Friday, May 18, 2012

St. Mary’s College, MD

Days on cruise:  56

Distance traveled today:  41.4 miles

Time traveled: 4 hrs, 31 mins

Total Odometer:  1,225 statute miles

This afternoon when we arrived at our anchorage, we had a voicemail message from Charlotte and Stephen, the Loopers from Jacksonville, FL we met back in Fort Pierce, Fl.  They’d been on the east side of the Chesapeake Bay and traveled to the west side today, and described it as a “snotty trip”.  Well, that would be one way to describe our journey on the Chesapeake today as well.

We woke up at 5:50am, and in the hope the wind and waves would be benign in the early morning hours, we threw on our clothes, gulped down one cup of coffee and took off from Buzzard’s Point Marina in Reedville at 6:15 to journey north. As soon as we arrived back at the Wicomico River leading to the Bay, we could tell it would not be a calm trip. Winds were blowing steadily 15 knots, with higher gusts, but the wind was from the NE and we were traveling north to northwest, so the quarter beam seas had us rolling and slamming down the faces of the waves for 2 1/2 hours. Mostly the waves were in the 3-4 foot range, but occasionally a string of three waves 5-6 feet high would come along and leave us tense and uncomfortable. In fact, the whole trip was uncomfortable until we crossed the Potomoc River to its’ north shore and headed up the St. Mary’s River, small and calm.

Thank goodness that “Next To Me” is a more seaworthy old gal than we are! For the first time, we had cabinet doors swing open, contents fall out on to the floor, a lamp fall over, and the furniture on our sundeck slid from port to starboard for two hours; a huge distraction! One fire extinguisher crashed to the floor in our stateroom, and the dinghy on the roof of our sundeck careened around in it’s cradle enough that Bob held onto it for close to an hour to ensure it would stay in place. Just no fun.  We were never actually frightened, but we were certainly uncomfortable, so revved up the engines to 1800 rpm (from our usual cruising speed of 1200 rpm) to power through the waves and get to our destination more quickly.

See how wide the Potomoc River is?


There’s a naval base nearby on the Bay, so while underway we saw an Osprey maneuver around for over an hour, sometimes in airplane mode, other times in helicopter mode.


We crossed the border into Maryland today, and the shoreline looks different here, mostly because there is actually some elevation. Florida, Georgia, the Carolinas and Virginia are mostly flat along the coast (ever heard of “low country”? That’s what they are).  Maryland has hills and low cliffs along the shoreline.  St. Mary’s River is sparsely populated and houses are on huge lots.



We reached our anchorage at St. Mary’s College of Maryland, a small (2,000 students) liberal arts “honors” college that specializes in teaching students to be excellent sailors in addition to their academic lessons. They have many Flying Juniors (smaller versions of the Flying Dutchman) and teach racing skills.


We were allowed to tie up at their dock for the afternoon so we could wander the campus and have lunch in the Student Center. Graduation was a week ago, so there weren’t many students around. It’s a very pretty campus.


There’s also the old town of St. Mary’s City across the road, which was the first capital of Maryland and was established as an English settlement 380 years ago. They’ve reconstructed many of the original buildings, have archaeological digs ongoing, and offer lots of history. This is a reproduction of the original Sate House.






The College sits on Horseshoe Bay, an almost perfect oval that is a mile long and half a mile wide.


While we were tied up at the dock, a dozen students enjoyed sunning themselves and swimming. One young woman (see below) reminded us of our youngest daughter Adrienne, who was a diver on her high school swim team, when she did a back flip off one of the pilings into the water.


After we finished touring the campus and old city, we moved the boat off the dock and anchored nearby for the night. The wind has settled down, and we’re strategizing our day tomorrow as we hope to travel north again. The weather forecast is much the same for the next week, so we can’t out-wait this “snotty” weather!

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