Skip to content Skip to sidebar Skip to footer

NAS Oceana; Check Six Lounge; Chincoteague; Gratitude; Cambridge; Oxford; Annapolis; US Naval Academy; St. Michaels; The Inn at Perry Cabin

After New Bern, NC, we stopped for a night in Virginia Beach. Our campground was near Naval Air Station Oceana, the East Coast version of NAS Miramar, where Top Gun was filmed. We made an obligatory stop at the Officers’ Club bar, the Check Six Lounge (named for the warning that aviators give to watch their 6 o’clock, or rear, a very vulnerable position when in aerial combat).

The naval aviators were mostly out flying, but we did get to meet six NROTC midshipmen who were attached temporarily to a training fighter squadron for familiarization. They were some of the best and brightest young men and women we have met. From colleges across the country, they are eager to serve their nation as naval officers and Marines. In the bar was a table set for servicemen and women who are Prisoners of War (POW) or Missing in Action (MIA), a sobering reminder that military service is not all just fun and games…

Phyllis, the long time bartender, told us lots of stories about the history of the bar, and many of the memorabilia there. We are standing in front of a vertical stabilizer and rudder assembly from an F/A-18 Hornet.

This is from an EA-6B Prowler electronic warfare/jammer aircraft, hence the lightning bolt in a mailed fist symbol. These specialized aircraft fly into heavily defended areas in advance of attack aircraft to stimulate enemy fire, identify threats, and reduce the effectiveness of enemy radars and missiles using jamming or anti-radar HARM missiles. Their flight crews are said to have have “brass balls”…

From Virginia Beach, we headed up the Eastern Shore of Virginia, spending four days on Chincoteague Island, Virginia’s only resort island. There are no high rises, boardwalk or traffic jams. Here is Beach Girl – no bikini, because we rode to the beach on our bikes. Darn… and note the terrible crowds… I think there was someone about a mile away!

From Chincoteague, we moved north to Cambridge, Maryland, where we have enjoyed two delightful weeks on Chesapeake Bay aboard our 2003 trawler Gratitude. We spent two days with Jim, the previous owner, getting to know her systems and idiosyncrasies (like people, boats have them, too).  

A day cruise to Oxford’s Robert Morris Inn (the oldest inn in the USA) for crab cakes with Jim was our first underway as Gratitude’s owners.

We enjoy walking the docks at marinas, and we are always amused by at least one strange boat name. When we were cruising, the most bizarre was Blueberry Pancakes… but this sailboat took the prize. Can you imagine listening on Channel 16 and hearing her captain request a bridge opening or a marina berth? 

Two days in Annapolis, Maryland, was a delight. We moored right downtown in “Ego Alley”, probably the very best spot in town.

Two hours after we arrived, there was a knock on the hull, and we heard a, “Jim, are you aboard?” I walked out to find the previous owner’s brother-in-law, Dennis Brady, looking down from the dock. You will note that Dennis does not live in Annapolis. He lives two states away and was in Annapolis on business. Imagine his surprise to look over and see the boat named after his sister tied to the pier! We invited him aboard, and had several glasses of wine together. Dennis is a medical devices expert who developed a system to repair broken pelvises… way over my head, but very cool technology. See his web site at

Did I mention funny boat names???? Well, here is one of the best… can you guess what they may be thinking/drinking? Ha! (And yes, that is a fully stocked bar above “Princess”…)

No stop in Annapolis would be complete without a visit to the US Naval Academy. Founded in 1845, USNA provides a top notch education to young men and women who want to serve their country. Here are MLB and myself in front of Bancroft Hall, the Brigade of Midshipmen’s “dormitory”. We both taught at the Naval Academy, Suzanne in the 90s and I in the… er… 70’s… (Nah, it could not POSSIBLY have been that long ago!!!) As you can see, these two sailors did not let a little rain slow them down.)

Suzanne taught Political Science, and even better, taught offshore sailing aboard these 44 ft sloops that “sail like witches”, as the saying goes. The boats have great names like Honor, CourageCommitmentAdventurous, Fearless, Courageous, and DaringIt was exactly 26 years ago this week that she escorted a crew of midshipmen from Maryland to Maine and back on their summer cruise. She says she remembers the date because we had just been married in the Naval Academy chapel and she hated to leave me for this arduous duty!

Boating on the Chesapeake Bay requires vigilance, as you may end up cruising with the big boys…. this ship was on her way to Baltimore.

Suzanne is seen here keeping up with work on the bridge while I was driving. She was getting support and inspiration from Nellie and Rusty!

A two day stop in St. Michaels, MD, for our 26th anniversary (just a few days early) was a real treat. Here is My Lovely Bride at our dinner at St. Michaels Bistro – am I lucky or what?

A bike ride in town was mandatory, and we rode over to The Inn at Perry Cabin, where we had visited with daughter Susan many years ago.

The Inn at Perry Cabin is legendary – it was built in 1816 by Purser Samuel Hableton, a veteran of the War of 1812 and an aide to Commodore Oliver Hazard Perry, famed for his message, “We have met the enemy and they are ours; two ships, two brigs, one schooner and one sloop” following the victorious Battle of Lake Erie against the British. Commodore Perry (pictured below) was the quintessential naval officer, fearless and courageous in nine battles before and after Lake Erie. This was the first time in history that an entire Royal Navy squadron had surrendered.

On our departure from St. Michaels, we cruised past a log canoe sailboat race- since the 1840s these oyster boats have raced. There are only 22 log canoes left, and no longer work the oyster beds. Crews of 8 sail them, and you can see 4-5 crew (mostly big guys) being used as ballast on the windward side of the boat, since these are very shallow draft boats with big sails.

Finally, here are the male crewmembers of Gratitude… a happy man and his faithful dog, Rusty.

Leave a Comment