A view of the dock at Payne’s Crab House in Urbanna, Virginia, a stop on the last day of our Rappahannock trip.
machine full of corn. For a quarter you could buy a
handful of corn and maneuver it to the top of the tower
via a pulley, luring one or more goats to navigate the
treacherous route to the treat. Don’t try this at home.
We considered a run another 15 miles up the river
to Port Royal, but our fellow cruisers had been away
from their boats all day and were eager to get back,
and with good reason. As expected, the wind was still
with us at 20 knots and gusting higher, but at least
now it was pushing us along, with a further boost from
a knot of downstream current, so we made the 16-mile
return trip in about 90 minutes. As we approached
the Tappahannock Bridge, we were puzzled to see
four boats facing upriver and one crossways. Sweet
Time had nylon anchor rode instead of cable or chain
and, we figured later, had ridden forward when the
current and wind were opposing, snaring the rode
on a stabilizer fin.
Miraculously, her anchor line waited until just after
we had gotten Solveig IV’s anchor set to finally wear
through and separate, releasing the unoccupied Krogen
39 for her own private adventure. On Solveig IV our
usual practice when something unexpected happens is
to run around and bump into each other for a while
before settling down and figuring out what to do. In
contrast, owners Nick Morgan and Sherri Smith saved
the day with their calm and methodical seamanship.
John Page quickly ferried them across the chop in his
Whaler, and they scrambled aboard Sweet Time’s swim
platform, got the engine started, and rolled in the
remnants of their anchor rode. Rather than try to rig
their spare anchor in rough seas, Nick and Sherri opted
to run down to Urbanna and tie up for the night.
Wednesday morning, as Solveig IV’s crew were
finishing up the captain’s famous hash browns, we
noticed a marine police vessel sidling up alongside.
The officers explained that the Virginia Department of
Transportation had received inquiries from concerned
citizens who wondered what such large vessels might
be up to anchored so close to a vital transportation
link. John Page satisfied the officers as to our benign
intent and peppered them with information about the
Rappahannock no terrorist could ever know, after which
we were warmly welcomed and invited back anytime.
Our journey wound down in Urbanna with a self-guided walking tour of a restored tobacco warehouse
and a boisterous group dinner at the popular Virginia
Street Café, where we again found soft-shell crabs
gracing the menu. Kadey-Krogen’s Casey Graves, who
had inspired and organized the cruise, administered a
quiz to see how much we had learned—a surprising
amount, it turned out. Everyone won a prize (explained
by the fact that Casey used to teach grade school).
Those aboard Solveig IV got an even better reward the
next morning. While off on a stratification survey, John
Page paused to catch a couple of croakers, which he
filleted for our breakfast.
NOT TO BE MISSED
This was Barbara’s and my second experience tracking
John Smith’s Chesapeake explorations, and we’d do it
again in a minute. Our first cruise, covering the better part