Lionheart Cruise: Washington, DC
On May 15, 2007, we bid the Sheppards, their wonderful free dock in Pompano Beach, the neighborhood iguanas, and birds a fond farewell and once again headed north in the Intracoastal Waterway (ICW). Our trip destination was the Chesapeake Bay to spend the entire summer of 2007. We left just in time to miss the 9:00 AM 14th Street Bridge opening. This caused us to have to hang out in front of the bridge for about 25 minutes. The Sheppards walked down to the canal to keep us company on the land while the Captain fumed at the helm. Low and behold, our friends on Beso appear on the other side of the bridge waiting to go south. Had not seen Chip and Kay since Marsh Harbor, Abacos. After final waves all around, Lionheart passed through the first bridge of many to come and started the summer cruise north. It had been very windy for over a week. This day the wind was less but by the time we anchored in South Lake Worth in Palm Beach, the wind had picked up to 25-30 kts. The Cat Unit had become so used to being at the dock that he jumped up on the stool to get on the rail to jump on the dock that was not there! He did stop himself before sailing into the water.....that was a good thing.
We made our way north in the ICW trying to stop in different anchorages and towns than we had visited on our way north in 2006. We picked up a mooring in Vero Beach and took a little dingy ride to explore. Looked like a nice little beach community. We anchored in Titusville and St. Augustine without going ashore for repeat visits. Our first major stop was Jacksonville which is off the ICW on the St. John's River in northern Florida. On May 19, we passed by the Jacksonville waterfront, and under several bridges, on our way to the Ortega Yacht Club on the Ortega River. We needed to address the first equipment failures of the cruise which was the refrigerator crashing (failing to cool the food) and yet another failure of an engine raw water pump. The Captain took care of the pump and a refrigeration service provided a new shot of refrigerant and we were good to go by May 22. Once again we passed by the Jacksonville waterfront and back into the ICW north, arriving at Cumberland Island in mid afternoon. Cumberland Island was the playground of people like the Carnegies in the late 1800s and early 1900s, but is now a national seashore park. We anchored just off of Plum Orchard Plantation which was one of the Carnegie estates. It is a beautiful mansion in a beautiful location. While there are a few private cottages and at least one public inn on the island, it is 85% owned by the government and is reached only by boat. We walked among the pines and around the mansion. We saw the wild horses on the beach and enjoyed a quiet evening in a sheltered anchorage. The next night found us in a less sheltered Walburg Creek, anchored behind St. Catherine's Island. The morning of the 24th found us hauling the anchor and heading for a sheltered marina on Hilton Head Island to once again wait out the wind.
We spent 3 days in Hilton Head, enjoying the resort atmosphere and marveling at the cost of things. For instance, since we were staying at Shelter Cove Resort Marina, we had the use of the beach area as well as the marina pools, etc. On Saturday we rode our bikes over to the ocean side and once again walked on the beautiful white sand beaches of the Atlantic. There were lovely beach chairs set 2X2 with umbrellas. They were for rent by the day at the rate of $30/chair.......thank you very much, I will sit on the sand!
From Helton Head we went to Charleston and anchored for 1 night, then on to Georgetown, SC, where we had not stopped before. We tried to anchor in the river on the town waterfront but could not get a grip that pleased the Captain so we went to a dock. We spent 2 days exploring the town and learning about the history of the area which was settled in 1526 by the Spanish, and prior to that was certainly Indian country. By 1710 the English had established a trading post. By 1729 the King of England had established 3 counties in the South Carolina low country and the area expanded as settlers arrived. In the 1700s large plantations grew rice, indigo and tobacco. The plantation owners started building town homes where they could do business and socialize. This picturesque community is full of houses dating back to the 1700s, churches, schools, huge old trees, gardens, and the mansions of the people who have come and gone, and those who are there now. As slavery went away, so did the plantation lifestyle, however, there are still several working plantations in the area which grow rice and other modern crops.
After spending my birthday in Georgetown, we stopped in Carolina Beach and then Hammock Bay which is where the ICW passes through Camp LeJuene, NC. This was a most interesting anchorage because we met new friends, Jim and Joanne Wickham on Long Haul, a 46 foot Grand Banks. Also, that evening just before sundown, we were treated to a special show of the Marines' Osprey aircraft. These machines look like airplanes with 2 really big propeller driven engines. However, the engines can rotate upward so that the propellers are positioned as helicopter propellers and the plane can land or take off vertically just like a helicopter. They were practicing take offs and landings just for us. The evening of June 1 found us anchored again with Long Haul in Cedar Creek, NC. When we launched the dingy, the engine mount broke, beginning the next maintenance list for the Captain. Also, it was blowing and the forecast for the next few days had us catching the end of Tropical Storm Barry. We made it to Dowry Creek Marina and hunkered down for 2 days while the storm blew itself out and blew us around at our non-floating dock. Nikolas thought we were doing another overnighter because the boat never stopped bucking for 24 hours! On June 4th we crossed Albemarle Sound and on the 5th we crossed into Virginia, passing through Norfolk, across Hampton Roads and up the James River to the beautiful Kingsville Marina Resort. Not too many boats travel up this wide but often shallow river. We passed the huge ship building yards of Newport News, VA, and a very interesting armada of mothballed naval vessels anchored in the James River. We spent 2 nights at the Kingsville Resort which is about 5 miles from Jamestown, 5 miles from Williamsburg, and 5 miles from Yorktown. We took the resort bus to Williamsburg and gathered information for our week long trip planned for later in the fall. We then took the boat back down the James River and around Newport News into the York River, docking at the Yorktown Riverwalk Marina. On June 8 and 9 we anchored in the North River in Mobjack Bay and went swimming and the Captain changed the zinks. This is an area with large mansions and estates on the river banks, but few boats were out on these lovely days. On the 10th we anchored in a creek off the Potomac which we had visited before. On the 11th we were at White Point Marina in Kinsale, VA. We used the loaner car to drive to a WalMart which was about 30 miles south, all the way across the Rappahannock River, which we had not explored by boat. Beautiful farming countryside. On June 12 we headed up the Potomac River toward Washington, DC., intending to anchor out for 2 nights and make DC on the 14th when we had a reservation at the Capitol Yacht Club (CYC). Late in the afternoon we heard the now familiar US Coast Guard on Channel 16 with Thunderstorm Warning #368. "PonPon, PonPon, PonPon! Small craft seek port immediately, etc." While the weather looked okay, there were T-storm clouds forming in the west, so we anchored up in the Port Tobacco River which is about 50 miles SE of WDC. Seemed like a good anchorage, but shallow water. One other boat in the area, anchored about 1/2 mile away. About 7:30 PM the sky darkened ominously, and you could smell the approach of rain. Then the wind started, gusting to 45 kts, the lightening was striking all around, and the skies opened with heavy rain. It was a wild 30 min. event; not something you want to relive often! The next day was raining but not cold. T-storm warnings again (#s in the 370s now) so we called the CYC and asked if we could come in out of the rain a day early. As we passed Mt. Vernon in the rain, the Coast Guard decided to board Lionheart to check our safety gear, etc. This kept us just idling for about 45 min. while they did their thing. Thus, we arrived in Washington, DC, on a dark, cloudy, and rainy afternoon. On approach we were able to see the Washington Monument and a brief glimpse of the Capitol building.
We spent a whole month at the CYC (June 13 to July 13) which is conveniently located on the waterfront about 6 blocks from the Capitol Mall. From the dock we could walk 2 blocks to catch the Circulator Bus which, for 50 cents apiece (senior rate) pretty much took us anywhere we wanted to go to see the many sights and sites of the capitol city. Or, we could ride the bus to China Town and catch the Metro and go out to Bethesda or Rockville, MD.
The first day of touring was a near death experience as we walked for hours just taking in the Capitol Mall itself. We had not seen the WWII War Memorial which was dedicated in 1992. In fact, we had not seen the Vietnam War Memorial or the Korean War Memorial. All beautiful and haunting tributes to the many men and women who have given their lives so that so that we can live today in a democratic society. As we limped back to the CYC and Lionheart, we decided we would need to pace ourselves if we were to survive the sightseeing we had in mind. Indeed, we spent most days with some or many hours of touring, as well as doing the ever present chores of maintaining a cruising boat. Top of the list was fixing the dingy motor, buying and setting up a new computer for navigation duty, oil changes, generator work, even some holding tank issues. People ask what do you do on a boat? Well, you do everything you would normally do at home (washing, cleaning, cooking, business matters like insurance, and plane reservations for your next ski trip and Christmas holidays) plus, you run a boat which includes the daily operation of the engines, the power plant, the water system, the sewer system, the electronic devices (there are many of these!) and, you have to pick out a new place to anchor or dock every night. Every week you have to find a new grocery store. You have to figure out how to get to that store and how to haul back your groceries. At least once a week you need to figure out where and how to do the laundry. So, you see, spending a month in WDC was a real vacation once we got all our chores done.
We saw the Supreme Court in session during the last week of this year's court calendar. We visited the Congress and Senate while they were in session. We ate lunch at the Longworth Congressional Office Building when we were on Capitol Hill. We toured the Library of Congress. We spent 1 day at the Air & Space Museum on the Mall and 1 day at the Air & Space Museum's Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center near Dullas Airport. We visited the National Museum of the American Indian which is in a beautiful new building that looks like a southwestern mesa rising on the Mall and surrounded with native American plants, waterfalls, and streams. We spent an afternoon at the Holocaust Museum which was a powerful and moving experience. We visited the Natural History Museum and the National Gallery. I was very much taken by the East Building of the National Gallery. It was designed by I. M. Pei and houses a wonderful collection of Calder sculptures and other sculptures and paintings by 20th Century artists. We visited the National Portrait Gallery and enjoyed the portraits of the Presidents and the many portraits of American Indians. We made it out to Arlington National Cemetery, Mt. Vernon, the National Cathedral, and all the way to Gettysburg, when we had a rental car. We walked around Georgetown and looked up the house where Dr. & Mrs. Ingle lived when we visited them in 1978. We decided against the tour on the C&O canal in Georgetown. After all the canals and locks we have transited on this trip, it truly is a case of "been there, done that." We did the open top bus tour just to make sure we hadn't missed anything and walked through the National Botanical Garden, the Sculpture Garden (where we took in a free evening jazz concert by the fountain), and I went to all the major art galleries and museums and saw a fantastic production of Hamlet at the Shakespeare Theatre Company.
We did enjoy being the consummate tourists in WDC, but the experience was definitely enhanced by the people we met while at the CYC. Docked next to us was the Secretary of the Interior and his wife, Dirk and Pat Kempthorne. We enjoyed meeting them and learning a bit about his career in politics and the non-profit foundation which she founded and directs. There are at least 3 women captains living on their boats at the Club. The senator from Alaska and the senator from Idaho have boats on D Dock. Tim and Jay on Temptress, a gorgeous Hatteras, were lots of fun to get to know. There was a converted Canadian tug boat with a US diplomat living aboard who was about to be reassigned to Hattie (don't know what he did to deserve that!), and a veterinarian on the other side of us who works for the Department of Agriculture. Scott Berg, on S/V Chardonnay, works in the boat industry and was willing and able to get parts for us through his business at reduced cost and delivered right to Lionheart. He also serves on the board of the Shakespeare Theatre Company and gave me a rundown on the theatre scene in WDC.
On the 4th of July the Club had a BBQ in the afternoon. We had invited the Sheppards for the dinner (they had finally arrived in WDC but were staying at a different marina), and to stay for fireworks which would be practically over our heads as they were staged right near the Washington Monument, which was just a few blocks away. At around 4:00 PM the radio which was providing music for the BBQ started literally shrieking with a storm warning. While the t-storm clouds and the dark afternoon clouds and rain storms were not new to us, we had not heard the public alert system in action. In fact, they were issuing a tornado warning for the WDC area. What we did not know was that the police on the Mall, just blocks away, were busy clearing the Mall of all the people who had camped out in the afternoon to have a picnic and a good view of the fireworks that evening. It was evidently a bad scene, as most of the people didn't want to believe there was a tornado coming their way, much less leave their special spot. Well, I don't know where everyone went but they had to leave. Fortunately the tornado blew itself out but it rained like crazy from about 5:30 to 6:00 PM. After that, the heat dried up the puddles and things got back to normal with people lining the bridges, grassy knolls, and curbs to watch the fireworks that started at 9:00 PM. We were all rewarded for coming out to see what was the very best fireworks display I have ever seen. That was a special way for this American to spend the 4th of July 2007.
Actually, I could go on much longer about Sue and Richards Most Excellent Adventure in WDC. We very much enjoyed our time there but were happy to turn southeast on the Potomac, heading back to the Chesapeake on July 14. More about that in my next webpage which will cover our summer on the Chesapeake, 2007.
The Admiral observing warning signs on the dock in Georgetown, S.C., on her birthday in 2007.
Main Street in Georgetown, S.C. The Captain in front of the historic clock tower, built 1842.
Dinner at the Kingsmill Resort Marina on the James River. The Jamestown Settlement is 5 miles further up the river. Settled in1607.
A view of the James River Reserve Fleet. Row after row of mothballed Navy ships, including the Savannah, the world's only nuclear freighter.
It was a dark and stormy night at anchor in the Port Tobacco River. The Captain is backlit by lightening while we ride out a major thunderstorm. Not the first....and, unfortunately, not the last.
Mt. Vernon as seen from the Potomac River. The Admiral is driving while the Captain deals with a Coast Guard Boarding. The price (small) you pay for freedom.
Visiting Mt. Vernon by land. A photo of me with the first "First Family".
Our friends Joan and Joe Van Hooten, from Long Beach, were in WDC the week we arrived. We were delighted to welcome them aboard Lionheart. We miss our friends and family very much. Love it when our paths cross while we are out cruising around.
The view from the hill in Gettysburg where General Warren saw the Confederate Army flanking the Union Army. He raised an alarm that saved the hill and helped save the day.
In another war, the Enola Gay delivered a fatal blow to another enemy.
The Hope Diamond at the Museum of Natural History.
The Capitol of the United States of America!
Nick enjoys another sunset at anchor on Lionheart.