October 19, 2006 - Washington DC
Washington DC is a great town to visit by boat. I'm still amazed that we can anchor here within sight of the Jefferson Memorial (just over the trees, anyway). We're playing the Capital Yacht Club $15/day for use of their secured dinghy dock and facilities and for that small sum we are able to live quite happily here. The Mall with all the monuments, memorials, and museums is an easy fifteen minute walk, with a Metro station en route--not that we've needed it so far.

Yesterday I experienced flashbacks to pre-cruising life when I had to get up to go to work in the morning. Steve and Gloria on Living Well hired me to help them strip and sand the rails on a sailboat at the yacht club, so I spent a few hours learning the art of using a heat gun and scraper. In the late afternoon Annie, Laura and I set off on foot for the headquarters of the Wilderness Society on M Street to meet Bill Meadows, the President of the Society. I worked with Bill twenty years ago in the Alumni Relations Office at Vanderbilt. We had a nice walk, passing the White House where a lone anti-war protester was packing up her signs. Across Pennsylvania Avenue was a anti-nuclear peace protest station, manned continuously since 1981. Unfortunately the woman on duty last night was loudly blaming Israel for all the problems of the world, and I found it somewhat odd that a peace protest should be used as a platform for hate speech. It wasn't until I looked at my photo that I spotted another protester in the scene--a man carrying a poster that read, "It's really still August! (Don't let the liberal media fool you.)"

Bill gave us a tour of the Wilderness Society headquarters, which were impressive in their expansive yet very low-key nature. Everything is very elegant yet efficient and bare-boned; think unfinished ceilings, bare concrete floors, yet warm colors and real walls so that everyone has an office instead of a paneled cube. We walked about a mile and a half from there to Bill's very cool condo in Georgetown where his wife Sally was waiting, then went to dinner with them. It was inspiring to hear Bill and Sally talk about their lives and all that they have accomplished.

Antinucluear Peace Protest With Bill and Sally Meadows

Photos: (1) The anti-nuclear, anti-Bush, anti-Israel permanent peace protest. (1) Laura and Annie with Bill and Sally Meadows.

Today I did a couple of hours of sanding and then we walked over to the Smithsonian Natural History Museum, which has seen some nice exhibit renovations since my last visit ten years ago. Unfortunately the Oceans exhibit area was closed (it will not reopen until 2008) but we saw most of the favorites--dinosaurs, Hope Diamond, the cafeteria--before being run out of the building at 5:30 PM when the museum was closing. I love the free admission to the Smithsonian, but I wish they stayed open a little longer.

smithsonian Natural History Museum Minerals at Smithsonian
Photos: (1) The elephant in the rotunda of the Smithsonian Natural History Museum is an icon seen by millions each year. (2) The minerals exhibits are still a crowd-pleaser.

It took me months to decide I never was going to reach a grand conclusion to the question, "What is reality?" but I have finally given up and completed a new essay, Sitting Still: Cruising with a Purpose?.

October 22, 2006 - Mattawoman Creek, Potomac River
Despite the fact that cruising is all about seeing new places, I always have to tear myself away from docks and anchorages that have gotten comfortable. We spent nine days at anchor in DC and I wanted to stay longer. It felt safe in the anchorage. Who knows what could happen to us if we ventured back out into the world?

Just an example: last night Gloria from Living Well went out with three other women. They drove a fifteen foot skiff up the Potomac to Georgetown. During their return trip, they took a very large wake broadside and flipped the boat. Nothing like being in the water at midnight in late October. Predictably, Gloria did well in keeping everyone on board the overturned vessel, then paddling it ashore to get help. Come to think of it, I did hear more sirens and helicopters last night than usual.

Before leaving DC to motor down to Mattawoman Creek, we spent one more day sightseeing. First we took the Metro to Union Station, which is quite a palace of a train station. Next door was the Postal Museum, which we toured. We walked back to the Mall via the U.S. Capital, then spent an hour at the Botanical Gardens nearby, which were very nice. We ended the day with another visit to the Air & Space Museum because that's where Laura wanted to go. Yesterday we did a couple of loads of laundry, then borrowed Steve's truck and went grocery shopping in Alexandria. In keeping with tradition, we got lost several times en route.

Washington DC anchorage
Photo: The 92 foot Pajaro Jai in the Washington anchorage where we spent a pleasant nine days. You can always tell the Pajaro Jai by its rainforest roots--it's the one with the dugout canoe for a dinghy.

October 23, 2006 - Nomini Creek, Potomac River
The northwest winds and current carried us fifty miles down the Potomac on a cloudy day that grew colder as it aged. Laura, plagued by a cough that she probably picked up from one of the museums, asked me to play hide and seek, but I needed to stay up in the cockpit to negotiate a path around a naval gunnery range. In the distance there was a boom, then a second of a horrible whistling and finally a detonation in the water far behind us. What a terrible, terrible sound! As the sun dropped and the current gradually shifted against the wind, the waves grew and I could feel the coldness of the wind creeping up the legs of my pants. For a moment I relived my old caving days, remembering how it felt to be tired and far from daylight in a muddy crawlway, counting the obstacles and unpleasant tasks ahead before I could collapse into a warm bed. A few miles more of these waves, find a place to hide the boat from the wind, go out into the rushing cold air and get an anchor down...all the usual suspects, but suddenly it feels like winter is upon us.

October 25, 2006 - Dividing Creek, Chesapeake Bay
As we left Nomini Creek yesterday the wind was a sustained thirty knots from the northwest, enough to make the spray coming over the bow blow horizontally across in great trailing sheets long before it reached the dodger. With the wind coming right down the river against the current, the waves were three to four feet. Whether these conditions are an adventure or an ordeal depends on your state of mind (although going upwind would have been an ordeal no matter what). Once we got out into the river and could turn off the wind, things weren't so bad. At one point as we surfed down a wave I watched the knotmeter hit 10.5 knots, which is a first. After making about twenty miles for the day we turned off into Smith Creek, about five miles upriver from the Chesapeake Bay. There were a couple of boats anchored in Smith and certainly plenty of spots for more, but the creek was surrounded by fields so the wind was still whipping through. We went back and took a right at the junction to go up Jutland Creek, finding a pretty spot with better protection for a quiet night.

This morning we got a leisurely start and left the calm anchorage for the raging Potomac, where it was still blowing 20-25 knots over the stern. We easily made six to seven knots with just a reefed main and a bit of genoa out. I had thought we might go into Mill Creek, a few miles south of the junction with the Potomac, but by then we were away from the fetch of the river and the waves had calmed down, so we kept going a bit further to Dividing Creek. We'd spent a night out at the mouth of the creek back in mid-July on our trip north, but this time we motored up a couple of miles further to get to a protected spot. Laura seems to be feeling better, although she still has a cough. Tomorrow we're headed for Deltaville Boatyard, where we plan to have the boat hauled and surveyed on Friday. If all goes well we'll get the bottom painted as well.

October 26, 2006 - Deltaville, Virginia
Imagine our surprise to hear Godwin call us on the radio just fifteen minutes after we had anchored just off Deltaville Boatyard on Jackson Creek. He was standing on the fuel dock a hundred yards away from Steve and Cindy Brown, who were visiting from Florida. Although Steve probably doesn't remember it, he was the first person we met at Sale Creek Marina the first day we wandered into the place to look around, and until he and Cindy left on the cruise that finally landed them in Florida, he often gave me encouragement as I floundered around, trying to learn about boats. In those days Godwin's Sabre 35 Bojangles was down at the end of the dock...that is, until he and Sylvia left on their own cruise that culminated here in Virginia. And now, years later, we were all gathered together eating Oyster sandwiches, for a Sale Creek Reunion all these many miles from home.

Wonderful night out
Photo: a dinner out with some salty friends was just what we needed to recharge our cruising batteries.

October 30, 2006 - Deltaville, Virginia
Even though you learn to expect it, once the boat is blocked up in the boatyard you can't help thinking that you will never get the vessel back in the water. Our voyage to dry land on Friday morning was quick and efficient. We had been anchored in Jackson Creek just a hundred yards from the lift, and by the time we had our anchor up that morning the crew was waiting for us. Getting the boat up high enough in the Travelift without removing the radar from the backstay was a challenge, but by shifting the slings the crew soon had Seaductress sitting on dry land.

We'd hired Don McCann to survey the boat so we could renew our insurance for another year, this time through BoatUS. Don was a pleasure to have aboard and helpful in pointing out things here or there that could be improved, yet kind enough not to comment on the mess that inevitably results when three people live on a boat for a year. The only surprise on the survey was that the seal at the keel/hull joint had been leaking. Don was sure that two of the bolts had been seeping water and sure enough, when I started removing the 5200 sealant from the keel (a horrible, thankless job), it had separated in several spots and had moisture inside.

Hauling Out Wilton Creek Potluck
Photos: (1) Pressure-washing the boat prior to blocking. (2) A couple of the celebrities at the Halloween Potluck at Wilton Creek which we attended as guests of Sylvia and Godwin. Laura mingled effortlessly with the adults, especially those in feline costumes.

In the meantime, Deltaville Marina has proven a nice place to spend a few days. Although we can't use the pool given the season, the facilities are very pleasant and include well-kept grounds, a truly huge swing, a courtesy car and bicycles. It's not particularly cheap; the fee for transients is $10/person per day (ouch!) or $35/person for a week. Godwin and Sylvia were kind enough to loan us their truck and we enjoyed a trip to Jamestown on a very windy Sunday. This time, instead of visiting the recreated fort and ships, we went to the original site which is operated by the National Park Service. The park is getting a new visitor's center and other improvements in preparation for the 400th anniversary of the settlement next year.

Today the weather was just about perfect, and after the hull was washed we spent the latter part of the afternoon polishing and waxing. As darkness fell today we had completed about a third of the hull. Tomorrow if all goes well we will attempt to tighten the keel bolts, recaulk the keel/hull joint, and get the first coat of new bottom paint applied. Another day for a second coat of paint and it's possible we could be back in the water on Thursday.

October 31, 2006 - Deltaville, Virginia

Happy Halloween
Happy Halloween from the crew of Seaductress!

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