Thursday, November 19, 2009

Halloween in Deltaville, VA

Coming into Deltaville, I hadn’t showered since Annapolis on the Sunday that Adriana and Will came to visit. It became too damned cold to take a shower on the boat as it was dropping into the low 50s and cold showers are tough when there’s no heat on board. By Thursday, I was beginning to smell my own funk. Not quite sure what it was, I said to Stephen, “Do you smell something…is it me?” I’m pretty sure it was my hair. I could have at least done the baby wipes thing to get my body clean, but hey those things are wet and cold too, so I just decided to put on a fresh pair of clothes and stink those up too. I’ll save the huggies for the long passages in the Caribbean where the warm breeze can dry my skin.

Leaving Annapolis, we were headed for Tangiers, an island smack in the middle of the bay almost completely isolated from everything. Stephen had always wanted to see this place, as he had heard that they had a very unique culture with their own dialect and variation of the English language. We left Annapolis just after 1:00 – when the bridge to Spa Creek opened up for us on the hour, and didn’t drop anchor off of Tangiers until between 6:30 – 7:00 am the next morning. Pretty sure the marina wasn’t open, we dropped anchor in some choppy waters and caught some Zzzz.

When we woke up the next morning, around 10:45, Stephen radioed repeatedly to the only marina with no reply. The first few calls over the VHF were nice, then he started sounding irritated and finally desperate. No one from the marina ever answered, but a very nice lady from the vessel, “Aria,” responded to us to let us know that Mr. Parks of “Parks Marina,” probably wasn’t in yet and either he or one of his family members would be there eventually. She also informed us that she knew a couple who recently visited Tangiers who gave it “mixed reviews,” as it was late in the season and “everything was closed except for one eatery in the town.” This coupled with the fact that the channel and water around the marina was very shallow, was enough for us to decide to hit the bay and not waste our time in Tangiers. Should we get grounded, it looked like it would be days before we would be getting out…waiting for Mr. Parks or his family to come save us.

So, making an hourglass formation with our course appearing on the Raymarine, chartplotter, we headed out across the bay, Southwest for Deltaville. Dropped anchor in a very nice, calm and well-protected spot just outside the Deltaville Marina between 5:30 – 6:00 PM. Yeah! Showertime. We motored for a couple of hours, long enough to produce some hot water.

Believe me when I say there is nothing going on in this town. The marina is probably the busiest place here. Surprising to me, there were quite a few boaters from all over the U.K. stopping here. I heard more languages spoken in this tiny marina in bumfuck than in the DC metropolitan area.

Deltaville’s motto should be, “Because we can.” With only one grocery store within 40 miles and no laundromats, they’ve got you by the ….. So, I reluctantly forked over $20 bucks just to do laundry on site and use their internet and bathroom facilities. The only grocery store in town charged $4.99 for Stephen’s regular OJ, so I was going for the cheap, not preferred choices. We stocked up with some more milk, OJ, saltines (to go with the ginger ale for seasickness) more canned veggies and Stephen’s favorite Sweet Baby Ray’s BBQ sauce, should we catch a huge tuna while trolling across the ocean.

We got a lot of tedious and grimy boat work done here – hoisting our dinghy onto the boat, scrubbing all the harbor gunk off of it (you will not believe how the Domino’s sugar plant can leave a gummy coat on the surface), deflating it and packing it away in the already jam-packed V-berth. We did a lot of unpacking and repacking of things just to find shit that was supposed to be in an “accessible place we would both remember.”

Stephen rigged our courtesy flags for traveling outside the U.S. and went over emergency procedures, should we become more adventurous and opt for the life raft tour of the Atlantic instead. We stocked up on an extra flares for our own personal fireworks display, topped off with fuel, emptied the garbage, etc. etc.

On Halloween, Mom’s Birthday, the night of Brigitte’s infamous annual party, and the eve of our departure, we sat in the cockpit staring at the full moon above, illuminating the water around us. We checked in with each other to see how we were feeling now that we had gone from months to just hours away from this passage that is so huge and significant to both of us. We reflected on the ways in which we’ve grown and become more prepared, and the ways in which we both would never change but have come to accept. This has been part of the preparation as well. I know it’s going to be tranquil and peaceful at times, but also unpredictable and emotionally and physically exhausting at other times. But then again, when it comes to sailing, you never know what you’re going to get. Whatever lies ahead, I’m f(*&in excited to do this thing! Bermuda here we come!

First Port: Annapolis, October 2009

Coming or going, we always find ourselves spending more time than planned in Annapolis, and for good reason. This time was no exception. Whether it’s recovering from the pain the Pusser’s painkillers deliver, hanging out with Chris and Kim (the Tyrrell sisters) or staying one more day to go sailing with friends, it’s always time well spent.

This year’s stop almost felt like a repeat of last year. Spent hours at Chris and Kim’s place again – although this time just for drinks and a good meal, as we have become more efficient at getting laundry done in town. Can you believe these girls saved my pair of panties left behind on the last laundry visit? That’s what I call a true friend.

And this year, we are returning the favor by saving Brigitte’s very cute VS thongs that got mixed up with our laundry last time she stayed on the boat. Brigitte, is this a subconscious ploy to get Stephen in enough trouble that I don’t take the trip with him? What a funny scene…Stephen discovering another girl’s pair of panties in his pile of laundry, no less – and in the middle of the Laundromat with a captive audience. “Oh, look Tar, I washed your panties for you.” “Those aren’t my panties.” Stephen got on the phone to Brigitte right away to clear things up.

We always make it a point to hook up with Chris and Kim Tyrrell who have lived in the area most of their lives and who know Annapolis inside and out – where to go for the best happy hour, where to get the best sushi, or where to hang out late night for the best music and club/lounge.

These two should definitely open their own resort or B&B at the very least. They are always stocked with a full bar and entertainment (music to movies and Digital TV). They’ll put you up in their guest room and make you kick ass meals whether its brunch or dinner. The salmon in capers and white wine lemon sauce with homemade garlic, cheese mashed potatoes was awesome. Yes, we loved every bit of it, even if we will be eating a lot of fish at sea. Kim stated just before dinner, “Damn, we should have prepared a land meal since you guys are going to eat nothing but fish.”

We had to take the next day off to recover and get the boat ready to move farther south. We had been watching the weather report, and knew that we probably weren’t going anywhere until Monday, so I was preparing for a couple days of quiet when Stephen sprung the best surprise on me right before bed….”Guess who’s coming tomorrow?” He covered up the name associated with the text that read, “I’ll bring the vodka and the bloodys.” Unfortunately, knowing our group of friends, that could be anybody. “I don’t know, but I can’t wait to find out…”

“Adriana!” So happy to see her again before leaving. She and her sister had taken her mom to Cairo – her dream vacation of a lifetime, and wasn’t able to participate in the Bon Voyage activities. While I knew that pirate parties don’t compare to Egypt and time well spent with Mom, I knew there was a chance I would not see her again until an unknown time and place far away from home.

We took Adriana and Will out for a Sunday sail in the bay, just by the Annapolis bridge which is always super busy with boat traffic, but not of the commercial kind like in the Baltimore harbor. The weather was perfect - warm and sunny with light winds. Just enough for us to do some sailing while still enjoying countless bloodys and mimosas. With each drink we got more confident, a little rowdier.

A man was single handing his sailboat in the bay and was having trouble starting his engine. Stephen kept calling out, asking him if needed a tow, but he declined each time, even more determined to start his engine. He certainly wasn’t going to accept help from the likes of us and I don’t really blame him.

Everytime we’re in Annapolis, we meet other cruisers. Last year it was Mike and Nicole, and this year we met Stanley (photo above), singlehanding his boat and John & Barbara of Mojo. Stanley, diagnosed with Baird’s disease a couple of years ago, quit his job immediately to pursue his dream of traveling to “50 places to see before you die.” Now in remission, he has seen all 50 places and plans to get to Cuba as he is hopeful it will be open to Americans by the end of the year.
John and Barbara reminded us of what a small world we live in, as they have also traveled to the San Blas Islands (Panama) and knew “JC” (Jean Charles), our captain aboard Thai Phou. “He helped coordinate our friends’ wedding,” John told us. John and Barbara have been sailing for about 30 years, losing one boat to a fire before Mojo. Like most cruisers we meet, they were very generous and helpful, exchanging information and giving us new things to consider… like getting a Wifi booster and spending time in Cartagena, Colombia – an island we hadn’t considered and among their most their favorite places.