Before leaving Annapolis on our next leg south, we had to contend with the folly of using two anchors. I had believed that our second anchor, which is very good in soft mud, was doing a great job, but on trying to lift it I discovered that the boat had swung around so many times the anchor was hopelessly twisted up both in its own chain and that of the main anchor. After some time trying to disentangle ourselves, a nearby boater who was waiting to use our space came over and helped free us, thankfully saving us from having to re-launch the dingy. The lesson seems to be that our main anchor is much better than we thought – even in the softest, gloopiest mud. I finished up spotted black all over.
The forecast was for southerly winds (ie right on the nose) and they turned out to be much stronger than expected – in fact as strong as we’ve had anywhere in the US (34kts). With the narrow channels of the Chesapeake and the steep waves caused by the current & wind being opposed, we ended up motoring for ¾ of the trip, with the engine being given quite a work out at times. We had a few moments of extreme shallows yet again but were finally able to sail the last 1½ hrs into the little village of Oxford, reefed hard in the gusty winds. We wanted to come here as we had some credit with the company that has recently bought this old run-down marina and yard. With two nights free and 50% off thereafter, we decided to sit out a couple of days of strong southerlies and another two days of calm, waiting for the next sailable window this weekend to head south again.
Oxford marina and waterfront:
Oxford is yet another town dedicated now to boating. Like Annapolis, every inch of waterfront has it own marina, dock or boatyard and there are several boat builders here. It is on a promontory between the river and the town’s own creek, so there is plenty of water frontage and it’s looking rather pretty as the fall colours start filling in:-
Otherwise it is a sleepy little town and excitement comes in the form of an annual picket fence competition, which says it all! Cambridge isn’t very far away and we had thought we might cycle over there but a recce on our bikes convinced us that the 17 miles would seem very long and tedious on the straight, featureless roads around here. It’s a flat, rural landscape that did remind us a bit of the fens, except with trees.
We will leave here tomorrow and move on down the Chesapeake. This is 200 miles long and only averages only 6m depth and it has creeks and inlets everywhere. Many of them are too shallow for us or have low bridges to pass under, so we have to choose our anchoring spots quite carefully. We have been plagued by hundreds of tiny flies here which have filled the boat and specially love a glass of wine. We are hoping we won’t encounter them everywhere we go now.