The Smithsonian Environmental Research Center has a street address, I'm sure. But it also has a dock in Muddy Creek off the Rhode River. So we can anchor nearby and take the dinghy in. Who needs a car?
It seems so simple. There were, however, surprises. Big surprises.
The SERC dock is a little past the point in this picture. Which — admittedly — is hard to discern. No surprise there, it's sunset.
On the near left is "Big Island" in the Rhode river. About 40% of the way across the image you're no longer seeing the island, but are seeing the far shore. SERC is on the far shore behind the island. We're not anchored too close to the dock, we worry about bumping into shallows. Active Captain has several reviews of the anchoring.
Yes, the Rhode River can be idyllic. At night. During the day, on the other hand it has jet skis and boats towing floats with shrieking children. (These are not bad things, they don't match what some people consider idyll. There should be no surprise here, but some folks have a vivid imagination for summer days being weirdly quiet. And they write long posts on Active Captain.)
Here's our route, BTW. (I love MarineTraffic.com) Marine Traffic didn't gather a lot of details because it's only a three hour trip. Wind was very light, so we motored the whole way.
Nothing broke. Nothing went wrong. We didn't break the dock, or any additional engine parts.
Was that the surprise?
Not really. We're getting better at boat maintenance.
We did put the mainsail up and watched the wind die. So, that was a half hour of sailing during the weekend.
The Big Surprise
Okay. It was a pleasant sailing trip to a wildlife research area and nature preserve.
What was the surprise?
These three boats.
You can see other boats in the background; what makes these three unique?
I'll add a hint.
Okay. That's not a great hint.
You may be able to see the West River Sailing Club burgee.
Or you may not be able to see it very well in the picture.
It was hard to discern in real life.
CA and I had to discuss it for a while. "It looks like the yacht club burgee." "Maybe it's another burgee that looks similar." "What are the odds?" "Can you Google burgees?"
Eventually, we decided to dinghy over to see who it was. This was something we learned about years and years ago.
Our very very first anchoring out in Red Ranger was in Reedville, back in September 2010. We had no real idea what to expect. We arrived — pleased with ourselves that we hadn't broken anything. We saw another boat drop their dinghy and motor slowly around, reading the names on transoms of boats. They saw our hailing port, "Norfolk, VA" and said hello. They added "Maybe we'll see you at the bar around Tim Point."
It was a very casual invitation to drive around in dinghies looking for a good restaurant that wasn't too crowded on a Saturday night. It was a spectacular impromptu party with utter strangers.
Who did we find on these three boats? Pat and Jan, Maggie and Eric, and Liz and Al had rafted up in the river. Dave and Rachel stopped by for a little while, also.
This impromptu party was a huge surprise. We didn't expect to see anyone we knew, much less eight people we knew.
We had, years ago, learned that dinghying over is rarely a bad idea.
We did see tons of brood X cicadas. They were everywhere. And they were so loud I thought something was wrong with the outboard's motor. They are as dumb as flying rocks. They'd hit the boat, and drop into the water to die. Either they couldn't see us or didn't know what to do when they did see us. They fly once in their life, and don't seem to be born with solid evasion skills.
Here's Red Ranger with our stack of burgees.
There are burgees for the Whitby owners, SSCA, WRSC, Cloud Custodian software, and the Python programming language. They're kind of loud if you leave them up on a breezy night. But they're fun to rig.
And if anyone is from the West River Sailing Club, or needs help with Python software, they know which boat to visit.