Chesapeake Float 2016 ~ Arrivals

 Mike’s Melonseed “Pepita”


“Don’t wait for me.”

“Where are you?”

“Just pulling out of the driveway. Of course. Still a lot of things to fix.”

“Oh. OK, well, call when you get here. Not sure where we’ll stop, but we’ll be back sometime tomorrow.”

Two hours later, Freeport Landing looks deserted. The sun is low, throwing long shadows across the water. A row of empty trailers lined up near the ramp. One lone boat there. Hmm, maybe someone went along as crew and left their boat. And Mike’s Melonseed is anchored off the beach. Not a soul in sight, though. Sometimes people double up for company or to lend an extra hand.




The unloading progress is not progressing. I keep getting distracted by the view. Beautiful evening. The Piankatank is about a mile wide here, broadening out into two big coves. Ospreys are settling on nests, herons fly in single-minded straight lines, heading for the rookeries. The river is quiet. I lift something from the car and set it on the ground, then stop again. Finally I just wonder off with a camera, leaving all the doors open.


Great Blue Heron 


Suddenly Mike is standing in front of me, then Peter. The other guys sailed off downriver for a night on the water while the two of them came back, camping at the landing. It’s their boats still here – Peter’s Caledonia Yawl and Mike’s Melonseed. I didn’t expect to find anyone left, so it’s a pleasant surprise to have such good company. We catch up on the news and I go back to unloading and rigging and repairing.

I spent most of the morning fixing things. Then had to fix more things when I arrived. Nothing major, and not unexpected, but it all takes time. One reason it took so long to leave home is a bunch of extra gear and tools and supplies had to be packed, just because more fixing. Five bronze screws were missing from the floorboards, for example, which just bounced out during transit. Probably somewhere in the bilge. I dug in the box and found some that fit, replacing them. For this first trip, expectations are appropriately low.


 Lightning #2833 mostly rigged.


I got the Lightning mostly rigged before Mike and Peter wandered back over, wondering when I might think about being hungry. And did I know any place in Urbanna where one might mitigate such hunger if one were to have some. Indeed, I did, say I.


 Main Street ~ Urbanna, Virginia





Starting from the main intersection in town, Urbanna is not even a block long in any direction. Beyond are neighborhoods in one direction or the water and marinas in the other; but the town proper is just what’s right there, all of which you can see from that corner. You could throw a baseball further down any street than the town goes. The Virginia Street Cafe is on one corner of this intersection. A handwritten sign on the door says, “We have Softshell Crabs!”

An upright piano sits in the middle of the room, which the waitress says is out of tune. Women’s softball is on the TV. A fellow at the next table has brought his own cozy for the bottled beer.

I order the fried softshells, which are some of the best I’ve had anywhere. Four big crabs for less than I’ve paid for two in Baltimore. Plus three sides and really good hush puppies. They even have my favorite beer brewed near home, hours away near the mountains. This little town is starting to grow on me.


 Soft Shell Crabs and beer


After dinner, we walk down to the waterfront in the long twilight. There’s a Chesapeake Buy Boat in a slip at the town dock. A big one in good shape, fitted out for pleasure cruising.

Back at Freeport, Mike and Peter turn in. I finish unloading, as far as I’ll get tonight, and rig up the boom tent on the trailer, which is mercifully quick and easy. I’ve brought a spare 1×12 from the woodpile, strapped to one of the side benches. Sliding it next to the bench and covered with cushions it makes a great bed. Though late May, the night is clear and cold. Double layer the sleeping bag,  wear wool socks, thermal undershirt and a full set of flannels.

I hear fish jumping in the river, and whippoorwills in the woods. I’m asleep in minutes.


First night camping on the Lightning. 




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