Launch: Norview Marina in Deltaville is a great spot. Good folks, all the services you might need, and ideally located for exploring the lower reaches of Chesapeake Bay.
Nearby campsites: There is a private campground across the road from the marina and Beth Page, an RV "resort" in Urbanna nearby. You could launch from Beth Page if you wished. We camped at Pt. Lookout State Park in Maryland -- a marvelous campground. The electric sites have a great open location on a salt water pond.
Comments: Deltaville is the boating center of the Lower Chesapeake. Brown's Marine, the Honda dealer, is an honest, friendly, efficient place to have engines services. Norview Marina is a great place to launch - good folks.
-----"Getting hot here in Alabama," El commented as we were lounging around in our deck chairs under a big shade tree in Lakepoint State Park. We had just completed the 800+ mile trip on Alabama's Great Horseshoe.
-----"Must be getting near 100 degrees," she said swallowing a gulp of ice water. "Let's head north. Got any ideas where?"
-----"Georgia coast?" I ventured. "The Savannah River is marked as navigable and it might be a good one to explore."
-----"Let's go," was El's response, and we were soon packing things up, dropping the hydraulic camper roof, hooking up the boat and we were off.
-----When we arrived in Savannah, we camped at Skidaway State Park. The sites were large enough for the camper and the boat, so we unhooked the boat and headed off exploring. We discovered Pearl's Elegant Pelican restaurant - right on the water. We munched down shrimp until we were "filled to busting," as the waitress said.
-----"Still too hot," El commented as we drove back to the campground for the night. "Let's go north until we find cool."
-----The marvelous advantage of a trailerable boat was once again obvious. We left the next morning and found "cool" at Deltaville, VA. This is a marvelous Chesapeake Bay town with everything a cruising boater would desire. Deltaville is also the home of Brown's Marine, an excellent Honda serviceman. We had taken on bad gas from either the deteriorating marina in Selma or from the fisherman's spare gas tank that got us up the lonely stretch of the Alabama River to Selma.
-----"Mighty busy this time of year," David said - might be two weeks before we can flush tanks, lines, and reset the carburetors."
-----"We rely on those engines, and want to keep them in top shape," I answered. "We'll leave the boat with you and give us a call on the cell phone when they're done."
-----"Time to be ashore, El," I said. "Let's find a good spot." We located Pt. Lookout State Park in Maryland a short drive to the north. It was ideal. Right near the Pt. Lookout light, the campsites were open and had a view of a salt water pond complete with a resident Loon, and a pleasant, knowledgeable host. We happily stayed the week.
-----The Park is near the site of a Civil War Union prisoner-of-war camp. Built to house 10,000 prisoners it held over 20,000. More than 3,000 Confederate soldiers died of exposure, hunger, and disease. Conditions were so bad that the men ate rats for protein. In fact, rats became the currency' used by the prisoners. At the end of the war, the Union officer in charge of the camp proudly returned several million dollars to the US Treasury, 'saved' by short-rationing and short-supplying the prisoners. Grim.
-----We read about surrounding events, and drove up the shore to a Celtic Festival. What a day! Kilts were everywhere, bagpipes skirled, girls danced in competition, stories were told, husky men in kilts tossed the caber and the sheaf. There were some great songs sung and not a little Irish beer was consumed. Good fun.
-----The next day, there was an unscheduled event. At dusk, a park ranger knocked on our door to warn us of a tornado prediction for our area. We had heard the report first from our weather radio that we keep in our camper. Arnold, the voice of NOAA, was tracking the storm that had embedded tornadoes. We plotted its course on a highway map. By the way, we keep a highway atlas on Halcyon as well as the camper, since NOAA reports severe weather by the county and the smallest possible towns in the area and cruising charts often don't show the county and only the towns near the water. A huge dark cloud came in from the west, laced with a lightning stroke every few seconds and passed to the north of us - near the site of yesterday's Festival. The tornados killed three and demolished large areas of homes and businesses around La Plata, MD. We are Nevadans, and understand the odds that control all our lives.
-----We also visited the Calvert Maritime Museum in The Solomon's. They have done an excellent job in portraying the natural and human history of the Bay. After lunch at CD's (creative and excellent food and a cheesecake par excellence), we returned to the Museum and toured the Drum Point Lighthouse they had moved to the site.
-----We received a call from Brown's Marine, and the boat was ready. They had accelerated our schedule, knowing we were from out-of-town and anxious to cruise. We were also ready, although we had thoroughly enjoyed the camping at Pt. Lookout and the 'land' events. Now we only had to decide where to launch. "Where do you begin to explore the Chesapeake," El asked frowning down at the chartbook. "There are hundreds of charming bays, rivers, islands, and towns to explore."
-----"When we were here for a short visit last year we were up in the mid-Bay. Let's poke around down in the Lower Bay this time," I suggested.
-----"Sure - Halcyon's in the perfect spot -- in a 'boaty' town. There must be a good launch right there. Let's get going."
-----We provisioned in Deltaville and even bought a low-wattage anchor light from the West Marine store in town (there's also a Boat US store) for any needed parts. Do any of you ever visit a good boat (a.k.a. candy) store and not find something you 'need?'
-----We launched at Norview Marina, a great place with friendly folks and a good ramp. We headed out the narrow channel and into the three-mile-wide Rappahannock River. The river is roughly parallel to the much longer and wider Potomac River, just to the north. We turned westerly and headed up river to Fredericksburg. We would travel about two hundred miles on this attractive and historic river; to the Fall Line and return.
-----The anchorages are numerous and ideal. The wildlife is marvelous. Many of the critters live in the water; those we enjoy eating, those who make swimming hazardous, and those who are just enjoyable to watch.
-----There were new and different insects hatching from the water and festooning the boat. While preparing the morning coffee and tea, we were joined by hundreds of swallows who enjoyed sitting all over Halcyon while making their breakfast forays to the insects. We were in the middle of a food web.
-----Ospreys were everywhere, and fascinating to watch.
-----We took a few pictures to illustrate the diversity of nest sites. Some were on the navigation marks, cans and posts, built either wide or narrow, neat or messy, as the location dictated. Others were on docks, drooping with the prevailing winds. One enterprising couple, environmentally aware, even had solar lighting for their site.
-----We came ashore in Urbanna and Tappahannock, two charming towns with good restaurants and well-preserved historic buildings. We entertained visiting family, aboard Halcyon, tied off in the Urbanna Yachting Center Marina. We met some friendly boaters and dock masters in these towns.
-----We even made a foray into the 'interior' to visit Old Christ Church, built in 1735 by 'King Carter.' Since it was built on his land, and therefore private property, it survived the anti-British sentiments directed at other Anglican churches during and after the Revolution. Our guides were circumnavigator friends who lived on the Northern Neck.
-----The river became ever more narrow and intimate. Even the nav. marks seemed to shrink to the scale of the river. We passed a sign indicating the river's designation as a State Scenic River.
-----The Waterman Culture is contracting, but there are still many who make their living off the bounty of the Bay and its rivers. The commercial boats are the essence of function and beauty.
-----One of our last mornings on the Rappahannock dawned through a fog. We were on anchor in a secluded creek tributary to the river. The slow ascent of the sun was theatrical - slowly light diffused through the misty scrim. Out on the creek, the muffled sound of throbbing diesel penetrated the silence of our cabin. We stood in the cockpit staring into the mist. An Osprey whistled from his perch on a limb above the boat. A heron stalked the shallows a few feet distant. Slowly, as the fog dispersed, we could make out the workboat. All the watermen were starting about their daily chores.
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