7 November: Left Chesapeake City this morning around 9:15am to catch the tide through the C&D Canal.
The canal looked totally different during the day than it did the first night we motored down it. No twinkling lights and glowing bridges. Instead yellow, red, and orange foliage lined the waterway – a visual cue of just how late in the season we were sailing… Bald eagles circled overhead.
Once through the canal, we officially entered the Chesapeake, another big milestone for us! Winds started picking up, the tide was with us, and everything seemed to be going great. We were even planning on making it as far as Annapolis today so that we could start the weekend moored up in a cool Chesapeake town.
Alas, sometimes the sailing gods are be unjust. As we rounded Sandy Point on the northern part of the bay we were hit by sudden downpouring rain, accompanied by incredibly strong gusting winds. From there, things only got worse. The 15 kt forecasted winds were now blowing a steady 30+ kts. The waves picked up very quickly and the ride got sloppy. Needless to say, the dogs were not happy.
Over-powered, we were forced to ease the sheets and the front sail flapped wildly until Alex could pull it in. So much for Annapolis today – conditions were bad and we ducked into the nearest sheltered river we could find, the Sassafrass River.
The river was much calmer, though the winds were still all over the place. The dogs started to relax, and we decided to sail around Knight Island and hang out on the anchor for the rest of the day. Just before the anchorage, we fired up the diesel engine. Immediately Alex could tell that all was not well with the motor. The voltage wasn’t coming up and a quick engine check revealed anti-freeze had blown out all over the frontside of the motor. The antifreeze acted as a lubricant on the belt and prevented the alternator from spinning off the belt. Within a few minutes Alex had the root of the problem diagnosed – a blown freshwater water pump. Super…
We chatted over the radio with another cruising boat, Minx (former Mainers!), who had just come through the canal and had passed us during the storm. Minx recommended the marinas in Georgetown, Maryland, just up the Sassafrass. So, instead of anchoring closer to the river’s mouth, we slowly sailed another 5 miles upriver to Georgetown Yacht Basin, where we hoped we could buy a new water pump and get back on track by morning.
This plan did also not go as well as hoped. None of the local marine stores had a water pump for our engine in stock. We ended up ordering one from somewhere in Virginia that could be shipped to us by Monday or Tuesday of next week. Looks like we’ll be staying in Georgetown for a few days!
After finalizing the ordering, we did what we do whenever we arrive to a new port: we took the pooches for a walk. On our walk today we discovered that Georgetown, MD is definitely one of the tiniest/quietest town we’d visited thus far – Post Office, marine supply store, three marinas, three restaurants (one of which was closed for maintenance and one that was too expensive), and that’s it. No joke. Good thing we ended up in such a bustling metropolis for the weekend! (I’ll be dreamin’ of Annapolis tonight…)
Despite today’s disappointing events, we decided to eat our water pump woes away, and went out to the Harbor Cafe for dinner. A small restaurant in the corner of only shopping plaza in Georgetown, we were impressed with the good food and friendly staff. However, we were also very surprised by the incredibly low number of diners that were in the restaurant with us. Where is everybody? At times, there weremore employees than diners. Maybe business is better in the summer when the marinas are more active?
Our waiter immediately recognized us as the kids with the two dogs walking around town. Already local celebrities!