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Tuesday, July 5, 2011

A Chesapeake Farewell

This is my 9th summer on the East Coast and I am once again escaping. Yes, you true-blue readers from last year, I am driving across the USA for the second time, departing this Friday morning with camping on my mind. For my final voyage on the Rainbow with Willy until September, I was given a spectacular farewell by Mother Nature in the form of a magnificent thunderstorm. The slideshow tells the story better than I but do let me tell.


We have gotten a lot of sailing in this season and recently enjoyed a 5-day excursion south crossing back and forth from the Choptank to the Patuxent rivers. We had an idyllic respite on a creek off of the Patuxent with swimming, rowing, reading and a bit of painting and sail repair worked in between meals and naps. There was a rainstorm but nothing to cause alarm.

So, when July 4th came around we stayed in town until Sunday afternoon knowing that the wind was low and the crowds were high (Hey, so what if it costs $400 to fill the tank - let's party!).  Willy had been suffering from some kind of virus that actually caused him to use a blanket for the first time in weeks and when we hit the docks around 3:00 and he felt the breeze, he was glad to be back on the water.  We knew thunderstorms were in the forecast and that there had a been a big one the night before, but like he says - most of the time it doesn't hit right where you are and it's over before you can put on your slicker. He knows to get the sails down and ride it out and we have done just that a few time before. We headed out with good wind and no plan as to anchoring out or coming back in. On the way to Bloody Point, with excellent wind for that tack, we decided to anchor at Poplar Island for the night. Best decision we made all day.  As we were nearing the entrance from Eastern Bay the weather report racheted up to alarming. Sails went down, motor went up and we hoped we could beat the storm. (Note:  this is the second time that we have run in to Poplar to ride out a storm.)  Fortunately, we had just enough time. The anchor was set, the gray, canvas rain tarp was up and that approaching hulk of a cloud was above us with all the mighty wind that it could produce. The water roiled, the boat rocked, the rain tarp flapped but there was no rain so I stayed in the cockpit and took photos as the tarp sides rose up, straining the bungee cords to their max and lifting the sandbags up above the rim of the boat. It was over soon and calm descended, sunshine through the clouds, all is well.

The rest of the night was filled with fireworks, Mother Nature's and every community on both sides of the bay. I have to say, Mother Nature took first prize in strength, color and variety.  We kept the tarp up but I pulled my sleeping bag out for the fresher air and that's when the storm with the water hit. I was soaked with the first wave.

All was peaceful when we arrived back at the dock on Monday evening. Martinis on the lawn with our live-aboard friends, good music and conversation. We were lucky enough to be driving into DC just as it became a DMZ zone, not the first time that has happened. You get some good views of the national fireworks from up on Bladensburg Road but the stuff happening in the 'hood is where it's at.

I am checking off my travel lists and going all out for three more meals here at home before I head West. Let the blogging begin.

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