July, 2021

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On a slow boat to China

Friday, July 30th, 2021

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State Capitol

 

 

 

 

 

I had a Stella Artois and steamed mussels at the Middleton Tavern which was established in 1750.

 

Middleton Tavern

 

 

 

 

 

 

This picture shows the crowd at the “Pusser”. Looks like a good pick-up bar for your daughters to catch a potential Admiral from these awkward looking Navy cadets.

The Pusser P.U.bar

 

The harbor is a display of all sorts of water activities. Little tourist tour boats, large luxury yachts. The “Endless Summer” is here, I showed a picture of her on Face Book at full moon last June at the Cape Charles Yacht Center. There was an evening sail regatta and all the participants are filing back in. It reminds me of the harbor of Victoria B.C. on the Memorial Day.

My plan is to leave here early and try make it into Chesapeake City on the C&D Canal before the current turns at noon and then again have a favorable current on Sunday morning.

SoloMan in the SoloMons

Wednesday, July 28th, 2021

I got a late start on Monday from Mill Creek near Fort Monroe. I had to row to shore to get the latest weather forecasts from a wi-fi connection. It turned out that Tuesday and Wednesday showed little wind. I do not like to motor in the Atlantic swells. I decided to take the chicken run up the Chesapeake and the C&D Canal. It ended up a strong wind fast down wind sail to Deltaville. I discovered in Mill Creek that my bow lights were burnt out. It took me a couple trips to West Marine and the hardware store to get the right replacements. I decided to stay the Tuesday night and left early in the morning. The wind blew over 20 knots just off the nose. This made it possible to motor-sail with the main sail giving some power. But the waves were nasty and a very uncomfortable ride. A catamaran “Follow Me” heading the same direction decided to bear off towards Tangier Island, I was tempted, but I declined the invitation. Once I crossed the mouth of the Potomac, the wind decreased and the current turned around in my favor. So, I made it in before sundown 121/4 hours and 56.1 nautical miles. I anchored in the same anchorage where the below picture was taken in 2008, when the original “Fleetwood” was still clear finished. I rowed in to the same restaurant but they did not have the upstairs deck open, the excuse: unable to find help to serve that section.

in the Solomons. August 2008.

 

But here is wat then happened and will be included in my next book: “My Small World”. While I am talking to the receptionist, two customers are on their way out. The tallest of the two ladies turns around and says: “We met on July 4th at the Firehouse Coffee shop at Fort Madison; I recognized your accent.” Her name is Loren and she lives here in St. Marys. She was at the Coffee house with her husband. I have been trying so hard to lose my Dutch accent. But it can be an asset, as this story proves. But can you imagine the mathematical odds for this to happen? Frankly, I hope that the next occasion the lady will admit that she recognized me for my good looks….

Tomorrow looks like a good day to make some more miles north. I had kind of hoped that it would not be a good day. I’d like to go to mass at the local St. Mary Queen of the Seas. That would qualify me for sainthood, two consecutive Sundays. at churches of the same name. And I have friends I met last summer in Cape Charles who go to this church regularly where they keep their sailboat.

A picture of the Point no Point light, with a no-flush privy, in the Chesapeake, just north of the Potomac.

Point no Point- L

And entering the Solomons on the Patuxent River.

The Patuxent River near the Solomons Islands

A busy weekend in Hampton Roads.

Sunday, July 25th, 2021

The propane tank ran empty this morning while brewing my espresso. But Russ Grimm came to the rescue. We met here at Saint Mary Queen of the Seas on July 4th, as reported in my previous blog. He drove me, after 9.30 mass, to fill my 1.4 gallon-tank, $4.90, this will be good for another three months.

Russ also has made me the best informed Dutch-American on the early American history of the area, Chesapeake and Hampton Roads. The cradle of the United States of America. Did you know that the first Thanksgiving took place here with the Indians before what you have been told by the Plymouth Rock imposters?

Wednesday evening Susan Kovacs, with our mutual Cape Charles friends gave me a (another…) send off. I discovered, here in Hampton, that I had left my Nikon camera in Kay’s car. She and Laila brought the camera to Norfolk and Russ and his wife Doreen offered to drive me to Norfolk and we ended up joining them at a superb Middle Eastern restaurant for lunch. The best I have had since my first introduction in Damascus in 1975.

Wednesday’s Send-Off

 

Saturday lunch with Russ, Doreen and Laila

 

 

 

 

 

 

I brought up that I had heard that Hampton had a good Maritime Museum. But when I was here the last time, my Google search did not turn up any mention of it. I was told that it is in Newport News and my friends took me there. This is probably one of the best maritime museums I have ever visited. And Holland is known for them. A must see, worth a transatlantic sail or flight, for the $1.00 entrance fee. The discoverers, fabulous model displays, ancient navigation instruments, the maritime part of the wars of independence, revolution, the 1812 war, Hispano-American, the world wars and Vietnam. A big section on competitive sport sailing, including the Oracle American Cup display. I could have spent a week there. Relics and full-scale models of famous battle ships, like Iron Side.

The Amsterdam flag flying from the forward mast in the Maritime Museum

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Before the museum visit, my friends gave me a tour of the backwaters of the James River. Ever heard of the settlement called Rescue? I had a glimpse of it on the banks of the Pagan River the tributary to the James River, I sailed up to Smithfield in July of last year. A community of watermen in isolation and only accessible by water until recent times.

Nearby is the, smaller than the one room school building, St. Augustine Roman Catholic Church in Carrollton.

The mini St.Augustine Church in Carrollton

 

 

 

My main mission for coming to the Mill Creek at Fort Monroe, was to have my first visit, on Friday, to the VA (Veteran Administration) Medical Facility. Turned out to be a very worthwhile asset that I had not been aware off. I met my assigned primary doctor and received a pneumonia and tetanus shot. I was very impressed with the facility and the service. Next, I plan to get set up with private practitioners, medical, dental, vision, etc. nearer to where I happen to be floating. I found the best bicycle repair shop in Buckroe Beach. The young man replaced my brake and derailleur cables, while I had lunch across the street. A recent storm dumped the folding bike in the salt water next to the boat. The bike shop charged me a whopping $20.00.

The rest of the afternoon was spent in the museum of Fort Monroe. The Fort’s construction was started  in 1819 and completed in 1834, in the aftermath of the War of 1812 during which the British Navy sailed up the Chesapeake and burnt down the city of Hampton on June 25, 1813, and proceeded up the Chesapeake for more targets, the White House one of the most humiliating and the raid on Baltimore. The fort was also a Union stronghold close to the battle lines with the Confederates in the Civil War.  It also became the very first asylum for slaves that escaped from their Southern slave owners.

I plan to set off tomorrow morning into the Atlantic. The forecast is for very weak wind on late Tuesday and Wednesday and I might have to duck into an anchorage to sit this out.

I will try to be post these blogs more regularly, now that I am on the move again. You know how you can follow my progress, on the right upper corner Garmin In Reach link

245th Birthday of the United States of America

Monday, July 5th, 2021

I am anchored near Fort Monroe in the Hampton Roads. A very strategic and historic location.

By the number of boats that are coming in, this late afternoon, I expect that I might be treated to a fireworks spectacle.

It was an outstanding sail here, yesterday, from Cape Charles. A fast hard reach near and over 6 knots. On entering the James River one of the nuclear aircraft carriers was coming in to home base at Norfolk and the Navy was clearing a path with their patrol boats.

My last blog was the disappointing announcement that I abandoned the plan to cross the Atlantic in June. It remains the disappointment, but there are new plans to look forward to. I have had some good sailing here, around the middle of the month of June, to Deltaville and Onancock for a long weekend. This trip also serves to scout out the anchorages here. I have an appointment on July 23rd with the VA (Veteran Administration), here in Hampton, to check out the medical care benefits that I have as a veteran U.S. army soldier. This all came about when the VA appeared to be my last option to get my Covid shots, last February.

I rowed into the nearby marina and unfolded my bicycle. It was early, a few joggers. Not a soul inside the moat and the heavy fortified walls of Fort Monroe. A platoon of Army recruits ran along the beach with a loud response to the sergeant’s phrases “You can’t ride in my little red wagon”. The fishing piers were already well attended. The large red brick officers’ quarters were all decked out in the national colors for today’s Independence Day.

 

 

Since June, the vaccinated are allowed to worship without masks and social distancing and, for me very meaningful, we are allowed to sing again. As you see in the picture, I did my Dominical duties with the Dominican sisters, staff of the parochial school of St. Mary Star of the Sea Catholic Church, right close to Fort Monroe. Appropriate for a wandering sailor. Since I started my long voyage, I have attended services in a number of St. Mary Star of the Sea or Stella Maris churches. The ones I remember, on the Salomon Islands in the Northern Chesapeake Bay in 2008, on Bermuda in 2009, Port Townsend, Wa. 2016, Ocean City, Md. 2019. This church has some dated, sixties/seventies, wood paneling behind the altar and wainscoting along the church walls. It is Clear California Redwood. A bit gaudy in a gothic church, with the bright sapwood. For a few more bucks the architect could have specified “Clear All Heart”.

Rev. Monsignor Walter C. Barrett, Jr., pastor with Deacon Mike Swisher.

 

 

 

 

 

 

My next stop was in the one street old town adjoining the Fort and Hampton, Phoebus. “Mango Mangeaux” looked like a good place for lunch. The locals were there for their Sunday brunch, all dolled up and decked out for the occasion. I whispered to the host: “Are whites allowed?” He sat me at the bar and I had the very best deep fried chicken ever. They have an incredible exotic drink selection and it was fascinating to watch the bar tender mix them. The picture shows a family gathering for three of them having their birthdays in July. I like to be with happy people and felt envious for their black privilege.

 

I plan to set sail on the 24th to the Nantucket Sound, depending on the wind direction, starting into the Atlantic or going up the Chesapeake and into the Delaware Bay. I have a presentation on my circumnavigation and sign books on August 20th at 10.30 am at the Wooden Boat show in Mystic Seaport, R.I. I hope that some of you can come and attend. I will be moored in Mystic Seaport from the 19th through the 22nd. You can follow my progress on the Garmin-In-Reach, from the link in the right upper corner.

Corrine and Euan will fly from Scotland in September to the North West and I hope to shake hands with their brand new Wheatly, my fourth great grandchild. My oldest son John, who moved recently with his wife and her two daughters to Las Vegas from San Diego, will celebrate his first ½ century on September 30th, and I hope that I and his brother and sisters can attend that milestone celebration. Then when the colder fall winds start blowing, I plan on spending most of the winter in warmer climes.