Krogens Cruise The Rappahannock
watermen, Deltaville now hosts and repairs workboats
and pleasure vessels. After our museum visit, the bacon-wrapped sea scallops at Cocomo’s were a giant hit.
On Monday morning our explorations began in
earnest, as our six vessels threaded their way out the
circuitous but well-marked channel to the Piankatank,
skirted Stingray Point, and turned into the 20- to 25-
knot breeze piping down the Rappahannock.
There are no obvious anchorages farther up than
Urbanna. In planning the trip I had persuaded myself
that boats of our size and heft, carrying suitable ground
tackle, could anchor at any wide spot in the river with
enough depth, decent holding, and a safe separation
from the navigation channel, which is plied by barges
and an occasional cruise boat. Even then, the charts
into town to rendezvous with John Page Williams and
Bill Portlock at Lowery’s, where fresh soft-shell crabs had
just that day turned up on the menu.
On Tuesday morning, given the pelting rain, we opted
against the planned small-craft trip to Leedstown.
Instead, I took our tender around and fetched everyone
for a ride on Solveig IV. With an audience, there was
some question whether first mate Barbara would perform
her traditional dance on the foredeck when she had the
anchor aboard and secured. Exuberance won out.
CRUISING THE HOSPITABLE BATTLEFIELD
We towed John Page’s Whaler, First Light, while Bill
multitasked in his, snapping pictures and surveying the
river. Our whole crowd was able to gather in Solveig IV’s
Courtesy of Casey Graves
Left: Aboard Krogen 58 Solveig IV, participants put their cruise experience to music, composing the annual “Treasure the
Chesapeake” song. Pictured from left are Barbara Holum, Mike Warren, Dyan Warren, and cruise organizer Casey Graves.
Right: The Rappahannock is easily navigable for its entire length. John Page Williams’ Whaler, First Light, came along for the ride.
revealed few obvious sites. Secluded coves are not to
be found in the slim upper reaches of tidal rivers. Even
farther down, as the waterway narrows, the current
accelerates and, in the familiar pattern, scours out deep
channels on the outside bends—fine for navigation but
no good for secure anchoring—while silting in the
inside, leaving those spots too shallow. After consulting
with John Page, I had picked a wide spot with 9 feet of
water and a mud bottom about 40 miles up, across
from Tappahannock and just short of the Route 360
bridge (which has a 50-foot vertical clearance).
Given that we were on a river, the ride wasn’t bad,
even in the howling wind. The marshes fell behind and
lush, green banks gradually angled closer. We reached
our preselected wide spot by around 4 p.m., and
everyone got their anchors securely set among the
whitecaps. The wind tapered off a bit for our dinghy ride
pilothouse, where John Page provided a running lesson
on everything we saw and all the experiences Capt.
Smith and his crew had enjoyed. He also assigned us to
put a waypoint on the spot where we guessed Smith had
been attacked by Rappahannock Indians from the 150-
foot-high Fones Cliffs, driving him across the river and
into a marsh where more warriors waited in ambush. He
assessed our collective judgment as pretty fair.
As we approached our destination, I began kicking
myself for not choosing the wide spot just a mile
downriver, near Otterbush Marsh, as the group
anchorage. It wasn’t as roomy as the location I had
selected, but it had plenty of space for six boats and
was better sheltered. Too late.
In any event, by the time we’d covered the 16 miles
to Leedstown, the sky had cleared and the wind was
blocked, so, with the help of 14 experienced line