Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Our journey has begun!

At long last, Blue Heron left Deltaville Boatyard (VA)where she spent the winter becoming an even more perfect boat and getting ready to take us on our 6,500 mile trip around America's Great Loop. We left yesterday afternoon, April 24, an cruised north up the Chesapeake to Solomons, MD. This morning we continued on to Annapolis, where we will meet daughter Karen tomorrow when she flies here from Oklahoma to spend a long weekend with us. It will be wonderful to welcome new aboard!

But it was a lot of work and some stress getting to this point. Our last few weeks in Glendale were very busy as we finalized preparations for the house, the dogs, ourselves, and trying to think through a final packing for the boat. We came to envy Loopers who start the trip from their own home port, rather than 600 miles away, as we did. The logistics certainly complicated things. We are so grateful to family and friends whose support and enthusiasm reminded us that our departure was a celebration of a great adventure, not just an endless to-do list!

Our last couple of days at home brought new anxieties as we discovered we had a nest of baby raccoons in our kitchen ceiling. And the weekend of our departure we were worried about Karen as she spent two nights in a row in a tornado shelter. All of this felt like an inauspicious beginning to our trip, but with good friends signed on to work with the critter guy, and with Karen safely through the storms, we looked at all this as a sign it was time to get out of Dodge and get this trip started! We finally pulled out of Glendale on April 14.

Not all the boat projects were completed when we got to Deltaville, so we ended up spending over a week in the marina there, which wasn't a bad thing. It gave us time to get unpacked and get the boat organized, and to take endless trips to the Deltaville hardware store and West Marine. We also sampled every restaurant in the little town and quickly identified Taylor's as our favorite, and we returned there several times. The food was really good, and although the wine selection was a bit questionable, they sure didn't skimp on the volume! We labeled it the "Deltavile pour", so full it almost always spilled before it got to the table. "We think you should get your money's worth" was what they told us. Can't argue with that!

The marina is in a beautiful spot on Jackson Creek just south of the mouth of the Rappahannock River. We enjoyed watching dozens of nesting ospreys in and around the harbor. We also saw loons and gulls and blue birds. Also heard that the area is loaded with skunks, so we made sure to keep the dogs on a leash at night. I don't even want to think about skunky dogs on a boat!

Speaking of the dogs, they are adjusting well. Joey enjoys sunbathing on the bow and generally seems comfortable with the routine. Bailey of course is taking a bit longer to adjust, but she's doing well. Our second day in Deltaville she fell off the boat while trying to take an unaccompanied trip to shore, but she just swam under the dock to shore and was none the worse for it.

We spent a good amount of time over the past week being tutored on our new electronic navigation system and generally picking the brains of the great folks at Deltaville Boatyard as we reacquainted ourselves with the boat. But we got to a point where we really needed to take off the training wheels and just go! We were delayed another day or two by the nor'easter that pummeled the east coast over the weekend, but even that turned out to be pleasant in its own way. We spent all day Sunday inside the boat (except for occasionally walking the dogs in the monsoon), getting indoor projects done and just relaxing a bit for the first time in 3 weeks. We put our fireplace DVD in the TV, turned on the heat, and it was quite cozy.

By yesterday afternoon we had a good weather window and decided it was time to go. I charted a course to Solomons, first with paper charts and then entered the course into our chart plotter. Once we got out of the harbor, we turned on the autopilot and it was pretty much hands-free driving. Very nifty! Craig has done a great job docking so far, and I have ably followed instructions with line handling, so we've had good luck getting in and out of the marinas. That's a trend we hope continues!

Right now we're sitting on Blue Heron in beautiful and bustling Annapolis harbor having a glass of wine and watching the weekly Wednesday night sailboat races out of the Annapolis Yacht Club right next door. Dozens of crazy teenagers flying around in sailboats like they were born to it, and they probably were.

Sorry this has been such a long post but I had a lot of catching up to do. From here on I'll try to post shorter and more regularly. Next time I'll even try to post a few pictures!

Thanks for following our adventure!

Barb, Craig, Joey and Bailey


  1. Barb and Craig - Good luck and have fun. All our best. Don and Jan

  2. Looking forward to more posts - and pictures! Auto-pilot? I thought this was going to be a working trip. Sounds wonderful.

  3. Barbara and Craig, congratulations on your great start. I hope we catch up with you after Norfolk.
    Craig and Ginny on Brown Eyed Girl

  4. Dearest Captains Craig & Barb,

    So glad that you're finally underway! Oh, how we wish we were aboard Alex M cruising with you! No doubt we'll see you along the route. Possibly by car this summer, and most certainlyon the water when you hit Mobile Bay!!!

    Smooth sailiing, Greg & Jan