To Washington DC And Family

“Blue” helicopter flying overhead

July 23rd

Today our planned anchorage is at Mattawoman Creek. Before we left Paul went on line and checked the chart. He got confused when the whole creek showed depths of only 2-3 feet. So he looked at the paper charts and saw 7-8 feet. After some more investigation we found that there are two Mattawoman creeks, one off the Potomac (our planned stop) and one off the Chesapeake Bay proper! It took us under three hours to make the anchorage, again passing through debris fields of serious sized pieces, some large tree trunks and pieces of dock.

Large debris
Large debris

We passed Quantico to our port where helicopters were constantly circling and a number of V-22 Ospreys taking off. It is interesting to watch these lift off slowly in helicopter mode and then transition to prop planes. We knew that Qualtico was home to the Marines, but didn’t realize until we looked it up that many many military departments have their training and HQs there. From Wiki: The base is the site of the Marine Corps Combat Development Command and HMX-1 (the presidential helicopter squadron), Officer Candidate School, and The Basic School. The United States Drug Enforcement Administration‘s training academy, the FBI Academy, the FBI Laboratory, the Naval Criminal Investigative Service, the United States Army Criminal Investigation Command, and the Air Force Office of Special Investigations headquarters are on the base.

Osprey aircraft from Quantico

We slowly went into the anchorage a hundred yards off the shore which gave us nice protection from the southerly wind, though it stayed a light breeze most of the night. After anchoring we saw signs along the north bank telling us that it was a restricted area. It had a number of objects laid along the shoreline. After it got dark we saw that these were large bright lights pointed upwards. We have no idea what that place was so will do some research later.

Nice tight anchorage!
Lights from restricted area

July 24th

Today was without doubt the most stressful of our cruise so far. Maybe even the most stressful since we got Sonas!

Our plan was to run the three hours to Alexandria, tie up at the city dock there, and have a walk around and dinner. Then tomorrow head for the Capital Yacht Club right downtown for a six day stay.

We left the anchorage and immediately started seeing more and more debris fields. Again some pieces were very large. We pulled back on the throttles and took our time keeping a close watch on the water. As we got to the final bend before seeing the Alexandria Bridge Paul saw a huge piece of tree right on our bow. It had a grey bark and had been well hidden by the water. He immediately threw the helm over and took the tree down our starboard side. When it got half way down the hull he threw the helm the other way to try and spin the stern of the boat away from the tree. As we waited for what seemed an age but was only a second or two we heard and felt a number of quick crunches, then the tree passed behind us. Paul slowed down the boat and went below to check everything out. Thankfully all seemed fine.  He then slowly increased the engine revs listening and feeling for any vibration, fortunately there was none. He moved the helm and the rudders responded as they should with no vibration. We believe the tree had branches and one was low enough that the prop cut it, but was fine enough not to do any damage.  Making the turn towards Alexandria Paul went to cruise speed for a while and all was good.

As we went under the Alexandria Bridge we hailed them for our docking assignment. They assigned us a T-Head. As we approached we saw that the T-Head was only about 25 feet long, requiring us to also tie up both bow and stern to remote piles. The second issue was that the dock was absolutely full of debris, including large pieces. We slowing went in, pushing the debris to one side. The wind was pushing us on to the dock, which usually is a help. This time however, because of the small dock length and we could only tie to one pile at a time, or stern was pushed around a pile. We decided to leave the dock and go back out and come in again. When we left the dock we decided that it generally was not a suitable dock and the debris field was worrying so we radioed them and told them we were going to look for somewhere else.

Twenty foot piece of tree near Alexandria

Sian then called the Capital Yacht Club to see if we could come in a day early. No one answered the phone so she left a message. She kept trying with no luck. It was 11:30 so we assumed they had gone to lunch.

None of the three marinas in downtown sell fuel and we weren’t sure that they had holding tank pump out facilities. So we popped into James Creek Marina and took a pump out, and topped up with a small amount of fuel. We didn’t really need the fuel but since we were there anyway for the pump out we took advantage to save time later on.

Meanwhile Sian kept trying CYC. Still no answer. When we left James Creek we then tried them on the VHF. Still no response from the dockmaster. We slowly cruised down to The Wharf and stopped right off the marina, calling and radioing. Still no answer. There is a small anchorage just south of the marinas so we decided to anchor there until we could get in touch with them. No sooner had we put the anchor down than they answered the phone and confirmed that they had space for us. We lifted the anchor and tied up at the T-Head on dock A, within view of The Washington Monument.

Downtown berth.

We checked in and were given a tour of the private yacht club facilities and electronic key cards. The club was founded in 1872 but had just moved into these brand new first class facilities last October.

After tidying up we walked along the Wharf District. We had friends coming in tomorrow night to have dinner so we were scouting out somewhere to eat. We went into the Anchor, a ships store, and saw that they had a selection of wine. Since they deliver to boats we ordered some wine which would be delivered on Thursday. We then had a Ben and Jerry’s ice cream. Later that night we had dinner at Hank’s Oyster Bar, before settling in for the evening.

July 25th

After breakfast we walked the half mile to Safeway supermarket for some supplies. Because we had bought some heavy things like bottles of milk and vinegar we grabbed an Uber back. After putting away the purchases we walked over to CVS as Paul wanted to replace our small flashlight. As we checked out Sian looked at the name tag of the manager who was checking us out and thought she recognized it.

“Did you use to live in Yardley PA?”

Yes, this young lady was friends with our daughter when we lived there and we were friends with her parents. We hadn’t seen them in at least eighteen years! What a coincidence, especially since she told us she had just moved to DC a week ago. So Paul took a photo of Sian and Emily and sent it to Claire and asked her if she knew who this was – about a minute later she came back with her name! They were 11 when they were last saw each other!

Emily and Sian

We had lunch at Taylor Gourmet before heading back to Sonas. Paul wanted to give the boat a soapy wash and scrub to get rid of some of the mud from the anchor area on the foredeck and wash away all of the salt and dirt that had gathered on the boat on our run up. We then got ourselves tidied up as we were having an early dinner with  friends.

Chris and Paul worked together at Johnson & Johnson and Chris had retired from the company one year earlier than Paul. He was spending some time in Baltimore so suggested that we get together for a tour of Sonas and an early dinner. He and his wife Nancy arrived and took the brief tour of the boat and then we set off for dinner at Landini Brothers in Old Town Alexandria. We had a delicious Italian dinner while the rain poured outside yet again. It was so heavy that at one stage all of the cell phones in the restaurant went off with a local flash flood warning.  Afterwards Chris and Nancy dropped us off at our marina where we ran through the steady downpour to the boat!

July 26th

We decided to try and get some exercise in this morning. So after breakfast we walked towards the National Mall, planning to briskly walk a half hour out then back. As we walked in the warmth of the bright sunshine we saw lot of ladies in light sun dresses. Sian regretted not packing any as they would have been perfect for this upcoming hot days in DC. So we Google mapped some stores and off we went to do some dress shopping!

After a successful shop we had lunch at Kilwin’s Irish Pub then swung by the Anchor ship store to ask about our wine order. It had just been delivered to the store and they would soon be delivering it to the boat, and sure enough fifteen minutes later it arrives dockside.

After storing the wine we went up to the wharf and has a drink at Kilwin’s where we could watch the yacht club building. We have family joining us for the next few days. John and Anne Marie arrived by train at Union Station We needed to meet them to get them access through the secured gate. They arrived and after hugs they joined us for a drink before stowing their luggage on Sonas.

Afterwards we grabbed an Uber and went for an evening walk on the National Mall. We had the Uber drop us off at the Air and Space Museum around seven. It was closing at seven thirty so we just walked through from the rear entrance through the lobby, briefly showing John and Anne Marie what was there, and then immediately exited the front entrance. We walked down the Mall to the World War II memorial and then caught another Uber back to the boat, where we had dinner on board.

Cooling off in the WW II fountains

July 27th

Today would be our first full day as tourists! We grabbed the free bus that runs from the District Wharf to the Mall, then walked across to the National Archives. We waited until it opened at ten and then visited the Rotunda to see originals of the Declaration of Independence, Bill of Rights and the Constitution. We also went through the Freedom and Vietnam exhibits there. Heading towards the Air and Space Museum we grabbed lunch at Quiznos before all four of us took in the Journey to the Stars IMAX movie. We then split up, with the ladies going off to the Newseum, the story of journalism and the reporting of major world events, while the boys stayed for hours at the air and space museum. Meeting back at Sonas we got cleaned up, had a cocktail on board before having an Asian dinner at Kaliwa on the Wharf.

International Sailor at the Navy Memorial

A second brother and sister-in-law, Paschal and Margaret, had arrived late afternoon from Ireland. It took them over two hours to get through immigration, and then an hour and a half to get into the city from Dulles airport due to heavy traffic. They checked into their hotel and later in the evening Paschal came down to visit and lay out our tourist plan for the next day.

July 28th

John and Anne Marie set off for the Newseum, while Paul bought six tickets for the Hop On Hop Off bus that does the circuit of DC. We had to go up to Union Station to convert the E-Tickets to boarding stickers, so we all met up there for lunch at ROTI Mediterranean, and to join the next bus. We took the narrated tour by the Capitol Building and along the south side of the National Mall. We got off at Arlington National Cemetery and transferred to the tour trolley that would take us around the cemetery. We visited the Kennedy eternal flame and then got off at the amphitheater to watch the emotional changing of the guard at the Tomb Of The Unknown Soldier.

The tomb of the unknown
Monitor sailors grave
Arlington Cemetery
Kennedy eternal flame

Changing Of The Guard at The Tomb Of The Unknown Soldier

We returned to the transit center at the Lincoln Memorial and grabbed an Uber back to the Wharf. After relaxing and a couple of cocktails we headed off to The Pearl Street Warehouse as we had tickets to see a young female country trio Maybe April. We had bar food at the venue and were out of there and back to the boat by 10:30.

Drinks at Pearl Street Warehouse
Maybe April

July 29th

Today Paschal and Margaret headed for The American Indian Museum, The Air and Space Museum and The Sculpture Garden. The rest of us walked over to the White House Visitor’s Center, which was very well done, before taking some photos in front of the iconic building itself. We then walked over to the World War II Memorial, and along the Reflecting Pool to the Vietnam War Memorial. Following that we walked up the steps into the Lincoln Memorial, finishing at the Korean War Memorial.

The Whitehouse
Lincoln Monument
The Reflecting Pool
Korea War Memorial

We then split up with John and Anne Marie off to do some shopping while we headed back to Sonas for a well deserved nap.

For this evening we had reserved a table at the upscale Del Mar restaurant right at the Wharf.  We had a delicious Spanish meal with lots of Paella before night caps on Sonas.


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