Saturday, September 3, 2016

Last Days of Summer

White Pepper's idyllic summer cruise of the Chesapeake is drawing to a close. For the final two weeks of summer we visited Onancock on the eastern shore of Virginal and Deltaville on the western shore before returning to the Customs House Marina in Hampton, VA.

Onancock was the site of White Pepper's last stop on the 2008 cruise of the Chesapeake. It has changed little. We anchored only a few feet from the spot where we had anchored in 2008. The dock has been rebuilt and improved. The marvelous old hardware store at the foot of Market street is now a furniture gallery which is a shame. All of the other quaint shops, boutiques and restaurant seem unchanged.
Our spot on Onancock Creek

What made this year's visit special was the courtesy of Ron and Linda from m/v Escape. We had met Ron and Linda two years ago in the Bahamas. They live only one creek south of Onancock Creek and graciously showed us around with there car. The high light of the day was a trip to Chincoteague and the Assateague National Seashore. For the past 300 years Chincoteague and Assateague Islands has been to home to a herd of wild ponies. Apparently they escaped from early settlers and have thrived in the marshy wilderness ever since. Over the years these have become quite famous. Once a year in June some of the ponies are rounded up and swum across the inlet to be auctioned off. The event draws visitors from all over the nation. We were lucky to be able to see several dozen of the ponies grazing in small bands on a beautiful afternoon. We also had some quality time at the Assateague beach. This beach is the only sandy beach on the Atlantic side of the Delmarva peninsula. Then it was back to Onancock for a well deserved beer at the Irish pub, the Blarney Stone.
 Ponies (You should click on the picture to enlarge)
 More ponies (again need to click)

Jan, Ron, and Linda on Assateague Beach

White Pepper's return to Deltaville was bittersweet. She spent two years here from 2008 to 2010. While walking and bicycling about the town Jan and I were reminded of how much time and interest we had invested in those years. Also it was sad to see Deltaville even more sleepy than ever. Several of the restaurants have closed or operate on reduced schedule. There are now more marine canvas shops (4) in operation than restaurants (3). West Marine has gone from two large stores to one medium size store. Most upsetting was Deltaville Boatyard where White Pepper was stored for two winters and underwent extensive work. The yard was for sale and only a shadow of the bustling place we remembered.

Deltaville Boatyard and Marina on Jackson Creek

To break up the trip from Deltaville to Hampton White Pepper stopped again in Mobjac Bay. This time we chose the Severn River to anchor. There are two Severn Rivers in the Chesapeake Bay. This is the one that does not include the Naval Academy. It is scenic and rural. There are no marinas near by. We spent a placid night and left for Hampton the next morning.

Back in Hampton White Pepper was warmly welcomed by old friends at the Customs House Marina. Also waiting to welcome us was tropical storm Hermine which paid a surprise visit. The marina is well up the Hampton River. We were not bothered by wind or waves. However, the storm surge was quite impressive. The weather service forecast a 6 foot surge. Fortunately, the storm passed offshore during low tide. By the time of the next high tide there was probably only 3 or 4 feet of surge on top of the 4 foot lunar tide. As you can see the water was well over the docks.

Over the Labor Day Weekend Karl struggled to do White Pepper's 500 hour/ two year engine overhaul—oil, coolant, filters, belt, etc. Then Tuesday it is off to Texas for a visit while White Pepper remains in Hampton.