Wednesday, May 16, 2012

New friends, Old friends: May 4- May 16, 2012

Norfolk, Yorktown, Solomons and Annapolis -- again.

So when your veterinarian from home expresses concern whether everything is OK because he hasn't seen a blog update in awhile, I guess it's time for a new posting!  The fact is, we are fine and just have been too busy and having too much fun to find time to blog.  I have also been persuaded by more experienced bloggers than I that it is an exercise in frustration to try to blog from an iPad, so I have hauled out my old but still breathing laptop and we'll see if this is easier.  If so, you'll probably find me posting more often.

For nearly a week, from May 5-11, we were docked at the Waterside Marina in Norfolk for the Spring Looper Rendezvous, a gathering of about 150 current, past and future Loopers who came together to meet new friends, renew old acquaintances and attend three days of informational sessions covering everything from what to expect at each stage of the Loop, to safety seminars, to everything you ever wanted to know about diesel fuel.  This is the third Rendezvous we've attended, although our first as active Loopers, and it is always a lot of fun and very helpful.  Also exhausting -- the agenda tends to run from 8:30 a.m. to 9:00 p.m.  We opened our boat for one of the afternoon "Looper Crawls", where attendees are invited to come aboard and view the boats.  It's always fun to see the amazing variety of boats, and we know from past experience that it's very helpful for the Looper wannabees who may be shopping for a boat and are eager to get ideas.  We were grateful for the many compliments Blue Heron received -- she really is a pretty boat, if we may so humbly say so!

The most valuable part of the Rendezvous was meeting many wonderful active Loopers with whom we hope to connect for parts of our travels.  It's so interesting to talk to people from so many different places and backgrounds who all have this incredible adventure in common.  There was a Swedish couple who sailed in their sailboat from Sweden, through the Mediterranean, around Africa, across to Brazil and up the east coast of the US.  They plan to do the Loop this year and continue around the world.  Craig and I are such underachievers!

On the last day of the Rendezvous, we were joined by good friends from home Steve and Jeanne Dinnerstein who flew out to join us on Blue Heron for a week.  It was wonderful to greet them but even more so because they arrived with a case of wine from their store in Glendale!  Thanks, Steve and Jeanne!

On Friday morning we were one of the first boats to leave the marina.  We were happy to see so many of our new friends gathered to see us off and to help us with dock lines as we departed.  Everyone always says the best part of doing the Loop is the people you meet, and so far we absolutely agree!

We headed for Yorktown, where Craig and I had spent a short visit on our way down to Norfolk.  We had stayed at a lovely marina in a quiet creek just across the York River from the old town, and enjoyed what we were able to see of the battlefield park and the restored town.  We wanted to spend more time, so we went back with Steve and Jeanne.

We have been to Williamsburg several times, but had never visited either of its neighbors in the "Historic Triangle", Yorktown and Jamestown. We didn't make it to Jamestown this time, but hope to get there next year when we return to Norfolk to complete the Loop. We can report that Yorktown is well worth a visit.  To refresh your memory, Yorktown was the last major battle of the Revolutionary War, the site of British Gen. Cornwallis' surrender to George Washington.  Many of the earthenwork defenses are still in existence and the National Park Service visitor center does a great job of telling the story of the history-changing events that happened there. It was good for us Yanks to be reminded that although we love to say we saved the French in the World Wars, there is no way we would have defeated the British in the war for our independence had it not been for the skill and resources of our allies in the French army and navy.  What goes around comes around, as it's said.

And here's one of the best things we learned at Yorktown.  If you are over 62, for $10 you can buy a pass that admits you and three guests to any and all of the national parks -- for the rest of your life!  As the ranger said to us, "It's good to be an American, but sometimes even better to be an OLD American!"

After Yorktown, we had a calm cruise north to Solomons, MD, where we have visited four times now, a pleasant boating-centered town on the western shore.  We spent two nights in Solomons with Steve and Jeanne and had a great time walking, riding bikes and eating more crab. Steve and Craig treated Jeanne and me to a lovely outdoor brunch for Mother's Day.

On Monday, we woke to find we had a brief window of calm weather and decided to move quickly to Annapolis, as the next few days looked to be unsettled. We had a very pleasant trip.  Along the way we saw an odd apparition on the horizon that even as we got closer we couldn't identify.  It looked like a very large buoy or transmitting apparatus, but it wasn't marked on any of the charts.  As we got closer, we discovered it was the Pride of Baltimore, a large topsail schooner, a reproduction of the original Pride, an 1812-era privateer.  She is the world's most traveled historic tall ship, and it was exciting to see her underway in full sail.

For the past two days, we have been docked at the Annapolis City Marina, the same place we stayed with Karen a few weeks ago.  We have enjoyed walking the town, sampling the shops and of course, eating more crab.  Today we made our second visit to the U.S. Naval Academy and watched the daily noon meal formation, where the entire Brigade of Midshipmen gather in formation before going in for lunch.  It’s so impressive to watch these disciplined young people go through their routines.  Craig always has flashbacks to his Navy ROTC days when we visit the Academy, but even he never experienced many of the formalities that are a matter of daily life here.

This evening, we enjoyed wine time on the sundeck of our boat watching the weekly Wednesday sailboat races in the harbor.  There is a big weekend race here that started this morning, so the activity in the harbor has been even more frenzied than usual.  There really is no way to describe or even capture in pictures the nonstop coming and going and spinning on a dime that these sailboats engage in. And we have a front row seat!

Jeanne and Steve are returning to Cincinnati tomorrow.  I think they’ve had a great time, and we hope they are not only planning their own return trip, but are preparing to encourage other Glendale friends to experience the cruising lifestyle.  After they leave, Craig and I plan to head across the Bay to St. Michaels, a very picturesque little town on the Eastern Shore.

Here is my closing thought for today.  After one month living on board, eating out nearly every day and enjoying “docktails” every night, I have lost 2 lbs!  I credit the dogs with that – we are all walking much more than at home.  But in any case, I’m inclined to say I should have taken up cruising years ago!


  1. But this back and forth from Norfolk to Annapolis is going to have to stop if you ever hope to make it around the loop before winter! Looking forward to some pictures.

  2. Oh, and your veterinarian from home was right.