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Last update July 02 2015
After we had a great time in Norfolk and Portsmouth, our next mission is Washington DC. Until the beginning of the Potomac River, the weather-gods are kind to us. Then the weather changed and we had huge thunderstorms and lots of rain, hail storms and fog even in some parts of the river. The temperature has dropped so severely that we wear long pants and sweaters again. What a turnaround, brrr. With hard work and stubborn sailing through it all, we arrived on June 5th in Washington DC. JoHo at anchor in the Washington Channel in the Nation's Capital. At the Gangplank Marina we can leave our dinghy and bring out the bicycles to explore DC, the day is still long.
In 1790, the proposal was signed by Congress to build a new capital. This capital city was named Washington in 1791. The first cornerstone of the White House was laid in 1792.
For the White House, Capitol and the Pentagon we need to apply for tickets. The waiting time in this for foreigners is between 3 and 6 months. Too bad they have this discouraging policy now, luckily I have been here in the nineties and have seen it all from the inside then. A lot has changed after 2001 September 11, security has become much stricter.
The first day we see most of the highlights (you see much more in the same time if you move by bike!) and in the evening we are treated with free live music near at the marina, a great day to start!
The next day we start at the Smithsonian Institution, an American research institution with huge museum complex. The majority of these musea are located in Washington DC, especially located on the National Mall. The institute was established in 1846, many years after the death of Smithson, the man whose legacy began this institution. For us it is a mecca of museums which all have free admission. With our small budget, this is of course Super!!
In the days that follow, we visit the American Indian, Air and Space, American History, Natural History, National Gallery of Art, Zoo, Freer, African and Holocaust museum.
We have a beautiful sunny day when we ride to the Pentagon, John especially wants to see it. Our first stop on the way was the Jefferson Momument. President Jefferson was the third president of America in 1804, he has given America its constitution.
Through a beautiful nature path we cycle than to the Pentagon, we want to admire it from the outside as tours are no longer available here either.
On every corner of the building there is a guard, so we see it but from a good distance...
After the Pentagon we want to go to Arlington, but our map will not help us, John decides to just ask one of them guards, right. So he cycles towards the guard post, the guy comes out and yells quite agitated "STOP !!". So John stops, a good hundred meters from the guy. Now the men have to shout to each other from a distance... I find the whole situation very funny. Anyway, eventually we find ourselves the way to Arlington. It just took us a 20 kilometers detour to the entrance.
Just before the main entrance of Arlington is the Marine Corps War Memorial and The Netherlands Carillon. The latter donated by us, Dutch people, to you American people "as thanks for their help during and after the 2nd World War". The entrance to Arlington National Cemetery is quite impressive with its countless rows of white graves. You will find graves of military, presidents, astronauts and citizens who have behaved exceptionally brave or patriottic.
This is also the burial site of John F. Kennedy and his family, complete with everlasting fire. On top of the hills you will find the Arlington house, this can be visited and is very impressively kept in old style, like you walk into the 18th century. From this point you also have a beautiful view over Washington DC. Our last stop in Arlington is at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier where we see the changing of the guard. Tired of all the impressions we come back at night on JoHo, it was an impressive day.
Another highlight was our trip to the National Cathedral and the Zoo. Along the green hills of Rock Creek, we cycled to Embassy Row, here we found most embassies, housed in beautiful old houses. Through this area we cycle to the Smithsonian Zoo, this zoo has many animals including the famous panda. And it is a Smithsonian Institution Zoo, so again free entrance. Did I already mention we love that?
Of course we cannot miss Chinatown. Everything here is bilingual, both Chinese and English. It is super busy, you find restaurants and little Chinese shops. We do the last shopping along the way, it is time to say goodbye to this wonderful city where you still can anchor in the middle of the city.
On June 13th we start the engine and sail out the Washington channel, it's still early but already hot. There's no wind, high humidity, and it is 34 degrees Celsius. It feels like Grenada in hurricane season, hot and humid. At the end of the day we concluded we survived heat and insects, time to drop the anchor. Only 20Nm to go until we are back in the Chesapeake Bay (we call it "Bug Bay" now for all the bugs there).
The next day as we go further there's no wind again, it is hot, there are a lots of insects. Bug Bay. Terrible place. We stop early in the afternoon. The weather is changing, there wil be thunder and rain. Our stop is Solomons island. Why this is called an island is a mystery to us, but here we are to fill our diesel tanks and wait out the thunderstorm.
Naval Academy, Annapolis USA
The next stop is Annapolis, it is June 15th and today was a beautiful day of sailing. We go into Weems Creek to pick up a free US Navy Marine mooring, apparently it is free when there is no named storm coming up. The bicycles are taken out and coming days we will use them in Annapolis.
This city was founded in 1649, is the capital of the state of Maryland and at the time of the formation of the US it served as the federal capital for some time. A French Tall ship (l'Hermione) is in Town and it is celebrated with a parade. Also the Hermione is free to visit, now that draws a crowd and the row is long, so we will wait until tomorrow. After the parade the French get to welcome them, we go to the Banneker-Douglass Museum, where the history of black slaves is shown. The museum is housed in the first church built entirely by African Americans.
Day two includes a visit to the Naval Academy. The United States Naval Academy is the leading school for the training of officers in the Navy and Marines, the students are called midshipmen. The academy was founded in 1845 by George Bancroft, the then Minister of the fleet. It's just great that you can walk around here freely. Almost all buildings are accessible. Can you imagine that in Den Helder in the Netherlands or in Breda at the KMA? No way.
Each building is more impressive than the other, and the museum is extraordinary. It shows the maritime history of the USA and it has the most extensive collection of model boats, which even John has ever seen. Again, the Dutch history comes along sideways, many Dutch ships are built in model here.
After all this we will try to have a look on board the Hermione. L'Hermione is an almost exact replica of Lafayette's ship. He was a French aristocrat who became famous for his role in the American War of Independence and the French Revolution. He left with l'Hermione in 1780 to the east coast of America to support George Washington and played a major role in the eventual independence from the US. Now we are on a beautifully recreated replica, they used no screws, only nails and all tar and rope. If you consider that these ships went out to sail and navigate just with a sextant, no GPS or electronic chart, and then across the ocean ... and back again. Respect.
We also visit the Maryland State House. It is the oldest State House which is still used and it has even served as the Capital in 1783, it is beautifully restored, and even foreigners are welcome to admire this building. Annapolis is yet another place where we'd definitely want to come back to.
It is Friday, June 19th when we decide to proceed. After much deliberation, we will go to Baltimore. John had his doubts whether it is worthwhile to sail on the Patapsco River. But I'm glad we did those 10Nm, what a city; beautiful skyline and a good anchorage and free dock.
There is so much to see, it feels European with all the terraces and bars. You can enjoy hiking. Probably even biking.
Now we have to make choices, as we decided to leave the bikes on board we cannot see everything. Thus, we first walk through the center. And yes, there is the Hermione again, but it is not alone here. There are two more Tall Ships. We walk to Federal Hill for a view of the city and then to Charles Street. This historic street runs from the harbor towards north Baltimore. What a pleasure to walk around in Peabody Library, this beautiful bibliotheque with 300,000 volumes opened in 1878 thanks to George Peabody. The Cathedral of Baltimore is also worth a visit, the interior and the paint are exceptionally beautiful. Suddenly we see a beautiful old building, it appears to be the Garrett-Jacobs house. John dares it, goes inside, asks and yes, we can walk around on the ground floor and oh what beautiful, everything is still in its original state.
There is still more to see but JoHo had to leave for the next stop...
Wednesday June 24th is the day we leave the Chesapeake Bay by the C & D canal to the Delaware River. The channel is also used by barges and sometimes we are overtaken by a large barge. When the noise and anxiety disappears we see and hear a lot of birds. Halfway through the channel there's a bald Eagle flying, something special.
The channel is 12Nm long. Once we are on the Delaware river we can sail again, and just past Wilmington we see three tall ships coming up the river behind us. Some on sails. They are all on their way to Philadelphia, Camden to be exact.
A fourth tall ship is sailing towards us from up north and passes us a hundred meters away toward one of the approaching ships. They also practice gunfire here. Going back in time, fun.
Later that day we arrived in Essington, this is 6Nm south of Philly. Here Danielle and Lee are docked on SY Pangea, good friends which we know from the Bahamas.
We just have our anchor thrown out before the Anchorage Marina as within 10 minuten we see Lee, Danielle and their friend John. We are invited to a happy hour on the side with food. Had a great time and met many new people. It's a fun group that has been very good to us, they'll always be ingraved into our memories.
We have to make a decision for the next month whether we sail to New York or we stay around the Chesapeake. Wqde'll see how far we get at least to Toms River we think, to Tom and Linda.
I finished a special photobook, about our travels 10 years JoHo's travel from 2001 to 2011.
Curious ? Then click the link.
And if you're interested in sailing the BAHAMAS, BERMUDA, MALDIVES, BONAIRE, SURINAME or ARUBA have a look at our books at SAILADVENTURES where the books are available online.
You can always mail us for more info on these cruising grounds or cruising in general, we'll gladly help you out.
JoHo is at anchor in Essington, Pennsylvania, USA at 39°51,4' N - 75°17,6' W.
Our floating home and office is always ready for us to work for ourselves as writers and editors compiling cruising guides on our way.
Remember to live life to the max, it can be over before you know it. That's our motto.
John and Jolanda