Chesapeake Country

The weather continues to be unseasonably cold, but at last we see the sun.   All the better to see some of the aftermath of the recent days’ torrential downpours.  Especially along the Albermarle-Chesapeake Canal (aka Virginia Cut), running through portions of North Carolina and Virginia, where low-lying land has been inundated in places.

003 - Flooding from recent downpours

This low-lying house is one of many which has seen very high water in recent days.

Like stretches of the ICW further south, particularly South Carolina along the Waccamaw River, there are sparsely populated spots which have an almost primordial feel – tannic water, cypress swamps, and dense growths of trees – minus the Spanish moss.

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Through the Albemarle-Chesapeake Canal.

But it doesn’t take long to be reminded that not far behind those clumps of trees lurks civilization of the most aggressive sort.

As we approached the Great Bridge, we were overflown dozens and dozens of times by fighter jets, which appeared to be landing somewhere northwest of us.  The day before we’d merely heard their sonic booms; on Friday (May 2), we saw them – up close and personal at times.

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Your tax dollars at work.

We transited through the Great Bridge Lock, the only lock on our route.  With a mere 2-foot drop, and not much boat traffic, it was anti-climactic.  But perhaps good training for the continuation of our journey in a few days, when we hit the canals of France.

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In the Great Bridge Lock, where I pasted one of our boat stickers.  Power boaters seem to have a virtual monopoly on stickers, so I’ve decided to strike one for us sailors.

By late afternoon, nearing Mile 0 on the ICW, we were definitely NOT in the country anymore.  We were now in the Elizabeth River, smack in the heart of the military-industrial complex that is Norfolk/Portsmouth/Hampton Roads.  Listening to the radio, we caught the conversations of warships, including #58 on which our niece Rachel is posted (Rick refrained from calling her on VHF 16 – an excellent decision!)  And we were surrounded by military ships, wharves, cranes, barges, tugs and container ships.

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It’s hard to demonstrate how BIG this stuff is!

While not especially pretty, there is a certain majesty to the colossal structures that make up one of the largest and most strategically important ports in the United States.

Fortunately, our stay in the middle of this bustling port was limited.  After an overnight stop at Tidewater Yacht Marina in Portsmouth – where we had drinks and dinner with the men of Lifesong, and picked up crew (TJ of Samba!), we officially entered Chesapeake Bay and returned to more bucolic settings.

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A view of pretty and protected Mill Creek in Virginia.

Our first night in the Bay was spent in Mill Creek (off the Great Wicomico River) at the dock of our friends Vickie and Len (Phase II), who graciously entertained us by hosting an early Cinco de Mayo party.

On Saturday, another long run – under sail — to the charming Maryland town of Solomons Island.

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The bridge over the Patuxent River in Solomons; and a lighthouse-inspired riverfront house.


And here, a real (but decomissioned) lighthouse, in classic Maryland form, at the Calvert Marine Museum.

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Fire hydrants in Solomons.  As you can see from 2 out of 3, we Marylanders have a real affection for our state flag.

Located on the Patuxent River, Solomons is so pleasantly laid-back that you almost forget that just across the river is the Patuxent River Naval Air Station.


Lest we forget where we are….

Now that we have reached the Chesapeake, and are within range of our home port, we are slowing down a bit.


Cove Point Lighthouse — it has a New England look to it.

On the one hand, we’re ready for some comforts of home; on the other, we’re not quite ready for our odyssey to end.   We’ll spend a little more time in the Bay and on board.  But we have assorted commitments and, in a few days, will be heading to France, so the end of this leg of our journey is in sight.

Stay tuned for the next phase of our adventure.



3 thoughts on “Chesapeake Country

  1. Godwin Jones

    Those jets off Va Cut are doing touch and go at an airstrip shaped like a carrier deck. The sounds of freedom. Glad you had a great trip. Has been 12 years since ours!

    Godwin. Bojangles S-34

  2. ericepstein

    We lived following your adventures this past winter. Love your writing style. Our blog, with our France adventure last year is at Hope France is just as great. All the best, Eric and Bonnie Epstein (a/v Desert Star)

    1. evarickhill Post author

      Thanks for the link. Your trip is very similar to the one we’ll be taking. 2 days in Carcassonne, and then a trip from Homps to Port Cassafieres. Loved seeing your pictures!


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