Each year for our anniversary, my husband Scott and I take a week vacation to cruise the Chesapeake Bay aboard our 58 feet Kadey Krogen trawler Miller Time. With our anniversary in August, we are usually blessed with warm weather and calm seas. However, this year seemed like it was going to break that trend. The Friday before our departure, weather reports were not optimistic. Words like “showers” and “thunderstorms” dotted the daily forecasts. But we were encouraged by other words such as “scattered,” “possible” and “late afternoon.” So, we decided to sally forth despite the uncertain weather predictions.
As we departed from our home on the Salt Ponds Inlet in Virginia, we realized this was going to be a plan “A” versus plan “B” kind of adventure.
SATURDAY, OUR FIRST DAY OUT
Plan A: Anchor near Norfolk, VA, and dinghy to shore to meet friends for dinner.
Plan B: With storms and high winds forecasted, we decided to get a slip at Waterside Marina in Norfolk. This plan allowed us to visit a friend who was unexpectedly in a nearby hospital; spending time with him meant a lot to us. Back at the marina, a Latino festival was taking place. Celebratory sights and sounds filled the night, and an ice cream vendor set up right across from our slip. Friends joined us for an evening of great conversation, laughter, food and drinks. What a terrific way to start the week!
Plan A: Anchor on the York River and dinghy over to explore historic Yorktown, VA.
Plan B: With late-day showers and thunderstorms looming, we opted for a slip at York River Yacht Haven. We arrived in time to enjoy a quick dip in the pool before grey clouds overtook the sky. Boating friends in the area drove to meet us for dinner. The impromptu gathering was tons of fun! The fellowship was loud, wonderful, and full of laughter and shared lessons.
Plan A: We could stay at the marina another day, due to heavy rain in the forecast.
Plan B: We left for an anchorage in Virginia’s Corrotoman River. Expecting a dreary run, we stowed our wet lines and readied for a slow slog across the Bay. A wise friend once said to us, “It is far better to be at a marina, wishing you’d gone out, then to be underway, wishing you’d stayed put.” We usually follow that advice of staying put in questionable weather, but regrettably not today. Sheltered in our pilot house, we actually enjoyed the slight bounce of the waves until the wind began to gust. Not the southern wind all the indicators had shown, but a northeastern wind. This meant we rode up the waves and slid sideways down into considerable troughs. The winds were sustained over 25 knots with some 32 knot gusts. It quickly turned dicey. Our planned five-hour run turned into an eight-hour push to the anchorage. Poor Charlie, our Portuguese water dog and four-legged first mate, kept his head down and occasionally looked up at us with a “Seriously?” look in his eyes. The steep rolls managed to rearrange a bit of my boat décor, and the Chesapeake claimed the first of what no doubt will be numerous broken dishes in years to come.
By 5:00 p.m. we were thankfully anchored in a beautiful cove. The rain had subsided, and the land was blocking the wind. It was as if the boat itself let out a sigh as we surveyed our surroundings. The anchorage had a small beach in front of thick wooded land. Scott paddleboarded Charlie ashore for some relief and romping. Our dinner companions this night included a pair of majestic eagles perched high in the trees behind our boat. We would sleep well tonight!
Plan A: More drizzle and rain expected; perhaps we would move to a marina.
Plan B: The weather stabilized to only a slight drizzle, so we stayed. Scott utilized the calm water to paddleboard along our port side and clean an often-neglected portion of our boat windows. We kayaked, paddleboarded and enjoyed the day. We were joined at the anchorage by our friends Steve and Ann aboard their 45-foot catamaran, Happy Time. We know Steve and Ann from our neighborhood, but we’d never spent much time together and were thrilled to share their company. For the past seven years, they had kept Happy Time in charter service in the British Virgin Islands. This spring, they sailed her all the way back to Virginia. Steve and Ann hosted us for a dinner of grilled tuna steaks, potatoes, salad and wine. Lots of wine. Another great end to a plan “B” day.
Plan A: Move to Tides Inn Marina on the Rappahannock River.
Plan B: We enjoyed the anchorage so much, we decided to stay. We spent the day exploring the river by dinghy, finishing a few boat projects and kayaking. The crews of Miller Time and Happy Time ended another relaxing day of shared food and lots of storytelling.
We pulled anchor and headed to the Tides Inn Marina. The next days were filled with all the things we love about visiting this marina. Time was spent lazing by the pool, biking into town, visiting a local winery, and eating freshly shucked and fried oysters.
Steve and Ann joined us for a few days here as well. We are thankful for the time we had to get to know them better and enjoy their company. One of our best discoveries of this trip is a deeper friendship with them. This week we found ourselves following plan “B” and finding that sometimes “B” stands for “better.” As we celebrate our 34th year of marriage, I think of all the plans and dreams we’ve shared. To be sure, many plans have changed, dreams revised and goals missed. But like this week’s adventure, we have also known the blessings of a life filled with plan “Bs” that often proved “better” than expected.