On Sunday morning we didn't think the day could possibly get any better after we had successfully hauled anchor under sail. It's these little "big" accomplishments that keep us sailors motivated! Brian steered the boat with the main sail while I hauled up the anchor. And now that we know I can haul up the anchor (and quite effortlessly, I might add) I expect Brian will want to share this task!
As it turns out, hauling the anchor really was the highlight of our day. It was a beautiful day and we sailed into and up the Sassafras River on a downwind sail. The wind was a bit shifty, there were no waves, and we enjoyed the "lake-like" winds and waters.
We tucked Rode Trip into Back Creek, carefully navigating with Brian's handmade depth sounder (3 pound fishing weight on the end of a line marked in 1-15 foot increments) in addition to our depth sounder and chart. We've discovered very quickly that the depths on the chart are not to be trusted in the Chesapeake. No, we didn't bottom out...yet. Actually the opposite where we've found greater depths at areas marked lower. In Back Creek we had a very narrow channel of depth appropriate water, and I'm quite certain we anchored in the 4-foot spot on the chart. We did move forward a bit when Brian was convinced that the front end of the boat was swinging but the back end was not. Oh, and after our swim in the river we discovered we could easily touch bottom.
We anchored just near the Mount Harmon Plantation, a tobacco plantation from 1651. I'd love to tell you more details about Mount Harmon...but we arrived at 2:15pm and were abruptly told that the last tour started at 2:00pm. We were handed a map of the grounds and shuffled out the door without the opportunity to peruse the visitor's center. This was the most rude volunteer tour guide we have yet encountered in all of our historical sight stops! In New England, most volunteers were thrilled that visitors took any interest in the site and were happy to welcome us and share info. It seems in Maryland that there are so many people interested in history they must have to practically beat them off the grounds! We took a self tour of the grounds and read what we could of the posted signs.
The Manor House
The Colonial Kitchen
The Formal Garden
The Prize House - located on the waterfront, we learned that this is where the tobacco was pressed into barrels and loaded onto ships. The dock was actually deemed a port back in the day. We learned also that there still is a tobacco press in the Prize House, so thanks to self-guided tours, I took a closer look.
We walked a nice path around the perimeter of the plantation fields. Later that evening we discovered that these grounds are frequented by walkers and cruisers with dogs.
Then we blazed a trail on the beach back to our kayaks. Oh look in the sand, who's been here? A mink? A deer?
Back at Rode Trip, Brian caught a catfish for dinner...bit of a surprise that reminded us we are in a river. Lucky we paired the catfish with steak because it tasted like fishy mud. We did call dad for some filet tips and minded the stingers, but will have to work on our preparation for catfishes.
We enjoyed the solitude of this anchorage as the sun set over the Chesapeake. And there were no bugs!! Because it is TOO COLD! (We are still bothered by hundreds of pesky black flies in the cabin. Brian goes on fly killing sprees every few hours just to make sure they don't get out of control.
On Monday someone had the brilliant idea to kayak up Sassafras River to Georgetown, MD. After reading the guide book, activities along many of these rivers seem grim. But someone thought that a nice river paddle and a walk through a quaint town would make for a good day. We had a beautiful kayak up the river. We spotted three bald eagles, two great blue herons, and several terns and gulls.
Georgetown, however, was a bit of a bummer because there really wasn't any good place to go ashore and we didn't know which direction "town" would be if we started walking. We beached the kayaks at the marina to take a look at our map which wasn't promising much. We did have some nice visitors while on the beach.
Heading back upwind on the river was not quite as enjoyable, but the sun was keeping us warm while the water splashed into our kayaks and we paddled with all our might. Overall a good 6-mile day on the water. We were happy to return to our cozy anchorage for another good night's sleep!