her swimming talents.

We had no firm thoughts for the day and the sky suggested a high probability of rain. Light house keeping and dock walking was followed by lunch. At 1230, we decided to leave and head about seven miles up the Patuxent River for St. Leonard Creek. We left the dock, effectively signing out, at 1313and made the creek entrance at 1418. We motored slowly up this beautiful creek as far as Vera’s White Sands Restaurant and Marina where we came about and headed back to Solomon’s, this time to anchor for the night in Back Creek, which was full of like minded cruisers. Now secured at 1620, I was able to get on the internet with Wi-Fi access from a nearby marina. The connection was not very strong and it took some hours to complete a half hour’s e-mail. Dinner aboard was followed by Louise also retrieving her e-mail. We logged off at 2010 and went to sleep.

I awoke even earlier than usual, with a red sky in the east and a light rain falling. Recalling the old sailor’s adage, “red sky in the morning . . .,” I started the breakfast preparation that did not require the generator, since Louise was still asleep. Some time past seven, the rain stopped. Louise appeared complaining of a poor night’s sleep and a headache. We completed a cold cereal breakfast, tidied Autumn Saga and ourselves and after a ten minute struggle to free the anchor, we left the anchorage at 0925. Shouldn’t really complain as the anchor has held in all of the strong blows we have endured. Perhaps I should start using a trip line. An hour out heading north with Cove Point two points on the port bow, the Bay is nearly flat and we are making 8.4 knots, SOG. The fog, which had limited visablity to less than a half mile, began to abate, at 1045. After some consideration, we decided to head for Oxford, Maryland on the eastern shore, although we had first considered going to Cambridge which was further up the Choptank River. We secured in the recently acquired Hinkley Boat Yard at 1350, signed in and went walking around this very small, historically significant town. Note: This was the most expensive and most run down marina we encountered on the entire cruise but, as the Realators say, location is everything. Returning to Saga, Louise went swimming, I washed the boat, we had dinner aboard and then watched T.V. until 2300, when we retired. Well rested after a solid night’s sleep, we were greeted by a gray overcast windless morning. After breakfast, we decided to lay over another day. A phone call from our former traveling companions indicated that they were about 75 miles behind us. I told them our current plans and it now seemed unlikely that we would see them again. We further explored Oxford on foot. We returned around 1300 for a light snack and avoided the heat of the day until 1500 when Lou went swimming and I used the marina Wi-Fi internet connection to catch up on e-mail. Among many attractive options, we chose the Robert Morris Inn for dinner, a choice we thoroughly enjoyed. Back at Saga, we had PBS on the TV and then went to bed.

This morning we arose to a mostly cloudy sky, a rising barometer and a temperature of 76*F. Louise had gone out to buy a Sunday Newspaper. When she returned, following the usual morning routine, we left the Hinkley Boat Yard at 0940, cruised down the Tred Avon River to the Choptank and then north on the eastern shore of the Bay, destination Rock Hall, Maryland.

Ms Kitty no longer awakens us in the morning but waits quietly until at least one of us stirs to wakefulness. However, when we are both at breakfast, Ms Kitty still demands attention for a period of hard play, her exercise regimen.

We passed under the east span of the William P. Lane Bridge, left Kent Island to starboard and turned east. The channel was very poorly marked, our electronic chart quit, we missed one channel marker and felt our way in, the old fashioned way, coming into Rock Hall Landing none the worse for wear. Tied up by 1550, I telephoned cruising friends we’d first met on a Bahamas cruise in 2004. They live in Pasadena, a suburb of Baltimore, on Rock Creek off the Patapsco River, nearly due west of Rock Hall. We made plans to rendezvous with them on the morrow. We made other phone calls, had a few drinks, took a short walk and returned to attend to the boat’s needs, dinner aboard and T.V. before bed at 2230.

Note: T.V. watching is actually a relative rarity for us in general but, as more often than not it was unavailable to us, when we had reception, we tended to take advantage of it, to at least keep up on the world news. For example, we did not learn of the London terrorist bombings until three days after they had occurred, and then only because of a telephone call from my sister, asking about our son’s safety. He lives in England.

Following and unaccountable poor night’s sleep, we had feet on the sole by 0640. Temperature was approaching 80*F, the barometer was falling, the wind was calm and the sky partly cloudy. The summer heat had set in. We had just completed breakfast when a call came from our friends to say they’d be over to meet us in their Tug circa 1400. As we were informed that we absolutely had to vacate by 1130, we went to the pump out and then moved to a wharf by the Waterman’s Restaurant and called our friend’s to arrange to meet there. After securing to that facility, we left the generator and A/C running for Ms Kitty and went inside the restaurant for lunch and to wait. We had finished our food when our expected visitors arrived accompanied by others we had already met also on the Bahamas trip. After they had eaten, we left Saga and went aboard their 42 Nordic Tug, Tug-A-Long, and were shown the rest of Rock Hall harbor facilities. Up Swan Creek, we went to another marina where our friends were having his 32 foot sailboat detailed. Around 1800, we were returned to our vessel and we then followed our hosts through their local waters toward their home. Shortly into this run, an emergency weather alert suggested that a violent weather system was approaching Baltimore and would be over our waters in an hour. All small craft were to return to port immediately. Our hosts thought we could make a run for it and within their wake we made 14 knots, reached Rock Creek, and were tied up behind their home, among their two vessels. No storm ever appeared. Yes, they own three boats, the 42 Nordic Tug, the 32 sailboat and a 26 Grady White and they still had room for us in their “private marina.” A quick cleanup and we all then went out for a light supper, and then returned for a much need night’s sleep.

No cruising was planned for the next two weeks, as we would do some routine servicing and then drive home to Florida, on July 21st, where “real world” business required our attention.


Copyright © 2008 SENTOA • Last Update October 2, 2008 • Questions? Contact the SENTOA Officers.