Shortly after leaving Annapolis yesterday, Summer
Song completed her 10,000th mile in our ownership. There was some tension in the
cockpit when the log read 9,999.9 Nm. You see, we weren't sure whether the
instruments would carry on working when 10,000 ticked over, or whether some sort
of Millenium-style bug would wreak havoc. In fact, we've covered about 9,000
miles this year alone, but many of them went unrecorded due to barnacles
clogging up the log wheel.
Luckily the milestone passed without calamity.
Instead, we had a tremendous spinnaker run 40 miles up to the head of the
Chesapeake Bay, where the banks narrow and become greener, dotted wth rustic
looking villages and magnificent waterfront real estate. The spinnakoo - covered
with undignified streaks of mud where it had brushed against the anchor during
the day - kept us ploughing north east past other boats until about 7pm. We only
furled the beast to enter the Chesapeake and Delaware canal - a broad manmade
waterway linking the two bays that saved us from retracing 200 miles of watery
footsteps to the sea.
As the day went on, the water became smoother and
smoother, ironing out what few waves there had been at the start. We pushed on
through the mirror-flat canal in the dark to reach the Delaware side. There are
plenty of lights to guide boats at night, but the main route markers seemed to
be the many bridges spanning the canal, their arches and cables floodlit in
spectacular geometric patterns. Despite warnings of gigantic freighters and
tankers, we saw little more than a 14-ft Boston whaler.
Relying wholly on our electronic GPS in the dark,
We gingerly manoeuvred in behind a breakwater at the exit of the canal, tight
between two mudbanks, for a calm anchorage. Placid conditions didn't stop the
Skipper from jumping up several times during the night and charging on deck
muttering half-dreamed nonsense about our floating loose or being aground. In
truth, the spot felt quite exposed - imagine anchoring at the side of Thames
estuary. The scene was lit by a vigorously flashing light on the cooling tower
of a nuclear power station on the opposite bank, and by the great forms of ships
sliding by in the night.
It was also a shock to be back onboard after three
nights of landlubbing luxury at Anna and Barrett's house near DC. It still seems
unbelievable that we made it out to see them after so many years of vague
promises - more than ten years since Anna first moved to the States. She's
nearing the end of a PhD in Canadian, feminist writing on science fiction with
an environmental theme and I have put in a bid to be the first to read her
thesis. Though it looks specific enough to apply to a single author, Anna says
it is a wide genre.
Either way, thank you Anna and Barrett for a wicked