Washington DC (part 2) and back down the Potomac River

On our last full day in Washington DC, we visited the WWII memorial and the Lincoln Monument.  We enjoyed our days in DC while touring together with Charlie & Robin from The Lower Place. We either walked a lot or shared an Uber ride with our Looper friends.

While in DC, we stayed at Gangplank Marina in Washington DC. Most of the boaters at Gangplank are live-aboards. Viewing the many unique “house” boats in the marina proved most enlightening. Costs to live aboard your boat are considerably less than to rent or purchase a land dwelling in DC.  We were shocked to discover that the national sights were free to visit. You just need to stand in line to receive your ticket for your tour. In the case of the Capitol tour, the ticket will be time stamped for the group you are assigned to follow. Other items such as restaurant and grocery foods are priced more than we are accustomed to in the north.

To get to Washington DC, we traveled up the Potomac River which covered over 100 miles up and then 100 miles back—a slight detour off our main route, but well worth the trip.    On the way back down the river, we stayed at Cobb Island where we enjoyed Maryland Blue Crab for the first time.  Our waitress was gracious enough to give us a live tutorial on the art of undressing the crab to best uncover the detectable morsels within the crab itself. Crab tastes similar to Maine lobster, but with much more effort to get to the meat. The crab was served with melted butter. The Maryland Blue Crab is also called the Atlantic blue crab or Chesapeake blue crab. It is the Maryland state crustacean and is also the state’s largest commercial fishery.  The crabs are blue when caught, but magically turn red when steamed.  They were very good especially since they are fresh off the boats which dock in the marina.

We passed the St. Clements Lighthouse and noticed the extremely tall cross on the island next to the lighthouse. The first English settlers arrived on the island in 1634 on the sailing ships named the Ark and the Dove. The island consists of a 62-acre park with a memorial 40-foot stone cross dedicated to the memory of the first Marylanders.

As we were approached Smith Creek where we planned to anchor for the night, the clouds immediately began to darken. Warnings about possible severe storms broadcast on the marine radio.   We anchored in the bay and battened down the hatches for the storm.   Over 40-mile winds blew in the bay as the storm passed by in two different sections. We were thankful our big (used to be shiny) Mantus anchor held.  During the storm and 24 hours later we took pictures. Comparing the two groups of photos, it was hard to believe what a difference just a day can bring! The very next night, we witnessed a beautiful reddish-orange sunset painted over Smith Creek.


Lincoln Memorial and WWII Memorial

Houses on Capitol Hill


Umbrella Crowd – Steve Teresa Charlie and Robin



House Boats at Gangplank Marina in Washington DC



We see lots of Osprey nests along the waterways.   Most of the markers for the waterways seem to have a nest built on them, which are a large collection of sticks.   It is nesting time now so we see them sitting on the nests waiting for their eggs to hatch.

Osprey Nests


Cobb Island


Crabs for lunch


Storm in Smith Creek


In every state Teresa takes a picture of a license plate. Some how this just seems perfect that in this area with more government employees than anywhere else the motto complains about taxes and the plate is held on with zip ties.



On to Washington DC (Part One)

Approaching Washington DC, you can see the Washington Monument from a long way away since it is the highest structure in the area.  Numerous planes and helicopters flew over as we approached the city.  Busy Reagan International Airport is next to the river. Many helicopters fly along the river and we continue to sight an abundance of aircraft all around us. Neither Teresa or Steve have ever traveled to the Washington DC area, so we saw everything with fresh and amazed eyes.

Once we arrived at Gangplank Marina in Washington. we met our looper friends Charlie and Robin McVey from the motor vessel The Lower Place.  They arrived a few days before us and scouted out the lay of the land. It was wonderful to re-connect with them again in a different setting. We toured many of the Washington DC sites with them.  We saw the Capitol at sunset, the White house, Washington Monument, Arlington National Cemetery (such a moving, humbling place), Trump Hotel (refurbished home of the Oldest Post Office), and the Thomas Jefferson Library of Congress. Books lined shelves and alcoves–many old volumes protected within a temperature-controlled environment. Of particular interest to Teresa was the quote: “I cannot live without books!”  We had the privilege of indulging in appetizers and drinks at BLT Prime inside the Trump Hotel.  Warm popovers graced our table at the start, followed by an appetizer, Clothesline Candied Maple Bacon featuring four slices of thick bacon suspended from a mini copper wire held on by wooden clothespins, and a dill pickle. How bad can it be–it’s BACON?! The presentation was worth it all as our server torched the bacon and a spring of herbs prior to serving. The food was absolutely remarkable!

We were thankful our wait for the US Capitol tour tickets was minimal. Normally, huge busloads of school children and adults filled the lines to the max. We just made it through before that happened. Experienced a good tour through the Capitol lingering in The Rotunda—heart and center of the Capitol. Paintings depict various events associated with the exploration and settlement of the United states such as “Embarkation of the Pilgrims” and “Baptism of Pocahontas.” Many of the larger buildings have gift shops with postcards and most any memorabilia you might desire.

The changing of the guard at Arlington is an amazing sight in precision and reverence.   The steps, uniform, and each detail are exact in every aspect.   We watched a changing of a ceremonial wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier and heard a soldier play taps as part of that process.

On Sunday, we worshiped with Christ Church Episcopal Washington Parrish where we understand Thomas Jefferson attended back in the day. A plaque on the outside church wall states the Christ Church was founded in 1795 and was the first church in the city of Washington. Friendly church people. We met Rev. Cara Spaccarelli who now owns a copy of Teresa’s book. Afterwards, we toured the neighborhood with a recommendation from Charles (gentleman we met in the front foyer of the church), walked past the barracks and commandant’s home.  Walking on the sidewalks in front of such varied colors and architectural design proved a treat all by itself. Homes created from various materials stacked next to each other, house next to house, without space in between; only rod iron fences separate families. Their mini yards often bore bricks or small vegetable plantings and flowers. I’m told families exercise and play together in numerous community parks sprinkled throughout the town. This particular section of town reminded me of back home, a place called Eastown in Grand Rapids, Michigan. The first restaurant we stopped at said they had a 2-hour, 15 minute wait—we declined and moved on. Walking a few more blocks we came upon various diners and chose to satisfy our hungry tummies at Ophelia’s Fish House. Urban living to the fullest degree.

We walked between 5-8 miles daily while in DC. We also took advantage of Uber, and rode the Metro train for the first time. Hop on and hop off buses are popular. Also, our friends Charlie & Robin from The Lower Place highly recommend the Segway narrated tours which can be seen rolling here and there among the streets and popular buildings.

Thoughts while sitting on the Amphitheater steps of the Unknown Soldier:

Oh, the tears, the blood shed
Represented here in this place.
Row after Row after Row
White tombstones
Representing sons, fathers, uncles.
Real live people.
Real live losses.

Days gone by.
Ancestors, family, friends.
What sacrifices!
All to secure my freedom and yours.
Words cannot describe
The debt we owe
To the many who’ve gone on before.

I am humbled, speechless
Driven to my knees.
My only response
Is Thank You.
And then the tears flow.

I doubt that many other Loopers can claim they saw the sixth annual Running of The Chihuahuas. Dog lovers actually race chihuahuas in Washington DC. There were 16 rounds leading up to the race to determine the overall winner. The top three winners receive cash prizes.  There is so much to see and do here it is overwhelming, and we only sampled a small portion. We are thankful to be here and experience a taste of big city life and urban living.


Arlington National Cemetery 


Library of Congress


White House


Capitol Building


Washington Monument


Trump Hotel


Washington Train Ride


Running of the Chihuahuas



More about Washington DC to follow…………

Through Norfolk Naval Shipyard area and up the Potomac River

Once we returned to the boat, we visited Norfolk and toured the new Waterside area and the Nauticus Museum with Scott and Mary from the motor vessel Jaycie Lynn.  The battleship Wisconsin is on display at the Nauticus Museum. The Battleship Wisconsin served in World War II, Korea, and Desert Storm.  It was launched in 1944 and decommissioned in 1991.  It is 887’ long and had a crew of up to 2800 men.

We continued our trek north from Atlantic Yacht Basin (AYB) where the first encounter along the water way is a lift bridge and a lock.   The lock is a small 2’ drop, but it was the first lock we traveled through since last year on the rivers. We will not see another lock until the Erie Canal at Waterford north of New York City.

The trip through Norfolk Naval Shipyard area seemed overwhelming with all the war ships undergoing refurbishment and construction.   One of the aircraft carriers was heading out to sea as we passed through the area.  It was nice of them to put on a show for us. We also saw ocean going container ships in the harbor.

Once past Norfolk, we traveled up the Chesapeake Bay which is very wide and reminded us of Lake Michigan.  The bay was calm and flat on our way to the Potomac River.  We left the Bay to travel up the Potomac to visit Washington DC.  It took two days to make the trip up the river to Washington DC.

Our trip up the Potomac took us past the Harry W. Nice Memorial Bridge at Newburg Virginia.  The bridge has 135’ clearance above the water in the center.  There were workers suspended in bucket booms below the bridge.  They would be a candidate for the worst jobs television program.

We stayed at the Colonial Beach Yacht Center marina where we ate at Dockside Restaurant & Tiki Bar right off the Potomac River. The restaurant had a small beach with old skis fashioned into benches, old power boats as art, and sand boxes for the children. Very rustic, but we received good service with tasty food.

The trip continued past Quantico, Mount Vernon, Fort Washington, and many additional sights.  Our next blog post will be about visiting Washington DC.


Battleship Wisconsin



Norfolk Waterside Area




The lift bridge at Great Bridge just past Atlantic Yacht Basin


The Lock at Great Bridge


Norfolk Ship yards


Calm Seas on the Chesapeake Bay


Working on Bridge over Potomac River



Fort Washington on the Potomac River


Next post our visit to Washington DC…………

Atlantic Yacht Basin, a quick trip home, and on to Minnesota

From Belhaven, we traveled to Alligator River and then on to Chesapeake near Norfolk VA.   The trip was smooth and uneventful along the water ways.  A nice contrast to the last few days.  While we were at Belhaven, there was a severe storm in the night.  The wind blew from the east at over 40 and then switched around and blew over 40 from the west.   A sail on the boat behind us started to tear loose, so we worked to tie it up to keep it from doing more damage. After all that, we were thankful for a few calm days.

The plan was to leave the boat at Atlantic Yacht Basin (AYB) and rent a car to travel back to Michigan.   We planned to drive so we could off load several things picked up along the trip.  It was great to visit with friends and family back at home.   After a few days at home, we traveled to Minnesota to visit the grand kids.  The grand kids were having a dance performance and Nanna told Liberty that this year we were coming to see the recital in person.  Two of the grand kids and their parents were all in the dance performance.  We had a delightful time seeing the performance, going hiking, eating ice cream and s’mores, and experiencing a couple cookouts while visiting the grandkids.

After the visit in Minnesota, we drove home, and then flew back to Norfolk.  We had scheduled a quick haul and bottom wash at AYB to have the running gear and underwater zincs checked.  So out of the water onto the travel lift came Sanctuary.   Everything looked good except one of the zincs needed to be replaced.  When you have dissimilar metals in water and especially in salt water, they will corrode by a process called electrolysis.  If you put a sacrificial metal (zinc) on your under-water metal, the sacrificial metal (zinc) will dissolve, protecting your bronze propellers and stainless steel shafts.   With a clean bottom and new zinc, Sanctuary went back in the water ready to continue the journey.

While here at AYB, a fellow Looper, Susan from Suzy Q was hit in the night by a barge crushing her against the T-dock. Fortunately, she was not in her boat at the time so she was not injured. She’s understandably shook up. Susan just began the Great Loop 21 days ago single-handed. The barge company admits full responsibility and is paying for a room, food, and clothing for her in the interim. She’s in need of prayer as she navigates through the many tough decisions she needs to make.

At AYB, there are many unique and interesting boats to look at.   This boat yard specializes in taking care of many older one-of-a-kind boats.   They have a track type lift that can pull very large boats out of the water.  While we were at AYB, there was one on that lift that measured at least 100’ long.  The storage buildings are over water and the boats are pulled into the sheds.  After the haul-out, we were directed to dock Sanctuary inside one of the buildings, which worked out well because it has been raining for a couple days and more rain was predicted.


Dock at AYB where Sanctuary stayed while we went home


Spring has sprung up north

Visits with Amanda

Grand Kids Dance Performance in Minnesota


S’mores by the fire pit

Fire pit to cook S’mores



Some of the unique boats at AYB

Sanctuary gets a lift