Eating an Elephant: Our First Days in Review

First off, I’m giving up on the no capital letters thing.  I started doing it to show the difference between my posts (Drena) and JR’s.  After a few months, I think it’s pretty clear who’s talking, yes?  So I’m back in the capital letters game.

As we approached our estimated date of departure, I started freaking out a little.  I can totally see how some people never leave the dock. There is always one more thing to do, and that can get really convenient.  I was nervous and scared, in fact, I still am, but I got some really good advice, advice I already knew and it went a little something like this: “How do you eat an elephant?  One bite at a time.”  Priceless advice.  And I knew this, man.  I’ve said it out loud, I just needed to hear it from someone else.  Anyway, thus the title of this post.  And without further ado, our first few days afloat…

Friday, November 1, 2013 – White Rocks Marina, Pasadena, MD

We were already late for our October goal, but I’m always late, so it was cool.  We did commit to being carless however, so we were stuck whether we liked it or not.  We set up a little dinner date with a few of our favorite people and said our goodbyes.  It was sad.  We passed some dock mates as we were headed back to the boat and they offered to buy us a drink.  My instinct was like, “Heck yes!” but we declined and went to bed.  It was a “sigh” kind of night…

Friday before departure :)

Friday before departure :)

Saturday, November 2nd – Pasadena, MD to the Magothy River

The E pier at White Rocks was poppin’ and all of our pier friends were either working or heading out for a sail.  I was glad we got to see and chat with everyone on such a beautiful day.  We had lots to do before we could cast off our lines and our friends (and previous owners of Journey) wanted to pay us one last visit and bring us some charts.  We were pretty much outta’ stuff to do when they arrived so we spent some quality time with them, going over charts and hearing stories of their travels.  When all was said and done, it was 3pm.  As I mentioned before, it is easy to say, “Let’s just go tomorrow.” and I’d be lying if I told you I didn’t suggest it, but JR is a determined soul.  We truly were indecisive about the whole thing, and on top of it, we needed a pump out before we went anywhere.  A “pump out,” for all of my non-boating friends, is where a big vacuum comes and sucks out all the stuff you so carefully pumped into your toilet.  Ew.  One of the more glamorous parts of living the dream.  Anyway, I wish our “tossing the dock lines” story didn’t involve a pump out as a catalyst, but it does.  Once we decided to head over to the Maryland Yacht Club for a vacuum suck (good idea, Ann), we were done.  It was weird, it just happened.  We went to get a pump out and Jake said, “Where to Swea’ Pea?”  And I said, “That way.”  The idea of heading back to the slip for one more night seemed silly.  We even thought about anchoring behind our marina just to be out of the slip, but once we headed toward the beautiful Patapsco River, I wasn’t turning back.  Looking forward, not back, right, Tammy?  Good lord lady, you are inside my head!

JR and our little slip, E 55, in the distance.

JR and our little slip, E 55, in the distance.

Our boat neighbors, Ed and Christine waving goodbye.

Our boat neighbors, Ed and Christine waving goodbye.

Our other boat neighbors, Bruce and Leslie, caught us leaving the creek.  Style points for the fenders, but we didn't know where to put them yet!

Our other boat neighbors, Bruce and Lesley, caught us leaving the creek. Style points for the fenders, but we didn’t know where to put them yet!

We didn’t have time to go far, in fact the closet anchorage in the proper direction wasn’t attainable until dark, but we went for it anyway.  Not ideal, but it was fine, we both were on auto-pilot.  So into the Magothy we sailed, I was steady crying the whole time, and we waived to Eddy, Alesia, Garret, Briana, and Aidan over in The Cape.  We anchored in the dark off of Dobbins Island looking right at the weird fake/real lighthouse house.  There was one other boat there with us.  We gawked at the houses on Gibson island, made chicken noodle soup for dinner, and crashed.  It was a long day.

Sunday, November 3rd – Magothy River to Little Choptank River

We left the Magothy bright and early headed for the West River just South of Annapolis.  The wind and seas were in our favor and we were making crazy good time (or, we don’t know how to estimate time yet :) so at about 10 am, we changed course (like, literally!) and decided to cross the bay and anchor in the Little Choptank River.  It was a great sail, downwind again, and we arrived by 3ish.  It took some time to motor into the creek, but it was good practice navigating, checking charts, and communicating.  I am in SUPER LOVE with our iPad.  The satellite GPS component is so spot on, user friendly, and cool.  We have been using iNavX on the iPad, our chart plotter with GPS, a paper chart book that we found floating in the bay a few years ago, and The Chesapeake Bay Magazine’s Cruising Guide, which is awesome.  I have also been playing with Active Captain, but only getting a taste of it, as it is not completely compatable with our Apple products.  Anybody have any advice on this one? I’m pretty sure I’ll love it, I just can’t get it’s full potential.

The beautiful Bay Bridge.  What a pretty day it was!

The beautiful Bay Bridge. What a pretty day it was!

Once we set anchor in the front yard of some beautiful mansion, we ate some yummy tuna thing, and crashed.  I did however, convince JR to sit outside with me for a bit to look at the stars.  He headed out first and when I joined him, I asked, “Are there any stars?” and he said, “Uh, yeah.”  When I looked up, I was overwhelmed and dizzy.  It was like someone set a giant, twinkly dome right on top of our little boat while we were having dinner.  I love stars and we don’t get ’em like that in PG County :)  We sat ’til our toes were frozen just listening to the dinghy slap against the waves and looking at the stars.  It was surreal and magical and whimsical and beautiful.

The crazy big mason we anchored in front of.

The crazy big mason we anchored in front of.

We crashed at like, 8pm ’cause we were so beat and it was dark!  But we both woke up around midnight because the wind had picked up.  I got the worries and couldn’t get back to sleep for a good while.  JR kicked on our sailing instruments to record the wind speed just for reference.  Once we got moving this morning we saw that the wind had made it up to 20 knots.  Um, really?  In my head they were hurricane force :)  Sounded way worse in the cabin but now I know what not-worrying winds sound like, right?

Monday, November 4 – Little Choptank River to Solomons Island, MD

Another early day and as I pulled up the anchor, JR pointed out a little turtle waving to us off of our starboard side.  He was delightful and reminded me of Testudo.  We had to motor on out and around these annoying little islands (sorry islands) before we could sail, but then had a comfortable sail into Solomons Island.  We were welcomed by some crazy helicopter/plane thing, fighter jets, a stealth bomber, and a blimp.  Solomons is near Naval Air Station Patuxent River so it has lots of cool stuff flying by all the time.  We putted around in a few of the creeks then saw moorings.  Admittedly, we both thought “easy” and went for it.  We were ready for showers and wi-fi and land.  Haven’t planned out the next few days but I think we will utilize the courtesy shuttle and hit up the grocery store.  We need hot chocolate and something else warm to drink.  Wishing I didn’t get rid of all of that Bailey’s we had at the house :)

These are the little islands we had to go around before we could sail.  Silly.

These are the little islands we had to go around before we could sail. Silly.

My very handsome captain.

My very handsome captain.

A crazy helicopter/plane thingie.

A crazy helicopter/plane thingie.

I don't know why, but blimps make us laugh!

I don’t know why, but blimps make us laugh!

And now we’re here, floating around in Back Creek with our fireplace lit and a napping cat in Jake’s lap.  We are feeling a little cold, but very accomplished and proud.  The morale on Journey is high.  We have been fortunate to have some great weather for our first few days and few snafus.  We know the whole trip won’t be this easy, so we are feeling really, really grateful right now.  Thanks for reading y’all.



  1. Did you see the constellation “The Seven Sisters”? It is the constellation I always see when I think of our Mom and I watch from my balcony here. It is always there, just when I need it and it brings comfort to me. It reminds me of Mom, our Grandmother, Aunt Judy and whomever else we have lost in life just playing in the heavens. Just as we would want them. So when you look up at the stars and you see them twinkle all together, think of Mom watching you. Believe and she will get you there safely. She hasn’t let me down with all the troubles I have had.

  2. I am so glad to hear you have had a great first few days. I love reading these posts and hearing your positive thinking! I am so proud of both of you and I can’t wait to see some more pictures.

  3. I have no doubt that I’ll be a crying, stressed mess when we leave…but I can’t wait for that time! Congrats on beginning your fabulous journey!! ;)

  4. We also would like to know what Leo thinks about his new lifestyle. Looking forward to a SPOT link. Every day brings something different. Keep taking the little steps and enjoy each passing mile!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s