Our Own Solstice

Fifteen minutes later and BLAM!

If the solstices are the moment when the sun goes as far north and south as it will from the earth’s wobble, then we have wobbled our way to our Summer Solstice. We dropped the hook in the West River off Chalk Point around 1530 yesterday. Only one other boat was there in the 110 degree heat index near breezeless weather. Given the luxury of such room, we put out 50% more chain than we usually would. T-storms were in the forecast, but when we anchored they were still just a 20% possibility. What we got was a Derecho.

The visit with Paul & Joyce in Elizabeth City was a delightful break for us, but a bit sad as a fellow who graciously added us as invitees to his cook out (that became a cook in due to thunder, and rain) had a heart attack later that evening. At last update he is in good care and recovering from the event and the necessary repairs. It was a lovely get together, and we wish him and his wife and friends well as he continues to mend.

We decided to leave at sun-up, after waiting out the pulse of t-storms that blew through for three days running. We reached South Mills Lock on the Dismal Swamp Canal (Dismal just meant “dark” when it was named.) At 0830 We were the only boat…we aren’t the Tail-end Charlies of this season, but we are close. We can’t get to Deep Creek Lock between the 0900 South Mills release and the Deep Creek 1100 opening, so we putted along to arrive for the 1330. We gave Robert, the Deep Creek park ranger-like tender the conch shell we had brought him as we promised last fall.

He got us out of the lock at 1358 We would have made the Gilmerton Bridge 1430 opening just fine. We had a helping current. At Gilmerton, the railroad bridge lowered just as we arrived and stayed that way for a half hour. No train was ever seen or heard. While we waited a fellow in a fifty foot sailboat who had either no manners or bad depth perception persistently drifted down on us and others and would back his boat into ones path if he thought you were going to pass him. Same sort of thing happened here in November but in that case it was clearly bad manners. Fortunately, the generous Gilmerton highway bridge tender opened for us off schedule when the RR bridge reopened. Hope she doesn’t catch flak for it.

Beyond the bridge, the problem guy in the Halberg-Rassy tried to force his way between us and another slower boat in the tight turn at Money Point. Bet he drives the same way.

And of course when we reached the Old Virginia RR Bridge, it had “electrical problems” and couldn’t be opened. We heard enough radio chat to conclude that once again a train longer than the system was designed for had backed onto a switch leading to the bridge and parked there. And while waiting, the antsy guy went back into drifting and backing. This time we were forewarned. Suddenly, with no explanation, the bridge began opening. We let antsy pants get well ahead of us. We had planned to anchor in the Lafayette River but found a barge moored there taking up the best location. So after two tries to anchor in the muddy soup to the edges of the River, we headed North.

We decided to go to Poquoson River because of the easy entry there compared to Back River. And of course the tide turned and we made it there at 2130 when the last vestiges of sunlight allowed us to anchor safely. Geez, what a day.

From Poquoson, we went to Sandy Point on the Great Wicomico. From there we finished the next day at Solomons Island in a creek we have anchored in who knows how many times. The Navy Range off Patuxent River was live that day and the radio was full of professional and polite Navy Range Boats warning and shepherding boats away from the action. From Solomons, we finished here. Each day was hotter than the last. Each had less breeze than the last. Our trip here was glassy, hazy, and just plain hot.

Around sunset, the weather report here turned ominous. A Derecho was headed our way from Ohio, moving 70-80mph. I brought in the awnings. By 2200, we were warned it would hit us around 0030.

At 2315, Janet noticed the breeze was picking up and I went out to recover our US Ensign.


I don’t know what the first gust was, but it was stronger than the first one I saw on the meter when I dove below it was 68 knots. It lasted the better part of an hour or at least I went to bed when the wind had dropped to 25. We watched the whole passage on the local TV weather radar.

Boy we are glad we had put out that extra chain. The boat after it had swung to the new wind direction, moved about 4 feet downwind.

Two million or more lost power. Two folks were killed by falling trees.

The prediction for today is 101 degrees with a heat index of 110. For now, it is very pleasant under the awnings with a NW breeze. We’d just as soon not have another Derecho. With the breeze from the NW it seems local pop-up storms are today’s variety.

We haul out for annual maintenance on Monday and plan a little shore time after we inspect the hull before the yard takes over. Hopefully the power will be back on.


2 responses to “Our Own Solstice

  1. moondance38

    Welcome back! We were at a marina last night in Atlantic City. Thank goodness! That was a horrific storm. After a long day of motor sailing we’re anchored in Atlantic Highlands. I’m glad to be out of the ocean for a while!

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