Events Site Seeing Underway

Cardboard Boat Race in Seaford, the closure of the Autopilot Saga, Cruise to DC and playing tourist and piano

Washington, D.C. – September 2, 2017

Greetings from soggy DC.  We’re socked in with Harvey’s remnants.  Meryl is finally sewing again as it’s cool enough.  In fact we woke up to 63 degrees and I put the heat on to remove the chill from the salon.  Funny thing is the forecast for Monday/Tuesday is high 80’s then it will drop to the 70’s and apparently stay there for a while depending upon what Irma does.

The last post had us in Seaford, DE and obviously we’re in DC now but I wanted to go back and fill in the blanks, some of which are a boat load of laughs.   I think you’ll catch on soon…

Cardboard Boat Race –  Seaford, DE – August 5, 2017

While in Seaford, we were treated to a front row seat (from our sundeck) at the annual cardboard boat race.  I had heard of them but never saw one.  I embedded some video clips from the races.  Lots of fun and worth clicking on the them.

Clip 1

Clip 2

Clip 3

Clip 4

Closure to the Autopilot Saga – August 16, 2017

Finally, the autopilot is repaired.  As it turns out the pump motor was DOA.  Apparently it was running so poorly that it was causing an excessive current draw on the processor which shut down the processor.  I may not have described technically perfect but you get the idea. According to my good friend Shay Glass, the interesting thing is that the processor that I replaced probably is still good and never needed replacement even though it tested poorly.  It doesn’t take up much space under our bed where many of our replacement parts are stored so we’ll keep it just in case.  Meanwhile we tested the system on a sea trial and all is good.

Interesting side note.  Compare the difference in size of 40 year old technology on the right in the picture below to its replacement of today on the left.


Cruise to the District of Columbia – August 17, 2017

We left the marina around 11 a.m. because we had to wait for the tide to rise or we would have gotten stuck in the marina entrance.  As we left the dock I made a critical mistake by forgetting to close and latch the cockpit gate which ended up getting entangled in the power pulpit on the dock, the result of which caused the lower hinge on the door to bend which keeps the door from closing.  Meryl discovered it and rigged a GearTie which is a wonder product found in Home Depot.  It’s a reusable rubber twist tie that supports a tremendous amount of weight and pressure.  I’ll have to attempt repairs once in DC.

The cruise down river was as beautiful as up river emptying into the Chesapeake.  This time however because of our route, we were turning right to cross the Chesapeake; instead of heading south we needed to go west.  Part of this traversing required crossing a fairly narrow channel albeit very well marked.  We also had to concern ourselves with potential naval aircraft firing range operations which we were told take place often in that section of the bay (which wasn’t clearly marked on the charts) and sometimes requires having to detour as much as 5 miles which could affect travel times by as much as 2 hours depending upon where you’re headed, and the effects of wind and current. Fortunately on this day, there were no naval craft in the vicinity warding us off.  There was some “warship” chatter on the VHF warning traffic out of a 15 mile area because of active gunfire but that was at least 75 miles away from us and not an issue but with the warning we received and the naval chatter on the radio, I did call the Coast Guard to inquire as to whether or not they had been advised of any naval operations in the area of our crossing.  They said we were cleared to go through.

I had studied this route and felt certain we could make it across the Chesapeake and anchor up on the other side by dinner time, even though we got a late start.  Well….I had made my first navigation calculation error since living aboard Kokomo.  I had evidently confused a couple of routes in my navigation system and simply miscalculated the time/distance from point A to point B and had to find an alternate anchorage on the fly.  We found one on the chart in the Honga River at a spot behind Hooper Island in the middle of the bay but unfortunately it was not protected from the wind so we ended up having a very bumpy night but the anchor held without incident.  At the end of the day, because of the miscalculation we had little choice if we wanted to set the hook before nightfall…

Seaford appears in the circle upper right, and Hooper Island anchorage appears in the circle in the lower left.

Cruise to D.C. day 2 – August 18, 2017

Being the weather hawk that I usually am, I discerned that heavy weather would arrive in the central Potomac River anytime after 3 p.m. so I decided I wanted to have my anchor set by 2 p.m if possible which is much earlier than we usually stop for the day (only a 57 nm cruise) but I had no desire to drive into what was being forecast as heavy rain, hail and winds exceeding 50 mpg!

I found a spot on the chart I expected to protect us from all sides except east and because the storms were forecast to travel from west to east I thought for sure we would be in the clear – NOT!

The rain started much later than forecast but it rained so hard we literally couldn’t see past the bow of the boat and wind tracked at least 50 mpg causing Kokomo to buck like a bronco.  Our anchor held just fine and Kokomo didn’t leak so it was actually kind of neat watching this front closing in on us, in fact from all sides and then open up for a couple of hours, finally calming down around 11 for a lovely night’s sleep.

57 nm Cruise from Hooper Island (red circle upper right) to Potomac Beach (red circle upper left), August 18, 2017

Cruise to DC day 3 – arrival August 19, 2017

The Potomac River is very pretty and quite wide for most of the way.  Suffice to say some very prominent DCers both political, private sector, and sports icons live along the banks of this majestic river.  I didn’t bother photographing homes because we’ve all seen 10,000′ or larger homes along waterfronts if not in person, in magazines and while they are breathtaking to see in person, pictures don’t capture the moment so I didn’t bother.  However, I did tale some pics!

Mount Vernon – home of George Washington which at one time spanned 8,000 acres which took it all the way river to what is now the Woodrow Wilson Bridge

One of many buildings on the campus of the US Naval Laboratory on the bank of the Potomac

Approaching the Gangplank Marina on the right which will be our home through September

Playing Tourist – August 20 – September 1, 2017

We spent a couple days getting acclimated to the city – finding the grocery store, etc.  Meryl then headed to SOFL to visit with Becca, Sarah and Matt for a few days so with a metro card in my pocket and Uber on my phone I hit the town!

At Twins Jazz – NW DC – August 24, 2017

There is an amazing fish market down the street from the Gangplank Marina.  I took some pictures but I can’t seem to reproduce them in this format.  There are five tables, the longest of which could be almost 100 yards filled with fresh crabs, separated by male and female and subdivided into three sizes – medium, large, and extra large; plus fresh calms, mussels, and several varieties of shrimp, plus fish of all kinds, whole, filleted, and steaked-out at prices lower than I’ve ever seen – anywhere!  There’s another table with cooked fish/crabs and homemade soups.  The She Crab soup was awesome.

I took Meryl there upon her return from SOFL and we purchased an entire fresh salmon and had it butchered into steaks as opposed to fillets because we prefer steaks.  We paid $4.99/lb.  They now live in our cockpit freezer all wrapped up individually in plastic wrap.

I got to walk about a mile to the Nat’s Stadium and watched the Mets beat the Nats!  Nice evening at the ball park – August 25, 2017

When we arrived in DC we watched a couple of teams paddling long boats every now and then and didn’t think much of it other than it was cool to watch.  I woke up Saturday morning hearing loud voices and couldn’t figure out where they were coming from.  I threw on clothes and went up to the sundeck, looked over at the marina’s bulkhead only to see a Jumbo Tron and hundreds of people and hearing an announcer introducing the day’s upcoming Dragon Boat races.  I soon learned that this event was a regional event with teams from as far away as New Jersey with lots of teams from DC and of course Philadelphia.  Further, I believe that these races were the prelude to the National Championships taking place sometime next month.

Some teams had already qualified to race in an international competition in China  while others had qualified to enter the International Championship in Hungary (if I heard the announcer correctly).  The teams were totally varied and competed in categories, from young professionals to senior citizens and cancer survivors.  Some teams were just women, some men and some mixed.  The entire day was televised live and I got to watch these races from Kokomo’s sundeck from qualifying heats to the finals later in the afternoon.  I took a handful of videos seen below that I think are pretty cool.

Dragon Boat Races – August 26, 2017

Based on information I got at Twins Jazz that there was a jam session that evening I went out to my second jazz club, Columbia Station.  Of course my intel was flawed – the jam session of course takes place in the afternoon and I arrived about 8.  I decided to stay, ordered a burger and a beer (one of the best mushroom cheese burgers ever) and after 30 minutes of music I decided it wasn’t for me so I left.

The Brixton – August 27, 2017

My intel also informed me that there would be a jam session on Sunday night at the Brixton starting a 6 p.m.  I arrived and discovered the intel was correct.  The house band was unbelievably good – the pianist – Tom Murphy – is a professor of Jazz Studies at Peabody and Townsend University, the bassist was Percy White and the drummer was Tyler Leak (check him out if you like drummers – he’s going places if he can stay in the game.  There was also a very competent guitarist whose name escapes me.  So despite feeling somewhat overwhelmed at all this great talent and having not touched a piano in almost 5 years, I put my name on the board anyway.  I was about the 5th name down on the list and wouldn’t you know it I called up first, ugh….

Well, as it turned out I learned that since I stopped playing there’s a new mobile app available to musicians where 1000’s of tunes can be instantly downloaded so that musicians can jam together.  There’s no lyrics or melody but the chord changes are there and if the leader calls the tune in a different key than the published version, you can instantly have it transposed by touching and screen for a drop down menu to change it.  Technology changes overwhelmingly in 5 years.  Percy turned me onto it on the fly (and after the set he showed me how to download it to my phone and sync it go my tablet back at the boat.

I played ok for having 5 years of accumulated rust on my hands and in my brain but it was great to do it and it reminded me how much I have missed playing.  So when we get back to Florida I’ll grab one of my keyboards from storage and bring it on board and connect it to headphones and this new app so I can practice and get my chops back into shape.  Maybe I’ll rekindle a retirement gig for myself – the true wandering (or cruising) minstrel?  Ha…

Meryl returns – August 28, 2017

Meryl had a great visit with the kids and I had a great time enjoying the local nightlife.  We stayed home the next day and relaxed on my birthday.

August 30, 2017 – Touring the District

We had a great day touring some of the District’s finest architectural and governmental buildings.  We had tours of the US Capitol, the Library of Congress, and Bureau of Engraving and Printing.  We walked 18,000 steps that day – almost 10 miles.  Needless to say we rested the day after and in fact treated ourselves to some body work (massages).

Some pics from our tours

Main reading room Library of Congress

The Capital Rotuna

Supreme Court from 1814 until 1860?

They didn’t move into the current facility (one they could call their own) until 1935 based on the efforts of Supreme Court Justice Taft, who was the only Justice to also serve as President of the United States.

September 16. 2017

Meryl’s back, Yea!  So I’m finishing up this post to get it out before we have to seriously start thinking about flying home to SoFL to be with our kids for the Jewish Holidays.

Some other random photos of the District

This is one of the 5 tables where fresh and cooked fish is available 7 days a week.  It’s hard to imagine the enormity of this place and I can’t display it properly with just the phone camera…this place is an easy walk from our marina.


Since then, we have continued to play tourist visiting the Mall almost daily.  We’ve toured the Smithsonian Museum of Nat History, American History, Air and Space, American Indian, and the Hirshhorn where Ai Wei Wei exhibits dissidents from around the globe using Legos as his media.  Of course these are all presented on the floor and after the third one we were done.  I guess we’re just not that sophisticated.

A note about the Smithsonian Institute.  Did you know that Mr. Smithson, was an accomplished scientist, and English citizen who apparently lived throughout Europe, died in Italy and never set foot in the US?  Well, I didn’t either.  His will left his estate to his nephew, Henry James Hungerford, and stated that if his nephew died without an heir, the money would go “to the United States of America, to found at Washington, under the name of the Smithsonian Institution, an establishment for the increase and diffusion of knowledge ….”

I’ve had enough museums to last me for a while and I’m itching to move on.  It’s now Sept 13, and Meryl is visiting her Woodstock friends.  It doesn’t take much imagination to know what she’s up to!  At least I hope she wins at MahJong!!!

While she was away I did get the opportunity to visit the Supreme Court – actual courtroom!  No pics allowed.  Heard a 30 minute lecture about its history etc.  Very interesting stats about their calendar, and applications to acceptance ratio, i.e. about 1% of the cases makes it to the court and how the hearings are conducted and the decisions written.  Worth the visit.

Meryl returns on Saturday and we have a couple days to secure Kokomo before we fly to SoFL for the Jewish Holidays to be with Becca, Sarah, and Matt.  We return on Oct 1 and get ready to shove off no later than the 3rd, so this will be the last installment until at least the 2nd week of October.  I know you’re all excited about getting these but please be patient while at the tender age of 67 I learn how to manage time and prioritize my task list.

September 17, 2017

On our return from dinner at Morini Osteria (via the Blue Water Baby) arguably one of the best Northern Italian dinners we’ve ever had the pleasure of eating – anywhere!  FIVE STARS

A final note about our time in our Nation’s Capital.

I’m not much of a city dweller so I had low expectations about visiting here except to see the museums.  Much to my surprise, this is a wonderful city.  I spent a lot of time in the SW and NW sections of the City and visited the NE section once by bike. I never felt threatened. The city is clean, and all the folks were nice, even the “homeless guy” who hustled us for a few bucks after telling us some jokes.

It’s easy to get around – the metro (subway) is great (I never used the bus system), Uber and Lyft are thriving and there are tons of cabs. There are more museums here than you can imagine (it would be interesting to know just how many) and the food is terrific with origins from all around the globe.  There are parks everywhere and the trees are mature and everything is well kept.  Major sports, jazz clubs, great airports, and the Potomac.  Plus it appears that virtually the entire city has been or is currently under a rebuild.  Billions of dollars have been invested in tearing down and rebuilding apartments, condos, hotels, and office space and the rebuild in the wharf areas will be completed by this time next year, most of it having been completed over the last few.  The climate is moderate, they have four seasons, and they’re an easy commute to the shore and the Chesapeake Bay.

In the end, if I were ever going to contemplate living in one (cost not withstanding) D.C. would be at the top of the list.  (FYI, a brand new riverfront apartment with total amenities including rooftop pool with 750 sq ft costs $2,750 per month).  At the least, this great city is worth a visit – with or without the kids!

Hope you all made it through Harvey and Irma unscathed.  Until then,

Kokomo Jim








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