A Travellerspoint blog

Colonial Beach, Quantico and the Hissing Barge

Crossing the Potomac and going upstream


View 2008 Lighthouses and a Wedding in CT on greatgrandmaR's travel map.

Sunday 21 September (continued)

Approaching Colonial Beach

Approaching Colonial Beach


We were headed for Colonial Beach which is across on the Virginia side.
St Clements Island (Maryland side) on the right

St Clements Island (Maryland side) on the right


We had a hard time seeing the Red 2 because at the angle we were approaching, there were no triangles on the side we were looking at. (And we were not using the computer for navigation but doing it the old fashioned way.)
Red Truck along the waterfront

Red Truck along the waterfront


At first I mistook a red truck parked along the waterfront for the marker and then I saw what turned out to be a red flag hung from someone's balcony. We knew there was a red 2 and then a red 4 down by the entrance channel. Eventually Bob said that he saw the marker by a place where he had seen people coming out, and that was it.
Red towel and Red 4 down by the entrance channel

Red towel and Red 4 down by the entrance channel


We were inside the channel by 12:15, after 20 nm.
Colonial Beach marina map

Colonial Beach marina map


We knew that the man at the marina had said he would be alone on Sunday and probably would not be able to help us tied up, so we went up to an available dock right at the entrance and a man across the dock in a power boat helped us tie up before he left. He also pointed out the office and the restaurant. After we tied up, we walked over to the office. We met the marina person (name of Bruce) but he was on his way back to the gas dock, so we said we'd pay after lunch.

Dockside Restaurant and the Blue Heron Pub

Dockside Restaurant and the Blue Heron Pub


The restaurant there is the Dockside Restaurant and Blue Heron Pub,
Front of the  menu

Front of the menu


and they have a sports bar, an inside restaurant
Inside of dining room

Inside of dining room


and an outside deck. Bob had an shrimp po-boy for lunch I didn't take a photo of it because my camera battery ran out at that moment. I had a
Canadian Mountie

Canadian Mountie


(which was a chicken breast, Canadian bacon, cheese and BBQ sauce sandwich). It was very messy to eat as a sandwich. After lunch, we walked back toward the boat, but Bruce was still busy, so Bob walked over to the boat
Marina office - with chairs out front

Marina office - with chairs out front


and I sat outside the office and waited to pay.

A couple from another boat in the marina were walking their two dogs and came by the boat to find out if we were cruisers. They've been over to the Med and down to the Caribbean. I think we were a disappointment to them as we haven't done that much. They had been to the SSCA (Seven Seas Cruisers Association) meeting earlier that day.
Red 4 outside the marina

Red 4 outside the marina


Later on in the day another couple came by who live across the creek. It seems a long way to go to look at boats. They said that this marina had burned to the ground several years ago - at first the lady thought it was Dahlgren, but a friend called and told her to look out her window at the marina. She said boats were burning and they had burned their mooring lines and were floating around burning - like a Viking funeral she said.

For dinner, we went back to the restaurant. Bob had a
Half dozen raw oysters

Half dozen raw oysters


and asked for a half pound of steamed shrimp and some coleslaw,
Pound of shrimp

Pound of shrimp


but they gave him a pound instead. I had
Crab Norfolk

Crab Norfolk


which came with a salad (a big heap of greens plus two tiny cherry tomatoes and two tiny pieces of cucumber. I ate the tomato and cucumber and a little of the greens. There was also a huge baked potato and some fried zucchini. I had trouble eating it all,
Creme brulee

Creme brulee


although I did have part of a creme brulee for dessert.
Marina gas dock - chairs outside office on right

Marina gas dock - chairs outside office on right


The wind was calm and the marina was mirror like,
RosalieAnn at the dock

RosalieAnn at the dock

Mast reflection

Mast reflection


but Bob worried all night about how we would get away from the dock because there was an antique steel sailboat in front of us,
RosalieAnn with steel boat in front of her

RosalieAnn with steel boat in front of her


and at some stages of the tide there is a lot of current in the marina channel.
Harbor entrance at sunset

Harbor entrance at sunset

Monday - 21 September 2008

The old sailboat in front of us left before we did so we had no problem. I could see the Red 4 from where we were in the marina,
Red 4 from the marina

Red 4 from the marina


so all we had to do was turn and go out. We left the marina about 8:15.
Red 2 the next morning with only two triangles

Red 2 the next morning with only two triangles


There were crab pot boats busily laying their traps out.
Crab pot boat right outside the marina Sept 21

Crab pot boat right outside the marina Sept 21


Although when we came in, I could see the Governor Nice Bridge and the Morgantown PEPCO plant with the binoculars, it was a little foggy this morning, and we couldn't see the bridge. As we motored out, I picked out things along the river side of the town - the Riverboat gambling place build over the water (so as to be on the Maryland side), and the new motels were mixed in with turreted Victorian houses.
large_x100_1678.jpg
100_1686.jpgMotel and Turreted Victorian house

Motel and Turreted Victorian house

100_1687.jpgRiverboat gambling place on right

Riverboat gambling place on right


The Colonial Beach water tower presided over the whole.
Colonial Beach water tower

Colonial Beach water tower


I did wonder what the little stands along the water were for - they looked like watch towers.
Spotting tower on the beach

Spotting tower on the beach


At first I thought they were lifeguard stands, but later I found that they were spotting towers for Dahlgren Proving Grounds. We also saw the yellow markers which were for the range boat stations.
Yellow markers for range boat stations

Yellow markers for range boat stations


After an hour we could see the bridge and there was a barge with a crane under it
Bridge from the Potomac

Bridge from the Potomac

Morgantown power plant

Morgantown power plant


With the binoculars I could see that traffic across the main span was only one way.
One way traffic

One way traffic

Virtually the only thing in Morgantown is the power plant. The Mirant Morgantown Generating Station is listed as a point of interest in Charles County. The power plant is highly visible from both the bridge and the river.

I have actually been to the power plant (as an OSHA inspector) when they were re-habbing the boilers. The plant uses coal which is brought in on rail cars. My son used to work there for a contractor. Since I was there, PEPCO (Potomac Electric Power Co.) sold the plant to the Southern Company in December 2000 as a result of the restructuring of the electricity generating industry in Maryland. The station was included in the Mirant spin-off in April 2001. It was sometimes referred to as the Pope's Creek Power Plant.

The facility consists of two base loaded 624 MW coal-fired steam generating units, four 65 MW oil-fired peaking combustion units, and two 18 MW black start peaking turbines. The two coal-fired units are base-loaded supercritical steam units which went into operation in 1970 and 1971. The four peaking units are General Electric Frame 7 units which went into operation in 1973, while the two black start peaking units are General Electric Frame 5 units which went into operation in 1970 and 1971.
Morgantown Power Plant in the fog

Morgantown Power Plant in the fog


Coal is delivered to the Morgantown generating station by CSX Transportation train using the Pope's Creek Subdivision rail line. Construction of a coal barge unloading pier on the Potomac River began in 2007. Their website says: Morgantown Station voluntarily installed electrostatic precipitators, nearly eradicating flyash with a 99.5% reduction. The plant also collects and treats runoff and wastewater, protecting the Potomac River from contamination.

Mirant's Morgantown generating plant was ranked as the best coal-fired plant in terms of heat-rate efficiency in the United States in Electric Power & Light magazine's 2004 survey of power plants

100_1691.jpgATON with a bird on top

ATON with a bird on top


4212823-Spider_33_from_the_river_Morgantown.jpgGreen #33 spider

Green #33 spider


We passed by Dahlgren and the green #33 spider downstream of the bridge. On the other side of the bridge, the markers start the numbers over again from #1.

From the bridge you may be able to see barges which are waiting to go up or down the river. You can also see some of the Aids TO Navigation (ATONs). There is a green spider downstream from the bridge and there is another green spider upstream. [Green means that it is on the south side of the river.] The numbering starts at the mouth of the Potomac and starts over again on the north side of the bridge.
4212821-Barges_from_the_bridge_Morgantown.jpgBarges and Spider #33 from the bridge

Barges and Spider #33 from the bridge

4212822-Barge_from_the_river_Morgantown.jpgHissing Barge

Hissing Barge


As we went up to the barge it hissssed at me several times. (I do know that the hissing was probably a compressor)

The barge (which had a tug next to it and another one standing by) had the spuds up. Apparently this is the Albemarle Barge Boat Station
4212824-Passing_the_barge_Morgantown.jpgBarge and crane next to the bridge

Barge and crane next to the bridge


Going under the bridge was interesting but not stressful.
x100_1725.jpgOn the left - looking under the bridge to Aqualand

On the left - looking under the bridge to Aqualand


Underneath the bridge

Underneath the bridge

Bridge fenders

Bridge fenders


I wonder what the people driving on the bridge thought.

We passed Aqua Land on the other side. Every time we cross the 301 bridge to Virginia, I see this marina out of the window
2005ure.JPGAqualand from the bridge 2005 and 2008

Aqualand from the bridge 2005 and 2008


I've never had our boat here, but the Potomac River Guide says: "A large, full-service marina operates on the north side of the Potomac River Bridge carrying U.S. 301. The marina services large power boats and sailing vessels, and also has boats for rent. A campground is available for recreational vehicles
745814954212634-Diagram_of_t..Morgantown.jpgDiagram of the marina 10 years ago and Marina from the water

Diagram of the marina 10 years ago and Marina from the water


Green can buoy #15

Green can buoy #15


the Mathias Point green 5 spider.
x100_1734.jpgMathias Point spider

Mathias Point spider


Red #16

Red #16


By 11:30 we could see the big antennas at Indian Head.
100_1755.jpgBig antennas

Big antennas


The wind was on the nose - so much for the predictions - it is just funneling down the river.
Red Buoy #22

Red Buoy #22


Red and white marker

Red and white marker


When the river went around a turn, Bob put up the staysail, but the wind then died to nothing, so he took it down again. We were passed by a tall ship
Godspeed passes us

Godspeed passes us


which we later found out was Godspeed from Jamestown on the way to Alexandria. They had no sails up and the passed us like we were standing still - two huge diesels power that boat.

The Potomac has a Cedar Point, a Smith Point, a Maryland Point, and a Sandy Point, just like the Chesapeake.
Shadow of the sail and one of the butterflies

Shadow of the sail and one of the butterflies


Two little butterflies kept pace with the boat for awhile. Mattawoman Creek was guarded by a flotilla of crab pots. A tug came down river pushing a barge.
Tug pushing a barge

Tug pushing a barge

Green #33

Green #33


Soon we could see the burnt out hulk of a barge on our starboard in Mallows Bay.
Mallows Bay barge

Mallows Bay barge


By two fifteen, we could see Quantico ahead of us.
Quantico from the Potomac

Quantico from the Potomac

Marina from the Potomac

Marina from the Potomac

Chart of the location

Chart of the location


The Godspeed tied up there already.
Godspeed on the bulkhead

Godspeed on the bulkhead

The girl I talked to on the phone told us that the marina was closed on Monday and she said to turn to port and take the spot on the T-head. So we did. We tied up by ourselves because there was no one to help. It wasn't hard as there was little wind. The Toshiba worked perfectly all day on the way up here, The folks on Godspeed gave Bob the bathroom combination and the one to the pedestrian gates. Actually the gates are often left open.
Boats in the marina

Boats in the marina


There is a lot of weed in the water at the marina and there is a bubbler in the slip next to us which we later found out was to try to keep the hydrilla down as it doesn't like flowing water.

Everyone said there were a lot of restaurants up in town, so about 4:30, we started to walk up and this time I took my cane. Before we went out the gate, Bob decided to see if the combination that he was given was correct, so I stayed inside and he went out and locked the gate behind him
Bob outside the car gates

Bob outside the car gates


and then tried to combination. It didn't work. Some folks from Godspeed came back with a cart full of stuff and the couldn't get in either. We had been given the wrong combination. Finally a girl from Godspeed on her way to take a shower told us that it was the reverse of the bathhouse combination.

After we got out of the dockside gate, we had to walk around the end of the car gate. It looked like it was low tide as there was a lot of seaweed exposed on the shore
Marina from the street

Marina from the street


We walked up into town with some of the Godspeed people. We passed Sam's Inn Bar and Grill,
People walking up past Sam's

People walking up past Sam's

4213281-Sams_window_Quantico.jpgSam's sign

Sam's sign


the Mason's building,
Bob looking at the Masonic building

Bob looking at the Masonic building


and the Quantico Garden (oriental food). I didn't feel like Oriental food, so
Quantico Garden

Quantico Garden


we stopped for dinner at the
4205625-Sign_on_the_building_Quantico.jpgQ'town Grill Deli/Restauran

Q'town Grill Deli/Restauran


Bob had lasagna
4213263-Bobs_lasgna_Quantico.jpgBob gave me his bread

Bob gave me his bread


and I had the
Spicy chicken special which had carrots, broccoli and rice

Spicy chicken special which had carrots, broccoli and rice


Apparently you can come in to this place and bring your laptop and there is free wi-fi.
Quantico street

Quantico street


On the way back to the boat, I stopped at a Hans Christian where I could see a man in the companionway arguing with someone inside, and said "Hi", and Rick, the owner of the boat came out and came down to look at our boat. He'd been previously but we were up in town. He said that Joey had set him up on the wi-fi but he didn't know how it was done. His cat came down with him, and stayed around after he left to go to dinner.
Rick's cat

Rick's cat


Bob decided to not set up the DirectTV receiver and just do the digital broadcasts. This turned out to mean that we got 33 channels, but they were all several versions of the same thing. In Colonial Beach, we got the Washington broadcast channels, but here in Quantico we got Baltimore too. So we'd get channel 2 regular broadcast and then 2 Weather broadcast, 4 regular broadcast, 4 weather, and another 4 broadcast of some kind. We didn't get channel 22 though. We couldn't get Monday night football, so we watched Dancing with the Stars.

In the evening, I looked at the various weather channels after Bob was asleep, and the channel 5 news said that it was going to be really high winds with gusts to 40 or 50 knots. Weds and Thurs. After I was asleep, I heard the windmill start to work, and I woke Bob up and said I was worried about the wind having picked up.

He went on back to sleep.

Tuesday: 23 September 2008

In the morning, Bob went up into the cockpit and looked around and said that he didn't see how we could get out of the marina as the wind was blowing directly in the inlet and we were being blown hard up against the pier. He had to put out extra fenders.

I figured out several alternative ideas. We could stay in Quantico until Friday and then go back to Colonial Beach. We could see if we could get up to Washington on Wednesday instead and just be there for one day. High winds were predicted for Wednesday and Thursday with rain starting Thursday and continuing Friday and into Saturday. Although the winds reported in Quantico were CALM, Bob said that the winds at our mast were 20 gusting to 26 to 30.

So we went over to the office and talked to them. Bob got ice and I paid for 2 days (Monday and Tuesday) as I thought that was the minimum that we would be there. We watched as Godspeed got underway.
Bow of the Godspeed

Bow of the Godspeed

Godspeed preparing to get underway

Godspeed preparing to get underway


100_7029.jpgGodspeed leaving

Godspeed leaving

100_7031.jpgGodspeed motoring away

Godspeed motoring away


They seemed sure that they would be able to get under the bridge, but Rick (the guy from the Hans Christian) said at lunch time that he heard that the bridge would be opening, so maybe they weren't able to do it. But I haven't heard anything on the TV about it.

I thought we might possibly get out early the next morning before the winds picked up, so I called Colonial Beach to see if we could come back there early, but they are closed today (Tuesday). Bob cleaned the engine filters and they weren't as dirty as he thought they might be.

We had lunch on the boat, and I went over and used the showers (nice showers with a seat in them).
Bathrooms

Bathrooms


The people in the office said that Joey (the Quantico Yacht Club CIO) came over for lunch each day and possibly he could get me on the internet. Sure enough, Joey came down and added me to the group so I could do the internet. Which I did happily until suddenly it kicked me off. Joey had given me his card, so I called him, and he came down again in the evening and gave me a text file with the access code, but I didn't need it again.

There is a great blue heron which hangs out down around the outer marina bulkhead
Blue heron on the outer wall

Blue heron on the outer wall

Fosters tern

Fosters tern


The people in the slip next to us came back from their two days of sailing, and Bob helped them get tied up - the wind was really blowing their boat around in the slip. Since we had watched Martha Stewart's show on all the various ways to cook hot dogs that morning we had hot dogs for dinner. For some reason we couldn't find the second night of Dancing With the Stars on any of the digital channels.

I decided that we should try to get out early in the morning and get down to Colonial Beach before the wind really started to blow . We also wanted a pump-out but the pumpout slip at Quantico had a big log in it so we thought we might do it in Colonial Beach.

Posted by greatgrandmaR 18:01 Archived in USA

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