Back at Solomons then on to Oxford - 38:41.43N, 76:10.10W

Phil & Nikki Hoskins
Sun 6 Sep 2009 21:33
How time flies - our last report was from St Mary's City but that already seems ages ago.
We spent 8 days back in Solomon's. We like it there as it's a good jumping-off point when you are trying to get north again, which we were. Unfortunately, with a low pressure area stalled off the eastern seaboard we had non-stop north easterly winds of some strength so didn't feel inclined to bash our way up the Chesapeake unnecessarily. Daily there was no change to the wind direction and finally a week after we arrived we reluctantly left on the forecast of lighter north-easterly winds, not before stocking up with amongst other goodies, some more outstanding corn on the cobs to barbecue which we have been enjoying from various supermarkets along the way. We were also fortunate to make some new friends that sailed all the way up from South Africa on their present cruise. We felt complete novices after hearing of their sailing adventures and could have spent much longer chatting about their exploits. Hopefully we will meet up again in the future as they gave us a nice send-off with their foghorn which was really sweet of them.
The trip back up the Chesapeake, despite the predictions proved to be a real bone shaker, with 15 knot winds added to our own 5 knots making a 20 knot wind and more importantly, nasty short seas that we crashed into for some hours. We were very glad to enter the Choptank River on the eastern side of the Chesapeake to get some respite from the conditions and eventually dropped anchor in Oxford, which is the oldest settlement on the east side of the Chesapeake. Originally inhabited by (no prizes for guessing) the Choptank Indians, Oxford became an important port for the import and export of goods in the later 1600s. In fact it became an official port of entry for the eastern Chesapeake.
Oxford is a delight, with small but long established boatyards tucked into tiny creeks, with plenty of space to accommodate visiting yachts, whether anchored or in visitor slips.
There were some beautiful sailing craft in Oxford                                                            The dinghy dock for visitors - Ajaya in the middle anchored off
We took the opportunity to walk ashore for a couple of hours, calling into the museum and then walking back to the waterfront on the Tred Avon River side of the peninsular that Oxford stands on. Being a holiday weekend the river was full of sailing and power boats enjoying the perfect Saturday weather. We paid a visit to the ferry terminal - the oldest ferry route that has been in continuous operation since the 1800s. The museum had pictures of some of the earlier craft carrying traffic across the Tred Avon, although the latest ferry doesn't look in the first flush of youth either.
The small ferry terminal with just a mile to cross to Bellevue                                           Incoming ferry
The pretty waterfront with $Million homes                                                                       One of the small marinas in the harbour at Oxford
 Having paused for an ice cream at the Scottish Highland Creamery (all hand made they say)
                                                                       So many flavours to choose from .....
we pulled up the anchor and joined the weekend crowds out on the river and headed for a peaceful bay just up river in Trippe Creek, a large anchorage that the pilot book suggested could take 100 anchored boats. If so then we would not like to be counted amongst that number.
On arrival there were about 12 boats already in residence so there was plenty of room left. The yacht that followed us in was flying many burgees, a warning sign that it was an organising boat for a gathering, maybe a yacht club or owners association get-together. Soon others followed, one by one rafting up to the lead boat about 150 yards ahead of us. The lead boat had put out their anchor with 150ft of chain we clearly heard them say and eventually there were 12 yachts of differing sizes all rafted up. We were then serenaded to a dreadful rendition of various sea shanties which gave the impression that they had been going heavy on the fall-down juice for some considerable time before arriving. Fortunately their repertoire soon expired along with the singers themselves perhaps and the general level of shouting across the raft eased off considerably as they set about soaking up the alcohol with some food.  One by one push-pit mounted barbecues erupted in flames like mini crematoriums to incinerate various steaks and burgers brought along for the occasion. The night proved to be super quiet after a picture book sunset, as the raft assembly had an early night. (Thankfully)
The next morning members of the 'raft' peeled away one by one heading for other locations. We also moved on towards the enchantingly sounding Baby Owl Cove some 12 miles to the west in Broad Creek just off the Choptank. This looked smaller with less chance of bumping into a large raft-up.