September 27, 2012
Once we departed the Sassafras River, we had just a little more than 30 miles to Annapolis. We would be there by mid-afternoon.
Upon our arrival, we weren’t sure exactly where we were going to anchor. Spa Creek was the more protected anchorage in close proximity to the Annapolis Boat Show. We were arriving a week before the show, so we could find a good spot. However, many boats had already arrived, and we weren’t sure if there would be a spot within decent walking distance from downtown and the show.
We chose to explore Back Creek first, but it was too narrow for our comfort. Therefore, we decided to give Spa Creek a try, but that meant passing through the drawbridge. We hailed the Annapolis Harbormaster on the VHF to find out the Spa Creek bridge opening schedule. It opens every half hour, except during morning and afternoon rush hour.
We were just far enough away from the bridge that we were either going to make the opening, or not. We had to decide to rush, or not. If we just missed it, we would be stuck waiting for 30 minutes unti the next opening. If we took our time, we would have less time to wait. We would speed up and slow down, undecided about what to do. As we got closer to the bridge, it was exactly on the half hour. We hailed the bridge tender and asked if he would still open the bridge for us. He gave us 2 minutes to get there, so we gunned the engines and made it.
As the bridge was opening, and we were finally lined up for our pass through the bridge, we gasped at the width we needed to squeeze through. Would we fit? I called the bridge tender back, asking how wide the bridge was, but he didn’t respond. At that moment, it was all or nothing. Wil chose to give it the all. He put the boat full speed ahead and went for it. I was forward on the deck, wanting to cover my eyes and brace for impact. It was just too narrow! But . . . we made it. Again, my heart was in my throat.
The Spa Creek drawbridge is 39.7 feet wide where boats pass through. Our boat is 26.4 feet wide. That means, if we pass through the bridge exactly on center, we have 6.7 feet between the side of each hull and the bridge wall. Throw in a little bit of wind and current, and you have what equates to something that’s a little too close for comfort. After the fact, we learned that there are some boats that actually pass through with their fenders down. We’ll have to remember that technique for similar situations in the future!
After we dropped the hook and got things squared away, we dinghied to shore to explore the Annapolis waterfront. Every street that ends along Spa Creek has a public dinghy dock, so getting ashore was quite convenient. We went by the Visitor Center and got information on where to find groceries and laundry facilities.
From the town’s waterfront, we saw Anything Goes approaching the Spa Creek bridge. They had been about a day behind us and pushed hard to arrive in Annapolis by that evening. We walked up on the bridge, hailed them from our handheld VHF, and told them to look up at the bridge. We all gave huge arm waves to each other.
We turned to look down the creek to see Full Monty at anchor. That’s when we noticed that Cat was anchored near us. Simon had also arrived while we had been in town. We would finally get to meet him in person.
That evening, we had Anything Goes and Cat aboard for drinks and story swapping. While we were visiting, a voice in the dark called out from a passing dinghy, asking if we knew Jennifer Wenk. Jennifer is Wil’s mom, and we’d just arrived in town to find someone who knew her from Beaufort. It turned out to be a young cruising couple, Matt and Mary Elizabeth, who had gotten a ride from West Marine (Morehead City) back to Beaufort with Wil’s mom and Pete. The cruising world gets smaller by the day.