Into the Potomac 38:15.90N, 76:50.77W
Phil & Nikki Hoskins
Wed 12 Aug 2009 19:26
We are now some 30 miles up the Potomac River at Cobb Island which is on the Maryland side and just at the junction with the Wicomico, one of the larger rivers that flow into the Potomac and then onwards into the Chesapeake.
We have spent much of the last two days fly swatting. In fact yesterday was so bad in the cockpit that once anchored we strategically withdrew below to avoid any further painful bites and discuss a plan of action.
They seemed to all be in a mating frenzy and to qualify for their moment of courtship they needed to have taken a large bite out of a human limb. We set about making a flyscreen for the main entrance from the screen material purchased some weeks back. In the meantime we had to close the main doors to keep the dam things out, which meant we almost expired through heat exhaustion whilst making the screen using a popper machine which our cover makers had kindly included with our repair kit. It took an hour and a half to attach 8 poppers and quite naturally in the considerable heat of the cabin frustrations were expended, although it's still a minor miracle that I didn't clobber Nikki's fingers with the hammer to attach the two parts of the female popper assembly together. The screen worked instantly and only the odd fly sneaked past when we were entering or leaving the saloon - a quick spray and they were soon taken care of. We then set about clearing up the carnage in the cockpit as both swats were almost red hot from our efforts.
Last night we anchored in a tiny picturesque backwater called Smith Creek where seeing there were virtually no jellyfish around the boat Skip jumped in to try and clear the log which tells us our speed through the water. It had become fouled some days earlier. Nikki suspected it was a convenient way of escaping fly swat duties which I of course I would have denied. The water visibility was barely a foot, so groping my way around and under the hull I did the best I could with the log and then cleared as much of the general fouling away from the port hull. The water in the creek was 'fresh' as we were now in a river. To be honest I could have been surrounded by jellyfish and I wouldn't have seem them - maybe that's not such a bad thing.
Most of the flies had vanished when I emerged but we now had a rapidly approaching thunderstorm to contend with. The forecast warned of a line of storms ahead of a cold front hitting many parts of the Chesapeake, so our intended barbecue now looked optimistic as the sky above us became blacker by the minute. Then, almost as quickly as it had arrived it dissipated, and the VHF forecast issued a bulletin confirming the storms had weakened, so we had our barbecue after all. Fresh corn on the cob with meat-free turkey flavoured sausages to follow. We then retired early as the mosquitoes arrived in numbers at sundown, no doubt passing the last surviving flies as they in turn departed the boat.
Another early start this morning stole a march on the flies but they caught us up by 1000 am and once more we were inflicting heavy casualties. But like the Zulus at Rorke's Drift they just kept on coming in numbers too many to deal with. Then Nikki remembered that we had some flypapers onboard. (Why do they always remind me of cheap Chinese takeaways). It was duly hung in the cockpit away from the helm seat in the hope that it would cause mayhem with the fly population, therefore putting the flyswats out of a job. However, after an hour we had just 2 flies firmly attached by their legs. We were in danger of joining them as we continued our frantic swatting. After 4 hours we now have 10 'sticky' visitors so its beginning to work.
Back to our travels - Cobbs Island is so named because a certain Captain James Neale who owned the land brought back pillaged Spanish bullion from the Caribbean where it was melted down into gold cobs for colonial use. Folklore has it that there is still buried treasure in the locality. Also Cobbs is notable in relatively more recent times, Dec 1900 to be more precise when a team of scientists led by Reginald Fessenden accomplished the first voice transmission between two masts - the famous message being "Is it snowing where you are?" the reply being "Yes" an obvious answer as the two points were only a short distance apart. At least by the time Neil Armstrong got to the moon they were coming up with something a little more original in their voice transmissions!