The extended Samway family relaxing and taking in the sun and surf in Round Bay, just off Severna Park, Maryland (and a few miles outside Annapolis).

The Chesapeake Bay is vast in size, beauty and natural diversity, and it’s also tempermental. We experienced a little of its mild fury on the trip to Annapolis, with a short steep chop created by a bit of northerly wind. But, entering the harbor and seeing the flags flying high over the U.S. Naval Academy and the State Capitol building is really a beautiful site to behold and took care of any discomfort from the day’s sometimes rough ride.

Set in a beautifully welcoming harbor with a vibrant waterfront scene, on Memorial Day weekend, we steamed into America’s sailing capital and home of the Naval Academy’s spectacular waterfront campus.

Waiting for us dockside were a few of Michael’s family members – Homa, Mike, Sima and Uncle Terry – welcoming us with hugs and smiles to a familiar spot in downtown Annapolis. We’ve traveled to Annapolis with the kids a few times by land, and it’s a completely different feel arriving on Muddy Waters. It’s certainly harder to park the boat than it is to park a car, especially with an audience enjoying the show. With each of us at our assigned line stations, Michael was able to place our big boat smoothly into its slip at the Annapolis Yacht Basin.

As always, it was great to welcome visitors onboard Muddy Waters! We loved having the chance to spend more time with family, and Keenan and Daria so enjoy the opportunity to visit with Michael’s parents and his aunt Sima. (Uncle Doug couldn’t make the trip because of work.) And they really enjoyed lots of “hang-time” with their cousins. Lucky for us we have plenty of family on our watery route up the east coast, which makes for more memorable and enjoyable visits along the way. And of course, we benefit from all the great local knowledge on land and sea.

Along with Homa, Mike, Sima and Terry, we had Michelle and Emma from Baltimore up for a visit shortly after we arrived. We had quite a crowd to keep us entertained, laughing and very well fed – as you’ll see in our latest photos. Michael’s cousins Lee and Lyn Samway (Terry’s kids) and their families live close by in Severna Park, just off Round Bay, and a few miles up the Severn River from Annapolis.

Lee, Lyn, and their respective husbands Mike and Paul, were gracious hosts and welcomed all of us to their river-side community. Keenan and Daria had a blast with cousins Maddy, Cabrey, Annah-Grace, Jack, Sam, and Charlie, helping recharge their batteries after having spent so many months only around old farts like us. Everyone welcomed us with an amazing picnic supper, including Maryland blue crabs (spiced with Old Bay seasoning) the day after we arrived. Yum!

The waterfront community of Round Bay is like a mini-Bayside, Maine (one of our favorite places in the world) – a place to relax, read a book, picnic, sail, jump off the wharf, know all your neighbors and ride bikes kind of place. The homes are nestled in and around the wooded waterfront and all share a communal dockside/pavilion area where parties, picnics, swim team practice, and water sports are just part of everyday life. It’s the perfect escape from the hustle and bustle of Annapolis over a busy Memorial Day weekend.

Our kids practically declared mutiny to become landlubbers for a few nights with their cousins. The cousins even declared a “Samway” holiday from school (their semester didn’t end for another week) so off they all went together – Keenan with Lee’s three boys and Daria with Lyn’s three girls – leaving Michael and me free to explore Annapolis on our own. Michael and I spent a few mornings exploring the surrounding creeks and waterways by stand-up paddle board and were even able to enjoy a quiet dinner and a late night Jazz session at a local cafe. All made even more enjoyable by a brief visit (and dinner) from my younger sister Ann.

After spending a few days touring Annapolis, we moved Muddy Waters from the dock to an anchorage in beautiful Round Bay. All the cousins had a blast jumping off the top deck of the boat into the river. We also lowered the dinghy and took all the kids tubing for a few hours. I was able to get in a few good stand-up paddle board sessions – nothing like a strong breeze and lots of current to increase the degree of difficulty of the workout!

We later learned we weren’t the only ones enjoying the beautiful wooded surroundings at Round Bay. While the kids enjoyed sleepovers with their cousins on land, Michael and I spent a night battling some type of Mayfly onboard Muddy Waters. We’d already encountered this type bug on a small scale during a stop-over in Solomons, Maryland earlier in the week. We were astounded, however, at the plague that hit us that evening while at anchor.

The entire aft cockpit (our back porch) was covered with bugs swarming the ceiling and the lights. We couldn’t see the white fiberglass through the swarm! Bug city. After beating a hasty retreat inside, we discovered a window we’d left open from the afternoon to keep some air flowing into the boat. Doh! You can guess what that meant! Thousands of these mosquito-like creatures came for a not-so-friendly visit aboard Muddy Waters. I mean, Who doesn’t want to live on a nice boat? And invite a few thousand friends along.

Now these weren’t like our Miami Vice mosquitos that are like small and stealthy fighter-jets evading capture and destruction; these critters were slower than molasses. Not wanting tons of bug guts on the boat’s insides, Michael came up with the great idea of using the shop-vac to suck-up all bugs. Awesome plan! He said he actually enjoyed vacuuming-up the buggies and that it was like mowing the lawn. I guess that’s a guy thing, so maybe you men-folk out there understand…

By morning, with the inside tidy, we were still trapped inside the boat. Much of the swarm from the night before lay dead on the deck. Apparently they don’t have a long lifespan; or maybe the sight of Michael and his DeWalt shop-vac just scared them to death. They did, however, get us back by leaving behind a fine spray of green bug juice that we spent the morning scrubbing off.

After more scrub-a-dub and then a great family visit from Lee, Mike, Jack, Sam, and Charlie, we made a beeline back to Annapolis the following afternoon. Uncle Terry met us for ice cream. skipping dinner altogether. Since he’s now retired from the U.S. Secret Service and now works as a history and writing teacher-tutor at the Naval Academy, Uncle Terry gave us lots of great tips for a terrific tour of the Academy we took the following morning with the kids.

Of course no visit to Annapolis is complete without a tour of the U.S. Navel Academy. I had run through campus a few times that week, and with graduation over, we pretty much had the place to ourselves. Our last day in Annapolis took all of us over to the Naval Academy Visitor Center and Museum with to test our knowledge of Naval history. The museum is a very impressive place. Wartime memorabilia, documents, movie clips, and ship models awaited us. Both kids enjoyed our visit, and we were impressed at how much history they’ve retained from our home schooling lessons. Maybe we’re on the right track! Not sure we’ll have a midshipman/woman between the kids…but you never know.

We loved our stop in Annapolis. We had such a memorable and fun visit with the Samways in Annapolis – what a special treat especially for the kids. Having Mike, Homa, tia Sima and tia Ann visit made it even more special. Many thanks to the Samway, Kriels and Kellers for making our trip so memorable. We look forward to a return visit next summer!! Maybe even aboard Muddy Waters.