On homes, anchors, and getting from place to place

On homes, anchors, and getting from place to place

 

We have plans to move to Virginia in the nearish future. We’ve had these plans for a while, and somehow that future seems to never get any nearer. Target dates for getting our house on the market have come and gone. I’ve even applied for jobs in the area we’d like to settle in, thus far to no avail.

Several  people have told me that I’m a very patient woman, presumably because I never became a homicidal maniac during the long wait for a fully functional kitchen in my house.  I like to think that I made the best of it, and didn’t complain too much, but in truth, I know that I did complain and gripe and play the martyr more than I’d like to admit. I try, but patience is still oh so hard. I mean, who can even deal with a slow internet connection anymore?

The truth is I find the wait to move so much harder than waiting for a kitchen, and feeding our family for years without a kitchen sink – nevermind the rest of the kitchen – was pretty darn hard. Because when you know you want to go make roots somewhere else, the place where your house is just doesn’t feel like home. Sometimes our rate of progress feels so slow and I just feel stuck.

We got stuck once, in Green Eyes. We ran aground on our way out of Brenton Bay and got stuck for real. Luckily it was at low tide, but we were really close to a marker on our starboard side and afraid that when the tide rose and freed us, we might drift into it. Alan rode out to the other side in the dinghy with an anchor. He set the anchor then ran that line through a winch so it had plenty of tension on it. There was nothing to do but wait.  I read my book and napped a bit, the kids played. Eventually, the combined forces of the tension from that anchor and the slowly rising tide pulled us free and we were able to continue to our destination. It was actually a nice, relaxed morning after the initial flurry of activity to get that anchor set.

We are setting an anchor now that will help pull us to Virginia, I’m sure. We are keeping our new boat, Tipsy Lady, at Stingray Point Marina in Deltaville, VA. It will be an inconvenience I’m sure to have to drive that far to spend time out on the boat. It will also be a source of tension: a constant pull in that direction. And things will keep falling into place on the other end. We will get the house prepared for sale; the tide will rise at its own pace. When the time is right, we’ll break free of the muck and proceed to our destination. Just maybe that little bit of reassurance will help me do patience a little better in this last leg of the wait. Maybe I’ll learn to relax and enjoy this moment.

Then again, even if I’m not really any more patient, at least we’ll get to spend lots of time down there in the meantime. Perhaps it will placate my impatient nature enough to help me leave off the nagging and snarky comments. I’m sure Alan hopes so.

Here’s Tipsy Lady at her new home at Stingray Point. You can see the Stingray Point lighthouse in the upper left background through the trees.

IMG_0896[1]I have to say that so far we absolutely couldn’t be more pleased with our new marina. We were made to feel so incredibly welcome, and it is just beautiful there – and very sheltered from the wind, which was a very good thing when we came in yesterday. The place is definitely loved and we are excited to be a part of the community there.

I also love the connection to history there. I have a huge history nerd crush on John Smith, and he is the one who named Stingray Point – after he was stung there in an incident that nearly killed him. Only nearly. He was a resilient guy.

 

Home from Yorktown

Home from Yorktown

After leaving Yorktown, we needed to choose an anchorage with good provisioning possibilities. Although it was a great place to stay for things to do, there was no place on the Yorktown side of the bridge to get ice and ours didn’t last that long. Luckily I had planned on depending primarily on non-perishable foods anyway, but we did need to replace some of the things we lost. I chose an anchorage in Jackson Creek, near Deltaville, VA. The reviews of the spot were wonderful: great for provisioning, very protected – from all but SE winds. Anyone wanna guess which direction the wind was coming from when we got there? It was pretty rough that first evening. Our first dinghy ride in to walk to the gas station for cold beer left us all soaked to our skivvies. Alan was super nervous about the anchor holding, but hold it did, and the wind changed direction around midnight.

Deltaville was a fabulous stop. Just like at Yorktown, we again stayed longer than we had first planned (hooray for a flexible schedule) and are definitely planning to return. I can’t say enough good things about the Deltaville Marina. Their facilities were very nice and the rate for transients to use them was very reasonable. We were able to borrow their courtesy car to run to the market and replace our lost provisions. The kids loved their huge swingest and the pool. Savannah even swapped a book out at their book exchange area.We borrowed one of their grills for a picnic lunch our first full day there.

IMG_5277One of our absolute favorite things was a scene repeated many times on our trip: quiet moments after after dinner when we all cozied up on the bow to enjoy the twilight together. Alan and I would enjoy a glass of wine, we’d bring out a blanket or two, and the kids would snug themselves around us. Those were the moments I wanted to hold onto the most, the ones I made a conscious effort of committing to memory, detail by detail. There are so few similar moments at home. At home, there is always something to be done. The laundry needs washing, the grass needs cutting, everything needs dusting, clutter needs to be cleared away, a hundred things, all the time. On the boat, life is simpler. After clearing up dinner, I can usually feel pretty satisfied that my to-do list is done, and I can just soak up the time with my family.

It was in one of those perfect evenings that we unexpectedly had a bit of fearful excitement. One of our neighbors at anchor was an older gentleman who lives aboard his boat. I must have been paying attention to other things, but Alan was watching him as he came up to his boat. He stood in his dinghy for quite a while, then suddenly Alan couldn’t see him anymore. The night was getting close to totally dark, so he thought perhaps he just hadn’t seen him get onto his boat, but after a few minutes no lights had come on inside. Alan was quite worried about him, so he and Savannah went out in our dinghy to check it out. It was quite a good thing that they did because it turned out the man had fallen in. He has one “good leg,” which he had injured earlier that day, making it difficult for him to get onto his boat from his dinghy. They were able to help him get back aboard.

We also stopped by the Deltaville Maritime Museum while we were in town. The museum had just reopened in the spring and is still rebuilding after a devastating fire last summer. We’ll definitely have to go back again when they finish their new building. I especially liked their reproduction of the boat John Smith used to explore the Chesapeake. His was an unnamed boat that he referred to as his “discovery barge.” They named their reproduction Explorer.

IMG_5295We also made a couple trips to Nauti Nell’s: part marine consignment store, part gift shop. I’m sure it will be one of the necessary stops when we return to Deltaville.

After Deltaville, one of our favorite stops was a bit of a surprise. We have stayed in Solomons so many times. We always thought about checking out the Calvert Marine Museum, but just hadn’t made it there yet. This time, we went there right after setting the anchor, which just a couple hours until closing. We figured that would be enough time for the kids to make their way through. We were so wrong. We were instead left with the realization that we need to come back when we can spend the better part of a day there. We went to the Drum Point lighthouse first because we never tire of lighthouses.

IMG_5402And then we tried to see as much as we could see of the museum before they closed. It was so much bigger than we realized. The kids most enjoyed digging for fossils. They all came away with shark teeth for souvenirs. Felicity won the prize for best tooth finder.

IMG_5407The touch tank and all the other fish and invertebrates were a close second favorite. Felicity ran from tank to tank in wonder, declaring it the “best museum ever!” when she found the seahorses. It was a very nice way to wrap up our trip, and yet again we found a place to which we hope to return. IMG_5323

Smithy and Me

Smithy and Me

One man has frequently been in my thoughts as we’ve traveled parts of the Chesapeake Bay and the surrounding rivers: Captain John Smith.

(What do you think he used to get that mustache so horizontal?)

Captain Smith, the famous explorer and leading figure in the Virginia Colony at Jamestown, was always a bit of an eye-roll inducing character in my graduate history classes. You see, in his own writings, he really plays up himself as the quite the brave hero. The lack of internal narrative consistency among his works adds credence to the assessment that he most likely exaggerated the danger of situations he found himself in as well as his own machismo that enabled him to survive them.

The most well known example is the infamous near death scene in which he was saved by Pocahontas. Most likely, something vaguely like that did occur – except it was an entirely scripted, ritual thing, a way of ceremoniously adopting Smith into the Powhatan tribe and accepting the English settlers as trading partners. Granted, scholars disagree on the extent to which Smith was aware of exactly what was going on. He may have had genuine fears at how the whole thing was going to work out, but the fact that he left the episode out entirely of his first published work on his adventures in Virginia seems to support the theory that he did understand. At any rate, what is clear from his writing is that the guy’s got a big ego and likes to tell a grand tale of daring and danger focused on himself as the hero.

It’s okay with me. I’ll read Smith’s works, perhaps with an eyebrow raised, but no eye-rolling. Captain Smith explored the whole Chesapeake area and created the first detailed maps and charts of the Chesapeake and the surrounding rivers. What an amazing achievement! (Spanish and English explorers had previously created maps of the area, but none close to the kind of detail that Smith achieved.)

It’s enough of a feat for me to keep track of where I am with charts and markers and such landmarks as lighthouses and naval bases, not to mention the help of the chart plotter. Smith not only explored the region with none of those aids, he actually charted it himself. Tell me again how scary it was, Smithy; I’ll believe every word and gasp audibly at the appropriate places. I wonder if he sailed those rivers at night, lit only by the moon and stars. How beautiful it must have been – and how frightening. I’ve already shared how all the lighted buildings on land and the lighted markers in the water don’t seem to help me a bit…. but how much worse if there were no lights at all?

With Captain Smith so often in my thoughts, there is one place in particular I want to visit by boat: Jamestown. We are planning a two week trip there next summer, and I couldn’t be more excited. It’s a wonderfully exciting place to go generally, as archaeologists are actively working at the original fort site and expanding our understanding of the settlement, but to sail there, just as Smith would have arrived over 400 years ago – in spite of all the great differences in circumstances – is an experience that feels very connected with the history. I can’t wait.