► Whistling Dixie on the Chickahominy River: August 17, 2012

Friday 17 August 2012

Journey: Donny B’s – River’s Rest – Chickahominy River – James River – Chickahominy River – Donny B’s – Rivers Rest – Donny B’s

I trailered the skiff down to Donny B’s house on the Chickahominy River. Thank goodness I followed Club Billings otherwise I may never have found his house. Once there, Donny B admired the skiff then Donny B put his arm around me and said, “You know, this is the NICEST wedding gift anyone has ever given me.” After chatting for a short while, Lester assisted me with launching the boat.

I wanted to first go to the River’s Rest and check in at the hotel. My past interactions calling the hotel reception did not leave me feeling comfortable that I did indeed have a room reserved. Fortunately they did have a room for me. I talked briefly with the fellow at the marine store. He informed me that the cut-through had plenty of deep water. The only caution he told me – make sure that I don’t cut the corners at either side. Instead, make sure that I am well in the main river before turning up or down river. Same with entering the cut-through – make sure I stay in the middle of the river until I’m lined up to the entrance and then turn into the cut-through.

I decided to take the cut-through since it sat nearly opposite the River’s Rest, and I wanted to head towards the James River. It surprised me that the narrow channel through a marsh area could provide deep water. I made my way through and clearly noted that only a foolish person would try to cut the corners.

I was pleased I had remembered to throw in my pennant in order to fly the mermaid. I started to think of the skiff as a mermaid’s chariot. Not that it really mattered since very few houses sat along the water’s edge. Most of the river consisted of marshy areas. When I did see any signs of civilization it seemed as though everyone had some sort of cover over their pier or a second story.

I scooted on down the river, enjoying the scenery, the quiet, and the solitude. I hadn’t  expected to see trees in the water. I thought you’d only find that kind of trees in the south. Oh, wait, that’s right, I’m now in the south. Ok, so I expected trees in the water in areas far further south.

As I neared the bridge, and James River, I noticed some sort of pipe in the water near to the edge. I wished I had someone that I could ask.

It amazed me that I reached the bridge in a fairly short amount of time. The map made it seem as it would take me a lot longer. As I passed under the bridge, I found it interesting that the piling supports had rubber bumper like padding. I wondered if they had a few problems with people hitting the bridge, so instead they put up bumpers to cushion the blows.

Prior to leaving Donny B’s I had asked someone, “How big is the James River?” He told me, “Unless the river is as flatter than flat, I wouldn’t go out in it on that little boat.” As I neared the river, I noticed a LARGE cargo like ship off in the distance. Wow, you don’t see that on the Patuxent. As I entered the James River it was slightly rough, but I thought, ‘I’ve been on worse in the Patuxent.’

I then noticed a narrow channel leading into a marina like area. I thought that it might be a yacht club where I could stop for a drink and something simple for lunch. The marina had impressive large homes with a nice sea wall and slips lining the water’s edge.

I slowly moved through the marina, looking for a bar, or a building of some sort that may house a bar or restaurant. Not finding anything, I noticed a small skiff wiping the dirt from the sea wall. Impressive, or is that obsessive. I went near to him and asked if where I could find a place to have lunch. He informed me that this was a private yacht club. “So, I can’t go and have lunch?” No. I then asked, “If I belonged to a yacht club, but not this yacht club, would that be allowed as a sister yacht club arrangement.” He said, no. “Hum,” I thought, “a really REALLY private yacht club.”

Fine, I left and decided to head back up the Chickahominy River towards Rivers Rest for lunch. Throughout the entire ride down the Chickahominy River I noticed several small creeks shooting off the Chickahominy. Very narrow creeks. Again, I wished I had someone with me who knew the river and could tell me whether or not the creeks could be navigated.

At one point I noticed a side creek with a sailboat mast sticking up, granted at an angle meaning it ran aground, but a sailboat none the less. I figured, if a sailboat could make it back there then I certainly should be able to get through. I headed into the creek I later found out is named Shipyard Creek.

As I slowly cruised along I noticed a old, broken down house sitting in the marsh. Well, there used to be life and activity back here. Again, I wondered just how far I could venture before getting stuck in some sort of swamp muck. Not knowing what lay beyond the next corner made me choose to turn around and return to the main river.

On my return up river, I noticed a lot of dilapidated piers, boats, and then there was this crane that had fallen into the water. I look at all of this stuff and again wonder, “Why are these things allowed to rot in the water while I’m not allowed to build a cover over my boat lift as it will ruin Chesapeake Bay estuary waters?” It makes no sense!

Along the way I noticed a number of piers with no house in site. I think – look at all the bug habitat, and snake habitat, you have to walk through to get to your pier. Ick.

I then saw a super long pier, stretching through woods and swamp. Tucked deep in the woods I notice a steep set of stairs that disappeared into the treetops. I never did see a house up there. CAN YOU IMAGINE !? I thought our 19 stairs, on a leisurely slope, sometimes daunting.

I chose to take the main river for my return trip. I passed by Donny B’s and arrived at River’s Rest in the hopes of finding lunch. I found a non-reserved slip at the marina, and tied up the little skiff. They, like the Tides, had a nice floating dock system. She looked so cute sitting there.

I had a lovely, relaxed lunch at the Blue Heron, located at the River’s Rest Marina and Motel. Once I finished I realized it was still quite early, so I decided to explore further up river.

I found what must be considered Charles City. I was STUNNED to see piers tucked in amongst trees standing in the water. I could only think how dangerous that could be trying to come into your pier, or your friend’s pier, at night. It’s not like they had any reflective signs of any sort posted on the tree trunks.

I then returned to Donny B’s to see if the boys were done with their hooten and shooten bachelor party. They weren’t so I asked Marcia if she wanted a ride to River’s Rest in order to check in. She said, yes, so the two of us headed to the marina. I again tied in a non-reserved slip.

I needed to rest and a chance to cool down. I changed into my swim suit and took a short dip in the pool which felt very refreshing.

Later in the afternoon we planned on returning to Donny B’s. As we approached the pier I see that the little boat had been moved and they were just finishing putting her into a different slip. Although I had parked in a non-reserved slip, which I had been told early was fine, a large vessel had come and they wanted to use my slip.

Marcia and I returned to Donnie B’s. I dropped her at the house, returned to the river, hooked up the trailer, and prepared to load the boat…. ALONE. Not an easy task. Although it would have been quite a bit easier to have one other person to assist, I’m quite proud of myself for being able to load on my own.

Time: 10:30 am – 4:30 pm Vessel: 18’ Simmons Sea Skiff replica
Conditions: sunny, slight chop, pleasant

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