Mon. Sept 15, 2014: Another power boater’s day; flat seas, little wind, and temperature in the mid-seventies. The fleet headed north to Indian Creek, a winding water way, just off of Fleets Bay. To save you the trouble of looking up Fleets Bay, know that it is located just north and west of the Rappahannock’s Windmill Point. We arrived around 15:00 and rafted up in 10ft of water. What a beautiful place! High banks on both sides topped with beautiful modern homes lining the creek. Boats are tied up at almost every dock. With clear water and abundant wild life, it does not get much nicer than this. After getting settled, Richard and Michelle Sanger, Pat and I climbed into a dinghy and explored the creek. Along the way we found a small marina right next to a corn processing plant. They offered the use of a car for transients who docked there to make the short drive into the nearby town of Kilmarnock but since we did not qualify, we decided to try and find a water based way into the town. We explored the creek until the water ran out but we had no luck. On the way back we stopped at a dock on a vacant lot and walked thru a field to the road. After a mile walk, we gave up, went back to the dinghy and returned to the raft. Good decision since it was 5:00 somewhere! Kilmarnock will just have to wait.
When we returned, John and Jo on Harmony, had joined the raft having just arrived after a long motor from Yorktown. Happy Hour ensued followed by grilling of meats by Richard on his boat and more than a few drinks, we all went to bed. Tomorrow would be an early day as Ben and Candy Wilson were leaving a 07:00 for home. We all wished them a safe trip home.
Tue, Sept. 16, 2014: The fleet, now consisting of Sangeria, Sailmar, Magic, Harmony, Quaich, Keystone, and Mary Jane, left the Indian River at 10:00 and made its way in calm seas and light winds to the Rappahannock River. We traveled under the 110ft high Norris bridge and past Carter Creek on our way to the small Virginia town of Urbanna, whose name, roughly translated from the local dialect, means City of Ann. The approach channel here is a little narrow with some shoaling but even at low tide everyone made it safely to their slips at the Urbanna Town Marina by 14:00. This marina is a county run facility and offers 15 slips right on the creek. The staff is friendly, they have nice clean heads, washers and dryers, picnic tables and the town is a 10 minute walk. After getting settled, most folks went for a quick walk to survey the town which, because it was Tuesday, was mostly closed. After a happy hour on the dock with two couples who keep their boats here, we retired to our boats to fix dinner and to get a good night’s sleep with a cool breeze blowing from the west.
Wed, Sept. 17, 2014: The Captains decided to stay in Urbanna for another day. The weather was sunny and cool and a walk back into town for lunch seemed in order. A number of cruisers including the Sangers, Bernharts, Kranzers, Bidnicks, and Westbrook Murphy, went to the Chesapeake Bay Oyster Co. for lunch. This is a unique casual restaurant open only from 11:00 to 14:00. But they are all about the local bi-valve. There you can have oysters just about any way you can think of as well as great hush puppies and other fresh seafood. They are also in the business of promoting local oyster farming and sell equipment and spat up and down the east coast. One of the sales persons spent 45 minutes explaining the oyster farming process as well as some of the politics surrounding the farming of oysters on the Chesapeake. All in all a very unique experience.
After lunch we strolled around the town which unlike yesterday was mostly open, we went to the ABC store (more rum for Wally’s grog was needed) the IGA grocery store for a few things and returned to our boats for a nap and to await happy hour. For dinner the group decided to go back into town to “Something Different” Restaurant recommended by Brenda Ripley. Their motto “meet, fire, good” just about says it all. We had some of the best smoked beef and pork I have ever had. They also sell super deserts and locally roasted coffee that is wonderful. If you are ever in Urbanna, and are not a vegetarian, I would highly recommend this local eating place. After dinner, back to the boats to enjoy the cool evening.
Thur. Sept. 18, 2014: Another beautiful day for the fleet to make the long and arduous journey to the Tides Inn located on Carter Creek about 8 miles from Urbanna. We arrived around noon and with the help of two friendly dock hands settled in quickly to enjoy the delights of probably the most luxurious boating destination on the Chesapeake Bay. We were joined here by Brenda and Ray, JJ and Juliana, and the John and Pam and Debra and Henry. After lunch, some of our crew went to the pool, others tried one of the new standup paddle boards (SUPs), some enjoyed the sit down paddle boat, and some toured the Inn. We all came back together at 17:30 for drinks on the dock. Today was Terry and Jeanie Bidnick’s anniversary so we celebrated with a song, toast, and a Tides Inn souvenir card. While they went off to dine in the lap of luxury, the rest of us had small plates around the fire pits on the patio and enjoyed the cool evening. Most were on their bunks by 22:30.
Fri. Sept 19, 2014: Today we bid farewell to Wally and Molly Stone and Westbrook Murphy who left today on Mary Jane for home. We wish them a safe journey. The weather over the last few days has been so boring. Blue skies, moderate temperatures, light winds and cool nights just don’t provide very much drama. Today was the same, and the crews took advantage of a great breakfast provided gratis by the Tides Inn to start the day. If you haven’t had the local delicacy of scrambled eggs, fried oysters, buttermilk biscuits and sausage gravy, you have missed a great southern tradition. After a suitable recovery period, most of the crews went to the local Steamboat museum. We enjoyed a private tour organized by Brenda Ripley. They have some wonderful steamboat models representing some of the more than 200 passenger and freight carrying boats that plied the bay from the 1870 to 1937. Shopping and lunch in nearby Irvington followed. Not too much going on here but it gave everyone a chance to work off a little of the huge breakfast. A few of us took bicycles provided by the Tides Inn and visited the Dog and Oyster winery not far away. The wine is expensive and not all that good but the trip was pleasant. Tonight everyone is going to dinner at the inn. The food is good but not at the same level as last year. The prices are higher and the wine is ridiculously priced. After dinner we gathered around a fire and sang a few songs and chatted. We all agreed that is was a very relaxed evening. Tomorrow we have a short trip to the Great Wicomico for our last raft up.