We got a late start leaving Baltimore so we spent our first night anchored near the Chesapeake Bay Bridge. We had planned to make it to Annapolis, but darkness came first and we weren’t ready for another night sail anytime soon. It was a restless first night as the choppy waves from the nearby shipping channel constantly woke us. We rocked and rolled all night wishing we had made it to a nice protected inlet.
We made it to Annapolis shortly after daylight the next morning. Since there was nasty weather on the way, we decided to grab a mooring ball there for the day and wait it out. We drove the dinghy to the local city dock (video) and spent the rainy day exploring Annapolis for the first time. We checked out the local shops, grabbed a box of wine (boxes are more boat friendly) and made it to the nearest West Marine for an additional solar panel.
I was glad the rain held us off a day, so we could explore this beautiful town. The weather cleared up by Sunday so we could leave Annapolis. We sailed all day with great winds making an average of 5 knots the majority of the day. On a side note: Sailing/ motor sailing averages about 40 nautical miles per day.
We made it to the Solomons, MD inlet but decided to anchor at the Navy Air Station on the Patuxent River for the night before heading to Solomons Island. We were drinking coffee the next morning while planning our daily route when we heard a faint sound of music. We opened the hatch to the companionway to hear the National Anthem playing from the nearby Navy base. We hadn’t realized we were so close to the Air Station base, but enjoyed the national tribute being broadcast to start our day.
We spent the following day at Solomons Island on a quiet anchorage. We made our way to the local Food Lion to do some provisioning to only realize afterwards there were no Uber or even a cab in the town. It was a tiring two-mile walk back with provisions. We realized at this point, we need bicycles for getting around in some of these towns. We also found several Jellyfish (video) while out on the dinghy exploring the area.
We gassed up and left Solomons Island on our way toward Virginia. We crossed the Potomac River with no issues as the winds were slowly dying down only losing our Bluetooth speaker and a towel along the way. (Video).
As soon as we made it into Virgina we noticed the water started getting more clear. We were getting closer to blue waters! We saw several stingrays and were greeted by dolphins on all sides of the boat. (Video) It was an amazing day and dolphins are said to be sign of good luck. We managed to make it to Stingray Point for an online meeting on Wednesday since we had no signal out in the Bay in this area. We went ahead and got gas and water while we were there as going in and out of some inlets takes quite some time. We were also quite impressed that we had used so little fuel since we departed from Baltimore. Regretfully, we spent this night anchored near Deltaville, just outside the inlet entrance. We were awakened several times, literally thrown out of our beds by waves of the passing ship traffic. We later discussed the fact that we need to stop anchoring near any channels. Lesson learned.
By Thursday, the seventh day, we were on our way through the Chesapeake Bay toward Norfolk and much closer to the ocean. We noticed the waves were changing from what we had experienced the past few months in the bay. They were no longer as choppy but larger and more spread apart. We had anticipated making enough time to get there but were sailing into the wind, with what little wind we had. We attempted tacking but felt as if we were getting nowhere. We finally started the engine and motor sailed down the bay as it started getting dark. We soon realized we wouldn’t make it to Norfolk and the sun was slowly setting. I felt an immediate sense of dread and fear as I have developed a strong fear of sailing at night since our night of full moon sailing on our way back from Rock Hall a few weeks ago. Honestly, until we are more experienced, I would simply rather swim to shore than sail at night. We scanned through the Navionics charts and checked Active Captain to find a recommended anchorage nearby in Salt Ponds Inlet. I went up to the bow of the boat with a flashlight to find the reflective channel markers as Willow navigated us through the darkness.
Once we made it to an anchorage we took the dinghy over to a nearby Tiki Bar at the Waters Edge to grab a drink while we breathed a sigh of relief that we managed to make it safely in the dark.
As we were leaving the anchorage the next morning and saw what we had maneuvered through in the dark, I wondered how in the world we managed to navigate through this inlet in the dark without running aground. It was a very narrow cut through a stone wall that curved around behind the beach. It was one of those WOW moments.
Friday, Day eight. We finally made our way to Hampton Roads on our way into Norfolk, VA. We passed the Norfolk Naval Station and got to see several huge Navy ships, Navy police patrolling and a few Naval aircraft. Experiencing sights like this from the water is incredible, and in a capacity I’ve never known. I am very proud of the service men and women of our country, as we have an AMAZING force out there. The winds we good enough to push us about 4.5 knots to Norfolk. We weren’t in a hurry, so we relaxed and enjoyed the rest of the journey.
We finally made it to Portsmouth/Norfolk, Mile Marker Zero on the ICW. This was HUGE milestone accomplished for us. We anchored at Hospital Point and spent a few days taking a break and enjoying both cities before starting the next phase of the journey. Total gas cost from Baltimore, Maryland to Norfolk, Virginia: $58 Approximate Nautical Miles traveled: 222 Total days spent on trip: 8 The journey. Priceless.
“My destination is no longer a place, but a new way of seeing”. ~Marcel Proust