Heading North: Hurricane Arthur to “Home”

When we left the Dismal Swamp after Hurricane Arthur, we headed straight to Norfolk, VA to catch their postponed fireworks display. Most of the cities in that neck of the woods re-scheduled their fireworks because of the weather conditions and it surely worked out for us! We enjoyed the music of a live concert and an impressive fireworks display from the comfort of our own cockpit. It was a festive night, and well-deserved after our little hurricane panic.

The beautifully calm Dismal Swamp Canal.

The beautifully calm Dismal Swamp Canal.

Norfolk skyline.

Norfolk skyline.

This would be me dancing on the deck to a Bruno Mars cover.  Good times :)

This would be me dancing (and singing) on the deck to a Bruno Mars cover. Good times :)

Great fireworks show, Norfolk!

Great fireworks show, Norfolk!

Our last official stop as real, live cruisers was Solomons Island, MD. It was really heavy to cruise in and grab the same mooring ball at Zahniser’s Yachting Center as we did about 8 months ago. We knew this was it, so we stayed for a couple of nights. The amount of reflecting, and sighing, and thinking we did in Solomons was pretty incredible. How on earth did we pull this off? Why are we so lucky to have had this experience? How are we going to go back? But we took our time in Solomons and biked around, as cruisers do, and met up with other cruisers. Our marina even had a pool, so we lounged around there for a while as well. It was a much different atmosphere than back in Novemeber, and instead of being homesick and terrified (me), we were grateful and a bit melancholy knowing this chapter in our story was drawing to an end.

You know you're getting close when you see this guy.  Can you name it!?

You know you’re getting close when you see this guy. Can you name it!?

Journey at sunset.

Journey at sunset.

JR chillin' in the pool.

JR chillin’ in the pool.

Being that it was summer on the Chesapeake, we knew we’d be dodging thunderstorms, and as much as we wanted to stay moored in sweet Solomons, we knew we had to head to Annapolis and find a resting place for Journey. With the threat of thunderstorms in the air (and on our weather apps), we dropped our mooring pennant and headed “home.” I’ve been wrestling with the word “home” recently, but more on that another time. We made it to Annapolis after a nice sail, with only a drizzle, and searched for a spacious place to drop the hook while we investigated marinas. Unfortunately, both Back Creek and Spa Creek were a bit crowded for our liking, so we picked up yet another mooring on the inside of Spa Creek Bridge. FYI sailor friends, if your boat is 35 ft. and under, the west side of the bridge is 10 bucks cheaper than the east side :) My BFF, Flavia, is an Annapolitan and happily came to greet us as we held up traffic and went under our final bridge of the trip. She got some fun shots of our beautiful Journey in her festive attire. I remember the day we bought Journey, I was nervous to call the Spa Creek Bridge tender to request an opening. My how things have changed :)

Sails up!

Sails up!

This view, I will miss <3

This view, I will miss <3

Flags up!

Flags up!

Journey heading home...

Journey heading home…

The welcoming committee.

The welcoming committee.

Spa Creek is such a poppin’ little place, we had baby sailors of all ages practicing their points of sail all around us, paddleboarders, kayakers, and even a front row seat to paddleboard yoga a few mornings in a row. JR was not disappointed with that view ;) Annapolis is a GREAT place to visit by boat. Now that we’ve been to a few little boat towns, we realize just how great Annapolis is to cruisers. Every street that ends at a creek has a dinghy dock, which makes exploring really interesting and never-ending. Showers are included in your mooring fee and the dinghy dock downtown puts you right in the middle of everything (like ice cream). I can’t tell ya how many hours I’ve driven around that town looking for parking, but as cruisers, we dinghied right on up to the most popular spots! Pretty. Dang. Cool.

Baby sailors, gettin' their practice on!

Baby sailors, gettin’ their practice on!

In her Sunday best :)

In her Sunday best :)

Lucky for us, our contact at a small marina in Eastport panned out and we took Journey to her resting spot, at least until she gets hauled out in November. It’s a great little location, super-protected and snug in a lovely little community. We have great boat neighbors and can walk to lots of cool stuff downtown. It was (and is) a perfect transition spot for us.

Dock lines tied, y'all.

Dock lines tied, y’all.

Leo enjoying some night-time outside time.  Yup, that's a leash!

Leo enjoying some nighttime outside time. Yup, that’s a leash!

Unfortunately, along with snug protection and many, many dock lines comes lack of wind and rising temperatures! We noticed on the first day that living aboard at a dock is VERY different than living at anchor. I knew pretty quickly that living in a slip was not for me. We suffered through for about a week. JR even bought a little window AC unit and installed it neatly in the companionway. But Journey is not cut out for all that fuss. Yup, the cabin was cool and cozy, but then we were locked in our small space necessitating a gymnastics routine just to get in and out. Life on Journey became complicated. So we moved out.

We’ve been back to visit her a bunch of times and cleaned her up nice, ridding her deck of the jerry cans, our spare anchor, and that silly AC unit. She has transformed back into a little Chesapeake Bay sailor and that’s what she’ll be until we cruise again. We left her fully functional however, so all we need to grab from our house are some clothes, and we can be off for a nice long weekend! A nice long weekend with 0% chance of thunderstorms and mid to high 70 degree temps that is ;) Thanks for reading.


  1. Dear JR and Drena,

    Well, I have been reading the Sailing Journey blog for so long (at least it seems that way) that I suppose it didn’t occur to me that it would eventually end. I sort of assumed that you two would keep sailing forever, if only to keep the blog rolling and people like me entertained.

    My wife and I keep our boat on the Rideau Lakes in Ontario. These lakes are part of the Great Loop and we sometimes meet trawlers passing through who have come north through the Dismal Swamp route because they are somewhat loyal to Elizabeth City.

    Congratulations on completing the round trip. All my best wishes for what must now seem to be a new lifestyle. It’s been such fun following along.

    Drena, your writing style is excellent and my advice is to blend the blog into an e-book targeting first time cruisers heading south to the Bahamas. Just sayin’

    All the best, take care

    Rick Dow
    Smiths Falls, ON

    1. Thank you, Rick! You have been one of our biggest, kindest fans this whole time! We’re trying not to see it as “over” just a small chapter in a larger, cruising book coming to and end. We will keep the blog going, albeit not as interesting, but with some practical stuff, reflections, updates, and hopefully some Chesapeake Bay sailing stories. I hope you keep reading! Thank you for your kind words. I have never thought of myself as a writer at all, in fact I failed English 101 in college twice! How ’bout them apples?! But I’m quite sure the blog was helpful for me in terms of processing this crazy, wonderful adventure we’ve been on. I’m really glad you enjoyed it and it’s really quite neat to think that a “stranger” has gotten a little something out of it. Following a blog from beginning to end, as they say, is really something special. You don’t always catch it at the right time and I’m glad you caught ours. We met so many wonderful people from Canada and have heard how beautiful it is up there. Perhaps if we visit, we’ll look you up :) Thank you again for your commitment to our journey and thanks so much for your kind words. Take care!

  2. Dear JR and Drena-

    Just stumbled across your blog and recognized the boat from our time in Georgetown last winter. Great pic of Steve and Marja ! They were doing a West Coast land tour in July but should be back East by know. Didn’t realize you are in ANP. Patriot is on the South River behind a friend’s house on Melvin Rd (Off Spa Rd) until Thanksgiving, thence south to FLL by Christmas. Ragged Islands and beyond after the New Year.

    All the best,

    John and Christine Lubimir
    S/V Patriot
    (Apogee 58)

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