Heading South - well a few miles anyway 38:38.05N, 76:07.19W

Phil & Nikki Hoskins
Fri 23 Oct 2009 19:41
Last day in Back Creek - Annapolis 21/10/2009
We were in Annapolis for exactly one week. The cold bad weather was replaced by sunshine on Monday when we were due to collect the newly purchased Apex 9 inflatable - our 'transport' for getting to and from shoreside. The hour dawned to take the old dinghy ashore ready to change the outboard engine over to the newer dinghy which was to be delivered by the supplier whilst taking our old faithful Zodiac away to be 'disposed of '. The first obstacle to overcome was the outboard throwing a hissy fit and refusing to work - perhaps having made some secret pact with it's partner the Zodiac not to drive it anywhere in the direction of the dinghy knackers yard. An hour and a half later and the engine was made to run, albeit rather lumpy, and we headed off to Fourth Street dinghy dock to make the exchange. An hour later and we bade a sad farewell to the Zodiac, which was unceremoniously thrown onto the back of a pickup truck to be driven off into the distance. It did look rather sad for itself and despite all its many patches - and there were quite a few,  it had stayed up long enough for its final trip ashore. The new dinghy, although the same length has more internal volume, has a higher bow to brush aside the lumpy Caribbean waves which the Zodiac used to submarine through, soaking us every time. However, nothing is ever on a plate as far as cruising is concerned and it took a day of modification to the new dinghy transom and our onboard outboard bracket to get everything in harmony on the back of Ajaya. We were almost ready to go.
Skip checking all is well with the new dinghy  - note the fresh haircut received in the UK           .......off he jolly well goes.....it does look small!
Having not seen one Canadian boat all summer suddenly we were finally surrounded by them in Back Creek, Annapolis. They poured in like an invasion, all heading south like us and all seemingly knowing each other as they shout from boat to boat about their next days plans etc. Some were French Canadian, some English speaking. Arriving en-masse on Tuesday they, like us were gone Wednesday morning heading as fast as they could for the Bahamas and points beyond. They brought their blooming geese with them as well - the Chesapeake is now full of Canada Geese - flocks of the honking birds, both on the wing and nestling in creeks swimming up and down in confusion for no real apparent reason. In fact we are now making a study of these daft birds and are also on a quest to achieve that perfect picture - a flock of Canada Geese flying into the sunset. They are not terribly cooperative though and results to date have not been at all impressive despite both of us grabbing the camera whenever we hear the distinctive honking outside the boat. On the wing they are hysterical - changing formation every few seconds - sometimes in a V shape, other times in no formation at all. They don't seem to know where they are meant to be going and often fly round in circles. But they are great fun to watch and a real sign that winter is fast approaching in the Bay and that all sensible people (and geese) should head for warmer climes.
Early results for our 'Canada Geese on the wing' photo competition                                           not a formation the Dambusters would have been proud of.
Leaving Annapolis we decided to head back towards the Choptank River and spend the night in one of the many beautiful sheltered anchorages to be found there. Wednesday dawned sunny if a little chilly with not enough breeze to sail anywhere so we motored the 20 odd miles via Knapps Narrows into Dun Cove. As we headed out of Annapolis the Navy Cadets were playing with their small ships, practicing manoeuvring and sounding their various signals for turning left and right. It was about that time that we noticed the rig was full of wispy strands flying from every shroud and stay. Very odd. Then we started to see loads of spiders running around the deck, presumably having 'parachuted in' on these strands. Like the the arachnid version of Arnhem. So that's how they get about! One actually had the audacity to bite Nikki's finger, although she was about to throw it into the water so you couldn't blame it really. Clutching her finger she was heard to exclaim - I didn't know spiders could bite! (Skip murmered - 'Funnelwebs?' under his breath). We were finding these things all day, although most ended up taking a long swim back to Annapolis.
      Tranquil days                                                                                                                & autumn colours
Our night at Dun Cove was peaceful in beautiful surroundings and with a head wind facing us if we were to head further south towards Solomons Island we opted to actually sail further up the Choptank River towards Cambridge. It was the first time we had set any sail since our return from the UK and looked forward to a gentle 12 mile drift with the 8-10 knot forecast wind just forward of the beam. As the mainsail was raised Nikki who was standing on the aft deck supervising things was immediately showered with sleepy beetles that had decided the stowed mainsail was a brilliant choice for a winter home. Some were still clinging gamely to the mainsail as we set off up the Choptank for our next anchorage La Trappe Creek into which we arrived mid afternoon settling down to a fruit platter and cup of tea. And a sunset so beautiful. What more could you ask for in this cruising life. Well,more warmth perhaps?
Sunset shots - but no geese obliging (yet) !
As we write this missive - it's now pitch dark outside, 1915 hours .... and the geese are still honking. Could be a noisy night.