Blue Turtle Cruising

Northbound on Chesapeake Bay: Hampton, VA to Annapolis, MD

The day we left Hampton, VA, it was a cloudy day with lumpy following seas on the Chesapeake. We cruised 54 miles to Hughlett Point, a small peninsula on the shores of Virginia’s Chesapeake Bay, where we anchored for the night. The next morning, the seas were no better and we had 20 knot winds on the bow. After dipping the anchor and bow pulpit a couple times and taking a couple waves into the cockpit, we decided to cut our trip short. We had planned to head to Solomons Island, but decided to get out of the weather a little sooner and discovered an anchorage in Cornfield Harbor right next to Point Lookout State Park. Since it was still early when we dropped our anchor, we decided to ding into shore to explore.

Point Lookout State Park is located on a peninsula at the tip of St. Mary’s County, MD, where the Chesapeake Bay and Potomac River meet. The Point Lookout lighthouse which sits at the tip of the peninsula, is considered the oldest of its type in the United States. Built in 1830, it was built to warn ships of the shoals and to mark the entrance to the Potomac River. It is known for its association with ghost stories and has been the subject of paranormal investigations. Unfortunately, the lighthouse was closed when we visited so we didn’t get to go inside.

We enjoyed walking around the park, stretching our legs while exploring and reading various signs and plaques that explained the history that this area played in the Civil War.

During the Civil War, Point Lookout was first a hospital for wounded Union soldiers and then a prison camp for captured Confederate soldiers. The hospital staff is known to have assisted with the escape of several Maryland slaves while U.S. colored troops served as guards at the prison camp. Outside of Point Lookout stood a “contraband camp” where runaway slaves who crossed the Potomac River from Virginia, took refuge under the protection of federal authorities.

The anchorage at Point Lookout was calm at first, but then got a little rolly as the night went on. The next morning, we left early knowing we had a long day ahead of us to get to Annapolis. The day started out very similar to the day before with high winds on the nose. Thankfully, we only had to endure it for a couple of hours before it calmed down. We made it to Annapolis around 6pm and decided to drop anchor right outside the main mooring field. We’d noticed the day before that the boat was not responding to putting it into reverse when we were anchoring at Point Lookout. As we were anchoring, Randy had me put it into reverse and again we noticed the boat not responding. Randy had a hunch it was the transmission, but since it was so late in the day we decided to look into it further the next morning.

The next morning, Randy checked a few things in the engine room and couldn’t fix the issue. Since we had no reverse, we knew we didn’t want to try navigating the bridge to go further into Spa Creek to anchor. We decided to grab an available mooring ball in the Front Forty. Once we got settled onto our ball, Randy got to work trying to further diagnose the issue. After trying several things, he determined that it was a transmission issue and that it would need to be rebuilt. Randy thought he would be able to rebuild the transmission himself, but he couldn’t get to it in order to get it out. We needed a boat yard with the right equipment to either pull the generator or the main engine out. We both started looking for yards that we could get into with no luck. It took a few days to even get the boat yards to call us back and most were 2-4 weeks out on availability. The only yard large enough to accommodate us in Annapolis, Bert Jabins Yacht Yard, was able to get us a slip in 2 weeks.

We ended up spending a little over 2 weeks on the mooring ball. During that time, we got into a routine of going for runs on the Naval Academy grounds, doing the usual provisioning and laundry and exploring the town. We visited our usual favorite spots like Davis Pub and Forward Brewery, took a dinghy ride and cruised Ego Alley and even checked out Pride Festival for a bit. Also while in Annapolis, we got to catch up with friends, Greg and Lisa, whom we met at Salty Sams on Fort Myers Beach. They were in town while doing The Great Loop on their North Pacific trawler.

During our time in the mooring field, the town was alive with celebrations for the 2023 graduating class at the Naval Academy. The Blue Angels were in town for commissioning week and we were lucky enough to watch the Blue Angels airshow from our boat as they flew right over the mooring field and Severn River. This was such a cool experience to be able to see the show from our home.

Even though we would go for runs every other day or so on the Naval Academy grounds, we decided one morning to spend a bit of time really exploring the campus. We found out that we could bring Sophie with us (as long as we didn’t walk her on the ceremonial grounds). We loaded her and our lunch into the stroller and took our time walking throughout the campus. There are a few buildings that are open to the public that you can go inside and check out. We took Sophie and the stroller into Le Jeune Hall since there weren’t many people there. This building was amazing! It houses the Athletic Hall of Fame for the Navy as well as an Olympic-size pool and wresting arena. We took turns going inside the other buildings like Bancroft Hall, the largest dormitory in the U.S., and the Naval Academy museum. We had a great time exploring and love that the academy is so accessible. The entrance gate is literally a few steps from the dinghy dock.

After about 18 days in the mooring field, it was finally time to move the boat to Bert Jabins Yacht Yard to get the transmission pulled and rebuilt. More on that soon!

Hampton, VA to Hughlett Point = 54 nm
Hughlett Point to Point Lookout State Park = 26 nm
Point Lookout State Park to Annapolis = 62 nm

TOTAL miles to date: = 3,498 nm

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