Smith Creek, Potomac River

38:07.3N 76:23.79W

Saturday 9th July 2011

Distance run: 65 nmiles

Not up quite as early as planned as we both slept through the alarm, but the anchor was up by 0600 and we were motoring downriver towards Smith Creek, where we planned to overnight before leaving the Potomac the next morning with the slack tide.

It was an overcast day with the sun only peeking through occasionally, so we were not surprised when the Coastguard came on the radio with a severe weather warning as a row of thunderstorms was making its way across the Potomac. We love their weather announcements here - they tell all boats to make for safe harbour immediately. Hmm...we travel at about 5-6 knots and the storms are moving at 20 knots. Don't have to be great at maths to know we ain't gonna make it in time... We could see a darker sky behind us and hoped it would stay behind as it seemed to passing across our stern, and it did - right up until we dropped the anchor in Jutland Creek, just off Smith Creek. Then the heavens opened and the thunder and lightening started, reminding us very much of our trip the other way up the river a few weeks ago! Fortunately, although there was lots of noise, light and water, there was very little wind, and we rode out the storms as they rolled through one after the other until late evening.

As we are anchored in the middle of a creek where there are no lights at all, we decided to leave the cockpit light on as well as the anchor light just to make sure we could be seen by any other boats entering the creek in the dark. The trouble with the traditional anchor light is that it is at the top of the mast, and we often wonder if people in little motor boats ever look up there! So a light at deck level seems much more sensible. However, the flying bugs were out in force again and the light was a big mistake as it attracted hundreds of them. Steve blasted them with insecticide and this morning we have had the wonderful task of clearing up not just the dead bodies but all the excrement/secretions they leave behind. This time it was not green spots but blobs of what looks and feels like snot!

Anyway, we decided last night not to leave this morning after all, because the weather forecast is for wind from the north (exactly where we are going) with possible further thunderstorms with gusts of up to 60 m.p.h. Coupled with the fact that we have to get out of the mouth of the river where currents meet and churn up the seas in order to turn north, this gave us a choice between a day in a very quiet, sheltered, if a little buggy anchorage versus a beat to windward in unpleasant seas to make slow progress up the Chesapeake.

Guess which won?!

Plan B is to get up with the light tomorrow and head out - as long as the forecast for southerly winds doesn't change between now and then - and get as far up the bay as we can make in daylight. With another cold front forecast for Tues/Wed, this could be a long trip up to the big apple!