After a fortnight of hot and humid weather, it was almost a relief, after the violent thunderstorms of Monday night, to wake up to cool grey skies, and leave Baltimore in the rain, clad in two fleeces and a pair of leggings under my trousers.
We headed north up the Bay from Baltimore into the Sassafras River and spent two nights at anchor in a quiet creek there, a tranquil contrast to the excitement of Baltimore.
We moored about 300 yards from the jetty of the Mount Harmon Plantation. The house sits on a bluff extending into the Sassafras River, and was built in the 17th Century. At first the plantation produced tobacco, until the crop depleted the soil, and wheat and corn were planted instead.
We took the dinghy over and walked up to the house in time for the 11am opening. All seemed strangely quiet, despite a sign on the porch saying ‘tours start here’. We rattled the door, and eventually a young woman appeared, and told us that the house was open only on Thursdays to Sundays. It was Wednesday. But if we were members, we could stroll through the grounds and follow the trails.
We weren’t, but we did anyway, and as we followed the Pond Trail through an uncut meadow, we were rewarded by the sight of several white-tailed deer leaping high out of the grass and bounding away towards the shelter of the woods. There were wild strawberries growing along the path, and the birdsong sounded in the quiet stillness.
The old working buildings have been preserved and just above the river was the wooden Prize House, where the tobacco leaves were compressed to half their volume before being transported down Chesapeake Bay and then exported to England.
We followed the Cliff Trail round back to the jetty and had our picnic lunch before going back to Carina.
After several weeks of zig-zagging across the Chesapeake Bay, vaguely feeling that this was all very lovely but we weren’t making much progress and NYC still seemed a long way away and we’ve only got six weeks left and only five if you count the week we’ll spend with the family before we go home, suddenly we’re on our way.
The Sassafras River is nearly at the most northerly tip of the Chesapeake Bay, and after one night at the Bohemia Bay Yacht Basin, we were all set to pass through the Chesapeake-Delaware Canal, spend fifteen minutes cutting through the top end of Delaware, and then we’d be in New Jersey.
The Chesapeake-Delaware Canal is a big shipping channel, with some nice bridges.
Two years ago, when the trip was just a twinkle in the Captain’s eye, I stood beside the Delaware River in Philadelphia, wondering how I could possibly cope with being on a small boat in such an expanse of water.
Today we entered the river from the canal, and it really isn’t so bad after all. We moored up at Reedy Island, ten miles downstream, ready for the 48-mile journey tomorrow, down the river to Cape May, NJ. We saw the first patch of blue sky for five days, and a pale sun gradually came out.
The small print came into focus too. I’ve been told I have to get up at ‘first light’ – 5am – to take advantage of the tide, at the beginning of what will be a very long day.
It will be pay-back time for real, and in style, when we finally get to Cape May.