Up Annapolis St Michaels Smithfield Great Dismal Swamp Elizabeth City Manteo Ocracoke Beaufort,NC South Port Georgetown


(the last chapter)


Box after box, we unloaded the van and stacked them on the old wooden docks of Campbell’s Boat Yard where Knotty Dog is docked.  Nearby is the warehouse where she had waited patiently all summer for us to arrive.  Tom Campbell, who outfitted the boat from the Duffy hull, made sure things were ready for us.  The bottom was painted and the color changed from an acid turquoise to a pottery red with a crisp top white boot strap.  She sure looks better with that combination.  The engines were serviced and custom metal “Knotty Dog” step plates installed on each side of the teak rail caps.  The new name of “KNOTTY DOG, Friday Harbor, WA” was painted in gold letters on the stern of the boat though you can’t see it sadly because of the dinghy and a smaller “Knotty Dog” was installed on each side of the bow. 





Bit by bit we carefully unpacked the boxes that Zig and I hauled across country and carefully and thoughtfully placed the contents into the unfamiliar storage compartments.  Slowly she was emerging into our boat.  Ziggy was getting used to the boat too.   He doesn’t have as much command of the boat as he did on the Nordhavn because the “hop up to surfaces” are higher so he can’t easily get on to perches to see out.  Also the gangway is narrower and more open so he’s a little apprehensive about running around the side and up to the front of the boat underway or even at the dock.  That was his access before on the other boat to boss everyone around at the docks.  He also can’t figure out how to get on and off the boat on his own which is a good thing but I bet it won’t last for long.




Everyday we worked hard getting things done on the boat and at the end of the day rewarded ourselves with a drive or walk around the town of Oxford and eventually dropping in one of the nearby restaurants for dinner.  We were slowly and happily filling our stomachs with crab cakes and traditional Chesapeake faire. All of Campbell’s three boat yards are located in Oxford which I’d say is one of the most charming towns on the Chesapeake Bay.  Oxford and the surrounding areas are full of quaint coves all directly off the Tred Avon River.  The town is antique as most of the homes and boat yards date back to the 1700s.  Most of them are perfectly restored and those that aren’t are being or soon to be lovingly scraped and painted, rotten woods removed and replaced, postures up righted as it appears not one neglected structure is torn down but preserved.  Mature trees arbor the curb less small neighborhood streets and picket fences line the undulating brick paved side walks that have bulged and dipped as the roots of the mature trees stretched and grew over the years.  Bright painted doors and shutters adorn each house and plaques display dates and history to educate the interested observer.  I’m sorry to say that if this was Southern California where I came from, none of these buildings would be here.  They’d been long gone by now and replaced by some stucco monstrosity of shopping center.   

The town is quiet and off the beaten track.  Somehow the tourists are not too interested and maybe that’s a good thing as they seem to flock to nearby St. Michaels instead.  I think they have missed the charm of this little village anchored by an old quaint Inn and Tavern, previously the house Robert Morris a financier of the Revolutionary War.  Steps away is the nearby Tred Avon Ferry, the oldest running ferry in the country dating back to 1760 and some claim possibly to1683.  To this day you still can board the ferry to take the short cut to St. Michaels just across the river saving several miles of driving up and around the river inlets or sailing out in the “Bay” and around the long ragged fingers of land.  This area has a long history of famous boat builders and still to this day generations later, new generations of them are still here.  The charming coves are filled with classic boats, one after another, mixed in with the traditional rugged watermen’s working boats.  You just can’t soak in enough of the place.  If you need to do some shopping and the regular stuff required to outfit your boat you are not stranded as the bustling town of Easton has just about everything you need, including a new Target and is only about 8 miles away. 


Zig and I took lots of long walks along the country road by the marina.  It ran alongside the tide waters and marsh lands which were filled with wild life; squawking ducks, screeching cranes, honking Canadian geese flying overhead, sneaky scary but harmless snakes in the grass and water, practically tame deer munching on nearby neighbors flower gardens and cute ornery squirrels hopping from limb to limb with cheeks comically full of nuts hading for their winter storage hiding places and of course lots of bugs, yes bugs of all the annoying varieties: flies, no see ums, mosquitoes and whatever else you can imagine.  Yep, that’s the only down side but if the wind was blowing it was not an issue but then like one day as a cold front was approaching the flies would get in a panic and head for the safety of the boats and drive people crazy. 


Ever see cows and goats that look like Oreo cookies?  Well, here there are some in Easton.











The waters though murky and sometimes mucky are full of hidden mysterious creatures as evidenced by the swirling splashing water and strange water droplet rings.  It could be a fish swirling below, bugs dipping on the water or maybe a cormorant diving for fish.  This is a busy place.   One local guy said when the weather cools the fish head into the Chesapeake and fishing gets good.  They were starting to fill the bay.


Though this place is a bit of heaven on earth; quiet, peaceful and beautiful, we were definitely anxious to get going.  We wanted to get Knotty Dog out on the water and see how she performed.  We wanted to get started on our journey south. 

By the end of the week all the last bits were done and we said our goodbyes to all the friendly people we met at Campbell’s Boat Yard.  Larry started the engine for the first time and I struggled to get all the lines off the piers of the funny old docks.  I kind of forgot about these dang East Coast docks and posts as they are a challenge even for the experienced.  Wonder if they ever heard of cleats?  I’m sure there’s some really logical reason why they don’t have any.

Larry motored confidently out of the slip for our first but short jaunt over to the other Boat Yard to fill up the tanks with fuel.    Tom Campbell came out to wish us luck and good travels.  He said he always feels good when one of his boats is heading out doing what it’s supposed to do and being seen by other boaters.  Finally, the tanks were full and more goodbyes said.  We left the dock heading out the Tred Avon River pointing our bow towards Tilghman Island for the short cut through Knapps Narrows. 









It was a perfectly gorgeous fall day and the boat was running smoothly.  Our destination today was Annapolis. We decided to take a short cut up through Knapps Narrows to save 5 nautical miles.  Otherwise we’d have to make our way further south.  That direction would take us past the leaning tower of Sharps Light.  The light is all that is left to mark the shoals of an island that used to be.  Over the years the wind, waves and storms gradually eroded away the land mass leaving only the dangerous shallow waters.  Sharp Light is the last of a series of lights, others that didn’t survive this location.  I’ve read it’s a lonely circular stone light now leaning like a Tower of Pisa from the weight of ice storms and force of past storms.   Reading the history about it later made me want to take the longer route, the extra five miles, just to see this leaning lonely light but too late we were already committed to the light marking the shallow narrow dredged channel to Knapps Narrows.


Aah!  There’s the marker for the channel. 

“Larry did you read there was a draw bridge in the narrows?” 

“No, is there?”

I was quickly reading the cruising guide to get the specifics.  Okay, no big deal.  Call the bridge tender on Channel 13 and he will open it almost on command.  Okay, there’s the marker to the dredged channel.  There are the two green markers that we must keep on our right as this is the exit from the main channel.  On the other side it will be the same as we are entering the Bay (the Chesapeake Bay).  So, everything is reversed on the other side.  (Remember Green Right Returning, Green Right Returning I keep saying to myself). 

Suddenly we felt like we were dragging on mud.  Yep we were on the bottom!  We both look at each other in shock.  We’re still moving but at a slower pace. 

“We must be out of the channel!” Larry says.  I look at the next green marker and we’re headed straight for it but I turn around and look back and somehow we’ve not gone a straight line from green marker to green marker.  We’ve done a crescent shaped route.  We don’t know whether there is a current that pushed us over or whether we just weren’t paying attention.

“Go right!  Go right! We’re out of the channel!” I say.   Larry keeps her moving but moves here over to the right all the while plowing through the mud bottom and then in a moment we are free.  Whew! 


Forgot we were on the East Coast with shoaled areas and narrow marked channels.  No more deep waters like the Pacific Northwest where if you hit bottom there you’re in trouble as it’s not soft like mud but hard as rock.  At least the bottom here was soft and gushy. They say if you’ve never rubbed bottom in the Chesapeake then you’re not being adventurous enough.  I don’t remember rubbing bottom here in the Nordhavn so I guess we weren’t as adventurous then?

The whole experience didn’t do much to calm my nerves though.  It was a good wake up call for me.  We carefully went through Knapps Narrows and though I wanted to see more of the harbor I was too scared to sight see and was only interested in keeping my eye on where the deep part of the channel was.


 I did manage to get a glimpse of some old work boats and things that looked interesting but really I just wanted to get the heck out of there and through the last dredged channel on the other side and finally back into the deeper Chesapeake Bay.  Once we decided to pay attention we were fine.   Larry was calm as a clam though and that’s a good thing.


Soon we were out in the Chesapeake again.  There was a report of small craft warning and though we don’t have a wind gauge on this boat we knew the winds were supposed to pick up to 25 knots in the afternoon but I think they arrived earlier than expected.  The boat was handling well and cutting through the 2-4 foot waves.  I cringed at first when I saw a bigger than normal deep trough coming our way and gripped tightly whatever was nearby preparing for the big bang but there was no bang like the Nordhavn instead she cut through like butter.    The boat takes a lot of spray over the bow which is different for us and we ride lower but she’s steady and strong.  We both commented on how well she performed. 

We had head seas the whole way and it should have been a rough ride in other boats but she was a work horse doing her intended job.  This little boat is impressive.  


In a couple hours we were making our way into Annapolis’ outer harbor.  It’s a beautiful sight coming into Annapolis seeing the architectural landmarks of the old town, such as the copper domes and pointed white spires and in the foreground thousands of masts in the harbor.  We are in the minority for sure as this is sailboat country.  We weaved our way around crab pot markers and sail boats moored out and finally entered Ego Alley.  We’ve been here before on the Nordhavn so knew before hand where we were going.  This time we reserved a space beside Fawcett’s Marina thinking it would be quieter and away from the walking spectators that could easily peer into this little boat which doesn’t provide as much privacy as the Nordhavn did.


We headed in the narrow channel, down to the end in the center of town, turned around and found our spot midway against the wall to tie up for a few days.  Larry seems to manage the boat surprisingly well for his first time out on her.  I’m impressed.  I on the other hand am struggling with the lines and these dang poles.  Luckily the staff at Fawcetts is there to take your lines and get you settled. Ah, it’s great to be back in Annapolis.  We love this town.














Sept. 18,2008

It’s hotter than blazes here and with that goes along with the 90% humidity.  Sticky, sticky, sticky.  Thank goodness this boat has a good air-conditioning system.  

What a fun town Annapolis is.  This place is always hopping; at least each time we’ve ever been here it has been.  We walked and walked and walked to see all the little stores and sights again.  After being on San Juan Island for so many months we drank up the sights and reveled in all the stores and things to do.  This town always seems to be hustling and bustling and the shopping is so fine. 



Up and down every street the three of us went. 

The town was especially exciting this week because it was Alumni Week at Annapolis and “Navy” was the big theme all over town.  Everybody had something on that said "Go Navy", whether it was a jacket, t-shirt or hat and boaters even hung “Go Navy” flags and signs on their boats.  There was no excuse not to get the message that there was a big Alumni celebration and football game this upcoming weekend.  And I heard whispers amongst the staff at the Academy that McCain could possibly show up to see his old classmates. 


     (Jackie, Bailey & Sebastian this is one of my favorite places)

It was an exciting time to be here but honestly this town always seems like an exciting place to be. 




This trip I was finally able take a tour of the Academy and it was worth it.  Last time we were here I hurt my ankle and couldn’t walk and since the tour is an hour and a half and about a mile and a half walking tour there was no way I could’ve done it.  This time there was no way I was going to miss it.  Larry said he’d stay on the boat with Ziggy.  That was no sacrifice since there's lots of people watching off that boat in Ego Alley so I didn’t feel too guilty leaving them.

My small group was filled with returning Alumni from varying years and they added some great inside stories to the tour that you normally wouldn’t hear.  The Academy is a very impressive place, with lots of history and lots of impressive graduates.  You come away with the feeling that this is a great country and you are proud we have a place like this.  


Our first stop on the tour was the huge indoor pool and wrestling stadium.  I was shocked to see the cadets, men and women swimming in full gear up and down the lap lanes.  So far on the clock they had been swimming for 20 solid minutes like that!  It’s a requirement for all graduates to be able to swim in uniform for at least a ½ mile and at least 45 minutes to graduate.  The reasoning is that you must be able to swim ashore or for a good period of time if you are required to (yikes!) abandon ship! 


I was also surprised to learn that about 20% of all cadets are women!  And a small but significant percentage of students are foreign students but don’t worry they have to pay tuition unlike the kids from the US who enroll free but are required to serve 5 years in the service afterwards as payback.  If any of the students desire to go to continue their education after graduating, the Academy will send them for free to any school of their choice in the world!  Quite a nice thing.


Another surprise on the tour was to see the memorial to John Paul Jones. You know, the guy who said “I have yet not begun to fight!”  and who is known as the “Father of our American Navy?” Apparently he died a pauper in France and was buried in a lead coffin in an unmarked grave in a covered over cemetery and was lost and perhaps forgotten for over 100 years.  It wasn’t until the US Ambassador France identified his body after a lengthy six year search backed by the diligence and a good deal of money donated by a very wealthy graduate of the academy. 


Guess they did a good job pickling him in straw and alcohol in this lead coffin because when they opened the unmarked coffin he was in such good condition that they were able to identify him to the famous bust done by the French artist Jean Antoine Houdon

So, to make a long and strange story short, his body was ceremoniously removed and brought back to the United States in 1906 aboard the USS Brooklyn and three other cruisers and when they approached the US waters they were joined by seven other Naval battleships.  He was finally re-interred with great distinction in a mighty fine and elaborate marble and bronze sarcophagus and laid to final rest in the basement of the Naval Academy Chapel in Annapolis where parades of people like me give homage.  Who would’ve thunk!








The tour ended at the main yard in front of Bancroft Hall which I think they said is the largest dorm in the world.  All 4000 plus cadets gather here each day in formation for the ceremony of marching in together for meals in the gigantic mess hall.  They all sit and are served in unison and must finish their meal in 25 minutes and again leave the hall in unison at the designated time.  This calls for a well organized and disciplined kitchen and service staff to accomplish that kind of feat I would think. 







It was a great visit but we needed to move on.  What we thought was a quiet docking spot turned out to be very noisy towards Friday night and the start of the big weekend as it was right across from the main water taxi pick up and drop off drop point.  Its non stop noise of grinding out board motors and loud celebrating people coming and going was beginning to keep us up. 


So, after two nights we untied our lines and took off.  Last time we were here in the Nordhavn some prankster untied our lines in the middle of the night.  Thank goodness there wasn’t much tide, current wind in Ego Alley that night so we woke up to the boat only having drifted about 3 feet off the dock and into the channel. 





We meandered our way back out of the mooring field again and I’ve got to say I’ve never seen so many sailboats under sail weaving through a crowded field of moored boats.  They are good but can anybody be that good?  Guess so because they did it.







Today we headed for St. Michaels with the hopes of seeing our good friends Bonnie and Bill Wilson. 





It was a gorgeous day out on the Chesapeake and the Bay was filled with sailboats taking advantage of the wind and good temperatures. 



We were lucky to see a fleet of Naval Academy Boats out racing with their blue and yellow spinnakers up bloating their bellies full of wind.  It was quite a sight to see….all those colorful billowing spinnakers!!!

They are the Luder Navy 44's that our nephew sailed last year for the U.S. Sailing Offshore Championships!  It was a magnificent day to be out.




It seemed like such a short trip across the bay today and into St. Michael’s snug harbor. Maybe it was because there were so many boats out and lots to look at.   St. Michael’s also is a picturesque place to sail or motor into depending on your mode of travel because to starboard as you enter is their Maritime Museum and their famous landmark lighthouse!  Just behind the museum as you enter the inner harbor are several famous crab restaurants.  The harbor has plenty of interesting old boats too docked at the museum’s bulk head so if you have a good imagination you can kind of put yourself back in time a bit. 

We squeezed into a really tiny assigned slip in the back corner of St. Michael’s Marina.  I was amazed at the great job Larry did getting her back there and being so new to handling the boat too.  Luckily for me the dock hand just took charge of the lines. That’s the difference between the Pacific Northwest and here, you have dock hands to do the work for you.  Whew! 

It was a busy weekend and the place was packed but the Marina managed to find a place for us so we totally lucked out.  Wow, there are a lot of people here.  What happened to the traditional end of the season?  This place was hopping too.


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