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Date: 29 Sep 2010 02:40:00
Title: Moored in Annapolis

38:57.557N 76:28.470W Tuesday night

Well, that's phase 1 completed. We're safely moored up in a marina in Annapolis, Maryland and we don't have to go anywhere else for a month or more. Saxon Blue can have a nice rest, as can her crew.

We left the nuclear anchorage at first light and headed up the bay for a few miles before entering the Eastern entrance of the Chesapeake and Delaware Canal. The canal itself is big enough for ocean-going ships to use and it's about 150 meters wide. The bridges all have about 50 meters clearance underneath apart from one lifting rail bridge which is usually open. The canal seems to go through some fairly remote areas and there are trees all along it. As we came to some power lines, we spotted huge birds circling around one of the pylons. Others were just sitting on the metalwork, about 12 birds in all. I'm not sure if they were eagles, buzzards or vultures but it was impressive to watch them soaring around.

A little while later, we had a great view of a Bald Eagle coming down to pick something out of the water ahead of us. Further along, there were houses by the sides of the canal and even more of the buzzard/vultures soaring around. After about 15 miles, the canal changes into an artificially deepened but natural channel and it was beautiful for a few miles before the channel got wider and we lost our close-up view of the land. From then on, we were following a narrow dredged channel sometimes miles from the nearest land but with shoal water all around.

There was very little traffic apart from two massive dredging operations with cranes mounted on barges taking silt out of the channel one bucketful at a time. It didn't look very efficient but they were keeping a stream of barges occupied carrying the spoil out to sea. As we headed into the Chesapeake Bay, the wind picked up on the nose and we ended up motoring into quite a nasty chop - just like a day in the Solent. Ahead of us, we could see the enormous bridge which crosses the bay just North of Annapolis. As we got closer, we could see that there are two bridges right next to one-another and high enough for full-size container ships or supertankers to pass underneath.

After that, it was only a few more miles until we could see the buildings of Annapolis on the shore. The entrance into the harbour was bonkers as there were three different dinghy races taking place along with some serious action from some larger racing boats. Anchored just outside the town were a few cruising boats along with Arrabella, the schooner that we'd seen in Nantucket a week or so back. Then there was the Navy. Annapolis is the home to the US Navy training establishment and today was "have a go in a boat" day. There were a dozen or so small naval ships maneuvering around among the races, each helmed by a trainee more intent on giving the correct horn signals than on getting out of everyone else's way. All you could hear was three honks (astern), then one honk (starboard), then four honks (no idea), all accompanied by frantic shouting from various instructors.

The harbour master had told Kali that we might find berthing space in the inner harbour but it was full by the time we got there and the mooring buoys in the harbour are too light for us. Kali set to work finding us a marina berth but it seemed impossible as the place is heaving ahead of the motor-boat show this weekend. We motored around the anchored boats just off the Naval College campus and listened to their marching band strutting their stuff. Eventually, Kali came up trumps and found us a berth in a new marina just outside the town. We picked our way through the melee again and then into the entrance channel.

The marina is in the middle of a development of flats and houses. It's the sort of place people would retire to. The docks are excellent but have piles proud of the walkways again, like Nantucket. There was no wind, though, so we were able to suspend ourselves between the piles without any problems. We've got our fenders out but we're not actually touching anything so we should be very safe here until we move Saxon Blue to the site of the sailboat show next Tuesday. Andrea had a wonderful curry prepared so we were eating that very soon after mooring up.

All that was left then was to go for an explore of the marina. It has a private beach and some wooden piers so Andrea and I walked to the end of one and sat there in the dark looking at the lights all around and chatting about the places we'd seen on the way here. Then back to the dockside bar for a drink and now back onboard Saxon Blue ready for an early night again. The only difference is that, this time, we don't have to get up at 0600 and head off. I suspect I'll still be awake then, though, as it's become our normal life.

I don't think that it's quite sunk in yet that this is the end of the first part of our voyage. Annapolis and the boat show has been our goal since we left Southampton in May and we've been working hard to get here for the last month or so. It's been great to have a deadline to get us moving South but, in the end, the constant travelling has become a bit of a chore. We all need some downtime and a chance to reflect on what we've seen over the last five months. I think we all need to sleep, too.

Harvey

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